Monday, August 5, 2019

Over the last 15 years, households have increasingly concentrated its spending on a few preferred products; not “superstar” products of large market shares; households increasingly focus spending on different products from each other

The Rise of Niche Consumption. Brent Neiman, Joseph Vavra. University of Chicago, July 2019. https://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/brent.neiman/research/NV.pdf

Abstract: We show that over the last 15 years, the typical household has increasingly concentrated its spending on a few preferred products. However, this is not driven by “superstar” products capturing larger market shares. Instead, households increasingly focus spending on different products from each other. As a result, aggregate spending concentration has in fact decreased over this same period. We use a novel heterogeneous agent model to conclude that increasing product variety is a key driver of these divergent trends. When more products are available, households can select a subset better matched to their particular tastes, and this generates welfare gains not reflected in government statistics. Our model features heterogeneous markups because producers of popular products care more about maximizing profits from existing customers, while producers of less popular niche products care more about expanding their customer base. Surprisingly, however,our model can match the observed trends in household and aggregate concentration without any resulting change in aggregate market power.

Keywords: Product Concentration, Niche Products, Market Power, Markups, Long-tail


On the potential distortions of highly cited papers in emerging research fields: A critical appraisal

On the potential distortions of highly cited papers in emerging research fields: A critical appraisal. Edoardo G. Ostinelli, Orsola Gambini and Armando D'Agostino. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Volume 42, 2019, e77. July 15 2019. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X18002807

Abstract: Citation-based metrics are increasingly used as a proxy to define representative, considerable, or significant papers. We challenge this belief by taking into account factors that may play a role in providing citations to a manuscript and whether/how those highly cited studies could shape a scientific field. A different approach to summarisation of relevant core publications within a topic is proposed.

One reason for the high usage of sexually explicit material might be the rewarding property demonstrated in many studies showing an activation of the reward system during the presentation; no sex differences

No Sex Difference Found: Cues of Sexual Stimuli Activate the Reward System in both Sexes. Rudolf Stark et al. Neuroscience, August 5 2019. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2019.07.049

Highlights
•    SEM cues resulted in similar neural activations as the presentation of SEM
•    The neural responses towards cues did not differ between men and women
•    There were some sex differences in the neural responses towards SEM
•    The nucleus accumbens response was unaffected by person characteristics

Abstract: Sexually explicit material (SEM) is increasingly used in western societies. One reason for this high usage might be the rewarding property of SEM demonstrated in many brain imaging studies showing an activation of the reward system during the presentation of SEM. It is not yet well understood why women use SEM to a remarkably lesser extent than men. Maybe men react stronger to stimuli – so called SEM cues –, which signal the presentation of SEM and are therefore more vulnerable to use SEM than women. Therefore, the present study aimed at investigating the sex specific neural correlates towards SEM and SEM cues. We were further interested in whether person characteristics as trait sexual motivation, extent of SEM use in the last month, and age at onset of goal-oriented SEM use affect the neural responses to SEM and SEM cues. The trials of the fMRI experiment consisted of an expectation phase with SEM or neutral cues and a presentation phase with SEM or neutral stimuli, respectively. Analyses showed that the reward circuitry was activated by SEM, but also by SEM cues. There were some sex differences in hemodynamic responses to SEM during the presentation phase, but not during the expectation phase to SEM cues in any of the regions of interest. The influence of the investigated person characteristics was only small if existent. The results suggest that sex specific cue processing cannot explain sex differences in the use of SEM.

Urban China: Tenure change from renter to owner significantly increased subjective well-being; the effect was unaffected by the financial burdens of new homeowners

Does happiness dwell in an owner-occupied house? Homeownership and subjective well-being in urban China. Xian Zheng, Zi-qing Yuan, XiaolingZhang. Cities, Volume 96, January 2020, 102404. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2019.102404

Highlights
• We investigated the causal effect of homeownership on subjective well-being.
• The causal relationship was estimated using the difference-in-differences approach.
• Tenure change from renter to owner significantly increased subjective well-being.
• The causal effect was unaffected by the financial burdens of new homeowners.

Abstract: This study investigates the causal relationship between homeownership and subjective well-being based on household-level panel data collected from the China Household Finance Survey (CHFS) in 2011 and 2013. The extent to which homeownership contributes to the changes in subjective well-being is estimated, focusing on the heterogeneous effects across socioeconomic and demographic groups. Evidence from the identification strategies indicates that homeownership has a positive impact on subjective well-being. Moreover, the results are robust to different specifications and unaffected by the financial constraints faced by new homeowners. Our findings have useful implications for policymakers to stimulate homeownership rates to promote subjective well-being.

Keywords: Subjective well-beingHomeownershipDifference-in-DifferencesUrban China


Austin, Denver, & Portland have thriving 21st century economies, but families with children struggle to take advantage of what they offer; there is a link between gentrification & loss of children over time

Is there room for children in booming western cities? Empirical evidence from Austin, Denver, and Portland. JakeWegmann. Cities, Volume 96, January 2020, 102403. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2019.102403

Highlights
• Austin, Denver, and Portland have thriving 21st century economies.
• However, families with children struggle to take advantage of what they offer.
• There is a link between gentrification and loss of children over time.
• Single-family and missing middle housing types are key for retaining children.
• They and other cities need to specifically prioritize housing needs of children.

Abstract: Austin, Denver, and Portland are all booming cities in or on the edge of the American West. Their thriving economies and natural and urban amenities have attracted large numbers of in-migrants. As housing prices rise, families with children in particular face diminished choices about where to live. This article asks three questions: How have the child populations of Austin, Denver, and Portland fared in recent decades? Is there a link between gentrification and a decrease in family households with children? And finally, to what extent do various housing types associate with more or fewer of these households? In brief, Austin, Denver, and Portland have fared reasonably well in maintaining family life, but neighborhoods with master-planned brownfield or greenfield developments appear to have accounted for a disproportionate share of the growth in their child populations, helping to offset sharp losses in gentrifying neighborhoods closer to the cities' urban cores. As these opportunities begin to diminish in all three cities, the strong association between compact single-family and “missing middle,” or middle density, housing types and households with children suggests pathways for these three cities and others like them to retain such households, by using policy to encourage these development types.

Keywords: ChildrenMissing middle housingAffordable housingGentrificationAmerican west

Does exposure to richer and poorer neighborhoods influence wellbeing? Individuals with higher income than that of neighbors are more satisfied with life

Does exposure to richer and poorer neighborhoods influence wellbeing? Donggen Wang, Tim Schwanen, Zidan Mao. Cities, Volume 95, December 2019, 102408, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2019.102408

Highlights
• Examines the impacts of individuals' income vis-à-vis that of neighbors on life satisfaction
• Studies the effect of individuals' income vis-à-vis that of visited areas on emotional wellbeing
• Data are derived from an activity-travel diary survey conducted in 2010 in Hong Kong
• Individuals with higher income than that of neighbors are more satisfied with life
• Individuals' income vis-à-vis that of visited areas is a positive predictor of emotional wellbeing

Abstract: Geographical differences in wellbeing have attracted increased attention in the science of happiness literature and recent research has become particularly interested in high-resolution spatial differentiation within cities. This study contributes to this literature by analyzing the relationships between subjective wellbeing and relative income at the neighborhood level using activity-travel survey data from 2010 in Hong Kong. In contrast to previous studies, the analysis concentrates not only on life satisfaction but also on pleasure derived from daily activities in the city, and considers relative income in people's residential neighborhood and the neighborhoods where they conduct different types of daily activity. The results suggest that social comparisons with regard to income matter to life satisfaction as well as emotional wellbeing, that the effects occur for both the residential neighborhood and the urban places where daily activities are undertaken, and that downward income comparisons tend to have stronger effects on wellbeing than upward comparison. One theoretical implication that follows from the analysis is that the impact of social comparison in the science of happiness needs to be theorized as dynamic, mobile and contingent upon people's daily trajectories through time and urban space.

Keywords: Hong KongIncomeLife satisfactionNeighborhoodPleasureSocial comparisonWellbeing

Let There Be Variance: Individual Differences in Consecutive Self‐control in a Laboratory Setting and Daily Life

Let There Be Variance: Individual Differences in Consecutive Self‐control in a Laboratory Setting and Daily Life. Mario Wenzel et al. European Journal of Personality, June 23 2019. https://doi.org/10.1002/per.2208

Abstract: The large body of research used to support ego‐depletion effects is currently faced with conceptual and replication issues, leading to doubt over the extent or even existence of the ego‐depletion effect. By using within‐person designs in a laboratory (Study 1; 187 participants) and an ambulatory assessment study (Study 2; 125 participants), we sought to clarify this ambiguity by investigating whether prominent situational variables (such as motivation and affect) or personality traits can help elucidate when ego depletion can be observed and when not. Although only marginal ego‐depletion effects were found in both studies, these effects varied considerably between individuals, indicating that some individuals experience self‐control decrements after initial self‐control exertion and others not. However, neither motivation nor affect nor personality traits such as trait self‐control could consistently explain this variability when models were applied that controlled for variance due to targets and the depletion manipulation (Study 1) or days (Study 2) as well as for multiple testing. We discuss how the operationalization and reliability of our key measures may explain these null effects and demonstrate that alternative metrics may be required to study the consequences of the consecutive exertion of self‐control.

These results show that upright animals, regardless of whether they are predators or prey, attract attention in humans, & this could allow humans to rapidly evaluate predatory threats or the flight readiness of hunted game

Animals in Upright Postures Attract Attention in Humans. Jessica L. Yorzinski, Richard G. Coss. Evolutionary Psychological Science, August 5 2019. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40806-019-00209-w

Abstract: Individual predators differ in the level of risk they represent to prey. Because prey incur costs when responding to predators, prey can benefit by adjusting their antipredator behavior based on the level of perceived risk. Prey can potentially assess the level of risk by evaluating the posture of predators as an index of predators’ motivational state. Like other prey species, humans might evaluate predator body posture as a prominent cue for assessing danger. We tested whether human participants adjusted their visual attention based on the postures of predators by presenting participants with photographic arrays of predators (lions) that varied in postures while we recorded the participants’ gaze behavior. The participants searched for a standing lion (representing a high-risk target) among an array of reclining lions (representing low-risk distractors) or searched for a reclining lion among an array of standing lions. They also searched through similar arrays consisting of non-threatening prey (impalas) standing or reclining, rather than predators. Participants detected standing lions and impala faster than reclining lions and impala. Surprisingly, they detected standing lions at similar latencies as standing impala. They detected the reclining lions and impala more slowly because they spent more time looking at the standing lion and impala distractors and looked at more of those distractors. These results show that upright animals, regardless of whether they are predators or prey, attract attention in humans, and this could allow humans to rapidly evaluate predatory threats or the flight readiness of hunted game.

Keywords: Attention Humans Delayed disengagement Posture Predator detection

Is Well-being Associated with the Quantity and Quality of Social Interactions? Introverts may experience greater boosts in social connectedness, relative to extraverts, when engaging in deeper conversations

Sun, Jessie, Kelci Harris, and Simine Vazire. 2019. “Is Well-being Associated with the Quantity and Quality of Social Interactions?.” PsyArXiv. August 5. doi:10.31234/osf.io/xdvsa

Abstract: Social relationships are often touted as critical for well-being. However, the vast majority of studies on social relationships have relied on self-report measures of both social interactions and well-being, which makes it difficult to disentangle true associations from shared method variance. To address this gap, we assessed the quantity and quality of social interactions using both self-report and observer-based measures in everyday life. Participants (N = 256, 3,206 observations) wore the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR), an unobtrusive audio recorder, and completed experience sampling method (ESM) self-reports of their momentary social interactions, happiness, and feelings of social connectedness, four times each day for one week. Observers rated the quantity and quality of participants’ social interactions based on the EAR recordings from the same time points. Quantity of social interactions was robustly associated with greater well-being in the moment and on average, whether they were measured with self-reports or observer reports. Conversational (conversational depth and self-disclosure) and relational (knowing and liking one’s interaction partners) aspects of social interaction quality were also generally associated with greater well-being, but the effects were larger and more consistent for self-reported (vs. observer-reported) quality variables, within-person (vs. between-person) associations, and for predicting social connectedness (vs. happiness). Finally, although most associations were similar for introverts and extraverts, our exploratory results suggest that introverts may experience greater boosts in social connectedness, relative to extraverts, when engaging in deeper conversations. This study provides compelling multi-method evidence supporting the link between more frequent and deeper social interactions and well-being.