Monday, September 30, 2019

False information can have short-term effects on what we believe & how we behave politically following exposure, which may be minimal, despite the countervailing narrative in the popular press

What’s Next? Six Observations for the Future of Political Misinformation Research. Brian E. Weeks, Homero Gil de Zúñiga. American Behavioral Scientist, September 30, 2019.

Abstract: Research on political misinformation is booming. The field is continually gaining more key insights about this important and complex social problem. Academic interest on misinformation has consistently been a multidisciplinary effort. But perhaps political communication researchers are particularly well situated to be the leading voices on the public’s understanding of misinformation and many are heeding the call. With that responsibility in mind, in this brief article we offer six observations for the future of political misinformation research that we believe can help focus this line of inquiry to better ensure we address some of the most pressing problems. Our list is not exhaustive, nor do we suggest that areas we do not cover are not important. Rather, we make these observations with the goal of spurring a conversation about the future of political misinformation research.

Keywords: misinformation, political misinformation, political communication, fake news

Intelligence of males and females were underpinned by different neurobiological correlates, which are consistent with their respective superiority in cognitive domains (visuospatial vs verbal ability)

Gender Differences in Connectome-based Predictions of Individualized Intelligence Quotient and Sub-domain Scores. Rongtao Jiang et al. Cerebral Cortex, bhz134, July 29 2019.

Abstract: Scores on intelligence tests are strongly predictive of various important life outcomes. However, the gender discrepancy on intelligence quotient (IQ) prediction using brain imaging variables has not been studied. To this aim, we predicted individual IQ scores for males and females separately using whole-brain functional connectivity (FC). Robust predictions of intellectual capabilities were achieved across three independent data sets (680 subjects) and two intelligence measurements (IQ and fluid intelligence) using the same model within each gender. Interestingly, we found that intelligence of males and females were underpinned by different neurobiological correlates, which are consistent with their respective superiority in cognitive domains (visuospatial vs verbal ability). In addition, the identified FC patterns are uniquely predictive on IQ and its sub-domain scores only within the same gender but neither for the opposite gender nor on the IQ-irrelevant measures such as temperament traits. Moreover, females exhibit significantly higher IQ predictability than males in the discovery cohort. This findings facilitate our understanding of the biological basis of intelligence by demonstrating that intelligence is underpinned by a variety of complex neural mechanisms that engage an interacting network of regions—particularly prefrontal–parietal and basal ganglia—whereas the network pattern differs between genders.

Randomness and related concepts (events happening “accidentally”, “coincidentally” or “by chance”) are typically assumed to occur in a context of small rather than large events

Are random events expected to be small? Karl Halvor TeigenAlf Børre Kanten. Psychological Research, September 30 2019.

Abstract: People’s intuitions about mathematical and statistical concepts often include features that are not a part of the formal definitions. We argue that randomness and related concepts (events happening “accidentally”, “coincidentally” or “by chance”) are typically assumed to occur in a context of small rather than large events. Five experiments were designed to test the hypothesis of an association between perceived randomness and size. In Experiment 1 and 2, statements describing small outcomes as due to chance were judged to be more natural and to make better sense than corresponding statements about large outcomes (or about small outcomes not due to chance). Experiment 3 showed that people imagine that stories about randomness in daily life should preferably start with small events, even when they eventually turn out to be consequential (e.g., stories about an apparently random meeting ending with marriage). Experiment 4 demonstrated that small changes in a graph of a random walk were seen as random, whereas large changes were perceived as potentially nonrandom. Finally, Experiment 5 showed that small animals are believed to display more random behavior than larger ones. This applied also to fictional creatures with nonsense names, where size was implicitly suggested by the names’ phonetic qualities. Analogical instances can be found in the history of science, all the way back to Lucretius’ doctrine of the tiny “swerves” of atoms. The pervasive association between smallness and randomness might be partly due to real-world observations and partly to cognitive and motivational constraints.

90 countries, 45 years of analysis: Financial repression (restrictions on interest rates, credit allocation, capital movements, etc.) poses a significant drag on growth, 0.4-0.7 percentage points

Financial Repression is Knocking at the Door, Again. Etibar Jafarov,Rodolfo Maino,Marco Pani. IMF Working Paper No. 19/211.

Summary: Financial repression (legal restrictions on interest rates, credit allocation, capital movements, and other financial operations) was widely used in the past but was largely abandoned in the liberalization wave of the 1990s, as widespread support for interventionist policies gave way to a renewed conception of government as an impartial referee. Financial repression has come back on the agenda with the surge in public debt in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, and some countries have reintroduced administrative ceilings on interest rates. By distorting market incentives and signals, financial repression induces losses from inefficiency and rent-seeking that are not easily quantified. This study attempts to assess some of these losses by estimating the impact of financial repression on growth using an updated index of interest rate controls covering 90 countries over 45 years. The results suggest that financial repression poses a significant drag on growth, which could amount to 0.4-0.7 percentage points.

Children of divorced parents are less honest than children of non-divorced parents; psychological counseling improves their honesty, and fails to improve children of non-divorced parents

Parents’ marital status, psychological counseling and dishonest kindergarten children: An experimental study. Yossef Tobol, Gideon Yaniv. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, September 30 2019.

• An experiment with kindergarten children is conducted to reveal their level of honesty.
• Children of divorced parents are less honest than children of non-divorced parents.
• Psychological counseling improves honesty of children of divorced parents.
• Psychological counseling fails to improve honesty of children of non-divorced parents.

Abstract: The present paper reports the results of an experiment which studied the effects of parents’ marital status (divorced or non-divorced) and psychological counseling (administered or not) on the honesty level of kindergarten children. Data on marital status and psychological counseling was anonymously provided by the kindergarten teachers and children's level of honesty was assessed by a flip-coin task which rewarded a self-reported favorable outcome. The experiment gave rise to two major results: first, children of divorced parents are less honest than children of non-divorced parents and second, psychological counseling helps improve honesty among children of divorced parents but fails to do so among children of non-divorced parents. No gender effect was found.

Keywords: Kindergarten childrenDishonest behaviorFlip coin taskPsychological counseling

Growth has been good after reform in Africa and Latin America, in contrast to the “lost decades” of the 80s and 90s

In Search of Reforms for Growth: New Stylized Facts on Policy and Growth Outcomes. William Easterly. NBER Working Paper No. 26318, September 2019.

Abstract: The lack of growth response to “Washington Consensus” policy reforms in the 1980s and 1990s led to widespread doubts about the value of such reforms. This paper updates these stylized facts by analyzing moderate to extreme levels of inflation, black market premiums, currency overvaluation, negative real interest rates and abnormally low trade shares to GDP. It finds three new stylized facts: (1) policy outcomes worldwide have improved a lot since the 1990s, (2) improvements in policy outcomes and improvements in growth across countries are correlated with each other (3) growth has been good after reform in Africa and Latin America, in contrast to the “lost decades” of the 80s and 90s. This paper makes no claims about causality. However, if the old stylized facts on disappointing growth accompanying reforms led to doubts about economic reforms, new stylized facts should lead to some positive updating of such beliefs.

Gluten aversion is not limited to the political left; perhaps most surprising, supporters of Donald Trump are more likely to identify as avoiding gluten, relative to non-supporters

Gluten aversion is not limited to the political left. Trey Malone, F. Bailey Norwood. Agriculture and Human Values, June 20 2019.

Abstract: Despite a heightened political discourse surrounding food choices, few studies have identified connections between political beliefs and consumer perceptions. Using gluten as an example, this article identifies how political opinions relate to opinions of food products. If an avoidance of gluten is a biological condition and not a social construct, there should be no correlation between political opinions and gluten avoidance. Our study uncovers a complex relationship between the social construction of gluten avoidance and the potential role of political views. Perhaps most surprising, we find that supporters of Donald Trump are more likely to identify as avoiding gluten, relative to non-supporters. Findings suggest that future research might benefit from considering the political beliefs of consumers when estimating models of food demand.

Keywords: Gluten Politics Survey Food

From 2018... Overestimating democracy, despite its absence, is widespread in less developed countries with little or no democratic tradition; underestimating is common in mature, economically developed, Protestant democracies

From 2018... Democracy Confused: When People Mistake the Absence of Democracy for Its Presence. Stefan Kruse, Maria Ravlik, Christian Welzel. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, December 31, 2018.

Abstract: A widely neglected phenomenon consists in the fact that large population segments in many countries confuse the absence of democracy with its presence. Significantly, these are also the countries where widespread support for democracy coexists with persistent deficiencies in the latter, including its outright absence. Addressing this puzzle, we introduce a framework to sort out to what extent national populations overestimate their regimes’ democratic qualities. We test our hypotheses applying multilevel models to about 93,000 individuals from 75 countries covered by the cross-cultural World Values Surveys. We find that overestimating democracy is a widespread phenomenon, although it varies systematically across countries. Among a multitude of plausible influences, cognitive stimuli and emancipative values work together as a psychologically activating force that turns people against overestimating democracy. In fact, this psychological activation not only reduces overestimations of democracy; it actually leads toward underestimations, thus increasing criticality rather than accuracy in assessments. We conclude that, by elevating normative expectations, psychological activation releases prodemocratic selection pressures in the evolution of regimes.

Keywords: cognitive mobilization, democracy assessments, emancipative values, political support, regime legitimacy

Cross-Cultural Variations in Extreme Rejecting and Extreme Affirming Response Styles

Cross-Cultural Variations in Extreme Rejecting and Extreme Affirming Response Styles. Tieyuan Guo, Roy Spina. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, September 9, 2019.

Abstract: Previous research has discussed cultural differences in moderacy vs extremity response styles. The present research found that cultural differences in response styles were more complex than previously speculated. We investigated cross-cultural variations in extreme rejecting versus affirming response biases. Although research has indicated that overall Chinese have less extreme responses than Westerners, the difference may be mainly driven by extreme rejecting responses because respondents consider answering survey questions as a way of interacting with researchers, and extreme rejecting responses may disrupt harmony in relationships, which is valued more in Chinese collectivistic culture than in Western individualistic cultures. Studies 1 and 2 revealed that Chinese had less extreme rejecting response style than did British, whereas they did not differ in extreme affirming response style. Study 2 further revealed that the cross-cultural asymmetry in extreme rejecting versus affirming response styles was partially accounted for by individualism orientation at the individual level. Consistently, Study 3 revealed that at the country level, individualism was positively associated with extreme rejecting response style, but was not associated with extreme affirming response style, suggesting that individualism accounted for the asymmetric cultural variation in extreme rejecting versus affirming response styles.

Keywords: culture, extremity response style, extreme rejecting response style, extreme affirming response style, individualism

From 1972... Erving Goffman's Relations in Public: Microstudies of the Public Order

Relations in Public: Microstudies of the Public Order. Erving Goffman. Penguin, 1972. ISBN-13 978-0140216141

Editor text:
Until recently, to be in a "public place" meant to feel safe. That has changed, especially in cities. Urban dwellers sense the need to quickly react to gestural cues from persons in their immediate presence in order to establish their relationship to each other. Through this communication they hope to detect potential danger before it is too late for self-defense or flight. The ability to read accurately the "informing signs" by which strangers indicate their relationship to one another in public or semi-public places without speaking, has become as important as understanding the official written and spoken language of the country.

In Relations in Public, Erving Goff man provides a grammar of the unspoken language used in public places. He shows that the way strangers relate in public is part of a design by which friends and acquaintances manage their relationship in the presence of bystanders. He argues that, taken together, this forms part of a new domain of inquiry into the rules for co-mingling, or public order.

Most people give little thought to how elaborate and complex our everyday behavior in public actually is. For example, we adhere to the rules of pedestrian traffic on a busy thoroughfare, accept the usual ways of acting in a crowded elevator or subway car, grasp the delicate nuances of conversational behavior, and respond to the rich vocabulary of body gestures. We behave differently at weddings, at meals, in crowds, in couples, and when alone. Such everyday behavior, though generally below the level of awareness, embodies unspoken codes of social understandings necessary for the orderly conduct of society.

p 32: "All of this may be seen in miniature in elevator behavior. Passengers have two problems: to allocate the space equably, and to maintain a defensible position, which in this context means orientation to the door and center with the back up against the wall if possible. The first few individuals can enter without anyone present having to rearrange himself, but very shortly each new entrant – up to a certain number – causes all those present to shift position and reorient themselves in sequence. Leave-taking introduces a tendency to reverse the cycle, but this is tempered by the countervailing resistance to appearing uncomfortable in an established distance from another. Thus, as the car empties, passengers acquire a measure of uneasiness, caught between two opposing inclinations – to obtain maximum distance from others and to inhibit avoidance behavior that might give offense."
p 31: "(when the two are of opposite sex, there exists the added complication that failure to move away when possible can be taken as a sign of undue interest.)"