Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Non-published World Bank study: Aid disbursements to highly aid-dependent countries coincide with sharp increases in bank deposits in offshore financial centers known for bank secrecy

Elite Capture of Foreign Aid: Evidence from Offshore Bank Accounts. Jørgen Juel Andersen, Niels Johannesen, Bob Rijkers. Conditionally accepted to the World Bank Working Paper series, December 13, 2019. https://www.nielsjohannesen.net/wp-content/uploads/AidAndHiddenWealth-FullPaper-WEB18Feb2020.pdf

Abstract: Do elites capture foreign aid? We document that aid disbursements to highly aid-dependent countries coincide with sharp increases in bank deposits in offshore financial centers known for bank secrecy and private wealth management, but not in other financial centers. The estimates are not confounded by contemporaneous shocks such as civil conflicts, natural disasters and financial crises, and are robust to instrumenting with predetermined aid commitments. The implied leakage rate is 7.5% at the sample mean and exhibits a strong correlation with the ratio of aid to GDP. Our findings are consistent with aid capture in the most aid-dependent countries.

JEL: D73; F35, P16


An important feature of all of our empirical specifications is the log-transformation of foreign deposits, which captures the statistical assumption that foreign deposits change exponentially. This assumption has strong economic foundations. First, absent withdrawals and new deposits, compound interest mechanically makes account balances grow exponentially. Second, many theoretical models will predict that changes in deposits in response to changes in the economic environment, e.g. business cycles and policy interventions, are proportional to the stock of deposits. Such considerations have led almost three decades’ of literature on foreign deposits to estimate models in log-levels (Alworth and Andresen, 1992; Huizinga and Nicodeme, 2004; Johannesen, 2014; Johannesen and Zucman, 2014; Menkhoff and Miethe, 2019; OECD, 2019) or log-differences (Andersen et al., 2017).

The main disadvantage of the log-transformation is that the resulting model does not deliver the structural parameter of interest, the leakage rate, directly. It is therefore natural to consider alternatives, for instance to scale deposits by GDP. However, scaling does not preserve the appealing features of the logarithmic transformation when countries are structurally different. For instance, in case two countries exhibit a ratio of haven deposits to GDP of 2% and 10% respectively, compound interest at the rate of 5% increases the ratio of haven deposits to GDP by 0.1% in one country and by 0.5% in the other. Moreover, scaling both deposits (the dependent variable) and aid (the explanatory variable) with GDP may create a mechanical positive correlation. In light of these difficulties, we first estimate the model in log-differences and later retrieve the leakage rate with a simple back-of-the-envelope computation. 

4.1 Main Findings

We present the results from our baseline model in Table 2. Controlling for GDP growth, country fixed effects and time fixed effects, we find that aid disbursements are strongly associated with increases in haven deposits, but do not vary systematically with non-haven deposits. Specifically, as shown in Column (1), an aid disbursement equivalent to one percent of GDP in a given quarter induces a statistically significant increase in haven deposits of around 3.4%. By contrast, as shown in Column (2), the analogous effect on non-haven deposits is a statistically insignificant decrease of around 1.5%. The final specification highlights the difference: an aid disbursement equivalent to one percent of GDP is associated with a statistically significant increase in haven deposits, measured over and above the increase in non-haven deposits, of around 5%, as shown in Column (3).

The results are consistent with aid capture by ruling elites: diversion to secret accounts, either directly or through kickbacks from private sector cronies, can explain the sharp increase in money held in foreign banking centers specializing in concealment and laundering. If the transfers to havens were caused by confounding shocks correlating with aid disbursements, we should expect to see similar transfers to other foreign banking centers; however, there is no evidence of such responses.

Pregnant women may strategically employ sexual behavior to secure or reinforce investment in their future offspring, perhaps by reinforcing a partner's perception of paternity

Women’s sexual strategies in pregnancy. Jaclyn Magginetti, Elizabeth G. Pillsworth. Evolution and Human Behavior, Volume 41, Issue 1, January 2020, Pages 76-86, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2019.10.001

Abstract: Humans exhibit an unusual pattern of sexual behavior compared to other mammalian females. Women's extended sexuality has been hypothesized to be related to a variety of possible benefits, especially non-genetic reproductive benefits, such as securing male investment via reinforced pairbonds or paternity confusion. But sexual behavior also comes at a cost, particularly for pregnant women, in terms of energetic costs, potential disease, and possible harm to the fetus. We hypothesize, therefore, that sexual behavior in pregnant women should reflect adaptive strategies and that pregnant women will be particularly strategic about their sexual behavior in order to maximize potential benefits while minimizing potential costs. One hundred twelve pregnant women completed a survey of their partners' qualities and their sexual desires toward their primary partners and men other than their primary partners. Results showed that women's perceptions of relationship threat positively predicted sexual desire for primary partners, while their perceptions of their partner's investing qualities negatively predicted sexual desire for extra-pair mates. These qualities, as well as cues to partner's genetic quality and gestation age, also interacted in ways that suggest that pregnant women's sexual desires are sensitive to cues of future investment and relationship stability.

4. Discussion

The results from this study provide much-needed insight into the strategic use of sexual behavior in pregnant women. The data suggest that sexual behavior in pregnancy reflects a strategic tool designed to benefit women's reproductive success through a variety of means. In contrast to previous literature that has reported a general decline in sexual desire across pregnancy, and in contrast to some studies that have documented apparent increases in desire specifically during the second trimester, we found no evidence of any direct effect of gestational age on in-pair sexual desire, either in a linear or curvilinear fashion. This suggests that variation in sexual desire during pregnancy is neither a simple hormonal response, nor likely to be a physiological byproduct of pregnancy.
Based on existing primate literature, one specific function that post-conception copulation may serve is to confuse paternity, which may be beneficial either in the context of potential risks posed by non-fathers to the offspring or if non-fathers may be able to provide additional investment or resources to the child. While misattributed paternity is only likely to occur if multiple mating takes place relatively early in pregnancy, cultures that exhibit beliefs in partible paternity provide an example of how sexual behavior throughout pregnancy can impact the paternal investment and resources available to a woman and her child (e.g., Walker et al., 2010). In our data, we saw no evidence that extra-pair sexual attraction was directly related to gestation age, but we did find that other factors that were related to women's experience of extra-pair sexual attraction tended to have greater effects earlier in pregnancy compared to later.
Many lines of evidence have shown that even the suggestion of possible infidelity can provoke extremely costly responses in male partners, from relationship desertion to homicide (Buss & Shackelford, 1997; Buunk & Massar, 2019; Jewkes, 2002; Wilson & Daly, 1993). Therefore, we expect that the potential benefits of pursuing any sort of extra-pair strategy should only exceed the likely costs if the benefits provided by the primary partner are low. Our data showed a pattern consistent with this prediction, though statistically weak, in which those women who rated their partners as less satisfactory in terms of their investing qualities were more likely to also report experiencing extra-pair sexual desire or flirtation, particularly early in pregnancy. It is important to note that our composite variable of extra-pair attraction included measures of both desire and potentially observable behavior, specifically, flirting with extra-pair men. Even subtle forms of overt behavior are likely to carry risks of partner retribution or more general social sanctions, and thus we find in many studies of human sexual strategies that measures of desire are more useful in illuminating the underlying sexual psychology that ultimately direct sexual behavior than are measures of the behaviors themselves (e.g. Brtnicka, Weiss, & Zverina, 2009; Haselton & Gangestad, 2006; Larson, Pillsworth, & Haselton, 2012; Pillsworth & Haselton, 2006; Roney & Simmons, 2013). In this study, too, we found that the predicted patterns were more evident when excluding overt behaviors and looking only at the unobservable factor of desire.
In addition to the predicted effect of partner investing qualities on pregnant women's extra-pair desires, we also observed a surprising effect of partner's physical attractiveness. Studies of women's extra-pair sexual desires across the ovulatory cycle have consistently shown that fertile women are more likely to experience extra-pair sexual desire if their primary partners are low in physical attractiveness (e.g. Pillsworth & Haselton, 2006). We observed the opposite effect among pregnant women; it was those with more physically attractive partners who experienced greater extra-pair sexual desire. This effect, like that of partner investing quality, was most evident in early pregnancy, when paternity confusion is most likely to occur. Previous research has suggested that men with greater cues to genetic quality, such as physical attractiveness, are, on average, less likely to be reliable investing long-term partners (Aitken, Lyons, & Jonason, 2013; Fisher, 2003). Perhaps those women who have conceived with “cads” are more likely to be seeking “dads” early in pregnancy. Although this is a striking pattern, and theoretically consistent with our overall argument, we caution against overinterpreting this finding. While statistically significant, this pattern is less robust than the others observed in our data, and could be susceptible to undue influence by outliers in the data. We suggest that this is an area that warrants further research.
We also predicted that an extra-pair strategy, whether with the motive of confusing paternity, extracting resources from more than one male, or mate-switching, should be predicted by perceived threats to the current relationship. We did not, however, observe any evidence that perceived threats predicted extra-pair attraction in our participants. Given that relationship maintenance, discussed below, and extra-pair tactics are ultimately opposing strategies, it seems likely that any attempt to pursue both simultaneously could easily result in failure at both. Our participant sample was heavily biased toward women in stable, committed relationships who expressed very high satisfaction with their partners, particularly in terms of their partners' investing qualities. A relationship maintenance strategy is likely, on average, to be more beneficial than a extra-pair strategy in this context, and may account for our failure to find any effect of perceived relationship threats on extra-pair attraction among this sample of pregnant women. Future research would benefit from examining strategic variation within a wider range of relationship contexts to uncover the contextual features that will predict one strategy over the other.
The two final strategies that have been proposed to explain post-conception copulations in the primate literature are relationship maintenance (in the context of “friendships,” “consortships,” or pairbonds) and intrasexual competition. Both of these strategies focus on engaging the primary partner (often, but not always, the father) in sexual interactions. However, the cues that should evince the behavior are likely to differ based on the strategy. If the aim is to secure future resources from a cooperative male partner, then pregnant women's in-pair sexual desire should best be predicted by both the value of that investment and cues that such investment may be at risk. If, on the other hand, the behavior is primarily intended to disrupt the reproduction of other women, then it should be less sensitive to features related to the male partner's likely investment and more sensitive to cues of female competitors' reproductive status. Because we did not have information in our data regarding the reproductive status, including fertility, of female competitors, we can not completely disambiguate these two strategies, but in general the data are consistent with a relationship maintenance strategy.
In our measure of perceived threats to the relationship, we distinguished between “perceived poaching attempts” (perceptions that other women were interested in or trying to “steal” one's partner) and “perceived cheating” (perceptions that the primary partner was, in fact, engaging in extra-pair sexual or romantic behavior). We found perceived relationship threat was the single biggest predictor of pregnant women's in-pair sexual desires, but only in the context of perceived poaching attempts. Perceived partner cheating had no effect on any outcome variables. As discussed above, however, our sample was heavily biased toward women in stable and satisfying relationships, the vast majority of whom reported no suspicions of partner cheating at all. We suggest that in a more representative sample, we would likely find distinct patterns based on the different types of threat, with perceived cheating being more likely to evoke a mate-switching strategy, resulting in increased extra-pair attraction. This should especially be the case if the primary partner is perceived as a less reliable investor. It is also possible that the increase in in-pair sexual desire in the context of potential mate poaching might be better explained as an effect of mate copying (Place, Todd, Penke, & Asendorpf, 2010) than of relationship maintenance, and that women simply find their partners more attractive when other women also find them desirable. In our data, however, perceptions of poaching threat and partner cheating had similarly negative relationships with women's satisfaction with their partner's investing qualities and physical attractiveness, making that explanation less likely. This is another area of research that deserves more attention going forward.
In our data, neither independent partner qualities, such as partner's physical attractiveness or investing qualities, nor dyadic qualities, such as sexual compatibility, had any statistically significant direct effects on pregnant women's experience of in-pair sexual desire. These findings suggest that it is the quality or stability of the relationship itself, rather than the specific qualities of the partner, that is most important to the pregnant woman in predicting her experience of sexual desire for her partner. It is particularly informative that, controlling for sexual compatibility, a partner's physical attractiveness was unrelated to women's sexual desire for her partner. This strongly suggests that sexual desire, in pregnant women as in fertile women, follows a strategic logic and is not simply the result of being faced with an attractive partner.
While there were no direct effects of partner qualities on women's in-pair sexual desire, we did find, as predicted, that the partner's qualities interacted with perceived threats to the relationship to predict women's in-pair sexual desire. A partner's willingness and ability to invest in a woman and her children will define, in part, the cost of losing the relationship. And in fact, we did observe a trend in the data suggesting that the effect of perceived mate poaching attempts on in-pair sexual desire was stronger among those women who rated their partners as better investors compared to those who rated their partners as poorer investors (see Fig. 3). This trend did not reach statistical significance, but we were, again, limited by the small range of variation in women's ratings of their partners' investing qualities. It is relevant to note here that factor analysis indicated that among our sample of pregnant women, parenting qualities (e.g., “good parenting,” “ability to be kind and understanding,” and “desire for children”) and resource-related qualities (e.g., “financial resources,” “social status,” and “ambition”) all loaded onto a single factor that we interpreted as investing qualities. In previous studies using a similar measure with non-pregnant women, these two types of investment (parenting and resources) have appeared to be separable to participants (e.g. Roberts, Craig Roberts, & Little, 2008). This further indicates that the stability of the relationship, and the cooperative parenting benefits that can be obtained therein, are likely to be of particular importance to pregnant women.
Finally, we also observed an unpredicted interaction between perceived poaching attempts and gestational age on women's in-pair sexual desires. As illustrated in Fig. 4, this pattern demonstrates that the effect of perceived threats on pregnant women's sexual desire is more pronounced among women who are earlier in their pregnancies, relative to those who are further along. While not specifically predicted, this pattern is consistent with the general hypothesis that pregnant women may strategically employ sexual behavior to secure or reinforce investment in their future offspring, perhaps by reinforcing a partner's perception of paternity. A promising direction for future research would be to investigate whether actual likelihood of misattributed paternity or even a partner's unfounded skepticism of paternity could influence the practice and timing of sexual behavior in response to perceived threats to the stability of the relationship.
The current study has some limitations, chief among them the relatively small and largely homogenous sample population. Despite recruiting online and receiving responses from all over the U.S., the sample was largely Caucasian, middle-class, and more-or-less happily married. To more fully investigate the strategic patterns of women's sexuality in pregnancy, it will be necessary to have a more diverse sample in terms of relationship status, resource access, and social support. Another limitation was that our sample lacked women very early in pregnancy. 95% of our sample were at least a month into their pregnancies, and while we think it is unlikely that this negatively affected the ability to test our hypotheses, future studies would benefit from recruiting women trying to conceive and those in the post-partum period in order to test predictions from the time of conception through the first weeks of parenthood.

Crypto AG, BND, NSA, CIA, and the sabotaging of encryption algorithms

‘The intelligence coup of the century.’ Greg Miller. The Washington Post, Feb. 11, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com

For decades, the CIA read the encrypted communications of allies and adversaries.
For more than half a century, governments all over the world trusted a single company to keep the communications of their spies, soldiers and diplomats secret.

The company, Crypto AG, got its first break with a contract to build code-making machines for U.S. troops during World War II. Flush with cash, it became a dominant maker of encryption devices for decades, navigating waves of technology from mechanical gears to electronic circuits and, finally, silicon chips and software.

The Swiss firm made millions of dollars selling equipment to more than 120 countries well into the 21st century. Its clients included Iran, military juntas in Latin America, nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, and even the Vatican.

But what none of its customers ever knew was that Crypto AG was secretly owned by the CIA in a highly classified partnership with West German intelligence. These spy agencies rigged the company’s devices so they could easily break the codes that countries used to send encrypted messages.

The decades-long arrangement, among the most closely guarded secrets of the Cold War, is laid bare in a classified, comprehensive CIA history of the operation obtained by The Washington Post and ZDF, a German public broadcaster, in a joint reporting project.

The account identifies the CIA officers who ran the program and the company executives entrusted to execute it. It traces the origin of the venture as well as the internal conflicts that nearly derailed it. It describes how the United States and its allies exploited other nations’ gullibility for years, taking their money and stealing their secrets.

The operation, known first by the code name “Thesaurus” and later “Rubicon,” ranks among the most audacious in CIA history.

“It was the intelligence coup of the century,” the CIA report concludes. “Foreign governments were paying good money to the U.S. and West Germany for the privilege of having their most secret communications read by at least two (and possibly as many as five or six) foreign countries.”

From 1970 on, the CIA and its code-breaking sibling, the National Security Agency, controlled nearly every aspect of Crypto’s operations — presiding with their German partners over hiring decisions, designing its technology, sabotaging its algorithms and directing its sales targets.

Then, the U.S. and West German spies sat back and listened.

They monitored Iran’s mullahs during the 1979 hostage crisis, fed intelligence about Argentina’s military to Britain during the Falklands War, tracked the assassination campaigns of South American dictators and caught Libyan officials congratulating themselves on the 1986 bombing of a Berlin disco.

The program had limits. America’s main adversaries, including the Soviet Union and China, were never Crypto customers. Their well-founded suspicions of the company’s ties to the West shielded them from exposure, although the CIA history suggests that U.S. spies learned a great deal by monitoring other countries’ interactions with Moscow and Beijing.

There were also security breaches that put Crypto under clouds of suspicion. Documents released in the 1970s showed extensive — and incriminating — correspondence between an NSA pioneer and Crypto’s founder. Foreign targets were tipped off by the careless statements of public officials including President Ronald Reagan. And the 1992 arrest of a Crypto salesman in Iran, who did not realize he was selling rigged equipment, triggered a devastating “storm of publicity,” according to the CIA history.

But the true extent of the company’s relationship with the CIA and its German counterpart was until now never revealed.

The German spy agency, the BND, came to believe the risk of exposure was too great and left the operation in the early 1990s. But the CIA bought the Germans’ stake and simply kept going, wringing Crypto for all its espionage worth until 2018, when the agency sold off the company’s assets, according to current and former officials.

The company’s importance to the global security market had fallen by then, squeezed by the spread of online encryption technology. Once the province of governments and major corporations, strong encryption is now as ubiquitous as apps on cellphones.

Even so, the Crypto operation is relevant to modern espionage. Its reach and duration help to explain how the United States developed an insatiable appetite for global surveillance that was exposed in 2013 by Edward Snowden. There are also echoes of Crypto in the suspicions swirling around modern companies with alleged links to foreign governments, including the Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky, a texting app tied to the United Arab Emirates and the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

This story is based on the CIA history and a parallel BND account, also obtained by The Post and ZDF, and interviews with current and former Western intelligence officials as well as Crypto employees. Many spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the subject.

It is hard to overstate how extraordinary the CIA and BND histories are. Sensitive intelligence files are periodically declassified and released to the public. But it is exceedingly rare, if not unprecedented, to glimpse authoritative internal histories of an entire covert operation. The Post was able to read all of the documents, but the source of the material insisted that only excerpts be published.

Click any underlined text in the story to see an excerpt from the CIA history.

The CIA and the BND declined to comment, though U.S. and German officials did not dispute the authenticity of the documents. The first is a 96-page account of the operation completed in 2004 by the CIA’s Center for the Study of Intelligence, an internal historical branch. The second is an oral history compiled by German intelligence officials in 2008.

The overlapping accounts expose frictions between the two partners over money, control and ethical limits, with the West Germans frequently aghast at the enthusiasm with which U.S. spies often targeted allies.

But both sides describe the operation as successful beyond their wildest projections. At times, including in the 1980s, Crypto accounted for roughly 40 percent of the diplomatic cables and other transmissions by foreign governments that cryptanalysts at the NSA decoded and mined for intelligence, according to the documents.

All the while, Crypto generated millions of dollars in profits that the CIA and BND split and plowed into other operations.

Crypto’s sign is still visible atop its longtime headquarters near Zug, Switzerland, though the company was liquidated in 2018. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Crypto’s products are still in use in more than a dozen countries around the world, and its orange-and-white sign still looms atop the company’s longtime headquarters building near Zug, Switzerland. But the company was dismembered in 2018, liquidated by shareholders whose identities have been permanently shielded by the byzantine laws of Liechtenstein, a tiny European nation with a Cayman Islands-like reputation for financial secrecy.

Two companies purchased most of Crypto’s assets. The first, CyOne Security, was created as part of a management buyout and now sells security systems exclusively to the Swiss government. The other, Crypto International, took over the former company’s brand and international business.

Each insisted that it has no ongoing connection to any intelligence service, but only one claimed to be unaware of CIA ownership. Their statements were in response to questions from The Post, ZDF and Swiss broadcaster SRF, which also had access to the documents.

CyOne has more substantial links to the now-dissolved Crypto, including that the new company’s chief executive held the same position at Crypto for nearly two decades of CIA ownership.

A CyOne spokesman declined to address any aspect of Crypto AG’s history but said the new firm has “no ties to any foreign intelligence services.”

Andreas Linde, the chairman of the company that now holds the rights to Crypto’s international products and business, said he had no knowledge of the company’s relationship to the CIA and BND before being confronted with the facts in this article.

“We at Crypto International have never had any relationship with the CIA or BND — and please quote me,” he said in an interview. “If what you are saying is true, then absolutely I feel betrayed, and my family feels betrayed, and I feel there will be a lot of employees who will feel betrayed as well as customers.”

The Swiss government announced on Tuesday that it was launching an investigation of Crypto AG’s ties to the CIA and BND. Earlier this month, Swiss officials revoked Crypto International’s export license.

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The CIA’s ‘coup of the century’Subscribe0:00151532:01
The timing of the Swiss moves was curious. The CIA and BND documents indicate that Swiss officials must have known for decades about Crypto’s ties to the U.S. and German spy services, but intervened only after learning that news organizations were about to expose the arrangement.

The histories, which do not address when or whether the CIA ended its involvement, carry the inevitable biases of documents written from the perspectives of the operation’s architects. They depict Rubicon as a triumph of espionage, one that helped the United States prevail in the Cold War, keep tabs on dozens of authoritarian regimes and protect the interests of the United States and its allies.

The papers largely avoid more unsettling questions, including what the United States knew — and what it did or didn’t do — about countries that used Crypto machines while engaged in assassination plots, ethnic cleansing campaigns and human rights abuses.

The revelations in the documents may provide reason to revisit whether the United States was in position to intervene in, or at least expose, international atrocities, and whether it opted against doing so at times to preserve its access to valuable streams of intelligence.

Nor do the files deal with obvious ethical issues at the core of the operation: the deception and exploitation of adversaries, allies and hundreds of unwitting Crypto employees. Many traveled the world selling or servicing rigged systems with no clue that they were doing so at risk to their own safety.

Juerg Spoerndli is an electrical engineer who spent 16 years working at Crypto. Deceived employees said the revelations about the company have deepened a sense of betrayal, of themselves and customers. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

In recent interviews, deceived employees — even ones who came to suspect during their time at Crypto that the company was cooperating with Western intelligence — said the revelations in the documents have deepened a sense of betrayal, of themselves and customers.

“You think you do good work and you make something secure,” said Juerg Spoerndli, an electrical engineer who spent 16 years at Crypto. “And then you realize that you cheated these clients.”

Those who ran the clandestine program remain unapologetic.

“Do I have any qualms? Zero,” said Bobby Ray Inman, who served as director of the NSA and deputy director of the CIA in the late 1970s and early 1980s. “It was a very valuable source of communications on significantly large parts of the world important to U.S. policymakers.”

Boris Hagelin, the founder of Crypto, and his wife arrive in New York in 1949. Hagelin fled to the United States when the Nazis occupied Norway in 1940. (Bettmann Archive)

A denial operation
This sprawling, sophisticated operation grew out of the U.S. military’s need for a crude but compact encryption device.

Boris Hagelin, Crypto’s founder, was an entrepreneur and inventor who was born in Russia but fled to Sweden as the Bolsheviks took power. He fled again to the United States when the Nazis occupied Norway in 1940.

He brought with him an encryption machine that looked like a fortified music box, with a sturdy crank on the side and an assembly of metal gears and pinwheels under a hard metal case.

It wasn’t nearly as elaborate, or secure, as the Enigma machines being used by the Nazis. But Hagelin’s M-209, as it became known, was portable, hand-powered and perfect for troops on the move. Photos show soldiers with the eight-pound boxes — about the size of a thick book — strapped to their knees. Many of Hagelin’s devices have been preserved at a private museum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

 Marc Simons and Paul Reuvers founded the Crypto Museum in Eindhoven, Netherlands. The virtual museum has preserved many of Hagelin’s devices. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)  Hagelin’s M-209 encryption machine had a crank on the side and an assembly of metal gears and pinwheels under a hard metal case. Portable and hand-powered, it was used mainly for tactical messages about troop movements. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Sending a secure message with the device was tedious. The user would rotate a dial, letter by letter, and thrust down the crank. The hidden gears would turn and spit out an enciphered message on a strip of paper. A signals officer then had to transmit that scrambled message by Morse code to a recipient who would reverse the sequence.

Security was so weak that it was assumed that nearly any adversary could break the code with enough time. But doing so took hours. And since these were used mainly for tactical messages about troop movements, by the time the Nazis decoded a signal its value had probably perished.

Over the course of the war, about 140,000 M-209s were built at the Smith Corona typewriter factory in Syracuse, N.Y., under a U.S. Army contract worth $8.6 million to Crypto. After the war, Hagelin returned to Sweden to reopen his factory, bringing with him a personal fortune and a lifelong sense of loyalty to the United States.

Even so, American spies kept a wary eye on his postwar operations. In the early 1950s, he developed a more advanced version of his war-era machine with a new, “irregular” mechanical sequence that briefly stumped American code-breakers.

Learn how secret messages are created using an early encryption machine 2:11
Marc Simons, co-founder of Crypto Museum, a virtual museum of cipher machines, explains how secret messages were created using the Hagelin CX-52. (Stanislav Dobak/The Washington Post)

Alarmed by the capabilities of the new CX-52 and other devices Crypto envisioned, U.S. officials began to discuss what they called the “Hagelin problem.”

These were “the Dark Ages of American cryptology,” according to the CIA history. The Soviets, Chinese and North Koreans were using code-making systems that were all but impenetrable. U.S. spy agencies worried that the rest of the world would also go dark if countries could buy secure machines from Hagelin.

The Americans had several points of leverage with Hagelin: his ideological affinity for the country, his hope that the United States would remain a major customer and the veiled threat that they could damage his prospects by flooding the market with surplus M-209s from the war.

The U.S. Army’s Signals Intelligence Service was headed by William Friedman, center, in the mid-1930s. Other members, from left: Herrick F. Bearce, Solomon Kullback, U.S. Army Capt. Harold G. Miller, Louise Newkirk Nelson, seated, Abraham Sinkov, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. L.T. Jones and Frank B. Rowlett. (Fotosearch/Getty Images)

The United States also had a more crucial asset: William Friedman. Widely regarded as the father of American cryptology, Friedman had known Hagelin since the 1930s. They had forged a lifelong friendship over their shared backgrounds and interests, including their Russian heritage and fascination with the complexities of encryption.

There might never have been an Operation Rubicon if the two men had not shaken hands on the very first secret agreement between Hagelin and U.S. intelligence over dinner at the Cosmos Club in Washington in 1951.

The deal called for Hagelin, who had moved his company to Switzerland, to restrict sales of his most sophisticated models to countries approved by the United States. Nations not on that list would get older, weaker systems. Hagelin would be compensated for his lost sales, as much as $700,000 up front.

It took years for the United States to live up to its end of the deal, as top officials at the CIA and the predecessor to the NSA bickered over the terms and wisdom of the scheme. But Hagelin abided by the agreement from the outset, and over the next two decades, his secret relationship with U.S. intelligence agencies deepened.

In 1960, the CIA and Hagelin entered into a “licensing agreement” that paid him $855,000 to renew his commitment to the handshake deal. The agency paid him $70,000 a year in retainer and started giving his company cash infusions of $10,000 for “marketing” expenses to ensure that Crypto — and not other upstarts in the encryption business — locked down contracts with most of the world’s governments.

It was a classic “denial operation” in the parlance of intelligence, a scheme designed to prevent adversaries from acquiring weapons or technology that would give them an advantage. But it was only the beginning of Crypto’s collaboration with U.S. intelligence. Within a decade, the whole operation belonged to the CIA and BND.

U.S. officials had toyed since the outset with the idea of asking Hagelin whether he would be willing to let U.S. cryptologists doctor his machines. But Friedman overruled them, convinced that Hagelin would see that as a step too far.

The CIA and NSA saw a new opening in the mid-1960s, as the spread of electronic circuits forced Hagelin to accept outside help adapting to the new technology, or face extinction clinging to the manufacturing of mechanical machines.

NSA cryptologists were equally concerned about the potential impact of integrated circuits, which seemed poised to enable a new era of unbreakable encryption. But one of the agency’s senior analysts, Peter Jenks, identified a potential vulnerability.

If “carefully designed by a clever crypto-mathematician,” he said, a circuit-based system could be made to appear that it was producing endless streams of randomly generated characters, while in reality it would repeat itself at short enough intervals for NSA experts — and their powerful computers — to crack the pattern.

Two years later, in 1967, Crypto rolled out a new, all-electronic model, the H-460, whose inner workings were completely designed by the NSA.

The CIA history all but gloats about crossing this threshold. “Imagine the idea of the American government convincing a foreign manufacturer to jimmy equipment in its favor,” the history says. “Talk about a brave new world.”

The NSA didn’t install crude “back doors” or secretly program the devices to cough up their encryption keys. And the agency still faced the difficult task of intercepting other governments’ communications, whether plucking signals out of the air or, in later years, tapping into fiber optic cables.

But the manipulation of Crypto’s algorithms streamlined the code-breaking process, at times reducing to seconds a task that might otherwise have taken months. The company always made at least two versions of its products — secure models that would be sold to friendly governments, and rigged systems for the rest of the world.

In so doing, the U.S.-Hagelin partnership had evolved from denial to “active measures.” No longer was Crypto merely restricting sales of its best equipment but actively selling devices that were engineered to betray their buyers.

The payoff went beyond the penetration of the devices. Crypto’s shift to electronic products buoyed business so much that it became addicted to its dependence on the NSA. Foreign governments clamored for systems that seemed clearly superior to the old clunky mechanical devices but in fact were easier for U.S. spies to read.

ra n mrcGera n mrcnpGerman and American partners
By the end of the 1960s, Hagelin was nearing 80 and anxious to secure the future for his company, which had grown to more than 180 employees. CIA officials were similarly anxious about what would happen to the operation if Hagelin were to suddenly sell or die.

Hagelin had once hoped to turn control over to his son, Bo. But U.S. intelligence officials regarded him as a “wild card” and worked to conceal the partnership from him. Bo Hagelin was killed in a car crash on Washington’s Beltway in 1970. There were no indications of foul play.

U.S. intelligence officials discussed the idea of buying Crypto for years, but squabbling between the CIA and NSA prevented them from acting until two other spy agencies entered the fray.

The French, West German and other European intelligence services had either been told about the United States’ arrangement with Crypto or figured it out on their own. Some were understandably jealous and probed for ways to secure a similar deal for themselves.

In 1967, Hagelin was approached by the French intelligence service with an offer to buy the company in partnership with German intelligence. Hagelin rebuffed the offer and reported it to his CIA handlers. But two years later, the Germans came back seeking to make a follow-up bid with the blessing of the United States.

In a meeting in early 1969 at the West German Embassy in Washington, the head of that country’s cipher service, Wilhelm Goeing, outlined the proposal and asked whether the Americans “were interested in becoming partners too.”

Months later, CIA Director Richard Helms approved the idea of buying Crypto and dispatched a subordinate to Bonn, the West German capital, to negotiate terms with one major caveat: the French, CIA officials told Goeing, would have to be “shut out.”

West Germany acquiesced to this American power play, and a deal between the two spy agencies was recorded in a June 1970 memo carrying the shaky signature of a CIA case officer in Munich who was in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease and the illegible scrawl of his BND counterpart.

The two agencies agreed to chip in equally to buy out Hagelin for approximately $5.75 million, but the CIA left it largely to the Germans to figure out how to prevent any trace of the transaction from ever becoming public.

A Liechtenstein law firm, Marxer and Goop, helped hide the identities of the new owners of Crypto through a series of shells and “bearer” shares that required no names in registration documents. The firm was paid an annual salary “less for the extensive work but more for their silence and acceptance,” the BND history says. The firm, now named Marxer and Partner, did not respond to a request for comment.

A new board of directors was set up to oversee the company. Only one member of the board, Sture Nyberg, to whom Hagelin had turned over day-to-day management, knew of CIA involvement. “It was through this mechanism,” the CIA history notes, “that BND and CIA controlled the activities” of Crypto. Nyberg left the company in 1976. The Post and ZDF could not locate him or determine whether he is still alive.

The two spy agencies held their own regular meetings to discuss what to do with their acquisition. The CIA used a secret base in Munich, initially on a military installation used by American troops and later in the attic of a building adjacent to the U.S. Consulate, as the headquarters for its involvement in the operation.

The CIA and BND agreed on a series of code names for the program and its various components. Crypto was called “Minerva,” which is also the title of the CIA history. The operation was at first code-named “Thesaurus,” though in the 1980s it was changed to “Rubicon.”

Each year, the CIA and BND split any profits Crypto had made, according to the German history, which says the BND handled the accounting and delivered the cash owed to the CIA in an underground parking garage.

From the outset, the partnership was beset by petty disagreements and tensions. To CIA operatives, the BND often seemed preoccupied with turning a profit, and the Americans “constantly reminded the Germans that this was an intelligence operation, not a money-making enterprise.” The Germans were taken aback by the Americans’ willingness to spy on all but their closest allies, with targets including NATO members Spain, Greece, Turkey and Italy.

Mindful of the limitations to their abilities to run a high-tech company, the two agencies brought in corporate outsiders. The Germans enlisted Siemens, a Munich-based conglomerate, to advise Crypto on business and technical issues in exchange for 5 percent of the company’s sales. The United States later brought in Motorola to fix balky products, making it clear to the company’s CEO this was being done for U.S. intelligence. Siemens declined to comment. Motorola officials did not respond to a request for comment.

To its frustration, Germany was never admitted to the vaunted “Five Eyes,” a long-standing intelligence pact involving the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. But with the Crypto partnership, Germany moved closer into the American espionage fold than might have seemed possible in World War II’s aftermath. With the secret backing of two of the world’s premier intelligence agencies and the support of two of the world’s largest corporations, Crypto’s business flourished.

A table in the CIA history shows that sales surged from 15 million Swiss francs in 1970 to more than 51 million in 1975, or $19 million. The company’s payroll expanded to more than 250 employees.

“The Minerva purchase had yielded a bonanza,” the CIA history says of this period. The operation entered a two-decade stretch of unprecedented access to foreign governments’ communications.

Iranian suspicions
The NSA’s eavesdropping empire was for many years organized around three main geographic targets, each with its own alphabetic code: A for the Soviets, B for Asia and G for virtually everywhere else.

By the early 1980s, more than half of the intelligence gathered by G group was flowing through Crypto machines, a capability that U.S. officials relied on in crisis after crisis.

In 1978, as the leaders of Egypt, Israel and the United States gathered at Camp David for negotiations on a peace accord, the NSA was secretly monitoring the communications of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat with Cairo.

A year later, after Iranian militants stormed the U.S. Embassy and took 52 American hostages, the Carter administration sought their release in back-channel communications through Algeria. Inman, who served as NSA director at the time, said he routinely got calls from President Jimmy Carter asking how the Ayatollah Khomeini regime was reacting to the latest messages.

“We were able to respond to his questions about 85 percent of the time,” Inman said. That was because the Iranians and Algerians were using Crypto devices.

Inman said the operation also put him in one of the trickiest binds he’d encountered in government service. At one point, the NSA intercepted Libyan communications indicating that the president’s brother, Billy Carter, was advancing Libya’s interests in Washington and was on leader Moammar Gaddafi’s payroll.

Inman referred the matter to the Justice Department. The FBI launched an investigation of Carter, who falsely denied taking payments. In the end, he was not prosecuted but agreed to register as a foreign agent.

Throughout the 1980s, the list of Crypto’s leading clients read like a catalogue of global trouble spots. In 1981, Saudi Arabia was Crypto’s biggest customer, followed by Iran, Italy, Indonesia, Iraq, Libya, Jordan and South Korea.

To protect its market position, Crypto and its secret owners engaged in subtle smear campaigns against rival companies, according to the documents, and plied government officials with bribes. Crypto sent an executive to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with 10 Rolex watches in his luggage, the BND history says, and later arranged a training program for the Saudis in Switzerland where the participants’ “favorite pastime was to visit the brothels, which the company also financed.”

At times, the incentives led to sales to countries ill-equipped to use the complicated systems. Nigeria bought a large shipment of Crypto machines, but two years later, when there was still no corresponding payoff in intelligence, a company representative was sent to investigate. “He found the equipment in a warehouse still in its original packaging,” according to the German document.

In 1982, the Reagan administration took advantage of Argentina’s reliance on Crypto equipment, funneling intelligence to Britain during the two countries’ brief war over the Falkland Islands, according to the CIA history, which doesn’t provide any detail on what kind of information was passed to London. The documents generally discuss intelligence gleaned from the operation in broad terms and provide few insights into how it was used.

Reagan appears to have jeopardized the Crypto operation after Libya was implicated in the 1986 bombing of a West Berlin disco popular with American troops stationed in West Germany. Two U.S. soldiers and a Turkish woman were killed as a result of the attack.

Reagan ordered retaliatory strikes against Libya 10 days later. Among the reported victims was one of Gaddafi’s daughters. In an address to the country announcing the strikes, Reagan said the United States had evidence of Libya’s complicity that “is direct, it is precise, it is irrefutable.”

The evidence, Reagan said, showed that Libya’s embassy in East Berlin received orders to carry out the attack a week before it happened. Then, the day after the bombing, “they reported back to Tripoli on the great success of their mission.”

Reagan’s words made clear that Tripoli’s communications with its station in East Berlin had been intercepted and decrypted. But Libya wasn’t the only government that took note of the clues Reagan had provided.

Iran, which knew that Libya also used Crypto machines, became increasingly concerned about the security of its equipment. Tehran didn’t act on those suspicions until six years later.

GDPR: Consumers that opt out reduce noise on remaining consumers and make them more trackable; the average value of the remaining consumers to advertisers has increased

Aridor, Guy and Che, Yeon-Koo and Nelson, William and Salz, Tobias, The Economic Consequences of Data Privacy Regulation: Empirical Evidence from GDPR (January 29, 2020). SSRN: http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3522845

Abstract: This paper studies the effects of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on the ability of firms to collect consumer data, identify consumers over time, accrue revenue via online advertising, and predict their behavior. Utilizing a novel dataset by an intermediary that spans much of the online travel industry, we perform a difference-in-differences analysis that exploits the geographic reach of GDPR. We find a 12.5% drop in the intermediary- observed consumers as a result of GDPR, suggesting that a nonnegligible number of consumers exercised the opt-out right enabled by GDPR. At the same time, the remaining consumers are more persistently trackable. This observed pattern is consistent with the hypothesis that privacy-conscious consumers substitute away from less efficient privacy protection (e.g, cookie deletion) to explicit opt out, a process that would reduce noise on remaining consumers and make them more trackable. Further in keeping with this hypothesis, we observe that the average value of the remaining consumers to advertisers has increased, offsetting most of the losses from consumers that opt-out. Our results highlight the externalities that consumer privacy decisions have both on other consumers and for firms.

Keywords: GDPR, Data Privacy Regulation, E-Commerce
JEL Classification: L50; K20; L81

Whereas observers believe that acting heroically involves extreme personal burden, actors view their personal burden as relatively unimportant. Being a hero is a distinctly less positive experience than observing one

Heroes Perceive Their Own Actions as Less Heroic Than Other People Do. Nadav Klein. Social Psychological and Personality Science, February 18, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550619893967

Abstract: Heroic acts are prosocial actions that involve extreme sacrifice and risk. Such acts receive near-ubiquitous praise. However, the present article suggests that one group refrains from praising heroic acts—heroes themselves. Using self-reflections provided in news reports, Experiment 1 finds that people who actually saved others’ lives do not view themselves as positively as they should according to outside observers. Experiment 2 measures participants’ recollections of their own extreme prosocial acts and finds that self-evaluations are less positive than observers’ evaluations. Experiment 3 finds that participants who imagine themselves performing a heroic act evaluate it less positively than participants who observe the same act. Experiments 2–3 identify differences in perceptions of personal burden as a mechanism—whereas observers believe that acting heroically involves extreme personal burden, actors view their personal burden as relatively unimportant. Being a hero is a distinctly less positive experience than observing one.

Keywords: social judgment, helping/prosocial behavior, actor–observer, self-other differences

Third person effect: We report a good ability to spot fake news, greater than that of the others; predictors of the effect are ducation, income, interest in politics, Facebook dependency and confirmation bias

‘They can’t fool me, but they can fool the others!’ Third person effect and fake news detection. Nicoleta Corbu, Denisa-Adriana Oprea, Elena Negrea-Busuioc, et al. European Journal of Communication, February 17, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1177/0267323120903686

Abstract: The aftermath of the 2016 US Presidential Elections and the Brexit campaign in Europe have opened the floor to heated debates about fake news and the dangers that these phenomena pose to elections and to democracy, in general. Despite a growing body of scholarly literature on fake news and its close relatives misinformation, disinformation or, more encompassing, communication and information disorders, few studies have so far attempted to empirically account for the effects that fake news might have, especially with respect to what communication scholars call the third person effect. This study aims to provide empirical evidence for the third person effect in the case of people’s self-perceived ability to detect fake news and of their perception of others’ ability to detect it. Based on a survey run in August 2018 and comprising a national, diverse sample of Romanian adults (N = 813), this research reveals that there is a significant third person effect regarding people’s self-reported ability to spot fake news and that this effect is stronger when people compare their fake news detection literacy to that of distant others than to that close others. Furthermore, this study shows that the most important predictors of third person effect related to fake news detection are education, income, interest in politics, Facebook dependency and confirmation bias, with age being a non-significant predictor.

Keywords: Distant and close others, fake news, predictors, third person effect

While women are more willing to present face-to-face, they are considerably less likely to give a public presentation; aversion to speaking does not depend on differences in ability, risk aversion, self-confidence & self-esteem

Women Shy Away from Public Speaking? A Field Experiment. Maria De Paola, Rosetta Lombardo, Valeria Pupo, Vincenzo Scoppa. IZA DP No. 12959. ftp.iza.org/dp12959.pdf

Abstract: Public speaking is an important skill for career prospects and for leadership positions, but many people tend to avoid it because it generates anxiety. We run a field experiment to analyze whether in an incentivized setting men and women show differences in their willingness to speak in public. The experiment involved more than 500 undergraduate students who could gain two points to add to the final grade of their exam by orally presenting solutions to a problem set. Students were randomly assigned to present only to the instructor or in front of a large audience (a class of 100 or more). We find that while women are more willing to present face-to-face, they are considerably less likely to give a public presentation. Female aversion to public speaking does not depend on differences in ability, risk aversion, self-confidence and self-esteem. The aversion to public speaking greatly reduces for daughters of working women. From data obtained through an on-line Survey we also show that neither increasing the gains deriving from public speaking nor allowing participants more time to prepare enable to close the gender gap.

JEL Classification: J56, D91, C93, M50
Keywords: public speaking, psychological gender differences, gender, leadership, glass ceiling, field experiment

8. Concluding Remarks
A number of psychological traits – such as risk aversion, willingness to compete, aversion to feedbacks – have been recently identified as particularly relevant in contributing to explain gender differences in occupations, wages and careers.
Public speaking is generally thought to be relevant for career prospects and leadership positions. The ability to present information publicly, clearly and eloquently gives an important competitive advantage in a variety of job settings. While giving individuals valuable opportunities, speaking to a public is also a possible source of anxiety and embarrassment. Little is known on factors affecting the willingness to face public speaking situations or the ability to deal with the stress deriving from this type of exposure to judgment and to be effective in public speech. Men and women could differ in the anxiety generated by public speaking and, therefore, be differently averse to public speaking. This in turn could cause gender differences in career prospects and access to top positions.
We contribute to the literature on this topic by running a field experiment allowing us to analyze whether, in an incentivized setting, men and women show differences in their willingness to speak in public. The experiment involved more than 500 undergraduate students who could gain two points to add to the final grade of their exam by presenting orally the solutions of a problem set. Students were randomly assigned to present in front of a large audience (a class of about 100 students or more) or, in alternative, only to the instructor.
We find very relevant differences among men and women in their willingness to present in public. While women are more willing to present face-to-face, they are considerably less likely to give a public presentation. We are able to show that this tendency does not depend on differences in individual abilities or in other psychological traits as risk aversion, self-confidence and self-esteem.
We also find that women with employed mothers are more prone to public speaking compared to women whose mothers are out of the labor market. This is in line with a growing literature showing that having a working mother leads to more egalitarian gender role attitudes.
Moreover, using data from an online Survey, we show that giving higher incentives for public presentation does not allow to close the gender gap in public speaking aversion. Even when the gains deriving from public speaking are quite high, women are much less likely than men to engage in this type of activity. Finally, we also find that women do not seem to benefit from increasing the amount of time available to prepare for the task.
These findings suggest that women’s tendency to shy away from public speaking situations is difficult to change, as it is probably the result of deeply embedded social norms.
This kind of aversion – together with other psychological traits such as risk aversion and unwillingness to compete – could be a relevant factor in explaining the gender differences in access to high-level positions and career prospects and, then, it is important to understand both how to design work and educational environments in order to not harm certain categories of the population and how to help women to overcome their aversion to public speaking.
Future research can greatly contribute to this objective, by trying to better understand whether individual aversion to public speaking responds to some specific situational aspects, such as the topic of the speech, the size and gender composition (and other characteristics) of the audience and by investigating whether and how this type of attitude is susceptible to changes over time, also in relation to specific policy interventions. For instance, it would be very interesting to assess the effectiveness of public speaking training or to understand if exposure to public speaking, allowing individuals to learn how to deal with the emotions deriving from it, helps at overcoming aversion.

No surprise when processing misfortunes when they happen to occur to antisocial peers (i.e., schadenfreude), as if we were expecting such compensation for their behavior

He had it Comin’: ERPs Reveal a Facilitation for the Processing of Misfortunes to Antisocial Characters. Pablo Rodríguez-Gómez, Manuel Martín-Loeches, Fernando Colmenares, María Verónica Romero Ferreiro & Eva M. Moreno. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, Feb 11 2020. https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758/s13415-020-00773-w

Abstract: Human sociality and prosociality rely on social and moral feelings of empathy, compassion, envy, schadenfreude, as well as on the preference for prosocial over antisocial others. We examined the neural underpinnings of the processing of lexical input designed to tap into these type of social feelings. Brainwave responses from 20 participants were measured as they read sentences comprising a randomly delivered ending outcome (fortunate or unfortunate) to social agents previously profiled as prosocial or antisocial individuals. Fortunate outcomes delivered to prosocial and antisocial agents aimed to tap into empathy and envy/annoying feelings, respectively, whereas unfortunate ones into compassion for prosocial agents and schadenfreude for antisocial ones. ERP modulations in early attention-capture (100-200 ms), semantic fit (400 ms), and late reanalysis processes (600 ms) were analyzed. According to the functional interpretation of each of these event-related electrophysiological effects, we conclude that: 1) a higher capture of attention is initially obtained in response to any type of outcome delivered to a prosocial versus an antisocial agent (frontal P2); 2) a facilitated semantic processing occurs for unfortunate outcomes delivered to antisocial agents (N400); and 3) regardless of the protagonist’s social profile, an increased later reevaluation for overall unfortunate versus fortunate outcomes takes place (Late Positive Potential). Thus, neural online measures capture a stepwise unfolding impact of social factors during language comprehension, which include a facilitated processing of misfortunes when they happen to occur to antisocial peers (i.e., schadenfreude).

Sexually Aggressive Are Men More Likely to Misperceive Other Men’s Sexual Desires and Behavior

Social Norms: Are Sexually Aggressive Men More Likely to Misperceive Other Men’s Sexual Desires and Behavior? Erin A. Casey, N. Tatiana Masters & Blair Beadnell. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, Feb 12 2020. https://doi.org/10.1080/10926771.2019.1711278

ABSTRACT: Separate lines of research show that men overestimate the extent of male peers’ sexual activity, and independently, that sexually aggressive men believe that other men approve of coercive behavior. This study examined the intersection of these lines of inquiry, testing whether the degree of male participants’ misperception of other men’s sexual behavior differs as a function of perpetrator status. In a national sample, we presented heterosexually active men (n = 497) with sexual scenarios varying in sexual acts, partner types, and circumstances. Results showed that participants significantly overestimated the typicality of all types of sexual situations for other men. Participants also misjudged the desirability of scenarios consistent with a traditional masculinity sexual script to other men; these scenarios reflected an adversarial perspective on relationships and an impersonal approach to sexuality – a known risk factor for sexual aggression. Further, sexually aggressive men overestimated the desirability of these traditional masculinity scenarios to a greater extent than non-aggressive peers. Findings suggest that interventions that provide accurate knowledge about social norms, or “typical” sexual desires and behaviors among other men, may reduce pressure to live up to perceived but perhaps inaccurate masculine ideals, as well as reduce social norm-related risks for sexually aggressive behavior.

KEYWORDS: Sexual assault, sexual behavior, social norms, men

Understanding the Forbidden Fruit Effect: People's Desire to See What Is Forbidden and Unavailable

FitzGibbon, Lily, Cansu Ogulmus, Greta M. Fastrich, Johnny K. L. Lau, Sumeyye Aslan, Lorella Lepore, and Kou Murayama. 2020. “Understanding the Forbidden Fruit Effect: People's Desire to See What Is Forbidden and Unavailable.” OSF Preprints. February 17. doi:10.31219/osf.io/ndpwt

Abstract: Curiosity - the drive for information - is often perceived as a dangerous trait. This is exacerbated by the perception that when something is forbidden, curiosity towards it increases. Surprisingly little is known about the mechanisms by which this forbidden fruit effect occurs. In a series of five experiments (total N = 2,141), we used a novel card selection task with an arbitrarily forbidden card to demonstrate the forbidden fruit effect across a broad age range (5 to 79 years). All of the experiments controlled for uncertainty of forbidden card, and the effect remained when we controlled for visual saliency, potential item selection bias, and even when participants were aware that the prohibited card had been selected randomly. These results suggest that people's attraction to unavailable options is not only driven by their beliefs about importance or scarcity but also by lower-level cognitive mechanisms such as memory availability.