Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Civil service exam based on classics strengthened civil service's social prestige & weakened that of commerce; result is a more educated population & more Confucian temples, but lower wealth level

Mattingly, Daniel, When State-Building Hinders Growth: The Legacy of China's Confucian Bureaucracy (November 28, 2018).

Abstract: Do countries with a long history of state-building fare better in the long run? Recent work has shown that earlier state-building may lead to higher levels of present-day growth. By contrast, I use a natural experiment to show that the regions of China with over a thousand years of sustained exposure to state-building are significantly poorer today. The mechanism of persistence, I argue, was the introduction of a civil service exam based on knowledge of Confucian classics, which strengthened the social prestige of the civil service and weakened the prestige of commerce. A thousand years later, the regions of China where the Confucian bureaucracy was first introduced have a more educated population and more Confucian temples, but lower levels of wealth. The paper contributes to an important debate on the Great Divergence, highlighting how political institutions interact with culture to cause long-run patterns of growth.

Keywords: state building, culture, growth, bureaucracies, institutions

Programmed altruistic, adaptive death that increases fitness could occur in C. elegans & S. cerevisiae; could promote worm fitness by enhancing inclusive fitness, or worm colony fitness through group selection

Does senescence promote fitness in Caenorhabditis elegans by causing death? Jennifer N. Lohr, Evgeniy R. Galimov, David Gems. Ageing Research Reviews,

•    Senescent death of older inviduals could benefit younger kin
•    Theory rules out such programmed death in outbred, dispersed populations
•    C. elegans breed as non-dispersed, clonal populations of protandrous hermaphrodites
•    Under these conditions programmed, adaptive death could evolve

Abstract: A widely appreciated conclusion from evolutionary theory is that senescence (aging) is of no adaptive value to the individual that it afflicts. Yet studies of Caenorhabditis elegans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae are increasingly revealing the presence of processes which actively cause senescence and death, leading some biogerontologists to wonder about the established theory. Here we argue that programmed death that increases fitness could occur in C. elegans and S. cerevisiae, and that this is consistent with the classic evolutionary theory of aging. This is because of the special conditions under which these organisms have evolved, particularly the existence of clonal populations with limited dispersal and, in the case of C. elegans, the brevity of the reproductive period caused by protandrous hermaphroditism. Under these conditions, death-promoting mechanisms could promote worm fitness by enhancing inclusive fitness, or worm colony fitness through group selection. Such altruistic, adaptive death is not expected to evolve in organisms with outbred, dispersed populations (e.g. most vertebrate species). The plausibility of adaptive death in C. elegans is supported by computer modelling studies, and new knowledge about the ecology of this species. To support these arguments we also review the biology of adaptive death, and distinguish three forms: consumer sacrifice, biomass sacrifice and defensive sacrifice.

More than 30% in individuals' perceived income justice can be attributed to genetic variation, the rest is mostly driven by idiosyncratic environmental effects; no evidence for gene-environment interactions

Neugart, Michael and Yildirim, Selen, What Determines Perceived Income Justice: Evidence from the German TwinLife Study (November 23, 2018).

Abstract: Whether individuals perceive their income as being fair has far reaching consequences in the labor market and beyond. Yet we know little on the determinants of variation in perceived income justice across individuals. In this paper we ask whether genes can explain parts of the variation. To this end, we analyze data from the German TwinLife study. We find that more than 30% in individuals' perceived income justice can be attributed to genetic variation. The rest is mostly driven by idiosyncratic environmental effects. We, furthermore, do not find evidence for gene-environment interaction effects.

Keywords: perceived income justice, twins, behavioral genetics
JEL Classification: D10, D90

Decreased brain connectivity in smoking contrasts with increased connectivity in drinking

Decreased brain connectivity in smoking contrasts with increased connectivity in drinking. Wei Cheng et al. eLife 2019;8:e40765,

Abstract: In a group of 831 participants from the general population in the Human Connectome Project, smokers exhibited low overall functional connectivity, and more specifically of the lateral orbitofrontal cortex which is associated with non-reward mechanisms, the adjacent inferior frontal gyrus, and the precuneus. Participants who drank a high amount had overall increases in resting state functional connectivity, and specific increases in reward-related systems including the medial orbitofrontal cortex and the cingulate cortex. Increased impulsivity was found in smokers, associated with decreased functional connectivity of the non-reward-related lateral orbitofrontal cortex; and increased impulsivity was found in high amount drinkers, associated with increased functional connectivity of the reward-related medial orbitofrontal cortex. The main findings were cross-validated in an independent longitudinal dataset with 1176 participants, IMAGEN. Further, the functional connectivities in 14-year-old non-smokers (and also in female low-drinkers) were related to who would smoke or drink at age 19. An implication is that these differences in brain functional connectivities play a role in smoking and drinking, together with other factors.

Discovered: different brain areas linked to smoking and drinking

Approximately 13% of Europe’s workers have a bad boss; these bosses are most common in the Transport sector and large organizations

How Common are Bad Bosses? Benjamin Artz, Amanda H Goodall, and Andrew J Oswald. September 2018.

Abstract: Bosses play an important role in workplaces. Yet little is currently known about a foundational question. Are the right people promoted to be managers, team leaders, and supervisors? Gallup data and the famous Peter Principle both suggest that incompete nt bosses are likely to be all around us. This paper’s results uncover a different, and more nuanced, conclusion. By taking data on 35 nations, the paper provides the first statistically representative international estimates of the extent to which employees have ‘bad bosses’. Using a simple, and arguably natural, measure, the paper calculates that approximately 13% of Europe’s workers have a bad boss. These bosses are most common in the Transport sector and large organizations. The paper discusses its methodology, performs validation checks, and reviews other data and implications.

Keywords: bosses, leadership, job satisfaction, well-being.
JEL codes: J28, I31, M54

Intra‐cortical myelin mediates personality differences

Intra‐cortical myelin mediates personality differences. Nicola Toschi, Luca Passamonti. Journal of Personality, OCt 2018,

Objective: Differences in myelination in the cortical mantle are important neurobiological mediators of variability in cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functioning. Past studies have found that personality traits reflecting such variability are linked to neuroanatomical and functional changes in prefrontal and temporo‐parietal cortices. Whether these effects are partially mediated by the differences in intra‐cortical myelin remains to be established.

Method: To test this hypothesis, we employed vertex‐wise intra‐cortical myelin maps in n = 1,003 people from the Human Connectome Project. Multivariate regression analyses were used to test for the relationship between intra‐cortical myelin and each of the five‐factor model’s personality traits, while accounting for age, sex, intelligence quotient, total intracranial volume, and the remaining personality traits.

Results: Neuroticism negatively related to frontal‐pole myelin and positively to occipital cortex myelin. Extraversion positively related to superior parietal myelin. Openness negatively related to anterior cingulate myelin, while Agreeableness positively related to orbitofrontal myelin. Conscientiousness positively related to frontal‐pole myelin and negatively to myelin content in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex.

Conclusions: Intra‐cortical myelin levels in brain regions with prolonged myelination are positively associated with personality traits linked to favorable outcome measures. These findings improve our understanding of the neurobiological underpinnings of variability in common behavioral dispositions.

Perfectionism, negative motives for drinking, and alcohol-related problems: Perfectionism predicted alcohol problems, but not quantity of alcohol consumption

Perfectionism, negative motives for drinking, and alcohol-related problems: A 21-day diary study. Sean P. Mackinnon et al. Journal of Research in Personality, Volume 78, February 2019, Pages 177-188.

•    This study examined the relationship between perfectionism and alcohol use and alcohol problems.
•    Perfectionism variables correlated with avoidance-based drinking motives.
•    Nondisplay of imperfection indirectly predicted alcohol-related problems.
•    Perfectionism predicted alcohol problems, but not quantity of alcohol consumption.

Abstract: We explored links between two perfectionism facets and alcohol-related problems. We predicted perfectionistic cognitions and nondisplay of imperfection would indirectly predict alcohol problems through negative affect, coping motives, and conformity motives, but would be unrelated to quantity of alcohol consumption. Participants included 263 young adult drinkers collected from two sites using self-report surveys with a 21-day, once-per-day measurement. Participants were mostly Caucasian (78.3%), female (79.5%), and young (M = 21.37, SD = 1.89). Data were analyzed using multilevel structural equation modeling. Nondisplay of imperfection (but not perfectionistic cognitions) had a serial indirect effect on alcohol-related problems through negative affect, followed by conformity motives. Other findings varied across analyses (fixed vs. random) and analysis level (between vs. within). Open Data/Methods:

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Bombay trains: Close to eight people die a day on the network; in the first 11 months of 2018, 650 passengers died falling from trains alone, & even more were killed crossing the tracks

‘You Have to Actually Cut Open Mumbai’s Belly’—Inside One of the World’s Most Audacious Transit Projects. Corinne Abrams. The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 6, 2019.

More than 8,000 workers keep construction going 24 hours a day to finish the line that will speed 1.6 million riders beneath one of the world’s most crowded cities

India's financial capital, Mumbai, has taken on its biggest-ever infrastructure project to build a subway in a city where more than seven million commuters cram onto its creaky suburban railways.


MUMBAI—One of the most challenging projects in the world is being attempted beneath one of its most densely packed cities.

If it works, Mumbai will become the planet’s most crowded metropolis to build an underground subway.

More than 8,000 workers and a fleet of 360-foot-long boring machines are working 24 hours a day—even through monsoon rains—to finish the 27-station, 21-mile subway through some of the world’s most densely populated neighborhoods, around the edge of one of Asia’s biggest slums, below an airport and under temples and colonial buildings to end at a green edge of forest where leopards still roam.

The train is also cutting a path through the country’s religious traditions, legal system and every layer of its society, with challenges at each stop.

The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd.—a joint venture between the state and central government, which is building the subway—has had to negotiate with thousands of families and businesses to get them to move and has fought residents in courts over noise, land rights and even whether the subway will sully sacred ground.

Despite the difficulties, the subway, which was started in 2016, is now getting built at a pace of just over one mile a month. So far, 9 miles are complete. The $3.3 billion “Metro Line 3,” Mumbai’s first underground train, is on track to be finished and open by the end of 2021.

With a general election due by May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is eager to demonstrate he is delivering even the most difficult infrastructure projects for the country’s 1.3 billion citizens.

Mr. Modi said in a speech last month that by 2024 the city would have 170 miles of metro lines under and above ground. The government is “making your lives better and easier” with its metro plans, Mr. Modi said in his speech.

A spokesperson at the prime minister’s office declined to comment on opposition to the metro.

More than seven million commuters a day cram onto the city’s existing creaky suburban railway network. Crowding is so extreme Indian authorities describe it as a “superdense crush load”—meaning trains are often carrying almost three times their capacity. Close to eight people die a day on the network, according to rail officials. In the first 11 months of 2018, 650 passengers died falling from trains alone, and even more were killed crossing the tracks, rail officials said.

The new train will be the first line to cut through the heart of the city, with air-conditioned carriages speeding around 80 feet underground, while carrying an estimated 1.6 million riders a day.

The unlikely driver of this stunning megaproject is a 48-year-old woman who grew up in a small town 200 miles outside Mumbai. Ashwini Bhide aced the notoriously difficult civil-service exam in 1995 and rose through the ranks of Indian civil service to become one of the few women at the top.

“You have to actually cut open Mumbai’s belly at so many locations and then start constructing,” said Ms. Bhide, managing director of the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation, the MMRC.

Wearing a deep blue kurti, a traditional Indian shirt—one local media group named her the city’s “Most Stylish Bureaucrat”—Ms. Bhide took calls from her desk phone and sent messages from her cellphone recently as she coordinated her mostly male team, who call her “Madam.”
Total deaths 2,734
Crossing tracks 1,476
Falling from trains 650
Natural death 491
Suicide 31
Electric shock 20
Struck by pole when leaning from a train 18
Others 48

Data is for January to November 2018. Source: Mumbai Railway Police

“There is a desperation,” said Ms. Bhide. “We really need to do it. It should have been done yesterday.”

Her office shelves are stacked with awards, a rock from the metro digging and a miniature model of a boring machine. Her walls are a patchwork of maps, plans and diagrams.

The city formerly known as Bombay has always been one of India’s most cosmopolitan and diverse. With a greater metro area population of 18.4 million, almost every religious, ethnic and caste community is represented somewhere along the peninsula. The city’s stock exchange BSE Ltd. shuts down to observe 12 religious holidays, including those observed by Hindus, Muslims and Christians.

India’s tiny Parsi community of 57,000 people—descendants of the Zoroastrian religious minority that came to India from Iran starting centuries ago—are a powerful group with property and temples across the city. At the center of each temple of the 3,500-year-old religion is a holy fire that has often been kept burning more than a century.

The new subway line is set to pass below two of the temples’ grounds. Only Parsis are allowed to enter the temples. Some worry the subway could interrupt prayers and desecrate holy ground, fearing that if nonmembers or menstruating women pass below while riding on it, the sanctity of the temple will be destroyed. Others are concerned tunneling and station work could damage the temples or drain wells on the temple sites.

“It is too close for comfort,” said Jamshed Sukhadwalla, a Parsi who has taken the subway builders to court. “There should not be interference above or below.”

More than 50 Parsis, including priests wearing traditional white robes and hats and women wearing headscarves, turned up at the Bombay High Court during a hearing in July. The lawyer for the MMRC warned the tunnel could collapse if boring stopped for too long.

After a six-month pause in tunneling near the temples, the court in November granted the MMRC permission to restart.

Mr. Sukhadwalla and fellow petitioners appealed in the Supreme Court in New Delhi. Last month, it ruled that work could go ahead as long as measures were taken to avoid damage to the temples.

“To rethink the alignment is virtually impossible,” said Uday Umesh Lalit, one of the judges.

Mr. Sukhadwalla, the Parsi opponent, said after the hearing, “You can give assurances, but if damage occurs” to the temples “it will be irreversible…I’m totally upset.”

The MMRC has faced around 65 court cases related to the construction of the metro, about half of them still open. Among the cases are petitions about land and property rights, noise, religious freedom and from people trying to protect trees along the length of the metro line.

To finish the line as fast as possible, 17 tunnel-boring machines—each almost as long as a football field—are simultaneously grinding through rock below the city.

To get the machines from the port and through Mumbai’s narrow roads, specialists had to divide the machines into parts and transport them on trailers. They cut off shop fronts to fit the machines down streets. The machines were reassembled underground.

Only the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka is more crowded than Mumbai, according to the United Nations. Dhaka is building an aboveground metro. Mumbai has an average of around 82,000 people per square mile, three times the population density of New York City.

Ms. Bhide isn’t moving the line away from packed neighborhoods; she’s steering straight at them.

“These areas, if they really need to be rejuvenated, they have to have metro connectivity,” she said. The city’s old lines will continue to exist above ground. In addition to the new underground subway, routes are also being constructed above ground.

South Mumbai’s streets are lined with poorly maintained buildings put up during colonial times. The MMRC surveyed thousands of structures before construction took place, reinforcing ones in danger of falling over.


Lawyer Robin Jaisinghani’s apartment peers into the station’s crater and he says the 24-hour construction was keeping his young daughters up at night. More than once he visited the construction site in the early hours of the morning to ask them to stop.

The MMRC put up a sound barrier, but sitting in his apartment, Mr. Jaisinghani said he could still hear the noise through the double-glazed German windows he had installed to block it out.

He represented himself in court, saying the noise violated his constitutional right to life and personal liberty, and got an order to stop construction between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. For more than a year, the station near his home was the only train construction site in Mumbai that halted at night.

Courts ruled in August that the building of this crucial infrastructure was more important than the inconvenience of residents. Construction is back to 24 hours a day.

At the other end of the line and the economic spectrum lies the final stop of the metro, Aarey Milk Colony, a rare expanse of green once known for its dairy business.

The stop, and a depot for trains, is being built over an area where families lived in simple brick homes, raising chickens and farming in the surrounding government lands.

Around 42% of Mumbai residents live in slums, according to 2011 census data, the most recent available, on land they don’t own and sometimes in teetering little towers. Relocating residents is a complex process.

Laxmi Ramji Gaikwad, in her 70s, lived on what was officially government land. The settlement was on land that flowed into a sprawling nature reserve, home to more than 20 leopards that occasionally attack locals. In 2017, a leopard attacked and killed a child.

When officials came to evict her to make way for the train, Ms. Gaikwad said she threatened to set herself on fire. She said security guards removed her possessions and destroyed her home. She finally agreed to relocate to a small apartment on the 12th floor of a government building.

Her legs have swelled from inactivity since moving, she says, and she feels dizzy when she looks out the window. She has always used wood fires and isn’t sure how to use a gas stove to make tea.

“I don’t know what benefit the metro will bring,” she said.

The MMRC has moved more than 2,800 families and businesses along the subway route. It says all moves are “legally done under supervision of relevant government authorities after alternative accommodation is provided.” It says it helps families adjust, teaching them how to pay bills and look after their new homes.

Ms. Bhide said she devours old books about how infrastructure was built during the colonial era. People died to build the railway lines Mumbaikars depend on today, she tells her team. No one has died building her subway line.

“People have taken a lot of pains, and a lot of lives were lost building the infrastructure we see today and we have been using for the past 150 years,” she said. “We have to have that patience.”

—-Debiprasad Nayak, Karan Deep Singh and Eric Bellman contributed to this article.

[links, graphs, charts, interesting data, full text, at the link above]

Having moral employees & leaders can come with many benefits; there can be offsetting costs associated with an internalized moral identity (reduced humor & subsequent likability in the workplace)

Yam, K. C., Barnes, C. M., Leavitt, K., Wei, W., Lau, J., & Uhlmann, E. L. (2019). Why so serious? A laboratory and field investigation of the link between morality and humor. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,

Abstract: Previous research has identified many positive outcomes resulting from a deeply held moral identity, while overlooking potential negative social consequences for the moral individual. Drawing from Benign Violation Theory, we explore the tension between moral identity and humor, and the downstream workplace consequence of such tension. Consistent with our hypotheses, compared with participants in the control condition, participants whose moral identities were situationally activated (Study 1a) or chronically accessible (Study 1b) were less likely to appreciate humor and generate jokes others found funny (Study 2), especially humor that involved benign moral violations. We also found that participants with a strong moral identity do not generally compensate for their lack of humor by telling more jokes that do not involve moral violations (Study 3). Additional field studies demonstrated that employees (Study 4) and leaders (Study 5) with strong moral identities and who display ethical leadership are perceived as less humorous by their coworkers and subordinates, and to the extent that this is the case are less liked in the workplace. Study 5 further demonstrated two competing mediating pathways—leaders with strong moral identities are perceived as less humorous but also as more trustworthy, with differentiated effects on interpersonal liking. Although having moral employees and leaders can come with many benefits, our research shows that there can be offsetting costs associated with an internalized moral identity: reduced humor and subsequent likability in the workplace.

Microscopic description of chaotic systems' synchronization: Gradual process of topological adjustment in phase space, in which the strange attractors of the two coupled systems continuously converge

Synchronization of chaotic systems: A microscopic description. Nir Lahav, Irene Sendina-Nadal, Chittaranjan Hens, Baruch Ksherim, Baruch Barzel, Reuven Cohen, and Stefano Boccaletti. Phys. Rev. E 98, 052204,

Abstract: The synchronization of coupled chaotic systems represents a fundamental example of self organization and collective behavior. This well-studied phenomenon is classically characterized in terms of macroscopic parameters, such as Lyapunov exponents, that help predict the system's transitions into globally organized states. However, the local, microscopic, description of this emergent process continues to elude us. Here we show that at the microscopic level, synchronization is captured through a gradual process of topological adjustment in phase space, in which the strange attractors of the two coupled systems continuously converge, taking similar form, until complete topological synchronization ensues. We observe the local nucleation of topological synchronization in specific regions of the system's attractor, providing early signals of synchrony, that appear significantly before the onset of complete synchronization. This local synchronization initiates at the regions of the attractor characterized by lower expansion rates, in which the chaotic trajectories are least sensitive to slight changes in initial conditions. Our findings offer an alternative description of synchronization in chaotic systems, exposing its local embryonic stages that are overlooked by the currently established global analysis. Such local topological synchronization enables the identification of configurations where prediction of the state of one system is possible from measurements on that of the other, even in the absence of global synchronization.

Why would Parkinson’s disease lead to sudden changes in creativity, motivation, or style with visual art?: A review of case evidence and new, contextual, and genetic hypotheses

Why would Parkinson’s disease lead to sudden changes in creativity, motivation, or style with visual art?: A review of case evidence and new, contextual, and genetic hypotheses. Jon O. Lauring et al. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews,

•    Case evidence suggests PD may lead to interest, creativity, change in produced art.
•    Occurs in both established artists and those without prior desire toward art making.
•    We review case evidence and relate to current knowledge on PD symptoms/neurobiology.
•    Propose hypothesis of selective damage + agonist overstimulation of mesolimbic areas.
•    Also relate to context, personality, genetic differences offering window into artistic brain.

Abstract: Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a devastating diagnosis with, however, potential for an extremely intriguing aesthetic component. Despite motor and cognitive deficits, an emerging collection of studies report a burst of visual artistic output and alterations in produced art in a subgroup of patients. This provides a unique window into the neurophysiological bases for why and how we might create and enjoy visual art, as well as into general brain function and the nature of PD or other neurodegenerative diseases. However, there has not been a comprehensive organization of literature on this topic. Nor has there been an attempt to connect case evidence and knowledge on PD with present understanding of visual art making in psychology and neuroaesthetics in order to propose hypotheses for documented artistic changes. Here, we collect the current research on this topic, tie this to PD symptoms and neurobiology, and provide new theories focusing on dopaminergic neuron damage, over-stimulation from dopamine agonist therapy, and context or genetic factors revealing the neurobiological basis of the visual artistic brain.

Better to overestimate than to underestimate others’ feelings: Asymmetric cost of errors in affective perspective-taking

Better to overestimate than to underestimate others’ feelings: Asymmetric cost of errors in affective perspective-taking. Nadav Klein. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Volume 151, March 2019, Pages 1-15.

•    Errors in perspective taking are common but little is known about their consequences.
•    Is it worse to overestimate or underestimate the intensity others' emotions?
•    Seven experiments find that underestimating emotions is costlier than overestimating.
•    This occurs because underestimation is thought to indicatelower effort and empathy.
•    Stereotypical emotions and socially undesirable emotions moderate these results.

Abstract: Accurately assessing other people’s perspective in general, and other people’s emotional responses in particular, is essential for successful social interaction. However, substantial research finds that accurate perspective taking is the exception rather than the norm. Although errors in perspective taking are common, little is known about their consequences. Is it worse to overestimate or to underestimate other people’s emotional responses? Seven experiments find that underestimating the intensity of other people's emotional responses leads to more negative evaluations than overestimating others’ emotions (Experiments 1–5). These results replicate across emotional valence and across observers and targets and occur because people believe that underestimation is indicative of lower effort and empathy in trying to understand the target. Additional experiments identify moderators of these effects, including stereotypical emotions and socially undesirable emotions (Experiments 6–7). The cost of errors in affective perspective taking is asymmetric, leading to important implications for social coordination.

Found that vegetarian dietary patterns were associated with a higher incidence of morbid obesity culminating in bariatric surgery; refined and processed vegetarian food consumption should be discouraged

Which Is a Good Diet—Veg or Non-veg? Faith-Based Vegetarianism for Protection From Obesity—a Myth or Actuality? Sanjay Borude. Obesity Surgery,

Introduction: India ranks first among nations with the largest population of vegetarians, and 40% of Asian Indians are vegetarian. There seems to occur a “nutrition transition” among vegetarians in India with a decline in the consumption of whole plant food content and replacement with processed foods, fried foods, and refined carbohydrates. This study evaluates the association between the consumption of a vegetarian diet and the prevalence of morbid obesity necessitating bariatric surgery in Asian Indians.

Material and Methods: This is a retrospective cohort study analyzing records of 235 Indian patients suffering from morbid obesity and who underwent bariatric surgery at our center through the years 2015 to 2017. Pearson’s chi-square test for independence of attributes was applied to analyze the difference between a number of vegetarians versus non-vegetarians undergoing bariatric surgery.

Results: The difference in the number of vegetarians versus non-vegetarians undergoing bariatric surgery was not significant for years 2015 and 2017, but the number was numerically higher for vegetarians. The difference was significantly higher for vegetarians in the year 2016. The difference in female vegetarians versus female non-vegetarians undergoing bariatric surgery was not significant for the year 2017 but was significantly higher for vegetarians during the years 2015 and 2016. The difference in male vegetarians versus non-vegetarians undergoing bariatric surgery was not significant for all the years.

Conclusion: In an Asian Indian cohort, we found that vegetarian dietary patterns were associated with a higher incidence of morbid obesity culminating in bariatric surgery. Our study is a myth breaker that all vegetarian diets are healthy diets. Our findings can be utilized to discourage refined and processed food consumption and promote healthy vegetarian food choices.

Keywords: Vegetarian Non-vegetarian Diet Bariatric surgery Morbid obesity Meat Vegan Asian Indian

The Mona Lisa Illusion—Scientists See Her Looking at Them Though She Isn’t

The Mona Lisa Illusion—Scientists See Her Looking at Them Though She Isn’t. Gernot Horstmann, Sebastian Loth. i-Perception,

Abstract: If the person depicted in an image gazes at the camera or painter, a viewer perceives this as being gazed at. The viewers’ perception holds irrespectively of their position relative to image. This is the Mona Lisa effect named after the subject of Leonardo’s famous painting La Gioconda. The effect occurs reliably but was not tested with Mona Lisa herself. Remarkably, viewers judged Mona Lisa’s gaze as directed to their right-hand side irrespectively of the image zoom, its horizontal position on screen, and the distance of the ruler that was used for measuring the gaze direction.

Keywords: gaze direction, Mona Lisa effect, picture perception

Monday, January 7, 2019

Author estimates the degree to which scientists are willing to change the direction of their work in exchange for resources

Myers, Kyle, The Elasticity of Science (August 22, 2018).

Abstract: This paper estimates the degree to which scientists are willing to change the direction of their work in exchange for resources. Novel data from the National Institutes of Health is used to estimate an entry model that accounts for strategic interactions. Inducing a scientist to change their direction by 1 standard deviation, a qualitatively small difference, requires a four-fold increase in funds, an extra $1 million per year. But at current levels, the costs and benefits of directed versus undirected research appear to be quite similar.

Keywords: economics of science
JEL Classification: H50, I23, O31, O33, O38

How Do We Redirect Scientific Investigation? Chuck Dinerstein. ACSH, Jan 2 2019.

The economic term for haggling over the size of the carrot is elasticity. Using NIH grant data from 2002 to 2009 and the similarity of applicants’ prior work to the objectives of each RFA grant a recent paper looks at the scientists’ bargain. The measure of similarity was based upon how much of scientists prior published abstracts used terminology found in the individual RFA application research objectives – the underlying assumption was the use of the same scientific language was a useful marker for the underlying science to be similar.

It is no surprise that scientists apply to highly “similar” projects, especially when they are more readily available, because of less competition, and come with good funding. So what tradeoffs do scientists make changing course and applying for less similar projects?

*    The more aligned a scientist’s and RFA research interest, the less weight is put on the amount of the total award. But as the similarity becomes less, the amount of the grant rises. A "30% less" similar field would be where a researcher was studying a vaccine for a particular virus using a specific research animal and was asked instead to investigate a vaccine for a different virus but still using the same research animal and approach. By the author’s calculation scientists require an additional $1 million/annually to change course.
*    Competition for grants is another consideration, and the author found that scientists traded an increased award size of about $80,000 for one more competitor for funding.

Put into other words, scientists are willing to be redirected, but it comes at a cost, an award about 65% greater than what they might have gotten for staying the course. That premium helps cover the adjustments necessary for tangibles, like equipment and the intangible, research preferences.

*    RFA grants result in a 16 - 24% increase in publications. But that direction is short-lived with many researchers returning to their “primary interests” once the research award ends.
*    When looking at the output of both the winners and “losers” of the RFA awards, there seems to be no difference in quantity or quality, as measured by the publishing journal’s “impact.” In the words of the author, RFA’s “create more not better science.”

What can we conclude? Not surprisingly, applicants choose the path they believe will be most likely to be funded. To get more externally directed research, to move science in the direction of “our choosing,” we must pay for a larger carrot and “…it is likely  that much larger,  sustained  levels of investments  would  be necessary  to  generate meaningful  long-run  changes.” As with all things, when we look at the devil in the details, we find human behavior is often more than “if you build it, they will come.”

The self–other knowledge asymmetry in cognitive intelligence, emotional intelligence, and creativity

The self–other knowledge asymmetry in cognitive intelligence, emotional intelligence, and creativity. Aljoscha C. Neubauer et al. Heliyon, Volume 4, Issue 12, December 2018, e01061.

Abstract: The self–other knowledge asymmetry model (SOKA) assumes that some personality traits might be open to oneself and other persons (‘open area’), while other traits are more accurately perceived by others (‘blind spot’); a third group of traits might be visible only to oneself and not to others (‘hidden area’), and finally a trait might neither be visible to oneself nor to one's peers (‘unknown area’). So far, this model has been tested only for personality traits and general intelligence, not for more specific abilities; to do so was the novel intention of our study. We tested which of six abilities (verbal, numerical, and spatial intelligence; interpersonal and intrapersonal competence; and creative potential/divergent thinking ability) are in which SOKA area. We administered performance tests for the six abilities in two samples – 233 14-year-olds and 215 18-year-olds – and collected self- and peer-ratings for each domain. Numerical intelligence and creativity were judged validly both from self- and peer-perspectives (‘open area’). In the younger sample verbal intelligence was validly estimated only by peers (‘blind spot’), whereas the older group showed some insight into their own abilities as well (‘blind spot’ to ‘open area’). While in the younger group only the pupils themselves could validly estimate their intra- and interpersonal competence (‘hidden area’), in the older group peers were also successful in estimating other's interpersonal competence, albeit only with low accuracy (‘hidden area’ to ‘open area’). For 18-year-olds, spatial ability was in the hidden area too, but in 14-year-olds this could neither be validly estimated by pupils themselves nor by peers (‘unknown area’). These results implicate the possibility of non-optimal career choices of young people, and could, therefore, be helpful in guiding professional career counselling.

Few psychological or physiological processes are universally beneficial; most positive phenomena reach inflection points where their effects turn negative; mindfulness is unlikely to be an exception

Can Mindfulness Be Too Much of a Good Thing? The Value of a Middle Way. Willoughby B Britton. Current Opinion in Psychology,

•    Few psychological or physiological processes are universally beneficial.
•    Most positive phenomena reach inflection points where their effects turn negative.
•    Mindfulness is unlikely to be an exception to the inverted U-shape curved principle.
•    Some mindfulness-related processes have negative effects under certain conditions.
•    Research that includes the full range of possible effects would improve the efficacy of mindfulness.

Abstract: Previous research has found that very few, if any, psychological or physiological processes are universally beneficial. Instead, positive phenomena tend to follow a non-monotonic or inverted U-shaped trajectory where their typically positive effects eventually turn negative. This review investigates mindfulness-related processes for signs of non-monotonicity. A number of mindfulness-related processes—including, mindful attention (observing awareness, interoception), mindfulness qualities, mindful emotion regulation (prefrontal control, decentering, exposure, acceptance), and meditation practice—show signs of non-monotonicity, boundary conditions, or negative effects under certain conditions. A research agenda that investigates the possibility of mindfulness as non-monotonic may be able to provide an explanatory framework for the mix of positive, null and negative effects that could maximize the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions.

Between 1950 & 1959, the highest earning 1 percent of Americans paid an effective tax rate of 42 percent. By 2014, it was only down to 36.4 percent

Did the Rich Really Pay Much Higher Taxes in the 1950s? The Answer Is a Little Complicated. Jordan Weissmann. Slate,  Aug 07, 2017.

American progressives like to remember the mid–20th century as a time when the only thing higher than a Cadillac’s tail fin was the top marginal tax rate (which, during the Eisenhower years peaked above 90 percent for the very rich). Uncle Sam took 90 cents on the dollar off the highest incomes, and—as any good Bernie Sanders devotee will remind you—the economy thrived.

Conservatives, however, often try to push back on this version of history, pointing out that those staggeringly high tax rates existed mostly on paper; relatively few Americans actually paid them. Recently, the Tax Foundation’s Scott Greenberg went so far as to argue that “taxes on the rich were not that much higher” in the 1950s than today. Between 1950 and 1959, he notes, the highest earning 1 percent of Americans paid an effective tax rate of 42 percent. By 2014, it was only down to 36.4 percent—a substantial but by no means astronomical decline.


Greenberg is not pulling his numbers out of thin air. Rather, he’s drawing them directly from a recent paper by Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman in which the three economists—all well-loved by progressives—estimate the average tax rates Americans at different income levels have actually paid over time. Their historical measure includes federal, state, and local levies—including corporate, property, income, estate, sales, and payroll taxes. And lest you think Greenberg is misrepresenting anything, here’s Piketty & co.’s own graph (rates on rich folks are shown in green).

[ Source: Piketty, Saez, and Zucman]

There are a few obvious reasons why the taxes the rich actually paid in the 1950s were so much lower than the confiscatory top rates that sat on the books. For one, the max tax rates on investment income were far lower than on wages and salaries, which gave a lot of wealthy individuals some relief. Tax avoidance may have also been a big problem. Moreover, there simply weren’t that many extraordinarily rich households. Those fabled 90 percent tax rates only bit at incomes over $200,000, the equivalent of more than $2 million in today’s dollars. As Greenberg notes, the tax may have only applied to 10,000 families.

To Greenberg, the takeaway from this is simple: Progressives should stop fixating on the tax rates from 60 years ago. “All in all, the idea that high-income Americans in the 1950s paid much more of their income in taxes should be abandoned. The top 1 percent of Americans today do not face an unusually low tax burden, by historical standards.”

I’m not convinced. Effective tax rates on 1 percenters may not have fallen by half, as some on the left might be tempted to imagine. But they are down by about 6 percentage points1 at a time when the wealthy earn a vastly larger share of the national income. That drop represents a lot of money. Moreover, as Greenberg admits, tax rates on top 0.1 percent have fallen by about one-fifth since their 1950s heights. That rather severely undercuts the idea that taxes on the wealthy haven’t fallen “much.”

 Moreover, there may be reasons to support higher taxes beyond their ability to raise revenue. One popular theory among left-leaning intellectuals right now—advanced by Piketty, Saez, and their protegée Stefanie Stantcheva—is that high tax rates actually ease income inequality by discouraging CEOs and professionals from demanding exorbitantly high pay for their services.* In other words, thanks to high tax rates, people didn’t bother trying to get as rich. After all, there’s no point in bargaining for a giant bonus if the government is going to clip off most of it. I wouldn’t say the theory has been accepted as a consensus fact at this point, but it’s certainly alive and being taken seriously.

So the real tax rates rich Americans paid in the 1950s may not have been so stratospherically high as some progressives assume. But they also may have helped create a more egalitarian society. That seems worth considering.

[Full text and links in the article above]

There may be a variety of reasons why more democratic states are engaged in higher levels of international trade; a larger concern for consumer interests, however, is likely not among them

The Absence of Consumer Interests in Trade Policy. Timm Betz and Amy Pond. The Journal of Politics,

Abstract: Why are some countries more open to trade than others? Prominent explanations emphasize differences in the influence of voters as consumers. Consumers benefit from lower prices. Because governments in democracies are more responsive to voters, they should implement lower tariffs. We develop and evaluate an implication of this line of argument. If lower tariffs are a response to consumer interests, lower tariffs should be concentrated on products most relevant to consumers. Using data on consumption shares across product categories, we report evidence that consumer interests do not account for lower tariffs. Governments place higher tariffs on goods with higher consumption shares, and we find no evidence that this relationship attenuates under more democratic institutions. There may be a variety of reasons why more democratic states are engaged in higher levels of international trade. A larger concern for consumer interests, however, is likely not among them.

Keywords: trade, consumers, democracy, tariffs, contract enforcement

Human foetuses and newborns smile first during sleep, before they smile while awake and interacting with caregivers; adults may have true smiling and laughing, a true inner mirth, during sleep

Smiling asleep: A study of happy emotional expressions during adult sleep. Marion Clé et al. Journal of Sleep Research,

Abstract: Human foetuses and newborns smile first during sleep, before they smile while awake and interacting with caregivers. Whether smiling persists during adult sleep, and expresses inner joy, is yet unknown. Smiles were looked for during night‐time video‐polysomnography combined with electromyography of the zygomatic and orbicularis oculi muscles in 100 controls, 22 patients with sleepwalking and 52 patients with rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behaviour disorder. Autonomous reactions (heart rate and level of vasoconstriction) and the presence of rapid eye movements were examined during smiles and laughs. On visual examination of the face video clips synchronous with zygomatic contraction, 8% of controls smiled while asleep (7% in REM sleep and 1% in non‐REM sleep). Some patients with sleepwalking also smiled and laughed during N2 sleep and N3 parasomnia. Half of the patients with REM sleep behaviour disorder smiled and one‐third laughed, mostly during REM sleep. The 173 happy faces included mild smiles (24.8%), open‐mouth smiles (29.5%) and laughs (45.7%). More than half of the smiles were the Duchenne (genuine) type, including an active closure of the eyelids. Approximately half of the smiles and laughs were temporally associated with rapid eye movements. There was no increased heart rate variability during smiles and laughs. Two scenic behaviours including smiles and laughs suggested that the happy facial expression was associated with a happy dreaming scenario. Smiling and laughing occasionally persist during adult sleep. There are several lines of evidence suggesting that these happy emotional expressions reflect a true inner mirth.

Greed: A majority of participants reported an excessive desire for money or materials (clothes, books, &c, 68%); also non-material items (time, love, &c, 32pct)

Understanding greed as a unified construct. Glenn W. Lambie, Jaimie Stickl Haugen. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 141, 15 April 2019, Pages 31-39,

Abstract: The concept of greed is a popular topic since the economic crisis of 2008. Much of the psychological research relating to greed aligns greed as a situation-specific trait as opposed to a dispositional trait. Thus, there is a need to enhance our understanding of greed as a disposition and explore individual differences that may influence behavior. Since individuals conceptualize greed in various ways, there is a lack in understanding of the construct. We propose a unified definition of greed and outline the extant research on dispositional greed, focusing on existing greed assessments. Considering our working definition of greed, we advocate that there is a need for future research to enhance definitional clarity, including the development of an additional greed assessment that more accurately encapsulates this complex construct.

Increased fruit & vegetable consumption can enhance mental well-being; both increasing frequency & increasing quantity matter; a hump-shaped relationship appeared between age & fruit & vegetable consumption

Lettuce be happy: A longitudinal UK study on the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and well-being. Neel Ocean, Peter Howley, Jonathan Ensor. Social Science & Medicine,

•    Increased fruit & vegetable consumption can enhance mental well-being.
•    Increasing frequency and increasing quantity of consumption both matter.
•    The relationship is robust to different measures of well-being.
•    A hump-shaped relationship appeared between age and fruit and vegetable consumption.

Rationale: While the role of diet in influencing physical health is now well-established, some recent research suggests that increased consumption of fruits and vegetables could play a role in enhancing mental well-being. A limitation with much of this existing research is its reliance on cross-sectional correlations, convenience samples, and/or lack of adequate controls.

Objective: We aim to add to the emerging literature on the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and well-being by using longitudinal data from a study in the United Kingdom (UK).

Method: We employ panel data analytical techniques on three waves collected between 2010 and 2017 (i.e., following the same individuals over time) in the UK Household Longitudinal Survey. We also control for time-variant confounders such as diet, health, and lifestyle behaviours.

Results: Fixed effects regressions show that mental well-being (GHQ-12) responds in a dose-response fashion to increases in both the quantity and the frequency of fruit and vegetables consumed. This relationship is robust to the use of subjective well-being (life satisfaction) instead of mental well-being. We also document a hump-shaped relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and age.

Conclusion: Our findings provide further evidence that persuading people to consume more fruits and vegetables may not only benefit their physical health in the long-run, but also their mental well-being in the short-run.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The increase in homebuilding construction concentration in the past decade has led to lower production volume, fewer units in the production pipeline, & greater unit price volatility

Cosman, Jacob and Quintero, Luis, Market Concentration in Homebuilding (November 28, 2018). Johns Hopkins Carey Business School Research Paper No. 18-18.

Abstract: We investigate the impact of increasing concentration in local residential construction markets on housing production. We show that the increase in concentration in the past decade has led to lower production volume, fewer units in the production pipeline, and greater unit price volatility. Our results imply that the greater concentration has decreased the annual value of new housing production by $106 billion. Because housing is a determinant of the business cycle these findings provide further evidence that the secular decline in competitive intensity in the American economy is altering macroeconomic dynamics.

25% of the prosopagnosia sample scored in the tone deaf range; these subjects were impaired in pitch processing, but not rhythm; face recognition ability significantly predicted pitch processing ability

Perception Of Musical Pitch In Developmental Prosopagnosia. Sherryse L.Corrow et al. Neuropsychologia,

•    Some prosopagnosic subjects showed deficits in pitch processing relative to controls
•    Individually, 25% of the prosopagnosia sample scored in the tone deaf range
•    These subjects were impaired in pitch processing, but not rhythm
•    Face recognition ability significantly predicted pitch processing ability


Studies of developmental prosopagnosia have often shown that developmental prosopagnosia differentially affects human face processing over non-face object processing. However, little consideration has been given to whether this condition is associated with perceptual or sensorimotor impairments in other modalities. Comorbidities have played a role in theories of other developmental disorders such as dyslexia, but studies of developmental prosopagnosia have often focused on the nature of the visual recognition impairment despite evidence for widespread neural anomalies that might affect other sensorimotor systems.

We studied 12 subjects with developmental prosopagnosia with a battery of auditory tests evaluating pitch and rhythm processing as well as voice perception and recognition. Overall, three subjects were impaired in fine pitch discrimination, a prevalence of 25% that is higher than the estimated 4% prevalence of congenital amusia in the general population. This was a selective deficit, as rhythm perception was unaffected in all 12 subjects. Furthermore, two of the three prosopagnosic subjects who were impaired in pitch discrimination had intact voice perception and recognition, while two of the remaining nine subjects had impaired voice recognition but intact pitch perception.

These results indicate that, in some subjects with developmental prosopagnosia, the face recognition deficit is not an isolated impairment but is associated with deficits in other domains, such as auditory perception. These deficits may form part of a broader syndrome which could be due to distributed microstructural anomalies in various brain networks, possibly with a common theme of right hemispheric predominance.

What Laypeople Think the Big Five Trait Labels Mean: Lay beliefs corresponded generally well with standard Big Five inventories’ content, but there were notable disjunctions between beliefs and the standards

What Laypeople Think the Big Five Trait Labels Mean. Judith A.Hall et al. Journal of Research in Personality,

•    Laypeople were able to describe how they apply the Big Five traits in daily life.
•    Each trait had 9 to 13 facets that varied in their centrality to the trait.
•    Lay beliefs corresponded generally well with standard Big Five inventories’ content.
•    But there were notable disjunctions between lay beliefs and inventories’ content.

Abstract: We asked what laypeople think the commonly used Big Five trait labels mean, and how well their beliefs match the content of standard Big Five scales. Study 1 established participants’ familiarity with the Big Five trait labels. In Studies 2 and 3, participants described persons high on the traits using a free response format. Responses were sorted into categories (facets), each of which earned a centrality index defined as the proportion of responses for the given trait that fell into that category. Studies 2 and 3 converged well. Comparisons with four standard Big Five inventories revealed substantial commonality but also notable areas of non-overlap consisting of content identified by laypeople that was not represented in the standard scales, as well as content in the standard scales that was not mentioned by laypeople.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Beauty ranking of mammalian species kept in the Prague Zoo: does beauty of animals increase the respondents’ willingness to protect them?

Beauty ranking of mammalian species kept in the Prague Zoo: does beauty of animals increase the respondents’ willingness to protect them? Eva Landová et al. The Science of Nature,

Abstract: Aesthetic preferences for animals correspond with the species’ presence in the worldwide zoos and influence the conservation priorities. Here, we investigated the relationship between the willingness of respondents to protect mammals and some attributed characteristics such as their aesthetic beauty. Further, several methodological aspects of measuring mammalian beauty were assessed. Animal beauty was associated not only with the respondents’ willingness to protect the species but also with its attributed dangerousness and usefulness. We found that the most preferred animals were carnivores and ungulates, whilst smaller species of rodents and afrosoricids were unpopular. The main characteristics determining that an animal will be ranked as beautiful were complex fur pattern and body shape. We demonstrated that the position of mammalian species along the ‘beauty’ axis is surprisingly stable, no matter the form (illustrations vs photographs), context of stimulus presentation (several number of stimuli per family vs one randomly selected species per family), or the method of beauty evaluation (relative order vs Likert’s scale).

Evolutionary Perspectives on Male Homosexuality: A Literature Review. Yasmina Mashmoushi, Mitan Mzouri

Evolutionary Perspectives on Male Homosexuality: A Literature Review. Yasmina Mashmoushi, Mitan Mzouri. Proceedings of Manitoba's Undergraduate Science and Engineering Research, Vol 4, issue 1, 2018,

Abstract: This review provides a comprehensive coverage of the leading evolutionary hypotheses to date on male homosexuality (namely the sexual antagonism model, the tipping-point model, and the kin selection hypothesis). It does so by first (1), surveying prominent findings on the nature and biological causes of male homosexuality; second (2), discussing the effects of male homosexuality on individual fitness; and third (3), outlining the contending evolutionary theories on male homosexuality and critically evaluating each against current pertinent empirical evidence. This review reveals that male homosexuality is a complex, multifaceted phenomenon influenced by an interplay of genomic and environmental factors that may have had unique evolutionary trajectories. Thus, there is likely more than one evolutionary mechanism at play responsible for the maintenance of gay alleles in the human population. Current research largely supports the notion that gay alleles bestow fitness benefits on heterosexual carriers. The tipping-point model and sexual antagonism model, but not the kin selection hypothesis, are in line with current empirical evidence. Future research into the genomic underpinnings of sexual orientation in homosexual males and its genetic equivalents in heterosexual males and females may allow for further evaluation of these hypotheses.

Keywords: human evolution, evolutionary psychology, mating preferences, sexual orientation, homosexuality

The tipping-point model of male homosexuality, popularized byEdwardMiller, posits that the group of alleles that code for a homosexual orientation in gay men confer strong fitness benefits in heterosexual men by coding in them a certain level of psychological femininity68. According to Miller, if only a few of these alleles are inherited by males, their reproductive success is enhanced via the expression of attractive, albeit feminine traits such as kindness, empathy, andsensitivity68. However, if too many of these alleles are inherited by males, a tipping-point is reached, at which even their mate preferences become feminized68. Miller came up with a simplified version of his theory to better illustrate it. He asks the reader to imagine that there are five different genes that each help code for an individual's place along a masculine-feminine continuum. Each of these five genes have two respective alleles: one that pulls the individual to the masculine side of the continuum and one that pulls the individual to the feminine side of the continuum. According to his simplified model, if a man inherits all five of the "feminine-pulling alleles", he will be homosexual and if he inherits less than five,he will not. Homosexuality would continue to persist in the human populationif a strong reproductive advantage is conferred on individuals possessing some copies of these feminine-pulling alleles. According to Miller, a low doseo f these feminine-pulling  alleles significantly enhances a heterosexual male carrier's reproductive success. But in the less common, spontaneous occasion that a significantly large dose of these feminine-pulling alleles is inherited, the male carrier’s sexual orientation is altered and his fitness adversely affected. Nonetheless, these alleles would continue to persist in the population if they confer an overall reproductive advantage on thei rmale carriers68. Consistent with the tipping-point hypothesis, homosexual men are reported to be more sensitive, kind, and empathetic than heterosexual men,which have been characteristically deemed to be feminine attributes70. Furthermore, studies have found that a higher level of psychological femininity in straight men is associated with a greater number of female partners, suggesting that psychological femininity is attractive to women71,72. This could be because psychological femininity indicates a nurturing disposition which could help rear offspring. In another study, researchers predicted that if the tipping-point model of male homosexuality were correct, then heterosexual men with a homosexual maletwin should have more attractive feminine-pulling alleles and thus more opposite-sex partners than members of heterosexual twin pairs15. The findings of this large community-based twin study(N=4904)supported this prediction; heterosexual males with a homosexual male twin had significantly more children, significantly more opposite sex partners, and were significantly younger at their first age of intercourse than members of heterosexual male twin pairs (p<0.001)15. The results of these and similar studies have made the tipping-point model one of the leading evolutionary theories on male homosexuality to date67.

Another possibility is that the alleles responsible for male homosexuality code for psychologically or physically feminizing traits in both men and women21,67. Thes exual antagonism model suggests that an allele that is detrimental tothe fitnessof one sex could be maintained in the populationso long as it is beneficial to thefitness of the other sex21. An allele that make sits bearer attracted to men and more feminine provides an obvious reproductive advantage to women, but an obvious reproductive disadvantage to men21. This allele would code for same-sex attraction if it appears in a male's genome but would maintainanet evolutionary benefit if this occurs rarely21. There is asignificant amount of evidence for this theory. Numerous studies have found significantly greater fecundity in the female matrilineal relatives of homosexual men (i.e. their mothers, aunts and grand-mothers)as compared to heterosexual men 21,73,74,75. Some other studies have also found that the female relatives of homosexual males have significantly fewer abortions and gestational complications than the female relatives of heterosexual males12,74. Moreover, homosexual men have been found to have an excess of matrilineal but not patrilineal male homosexual relatives as compared to heterosexual men21,73. According to researchers, even a modest increase in the reproductive capacity of females carrying these gay alleles could easily account fort heir maintenance at high levels in the population21,76.

Individuals in a politically homogeneous social networking site environment were more likely to unfriend/hide the political rivals; liberals are more prone to unfriending, as are the educated; the young hide

Social networking site as a Political Filtering Machine: Predicting the Act of Political Unfriending and Hiding on Social Networking Sites. Joseph Yoo, Margaret Yee Man Ng, Thomas Johnson. The Journal of Social Media in Society, Vol 7, No 2 (2018),

Abstract: Social networking sites (SNSs) seem to have become a political filtering machine that allows users to classify their online friends based on their political ideologies. Hiding and unfriending on social media has turned into being a political gesture, discriminating individuals with opposite political views on SNSs. Unfriending activities during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and during the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement are two notable examples. Individuals have the tendency to consume politically congenial information and be surrounded by people who share the same views. The formation of echo chambers and the reason for relationship dissolution on SNSs can be explained by Social Identity Theory.

Through an online panel survey of 386 SNS users, this study examined how factors of political ideologies, social media and offline political participation and likeminded exposure on SNSs can predict hiding and unfriending/unfollowing on Twitter and Facebook. Results from ordinary least square (OLS) regression analysis revealed that if individuals had been in a politically homogeneous SNS environment, they were more likely to unfriend, suggesting the reinforcement of echo chambers in SNSs. Both social media and offline political participations predicted the dissociative, indicating that unfriending and hiding could be regarded as a new form of online political participation to engage in political affairs.

Keywords: Political participation, Hiding, Unfriending, Relationship dissolution, like-minded exposure

Friday, January 4, 2019

Artificial intelligence turns brain activity into speech

Artificial intelligence turns brain activity into speech. Kelly Servick. Jan. 2, 2019.

For many people who are paralyzed and unable to speak, signals of what they'd like to say hide in their brains. No one has been able to decipher those signals directly. But three research teams recently made progress in turning data from electrodes surgically placed on the brain into computer-generated speech. Using computational models known as neural networks, they reconstructed words and sentences that were, in some cases, intelligible to human listeners.

None of the efforts, described in papers in recent months on the preprint server bioRxiv, managed to re-create speech that people had merely imagined. Instead, the researchers monitored parts of the brain as people either read aloud, silently mouthed speech, or listened to recordings. But showing the reconstructed speech is understandable is "definitely exciting," says Stephanie Martin, a neural engineer at the University of Geneva in Switzerland who was not involved in the new projects.

People who have lost the ability to speak after a stroke or disease can use their eyes or make other small movements to control a cursor or select on-screen letters. (Cosmologist Stephen Hawking tensed his cheek to trigger a switch mounted on his glasses.) But if a brain-computer interface could re-create their speech directly, they might regain much more: control over tone and inflection, for example, or the ability to interject in a fast-moving conversation.

The hurdles are high. "We are trying to work out the pattern of … neurons that turn on and off at different time points, and infer the speech sound," says Nima Mesgarani, a computer scientist at Columbia University. "The mapping from one to the other is not very straightforward." How these signals translate to speech sounds varies from person to person, so computer models must be "trained" on each individual. And the models do best with extremely precise data, which requires opening the skull.

Researchers can do such invasive recording only in rare cases. One is during the removal of a brain tumor, when electrical readouts from the exposed brain help surgeons locate and avoid key speech and motor areas. Another is when a person with epilepsy is implanted with electrodes for several days to pinpoint the origin of seizures before surgical treatment. "We have, at maximum, 20 minutes, maybe 30," for data collection, Martin says. "We're really, really limited."

The groups behind the new papers made the most of precious data by feeding the information into neural networks, which process complex patterns by passing information through layers of computational "nodes." The networks learn by adjusting connections between nodes. In the experiments, networks were exposed to recordings of speech that a person produced or heard and data on simultaneous brain activity.

Mesgarani's team relied on data from five people with epilepsy. Their network analyzed recordings from the auditory cortex (which is active during both speech and listening) as those patients heard recordings of stories and people naming digits from zero to nine. The computer then reconstructed spoken numbers from neural data alone; when the computer "spoke" the numbers, a group of listeners named them with 75% accuracy.

[recording: A computer reconstruction based on brain activity recorded while a person listened to spoken digits.
H. Akbari et al.,]

Another team, led by neuroscientists Miguel Angrick of the University of Bremen in Germany and Christian Herff at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, relied on data from six people undergoing brain tumor surgery. A microphone captured their voices as they read single-syllable words aloud. Meanwhile, electrodes recorded from the brain's speech planning areas and motor areas, which send commands to the vocal tract to articulate words. The network mapped electrode readouts to the audio recordings, and then reconstructed words from previously unseen brain data. According to a computerized scoring system, about 40% of the computer-generated words were understandable.

[recording: Original audio from a study participant, followed by a computer recreation of each word, based on activity in speech planning and motor areas of the brain.
M. Angrick et al.,]

Finally, neurosurgeon Edward Chang and his team at the University of California, San Francisco, reconstructed entire sentences from brain activity captured from speech and motor areas while three epilepsy patients read aloud. In an online test, 166 people heard one of the sentences and had to select it from among 10 written choices. Some sentences were correctly identified more than 80% of the time. The researchers also pushed the model further: They used it to re-create sentences from data recorded while people silently mouthed words. That's an important result, Herff says—"one step closer to the speech prosthesis that we all have in mind."

However, "What we're really waiting for is how [these methods] are going to do when the patients can't speak," says Stephanie Riès, a neuroscientist at San Diego State University in California who studies language production. The brain signals when a person silently "speaks" or "hears" their voice in their head aren't identical to signals of speech or hearing. Without external sound to match to brain activity, it may be hard for a computer even to sort out where inner speech starts and ends.

Decoding imagined speech will require "a huge jump," says Gerwin Schalk, a neuroengineer at the National Center for Adaptive Neurotechnologies at the New York State Department of Health in Albany. "It's really unclear how to do that at all."

One approach, Herff says, might be to give feedback to the user of the brain-computer interface: If they can hear the computer's speech interpretation in real time, they may be able to adjust their thoughts to get the result they want. With enough training of both users and neural networks, brain and computer might meet in the middle.


[Recordings at the link above at the beginning]

Check also Towards reconstructing intelligible speech from the human auditory cortex. Hassan Akbari, Bahar Khalighinejad, Jose L. Herrero, Ashesh D. Mehta & Nima Mesgaran. Scientific Reportsvolume 9, Article number: 874 (2019),

Photosynthesis may produce toxic by-products that reduce its efficiency; a transgenic plant efficiently recaptures the unproductive by-products of photosynthesis with less energy lost, plants grew ∼40% more

Synthetic glycolate metabolism pathways stimulate crop growth and productivity in the field. Paul F. South, Amanda  P. Cavanagh, Helen W. Liu, Donald R. Ort. Science  Jan 04 2019, Vol. 363, Issue 6422, eaat9077, DOI: 10.1126/science.aat9077

Fixing photosynthetic inefficiencies: In some of our most useful crops (such as rice and wheat), photosynthesis produces toxic by-products that reduce its efficiency. Photorespiration deals with these by-products, converting them into metabolically useful components, but at the cost of energy lost. South et al. constructed a metabolic pathway in transgenic tobacco plants that more efficiently recaptures the unproductive by-products of photosynthesis with less energy lost (see the Perspective by Eisenhut and Weber). In field trials, these transgenic tobacco plants were ∼40% more productive than wild-type tobacco plants.

Structured Abstract
INTRODUCTION: Meeting food demands for the growing global human population requires improving crop productivity, and large gains are possible through enhancing photosynthetic efficiency. Photosynthesis requires the carboxylation of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate (RuBP) by ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase-oxygenase (RuBisCO), but photorespiration occurs in most plants such as soybean, rice, and wheat (known as C3 crops) when RuBisCO oxygenates RuBP instead, requiring costly processing of toxic byproducts such as glycolate. Photorespiration can reduce C3 crop photosynthetic efficiency by 20 to 50%. Although various strategies exist for lowering the costs of photorespiration, chamber- and greenhouse-grown plants with altered photorespiratory pathways within the chloroplast have shown promising results, including increased photosynthetic rates and plant size.

RATIONALE: To determine if alternative photorespiratory pathways could effectively improve C3 field crop productivity, we tested the performance of three alternative photorespiratory pathways in field-grown tobacco. One pathway used five genes from the Escherichia coli glycolate oxidation pathway; a second pathway used glycolate oxidase and malate synthase from plants and catalase from E. coli; and the third pathway used plant malate synthase and a green algal glycolate dehydrogenase. All enzymes in the alternative pathway designs were directed to the chloroplast. RNA interference (RNAi) was also used to down-regulate a native chloroplast glycolate transporter in the photorespiratory pathway, thereby limiting metabolite flux through the native pathway. The three pathways were introduced with and without the transporter RNAi construct into tobacco, which is an ideal model field crop because it is easily transformed, has a short life cycle, produces large quantities of seed, and develops a robust canopy similar to that of other field crops.

RESULTS: Using a synthetic biology approach to vary promoter gene combinations, we generated a total of 17 construct designs of the three pathways with and without the transporter RNAi construct. Initial screens for photoprotection by alternative pathway function under high–photorespiratory stress conditions identified three to five independent transformants of each design for further analysis. Gene and protein expression analyses confirmed expression of the introduced genes and suppression of the native transporter in RNAi plants. In greenhouse screens, pathway 1 increased biomass by nearly 13%. Pathway 2 showed no benefit compared to wild type. Introduction of pathway 3 increased biomass by 18% without RNAi and 24% with RNAi, which were consistent with changes in photorespiratory metabolism and higher photosynthetic rates. Ultimately, field testing across two different growing seasons showed >25% increase in biomass of pathway 3 plants compared to wild type, and with RNAi productivity increased by >40%. In addition, this pathway increased the light-use efficiency of photosynthesis by 17% in the field.

CONCLUSION: Engineering more efficient photorespiratory pathways into tobacco while inhibiting the native pathway markedly increased both photosynthetic efficiency and vegetative biomass. We are optimistic that similar gains may be achieved and translated into increased yield in C3 grain crops because photorespiration is common to all C3 plants and higher photosynthetic rates under elevated CO2, which suppresses photorespiration and increases harvestable yield in C3 crops.

We test the reproducibility/generalisability of priming effects on risk attitudes: we find no systematic effect; fear does not appear to cause countercyclical risk aversion; positive affect makes participants take more risk

On the priming of risk preferences: The role of fear and general affect. Despoina Alempaki, Chris Starmer, Fabio Tufano. Journal of Economic Psychology,

•    We test the reproducibility/generalisability of priming effects on risk attitudes.
•    In a series of experiments, we sample over 1900 subjects from a diverse population.
•    We find no systematic effect of priming on individuals’ risk attitudes.
•    Fear does not appear to cause countercyclical risk aversion.
•    Positive affect makes participants take more risk.

Abstract: Priming is an established tool in psychology for investigating aspects of cognitive processes underlying decision making and is increasingly applied in economics. We report a systematic attempt to test the reproducibility and generalisability of priming effects on risk attitudes in a more diverse population than professionals and students, when priming using either a positive or a negative experience. We further test fear as the causal mechanism underlying countercyclical risk aversion. Across a series of experiments with a total sample of over 1900 participants, we are unable to find any systematic effect of priming on risk preferences. Moreover, our results challenge the role of fear as the mechanism underlying countercyclical risk aversion; we find evidence of an impact of general affect such that the better our participants feel, the more risk they take.

Pattern Analysis of World Conflicts over the past 600 years: War is a statistical phenomenon related to the network structure of the human society

Pattern Analysis of World Conflicts over the past 600 years. Gianluca Martelloni, Francesca Di Patti, Ugo Bardi. arXiv, Dec 2018.

Abstract: We analyze the database prepared by Brecke (Brecke 2011) for violent conflict, covering some 600 years of human history. After normalizing the data for the global human population, we find that the number of casualties tends to follow a power law over the whole data series for the period considered, with no evidence of periodicity. We also observe that the number of conflicts, again normalized for the human population, show a decreasing trend as a function of time. Our result agree with previous analyses on this subject and tend to support the idea that war is a statistical phenomenon related to the network structure of the human society.

Advisors interpersonally penalize those who do not follow their advice; penalize seekers more than non-expert advisors; interpersonally penalize seekers consulting multiple advisors

Seeker beware: The interpersonal costs of ignoring advice. Hayley Blunden et al. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Volume 150, January 2019, Pages 83-100.

•    Advisors interpersonally penalize those who do not follow their advice.
•    Expert advisors penalize seekers more than non-expert advisors.
•    Advisors interpersonally penalize seekers consulting multiple advisor.
•    Advisors to “multiple advice-seekers” perceive their advice will be disregarded.
•    Advice seekers view the purpose of seeking advice as gathering information.
•    Advisors (vs. seekers) view their purpose as more to provide direction.
•    Seekers should consider interpersonal goals alongside decision accuracy ones.

Abstract: Prior advice research has focused on why people rely on (or ignore) advice and its impact on judgment accuracy. We expand the consideration of advice-seeking outcomes by investigating the interpersonal consequences of advice seekers’ decisions. Across nine studies, we show that advisors interpersonally penalize seekers who disregard their advice, and that these reactions are especially strong among expert advisors. This penalty also drives advisor reactions to a widely-recommended advice-seeking strategy: soliciting multiple advisors to leverage the wisdom of crowds. Advisors denigrate and distance themselves from seekers who they learn consulted others, an effect mediated by perceptions that their own advice will be disregarded. Underlying these effects is an asymmetry between advisors’ and seekers’ beliefs about the purpose of the advice exchange: whereas advisors believe giving advice is more about narrowing the option set by providing direction, seekers believe soliciting advice is more about widening the option set by gathering information.

How husbands and wives report their earnings when she earns more: Inflating their reports of husbands’ earnings & deflating their reports of wives’ earnings

Manning up and womaning down: How husbands and wives report their earnings when she earns more. Marta Murray-Close and Misty L. Heggeness, US Census Bureau, Working Paper Number SEHSD-WP2018-20,

Abstract: Do gendered social norms influence survey reports of “objective” economic outcomes? This paper compares the earnings reported for husbands and wives in the Current Population Survey with their “true” earnings from administrative income-tax records. Estimates from OLS regressions show that survey respondents react to violations of the norm that husbands earn more than their wives by inflating their reports of husbands’ earnings and deflating their reports of wives’ earnings. On average, the gap between a husband’s survey and administrative earnings is 2.9 percentage points higher if his wife earns more than he does, and the gap between a wife’s survey and administrative earnings in 1.5 percentage points lower if she earns more than her husband does. These findings suggest that gendered social norms can influence survey reports of seemingly objective outcomes and that their impact may be heterogeneous not just between genders but also within gender.

We focus on specific trading days on which investors are primed for honest behavior (Yom Kippur); the patterns found may reflect the increased awareness to honesty

The High Holidays: Psychological Mechanisms of Honesty in Real-Life Financial Decisions. Doron Kliger, Mahmoud Qadan. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics,

•    We focus on specific trading days on which investors are primed for honest behavior
•    Returns during these ten days (High Holidays) are abnormally low; and
•    Implied volatility, as well as realized volatility estimates are abnormally high
•    These systematic patterns may reflect the increased awareness to honesty
•    We suggest a simple trading rule that investors may utilize during these days

ABSTRACT: Research in psychology has established that activation of religious ideas affects individuals’ behavior. We hypothesize that religious and honesty mechanisms activated on the High Holidays, the ten days before Yom Kippur, when people seek repentance, amplify people's anxiety and affect their financial decision-making. We find that returns during the High Holidays are abnormally low; implied volatility, measured by VIX and VXO, as well as realized volatility estimates, are abnormally high; and the abnormal increase in implied volatility overshoots future volatility. Using these results, we devise a simple trading rule that investors may consider to maximize returns during the High-Holidays period.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Targets of negative gossip experienced guilt, especially with low core self-evaluations & caused repair intentions; & anger, especially for targets with high reputational concerns, & caused retaliation intentions

Self-Evaluative and Other-Directed Emotional and Behavioral Responses to Gossip About the Self. Elena Martinescu, Onne Janssen and Bernard A. Nijstad. Front. Psychol., Jan 04 2019,

Gossip, or informal talk about others who are not present, is omnipresent in daily interactions. As such, people who are targeted are likely to hear some gossip about themselves, which may have profound implications for their well-being. We investigated the emotions and behavioral intentions of people who hear performance-related gossip about themselves. Based on the affective events theory, we predicted that gossip incidents have strong emotional consequences for their targets and that these emotional responses trigger different behaviors. Two scenario studies (N1 = 226, Mage = 21.76; N2 = 204, Mage = 34.11) and a critical incident study (N = 240, Mage = 37.04) compared targets' responses to positive and negative gossip. Whereas, targets of positive gossip experienced positive self-conscious emotions (e.g., pride), targets of negative gossip experienced negative self-conscious emotions (e.g., guilt), especially when they had low core self-evaluations. In turn, these negative self-conscious emotions predicted repair intentions. Positive gossip also led to positive other-directed emotions (e.g., liking), which predicted intentions to affiliate with the gossiper. Negative gossip, however, also generated other-directed negative emotions (e.g., anger), especially for targets with high reputational concerns, which in turn predicted retaliation intentions against the gossiper. This pattern of emotional reactions to self-relevant gossip was found to be unique and different from emotional reactions to self-relevant feedback. These results show that gossip has self-evaluative and other-directed emotional consequences, which predict how people intend to behaviorally react after hearing gossip about themselves.

These findings help understand target's emotional and behavioral reactions to gossip as functional. Repair behaviors might be an adaptive response to negative gossip, helping targets avoid further deterioration of their self-views and social relationships. Intentions to retaliate against gossipers, who have harmed targets' social capital may also be functional in deterring future reputational attacks. Furthermore, positive gossip confirms valuable attributes or goal accomplishment and serves targets' fundamental need for a positive self-view (Kunda, 1990; Sedikides and Strube, 1997), potentially motivating individuals to strive for future achievements and status (Tracy et al., 2010). Moreover, positive gossip is functional in fostering a social bond between targets and gossipers, who are likely to be perceived as supportive and trustworthy allies.

Our work also clarifies that people have distinct emotional reactions to gossip and feedback about themselves, thereby indicating that the two types of self-relevant information have distinct implications for the targets' self-evaluation and reputation. Negative feedback generated higher self-conscious negative emotions and repair intentions than negative gossip, possibly because formal feedback is communicated for improvement and development purposes and increases one's sense of self-awareness and accountability. In contrast, because negative gossip is spread in one's absence (Foster, 2004) and is not clearly intended to advance performance, it may be more easily discounted by targets, thereby generating lower self-conscious negative emotions and repair intentions. Furthermore, gossip led to higher other-directed negative emotions and to lower other-directed positive emotions than feedback, suggesting that gossip is perceived as more malignant or less benign than formal feedback, possibly because it is communicated behind one's back. These results indicate that gossip is a mechanism that parallels formal communication channels in organizations and regulates group members' behavior and interpersonal relations.

In addition to the hypothesized reactions of gossip targets, the analyses revealed other effects. Consistent across Studies 1 and 3, self-conscious positive emotions predicted retaliation intentions. Positive gossip may enable targets to evaluate themselves as better than others [i.e., hubristic pride, (Tracy et al., 2010)], possibly generating retaliation intentions, because hubristic pride instigates people to establish a reputation of dominance and assert power through aggression (Tracy et al., 2010). However, other-directed positive emotions induced by positive gossip decreased retaliation intentions (Study 3) and increased repair intentions (Studies 1 and 2). Thus, positive gossip also made targets feel included, thereby motivating prosocial and reducing antisocial behaviors. As such, positive gossip generated both retaliation and affiliation intentions by arousing self-conscious and other-directed positive emotions, respectively. Furthermore, negative gossip targets were more likely to affiliate with the gossiper due to negative self-conscious (Studies 2 and 3) and other-directed emotions (Study 3). Targets who feel guilty or ashamed may see gossipers as expert observers of their shortcomings [expert power, (Kurland and Pelled, 2000)] and seek contact to obtain support or advice. In contrast, those who are angry with gossipers may seek future contact to disprove the negative gossip, or to search for retaliation opportunities.


In line with the AET (Weiss and Cropanzano, 1996), our findings have shown that the prosocial (repair and affiliation) and antisocial (retaliation) behaviors of gossip targets are driven by affective processes, and that predispositions (CSE and CR) moderate the affective and behavioral reactions to gossip events. Future research may additionally investigate the role of other cognitive or motivational processes in shaping gossip targets' behavior, or whether gossip about the self may be experienced in a non-affective manner. Furthermore, given the differential effects of gossip vs. feedback found in Study 2, it may be interesting for the AET to distinguish between more formal vs. informal affective events at work. Our results suggest that affective reactions may differ where formal evaluations vs. gossip are concerned, and perhaps similar effects can be expected for other types of (formal vs. informal) communication at work, such as official, written communication compared to rumors.

The positive emotions generated by positive gossip are universally pleasing and can easily co-occur, as was the case in all three studies: targets were simultaneously happy with themselves and with gossipers. However, different association patterns are possible for the negative emotions aroused by negative gossip. On the one hand, gossip targets may exclusively feel negative emotions directed at the gossipers for their harmful gossiping behavior, possibly rejecting their own faults to protect their self-views (Kunda, 1990). On the other hand, targets may feel self-conscious about their shortcomings and blame gossipers for sharing the negative gossip. In Studies 1 and 2, self-conscious and other-directed negative emotions were not correlated when gossip valence was accounted for, but they were positively correlated in Study 3, suggesting that boundary conditions may apply. In Study 3 we indeed showed that the arousal of negative self-conscious and other-directed emotions depends on self-directed (CSE) and other-directed (CR) dispositional factors, respectively. Furthermore, self-conscious and other-directed negative emotions predicted whether gossip targets had prosocial (reparation) or antisocial (retaliation) intentions.

Increased market orientation causes a significant increase in discoveries of natural resources

The shifting natural wealth of nations: The role of market orientation. Rabah Arezki, Frederick van der Ploeg, Frederik Toscani. Journal of Development Economics,

•    We explore the effect of market orientation on (known or available) natural resource wealth.
•    A novel dataset combines world-wide major hydrocarbon and mineral discoveries.
•    Empirical estimates show that increased market orientation causes a significant increase in discoveries of natural resources.
•    We call into question the commonly held view that known or available natural resource endowments are exogenous.

Abstract: This paper explores the effect of market orientation on (known or available) natural resource wealth using a novel dataset of world-wide major hydrocarbon and mineral discoveries. Our empirical estimates based on a large panel of countries show that increased market orientation causes a significant increase in discoveries of natural resources. In a thought experiment where economies in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa remain closed, they would have only achieved one quarter of the actual increase in discoveries they have experienced since the early 1990s. Our results call into question the commonly held view that known or available natural resource endowments are exogenous.

Danish high-quality administrative data: Individuals with relatively low time discounting are persistently positioned higher in the wealth distribution

Time Discounting, Savings Behavior, and Wealth Inequality. Thomas Epper, Ernst Fehr, Helga Fehr-Duda, Claus Thustrup Kreiner, David D. Lassen, Søren Leth-Petersen, Gregers Nytoft-Rasmussen. AEA Wealth Inequality & Wealth Taxation Paper Session Jan 2019,

Abstract: The distribution of wealth in society is very unequal and has important economic and political consequences. According to standard life-cycle savings theory, differences in time discounting behavior across individuals can play an important role for their position in the wealth distribution. Empirical testing of this hypothesis has been difficult because of serious data limitations. We overcome these limitations by linking an experimental measure of time discounting for a large sample of middle-aged individuals to Danish high-quality administrative data with information about their real-life wealth over the life-cycle as well as a large number of background characteristics. The results show that individuals with relatively low time discounting are persistently positioned higher in the wealth distribution. The relationship is of the same magnitude as the association between years of education and the position in the wealth distribution, and it robustly persists after controlling for a large number of theoretically motivated confounders such as education, risk aversion, school grades, income, credit constraints, initial wealth, and parental wealth. These findings support the view that individual differences in time discounting affect individuals’ positions in the wealth distribution through the savings channel.

The increasing value of time raises the cost of commuting & exogenously increases the demand for central locations by high-skilled workers, magnified by endogenous amenity improvement

Su, Yichen, The Rising Value of Time and the Origin of Urban Gentrification (December 12, 2018).

Abstract: I estimate a spatial equilibrium model to show that the rising value of high-skilled workers' time is an important driving force behind the gentrification of American central cities. I show that the increasing value of time raises the cost of commuting and exogenously increases the demand for central locations by high-skilled workers. While change in value of time is an initial force behind gentrification, its effect is substantially magnified by endogenous amenity improvement. The model implies that welfare inequality in the recent decades increases by more than the rise in earnings inequality if the forces behind gentrification are considered.

Keywords: urban, gentrification, spatial equilibrium, value of time, neighborhood, amenities, rent, housing supply, urban revival, inequality, work hours, long-hour premium, overtime
JEL Classification: J22, R12, R2, R31, R30, R31

The Effect of Aggressive Fantasy on Subjective Well-Being: Stuck on the Train of Ruminative Thoughts, Diminishing Well-Being

Stuck on the Train of Ruminative Thoughts: The Effect of Aggressive Fantasy on Subjective Well-Being. Kai-Tak Poon, Wing-Yan Wong. Journal of Interpersonal Violence,

Abstract: Previous studies have focused almost exclusively on identifying the antecedents of aggression and violence; as such, there are virtually no experimental data about the psychological consequences of fantasizing aggressive and violent actions. The present experiment aimed to fill this significant informational void in the literature by testing whether aggressive fantasy would influence people’s rumination tendency and subjective well-being. We hypothesized that aggressive fantasy would make people more likely to ruminate, which would thereby lower their subjective well-being. To test this prediction, we recruited a sample of participants, who were adults in the United States (overall valid N = 113; 39 men; mean age = 36.27, SD = 11.27), and they were randomly assigned to either the aggressive fantasy condition or the control condition. At the beginning of the experiment, participants were asked to think of a person they despised and describe the characteristics of the despised person. Next, participants in the aggressive fantasy condition fantasized aggressive and violent actions toward the despised target, while participants in the control condition fantasized a control experience. Finally, their state rumination and subjective well-being were assessed. The results showed that, relative to participants who did not fantasize aggression, those who engaged in aggressive fantasy reported higher levels of rumination and lower levels of subjective well-being. Further analysis showed that enhanced rumination significantly mediated the effect of aggressive fantasy on subjective well-being. The present findings contribute to the literature by providing new insights into the psychological consequences of aggressive and violent responses and the underlying mechanism.

Keywords: aggressive fantasy, aggression, rumination, subjective well-being, antisocial tendency

Fetal Origins of Mental Disorders? A Negative Answer Based on Mendelian Randomization

Fetal Origins of Mental Disorders? An Answer Based on Mendelian Randomization. Subhi Arafat and Camelia C. Minică. Twin Research and Human Genetics, Volume 21, Issue 6, December 2018 , pp. 485-494,

Abstract: The Barker hypothesis states that low birth weight (BW) is associated with higher risk of adult onset diseases, including mental disorders like schizophrenia, major depressive disorder (MDD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The main criticism of this hypothesis is that evidence for it comes from observational studies. Specifically, observational evidence does not suffice for inferring causality, because the associations might reflect the effects of confounders. Mendelian randomization (MR) — a novel method that tests causality on the basis of genetic data — creates the unprecedented opportunity to probe the causality in the association between BW and mental disorders in observation studies. We used MR and summary statistics from recent large genome-wide association studies to test whether the association between BW and MDD, schizophrenia and ADHD is causal. We employed the inverse variance weighted (IVW) method in conjunction with several other approaches that are robust to possible assumption violations. MR-Egger was used to rule out horizontal pleiotropy. IVW showed that the association between BW and MDD, schizophrenia and ADHD is not causal (all p > .05). The results of all the other MR methods were similar and highly consistent. MR-Egger provided no evidence for pleiotropic effects biasing the estimates of the effects of BW on MDD (intercept = -0.004, SE = 0.005, p = .372), schizophrenia (intercept = 0.003, SE = 0.01, p = .769), or ADHD (intercept = 0.009, SE = 0.01, p = .357). Based on the current evidence, we refute the Barker hypothesis concerning the fetal origins of adult mental disorders. The discrepancy between our results and the results from observational studies may be explained by the effects of confounders in the observational studies, or by the existence of a small causal effect not detected in our study due to weak instruments. Our power analyses suggested that the upper bound for a potential causal effect of BW on mental disorders would likely not exceed an odds ratio of 1.2.