Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Recreational marijuana laws reduce annual opioid mortality in the range of 20%–35%, with particularly pronounced effects for synthetic opioids

The Effects of Recreational Marijuana Legalization and Dispensing on Opioid Mortality. Nathan W. Chan, Jesse Burkhardt, Matthew Flyr. Economic Enquiry, August 6 2019.

Abstract: This study documents how the changing legal status of marijuana has impacted mortality in the United States over the past two decades. We use a difference‐in‐difference approach to estimate the effect of medical marijuana laws (MML) and recreational marijuana laws (RML) on fatalities from opioid overdoses, and we find that marijuana access induces sharp reductions in opioid mortality rates. Our research corroborates prior findings on MMLs and offers the first causal estimates of RML impacts on opioid mortality to date, the latter of which is particularly important given that RMLs are far more expansive in scope and reach than MMLs. In our preferred econometric specification, we estimate that RMLs reduce annual opioid mortality in the range of 20%–35%, with particularly pronounced effects for synthetic opioids. In further analysis, we demonstrate how RML impacts vary among demographic groups, shedding light on the distributional consequences of these laws. Our findings are especially important and timely given the scale of the opioid crisis in the United States and simultaneously evolving attitudes and regulations on marijuana use. (JEL I18, K32, H75)

Why "the scale of the opioid crisis in the" US? Why are you working in this area and know not of other places with similar issues? Less passion and more data, it is happening also in parts of the UK (

Though we are not yet capable of fully determining who conspiracy theorists are, conspiratorial thinking, paranormal beliefs, & political orientations are good predictors of conspiracy beliefs

Who Are Conspiracy Theorists? A Comprehensive Approach to Explaining Conspiracy Beliefs. Adam M. Enders, Steven M. Smallpage. Social Science Quarterly, August 6 2019.

Objective: This study disentangles the known correlates of conspiracy beliefs—such as the general predisposition toward conspiratorial thinking, authoritarianism, and partisan and ideological predispositions—in order to better understand the psychological antecedents of such beliefs and answer the question: Who are conspiracy theorists?

Methods: We use classification and regression tree models to explain individual beliefs in specific conspiracy theories, employing a large set of known correlates of conspiratorial thinking.

Results: Depending on the characteristics of the conspiracy theory employed on the survey, we find that political orientations and conspiratorial thinking provide the most analytical leverage in predicting individual conspiracy beliefs. Furthermore, paranormal beliefs were more predictive than previous literature suggests, while psychological biases demonstrated very limited predictive utility.

Conclusions: The psychological antecedents of conspiracy beliefs used to explain those beliefs vary considerably by the stimuli or events at the center of a given conspiracy theory. Therefore, disproportionately favoring one type of conspiracy theory on one's survey may result in inferences about conspiracy theorists that do not translate across studies. Furthermore, though we are not yet capable of fully determining who conspiracy theorists are, conspiratorial thinking, paranormal beliefs, and political orientations are more predictive of particular conspiracy beliefs than other attitudes, predispositions, and orientations.

A great deal of recent research has demonstrated that conspiracy beliefs are a central component of modern culture and politics (e.g., Brotherton, 2015; Oliver and Wood, 2014; Uscinski and Parent, 2014), rather than indicators of radical alienation or psychopathology. More commonplace than once thought, belief in conspiracy theories can have negative effects on individuals and democratic society. For example, mere exposure to conspiracy theories has been found to reduce individual intention to vote and make political donations (Butler, Koopman, and Zimbardo, 1995), participate in politics more generally (Jolley and Douglas, 2014), and place trust in government services and institutions (Einstein and Glick, 2015). Thus, understanding conspiracy theories and those who believe them has positive implications not only for “conspiracy theorists,” but also for those around them, as well as normative implications for theories of culture and government. The rapidly expanding, albeit nascent, literature on conspiracy theories has identified a substantial set of attitudes, predispositions, orientations, and psychological mechanisms that are related to conspiracy beliefs. One characteristic shared by many of these studies is a focus on one, or a small subset of, correlate(s) of conspiracy beliefs. It is perfectly reasonable and expected that a young literature may move forward in such a piecemeal fashion as researchers strive to build a theoretical foundation for the subfield. However, such an erratic procession is not without consequential limitations. While we have learned a great deal about the correlates of conspiracy beliefs in a vacuum, we have little empirical foundation for understanding how those correlate work together. Indeed, we have only a tenuous grasp of who conspiracy theorists are.
In this article, we offer information about which factors related to conspiracy beliefs provide the most analytical leverage in correctly predicting individual conspiracy beliefs. Such information is useful for both identifying the relevant characteristics of conspiracy theorists more precisely, and in further developing our theories about the psychological antecedents of specific conspiracy beliefs (Wood, 2017). Ultimately, a firmer understanding of the characteristics of conspiracy theorists can help us understand what about the conspiratorial frame of mind gives rise to the negative effects of conspiracism, and possibly help combat such effects.
To be more specific, this study offers three important developments of recent work on the correlates of conspiracy beliefs. First, we decipher which correlates seem to analytically matter most when a substantial set of previously identified factors are accounted for. In doing this, we find that the most predictive correlates of nine specific and commonly employed conspiracy beliefs are conspiratorial thinking, political orientations, and paranormal beliefs, while measures of several psychological biases and sociodemographic characteristics offer little utility in correctly classifying conspiracy beliefs. Second, we identify the characteristics of specific conspiracy theories that seem to affect which correlates are most predictive of related beliefs. More specifically, we find that the previously identified correlates differentially affect different “types” of conspiracy theories—namely, those with and without partisan political content. Finally, we discuss our general ability to answer the question “who are conspiracy theorists?” and provide practical recommendations for scholars interested in explaining conspiracy theories and those who believe them.
A conspiracy theory is a “proposed explanation of events that cites as a main causal factor a small group of persons (the conspirators) acting in secret for their own benefit, against the common good” (Uscinski, Klofstad, and Atkinson, 2016:2). A conspiracy belief, then, is a belief in a specific conspiracy theory. Perhaps the most obvious theoretical cause of specific conspiracy beliefs is “conspiratorial thinking,” a psychological state that is the amalgamation of “stable individual differences in the general tendency to engage with conspiracist explanations for events” (Brotherton, French, and Pickering, 2013:1). Conspiratorial thinking is a general tendency to view the world a certain way (Brotherton, 2015) rather than any specific trait, predisposition, or set of attitudes. A great deal of recent work on conspiratorial thinking has turned its attention away from specific conspiracy beliefs and toward the goal of identifying this mindset in individuals (e.g., Imhoff and Bruder, 2014; Lantian et al., 2016; Uscinski and Parent, 2014; Wood, 2017). Most of the unique measurement strategies utilized to identify conspiracy theorists ask survey respondents to what extent they agree with claims such as “I think that events which superficially seem to lack a connection are often the result of secret activities” (Bruder et al., 2013), or “Much of our lives are being controlled by plots hatched in secret places” (Uscinski and Parent, 2014).
Conceptually related to conspiratorial thinking are specific psychological biases that may cause—individually or cumulatively—one to view the world through the lens of conspiracism. Patternicity, the predisposition to delineate patterns from what are truly random events, is an obvious hallmark of conspiratorial thinking (Brotherton, 2015). Those individuals who are particularly susceptible to patternicity are more likely to “see” the connections between disparate events. Brotherton and French (2014, 2015) have also identified susceptibility to the conjunction fallacy and intentionality bias as characteristics of individuals with conspiracy beliefs. Indeed, conspiracy theorists are likely to believe in several conspiracy theories that are logically at odds with each other and ascribe intention to perceived actions that are truly accidental or coincidental in nature.
Political scientists focusing on the role of political identities and orientations have found that partisanship and ideological self‐identifications are significantly related to many American conspiracy theories. For instance, Hartman and Newmark (2012) and Pasek et al. (2015) identify partisanship as a key predictor of conspiracy beliefs about the birthplace of Barack Obama. Miller, Saunders, and Farhart (2016) find that left–right political orientations serve as the latent structure that underlies a host of American beliefs in conspiracy theories about climate change, the birthplace of Barack Obama, the 9/11 terror attacks, and electoral fraud. The effects of partisan and ideological orientations also appear to translate in nature, though not exact character, across political context. van Prooijen, Andre, and Pollet (2015) find politically extreme individuals—those who reside on the edges of scales of ideological orientations, regardless of political context—tend to be more conspiratorial than their moderate counterparts.
A host of other individual differences have also been identified as correlates of conspiracy beliefs. Authoritarianism, for example, has long been a fixture in the literature on conspiracy beliefs (Abalakina‐Paap et al., 1999; McHoskey, 1995). Since authoritarian individuals are more likely to blame others for their problems, they are also more likely to believe in conspiracy theories that tend to posit that some unknown force is guiding events. More recent work has also identified paranormal thinking—the tendency to believe in the role of supernatural forces in everyday life, and individuals' ability to engage such forces—as an important correlate of conspiracy beliefs (Darwin, Neave, and Homes, 2011; Oliver and Wood, 2014). Lastly, personality characteristics (Swami, Chamorro‐Premuzic, and Furnham, 2010), anomia (Goertzel, 1994), and self‐uncertainty and belongingness (van Prooijen, 2016) have been found to correlate with conspiratorial thinking.
Finally, some have asserted the role of nonpsychological characteristics, such as age, race, gender, socioeconomic status, and educational attainment, in promoting conspiratorial thinking. Much of this work comes from a more historical, sociological tradition that emphasized “fringe” status in society as a major cause of conspiratorial worldview (e.g., Hofstadter, 1964). Although we are more interested in the psychological correlates of conspiracy beliefs, we nevertheless consider whether sociodemographic characteristics affect conspiratorial thinking in addition to other psychological variables.
We do not purport to have included every known correlate of conspiracy beliefs in the above lists, but we do believe that our review of the literature conveys the simple point that there are a great many of such correlates. And, even though none of the correlates of conspiracy beliefs we have outlined above strikes us as unreasonable or improbable, we are left wondering which of these correlates actually matters for classifying conspiracy beliefs. Very little of the research outlined above considers simultaneously the effects of several of the identified constructs on conspiracy beliefs. Gaining some grasp on this question is important for two reasons. First, it will help us better understand which predispositions, orientations, and attitudes best characterize conspiracy theorists. An understanding of the characteristics of conspiracy theorists will aid us in deciphering the best candidates for causal first‐movers of conspiracy beliefs. This has implications for our theories of the psychological antecedents of conspiracy beliefs, and the measurement strategies we employ to capture and explain such beliefs. Second, this work will help us more fully answer perhaps the most illusive question faced by the literature: Who are conspiracy theorists?

Does Exposure to Gender Role Models Increase Women’s Political Ambition? It seems not.

Does Exposure to Gender Role Models Increase Women’s Political Ambition? A Field Experiment with Politicians. Florian Foos and Fabrizio Gilardi. Journal of Experimental Political Science, August 7 2019.

Abstract: There is a persistent gender gap in motivations to run for political office. While exposure to role models is widely believed to increase women’s political ambition, there is little field experimental evidence on whether exposure to female politicians in realistic settings can increase political ambition. We conducted a field experiment in which a sample of 612 female students was randomly assigned to receive emails inviting them to an event that included career workshops with female politicians, or no email. The treatment increased interest in the ongoing national election campaign, but, against expectations, did not have any positive effect on political ambition. Our results suggest that female politicians who discuss their experience bluntly, instead of following a motivational script, may fail to motivate other women to pursue a political career. These results highlight the need for more research into the type of events and messages that bring more women into politics.

We identify evolutionary advantages that may incentivize tolerance toward extra‐group individuals in humans & nonhuman primates, including enhanced benefits in the domains of transfer, mating, & food acquisition

The evolution of intergroup tolerance in nonhuman primates and humans. Anne C. Pisor, Martin Surbeck. Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews, August 6 2019.

Abstract: Primate individuals use a variety of strategies in intergroup encounters, from aggression to tolerance; however, recent focus on the evolution of either warfare or peace has come at the cost of characterizing this variability. We identify evolutionary advantages that may incentivize tolerance toward extra‐group individuals in humans and nonhuman primates, including enhanced benefits in the domains of transfer, mating, and food acquisition. We highlight the role these factors play in the flexibility of gorilla, chimpanzee, bonobo, and human behavior. Given humans have an especially broad range of intergroup behavior, we explore how the human foraging ecology, especially large spatial and temporal fluctuations in resource availability, may have selected for a greater reliance on tolerant between‐community relationships—relationships reinforced by status acquisition and cultural institutions. We conclude by urging careful, theoretically motivated study of behavioral flexibility in intergroup encounters in humans and the nonhuman great apes.


Attempting to explain the prevalence of intergroup aggression in primates, especially in humans (Homo sapiens sapiens), evolutionary anthropologists have focused extensively on intergroup contest and warfare. In response, other evolutionary anthropologists have focused extensively on peace systems in primates, especially in humans. Focusing on these two ends of the spectrum—war or peacefulness—has come at the cost of fully characterizing within‐species variation in individuals' behavioral strategies in intergroup encounters (e.g., Refs. 1-4; see also, Ref. 5: table 22‐1). Furthermore, both of these approaches emphasize selection pressures that favor or disfavor intergroup aggression; less researched are the selection pressures that, given disincentives for intergroup aggression, favor tolerant encounters and the prolongment of tolerant encounters in intergroup association.

In the present review, our goal is to call for explicit theorization about the individual‐level selection pressures that favored flexible behavior in intergroup encounters in humans and nonhuman primates, especially the often‐overlooked pressures that may favor tolerant encounters and association given disincentives for aggression. We review how tolerant behavior toward extra‐group conspecifics in specific domains—such as food access, mating, and reconnaissance before transfer—may have been favored by natural selection in nonhuman primates. In the course of this review, we pay special attention to the group‐living, nonhuman great apes, but not because these species are necessarily the best analogies for intergroup behavior in humans. We focus on these species for two reasons: first, due to our common ancestry, humans and the extant nonhuman great apes share a number of traits derived within the Primate order, suggesting that there is (at least some) insight to be gained by drawing comparisons between these species; and second, to highlight how little we still know about intergroup encounters in the nonhuman great apes, especially in gorillas and bonobos.

Given what has been observed of intergroup behavior in nonhuman primates, we assess whether consideration of the potential selective benefits favoring intergroup encounter and association in these species provides insight into human behavior. Our review of the literature suggests that the particularly high prevalence of intergroup tolerant encounter and association in humans may be derived, even within the great apes; we hypothesize that this high prevalence reflects human reliance on resources that vary extensively in their availability across space and time. Given that our field has invested much energy into studying the selection pressures favoring or disfavoring intergroup aggression, we conclude by urging evolutionary anthropologists to explicitly theorize about individual‐level selection pressures that may favor intergroup tolerant encounters, and even prolonged intergroup association, so that we can better understand the variation in intergroup behavior within and between species.


In evolutionary anthropology and in disciplines influenced by it, a common current assumption made by researchers is a “strong human universal toward parochial altruism”—in‐group favoritism at out‐group cost.86 Research focus on chimpanzees as a referential model for human behavior34 tends to promote this perspective. However, evidence suggests that individual behavior in intergroup encounters is actually quite flexible, both in humans (e.g., per the study from which the preceding quote was drawn86) and in the group‐living great apes generally. Disincentives for intergroup aggression have been thoroughly discussed by other reviews; however, these disincentives provide insight only into when selection could favor individual tolerance toward extra‐group members, but not why it does under these circumstances. Here, drawing on existing observations of nonhuman primates, we assembled potential fitness benefits that may favor intergroup tolerant encounter and association (Table 1). Though scientists know comparatively little about intergroup encounters in bonobos and gorillas relative to chimpanzees—a situation that should be remedied—the fitness benefits we identified seem to account for at least some of the observed variability in intergroup behavior in bonobos and gorillas.

Our review of the literature suggests that the benefits favoring intergroup tolerant encounter and association in nonhuman primates can account for some, but not all, of the flexibility of intergroup tolerance in humans. In both humans and nonhuman primates, mating and transfer, as facilitated by visitation, and opportunities for social learning are potential benefits to be gained from intergroup tolerant encounter and association. Likewise, across the Primate order, kinship and partner preferences can further amplify the benefits and minimize the costs of encounter. However, humans have a much higher prevalence of intergroup tolerant encounter and association than do nonhuman primates—at least, as observed to date. Evidence from anthropology and across the social sciences suggests that humans' reliance on resources with extensive spatial and temporal variability has necessitated flexible interest in between‐community relationships as a means of managing the risks of resource shortfalls and ensuring access to nonlocally available resources. When and where the benefits of between‐community resource access have been high, cultural institutions and social status have also enhanced and reinforced these benefits. This is not to say that humans do not engage in intergroup aggression—the ethnographic, archaeological, and contemporary records provide ample evidence of parochialism and warfare—but rather that human intergroup behavior can be both more tolerant and more aggressive than what we have observed in our closest relatives and that this flexibility in intergroup behavior is functional.

We advance the hypotheses outlined in this review for testing by the evolutionary anthropological community. Similar ideas with respect to the importance of between‐community resource access have been outlined by functionalist anthropologists, archaeologists, and human behavioral ecologists previously—although usually without treatment of why between‐community resource access is of particular importance in humans. We hope that by amalgamating these perspectives and building upon them, the present paper inspires newfound interest in the flexibility of human and nonhuman great ape intergroup behavior, moving our discipline beyond its current focus on parochialism. In addition to our larger hypothesis with respect to the human foraging ecology, we wish to highlight other related questions to be addressed by future work. (1) The higher the frequency of shortfalls, the more likely that individuals will recall these shortfalls (whether via their own memories or even via oral traditions) and maintain between‐community relationships accordingly50, 51—but how frequent must they be? Is once every several generations enough? (2) Will the connections we drew between status acquisition, cultural institutions, and the relative importance of between‐community resource access be supported by additional data? To date, the connection between status and between‐community relationships has been more theoretical than empirical. (3) Which poses stronger selection pressure in humans: benefits gained via intergroup tolerant encounters and association in the currency of between‐community resource access, or the cost of mortality risk from aggression and warfare,37 potentially reduced by intergroup tolerant encounters and association?

To answer the above questions and improve the accuracy of our characterizations of sociality in both humans and nonhuman great apes, researchers will need to collect targeted data assessing the predictors of intergroup behavior. For field researchers studying humans, we urge caution with respect to reliance on observational data and “complete” social networks. Asking participants about their social strategies for mitigating shortfalls,49 their preferences for same‐community vs between‐community relationships,41, 42 and their extra‐community ties85 may provide a more accurate picture of the flexibility of human sociality. Furthermore, the dedication of increased research effort to intergroup encounters and association in gorillas and bonobos, as well as habituation of neighboring groups, will improve our understanding of sociality in the group‐living nonhuman great apes.

In the present review, we opted not to unpack the nature of human “groups” nor human group psychology. Humans are adept at cognizing groups of various kinds—from groups formed in experimental contexts to interest‐based groups to ethnic or religious groups—and at recognizing their boundaries. A number of the papers and book chapters we reviewed here discuss potential derived functions of group living in humans (see Refs. 53, 54, 56, 69). Our larger point is that human reliance on resources that vary in their spatial and temporal availability often necessitates relationships spanning distance; in general, the group‐living great apes evidence flexible interest in intergroup encounters and association (Box 1), and it is likely that this flexible interest became even more important in the human lineage (Section 3.2). While relationships spanning distance sometimes span ethnolinguistic boundaries, for example, or religious boundaries, they do not necessarily. As such, questions of the proliferation of different types of human groups, and how ethnic groups may have been built on the scaffolding of social relationships through which nonlocal resources could be accessed (e.g.,83), we leave to other papers.

Given the lack of attention the benefits of intergroup tolerant encounter and association have received in evolutionary anthropology, the present review reflects initial theorizing about these incentives; as such, we have not explored the roles of constraints, including phylogeny and life history constraints, nor the affordances of a comparative approach with non‐primate species. Phylogeny and life history constraints likely affect the prevalence and flexibility of intergroup tolerance in different species of primates. For example, the relationship between intergroup tolerance and the ecological and social factors discussed here may partially reflect a third variable, phylogenetic signal. Whether such constraints explain existing observational data is a question to be answered by future work. Furthermore, we chose not to pursue a comparative approach with non‐primate species. Though the high incentives for intergroup tolerant encounter and association observed in humans may have better analogies among non‐primate vertebrates or even insects,2 our goal here was to explore intergroup tolerance in humans in the context of nonhuman primates rather than to find the closest‐match analogy for human behavior.

Intergroup behavior in primates is flexible, and the prevalence of intergroup tolerant encounters and association varies across species. To be sure, incentives for aggression vary, as discussed extensively in existing work; however, when incentives for aggression are low or absent, why would natural selection favor tolerant behavior toward extra‐group members—or even increased rates of intergroup tolerant encounter and association? Drawing inferences from the existing primatological literature, we highlighted benefits favoring intergroup tolerant encounter and association in the Primate order, including in group‐living nonhuman apes and humans, such as transfer, mating, and food acquisition. Humans are unique among primates in our high prevalence of intergroup tolerance, however, and data from across the social sciences suggest the relevance of the human foraging ecology—especially the spatial and temporal availability of resources on which we depend—in explaining the human pattern. Future research should work to better document the variability in intergroup behavior in the group‐living apes, especially in gorillas, bonobos, and humans, using methods of data collection designed specifically for this endeavor.

Childhood intelligence, much more than adult personality, is a predictor of saving 40 years later; how intelligence affected education and also occupation explains adult financial success

Factors influencing adult savings and investment: Findings from a nationally representative sample. Adrian Furnham, Helen Cheng. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 151, 1 December 2019, 109510.

Abstract: This study explored a longitudinal data set of over 5766 adults examining factors that influence adult savings and investment. Data were collected at birth, in childhood (at age 11) and adulthood (at ages 33 and 50 yrs) to examine the effects of family social status, childhood intelligence, adult personality traits, education and occupation, and personal financial assessment on adult savings and investment. Results from structural equation modelling showed that parental social status, educational qualifications and occupational prestige, trait Conscientiousness, personal financial assessment and gender all had significant and direct effects on adult savings and investment, accounting for 26% of the total variance. The strongest predictor of adult savings and investment was their personal subjective financial assessment followed by educational qualifications and current occupational prestige. Limitations and implications are considered.

Political skill and outcomes in social life: Political skill was related to self-rated social life quality, perceiver-rated likeability, and friend-rated positive sociality

Political skill and outcomes in social life. Michael Z. Wang, Judith A. Hall. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 149, 15 October 2019, Pages 192-199.

Abstract: The concept of political skill has been extensively studied in work and professional life but not yet in social life. To study how political skill relates to social life outcomes, participants engaged in a videotaped interaction in the laboratory that was rated for likeability and intelligence by naïve perceivers and coded for behavior by trained coders. Participants also took the Political Skill Scale (PSI; Ferris et al., 2005) (with workplace references removed) and other personality questionnaires. Finally, ratings from participants' friends were gathered. Political skill was related to self-rated social life quality, perceiver-rated likeability, and friend-rated positive sociality. When controlling for extraversion, self-monitoring, and social self-efficacy, all relations stayed significant except ones with self-rated social life quality. Results were strongest for the PSI's subscales for networking ability and interpersonal influence. Sounding confident and initiating topics mediated relations between political skill and perceiver ratings.