Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Nuremberg Code 70 Years Later

JAMA Viewpoint
The Nuremberg Code 70 Years Later. By Jonathan D. Moreno, PhD; Ulf Schmidt, PhD; Steve Joffe, MD, MPH

JAMA. Published online August 17, 2017. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.10265

Seventy years ago, on August 20, 1947, the International Medical Tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany, delivered its verdict in the trial of 23 doctors and bureaucrats accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity for their roles in cruel and often lethal concentration camp medical experiments. As part of its judgment, the court articulated a 10-point set of rules for the conduct of human experiments that has come to be known as the Nuremberg Code. Among other requirements, the code called for the “voluntary consent” of the human research subject, an assessment of risks and benefits, and assurances of competent investigators. These concepts have become an important reference point for the ethical conduct of medical research. Yet, there has in the past been considerable debate among scholars about the code’s authorship, scope, and legal standing in both civilian and military science. Nonetheless, the Nuremberg Code has undoubtedly been a milestone in the history of biomedical research ethics.1- 3

Writings on medical ethics, laws, and regulations in a number of jurisdictions and countries, including a detailed and sophisticated set of guidelines from the Reich Ministry of the Interior in 1931, set the stage for the code. The same focus on voluntariness and risk that characterizes the code also suffuses these guidelines. What distinguishes the code is its context. As lead prosecutor Telford Taylor emphasized, although the Doctors’ Trial was at its heart a murder trial, it clearly implicated the ethical practices of medical experimenters and, by extension, the medical profession’s relationship to the state understood as an organized community living under a particular political structure. The embrace of Nazi ideology by German physicians, and the subsequent participation of some of their most distinguished leaders in the camp experiments, demonstrates the importance of professional independence from and resistance to the ideological and geopolitical ambitions of the authoritarian state.

The circumstances in which the code was promulgated thus signified a tension between professional standards and duties to the state. There had long been an intense debate within the medical profession about its ethical obligations in the course of human experiments, dating back to 18th- and 19th-century objections against objectifying human beings for scientific purposes. The increased demands placed on modern states to promote the health and welfare of citizens in the 20th century required state agencies to respond to public pressure to protect participants in clinical trials. These debates were often stimulated by medical ethics transgressions or medical errors that attracted the wider attention of state agencies and the public at large, or by concerned physicians who regarded themselves as reformers and wished to improve their colleagues’ practices. At the center of that debate is the question of how to balance participants’ rights and welfare with the progress of medical science, for example, through professional guidelines and ethics codes or through greater state intervention, laws, and regulations. That the Nazi doctors’ crimes occurred despite the vigorous and sophisticated ethical debates of the time and place should serve as a cautionary tale for physicians today.

Exactly a century ago, for example, Heiman unleashed substantial criticism against what he regarded as his colleagues’ irresponsible experimental practices in his book Etyka Lekarska (“Medical Ethics”).4 He vigorously criticized the reduction of human beings to experimental material, insisted on consent, and warned against taking advantage of desperate patients who may fear their physician will abandon them if they do not cooperate. This tradition in Eastern European medicine, which has persisted over the generations even amid catastrophic wars and massive political turmoil, demonstrates the importance of professional self-governance and advocacy in the face of an undemocratic and in many ways authoritarian state with little respect for individual rights. In 1967, 50 years after the publication of Heiman’s book and 20 years after publication of the code, the Polish Medical Association published strict “Deontological Ethical Rules” (Deontologiczno-Etyczne Zasady) about consent, voluntariness, risks and benefits, publication, and qualified investigators.5 Those rules were expanded 10 years later. Although rules do not necessarily translate into practices, it is notable that even at the height of the Cold War in a socialist government, the association sent a copy of these rules to every physician in Poland. Whether this was effective in protecting patients who participated in research is unknown.

More recent scholarship has found a similar preoccupation with “medical deontology” (medical ethics) in other countries in that region, perhaps partly owing to their proximity to the concentration camps, the collective experiences of the Second World War, and the need to assert professional ethics against a background of authoritarian rule. For example, in East Germany, medical ethicists collaborated with state commissions, such as the Central Expert Committee for Drug Commerce (Zentraler Gutachterausschuss für Arzneimittelverkehr) to monitor the safety and ethical conduct of pharmacological experiments on thousands of patients. Rather than working in an entirely different ethical universe behind the so-called Iron Curtain, these experts, though seemingly removed from the fundamental ethical principles of the code, applied their detailed knowledge of modern research ethics to the practical challenges of experimental medical science in undemocratic societies. The infamous state-sponsored “doping” of world class athletes, in which physicians were involved, was not necessarily typical of medical and ethical practices.

It is essential, however, to distinguish the inherent structural problems of nondemocratic and authoritarian government systems from legitimate government regulation for the protection of patient-participants. The two are not the same. For example, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, critics of the newly founded postwar British National Health Service (NHS), which does support clinical research, alleged that greater government direction of medicine and medical science may inevitably lead to a Nazi or Soviet style of government. Organizations such as the Society for Freedom in Science likewise denounced as totalitarian almost any government program that promoted a greater degree of central or state planning of clinical care and medical research.2 These tensions regarding professional vs governmental control over medical science are pervasive and longstanding.

In a symbolic sense, the Nuremberg Code is part of the infrastructure of the democratic international system that emerged after World War II, with its focus on respect for human rights, individual autonomy, and informed consent. But even that symbolic role is intangible at best. In the field of human research ethics the code was eclipsed by the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki in 1964. While the code may have created greater awareness of the importance of human rights in medical science among wide sections of the medical profession, its specific role in international human rights law is modest compared with the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, created by the United Nations General Assembly in light of 2 world wars. In 1987, 40 years after the code was written, the US Supreme Court ruled that it did not apply in the case of a retired Army sergeant who claimed to have been injured in an LSD experiment. Likewise, in 2004, an inquest into the death of a British serviceman from a Cold War sarin nerve agent experiment ruled that the code—despite its importance as a reference point in medical ethics—did not apply to UK domestic law. Indeed, the code has not been adopted by any government, with the partial exception of the US Department of Defense in 1953 regarding defensive experiments concerning atomic, biological, and chemical agents.1

The story of the Nuremberg Code is not one of ethical norms taking on the force of law. Rather, its legacy shows the fundamental importance of a robust organized medical profession that protects its independence from political interests and its ability to chart its own moral course, yet is at the same time open to the essential role of nations and government agencies that respect broadly defined and agreed-upon rules to protect the rights and well-being of human research participants. Renewed allegations in 2017 that psychologists working with the Central Intelligence Agency on detainee interrogations engaged in unethical human experimentation demonstrate that these matters are not merely of historical interest.6 It is therefore worth asking, 70 years after the judgment at Nuremberg and in the face of increasing authoritarianism worldwide, whether contemporary physicians can claim membership in a profession that reflects the spirit of the code.

Corresponding Author: Jonathan D. Moreno, PhD, Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, 423 Guardian Dr, BH1415, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: All authors have completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest. Drs Schmidt and Moreno report grants from Wellcome Trust during the conduct of the study. No other disclosures were reported.

Funding/Support: Drs Schmidt and Moreno acknowledge the support of a Wellcome Trust Seed Award 2016, “Cold War Bioethics: Human Research Ethics in Central Eastern Europe, 1945-present” (WT: 201441/Z/16/Z).

Role of the Funder/Sponsor: Wellcome Trust had no role in the preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; or decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

1.  Moreno  JD.  Undue Risk: Secret State Experiments on Humans. New York, NY: Routledge; 2001.
2.  Schmidt  U.  Justice at Nuremberg: Leo Alexander and the Nazi Doctors’ Trial. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan; 2004.
3.  Schmidt  U.  Secret Science: a Century of Poison Warfare and Human Experiments: New Product Edition. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2015.
4.  Heiman  T. Etyka lekarska i obowiązki lekarza: (deontologia). Warszawa, Poland: skł. gł. Gebethner i Wolff; 1917.
5.  Polish Medical Association.  Deontologiczno-etyczne zasady.  Służba Zdrowia. 1967;26:3.
6.  Dougherty  S, Allen  SA. Nuremberg Betrayed: Human Experimentation and the CIA Torture Program. June 2017. Accessed June 22, 2017.

The Behavior of Ethicists (ch 15 of A Companion to Experimental Philosophy)

Chapter 15. The Behavior of Ethicists. Eric Schwitzgebel and Joshua Rust. In A Companion to Experimental Philosophy, edited by Justin Sytsma and Wesley Buckwalter. DOI: 10.1002/9781118661666.ch15

Summary: We review and present a new meta-analysis of research suggesting that ethicists in the United States appear to behave no morally better overall than do non-ethicist professors. Measures include: returning library books, peer evaluation of overall moral behavior, voting participation, courteous and discourteous behavior at conferences, replying to student emails, paying conference registration fees and disciplinary society dues, staying in touch with one's mother, charitable giving, organ and blood donation, vegetarianism, and honesty in responding to survey questions. One multi-measure study found ethicists tending to embrace more stringent moral views, especially about meat eating and charitable donation. The same multi-measure study found ethicists and other professors to show similarly small-to-medium correlations between their expressed normative attitudes and their self-reported or directly measured behavior.

Keywords: ethics; attitude-behavior correlation; metaphilosophy; experimental philosophy; applied ethics

Value change in men and women entering parenthood: New mothers' value priorities shift towards Conservation values

Value change in men and women entering parenthood: New mothers' value priorities shift towards Conservation values. Jan-Erik Lönnqvist, Sointu Leikas, and Markku Verkasalo. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 120, 1 January 2018, Pages 47–51,

•    Becoming a parent changes the values of women, but not men.
•    New mothers' value priorities shift towards Conservation over Openness to Change.
•    Men's ratings of their spouse's values corroborate the change in women's self-ratings.
•    Women mistakenly believe new fathers' to have undergone a change similar to their own.
•    Value change may facilitate adaptation to major life-events.

Abstract: There is little research on how life transitions influence value priorities. Our purpose was to investigate, within the framework provided by Schwartz's Values Theory, the effects of entering parenthood on personal values. Study 1 (N = 12,850), employing cross-sectional European Social Survey data, showed that Finnish mothers, as compared to non-mothers, were closer to the Conservation pole of the value dimensions that opposes Conservation values with Openness to Change values. Study 2 longitudinally followed Finnish couples (N = 292) entering parenthood from the first weeks of pregnancy to three months after childbirth. Both self- and spouse-ratings of values showed that new mothers' value priorities shifted towards Conservation values. New mothers perceived a similar shift in new fathers' personal values, but no changes occurred in men's self-ratings. Neither study suggested change on the value dimension that opposes Self-Transcendence values with Self-Enhancement values. Across the cross-sectional and longitudinal designs, and across self- and spouse-ratings of values, our results consistently suggest that new mothers' shift their value priorities in the direction of increased Conservation over Openness to Change. These results are consistent with the notion that value change may facilitate adaptation to life events.

Keywords: Schwartz' values theory; Value change; Personal values; Parenthood; Sex differences

The Perniciousness of Perfectionism: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Perfectionism-Suicide Relationship

Smith, M. M., Sherry, S. B., Chen, S., Saklofske, D. H., Mushquash, C., Flett, G. L. and Hewitt, P. L., The Perniciousness of Perfectionism: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Perfectionism-Suicide Relationship. Journal of Personality. doi:10.1111/jopy.12333,

Abstract: Over 50 years of research implicates perfectionism in suicide. Yet the role of perfectionism in suicide needs clarification due to notable between-study inconsistencies in findings, underpowered studies, and uncertainty whether perfectionism confers risk for suicide. Objective: We addressed this by meta-analyzing perfectionism's relationship with suicide ideation and attempts. We also tested whether self-oriented, other-oriented, and socially prescribed perfectionism predicted increased suicide ideation, beyond baseline ideation. Method: Our literature search yielded 45 studies (N = 11,747) composed of undergraduates, medical students, community adults, and psychiatric patients. Results: Meta-analysis using random effects models revealed ***perfectionistic concerns (socially prescribed perfectionism, concern over mistakes, doubts about actions, discrepancy, perfectionistic attitudes), perfectionistic strivings (self-oriented perfectionism, personal standards), parental criticism, and parental expectations displayed small-to-moderate positive associations with suicide ideation. Socially prescribed perfectionism also predicted longitudinal increases in suicide ideation. And perfectionistic concerns, parental criticism, and parental expectations displayed small, positive associations with suicide attempts***. Conclusions: Results lend credence to theoretical accounts suggesting self-generated and socially based pressures to be perfect are part of the premorbid personality of people prone to suicide ideation and attempts. Perfectionistic strivings' association with suicide ideation also draws into question the notion that such strivings are healthy, adaptive, or advisable.

Making punishment palatable: Belief in free will alleviates punitive distress

Cory J. Clark, Roy F. Baumeister, Peter H. Ditto, Making punishment palatable: Belief in free will alleviates punitive distress. Consciousness and Cognition, Volume 51, 2017, Pages 193-211,

•    Motivated increases in free will belief help justify punishing others.
•    Due to this justification, free will beliefs reduce remorse over punitive harm.
•    Highly punitive free will skeptics experience heightened anxiety.
•    Punishers feel more anxious when punished partner had no choice but to be unfair.
•    Punitive desires increase anxiety only when free will beliefs are reduced.


Punishing wrongdoers is beneficial for group functioning, but can harm individual well-being. Building on research demonstrating that punitive motives underlie free will beliefs, we propose that free will beliefs help justify punitive impulses, thus alleviating the associated distress. In Study 1, trait-level punitiveness predicted heightened levels of anxiety only for free will skeptics. Study 2 found that higher state-level incarceration rates predicted higher mental health issue rates, only in states with citizens relatively skeptical about free will. In Study 3, participants who punished an unfair partner experienced greater distress than non-punishers, only when their partner did not have free choice. Studies 4 and 5 confirmed experimentally that punitive desires led to greater anxiety only when free will beliefs were undermined by an anti-free will argument. These results suggest that believing in free will permits holding immoral actors morally responsible, thus justifying punishment with diminished negative psychological consequences for punishers.

Keywords: Free will; Punishment; Morality; Motivated reasoning; Anxiety

The “social” facilitation of eating without the presence of others: Self-reflection on eating makes food taste better and people eat more

The “social” facilitation of eating without the presence of others: Self-reflection on eating makes food taste better and people eat more. Ryuzaburo Nakata and Nobuyuki Kawai. Physiology & Behavior, Volume 179, 1 October 2017, Pages 23-29,

•    We investigated the social facilitation of eating in the absence of other individuals.
•    Participants rated food as tasting better in front of a mirror reflecting visual information of themselves.
•    Consumption of food was also increased by observing themselves eating.
•    A similar facilitation effect was observed even when eating in front of a static picture of themselves

Abstract: Food tastes better and people eat more of it when eaten with company than alone. Although several explanations have been proposed for this social facilitation of eating, they share the basic assumption that this phenomenon is achieved by the existence of co-eating others. Here, we demonstrate a similar “social” facilitation of eating in the absence of other individuals. Elderly participants tasted a piece of popcorn alone while in front of a mirror (which reflects the participant themselves eating popcorn) or in front of a wall-reflecting monitor, and were found to eat more popcorn and rate it better tasting in the self-reflecting condition than in the monitor condition. Similar results were found for younger adults. The results suggest that the social facilitation of eating does not necessarily require the presence of another individual. Furthermore, we observed a similar “social” facilitation of eating even when participants ate a piece of popcorn in front of a static picture of themselves eating, suggesting that static visual information of “someone” eating food is sufficient to produce the “social” facilitation of eating.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

When sex doesn’t sell to men: mortality salience, disgust and the appeal of products and advertisements featuring sexualized women

When sex doesn’t sell to men: mortality salience, disgust and the appeal of products and advertisements featuring sexualized women. Seon Min Lee et al. Motivation and Emotion, August 2017, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 478–491,

Abstract: Although men typically hold favorable views of advertisements featuring female sexuality, from a Terror Management Theory perspective, this should be less the case when thoughts of human mortality are salient. Two experiments conducted in South Korea supported this hypothesis across a variety of products (e.g., perfume and vodka). Men became more negative towards advertisements featuring female sexuality, and had reduced purchase intentions for those products, after thinking about their own mortality. Study 2 found that these effects were mediated by heightened disgust. Mortality thoughts did not impact women in either study. These findings uniquely demonstrate that thoughts of death interact with female sex-appeal to influence men’s consumer choices, and that disgust mediates these processes. Implications for the role of emotion, and cultural differences, in terror management, for attitudes toward female sexuality, and for marketing strategies are discussed.

Keywords: Mortality salience, Sex-appeal, Disgust, Advertisements, Terror management

Conclusion: There is a high prevalence of using female sexuality with the intention to sell across a wide range of products, entertainment types (e.g., sports) and media. While men typically enjoy advertisements that utilize sex appeal, and female sexuality, the current research suggests that, in conjunction with thoughts of death (which are primed in many media contexts, such as television programs, movies, internet articles, and also in the physical environment, such as cemeteries, hospitals, war memorials, funeral homes), these advertisements would not be effective as a means to sell products. On a broader level, they suggest that, in the context of existential concerns, sexuality, and in particular female sexuality, continues to be paradoxical, serving as a key component to the origin of human life and as a source of immense pleasure, but remaining a lens through which we are disgusted with our own animal nature.

The Causes and Consequences of Women’s Competitive Beautification

The Causes and Consequences of Women’s Competitive Beautification. Danielle J. DelPriore, Marjorie L. Prokosch, and Sarah E. Hill. The Oxford Handbook of Women and Competition, edited by Maryanne L. Fisher.

Abstract: Much empirical evidence suggests that “what is beautiful is good,” particularly for women. Whether in the courtroom or the classroom, attractive women enjoy a variety of benefits not available to their less attractive peers. It is therefore often in a woman’s best interest to engage in efforts to enhance her appearance. Women utilize a number of strategies to increase their physical attractiveness (e.g., wearing cosmetics, dieting), particularly when competing for romantic partners. Due to the competitive advantage it provides, however, a woman’s beauty can also evoke aversive psychological responses from same-sex competitors. These negative responses—such as decreased self-esteem and increased envy—can have costly consequences for the attractive women who elicit them. In this chapter, we review research and suggest that women strategically enhance their beauty in order to facilitate competitive success. We also address several important questions about the causes and consequences of women’s competitive beautification.

Keywords: physical attractiveness, intrasexual competition, human mating, envy, anti-attractiveness bias, appearance enhancement, beautification penalty

Research also supports the idea that women who use artificial means to deceptively augment their attractiveness via the use of cosmetics are sometimes penalized in organizational settings [...]. Specifically, female undergraduates were presented with a series of same-sex targets (half wearing cosmetics and half not) and were asked to imagine they worked with these individuals. Results revealed that women evaluated female targets wearing cosmetics as more likely to use their looks to get ahead in the workplace and less likely to achieve success via hard work alone relative to female targets not wearing cosmetics. Although this beautification penalty was found across target attractiveness, the negative response was most pronounced for attractive female targets wearing cosmetics. These effects extended to affect individuals' desire to interact with the female targets wearing (vs. not wearing) cosmetics, women indicated a _decreased_ likelihood they would affiliate with these targets in the workplace (an effect that was mediated by decreased perceptions of the targets' trustworthiness in response to their appearance enhancement effort).

The evolution of female same-sex attraction: The male choice hypothesis

The evolution of female same-sex attraction: The male choice hypothesis. Menelaos Apostolou et al. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 116, 1 October 2017, Pages 372-378,

•    Provides a new theory for the evolution of female same-sex attraction
•    Finds that men desire opposite sex partners who experience same-sex attractions
•    Finds that men desires their opposite sex partners to have sex with same-sex individuals

Abstract: Prevalence studies indicate that about one in five women experience some degree of same-sex attraction. The evolutionary origins of such attraction are not well understood. Accordingly, this paper proposed a theoretical framework where, during the period of human evolution, same-sex attractions in women were under positive selection. The source of positive selection has been male preferences for opposite-sex sex partners who experienced same-sex attractions. This theoretical framework was used to generate four predictions that were tested in two online studies which employed a total of 1509 heterosexual participants. It was found that heterosexual women did not desire partners who experienced same-sex attractions, but a considerable proportion of heterosexual men desired partners who experienced same-sex attractions. In addition, it was found that men were more sexually excited than women by the same-sex infidelity of their partners, and they desired more than women, their opposite-sex partners to have sex with same-sex individuals. Finally, participants' preferences were contingent on the seriousness of the relationships, with same-sex attraction to be preferred more in short-term than in a long-term partner. These findings were employed in understanding the evolutionary origins of same-sex attraction in women.

Possible reasons for men to select bisexual wives:

Men with multiple wives, as opposed to men with one wife, face an elevated probability to be cuckolded, because they have to divide their sexual effort toward several wives so, inevitably, some of their wives will remain unsatisfied. They also have to divide their mate-guarding effort between multiple wives, which makes such effort less effective. If their wives experience same-sex attraction, they can satisfy their urges with other co-wives, who are readily available, reducing, in effect, the risk of cuckoldry (see also Kanazawa, 2016).

Another benefit that a man can accrue from an opposite-sex mate who is experiences same-sex attraction can be to gain access to other women. In particular, if a man's partner has sex with another woman, there is an elevated probability that he gains also sexual access to this other woman. In this respect, the same-sex attraction of his partner constitutes a window of opportunity for a man to have sex with other women without much mating effort, as this effort is made by his partner.

the odds ratio (OR = 13.8) indicating participants to be more likely to respond that they preferred their short-term than their long-term partners to have same-sex contacts.


the odds ratio indicated that men were 25.6 times more likely than women to prefer their partners to have sexwith same-sex individuals occasionally or frequently than never, a huge sex difference.


The findings of the current research enable us to better understand the evolutionary origins of same-sex attraction in women. The presence in a high frequency of amalemorph that desires women who experience same-sex attraction as mates, would drive this trait to be in high frequency in the population. Alleles that predisposed for same-sex attraction in women, would be selected because women with such attraction would be valued more as partners by men than women who did not share such attraction. The presence of a male morph that does not desire such attraction explains why same-sex attraction has not been fixated in women. It would not pay for all women to experience same-sex attraction because most men do not find such attraction desirable in a female partner. In this respect, polymorphism in men's desires results in polymorphism in women's desires.

The findings of this study may also explain why heterosexual orientation with same-sex attraction is the most prevalent type of female same-sex attraction (Calzo et al., 2017). Men predominantly exhibited a desire for women who were heterosexual with same-sex attraction. This makes evolutionary sense, sincewomenwho are bisexual or homosexual may be less committed to the relationship with their opposite sex partners than heterosexual women with same-sex attraction
(Apostolou, 2016b). Thus, a woman who is homosexual for instance, would not be favored bymen, and, as a result,would face adverse fitness consequences. On this basis, female homosexuality is predicted to be in very low frequency, which is consistent with the findings of prevalence studies (Calzo et al., 2017; LeVay, 2010).

Classical theory is: women search for bonds with other women to resist male coercion and violence (rape, infanticide, etc.).

Free to Be Happy: Economic Freedom and Happiness in US States

Free to Be Happy: Economic Freedom and Happiness in US States. Jeremy Jackson. Journal of Happiness Studies, August 2017, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 1207–1229,

Abstract: While the measurement of subjective well-being and its usefulness as a policy objective is a matter of contention, a burgeoning field of happiness economics is emerging. This paper examines the relationship between the institutions of economic freedom and happiness as reported by respondents to the Generalized Social Survey (GSS) in the United States. GSS responses are matched via geocode to state of residence. This allows individual responses in the GSS to be matched to institutional characteristics of the state of residence. A novel contribution of this study is that analysis of the effect of economic freedom on reported happiness is conducted both at the individual level and using state averages. It is found that the level of economic freedom in US states has a positive effect on both individual reported happiness and state average happiness. Dynamic panel analysis is also conducted both as a robustness check and in an effort to control for endogeneity. This confirms the relationship as positive and is suggestive of a causal positive impact of economic freedom on average state happiness.

People find behavioural interventions more ethical when in accord with their politics, and more unethical when not in accord

On the misplaced politics of behavioural policy interventions. David Tannenbaum, Craig Fox and Todd Rogers. Nature Human Behaviour, July 2017,

Abstract: Government agencies around the world have begun to embrace the use of behavioural policy interventions (such as the strategic use of default options), which has inspired vigorous public discussion about the ethics of their use. Since any feasible policy requires some measure of public support, understanding when people find behavioural policy interventions acceptable is critical. We present experimental evidence for a ‘partisan nudge bias’ in both US adults and practising policymakers. Across a range of policy settings, ***people find the general use of behavioural interventions more ethical when illustrated by examples that accord with their politics, but view those same interventions as more unethical when illustrated by examples at odds with their politics***. Importantly, these differences disappear when behavioural interventions are stripped of partisan cues, suggesting that acceptance of such policy tools is not an inherently partisan issue. ***Our results suggest that opposition to (or support for) behavioural policy interventions should not always be taken at face value, as people appear to conflate their attitudes about general purpose policy methods with their attitudes about specific policy objectives or policy sponsors.***

Declining Competition and Investment in the U.S.

Declining Competition and Investment in the U.S.         German Gutierrez and Thomas Philippon. NBER Working Paper, July 2017.

Abstract: The U.S. business sector has under-invested relative to Tobin's Q since the early 2000's. We argue that declining competition is partly responsible for this phenomenon. We use a combination of natural experiments and instrumental variables to establish a causal relationship between competition and investment. Within manufacturing, we show that industry leaders invest and innovate more in response to exogenous changes in Chinese competition. Beyond manufacturing we show that excess entry in the late 1990's, which is orthogonal to demand shocks in the 2000's, predicts higher industry investment given Q. Finally, we provide some evidence that the increase in concentration can be explained by increasing regulations.

Examining Social Desirability in Measures of Religion and Spirituality Using the Bogus Pipeline

Examining Social Desirability in Measures of Religion and Spirituality Using the Bogus Pipeline. Ann E. Jones and Marta Elliott. Review of Religious Research. March 2017, Volume 59, Issue 1, pp 47–64.

Abstract: A primary concern in the psychology of religion is the distinct possibility that responses to empirical assessments of individuals’ degree and type of religiosity and spirituality are exaggerated owing to social desirability bias. In spite of increased secularization in American culture and a growing distrust of organized religion, religious involvement, personal religiosity, and spirituality are still viewed as highly desirable characteristics. This study estimates the extent of social desirability biases that affect self-reports of religion and spirituality by utilizing a bogus pipeline procedure. In this procedure, participants are convinced that experimenters can detect disingenuous responses to individual items on questionnaires through the use of physiological measures, although no physiological data are actually collected. If the self-reports of participants in the bogus pipeline condition indicate greater religiosity or spirituality than those in the control condition, self-report bias is indicated. The bogus pipeline procedure has been used in other areas of study to increase veracity of self-reports when social desirability effects are present (such as reporting sexual behaviors or prejudice). The results indicate that social desirability biases influence multiple constructs including religious orientations, religious coping, and daily spiritual experiences. Implications for future research relying on self-reports of religion and spirituality are discussed.

My comment: "In spite of increased secularization in American culture and a growing distrust of organized religion, religious involvement, personal religiosity, and spirituality are still viewed as highly desirable characteristics." When subjects of experimentation believe that experimenters can detect lies, they report less religiousness and spirituality.

Keeping brains young with making music

Keeping brains young with making music. Lars Rogenmoser, Julius Kernbach and Gottfried Schlaug. Brain Structure and Function,

Abstract: Music-making is a widespread leisure and professional activity that has garnered interest over the years due to its effect on brain and cognitive development and its potential as a rehabilitative and restorative therapy of brain dysfunctions. We investigated whether music-making has a potential age-protecting effect on the brain. For this, we studied anatomical magnetic resonance images obtained from three matched groups of subjects who differed in their lifetime dose of music-making activities (i.e., professional musicians, amateur musicians, and non-musicians). For each subject, we calculated a so-called BrainAGE score which corresponds to the discrepancy (in years) between chronological age and the “age of the brain”, with negative values reflecting an age-decelerating brain and positive values an age-accelerating brain, respectively. The index of “brain age” was estimated using a machine-learning algorithm that was trained in a large independent sample to identify anatomical correlates of brain-aging. ***Compared to non-musicians, musicians overall had lower BrainAGE scores, with amateur musicians having the lowest scores suggesting that music-making has an age-decelerating effect on the brain***. Unlike the amateur musicians, the professional musicians showed a positive correlation between their BrainAGE scores and years of music-making, possibly indicating that engaging more intensely in just one otherwise enriching activity might not be as beneficial than if the activity is one of several that an amateur musician engages in. Intense music-making activities at a professional level could also lead to stress-related interferences and a less enriched environment than that of amateur musicians, possibly somewhat diminishing the otherwise positive effect of music-making.

Spontaneous cross-species imitation in interactions between chimpanzees and zoo visitors

Spontaneous cross-species imitation in interactions between chimpanzees and zoo visitors. Tomas Persson, Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc, and Elainie Alenkær Madsen. Primates, (open access)

Abstract: Imitation is a cornerstone of human development, serving both a cognitive function (e.g. in the acquisition and transmission of skills and knowledge) and a social–communicative function, whereby the imitation of familiar actions serves to maintain social interaction and promote prosociality. In nonhuman primates, this latter function is poorly understood, or even claimed to be absent. In this observational study, ***we documented interactions between chimpanzees and zoo visitors and found that the two species imitated each other at a similar rate***, corresponding to almost 10% of all produced actions. Imitation appeared to accomplish a social–communicative function, as cross-species interactions that contained imitative actions lasted significantly longer than interactions without imitation. In both species, physical proximity promoted cross-species imitation. Overall, imitative precision was higher among visitors than among chimpanzees, but this difference vanished in proximity contexts, i.e. in the indoor environment. Four of five chimpanzees produced imitations; three of them exhibited comparable imitation rates, despite large individual differences in level of cross-species interactivity. ***We also found that chimpanzees evidenced imitation recognition, yet only when visitors imitated their actions (as opposed to postures). Imitation recognition was expressed by returned imitation in 36% of the cases***, and all four imitating chimpanzees engaged in so-called imitative games. Previously regarded as unique to early human socialization, such games serve to maintain social engagement. The results presented here indicate that nonhuman apes exhibit spontaneous imitation that can accomplish a communicative function. The study raises a number of novel questions for imitation research and highlights the imitation of familiar behaviours as a relevant—yet thus far understudied—research topic.

Pain of Unrequited Love Afflicts the Rejecter, Too. By Daniel Goleman

Pain of Unrequited Love Afflicts the Rejecter, Too. By Daniel Goleman.
The New York Times, February 9, 1993

SINCE Young Werther died from it and Cyrano de Bergerac was so noble about it, unrequited love has been one of the great themes of literature and drama. Now, at last, unrequited love is getting systematic scrutiny from psychologists.

The first studies to look at the two sides of unrequited love -- the would-be lover and the rejecter -- show there is pain on both sides and, surprisingly, the rejecter often suffers just as much as the rejected.

And in studying the dynamics of love that goes unreturned, psychologists are gaining greater understanding of common hurdles in the sometimes tortuous route to finding a lasting love.

"We rarely hear about the agony of those who are the target of an unwanted love," said Dr. Roy Baumeister, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University who has done much of the new research. "Literature and film almost always tell the story from the viewpoint of the rejected lover. But both rejecters and would-be lovers can end up feeling like victims."

The experience of unrequited love -- not just a minor crush, but an intense, passionate yearning -- is virtually universal at some point in life. Dr. Baumeister and Sara Wotman, a graduate student, found in a study of 155 men and women that only about 2 percent had never loved someone who spurned them, or found themselves the object of romantic passion they did not reciprocate. Their findings will be published later this year in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Despite the eventual heartbreak that is the destiny of the unrequited lover, by and large the incidents revealed that there was often more unhappiness on the part of the person pursued than on the pursuer. The unrequited lovers spoke of hope and passion before the final disillusionment; those who spurned them told of an initial flattery that soon gave way to bewilderment, guilt and anger at an intrusive, relentless pursuer.

Evaluating the emotional ups and downs in accounts of more than 200 incidents of unrequited love, Dr. Baumeister found that unpleasant emotions like frustration, anger, anxiety, or guilt were mentioned about a third more often in the accounts told by those who had been pursued than in those whose pursuit was futile. Moreover, despite their rejection, most pursuers said they still held a soft spot in their hearts for those who had spurned their love.

Typical was a tale told by a college woman who spent one summer living in a coed dormitory. "There was one young man whom no one liked, and whom she felt sorry for," said Dr. Baumeister. "One night she and some friends were playing Parcheesi in the basement, and she invited him to join them. He apparently misinterpreted this kindness as romantic interest on her part, and began following her around telling her how much he liked her. She was horrified, but didn't want to hurt his feelings, so she never told him how uninterested in him she was, nor how upset his unwanted attention made her."

The Pain of Saying 'No'

The inability to tell an undesired suitor that there is no hope is very common, Dr. Baumeister found. "The rejecter usually feels guilty and doesn't know how to say 'No' without hurting the pursuer," he said. "So the most common tactic is to lie low, continue to be nice, and wait, hoping the infatuation will fade. It's like a conspiracy of silence, where one person doesn't want to openly speak rejecting words and the other doesn't want to hear it."

That strategy, however, feeds the fantasies of romance of the would-be lover, and so inadvertently encourages pursuit. "People send mixed messages, saying to the unwanted lover something like, 'You're a nice person, and I'd like to be your friend, but I don't want to get into a relationship just now,' " said Dr. Baumeister. "Even when telling the would-be lover the bad news, the rejecters often sugarcoat the rejection with conciliatory words."

The would-be lover sometimes seizes on the positive side of the message, remaining hopeful. Moreover, for most people it is clearer how one goes about wooing someone than how to spurn someone gracefully.

"The aspiring lover has many guidelines for pursuit -- what to say, how to let them know you like them -- and why to keep going despite an initial cold reaction," said Dr. Baumeister. "There must be a thousand B movies where at first the girl rejects the hero, who persists and wins her in the end. So the would-be lovers just keep trying, like in all those movies." Platonic Relationships

Things are not so clear for those who are trying to put off unwanted advances. "While the pursuer has all these tactics to try, over and over people who were being pursued told us, I didn't know what to say, I never hurt anyone before."

One frequent path to unrequited love is through what starts as a platonic relationship. "One of the most common stories told by people in our study was of being in a friendship with an undercurrent of attraction on one side," said Dr. Baumeister. "Over and over people said, We were good friends, but I secretly was in love."

Another typical route to unrequited love is perhaps the most predictable: falling for someone who is much more desirable than oneself, whether because of physical beauty or attributes like charm, intelligence, wit or status. Dr. Baumeister calls this kind of mismatch "falling upward."

"Most of us think of ourselves as more desirable than others actually see us," said Dr. Baumeister. "So people we think of as of equal desirability may not see it the same way."

What makes a man or woman desirable, of course, is a complex and highly personal mix of many qualities and traits. But among those, a few stand out as more potent than others. Many researchers have found, perhaps to no one's surprise, that in seeking a mate men are drawn more by physical beauty and women by the earning potential of their partners.

Men are more likely than women to fall in love with someone who does not return their feelings, Dr. Baumeister's study found, by a ratio of about three to two. The romantic lure of great female beauty seems to account for a great part of men's added susceptibility to finding their love unreturned. The Playboy Image

"In my research with singles, I find that men invariably say they want an attractive woman," said Dr. Deborah Then, a psychologist at the Center for the Study of Women at the University of California at Los Angeles. "A lot of men have a fantasy image of the woman they want that is completely unrealistic -- the tall, thin, big-busted models they see in Playboy -- and their standards of female beauty get increasingly unrealistic as time goes on."

Such men, Dr. Then said, are "prone to romantic crushes on women who are far more desirable than themselves," and so find their love unrequited. That such relationships are doomed, Dr. Then added, is suggested by other research showing that "relationships tend to be happier and last longer if men and women are more or less even in attractiveness."

Despite the heartbreak unrequited love brings, some men and women appear particularly prone to falling in love with people who will reject them. Most vulnerable are men and women who are so anxious about being loved that they drive their partners away through being too clingy, according to findings by Dr. Phillip Shaver at the University of California at Davis.

In a study of more than 1,000 men and women, Dr. Shaver, with Dr. Cindy Hazan, was able to identify three distinct types of romantic styles. In one, the "anxious" type, people's experiences in infancy and early childhood have made them fearful of being abandoned by people they love. As adults, such people are clingy and emotionally demanding of their romantic partners.

By contrast, the "secure" type has had more positive experiences with being loved in childhood, and so has more realistic expectations of mature relationships in adulthood. And the "avoidant" type, whose childhood was lacking in secure, loving relationships, tends to shy away from romantic links. 10% to -20% Percent Called 'Anxious'

Studies by Dr. Shaver and Dr. Hazan, as well as research by Dr. Elaine Hatfield at the University of Hawaii, find that 10 to 20 percent of adults fit the "anxious" pattern. "The anxious types fall in love easily and with great passion, but they are so terrified of being abandoned that they actually drive people away," said Dr. Hatfield.

Signs that this is the case for anxious types come from data on 2,040 men and women studied by Dr. Susan Sprecher, a sociologist at the University of Illinois, who found that the anxious types reported falling in love as often as the secure types. But those in the anxious group were far less likely than those in the secure group to say they were involved in a romantic relationship at the moment, suggesting that their love life was marked by more false starts.

On average, during their dating years people report feeling an unrequited love about once a year, with a major passion every five years and moderately strong crushes in the years between, according to data reported by Dr. Baumeister and Ms. Wotman in "Breaking Hearts: The Two Sides of Unrequited Love," published last year by Guilford Press. But some people, perhaps more given to romantic passion, report a strong unrequited love plus two or three major crushes each year.

As time passes, people seem to cherish the times they were the object of an unwanted love while the memories of times they were spurned fade.

"Since every incident of unrequited love involves one would-be lover and one who rebuffs, you'd expect the total number of memories of pursuing and being sought after to be the same," said Dr. Baumeister. "But we find that on average people report having been loved more than they report loving."

                           [retrieved Aug 16 2017, article drawings are lost]

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Virtues of Nonviolent Struggle

The Virtues of Nonviolent Struggle. Stephen Wittels. MIT Working Paper, May 2017,

Abstract: There is an emerging consensus in the study of mass-based political resistance that successful nonviolent campaigns leave in their wake political conditions suitable for democracy and stability. The following paper subjects this claim to closer scrutiny. Using theory grounded in the study of conflict, revolution, and democratic transition, we make the case that a resistance campaign’s duration is an important driver of its downstream effects. ***Sudden victory is likely to leave important questions about the balance of capabilities between and within interest groups unanswered. It may also create a destabilizing legitimacy deficit for the entity endowed with the status of incumbency once calm is restored***. Further complicating matters, we argue, is the fact that the benefits of struggling en route to victory are not distributed equally across violent and nonviolent movements. To test our precise hypotheses on these points, we examine four post-campaign outcome variables in a large-N framework: levels of democracy, electoral manipulation, coup d'état attempts, and violent conflict. With the aid of flexible modeling and sensitivity analysis, we make the case that ***campaign duration significantly moderates the long-term political effects of mass-based nonviolent resistance, with harder-fought victories yielding more positive outcomes***.

Keywords: Nonviolent, Struggle, Democracy, Stability, Resistance, Campaign

My comment: Is this related to 'The "Hearts and Minds" Fallacy' paper*? It seems that we need to have a big struggle to earn respect.

*  The "Hearts and Minds" Fallacy: Violence, Coercion, and Success in Counterinsurgency Warfare. Jacqueline Hazelton. International Security, Summer 2017, Pages 80-113,

The Emergence of Weak, Despotic and Inclusive States

The Emergence of Weak, Despotic and Inclusive States. Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson. NBER Working Paper, August 2017,

Abstract: Societies under similar geographic and economic conditions and subject to similar external influences nonetheless develop very different types of states. At one extreme are weak states with little capacity and ability to regulate economic or social relations. At the other are despotic states which dominate civil society. Yet there are others which are locked into an ongoing competition with civil society and it is these, not the despotic ones, that develop the greatest capacity. We develop a dynamic contest model of the potential competition between state (controlled by a ruler or a group of elites) and civil society (representing non-elite citizens), where both players can invest to increase their power. The model leads to different types of steady states depending on initial conditions. One type of steady state, corresponding to a weak state, emerges when civil society is strong relative to the state (e.g., having developed social norms limiting political hierarchy). Another type of steady state, corresponding to a despotic state, originates from initial conditions where the state is powerful and civil society is weak. A third type of steady state, which we refer to as an inclusive state, emerges when state and civil society are more evenly matched. In this case, each party has greater incentives to invest to keep up with the other, and this leads to the most powerful and capable type of state, while simultaneously incentivizing civil society to be equally powerful as well. Our framework highlights that comparative statics with respect to structural factors such as geography, economic conditions or external threats, are conditional — in the sense that depending on initial conditions they can shift a society into or out of the basin of attraction of the inclusive state.

Social Mobility and Political Instability

Social Mobility and Political Instability. Christian Houle. Journal of Conflict Resolution,

Abstract: Does social mobility foster political stability? While there is a vibrant literature on the effect of economic inequality on political unrest, the recent literature has remained silent about the effect of social mobility on instability. Yet, inequality and social mobility, although related, are fundamentally distinct, and immobility is likely to be perceived as even more unfair than inequality, meaning that it may generate at least as much grievances. In this article, I argue that social immobility fuels political instability. To test this hypothesis, I develop an indicator of social mobility covering more than 100 countries worldwide. I then conduct the first large-N cross-national test of the effect of social mobility on political instability to date. Consistent with my argument, I find that countries with low social mobility levels are more likely to experience riots, general strikes, antigovernment demonstrations, political assassinations, guerillas, revolutions, and civil wars.

Election monitors will fail to prevent violence, or will be blamed for causing violence

The Election Monitor's Curse. Zhaotian Luo & Arturas Rozenas. American Journal of Political Science,

Abstract: Election monitoring has become a key instrument of democracy promotion. Election monitors routinely expect to deter fraud and prevent post-election violence, but in reality, post-election violence often increases when monitors do expose fraud. We argue that monitors can make all elections less fraudulent and more peaceful on average, but only by causing more violence in fraudulent elections. Due to this curse, strategic election monitors can make a positive impact on elections only if their objectives are aligned in a very specific fashion. Monitors who do not aim to prevent violence can be effective only if they are unbiased, whereas monitors who do aim to prevent violence can be effective only if they are moderately biased against the government. Consequently, election monitors with misaligned objectives will fail to prevent violence, whereas monitors with well-aligned objectives will be blamed for causing violence.

How Sudden Censorship Can Increase Access to Information

How Sudden Censorship Can Increase Access to Information. William Hobbs & Margaret Roberts. University of California Working Paper, January 2017.

Abstract: Conventional wisdom assumes that increased censorship will strictly decrease access to information. We delineate circumstances when increases in censorship will expand access to information. When governments suddenly impose censorship on previously uncensored information, citizens accustomed to acquiring this information will be incentivized to learn methods of censorship evasion. These tools provide continued access to the newly blocked information and also extend users’ ability to access information that has long been censored. We illustrate this phenomenon using millions of individual-level actions of social media users in China before and after the block of Instagram. We show that the block inspired millions of Chinese users to acquire virtual private networks (VPNs) and join censored websites like Twitter and Facebook. Despite initially being apolitical, these new users began browsing blocked political pages on Wikipedia, following Chinese political activists on Twitter, and discussing highly politicized topics such as opposition protests in Hong Kong.

Keywords: Censorship, Social Media, China, Internet, Communications, Protests, Political Activists

My comment: First, that this increase in access is new, previously this was not possible. Second, again we confirm that we don't suffer well that something is taken away from us...

US Food Aid Increases Incidence and Duration of Civil Conflict in Recipient Countries

The Robust Relationship Between US Food Aid and Civil Conflict. Chi-Yang Chu, Daniel Henderson and Le Wang. Journal of Applied Econometrics, August 2017, Pages 1027–1032.

Abstract: Humanitarian aid has long been considered an important means to reduce hunger and suffering in developing countries. A recent finding by Nunn and Qian (US food aid and civil conflict, American Economic Review 2014; 104: 1630–1666) that such ***aid from the US increases the incidence and duration of civil conflict in recipient countries***, however, questions the effectiveness of this policy and poses a serious policy concern for the US government. We revisit this issue by conducting a successful replication study of the results in their paper. In order to further scrutinize their claims that a heterogeneous effect of food aid on conflict is not present, we employ a semiparametric endogenous estimation procedure. We show that their parametric models cannot be rejected and argue that their findings are robust.

Are U.S. Cities Underpoliced? Theory and Evidence

Are U.S. Cities Underpoliced? Theory and Evidence. Aaron Chalfin and Justin McCrary. The Review of Economics and Statistics,

Abstract: We document the extent of measurement errors in the basic data set on police used in the literature on the effect of police on crime. Analyzing medium to large U.S. cities over 1960–2010, we obtain measurement error corrected estimates of the police elasticity. The magnitudes of our estimates are similar to those obtained in the quasi-experimental literature, but our approach yields much greater parameter certainty for the most costly crimes, which are the key parameters for welfare analysis. Our analysis suggests that U.S. cities are substantially underpoliced.

JEL Classification: K42, H76, J18

Content of Everyday Conversations in Iran

What Shall We Talk about in Farsi? Content of Everyday Conversations in Iran. Mahdi Dahmardeh, R. I. M. Dunbar. Human Nature,

Abstract: Previous empirical studies have suggested that language is primarily used to exchange social information, but our evidence on this derives mainly from English speakers. We present data from a study of natural conversations among Farsi (Persian) speakers in Iran and show that not only are conversation groups the same size as those observed in Europe and North America, but people also talk predominantly about social topics. We argue that these results reinforce the suggestion that language most likely evolved for the transmission of information about the social world. We also explore sex differences in conversational behavior: while the pattern is broadly similar between the sexes, men may be more sensitive than women are to discussing some topics in the presence of many other people.