Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The nature of privilege: intergenerational wealth in animal societies

The nature of privilege: intergenerational wealth in animal societies. Jennifer E Smith, B Natterson-Horowitz, Michael E Alfaro. Behavioral Ecology, arab137, December 7 2021.

Abstract: Wealth inequality is widespread across human societies, from pastoral and small-scale agricultural groups to large modern social structures. The intergenerational transfer of wealth privileges some individuals over others through the transmission of resources external to an individual organism. Privileged access to household wealth (e.g., land, shelter, silver) positively influences the destinies of some (and their descendants) over others in human societies. Strikingly parallel phenomena exist in animal societies. Inheritance of nongenetic commodities (e.g., a nest, territory, tool) external to an individual also contributes greatly to direct fitness in animals. Here, we illustrate the evolutionary diversity of privilege and its disparity-generating effects on the evolutionary trajectories of lineages across the Tree of Life. We propose that integration of approaches used to study these patterns in humans may offer new insights into a core principle from behavioral ecology—differential access to inherited resources—and help to establish a broad, comparative framework for studying inequality in animals.

Intergenerational transfer of material wealth within family lineages

Intergenerational transfer of material wealth can drive inequality within family lineages of animals. In North American red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), a mother may store spruce cones on her territory and privilege her daughter by bequeathing a rich territory to her; daughters who receive these resources survive longer and reproduce earlier than those without (Smith 1968). Male food hoarders can also influence the lifetime fitness of subsequent owners of middens and these effects persist across multiple owners (Fisher et al. 2019). Because these food hoards outlive their owners, these indirect effects alter the environments that others experience. Thus, when some offspring receive a cone stash and others do not, this perpetuates inequality across generations privileging some individuals over others. Whereas many species, including the red squirrels described here, modify their local resource distributions (Laland et al. 1999Olding-Smee 2012), studying the evolutionary dynamics associated with the intergenerational transfer of these constructed niches requires explicit study within a comparative framework.

The material transfer of (nongenetic) material wealth contributes to the extinction (vs. expansion) of family lineages and advantage individuals of the philopatric (vs. dispersing) sex across species. For spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta), individuals from multiple maternal lineages join forces to defend a shared territory, but high-born philopatric females and their descendants have privileged access to resources within them (Holekamp et al. 2012) (Figure 2). Differential access promotes the extinction of nonprivileged family lineages but expands land ownership by privileged animals; these effects are further ameliorated by differential access to social support within groups (Smith, Van Horn, et al. 2010Strauss and Holekamp 2019). In contrast, territory acquisition by a young male red grouse (Lagopus lagopus scotica) is impacted by paternal presence (Watson et al. 1994) (Figure 2). Philopatric sons with nearby fathers gain larger and more defended territories than individuals whose fathers are no longer alive. Thus, the comparative study of wealth transfer across animals should therefore offer insights into the evolutionary dynamics of family groups and the consequences of sex-biased dispersal in animals.

The transgenerational use of activity sites can also contribute to the accumulation of stone tools within lineages. Taï Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) (Mercader et al. 2002) and bearded capuchin monkeys (Cebus libidinosus) (Elisabetta et al. 2013) inherit tools produced at nut-cracking sites via the paternal and maternal lines, respectively. Individuals that inherit are advantaged over others who do not in terms of their ability to gain access to key food resources; these beneficial effects are further compounded through the transfer of social information (e.g., traditions for how to use inherited materials) across generations. These examples shed light on the direct and indirect role of wealth transfer in shaping legacies of inequality along bloodlines over multiple time scales. These effects of intergenerational wealth mobility are likely stronger for some species than for others, as we discuss below, and therefore should be the subject of a quantitative study by behavioral ecologists to understand the breadth of their influence.

Intergenerational transfer of material wealth among non-kin

Intergenerational transfer of material wealth is not limited to genetic relatives within animal societies and can impose similar disparity-generating effects through preferential treatment by non-kin. For instance, privileged access to shelter (e.g., a nest) can transcend bloodlines in European paper wasps (Polistes dominula). Inheritance of built structures from kin or non-kin advantage wasps fortunate enough to receive them (Leadbeater et al. 2011). As a result, females who share nests with others are more likely to inherit structures and produce offspring than less privileged lone females. Within some termite societies structures may be inherited from kin, but inheritance can also occur when different lineages merge to share “real estate” (Thorne et al. 2003). The merging of families accelerates inheritance, increasing opportunities for resource acquisition for future generations, benefiting some termite lineages over others to further perpetuate the cycle of privilege. In some cases, disadvantaged individuals wait for privileged individuals to perish, as occurs, for example, in the clown anemonefish (Amphiprion percula) which lives in groups composed of non-relatives (Buston 2004). The non-breeding fish queue to inherit high-quality anemones from non-kin, but not all individuals inherit, and these effects can compound across multiple generations. Further inquiry into understanding selective processes shaping resource transfer among non-kin within a comparative perspective could offer new insights into the evolutionary origins of cooperation among non-relatives.

AI-powered mutual funds per se do not outperform the market, but significantly outperform their human-managed peers, show superior stock selection capability and can overcome some prevalent behavioral biases

Do AI-Powered Mutual Funds Perform Better? Rui Chen, Jinjuan Ren. Finance Research Letters, December 4 2021, 102616.


• AI-powered mutual funds per se do not outperform the market.

• AI-powered mutual funds significantly outperform their human-managed peers.

• AI-powered mutual funds show superior stock selection capability and lower turnover ratios to humans.

• AI-powered funds can overcome some prevalent behavioral biases.

Abstract: We evaluate the performance of artificial intelligence (AI)-powered mutual funds. We find that these funds do not outperform the market per se. However, a comparison shows that AI-powered funds significantly outperform their human-managed peer funds. We further show that the outperformance of AI funds is attributable to their lower transaction cost, superior stock-picking capability, and reduced behavioral biases.

Keywords: Artificial IntelligenceMutual fund performanceBehavioral biasesJEL classification: G11, G23, G41

Gifted & Talented Programs and Racial Segregation

Gifted & Talented Programs and Racial Segregation. Owen Thompson. NBER Working Paper 29546, December 2021.

Abstract: Racial segregation can occur across educational programs or classrooms within a given school, and there has been particular concern that gifted & talented programs may reduce integration within schools. This paper evaluates the contribution of gifted & talented education to racial segregation using data on the presence and racial composition of gifted & talented programs at virtually all US elementary schools over a span of nine school years. I first show that, consistent with widespread perceptions, gifted & talented programs do disproportionately enroll white and Asian students while Black, Hispanic and Native American students are underrepresented. However, I also show that accounting for the within-school racial sorting caused by these programs has little or no effect on standard measures of overall racial segregation. This is primarily because gifted & talented programs are a small share of total enrollments and do enroll non-negligible numbers of under-represented minority students. I also estimate changes in race-specific enrollments after schools initiate or discontinue gifted & talented programs, and find no significant enrollment changes after programs are eliminated or initiated. I conclude that gifted & talented education is a quantitatively small contributor to racial segregation in US elementary schools.

Opposition to High Density Development: Across every demographic subgroup analyzed, respondents preferred single-family home developments by a wide margin

You Won't be My Neighbor: Opposition to High Density Development. Jessica Trounstine. Urban Affairs Review, December 6, 2021.

Abstract: Virtually every city in the United States bans multifamily homes in at least some neighborhoods, and in many cities most residential land is restricted to single family homes. This is the case even though many metropolitan areas are facing skyrocketing housing costs and increased environmental degradation that could be alleviated by denser housing supply. Some scholars have argued that an unrepresentative set of vocal development opponents are the culprits behind this collective action failure. Yet, recent work suggests that opposition to density may be widespread. In this research note, I use a conjoint survey experiment to provide evidence that preferences for single-family development are ubiquitous. Across every demographic subgroup analyzed, respondents preferred single-family home developments by a wide margin. Relative to single family homes, apartments are viewed as decreasing property values, increasing crime rates, lowering school quality, increasing traffic, and decreasing desirability.

Keywords: land use, development, experiment, survey

Is Intellectual Humility Associated With Less Political Myside Bias?

Stepping Outside the Echo Chamber: Is Intellectual Humility Associated With Less Political Myside Bias? Shauna M. Bowes et al. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, March 10, 2021.

Abstract: In recent years, an upsurge of polarization has been a salient feature of political discourse in America. A small but growing body of research has examined the potential relevance of intellectual humility (IH) to political polarization. In the present investigation, we extend this work to political myside bias, testing the hypothesis that IH is associated with less bias in two community samples (N1 = 498; N2 = 477). In line with our expectations, measures of IH were negatively correlated with political myside bias across paradigms, political topics, and samples. These relations were robust to controlling for humility. We also examined ideological asymmetries in the relations between IH and political myside bias, finding that IH–bias relations were statistically equivalent in members of the political left and right. Notwithstanding important limitations and caveats, these data establish IH as one of a small handful psychological features known to predict less political myside bias.

Keywords: intellectual humility, partisan bias, polarization, humility, myside bias

From 2018... To be funny or not to be funny: Gender differences in student perceptions of instructor humor in college science courses

From 2018... To be funny or not to be funny: Gender differences in student perceptions of instructor humor in college science courses. Katelyn M. Cooper et al. PLoS One, August 15, 2018.

Abstract: For over 50 years instructor humor has been recognized as a way to positively impact student cognitive and affective learning. However, no study has explored humor exclusively in the context of college science courses, which have the reputation of being difficult and boring. The majority of studies that explore humor have assumed that students perceive instructor humor to be funny, yet students likely perceive some instructor humor as unfunny or offensive. Further, evidence suggests that women perceive certain subjects to be more offensive than men, yet we do not know what impact this may have on the experience of women in the classroom. To address these gaps in the literature, we surveyed students across 25 different college science courses about their perceptions of instructor humor in college science classes, which yielded 1637 student responses. Open-coding methods were used to analyze student responses to a question about why students appreciate humor. Multinomial regression was used to identify whether there are gender differences in the extent to which funny, unfunny, and offensive humor influenced student attention to course content, instructor relatability, and student sense of belonging. Logistic regression was used to examine gender differences in what subjects students find funny and offensive when joked about by college science instructors. Nearly 99% of students reported that they appreciate instructor humor and reported that it positively changes the classroom atmosphere, improves student experiences during class, and enhances the student-instructor relationship. We found that funny humor tends to increase student attention to course content, instructor relatability, and student sense of belonging. Conversely, offensive humor tends to decrease instructor relatability and student sense of belonging. Lastly, we identified subjects that males were more likely to find funny and females were more likely to find offensive if a college science instructor were to joke about them.

Since attractive alternatives threaten committed relationships, committed partners protect their relationships by devaluing such alternatives; but there are new technologies that increase access to attractive alternatives & there are more diverse relationships

The changing tides of attractive alternatives in romantic relationships: Recent societal changes compel new directions for future research. Ashlyn Brady, Levi R. Baker. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, December 4 2021.

Abstract: Societal changes over recent decades have drastically transformed the frequency and manner in which people are exposed to attractive alternative relationship partners, arguably resulting in such alternatives posing a greater threat to committed relationships now than ever before. Yet despite a growing need for novel research on attractive alternatives, research on this topic has failed to account for such changes and thus is growing stagnant. Specifically, although interdependence perspectives and supporting research have consistently and robustly demonstrated that (a) attractive alternatives threaten committed relationships and (b) committed partners protect their relationships by devaluing such alternatives, research has yet to examine how the changing nature of attractive alternatives might affect these processes. To this end, the present article first reviews foundational theory and research that guided the study of attractive alternatives and then highlights how recent societal changes (e.g., technology that increases access to attractive alternatives, increasingly diverse relationship types, the emerging desire to remain single) diverge from this research and thus warrant new directions. We encourage researchers to expand how they study attractive alternatives and to ultimately reignite research on this increasingly important topic.