Tuesday, May 24, 2022

There is a widespread belief that Republicans and Democrats are worlds apart with respect to their preferences for redistribution

Nathan, Brad, Ricardo Perez-Truglia, and Alejandro Zentner. 2022. "Is the Partisan Divide Real? Polarization in Preferences for Redistribution." AEA Papers and Proceedings, 112: 156-62.May 2022. DOI: 10.1257/pandp.20221070

Abstract: There is a widespread belief that Republicans and Democrats are worlds apart with respect to their preferences for redistribution. However, is that partisan divide real? In this paper, we discuss evidence from the General Social Survey and a tailored survey. We also discuss a revealed-preference measure constructed with administrative data. We conclude that the partisan divide is more nuanced than previously thought.


How much income redistribution should happen, on a scale of 1 to 7: "Perhaps the most striking evidence of polarization is that in the 1–7 scale, the modal response among Republicans is 1, and the modal response among Democrats is 7."

"One question in the online survey [...] asks about property taxes instead of federal taxes: “Do you consider the amount of property taxes you pay to be too low, about right, or too high?” [T]he share of Democrats responding that property taxes are too high (36.9 percent) is not much lower than the corresponding share of Republicans (42.9 percent)."

"[T]he desired tax reduction is 28.46 percent for Republicans versus 23.42 percent for Democrats."

"Democrats want to assign 25.92 percent of property taxes to the poorer household, and Republicans want to assign 25.71 percent to the poorer household".

"It is possible that the differences between Democrats and Republicans lie mostly in the taxation of the very wealthy. [But t]he results indicate that as the difference in home values increases, the modal respondent still desires proportional taxes."

"Why are Republicans and Democrats so different according to the survey data from Figure 1, yet so similar according to their tax protest behavior? A simple explanation is based on the aphorism that “everyone’s a Republican on tax day.” That is, Republicans and Democrats may say that they feel differently about income redistribution, but those differences disappear when facing real, high-stakes choices. We posit a different, yet still simple, explanation: partisan differences in preferences for redistribution are exaggerated by some, but not all, survey questions."

It is more plausible that better-adjusted individuals are more likely to get married than the social causation hypothesis (marriage causes improvement in mental & physical health)

Huntington, C., Stanley, S. M., Doss, B. D., & Rhoades, G. K. (2022). Happy, healthy, and wedded? How the transition to marriage affects mental and physical health. Journal of Family Psychology, 36(4), 608–617. https://doi.org/10.1037/fam0000913

Abstract> Decades of research have documented the apparent health benefits of marriage, but the dynamics of how health may change across the transition to marriage are not fully understood. In two studies, we compared being unmarried or married on several indices of mental and physical health. In Study 1, we used a national sample of 1,078 individuals in different-sex relationships who completed surveys by mail. Compared with those who were cohabiting or dating, married individuals generally reported better mental and physical health than those in less committed relationships, and most differences remained when controlling for putative selection factors. Study 2 used longitudinal data from the participants in the Study 1 sample who later married (N = 168) to study changes within individuals over the transition to marriage on the same indicators. Six waves of mailed surveys spanning 20 months were employed. Findings of Study 2 indicated that although some indicators of mental and physical health were improving up until the point of marriage, these indicators then stabilized or began to decline, with women experiencing these declines more than men. Findings are more consistent with selection effects (i.e., better-adjusted individuals are more likely to get married) than social causation effects (i.e., marriage causes improvements in mental and physical health) and suggest that if marriage does have a causal effect on well-being in the short term, it may actually manifest in the lead-up to the wedding. Implications of these findings are discussed.

Intelligent people are hardly any more likely to positively evaluate intelligence in their partners

Eastwick, P. W., Finkel, E. J., & Joel, S. (2022). Mate evaluation theory. Psychological Review, May 2022. https://doi.org/10.1037/rev0000360

Abstract: There are two unresolved puzzles in the literature examining how people evaluate mates (i.e., prospective or current romantic/sexual partners). First, compatibility is theoretically crucial, but attempts to explain why certain perceivers are compatible with certain targets have revealed small effects. Second, features of partners (e.g., personality, consensually rated attributes) affect perceivers’ evaluations strongly in initial-attraction contexts but weakly in established relationships. Mate Evaluation Theory (MET) addresses these puzzles, beginning with the Social Relations Model postulate that all evaluative constructs (e.g., attraction, relationship satisfaction) consist of target, perceiver, and relationship variance. MET then explains how people draw evaluations from mates’ attributes using four information sources: (a) shared evolved mechanisms and cultural scripts (common lens, which produces target variance); (b) individual differences that affect how a perceiver views all targets (perceiver lens, which produces perceiver variance); (c) individual differences that affect how a perceiver views some targets, depending on the targets’ features (feature lens, which produces some relationship variance); and (d) narratives about and idiosyncratic reactions to one particular target (target-specific lens, which produces most relationship variance). These two distinct sources of relationship variance (i.e., feature vs. target-specific) address Puzzle #1: Previous attempts to explain compatibility used feature lens information, but relationship variance likely derives primarily from the (understudied) target-specific lens. MET also addresses Puzzle #2 by suggesting that repeated interaction causes the target-specific lens to expand, which reduces perceivers’ use of the common lens. We conclude with new predictions and implications at the intersection of the human-mating and person-perception literatures.

Rolf Degen summarizing... There are veritable yea-sayers who tend to answer affirmatively to questions, regardless of context

Who's a yea-sayer? Habitual trust and affirmative response behaviour. Ann-Christin Posten, Janina Steinmetz- European Journal of Social Psychology. February 3 2022. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.2839

Abstract: We test the hypothesis that people who habitually trust others respond more affirmatively to questions (i.e. acquiescence). Six studies explore whether people's habitual tendency to trust others translates into a general acquiescent response bias. By re-analysing large-scale cross-country data, Study 1 shows that participants’ level of habitual trust predicts agreement across multiple and diverse concepts. Studies 2a and 2b show that habitual trust predicts acquiescent responding in classic psychological questionnaires. Habitual trust likewise predicts behavioural acquiescence, such as an agreement to assign monetary awards to others (Study 3) and staying with the suggested default option in a real choice paradigm (Study 4). Furthermore, the relation between habitual trust and acquiescent responding holds across different communication contexts (Study 5). These results imply that habitual trust predicts how individuals respond to questionnaire items that are used across a variety of research domains.


Habitual trust entails the motivation to affiliate with others (e.g. Evans & Revelle, 2008; Slepian et al., 2012) and the cognitive tendency to think in congruent terms (Kleiman et al., 2015; Mayo, 2015; Mayo et al., 2014; Posten & Mussweiler, 2013). Both a motivation to affiliate (Steinmetz & Posten, 2017) and a congruent thinking style should foster answering affirmatively to questions irrespective of the question content. Across six studies, we demonstrate that, indeed, people who are habitually trusting answer more affirmatively. Using four different measures of habitual trust, six studies consistently demonstrated that people who are habitually trusting show an acquiescent response bias. Habitual trust predicted people's acquiescent responding to questions addressing various aspects of life (Study 1), response scales as used in classic psychological questionnaires (Studies 2a and 2b) and when evaluating others’ work determining their monetary outcomes (Study 3). Over and above response scales, individual levels of habitual trust also predicted the choice of default options (Study 4) and agreement in a forced-choice setting, in which participants could only agree or disagree (Study 5). The relation of habitual trust and acquiescence held across responses to ingroup or outgroup members (Study 5). Notably, the relation even showed in contexts that should be unaffected by social desirability concerns (Study 2b).

12.1 Alternative explanations and limitations

Our approach of using a variety of acquiescence measures might have limitations. Specifically, the correlations of the habitual trust and acquiescence measures differ between our Studies 1–2b that use more traditional survey questions to assess acquiescence (rs between .248 and .314) and our Studies 3–5 that use more behavioural manifestations of acquiescence (rs between .127 and .170). Thus, the relation between habitual trust and acquiescence might be more pronounced (and thus potentially more problematic for researchers) who use survey batteries, whereas more behavioural measures might be less affected. The smaller correlations between habitual trust and such behavioural measures might stem from the fact that participants might have been aware of the consequences of their responses for others (Study 3) and for the self (Study 4). This awareness might have increased the motivation to respond accurately, which might reduce but not fully eliminate acquiescence. Such awareness of consequences might be reduced when people respond to survey questions. Future research could test whether instructions that highlight the importance of surveys for public policy or for research would reduce the relation between habitual trust and acquiescence.

One might speculate whether the relation between habitual trust and acquiescence is driven by an underlying relation between habitual trust and the content of the questions that we used to assess acquiescence. Indeed, there might be some ‘true’ relation between habitual trust and the content of some questions that is not attributable to acquiescence, for example, on the interdependence subscale of the acquiescence measure in Studies 2a and 2b (Zeffane, 2017). Whereas there might be a ‘true’ relation between habitual trust and the content of some items in acquiescence measures, such a relation cannot explain our findings as a whole. For one, we measured acquiescence in a variety of ways across our studies. Specifically, in Studies 1–2b, we measured acquiescence as the responses to traditional survey questions (i.e. the WVS and the Singelis scale). It is unlikely that habitual trust relates to all the various concepts tested in the WVS or relates to interdependence and independence at the same time. For another, we used more behavioural measures of acquiescence in several studies that had no apparent overlap with habitual trust. For example, in Study 4, participants indicated their binary preference to stay with a default ad, without measuring any trust-related personality or values questions. In Study 5, we measured acquiescence as a binary choice between judging factual statements as true versus false. The measures in Studies 4 and 5 capture not a particular psychological content but a simple choice or judgement.

An alternative explanation for the observed correlation between habitual trust and acquiescence could be that this correlation is driven by trait agreeableness (Costa & McCrae, 2008). However, whereas agreeableness might well be related to acquiescence (Hibbing et al., 2019), the trust sub-facet of agreeableness could be one of the drivers of such a relation. With the exception of compliance, the other subscales of agreeableness (i.e. altruism, straightforwardness, modesty and tender-mindedness) seem less likely to correlate with the measures of acquiescence that we used. For example, someone high in modesty might show less acquiescence on the scale in Studies 2a and 2b that measures positive traits and behaviour, for fear of being immodest. Compliance has indeed been shown to correlate with acquiescence (measured as deference; Schuman & Presser, 1996). Because of this finding and our findings that habitual trust correlates with acquiescence, we would expect these two sub-facets of agreeableness to be the main drivers of an observed correlation between the entire agreeableness scale and an acquiescence measure. Thus, we focus on the sub-facet habitual trust instead of the entire agreeableness scale.

We base our hypothesis on motivational and cognitive mechanisms accompanying habitual trust that foster acquiescence. However, there might be more parsimonious explanations for our findings. First, perceiving a person as trustworthy often means also to perceive the person as similar to oneself (Farmer et al., 2014; Posten & Mussweiler, 2019). Similarity in turn leads to assimilation (Mussweiler, 2003), and thus, potentially, to affirmative answering. Second, trusting a person could induce halo effects (Nisbett & Wilson, 1977) by attributing generally positive characteristics to the counterpart, for instance being knowledgeable in a quiz (such as in Study 5). However, these alternative accounts would not predict a relation between habitual trust and acquiescence in low-trust contexts (e.g. outgroup interactions in Study 5), in which the question asker is neither similar to the self nor (presumably) perceived particularly positively. As we find that habitual trust correlates with acquiescence also when interacting with less trustworthy others, these alternative accounts are unlikely to explain our findings.

One limitation of our findings is that we did not directly test the motivational and cognitive mechanisms we propose by which habitual trust influences acquiescence. However, on the basis of previous research, we expect that the motivational and cognitive consequences of habitual trust (e.g. Mayo, 2015) are also operant in the case of acquiescence. Future research should nevertheless determine under which circumstances motivational versus cognitive factors play a larger role in the relation between habitual trust and acquiescence.

12.2 Implications and future directions

Much research has been done to identify, quantify and reduce acquiescent response biases (Krautz & Hoffmann, 2018). Many of these efforts are time-costly to administer (Baumgartner & Steenkamp, 2001; Couch & Keniston, 1960). Other approaches require creating additional items, which incur potential problems caused by common method variance (Podsakoff, 2003), or are limited to knowledge-based items (Krautz & Hoffmann, 2018). Within these approaches, most research has focused on response biases that originate from cultural differences (Krautz & Hoffmann, 2018; Marin et al., 1992).

Unlike existing approaches, the present research focuses on the detection of individuals who are more likely to acquiesce. We show that habitual trust correlates with acquiescence within a given culture (Studies 2–5: US-based MTurk workers and German students) and controlling for country differences (Study 1). Thus, we investigate individual differences that relate to acquiescence over and beyond cultural differences. Notably, habitual trust can be easily and reliably assessed by using short scales that consist of fewer than ten items (e.g. Costa & McCrae, 2008; Evans & Revelle, 2008; Rotter, 1967). With such scales, researchers could identify individuals or populations that score high on habitual trust. By assessing an individual's or a population's habitual trust, one may then have an indication of when the use of––however imperfect––existing corrective measures against acquiescent responding might be especially necessary because the likelihood of acquiescent responding could be increased.

One may further speculate whether researchers should avoid signals of explicit trustworthiness in their studies and experiments. The participant recruitment process often capitalizes on trustworthiness cues, such as university logos and researcher titles, to increase participation rates. Although our studies do not test such an effect, one may wonder whether trustworthiness cues might, however, foster the researcher's perceived trustworthiness. Our results in Study 5 suggest that the more a researcher is perceived as trustworthy, the more participants might agree with their statements (and questions). Thus, future research could test whether recruitment materials that use trustworthy cues to attract participants increase acquiescence by increasing the perceived trustworthiness of the person asking the questions. If this is indeed the case, one implication would be to use trustworthiness cues in the recruitment flyers to increase participation rates, but to ensure that the actual questionnaire (e.g. web page or paper questionnaire) is designed in a more neutral manner, without explicit trustworthiness cues, as a means to reduce acquiescence.

Men Are Not Aware of and Do Not Respond to Their Female Partner's Fertility Status

Schleifenbaum, Lara, Ruben C. Arslan, Julia Stern, Tanja M. Gerlach, Larissa L. Wieczorek, Julie C. Driebe, and Lars Penke. 2022. “Men Are Not Aware of and Do Not Respond to Their Female Partner's Fertility Status: Evidence from a Dyadic Diary Study of 384 Couples.” PsyArXiv. May 23. doi:10.31234/osf.io/7xeca

Abstract: Understanding how human mating psychology is affected by changes in female cyclic fertility is informative for comprehending the evolution of human reproductive behaviour. Based on differential selection pressures between the sexes, men are assumed to have evolved adaptations to notice women’s within-cycle cues to fertility and show corresponding mate retention tactics to secure access to their female partners when fertile. However, previous studies suffered from methodological shortcomings and yielded inconsistent results. In a large, preregistered online dyadic diary study (384 heterosexual couples), we found no compelling evidence that men notice women’s fertility status (as potentially reflected in women’s attractiveness, sexual desire, or wish for contact with others) or display mid-cycle increases in mate retention tactics (jealousy, attention, wish for contact or sexual desire towards female partners). These results extend our current understanding of the evolution of women’s concealed ovulation and oestrus, and suggest that both might have evolved independently.

When our mind misjudges because we have principles, not like others: Hosting the homeless in a hotel is bad, leaving them in the streets is sanity

Alex Tabarrok on this (Politico, Feb 4 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/02/04/new-york-affordable-housing-program-00005049):


 “There are very few hotels that physically could be converted and comply with the requirements of today’s zoning and building code without substantial, expansive reconstruction, partial removal or demolition,” said James Colgate, a land use partner at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP who has advised clients on zoning issues including the conversions of hotels. “That would increase the costs greatly.”

For example, a building’s elevators, doorways, or rooms may be slightly short of the size required for a residential structure. Residential buildings are also required to have a certain amount of rear-yard space that a hotel may not have.

“You would literally have to be chopping off part of the building,” Rosen said.

...The legislation dictates that each unit include a kitchen or kitchenette with a full-sized refrigerator, cooktop and sink — something Rosen said made utilizing the program “simply too expensive.”

“This is the classic case of the perfect being the enemy of the possible,” said Mark Ginsberg, a partner at the firm Curtis + Ginsberg Architects, which has worked on hotel conversions.***

Some advocates who pushed the creation of the program say those provisions were necessary to ensure it didn’t generate substandard housing.

Substandard housing compared to what? Living on the street?  And get this person.

“We didn’t want a program that cut corners to make it more palatable to developers,” said Joseph Loonam, housing campaign coordinator for the progressive advocacy group VOCAL-NY. “We wanted a program that centered the needs of homeless New Yorkers, which is true high quality affordable housing where they can have full autonomy and dignity.”

Well, they got what they wanted, the program wasn't palatable to developers as only one application has been received and none of the money spent. Thanks progressive advocacy group for centering the needs of homeless New Yorkers.


*** I disagree, it wasn't a failure of rational agents, it is a case of radicals who live well and whose job is to whine, regardless of the consequences for the homeless.