Weekly Roundup 130: A Curated Linkfest For The Smartest People On The Web

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Handpicked to satisfy your intellectual curiosity!

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Weekly Cartoon:

Via Glasbergen

Important Reads:

Why Can’t More Poor People Escape Poverty? – via New republic- In the 1990s, social psychologists developed a theory of “depletable” self-control. The idea was that an individual’s capacity for exerting willpower was finite—that exerting willpower in one area makes us less able to exert it in other areas. In 1998, researchers at Case Western Reserve University published some of the young movement’s first returns. Roy Baumeister, Ellen Bratslavsky, Mark Muraven, and Dianne Tice set up a simple experiment. They had food-deprived subjects sit at a table with two types of food on it: cookies and chocolates; and radishes. Some of the subjects were instructed to eat radishes and resist the sweets, and afterwards all were put to work on unsolvable geometric puzzles. Resisting the sweets, independent of mood, made participants give up more than twice as quickly on the geometric puzzles. Resisting temptation, the researchers found, seemed to have “produced a ‘psychic cost.’”


Two Recent Articles That Question Accounts of Influence In Social Network…I.E. The Wisdom of Crowds
- via Decision Science News- In a short span of time, two articles have emerged that question some notable claims of influence in social networks. This does seem important, so we list them here.

The Left Right Paradigm is Over: Its You vs. Corporations – via Big Picture- But my bottom line is this: If you see the world in terms of Left & Right, you really aren’t seeing the world at all . .

The Data Addiction:Just because we can collect more data doesn’t mean we should – via The Economist – Data is good. This is seen as self-evident in business today. Making data-driven decisions is imperative. Massive data sets are a badge of pride. With everything moving to digital, the proliferation of sensors, storage getting cheaper and processing power continuing to explode, the mantra has become, “collect it now and we’ll make sense of it later.” After all, more data leads to better answers, right? Not so fast! When it comes to data, collection, storage, and even processing are not where the real challenge lies. We should not make the mistake of seeing data as a technical issue. It’s a synthesis problem. That’s because information is not the scarce resource. Attention is. For this reason, we need to prioritise and curate the data we seek out. What’s more, we have to realise that some decisions can’t be based primarily in data, and embrace informed intuition in parallel with being data-driven.

Video: Gatekeepers: How Data Scientists Came to Rule the World - via Fora.tv- The era of big data presents incredible opportunities — smarter cities, stronger companies, faster medicine — but just as many challenges. Storage is scarce, systems overloaded, governments and businesses know too much. The world now contains unimaginably vast amounts of digital information, which is growing exponentially. Managed well, this data can be used to engineer new engines of economic value, unlock scientific breakthroughs, and hold politicians accountable. Managed poorly, it can cause great harm.

Video: Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite – via Fora.tv- Leading evolutionary psychologist Robert Kurzban visits the RSA to argue that there is no “I” but that instead each of us is a contentious “we”.

Video: Steven Levy: Inside Google - via Fora.Tv- Despite being one of the most successful and celebrated companies in history, Google maintains an air of mystery, and cultural myths abound. How has Google stayed innovative and cutting edge while making the transition to tech giant? What exactly happens inside the elusive Google campus? Levy took a deep dive into Google management, its products and its company culture. Join us as he shares untold stories and unpacks the mythology behind Google.

Vaclav Smil on Energy Myths - via Paul Kedrosky – Good myth-busting talk from energy guru Vaclav Smil this week about lies we tell ourselves in energy transitions.

The development of the brazilian amazon region and greenhouse gases emission: a dilemma to be faced! – via Mpra- The purpose of this work is to verify the existence of possible tradeoffs between policies direct to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) with the ones direct to foster the development of the Brazilian Amazon Region, which is one of the poorest in the country. In order to achieve this goal, this paper uses an interregional input-output (I-O) model, estimated for the Brazilian economy for the year of 2004. The I-O model is used to make a comparison between the economical and the environmental relevance of each sector in the economies of the Amazon region and the rest of Brazil. This study considers the greenhouse gases emissions not only from the economic activities by itself, but, also for the more important factor of the land-use changes. This is a fact of most importance, given that in 2005, about 60% of the Brazilian GHGs emissions were due to the land-use change in its different biomes. Moreover, in the Brazilian Amazon region, especially in the last decades, the deforestation was linked mainly to economic factors than to policies conducted by the government. The results show that the sectors with the greatest importance in terms of emissions are cattle and soybean production. Also, they are also the most prominent for the region’s economic development. This poses a dilemma that needs to be faced not only by Brazil, but also by the developed nations, as the burden of the reduction in the greenhouse gases emission in the Brazilian Amazon region cannot be only put on the poor population of the region!

Racial Segregation and the American Foreclosure Crisis - via Sagepub- The rise in subprime lending and the ensuing wave of foreclosures was partly a result of market forces that have been well-identified in the literature, but it was also a highly racialized process. We argue that residential segregation created a unique niche of minority clients who were differentially marketed risky subprime loans that were in great demand for use in mortgage-backed securities that could be sold on secondary markets. We test this argument by regressing foreclosure actions in the top 100 U.S. metropolitan areas on measures of black, Hispanic, and Asian segregation while controlling for a variety of housing market conditions, including average creditworthiness, the extent of coverage under the Community Reinvestment Act, the degree of zoning regulation, and the overall rate of subprime lending. We find that black residential dissimilarity and spatial isolation are powerful predictors of foreclosures across U.S. metropolitan areas. To isolate subprime lending as the causal mechanism through which segregation influences foreclosures, we estimate a two-stage least squares model that confirms the causal effect of black segregation on the number and rate of foreclosures across metropolitan areas. We thus conclude that segregation was an important contributing cause of the foreclosure crisis, along with overbuilding, risky lending practices, lax regulation, and the bursting of the housing price bubble.


Perspective taking combats automatic expressions of racial bias.
- via PsychNet- Five experiments investigated the hypothesis that perspective taking—actively contemplating others’ psychological experiences—attenuates automatic expressions of racial bias. Across the first 3 experiments, participants who adopted the perspective of a Black target in an initial context subsequently exhibited more positive automatic interracial evaluations, with changes in automatic evaluations mediating the effect of perspective taking on more deliberate interracial evaluations. Furthermore, unlike other bias-reduction strategies, the interracial positivity resulting from perspective taking was accompanied by increased salience of racial inequalities (Experiment 3). Perspective taking also produced stronger approach-oriented action tendencies toward Blacks (but not Whites; Experiment 4). A final experiment revealed that face-to-face interactions with perspective takers were rated more positively by Black interaction partners than were interactions with nonperspective takers—a relationship that was mediated by perspective takers’ increased approach-oriented nonverbal behaviors (as rated by objective, third-party observers). These findings indicate that perspective taking can combat automatic expressions of racial biases without simultaneously decreasing sensitivity to ongoing racial disparities.

Decision Making/ Psychology/ Risk:

Why we trust people we do not know – via Kellogg – Trust is essential to successful business interactions, but it also involves risk. A supervisor who trusts a subordinate to complete a task could lose out on a raise or promotion if the subordinate botches an important assignment. Given the stakes, it makes sense that trust develops gradually, allowing people time to assess the trustworthiness of others. But some decisions to trust are made swiftly, as in the case of investors who trusted Bernard Madoff, head of the largest Ponzi scheme in history. What causes us to trust someone we do not really know?

Do Natural Disasters Affect Trust/Trustworthiness? Evidence from the 2010 Chilean Earthquake – via AgEcon- A series of trust games were conducted in Chile to analyze whether the past 2010 earthquake affected trust and trustworthiness in rural communities. Results show that trust levels are invariant between villages affected by the earthquake and villages not affected by this shock (control group). However, we find statistical evidence that trustworthiness has diminished in areas affected by the earthquake. Results are relevant for policy regarding aid and recovery of communities affected by these types of disasters.

How & When To Make A Decision - via Intelligent Life – You have a big decision to make. Whether to put in an offer on a house, say, or change jobs. Which of the following will help you make the right choice: being in a state of sexual excitement or having a full bladder? Most likely, it is not something you have pondered. Psychologists, however, have long studied the ways that external factors such as these influence our decision-making.

Video:Anthony Greenwald on The Psychology of Blink - via The Situationist- Dr. Anthony Greenwald, professor of psychology at the University of Washington, describes his research developing the method (described in Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink) that reveals unconscious thought patterns that most people would rather not possess. Learn about these mental contents, as Dr. Greenwald demonstrates the method and describes how these patterns affect our behavior.

The Economics of Risky Health Behaviors – via policy pointers- This 163-page paper overviews the theoretical frameworks for, and empirical evidence on, the economics of risky health behaviour.

The downside of affirmations and optimism- via thoughts on thoughts- Positive self-statements are widely believed to boost mood and self-esteem, yet their effectiveness has not been demonstrated. We examined the contrary prediction that positive self-statements can be ineffective or even harmful. A survey study confirmed that people often use positive self-statements and believe them to be effective. Two experiments showed that among participants with low self-esteem, those who repeated a positive self-statement (“I’m a lovable person”) or who focused on how that statement was true felt worse than those who did not repeat the statement or who focused on how it was both true and not true. Among participants with high self-esteem, those who repeated the statement or focused on how it was true felt better than those who did not, but to a limited degree. Repeating positive self-statements may benefit certain people, but backfire for the very people who “need” them the most.

Expertise Provides Buffer Against Bias in Making Judgments – via Science Daily- Gratuities, gifts, sponsorship, product price, free samples, favors all can influence judgment and decision-making. If a person is influenced in their choice of cereal, the result is a bit of income for a manufacturer. But a lot of people can be impacted if a politician is influenced by support from a special interest; or the health of a handful of patients can be affected if a physician is influenced by gifts from drug reps.

Religion and sport: Do prayers help players? - via BBC – At the Champions League final there is likely to be evidence of faith, with players making the sign of the cross and other religious gestures. But does belief really boost sporting performance, asks Matthew Syed.

Beware of Comparison Shopping – via There Are Free Lunches- Because students focused excessively on highly variable features of the houses, they fell victim to the impact bias, overestimating how happy they would be living in the physically desirable houses and how miserable they would be living in the less desirable houses. A similar process is likely to unfold in the real estate market. Before purchasing a home, people typically attend scores of open houses and viewings, scrutinizing spec sheets for information about each property’s features.

Decision Making in Real Life - via APS- Decision making is a fundamental and ubiquitous human activity. We all do it—must do it—all day, every day, and we struggle valiantly to do it well. It is therefore unsurprising that decision making is subjected to intense scrutiny in serious scholarship and consequential practical affairs, be they personal, professional, or public. What is surprising, though, is how narrowly those of us in psychology have often labeled, construed, and studied decision making relative to how the behavior actually occurs in real life. For the past couple of decades and more, Yates and his collaborators have sought to encourage and contribute to scholarship that yields a more complete and accurate depiction of how people decide in circumstances that matter to them and to those around them. In this talk, he will describe, illustrate, and rationalize the resulting recasting of human decision processes—which he often describe as the “cardinal decision issue perspective”—including its implications for specific things that people can do in order to decide and therefore live better.

The Iron Cage: Ugly, Uncool, and Unfashionable - via Sage – Historical studies reveal how organizational markets supplied artifacts that became fashionable because they met not only consumers’ cultural tastes, but also their technological preferences. This article calls such artifacts cultural-technological fusions. The digital mode of production tends to generate more types of fashionable fusions, which replace each other at a growing rate, and travel increasingly swiftly across consumers globally. These changes in fashion markets mandate a revised theory of fashion bearing on the organizational production of digital culture-technology fusions and on the characteristics of fusions so produced. This article’s theory describes digital production processes enabling fusion’s rapid visualization, creation, and awareness among global consumers, production processes that create or reinforce three types of fusions: ‘beautiful technologies’, that is technologies rendered aesthetic; ‘efficient beauties’, that is aesthetic artifacts rendered technologically efficient; ‘concoctions’, that is new technologies fused with new cultural tastes. Finally, the theory discusses the novel characteristics of the market supply and consumption of fashionable fusions.

Size Matters – When it Comes to Lies - via Konstanz – A small lie appears trivial but it obviously violates moral commandments. We analyze whether the preference for others’ truth telling is absolute or depends on the size of a lie. In a laboratory experiment we compare punishment for different sizes of lies controlling for the resulting economic harm. We find that people are sensitive to the size of a lie and that this behavioral pattern is driven by honest people. People who lie themselves punish softly in any context.

Progressive’s Snapshot: The behavioral economics of PAYD auto insurance – via Nudge Blog- On the industry side, Progressive has been one of the most aggressive innovators with PAYD insurance. It first began offering a voluntary PAYD program called MyRate in six states in 2008. Three years later, thanks to inexpensive, if not quite cheap wireless technology, the idea is now available nationwide through an initiative called Snapshot. Progressive gives a discount to policyholders based on information about their driving habits collected over a month-long period. Drivers put a sophisticated little tracking device in their cars for 30-days. At the end of the month, certain “good drivers” may be eligible for a discount of up to 30 percent.


Do narcissists realize what others think about their egotistical self-image.
- via MindHacks- Results bring 3 surprising conclusions about narcissists: (a) they understand that others see them less positively than they see themselves (i.e., their meta-perceptions are less biased than are their self-perceptions), (b) they have some insight into the fact that they make positive first impressions that deteriorate over time, and (c) they have insight into their narcissistic personality (e.g., they describe themselves as arrogant). These findings shed light on some of the psychological mechanisms underlying narcissism.

Biased allocation of faces to social categories. – via PsychNet- Three studies show that social categorization is biased at the level of category allocation. In all studies, participants categorized faces. In Studies 1 and 2, participants overallocated faces with criminal features—a stereotypical negative trait—to the stigmatized Moroccan category, especially if they were prejudiced. On the contrary, the stereotype-irrelevant negative trait stupid did not lead to overallocation to the Moroccan category. In Study 3, using the stigmatized category homosexual, the previously used negative trait criminal—irrelevant to the homosexual stereotype—did not lead to overallocation, but the stereotype-relevant positive trait femininity did. These results demonstrate that normative fit is higher for faces with stereotype-relevant features regardless of valence. Moreover, individual differences in implicit prejudice predicted the extent to which stereotype-relevant traits elicited overallocation: Whereas more negatively prejudiced people showed greater overallocation of faces associated with negative stereotype-relevant traits, they showed less overallocation of faces associated with positive stereotype-relevant traits. These results support our normative fit hypothesis: In general, normative fit is better for faces with stereotypical features. Moreover, normative fit is enhanced for prejudiced individuals when these features are evaluatively congruent. Social categorization thus may be biased in itself.


“Comfort Food” Fulfills the Need to Belong
– via Sagepub – Theories of social surrogacy and embodied cognition assume that cognitive associations with nonhuman stimuli can be affectively charged. In the current research, we examined whether the “comfort” of comfort foods comes from affective associations with relationships. Two experiments support the hypotheses that comfort foods are associated with relationships and alleviate loneliness. Experiment 1 found that the consumption of comfort foods automatically activates relationship-related concepts. Experiment 2 found that comfort foods buffer against belongingness threats in people who already have positive associations with relationships (i.e., are secure in attachment style). Implications for social surrogacy, need to belong, embodied cognition, and eating behavior are discussed.

Exploiting the Wisdom of Others to Make Better Decisions: Suspending Judgment Reduces Egocentrism and Increases Accuracy - via Wiley- Although decision makers often consult other people’s opinions to improve their decisions, they fail to do so optimally. One main obstacle to incorporating others’ opinions efficiently is one’s own opinion. We theorize that decision makers could improve their performance by suspending their own judgment. In three studies, participants used others’ opinions to estimate uncertain quantities (the caloric value of foods). In the full-view condition, participants could form independent estimates prior to receiving others’ opinions, whereas participants in the blindfold condition could not form prior opinions. We obtained an intriguing blindfold effect. In all studies, the blindfolded participants provided more accurate estimates than did the full-view participants. Several policy-capturing measures indicated that the advantage of the blindfolded participants was due to their unbiased weighting of others’ opinions. The full-view participants, in contrast, adhered to their prior opinion and thus failed to exploit the information contained in others’ opinions. Moreover, in all three studies, the blindfolded participants were not cognizant of their advantage and expressed less confidence in their estimates than did the full-view participants. The results are discussed in relation to theories of opinion revision and group decision making.

Risk, probability, and how our brains are easily misled - via Ars Technica- The World Science Festival’s panel on Probability and Risk started out in an unusual manner: MIT’s Josh Tennenbaum strode onto a stage and flipped a coin five times, claiming he was psychically broadcasting each result to the audience. The audience dutifully wrote down the results they thought he had seen on note cards, and handed them in when the experiment was over. Towards the end of the program, he announced there were low odds that even one person in the audience had guessed the right order of results. When he announced them, however, about a dozen people raised their hands, saying that was what they had written down.


The Effect of Cognitive Ability on Wealth
- via Sagepub- Traditional economic theories stress the relevance of political, institutional, geographic, and historical factors for economic growth. In contrast, human-capital theories suggest that peoples’ competences, mediated by technological progress, are the deciding factor in a nation’s wealth. Using three large-scale assessments, we calculated cognitive-competence sums for the mean and for upper- and lower-level groups for 90 countries and compared the influence of each group’s intellectual ability on gross domestic product. In our cross-national analyses, we applied different statistical methods (path analyses, bootstrapping) and measures developed by different research groups to various country samples and historical periods. Our results underscore the decisive relevance of cognitive ability—particularly of an intellectual class with high cognitive ability and accomplishments in science, technology, engineering, and math—for national wealth. Furthermore, this group’s cognitive ability predicts the quality of economic and political institutions, which further determines the economic affluence of the nation. Cognitive resources enable the evolution of capitalism and the rise of wealth.

Religious Experiences Shrink Part of the Brain - via SciAm- Religious factors and hippocampal atrophy in late life,” by Amy Owen and colleagues at Duke University represents an important advance in our growing understanding of the relationship between the brain and religion. The study, published March 30 in PLoS One, showed greater atrophy in the hippocampus in individuals who identify with specific religious groups as well as those with no religious affiliation. It is a surprising result, given that many prior studies have shown religion to have potentially beneficial effects on brain function, anxiety, and depression.

Tim Harford: In praise of pragmatism - via The Independent -What’s to dislike about pragmatism? Nothing. But here’s the problem: we pay lip service to the concept, but in practice we dislike pragmatism. We don’t vote for genuinely pragmatic politicians. We don’t invest in pragmatic businesses. The truth is that making pragmatism work requires effort, embarrassment, and compromise. We don’t seem to be willing to pay what it costs. Because the pragmatist tries to take each situation on its own merits and figure out a sensible way forward, pragmatism tends to look hesitant, messy, and prone to error. The ideologue, whether a left winger or a right winger, a corporate visionary or a pub philosopher, looks decisive in comparison. Ideology always offers a neat answer, whether through reference to Karl Marx, Milton Friedman or the latest corporate mission statement. The fact that the answer may simply be wrong is irrelevant to the dogmatist, because it needs no testing.

In Praise of Vagueness: Malleability of Vague Information as a Performance Booster – via Sagepub- Is the eternal quest for precise information always worthwhile? Our research suggests that, at times, vagueness has its merits. Previous research has demonstrated that people prefer precise information over vague information because it gives them a sense of security and makes their environments more predictable. However, we show that the fuzzy boundaries afforded by vague information can actually help individuals perform better than can precise information. We document these findings across two laboratory studies and one quasi–field study that involved different performance-related contexts (mental acuity, physical strength, and weight loss). We argue that the malleability of vague information allows people to interpret it in the manner they desire, so that they can generate positive response expectancies and, thereby, perform better. The rigidity of precise information discourages desirable interpretations. Hence, on certain occasions, precise information is not as helpful as vague information in boosting performance.

Why Happiness? an interview with co-founder of Action for Happiness - via Open Democracy – Much of what shapes happiness has nothing to do with politics and political economy, and much of what’s on the Action for Happiness website is about things you can do in our own life, or in the life of your school, your workplace or your community. But anyone concerned with these issues sooner or later has to engage with the broader systemic issues: the available evidence tells us that people are more likely to be happy if they have rights and freedoms; if they have prosperity; and if they live in reasonably equal societies. But we then enter territory where the choices aren’t so clear cut. A very good and difficult contemporary example is public spending cuts. If you’re a town or a city, and you’re having to cut your spending by 5 or 10%, should you cut 5 or 10% of the jobs or 5 or 10% of the pay The evidence on happiness suggests that its probably better to cut the pay than the jobs but that debate isn’t happening in the UK, though it has to some extent in Ireland and Greece. Or to take a very different example: should you give a much greater weight to the needs and claims of people suffering from mental illnesses?

How happy are the super-wealthy? - via Bakadesuyo- The subjective well-being of very wealthy persons was compared with that of a control group who lived in the same geographical area. One hundred persons from Forbes list of wealthiest Americans were queried, as well as 100 control persons selected from telephone directories. The 49 wealthy respondents reported average levels of subjective well-being which were higher than the 62 control group respondents and any subgroup of respondents in a national sample. However, there were unhappy wealthy people and the average level of this group was only modestly higher than for other groups. None of the respondents believed that money is a major source of happiness. When the major sources of happiness mentioned by the two groups were coded for Maslow’s needs, it was found that the wealthy group more often mentioned self-esteem and self-actualization and less frequently mentioned physiological and security needs.

Higher Order Risk Attitudes, Demographics, and Financial Decisions- via UVT – We conduct an experiment to study the prevalence of the higher order risk attitudes of prudence and temperance, in a large demographically representative sample, as well as in a sample of undergraduate students. Participants make pairwise choices between lotteries of the form proposed by Eeckhoudt and Schlesinger (2006). The choices in these lotteries isolate prudent from imprudent, and temperate from intemperate, behavior. We relate individuals’ risk aversion, prudence, and temperance levels to demographics and financial decisions. We observe that the majority of individuals’ decisions are consistent with risk aversion, prudence, and temperance, in both the student and the demographically representative sample. An individual’s level of prudence is predictive of his wealth, saving, and borrowing behavior outside of the experiment, while temperance predicts the riskiness of portfolio choices. Our findings suggest that the coefficient of relative prudence for a representative individual is approximately equal to two.

Heuristics: The foundations of adaptive behavior - via Decisions Science News- Based on the work of Nobel laureate Herbert Simon and with the help of colleagues around the world, the Adaptive Behavior and Cognition (ABC) Group at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin has developed a research program on simple heuristics, also known as fast and frugal heuristics. In the social sciences, heuristics have been believed to be generally inferior to complex methods for inference, or even irrational.

Banking on a Bad Bet: Probability Matching in Risky Choice Is Linked to Expectation Generation – via Sagepub- Probability matching is the tendency to match choice probabilities to outcome probabilities in a binary prediction task. This tendency is a long-standing puzzle in the study of decision making under risk and uncertainty, because always predicting the more probable outcome across a series of trials (maximizing) would yield greater predictive accuracy and payoffs. In three experiments, we tied the predominance of probability matching over maximizing to a generally adaptive cognitive operation that generates expectations regarding the aggregate outcomes of an upcoming sequence of events. Under conditions designed to diminish the generation or perceived applicability of such expectations, we found that the frequency of probability-matching behavior dropped substantially and maximizing became the norm.

Gambling-Related Cognitive Biases and Pathological Gambling Among Youths, Young Adults, and Mature Adults in Chinese Societies – via Springer- This study investigated the extent to which gambling-related cognitive biases would associate with various levels of gambling pathology among 2,835 youths, 934 young adults, and 162 mature adults in Chinese societies. Results showed that gambling cognitive biases, especially biases in perceived inability to stop gambling and positive gambling expectancy, were salient correlates of pathological gambling across the three age cohorts. Analyses of variances on total cognitive biases also showed a gambling pathology main effect and an age cohort × gambling pathology 2-way interaction effect. It was noted that the probable pathological gambling group had greater cognitive biases than the probable problem gambling group, which in turn had greater cognitive biases than the non-problem gambling group. In the non-problem gambling group, mature adults had greater cognitive biases than youths and young adults, but this pattern was reversed in the probable problem gambling group. In the probable pathological gambling group, youths had greater cognitive biases than young and mature adults. Specific categories of cognitive biases also varied according to gender and gambling pathology. While men as compared to women in the non-problem and probable problem gambling groups reported a greater bias in their perceived inability to stop gambling, no significant gender difference in this bias was found in the probable pathological gambling group. Men generally had greater perceived gambling expectancy bias than women.


Deceiving and Informing: The Risky Business of Risk Perception
- via Sagepub- Uncertainty is a fundamental experience in human life, and medical decisions are no exception. This will not surprise readers of Medical Decision Making. The communication of risk information is a crucial activity in medicine, as risk information informs the judgments and recommendations of physicians as well as the decisions of patients. Risk communication, however, is complicated not only by the need to express uncertainty effectively, efficiently, and accurately but also by the aim to receive and perceive these communications to equitably enable consistent, coherent, and useful action.

Beware Big Bad Novelties - via Overcoming Bias- Individuals in new marriages were interviewed separately about their ongoing stressful experiences, and their own appraisals of those experiences were compared with those of the interviewers. … Spouses’ tendencies to form positively biased appraisals of their stressful experiences predicted fewer depressive symptoms over the subsequent 4 years among individuals judged to be facing relatively mild experiences but more depressive symptoms among individuals judged to be facing relatively severe experiences. … These effects were mediated by changes in those experiences, such that the interaction between the tendency to form positively biased appraisals of stressful experiences and the objectively rated severity of initial levels of those experiences directly predicted changes in those experiences, which in turn accounted for changes in depressive symptoms.

Self-Regulation of Priming Effects on Behavior - via Sagepub- In three experiments, we tested whether people can protect their ongoing goal pursuits from antagonistic priming effects by using if-then plans (i.e., implementation intentions). In Experiment 1, concept priming did not influence lexical decision time for a critical stimulus when participants had formed if-then plans to make fast responses to that stimulus. In Experiment 2, participants who were primed with a prosocial goal allowed a confederate who asked for help to interrupt their work on a focal task for a longer time if they had merely formed goal intentions to perform well than if they had also formed implementation intentions for concentrating on the task. In Experiment 3, priming the goal of being fast increased driving speed and errors for participants who had formed mere goal intentions to drive only as fast as safety allowed or who had formed no goal intentions, whereas the driving of participants who had formed such goal intentions as well as implementation intentions showed no such priming effects. Our findings indicate that implementation intentions are an effective self-regulatory tool for shielding actions from disruptive concept- or goal-priming effects.

Being Bilingual Is Good for Your Brain - via Good- Looking for a reason to splurge on some Rosetta Stone DVDs? It turns out that being bilingual is actually really good for your brain. For the past 40 years cognitive neuroscientist Ellen Bialystok has studied the effects of knowing two languages on the mind. It turns out that all that translating back and forth in your head is some serious exercise for the brain’s synapses.

Video Primer On Group Influence- Via The Situationist -

The Ease-of-Processing Heuristic and the Stability Bias – via Sagepub- Judgments about memory are essential in promoting knowledge; they help identify trustworthy memories and predict what information will be retained in the future. In the three experiments reported here, we investigated the mechanisms underlying predictions about memory. In Experiments 1 and 2, single words were presented once or multiple times, in large or small type. There was a double dissociation between actual memory and predicted memory: Type size affected predicted but not actual memory, and future study opportunities affected actual memory but scarcely affected predicted memory. The results of Experiment 3 suggest that beliefs and judgments are largely independent, and neither consistently resembles actual memory. Participants’ underestimation of future learning—a stability bias—stemmed from an overreliance on their current memory state in making predictions about future memory states. The overreliance on type size highlights the fundamental importance of the ease-of-processing heuristic: Information that is easy to process is judged to have been learned well.

Attention And Awareness Aren’t The Same - via Med news Today- Paying attention to something and being aware of it seem like the same thing -they both involve somehow knowing the thing is there. However, a new study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that these are actually separate; your brain can pay attention to something without you being aware that it’s there.

The motivation to diet in young women: Fear is stronger than hope - via Wiley- This research examined the relative impact of a hoped-for, thin body and a feared, overweight body on weight-loss dieting (WLD) motivation. We hypothesised that the women most motivated to engage in WLD would report a higher similarity to, and a higher cognitive availability of, a feared, overweight body. In study 1, WLD motivation was operationalized as WLD intention and in study 2 as a food choice (chocolate bar versus low-fat snack bar). As expected, those most similar to the feared body and who had a highly available overweight body had the greatest intention to engage in WLD, and were more likely to choose a low-fat snack over a chocolate bar. The implications of our findings for future research as well as the development of eating pathology in college women are discussed

Is gossip power? The inverse relationships between gossip, power, and likability - via Wiley- Despite widespread conjecture regarding the functions and consequences of gossip, little empirical attention has investigated how gossipers are perceived by others. In the present study, 128 individuals were asked to think about a person who either frequently or rarely discussed others while not in their presence. Gender of the target and valence of the gossip were also manipulated. High-frequency gossipers were perceived as less powerful and were liked less than low-frequency gossipers, and those who gossiped negatively were liked less than those who gossiped positively. High-frequency negative gossipers emerged as the least powerful and least likable targets. These results are discussed in relation to the transfer of attitudes recursively effect.


Predicting alternative strategies for preserving a belief in a just world: The case of repressive coping style
- via Sagepub- Researchers suggest that observers of innocent suffering will negatively evaluate the victim as a strategy for maintaining their belief in a just world. We propose an alternative class of strategies and test whether individual differences in repressive coping style predict the type of strategy people will use. In the first two studies, we exposed repressors versus nonrepressors to victims whose suffering should pose a high versus low threat to the need to believe in a just world. Repressors had a greater tendency to positively reappraise the high threat victim’s suffering. Nonrepressors had a greater tendency to negatively evaluate the high threat victim. A third study replicated the results for the high threat conditions and suggested that repressors’ positive reappraisal is not because of a tendency to minimize suffering. Our research (i) demonstrates a class of strategies for preserving the belief in a just world other than negatively evaluating the victim and (ii) is among the first to examine directly an individual difference predictor of alternative just-world preservation strategies.

A theoretical exploration of the causes and consequences of religious hypocrisy - via Sage – This paper offers a first step in a theory of religious hypocrisy. Religious hypocrisy is shown to be a rational strategy at the individual level through which the individual maximizes his/her religious gain by accessing religious rewards and minimizing the costs through selective non-compliance to the religion’s objective commitments. The pervasiveness of religious hypocrisy is argued to be a result of group level characteristics, namely the extensiveness of the religious group’s objective commitments. The level of objective hypocrisy can be moderated through variation in the members’ dependence on the group and the group’s capacity to control its members. Religious hypocrisy is a maximizing behavior; however, it is not costless and it can lead to the experience of moral dissonance. This dissonance can have group level outcomes including decline due to exit and secularization.

Fast lemons and intuitive beliefs - via Cognition & Culture- Believing in things that don’t really make sense and without any apparent reason seems, in that respect, not specific to the religious and spiritual domain. But are beliefs in the fastness of lemons, and in bright violins, of the same kind as beliefs in the Holy Trinity or in the spirits of the trees?

Enraptured with Sociology - Everyday Sociology Blog- Emile Durkheim has a lot to say about religion, and the most important of his ideas is that the religious structures that we build in society offer to us a place to glean meaning and create solidarity. Churches, temples and other religious sites give us a place to gather and share common meanings, to reinforce the bonds that hold us together. The services, Sunday schools, rites, and calls to prayer give us behaviors that pull us together every day and in special situations to learn and reinforce the customs, courtesies, and tenets of belief. The symbols used in religious rituals, including those we wear as jewelry or other adornments (if allowed by our religion) marks us as members of a group so that we may be noticed as tied to that group, help others know how to interact with us, and reinforce, again, our bonds with that group.

What’s Wrong With Stating The Obvious? – via Social psyche Eye- During a recent visit with my boyfriend’s mother, she asked me the following question: So, what exactly are you researching for your PhD? As a PhD student, I am quite used to answering this question and replied with a generic response about my investigation into the role non-native accents play in the relationship between native and non-native speakers. She asked me a few more questions and then looked at me quizzically: “Isn’t a lot of what you are researching pretty obvious?” she asked. “Why are people funding you to do research about something we already know?”

Entrepreneurship/ Finance/ Investing:

Herding is detrimental in the world of investment - via Finance Professor – “Herding, which in a biological sense is the tendency for some species to seek safety in numbers, is easy to understand from an evolutionary perspective. Being part of a group and taking cues from others reduced the risk of falling prey to a predator on the Serengeti for example, whilst simultaneously increasing the odds of a successful hunt for meat. Furthermore, imitation of others was a successful strategy that enabled the rapid transmission of good ideas throughout a group of humans, while monitoring the actions of others also yielded important information about resource availability and mating potential.

Doing Business in Argentina: A Constant Feeling of Crisis - via Inc- Think the U.S. economy feels shaky? Try doing business in Argentina, where corruption is the norm, regulations are absurd, inflation is rampant, and financial crises are a dime a dozen (11 cents next month).

Global Analysis of Percentage of families with at least $1 million USD in investible assets – via Information Processing-

Escaping the Clutches of the Financial Markets - via Spiegel – In today’s Europe, the people are no longer in control. Instead, politicians have become slaves to financial institutions and the markets. We are partly to blame — and changes are urgently needed to nurse European democracy back to health.

Eric Schmidt Is a Surprisingly Worried Man – via Tech Crunch- The talk didn’t seem to focus on all that Schmidt had accomplished, or Google’s still-powerful role as the second most highly valued member of the big four consumer technology companies as he called them, Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook. Instead, it heavily dwelt on his failures. He repeatedly fell on his sword about missing the social/ identity revolution. He said four years ago he wrote memos about it, but did nothing about the memos he wrote. “I clearly knew I had to do something and I failed to do it,” he said. When asked why he responeded he was “busy, but the CEO should take responsibility and I screwed up.”

Did SocGen Bet Against Its Own Share Price?
– via NYT- Thanks to leaks to The Financial Times regarding Libya’s sovereign wealth fund, we now know that large financial institutions sold the Libyans numerous financial derivatives. I find it more interesting to learn what was sold by one French bank.

From a “normal recession” to the “Great Depression”: finding the turning point in Chicago bank portfolios, 1923-1933 - via Eprints- This dissertation analyses the long-term behaviour of bank financial ratios from 1923 to 1933, focusing on a population of 193 Chicago state banks. These banks are divided into earlier and later failure cohorts. The main conclusion is that a turning point in banks’ vulnerability is identifiable before the first banking crises, between the end of 1928 and June 1930. A second, related conclusion is that this upsurge in vulnerability (as expressed by such variables as retained earnings and other real estate) is made even more significant when considering banks’ behaviour in the preceding decade. In almost all cases earlier failures behaved more riskily in the 1920s, which explains their earlier and higher vulnerability at the start of the depression.

We’re Halfway to a Lost Decade - via Freakonomics – Our current slump began a lot earlier than you think. Which means that we’re half way to a lost decade.


When Overconfident Traders Meet Feedback Traders
– via Finance Professor- “…model in which overconfident market participants and rational speculators trade against trend-chasers. We show that the growth and the burst of a financial bubble stem from positive feedback trading. However, the presence of overconfident traders and the risk aversion of the informed speculators enhance the strength of bubbles (creation and burst). The positive feedback trading enhances the negative serial correlation of prices and the volatility of prices. We show that positive feedback traders destabilize prices more than their overconfident opponents. Generally, overconfidence increases the volatility of prices and worsens the market efficiency.”

Taco Bell and the Golden Age of Drive-Thru - via Business Week- Operational innovations at restaurants like Taco Bell rival those at any factory in the world. A view from the drive-thru window at how they do it Drive-thru is the operational heart of the fast-food industry, as central to a brand like Taco Bell as the kitchen itself, maybe more so. According to the National Restaurant Assn., the fast-food industry will do $168 billion in sales for 2011, and about 70 percent of that will come in through drive-thru windows. The technology deployed at order stations and pick-up windows has evolved to meet that demand. Every step is measured, every movement calculated, every word scripted. Taco Bell, with more than 5,600 locations in the U.S., currently operates some of the fastest and most accurate drive-thru windows in the industry, at least according to QSR magazine’s last survey, in 2009, though for years they lagged. The system is the result of a 15-year-plus focus on the window as the core of the business. Taco Bell’s pride in moving from the bottom of the pack to near the top is also part of the reason it allowed a journalist, unsupervised by public relations staff, to work the line.


Why privatisation is not the panacea for Greece
- via Voxeu- How should Greece try to reduce its debt? Some say Greece should privatise some of its ports and tourist hotspots. While on paper such a move might significantly reduce the debt, this column argues that these calculations rely on some shaky assumptions. Such a sale could make Greece worse off overall.

Preventing the Next Financial Crisis – via HLS – We have weathered the worst of the financial crisis of 2008-9. Time for renewed optimism? Unfortunately not. The next financial crisis is already programmed. It’s somewhat like an earthquake in Southern California. We cannot predict exactly when it will happen, but we know that it will. Yet unlike earthquakes, financial crises are man-made. They need not happen. They happen because we allow them to happen. We could take many measures to reduce their frequency and depths, but we fail to do so.

The Eclectic Mix:

How I Failed, Failed, and Finally Succeeded at Learning How to Code - The Atlantic- When Colin Hughes was about eleven years old his parents brought home a rather strange toy. It wasn’t colorful or cartoonish; it didn’t seem to have any lasers or wheels or flashing lights; the box it came in was decorated, not with the bust of a supervillain or gleaming protagonist, but bulleted text and a picture of a QWERTY keyboard. It called itself the “ORIC-1 Micro Computer.” The package included two cassette tapes, a few cords and a 130-page programming manual.


Industrial espionage: Spying rife as web adds to risks
- via Financial Times- With a multibillion-dollar research and development budget and a leading position in the computer chip sector, Intel has been the target of constant industrial espionage efforts. However, methods have evolved over the years.

Video- Where the Wired Things Are: A Day in the Life of a Modern Family - Via Mit World- In her surveys of hundreds of thousands of families, Van Petten chronicles how both parents and children increasingly integrate technologies into their day. She offers a 24-hour cycle, starting with iPod alarms awakening everyone, morning texting, iKibble tracking the dog’s meals, and the family online management system that send chores and pickup times to kids’ phones during the day. After school, mom makes playdates using Red Rover appointment software, while her youngest draws on the iPad. Older kids take up educational videos and software, or seek homework help on YouTube. High school age children use special apps for SAT prep, or Tigertext — a system that automatically deletes texts from sender’s and receiver’s phones, and the answer to “snooping parents.” There are fights at dinner over tweeting at the table. After dinner, there may actually be family time spent together playing Wii or Kinect, or watching movies. Van Petten recommends RunPee, an app “that tells you the best time to pee during a movie so you only miss the boring parts.” Bedtime may be delayed by arguments over turning off devices, or kissing daddy goodnight via Skype (he’s on away on business).

Launching Into Unethical Behavior: Lessons from the Challenger Disaster - via Freakonomics- An examination of this disaster through a modern day “behavioral ethics” lens reveals a troubling picture of an ethical minefield loaded with blind spots that are eerily similar to those plaguing contemporary organizational and political decision processes:


Why dictators of resource-rich countries muzzle the press
– via Kellogg – For any aspiring dictator, it would seem the ideal amount of freedom to give the press is none at all. An unfettered media can ferret out corruption, expose the wrongdoings of world leaders, point out failings of governmental policy, and serve as a platform for organizing uprisings and coups. But, says Georgy Egorov, an assistant professor of managerial economics and decision sciences at the Kellogg School of Management, there is a great degree of variation in freedom of the press among non-democratic nations. Some dictators silence their media with an iron fist while others grant their press a sizable amount of autonomy.


The Secret History of Boeing’s Killer Drone
- via LongForm- The bitter rivalry within the aerospace industry to produce unmanned combat aircrafts.

The Man Who Had HIV and Now Does Not
- via NY Post- Four years ago, Timothy Brown underwent an innovative procedure. Since then, test after test has found absolutely no trace of the virus in his body. The bigger miracle, though, is how his case has experts again believing they just might find a cure for AIDS.

Sarcasm Boosts Creativity? Yeah, Right. - via Miller MC Cune- Newly published research from Israel suggests this blow-your-stack strategy can produce the desired results — but only when workers are performing relatively simple tasks. If their job requires creative problem-solving, the catalyst you crave may be caustic contempt.

Obesity — Not Aging — Balloons Health Care Costs - via Miller McCune- Contrary to popular belief, people who live longer are healthier and have fewer medical bills. Obese people, however, are living longer with health care costs increasing at an alarming rate. So efforts to prolong vitality are not, in themselves, an economic Frankenstein.

How High-Speed Rail Died in Texas, Thrived in Spain - via Miller McCune- In the late 1980s, both Texas and Spain proposed high-speed rail systems: Texas walked away from the idea, while Spain leapt in a little too exuberantly.

Britain’s Not Getting More Mentally Ill - via NeuroSkeptic- The headline finding: there was no cohort effect, implying that rates of mental illness aren’t changing. There was a strong age effect: in men, rates peak at about age 50; in women the data is rather messy but in general the rate is flat up to age 50 and then it falls off, like in men. But there’s no evidence that those born recently are at higher risk.

Reducing relative poverty – via Consider The Evidence- Reducing poverty is widely viewed as a key objective of a good society. The U.K.’s Labour government set a formal poverty reduction target in the late 1990s, and the European Union recently did so as well. In the United States, public opinion surveys consistently find a solid majority saying government spends too little money on assistance to the poor.

Who Really Owns Your Photos in Social Media? – via Media Shift- Twitter CEO Dick Costolo announced June 1 that the company was partnering with Photobucket to make it easy to share photos at Twitter.com. With a “Twitter native photo-sharing experience,” he said, “users will own their own rights to their photos.” The implication? That this might not be the case with third-party services.

Infographics:

15 Stunning Public Health Infographics – I really recommend looking at these!

STD Infographic- Via Infographic Showcase

How Gas Prices Affect Business Consumers – via Good


About Miguel Barbosa

I run this site.

08. June 2005 by Miguel Barbosa
Categories: Weekly Roundups | 2 comments

Comments (2)

  1. Really exceptional job as always, but this issue blew me away in particular (in terms of how much I learned).

    Great job as always. Its literally the best thing I read on many weeks (and I read alot of stuff)

    Hope things are going well for you.

  2. Pingback: Absence makes the linkfest grow stronger | Abnormal Returns

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