Sunday, October 31, 2021

Reminder from 2010... Genetically, hunter-gatherer peoples of southern Africa, the oldest known lineage of modern human, seem to be, on average, more different from each other than a European and an Asian

Complete Khoisan and Bantu genomes from southern Africa. Stephan C. Schuster et al. Nature volume 463, pages943–947. Feb 18 2010.

Abstract: The genetic structure of the indigenous hunter-gatherer peoples of southern Africa, the oldest known lineage of modern human, is important for understanding human diversity. Studies based on mitochondrial1 and small sets of nuclear markers2 have shown that these hunter-gatherers, known as Khoisan, San, or Bushmen, are genetically divergent from other humans1,3. However, until now, fully sequenced human genomes have been limited to recently diverged populations4,5,6,7,8. Here we present the complete genome sequences of an indigenous hunter-gatherer from the Kalahari Desert and a Bantu from southern Africa, as well as protein-coding regions from an additional three hunter-gatherers from disparate regions of the Kalahari. We characterize the extent of whole-genome and exome diversity among the five men, reporting 1.3 million novel DNA differences genome-wide, including 13,146 novel amino acid variants. In terms of nucleotide substitutions, the Bushmen seem to be, on average, more different from each other than, for example, a European and an Asian. Observed genomic differences between the hunter-gatherers and others may help to pinpoint genetic adaptations to an agricultural lifestyle. Adding the described variants to current databases will facilitate inclusion of southern Africans in medical research efforts, particularly when family and medical histories can be correlated with genome-wide data.

Our review of recent studies finds a small-but-consistent gap in men & women's beliefs about their health risks related to the present pandemic; these risk beliefs are crucial determinants of whether individuals take protective measures

Gender differences in perceived risk of COVID-19. Andrew Lewis, Raymond Duch. Social Science Quarterly, October 29 2021.


Objective: We examine gender-based differences in perceived risks related to COVID-19.

Methods: We analyze published findings from COVID-related research on beliefs and attitudes about the health risks posed by the pandemic. We also design and administer a pair of online survey experiments (n = 502) to test if and how responsive men's attitudes are to information about male-specific risks.

Results: Across 16 studies, men consistently express lower perceived risk of contracting COVID-19 and less concern about the potential health consequences if they were to catch it. Our experimental results are mixed: Results for one information treatment indicate that men report greater relative risk of adverse outcomes. Men in one of the risk information treatments express less concern for their health if they were to contract the disease. Risk perceptions are positively correlated with self-reported propensity toward protective behaviors.

Conclusion: Our review of recent studies finds a small-but-consistent gap in men and women's beliefs about their health risks related to the present pandemic. These risk beliefs are crucial determinants of whether individuals take protective measures. Our experimental results suggest that informing men of male-specific risks associated with COVID-19 can reduce their risk perceptions 


A central concern of public health officials world-wide has been to communicate to the general public the risks associated with the COVID-19 virus. It is widely accepted, and our evidence confirms, that risk beliefs are correlated with behavior.

In order to effectively convince the general public about the risks associated with the COVID-19, public health authorities require a sound understanding of current beliefs about the virus and of the effective communication strategies they should adopt. This research note provides two important insights in this regard. First, we address the notion that there is a gender gap in COVID-19 risk perceptions. We conduct an extensive meta-analysis of recent research on COVID—19 risk perceptions. This analysis indicates that men generally have lower estimates, than women, of their COVID-related risks; and men tend to be more tolerant than women of those risks.

We conjecture that some of this gender gap difference can be narrowed by exposing men to information regarding the health dangers of COVID-19. The survey experiment is designed to test this proposition. A second contribution implements survey experiments designed to identify the effect of information treatments on men's beliefs about the risks of the COVID-19 virus. First, presentation matters; we observer stronger treatment effects for Experiment 2 that presents the risk information in a graphic format. In fact, none of the treatment effects are significant in Experiment 1 when we have subjects read a short discussion of the risks of COVID-19. Second, how messages are framed and communicated matters—in fact, information frames can have perverse outcomes. Our Experiment 2 treatment simply highlights men's increased risks of adverse outcomes from COVID-19—but the framing has the perverse effect of reducing self-reported concern about the disease.

There is no evidence in our two experiments to suggest that providing information about the risks associated with the COVID-19 will cause men to increase their risk assessments associated with the disease—in fact they might have the opposite effect. This highlights the importance of carefully crafting information campaigns designed to change risk perceptions. Future work could focus, for example, on framing this risk information in ways that are amenable to “identity-protective cognition,” such that men are less likely to view the treatment as a threat to their own self-perception. As Kahan (2007) writes, “it is not enough that the information be true; it must be framed in a manner that bears an acceptable social meaning.”

Newly self-employed people are overly optimistic about their future life satisfaction; this overoptimism also holds for successful entrepreneurs who remain in business

Are Newly Self-Employed Overly Optimistic About Their Future Well-Being? Reto Odermatt, Nattavudh Powdthavee, Alois Stutzer. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, October 31 2021, 101779.


• We study if newly self-employed people accurately predict their future well-being

• We use individual panel data to compare expected and the realized life satisfaction

• Newly self-employed people are too optimistic about their future life satisfaction

• The overoptimism also holds for successful entrepreneurs who remain in business

• We discuss reasons for the misprediction such as underestimating heavy workload

Abstract: The formation of expectations is considered a fundamental aspect of the decision process when people reason about entering self-employment. We evaluate the accuracy of newly self-employed individuals’ predictions of their overall future well-being. Based on individual panel data for Germany, we find that they, on average, are overly optimistic when we compare their predictions right after the status change with their actual life satisfaction five years later. This finding is robust to controlling for any time invariant personality traits like individual optimism. And it also holds for those self-employed individuals who successfully remain in business for at least five years. A possible reason for the biased prediction might be that they underestimate the heavy workload reflected in higher working hours than desired, as well as the decline in leisure satisfaction after the status change.

Keywords: Self-employmentoveroptimismlife satisfactionprojection biaspredicted well-being

JEL D83 D91 J20 I31

6. Concluding remarks

The formation of expectations is a fundamental part of the process when people decide about becoming self-employed. Our evaluation of the expectations and experiences of people who become self-employed in Germany allowed us to examine empirically some of the popular beliefs about the (well-being) consequences of self-employment. We made use of the large German Socio-Economic Panel including information about people's work environment, work conditions as well as their evaluation of their satisfaction with various aspects of their work and private life. Importantly, we studied people's predictions of how satisfied they expect to be five years in the future and compare these predictions with the actual realizations five years later.

We showed that, irrespective of their stable optimistic personality traits, people who enter self-employment tend to be overly optimistic about how satisfied they will be with their lives in the future. This overoptimism is prevalent even for the successful self-employed who manage to remain self-employed for at least five years, which suggests that overoptimism is not caused entirely by people mispredicting their own probability of success in the business.9 Rather, it is more likely to be caused by people putting too much weight on the positive work engagement and too little weight on the amount of workload when making a forecast about what their life would be like as a self-employed, which is consistent with findings in the affective forecasting literature (Wilson and Gilbert, 20032013). This is reflected in the evidence that self-employed people report lower leisure satisfaction and an increase in the number of hours worked that go beyond the desired level of working hours in the years after the transition. However, one promise of becoming self-employed seems to come true, namely that these people, on average, report an increase in autonomy in their occupational actions.

There are several limitations to drawing general welfare implications from our findings. First, although our results suggest that some people might only have entered self-employment due to overoptimism, the current empirical framework simply does not allow us to test such a hypothesis directly. Second, even if unrealistic expectations tend to be observed generally with the decision to become self-employed, people who take that leap but do not succeed may still gain valuable experiences from doing so. For example, first time failure might lead to a higher success rate when they run a self-employed activity for a second time. They may also become more satisfied when they return to paid employment as they might value a secure income and regular working hours more after the experience. Third, the observed overoptimism might reflect motivated beliefs (BĂ©nabou and Tirole 2016) for which accuracy might not be the only objective as beliefs also serve an important purpose of motivating people so that they persevere with putting in effort to achieve goals. This instrumental aspect emphasizing the enhancement of self-efficacy is complemented by other motives as people might want to share beliefs in accordance with their peer group or their self-image. Fourth, the individual perspective also neglects welfare effects at the societal level. Successful as well as failed self-employment might contribute to the development of new products and services creating positive spillovers in society.

In future research, we need to better understand how the beliefs about the value of self-employed activities are formed and to what degree they influence people's decision to enter self-employment. In particular, it would be interesting to understand how the beliefs are related to the treatment of “successful” and “failed” business owners in society. This is an issue of entrepreneurial and self-employment culture but also the choice of legal institutions. A more complete understanding of how different institutional environments relate to actual as well as expected outcomes of latent and actual self-employed individuals will contribute productively to the policy discourse on self-employment and entrepreneurship.

Our findings challenge the notion that merely thinking about a romantic partner's success or failure has a substantial impact on implicit self-esteem; 78pct effect is smaller than in Ratliff and Oishi (2013)

Implicit self-esteem following a romantic partner's success: Three replications and a meta-analysis. Heather-Christina C. Hawkins, Tara L. Lesick, Ethan Zell. Personal Relationships, October 24 2021.

Abstract: Few studies have examined how social comparisons with one's romantic partner influence self-esteem. Ratliff and Oishi (2013) found that writing about a romantic partner's success versus failure lowered men's implicit self-esteem (i.e., automatic associations between the concepts self/other and good/bad). We conducted three replications of this research (two preregistered). In each replication, the effect of writing about a romantic partner's success was not statistically significant. Furthermore, a meta-analysis of our three replication studies yielded a small overall effect (d = 0.13) that was 78% smaller than the overall effect obtained by Ratliff and Oishi (2013). Our findings challenge the notion that merely thinking about a romantic partner's success or failure has a substantial impact on implicit self-esteem. Exploratory analyses, however, suggest that this effect may occur for men who are low in relationship satisfaction.