Wednesday, June 1, 2022

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which forbids US firms from paying bribes to foreign public officials, increases the size of illegal markets

Bribe-Switching. Bologna Pavlik, Jamie and Desierto, Desiree, Bribe-Switching. May 2022. SSRN: http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4074383

Abstract: The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) prohibits US firms from paying bribes to foreign public officials. We show that FCPA enforcement has no positive effect on the GDP per capita of the countries of these officials but, rather, increases their countries shadow economy. When public officials take bribes both from legal and illegal markets, corruption enforcement in legal markets induces them to make up for lost rents by taking more bribes from illegal markets. In equilibrium, they enforce less against illegal producers, thereby increasing the size of illegal markets.  We find that one case of FCPA enforcement alone increases the shadow economy by as much as 0.25 percentage points (pp), homicide rates by 0.02 pp, and trade misinvoicing by 0.5 pp.

Keywords: corruption, bribery, shadow economy, illegal markets


The empirical evidence contradicted the idea that attraction occurs when people’s personalities match

Humberg, Sarah, Tanja M. Gerlach, Theresa Franke-Prasse, Katharina Geukes, and Mitja Back. 2022. “Is (actual or Perceptual) Personality Similarity Associated with Attraction in Initial Romantic Encounters? A Dyadic Response Surface Analysis.” PsyArXiv. May 30. doi:10.31234/osf.io/vcp85

Abstract: A central assumption in lay and psychological theories is that people are attracted to potential mates who are similar to themselves in personality traits. However, the empirical findings on this idea have been inconclusive. Only a few studies have considered real-life dating contexts, and the statistical approaches they applied have sometimes spuriously identified similarity effects. In our study, 397 heterosexual singles (aged 18-28) participated in real speed-dates (Ndates = 940). Using dyadic response surface analysis, we investigated effects of actual similarity (similarity between self-reported personality trait levels) and perceptual similarity (similarity between an actor’s personality and his/her perception of the partner’s personality) concerning the Big Five traits. Neither type of similarity was related to initial romantic attraction. That is, the empirical evidence contradicted the idea that attraction occurs when people’s personalities match. We conclude that understanding initial attraction requires a deeper understanding of interpersonal dynamics in first encounters.



Find little evidence that American Twitter is as politicized as it is made out to be, with politics & hard news outlets constituting a small subset of these opinion leaders; ordinary Americans are significantly more likely to follow nonpolitical opinion leaders

The Political Landscape of the U.S. Twitterverse. Subhayan Mukerjee, Kokil Jaidka & Yphtach Lelkes. Political Communication, May 31 2022. https://doi.org/10.1080/10584609.2022.2075061

Prior research suggests that Twitter users in the United States are more politically engaged and more partisan than the American citizenry, who are generally characterized by low levels of political knowledge and disinterest in political affairs. This study seeks to understand this disconnect by conducting an observational analysis of the most popular accounts on American Twitter. We identify opinion leaders by drawing random samples of ordinary American Twitter users and observing whom they follow. We estimate the ideological leaning and political relevance of these opinion leaders and crowdsource estimates of perceived ideology. We find little evidence that American Twitter is as politicized as it is made out to be, with politics and hard news outlets constituting a small subset of these opinion leaders. Ordinary Americans are significantly more likely to follow nonpolitical opinion leaders on Twitter than political opinion leaders. We find no evidence of polarization among these opinion leaders either. While a few political professional categories are more polarized than others, the overall polarization dissipates when we factor in the rate at which the opinion leaders tweet: a large number of vocal nonpartisan opinion leaders drowns out the partisan voices on the platform. Our results suggest that the degree to which Twitter is political has likely been overstated in the past. Our findings have implications about how we use Twitter and social media, in general, to represent public opinion in the United States.

Keywords: Twittersocial mediapoliticizationpolarizationecho-chambers


Effects of adversity on wisdom: Little evidence of positive change in wise-reasoning over the course of a year

From 2021... None the wiser: Year-long longitudinal study on effects of adversity on wisdom. Anna Dorfman et al. European Journal of Personality, May 17, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1177/08902070211014057

Abstract: Research on consequences of adversity appears inconclusive. Adversity can be detriment to mental health, promoting maladaptive patterns of thoughts. At the same time, posttraumatic growth studies suggest that overcoming major adversity facilitates growth in wisdom-related patterns of thoughts. We address this puzzle by examining how distinct types of adversity impact wisdom over time and how individual differences in self-distanced (rather than self-immersed) reflection on adversity relate to different wisdom trajectories. In a four-wave prospective year-long study, participants (N = 499) recalled and reflected every three months on the most significant recent adverse event in their life. They reported how much they engaged in wise reasoning—intellectual humility, open-mindedness to diverse perspectives and change, search for compromises and resolution—as well as self-distancing during reflections. Independent raters identified seven distinct adversity types (e.g. social conflict, economic hardship, major trauma) in open-ended descriptions. Growth curve analyses revealed little evidence of positive change in wise-reasoning over the course of a year, and some evidence of negative change for health-related adversity. Although self-distancing was associated with stability in wisdom, self-immersing was associated with negative change in wisdom in reflections on social conflicts over time. We discuss implications these results have for adversity, change vs. resilience in character strengths, and self-distancing.

Keywords: adversity, wisdom, character strengths, self-distancing, resilience

In the present research, we used a year-long longitudinal study to examine how different ways people reflect on their adversity—self-distancing vs. self-immersing—prospectively inform changes in wisdom. In addition, we explored the relationship between different forms of adversity and prospective changes in wisdom.

Self-distanced vs. self-immersed reflection on adversity

To address the first question, we examined how inter- and intra-individual differences in self-distancing are associated with wisdom trajectories following adversity. We suggested that greater self-distancing in reflection an adverse experience may facilitate resilience and possibly even growth in wisdom over time. Overall, we found that inter-individual differences in self-distancing did not significantly qualify the trajectory of wisdom. In other words, people who on average self-distance more than others do not show different wisdom for adversities involving social conflicts trajectories. In contrast, intra-individual differences in self-distancing did qualify the trajectory of wisdom. Specifically, participants who reported self-distancing less from social conflicts than their general level subsequently showed a negative trajectory of wisdom. Participants who reported self-distancing more from adversity than their general level sustained wisdom over the same period. Together, these findings suggest that maintaining or developing a self-distanced perspective on social conflicts is associated with sustaining wisdom over time. Self-distancing may be related to mechanisms such as meaning-making and deliberative rumination. This idea is in line with recent research on memory updating during clinical interventions. A recent study found that shifting perspectives from self-immersion to self-distancing when working through stressful past experiences helped to create new meaning for these experiences (Romano et al., 2020).

Our results extend recent evidence from a pre–post experimental field study that examined effects of self-distanced reflection training for wisdom (Grossmann, Dorfman, Oakes, et al., 2021). When examining responses on the same scale as used in the present longitudinal study (Grossmann, Dorfman, Oakes, et al., 2021, Study 1 supplement), participants who trained in self-distancing sustained a comparable degree of self-reported wisdom from before-to-after the self-distancing intervention. In contrast, control participants who did not train in self-distanced reflection showed a decline in wisdom. These findings further qualify a set of theoretical models about wisdom development, which suggest that individual differences competences similar to self-distancing can promote growth in wisdom over time (e.g. Glück et al., 2019). Although these models so far have chiefly focused on inter-individual competences, it is possible that intra-individual change in competences is the driving force behind wisdom maintenance and development.

It is noteworthy that the effects of self-distancing on wisdom trajectory were particularly pronounced for social conflicts. Social conflicts often involve disagreements of parties pursuing different interests. Consequently, it is possible that social conflicts are both more likely to call for wisdom (Grossmann, 2017Grossmann, Dorfman, et al., 2020). They are also more frequent compared to more singular events such as a major health scare. Thus, social conflicts may produce enough variance in responses to detect growth/decline trajectories. At the same time, the current operationalization of wisdom builds on measures designed specifically for the context of social disagreements and conflicts (Brienza et al., 2018). Consequently, future work may benefit from metrics specifically designed for contexts capturing nuances of medical or economic adversities.

These longitudinal findings also extend the existing literature of self-distancing (Kross & Ayduk, 2017), highlighting the distinction between inter-individual, “trait-like” differences in self-distancing and intra-individual variability from this trait-like level. Further understanding of self-distancing effects will benefit from additional longitudinal studies over longer time frames and across a broader range of psychological processes such as emotion regulation and relational maintenance strategies.

Another insight regarding self-distancing relates to the trajectory of self-distancing for different types of adversity. We found a similar self-distancing trajectory across many different types of adversity, suggesting that the way people engage in self-distancing was largely robust across adversity type (but see minor exceptions in the supplement).

Are all types of adversities alike?

In our exploratory analyses, we classified different types of adversity participants reported experiencing during the year. While some participants reported experiencing the same type of events several times, we observed considerable inter- and intra-individual variability in the types of adversity participants reported. Ratings of subjective event characteristics (i.e. construal of the event) shed further light on differences between adversity types. In particular, social conflicts, economic hardships, and health issues were perceived as more challenging than daily hassles, academic/work setbacks, and even traumas. Also, social conflicts, others’ health problems, and major traumas elicited more negative affect than other types of adversity. Finally, others’ health problems were perceived as less predictable than all other adversity types reported in the study.

Though construal of an event as less predictable may signal uncertainty and low locus of control (Affleck, Tennen, Pfeiffer, et al., 1987), it may also signal greater recognition flexibility that is needed in the situation, which is central to the wisdom construct (Grossmann, 2017). Indeed, participants reported greater wisdom in reflection on adversity involving others’ health problems as compared to other types of adversity. More wisdom in reflections about other-focused adversity than self-focused adversities also corresponded with existing experimental evidence in the wisdom literature, which suggests that people exhibit greater wisdom when reflecting on others’ (vs. their own) problems (Grossmann & Kross, 2014). The insight that different types of adverse events may be associated with different outcomes depending on people’s subjective appraisals of the event (Beck, 2002Folkman & Lazarus, 1985Yih et al., 2019) may be especially critical for posttraumatic growth research. We note this because the posttraumatic growth research so far has either chiefly focused on one type of adversity (major trauma) or has not differentiated between adversity types in the first place (e.g. Engels et al., 2019; cf. Infurna & Luthar, 2016Jayawickreme et al., 2021Luhmann & Eid, 2009).

Focusing on wisdom, we observed no evidence for posttraumatic growth for any type of adversity participants reported. For major trauma, economic and work-related challenges, and daily hassles, participants reported a high degree of rank-order stability in wisdom, with no change in trajectories over a period of a year. In contrast, for adversity involving health issues, we observed a negative linear trajectory in wisdom over time. It is possible that people who are dealing with personal health problems are more self-focused. As a result, they may report wisdom-related meta-cognitions such as perspectivism less than people who reflect on other types of adversity. Together, these longitudinal observations of the ways people work through different types of adversity suggest potentially distinct trajectories of wisdom over time, casting doubt on the idea of general growth in wisdom after experiencing adversity.

The overall trajectory of wisdom in the face of adversity may be best characterized as reflecting resilience—i.e. the maintenance of stable levels of psychological (and physical) functioning in the face of adversity (Luthar et al., 2000). The assumption that wisdom stability is a sign of resilience dovetails with other emerging longitudinal studies on trajectories of character strengths following adversity. Like the present results, these studies document resilience rather than positive changes (e.g. Chopik et al., 2020Davis et al., 2019).

Change in character over time: Nuances matter

This research contributes to the emerging study of change and resilience in specific character strengths and virtues (Lamade et al., 2020), responding to calls to integrate prospective research on specific character strengths into the resilience and growth research (Infurna & Jayawickreme, 2019Letzring et al., 2005). Enriching previous research on resilience and growth, which has primarily examined general changes in well-being (Jayawickreme & Blackie, 2016), the current investigation provides a detailed and nuanced picture of wisdom trajectories. Specifically, sustained wisdom-related resilience in response to adversity may depend on type of adversity and how individuals reflect on this adversity. Such fine-grained studies have been largely missing from the literature (Denissen et al., 2019Infurna & Jayawickreme, 2019Jayawickreme & Blackie, 2014). The resilience in wisdom observed in the current study is also noteworthy given that resilience may not be as commonplace as previously believed (Bonanno et al., 2002Infurna & Luthar, 2018Infurna et al., 2017). Recent studies show that for a significant number of people, adverse life events bring negative change in character strengths and self-esteem (Bleidorn et al., 2021Chopik et al., 2020). For example, examining U.S. soldiers pre- and post-deployment, Chopik et al. (2020) found that 40% of soldiers experienced negative changes in character strengths post-deployment. The rest of the sample remained stable post-deployment. If resilience in general is not commonplace, and change is often negative, maintaining wisdom—a unique strength—in the face of adversity may be at least as important as experiencing “growth” in wisdom, because a likely alternative is a decrease in this character strength.

Why did we fail to observe positive changes in wisdom over time in response to adverse events? First, one year may not be enough time to observe meaningful changes in character, especially changes in wisdom, as most changes may happen more gradually over longer periods (e.g. McAdams & Olson, 2010). Second, significant changes in wisdom may be driven by non-normative life events (Chopik et al., 2019). In our sample, participants considered the events they reported as relatively common and not particularly likely to transform their worldview (the event characteristics of different adversity types are presented in supplemental analysis 2.d. and Figure S1 in the Supplemental Materials). Future longitudinal research that tracks people for more than one year can help answer some of these questions. Such studies can help to determine whether wisdom trajectories and the effects of self-distancing differ for lower base-rate adverse events (e.g. a life-threatening assault) or unexpected circumstances (e.g. prolonged social isolation during a pandemic).

Focusing on wisdom expands the discussion of posttraumatic growth and character change beyond personality traits. The narrative identity approach to posttraumatic change examines changes in how people construe and “narrate” their lives following traumatic life events (McAdams, 1996Pals & McAdams, 2004). Likewise, wisdom can be understood through the ways people approach and reflect on adverse experiences (Weststrate & Glück, 2017Weststrate et al., 2018; also see Staudinger & Glück, 2011, for a review). In contrast to the changes that people report when describing their “life stories” after a major adverse event (Pals, 2006), our findings suggest that growth in wisdom—reflected in specific meta-cognitions and moral aspirations of the CWM—does not typically change much at all. These findings challenge the folk belief that people can grow stronger and become “wiser” following adverse events they experience in their lives. Rather, the findings emphasize the importance of self-distanced reflection on adverse events in helping to prevent stagnation and decline in wisdom.

While our study focused on wisdom-related responses to concrete events using items concerning moral aspirations and meta-cognition, other conceptualizations and measures may show different trajectories following adversity. In particular, it is possible that more abstract characterizations of wisdom, using context-free metrics, or self-reports of one’s narrative identity may produce results more in line with common lay theories about growth from adversity (e.g. Glück et al., 2019). It is also possible that more nuanced measures, which build on common ways people of different socio-economic and sub-cultural groups express their intellectual humility, open-mindedness, or perspective-taking, could show greater variability in wisdom-related meta-cognitions over time. Future research could examine prospective changes in wisdom as an autobiographical narrative (e.g. Glück et al., 2005), personality characteristic (Staudinger et al., 2005), and personality resource (Glück et al., 2019), as well as consider employing a multi-method approach relying on simultaneous assessment of wisdom across different operationalizations (e.g. Baltes & Staudinger, 2000Jeste et al., 2010Webster, 2003).

Despite the substantial diversity of our study sample in age and socio-economic background, most participants were White, with less than a quarter of participants from other ethnic groups, limiting the generalizability of the insights to other populations. Moreover, the study was solely based on participants from English-speaking North America, raising questions about whether these effects would generalize to other cultures. Future research must focus on exploring and understanding the types and appraisals of adverse events that are experienced by culturally diverse groups. Indeed, wisdom trajectories could be different for different cultural and ethnic groups, who may also differ in their propensity to engage in self-distanced reflections (Grossmann & Kross, 2010).

COVID-19: Those who have had an infection and recovered appear slightly happier than others

The comeback effect: How happy are people who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection? Micael Dahlen et al. International Journal of Wellbeing, Vol. 12 No. 2 (2022). May 2022. https://doi.org/10.5502/ijw.v12i2.2019

Abstract: There is already a large body of research on the dramatic negative effects of COVID-19 on peoples’ mental and physical health. Millions of people have died, and the pandemic has negatively influenced the lives of billions of people. Luckily however, the vast majorty of people infected with the virus, recovers. The happiness and wellbeing of these people have not been extensively studied. In the current paper, we ask the question: Are people who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection happier than those who have not been infected at all? Building on previous research on hedonic adaptation and counterfactual thinking, we hypothesize, and find, that those who have had an infection appear slightly happier than others.  The study relies on two surveys conducted in Sweden during the pandemic in 2020 (n=1029) and 2021 (n=1788).


The physical attractiveness of interaction partners is rated higher after a getting-acquainted interaction

Ratings of the physical attractiveness of an interaction partner after a getting-acquainted interaction. Susan Sprecher, Elaine Hatfield. Personal Relationships. May 20 2022. https://doi.org/10.1111/pere.12422

Statement of Relevance: Physical attractiveness plays a critical role in interpersonal interaction. It can be particularly important in initial interactions because it is the most salient characteristic in the get-acquainted process. How people judge the physical attractiveness of a conversation partner after a getting-acquainted interaction may be affected by a number of factors, including perceiver characteristics (e.g., relationship status) and the context of the interaction (e.g., mode of communication). This research provided analyses of data collected from several prior social interaction studies in which data were obtained from young adults on how they rated their getting-acquainted partner's physical attractiveness. These ratings were compared to other benchmarks (e.g., experimenter ratings) and were examined for their associations with perceiver and contextual variables.

Abstract: This study examined college students' judgments of the physical attractiveness of an interaction partner after a getting-acquainted interaction, including in comparison with other benchmarks (e.g., an experimenter rating, a self-rating). With data combined from several past laboratory studies, we found that participants (particularly women who were interacting with another woman) overall rated their interaction partner after a brief interaction to be more attractive than three benchmarks: (1) how the partners were judged by more neutral experimenters who had less interaction with them; (2) how the partners rated themselves; and (3) the participants' own self-ratings of physical attractiveness. Evidence was found for a prediction derived from interaction appearance theory – ratings of the quality (enjoyment) of the interaction were positively associated with ratings of the partner's physical attractiveness. We also explored whether participants' ratings of the physical attractiveness of their interaction partner were affected by factors about the participant (own physical attractiveness, relationship status) and about the context of their communication (modality, type of get-acquainted task). Despite prior work suggesting that physical attractiveness ratings of others are malleable depending on a host of other factors, personal and contextual variables considered in this study were generally not associated with how the participants rated the physical attractiveness of their interaction partner.