Journal Club is an initiative by BELSS. We meet every week to discuss papers in the social sciences, such as behavioral economics, management, marketing, psychology, etc. Typically the papers are experimental but do not need to be. Every week a different paper is assigned and discussed. Members can also present their own research projects to get feedback from the group.
Who Can Attend? Everybody is welcome to join us!
Where? Room 4-E4-SR03
When? Every Wednesday from 5pm to 6 pm
No journal club this week! We'll be back next week.
Discussion paper: Clark, C. J., Graso, M., Redstone, I., & Tetlock, P. E. (2023). Harm hypervigilance in public reactions to scientific evidence. Psychological Science, 34(7), 834-848.
When: Wednesday 29 November at 5pm
Two preregistered studies from two different platforms with representative U.S. adult samples (N = 1,865) tested the harm-hypervigilance hypothesis in risk assessments of controversial behavioral science. As expected, across six sets of scientific findings, people consistently overestimated others’ harmful reactions (medium to large average effect sizes) and underestimated helpful ones, even when incentivized for accuracy. Additional analyses found that (a) harm overestimations were associated with support for censoring science, (b) people who were more offended by scientific findings reported greater difficulty understanding them, and (c) evidence was moderately consistent for an association between more conservative ideology and harm overestimations. These findings are particularly relevant because journals have begun evaluating potential downstream harms of scientific findings. We discuss implications of our work and invite scholars to develop rigorous tests of (a) the social pressures that lead science astray and (b) the actual costs and benefits of publishing or not publishing potentially controversial conclusions.
Discussion paper: Novoa, G., Echelbarger, M., Gelman, A., & Gelman, S. A. (2023). Generically partisan: Polarization in political communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 120(47), e2309361120.
When: Wednesday 22 November at 5pm
American political parties continue to grow more polarized, but the extent of ideological polarization among the public is much less than the extent of perceived polarization (what the ideological gap is believed to be). Perceived polarization is concerning because of its link to interparty hostility, but it remains unclear what drives this phenomenon. We propose that a tendency for individuals to form broad generalizations about groups on the basis of inconsistent evidence may be partly responsible. We study this tendency by measuring the interpretation, endorsement, and recall of category-referring statements, also known as generics (e.g., “Democrats favor affirmative action”). In study 1 (n = 417), perceived polarization was substantially greater than actual polarization. Further, participants endorsed generics as long as they were true more often of the target party (e.g., Democrats favor affirmative action) than of the opposing party (e.g., Republicans favor affirmative action), even when they believed such statements to be true for well below 50% of the relevant party. Study 2 (n = 928) found that upon receiving information from political elites, people tended to recall these statements as generic, regardless of whether the original statement was generic or not. Study 3 (n = 422) found that generic statements regarding new political information led to polarized judgments and did so more than nongeneric statements. Altogether, the data indicate a tendency toward holding mental representations of political claims that exaggerate party differences. These findings suggest that the use of generic language, common in everyday speech, enables inferential errors that exacerbate perceived polarization.
Discussion paper: Protzko, J., Krosnick, J., Nelson, L. D., Nosek, B. A., Axt, J., Berent, M., ... & Schooler, J. (2020). High replicability of newly-discovered social-behavioral findings is achievable.
When: Wednesday 15 November at 5pm
Failures to replicate evidence of new discoveries have forced scientists to ask whether this unreliability is due to suboptimal implementation of methods or whether presumptively optimal methods are not, in fact, optimal. This paper reports an investigation by four coordinated laboratories of the prospective replicability of 16 novel experimental findings using rigorenhancing practices: confirmatory tests, large sample sizes, preregistration, and methodological transparency. In contrast to past systematic replication efforts that reported replication rates averaging 50%, replication attempts here produced the expected effects with significance testing (p<.05) in 86% of attempts, slightly exceeding maximum expected replicability based on observed effect sizes and sample sizes. When one lab attempted to replicate an effect discovered by another lab, the effect size in the replications was 97% that of the original study. This high replication rate justifies confidence in rigor enhancing methods to increase the replicability of new discoveries.
Discussion paper: Krefeld-Schwalb, A., Sugerman, E., & Johnson, E. J. (2022). Exposing Omitted Moderators: Explaining Differences in Treatment Effects in the Social Sciences.
When: Wednesday 8 November at 5pm
Policymakers increasingly rely on behavioral science in response to global challenges, such as climate change or global health crises. But applying behavioral science faces an important problem. Interventions exert substantially different effects across contexts and individuals. We examine this heterogeneity for different paradigms that provide the basis for many behavioral interventions. We study the paradigms across one in-person and 10 online panels with over 11000 respondents. We propose a framework of typically omitted moderators to explain this heterogeneity. The framework’s factors (Fluid Intelligence, Attentiveness, Crystallized Intelligence, and Experience) affect the effectiveness of many behavioral interventions and preference measures. The observed treatment effect depends on the distribution of moderators in each sample. Our results motivate observing these moderators and provide a theoretical and empirical framework for understanding varying effect sizes.
Discussion paper: Posner, N., Simonov, A., Mrkva, K., & Johnson, E. J. (2023). Dark defaults: How choice architecture steers political campaign donations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 120(40), e2218385120.
When: Wednesday 18 October at 5pm
In the months before the 2020 U.S. election, several political campaign websites added prechecked boxes (defaults), automatically making all donations into recurring weekly contributions unless donors unchecked them. Since these changes occurred at different times for different campaigns, we use a staggered difference-in-differences design to measure the causal effects of defaults on donors’ behavior. We estimate that defaults increased campaign donations by over $43 million while increasing requested refunds by almost $3 million. The weekly default only impacted weekly recurring donations, and not other donations, suggesting that donors may not have intended to make weekly donations. The longer defaults were displayed, the more money campaigns raised through weekly donations. Donors did not compensate by changing the amount they donated. We found that the default had a larger impact on smaller donors and on donors who had no prior experience with defaults, causing them to start more chains and donate a larger proportion of their money through weekly recurring donations.
Discussion paper: Argyle, L. P., Busby, E. C., Fulda, N., Gubler, J. R., Rytting, C., & Wingate, D. (2023). Out of one, many: Using language models to simulate human samples. Political Analysis, 31(3), 337-351.
When: Wednesday 11 October at 5pm
We propose and explore the possibility that language models can be studied as effective proxies for specific human subpopulations in social science research. Practical and research applications of artificial intelligence tools have sometimes been limited by problematic biases (such as racism or sexism), which are often treated as uniform properties of the models. We show that the “algorithmic bias” within one such tool—the GPT-3 language model—is instead both fine-grained and demographically correlated, meaning that proper conditioning will cause it to accurately emulate response distributions from a wide variety of human subgroups. We term this property algorithmic fidelity and explore its extent in GPT-3. We create “silicon samples” by conditioning the model on thousands of sociodemographic backstories from real human participants in multiple large surveys conducted in the United States. We then compare the silicon and human samples to demonstrate that the information contained in GPT-3 goes far beyond surface similarity. It is nuanced, multifaceted, and reflects the complex interplay between ideas, attitudes, and sociocultural context that characterize human attitudes. We suggest that language models with sufficient algorithmic fidelity thus constitute a novel and powerful tool to advance understanding of humans and society across a variety of disciplines.
Discussion paper: Meyer, A., & Frederick, S. (2023). The formation and revision of intuitions. Cognition, 240, 105380.
When: Wednesday 4 October at 5pm
This paper presents 59 new studies (N = 72,310) which focus primarily on the “bat and ball problem.” It documents our attempts to understand the determinants of the erroneous intuition, our exploration of ways to stimulate reflection, and our discovery that the erroneous intuition often survives whatever further reflection can be induced. Our investigation helps inform conceptions of dual process models, as “system 1” processes often appear to override or corrupt “system 2” processes. Many choose to uphold their intuition, even when directly confronted with simple arithmetic that contradicts it – especially if the intuition is approximately correct.
Discussion paper: André, Q., & Reinholtz, N. (2023). Reducing participant costs without sacrificing statistical power in consumer research: an introduction to pre-registered interim analysis designs (PRIADs). Working paper.
When: Wednesday 13 September at 5pm
The rising cost of publishing consumer behavior papers threatens to marginalize scholars from less-funded institutions. Group sequential designs, in which data is collected and tested in batches, could offer a potential remedy: They allow researchers to terminate data collection if initial support for the hypothesis is strong, while maintaining high levels of statistical power and holding false-positives to a nominal level. However, their adoption in consumer behavior research is limited, probably owing to low awareness, perceived complexity, and inadequate software support. We illuminate the logic, theoretical foundations, and benefits of group sequential designs, and introduce Pre-Registered Interim Analysis Designs (PRIADs): a practical procedure to facilitate the adoption of these designs. We outline five key design decisions for PRIADs, providing default options and guidance for each. We then provide case studies illustrating the cost-saving benefits of PRIADs for common types of studies (pre-tests, test of new novel hypotheses, and conceptual replications). Finally, we introduce a web app that allows researchers to design custom PRIADs, simulate their cost-saving potentials under different assumptions, and effortlessly generate their corresponding pre-registrations. We hope that this method can help sustain the diversity of our field by mitigating financial costs without compromising empirical standards.
Discussion paper: Neunhoeffer, Frieder, "When less is more: subscription traps and context-dependent preference reversals," working paper, (2023).
When: Wednesday 24 May at 5pm
This paper explores a novel menu effect in the context of subscriptions that violates the transitivity principle of rational choice theory. Providers often use pricing strategies in which long-term subscriptions are presented favorably compared to cheaper short-term alternatives. Given a low probability of repeated use, our experiments demonstrate that the attractiveness of the shorter subscription increases when it is reduced to single use at the same cost. This suspects that the presence of
a single-use option prompts rational evaluation based on a realistic estimate about the probability of re-using the subscription. Instead, when both alternatives represent time spans, an irrational mind may discern them along the same category with the consequence that other comparative criteria come to the fore. Two-dimensional models, underlying most behavioral theories, fail to explain this type of preference reversal. Inspired by the intuition of transaction utility and the availability heuristic, we propose a generalization of salience theory to capture the described effect.
Discussion paper: Gordon et al, "Partisan Fertility and Presidential Elections," AER Insights, (2022).
When: Wednesday 17 May at 5pm
Abstract: Changes in political leadership drive sharp changes in public policy and partisan beliefs about the future. We exploit the surprise 2016 election of Trump to identify the effects of a shift in political power on one of the most consequential household decisions: whether to have a child. Republican-leaning counties experience a sharp and persistent increase in fertility relative to Democratic counties, a shift amounting to 1.2–2.2 percent of the national fertility rate. In addition, Hispanics see fertility fall relative to non-Hispanics, especially compared to rural or evangelical Whites.
Discussion paper: Cornil, Y., Yi, S., Boegershausen, J., & Hardisty, D.J., "Testing the Digital Frontier: Opportunities and Validity Tradeoffs in Digital Quasi-Experiments," (2023), Working paper.
When: Wednesday 10 May at 5pm
Abstract: In recent years, consumer research has increasingly relied on digital quasi-experiments (DQE). DQE are studies conducted in a naturalistic online environment that typically leverage the A/B testing tool provided by digital platforms, such as Facebook or Google Ads. In contrast with online survey-based experiments, DQE allow researchers to study "real" consumer behavior (such as clicking on an ad) among large and diverse samples. A key issue of these increasingly popular studies, however, is their lack of true random assignment, limiting causal inferences. Hence, DQE expose researchers to unique tradeoffs between internal, external, and ecological validity. DQE also present idiosyncratic challenges in terms of ethics and research transparency. In this manuscript, we conduct a comprehensive review and analysis of 76 published DQE to understand how research has, so far, navigated validity tradeoffs and addressed ethics and transparency. We leverage this analysis to propose a series of forward-looking recommendations designed to help researchers maximize the usefulness of DQE while minimizing—or being cognizant of—their caveats.
Discussion paper: Davis, Derick F., "Distributions Distract: How Distributions on Attribute Filters and Other Tools Affect Consumer Judgments," Journal of Consumer Research, (2023), 49(6), 1074-1094.
When: Wednesday 3 May at 5pm
Abstract: Firms and other entities provide category-level product attribute information via attribute filters and other tools to aid consumers in filtering, evaluating, comparing, and choosing products. This research examines how displaying this information as a range with or without the distribution of values systematically affects judgments involving attribute value comparisons. Specifically, distributions draw attention away from attribute values, reducing the importance of attribute value differences. With this reduced importance, consumers are less sensitive to attribute value differences; thus, consumers evaluate individual products more positively as they seem more similar to the best available option. Likewise, wider bands of attribute values are selected when filtering product options, as the minimum and maximum values chosen seem less different. Reduced sensitivity to differences also has implications for choices involving tradeoffs between attributes. Importantly, the presence of a distribution itself is the primary driver of this effect, more so than distribution type, as the effect is largely independent of the type of distribution displayed (e.g., normal, bi-modal, skewed, uniform). Across six main and seven supplemental experiments, this research highlights a novel consideration for how consumers filter options, form preferences, and choose products. These findings have practical implications and highlight important topics for future research.
Discussion paper: Samet, Jordan, Michael G. Williamson, and Michael A. Yip, (2023), "Leveling the Playing Field: AI-Augmented Design and the Expertise Bias in Subjective Evaluations of Creative Output," Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4403556.
When: Wednesday 26 April at 5pm
Abstract: Prior research suggests that evaluators more favorably evaluate creative output produced by designers with high expertise relative to designers with low expertise, irrespective of the actual creativity of their output (hereafter, the expertise bias). We conduct multiple experiments to examine how knowledge about Artificial Intelligence(AI)’s capabilities to augment the creative design process affects the expertise bias. We find that providing this knowledge reduces the perceived exclusivity of designer domain expertise, the judgment theorized to underly the expertise bias, and mitigates the expertise bias in subjective evaluations of creative output. However, when evaluators have knowledge about AI’s capabilities, designers can reassert the perceived exclusivity of their domain expertise by refusing to utilize available AI systems during the design process, which exacerbates the expertise bias. While prior research focuses on AI’s ability to enhance creative design, we highlight that AI-augmented design can further enhance the creative process by mitigating a prevalent human bias in the subjective evaluation of creative output. We also contribute to a better understanding of evidence suggesting that some highly experienced designers refuse to utilize AI in their creative designs.
Discussion paper: Aggarwal et al. (2023), "A 2 million-person, campaign-wide field experiment shows how digital advertising affects voter turnout," Nature Human Behaviour, 1-10.
When: Wednesday 19 April at 5pm
Abstract: We present the results of a large, US$8.9 million campaign-wide field experiment, conducted among 2 million moderate- and low-information persuadable voters in five battleground states during the 2020 US presidential election. Treatment group participants were exposed to an 8-month-long advertising programme delivered via social media, designed to persuade people to vote against Donald Trump and for Joe Biden. We found no evidence that the programme increased or decreased turnout on average. We found evidence of differential turnout effects by modelled level of Trump support: the campaign increased voting among Biden leaners by 0.4 percentage points (s.e. = 0.2 pp) and decreased voting among Trump leaners by 0.3 percentage points (s.e. = 0.3 pp) for a difference in conditional average treatment effects of 0.7 points (t1,035,571 = −2.09; P = 0.036; DIC=0.7points; 95% confidence interval = −0.014 to 0). An important but exploratory finding is that the strongest differential effects appear in early voting data, which may inform future work on early campaigning in a post-COVID electoral environment. Our results indicate that differential mobilization effects of even large digital advertising campaigns in presidential elections are likely to be modest.
Discussion paper: Hmurovic, Jillian, Cait Lamberton, and Kelly Goldsmith, "Examining the Efficacy of Time Scarcity Marketing Promotions in Online Retail," Journal of Marketing Research, (2022), 60(2), 299-328.
When: Wednesday 12 April at 5pm
Abstract: Time scarcity promotions (e.g.,“40% off for a limited time”) are mainstays of online retail marketing. Although positive effectsof time scarcity promotions on consumer interest have been evidenced in the brick-and-mortar world, should retailers expectsimilarly robust effects online? The present research suggests the answer may be no. First, the authors report meta-analytic and experimental results suggesting that previously identified positive effects of time scarcity promotions observed offline may not emerge in online shopping contexts. Then, consistent with the prediction that online time scarcity promotions activate more persuasion knowledge than identical control promotions, the authors detail findings suggesting that providing retailer-exogeneous justifications for online time scarcity promotions’ time restriction (e.g., consumers’ birthdays, seasonal changes) can increase the potential of observing positive effects on consumer interest online. Further, results suggest that the positive effects of including exogenous time justification may be more likely when less time remains until the online promotion’s expiration. However, results stop short of suggesting that online time scarcity promotions will consistently yield superior outcomes compared with identical online control promotions. Therefore, the authors highlight the continued need for careful managerial use as well as further research examining the optimal translation of offline tactics to online retail.
Discussion paper: Gomila, Robin, "Logistic or Linear? Estimating Causal Effects of Experimental Treatments on Binary Outcomes Using Regression Analysis," Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, (2021), 150 (4), 700.
When: Wednesday 5 April at 5pm
Abstract: When the outcome is binary, psychologists often use nonlinear modeling strategies such as logit or probit. These strategies are often neither optimal nor justified when the objective is to estimate causal effects of experimental treatments. Researchers need to take extra steps to convert logit and probit coefficients into interpretable quantities, and when they do, these quantities often remain difficult to understand. Odds ratios, for instance, are described as obscure in many textbooks (e.g.,Gelman & Hill, 2006, p. 83). I draw on econometric theory and established statistical findings to demonstrate that linear regression is generally the best strategy to estimate causal effects of treatments on binary outcomes. Linear regression coefficients are directly interpretable in terms of probabilities and, when interaction terms or fixed effects are included, linear regression is safer. I review the Neyman-Rubin causal model, which I use to prove analytically that linear regression yields unbiased estimates of treatment effects on binary outcomes.Then, I run simulations and analyze existing data on 24,191 students from 56 middle schools (Paluck, Shepherd, & Aronow, 2013) to illustrate the effectiveness of linear regression. Based on these grounds, I recommend that psychologists use linear regression to estimate treatment effects on binary outcomes.
Discussion paper: Rakhimov, Abdurakhim, and Erik Thulin, "Knowing behavior matters doesn’t hurt: the effect of individual climate behavior messaging on green policy support," Oxford Open Climate Change, (2022), 2(1), 1–5.
When: Wednesday 29 March at 5pm
Abstract: Individual behavior change offers a large potential to curb greenhouse gas emissions. However, messaging promoting individual behavior change has been criticized as a strategy for addressing climate change due to its potential to diminish climate policy support. In a pre-registered study with a representative sample of American adults (n=1069), we found that messages recommending theadoption of high-impact individual climate behaviors, such as flying less, eating less meat and reducing food waste, and highlighting their large impact do not affect support for a carbon tax. In an exploratory analysis, we found that this messaging results in a higher intention to adopt several climate behaviors. We recommend that interventions that advocate for individual climate action be best understood as complements, rather than undermining substitutes, to broad carbon regulatory policy.
Discussion paper: Hagmann, David, Emily H. Ho, and George Lowenstein, "Nudging out support for a carbon tax," Nature Climate Change, (2019).
When: Wednesday 15 March at 5pm
Abstract: A carbon tax is widely accepted as the most effective policy for curbing carbon emissions but is controversial because it imposes costs on consumers. An alternative, ‘nudge,’ approach promises smaller benefits but with much lower costs. However, nudges aimed at reducing carbon emissions could have a pernicious indirect effect if they offer the promise of a ‘quick fix’ and thereby undermine support for policies of greater impact. Across six experiments, including one conducted with individuals involved in policymaking, we show that introducing a green energy default nudge diminishes support for a carbon tax. We propose that nudges decrease support for substantive policies by providing false hope that problems can be tackled without imposing considerable costs. Consistent with this account, we show that by minimizing the perceived economic cost of the tax and disclosing the small impact of the nudge, eliminates crowding-out without diminishing support for the nudge.
Discussion paper: Evers, Ellen R. K., Yoel Inbar, Irene Blanken, and Linda D. Oosterwijk, "When do people prefer carrots to sticks? A robust “matching effect” in policy evaluation," Management Science, 63(12), 4261-4276, (2017).
When: Wednesday 1 March at 5pm
Abstract: For a policy to succeed, it must not only be effective in changing behavior but must also be accepted by stakeholders. Here, we report seven sets of studies demonstrating strong framing effects on the acceptance of equivalent policies. Policies targeting desirable voluntary behavior are preferred when they are framed as advantaging those who act desirably (rather than disadvantaging those who do not). Conversely, policies targeting obligations are preferred when they are framed as disadvantaging those who fail to act desirably (rather than advantaging those who do). These differences in policy acceptance do not result from common causes of framing effects, such as a misunderstanding of outcomes or insufficient deliberation about the implications. Rather, the framing effects we document follow from beliefs about when punishment is and is not appropriate. We conclude with a field experiment demonstrating framing effects in a setting where policy acceptance directly affects respondents’ outcomes.
Discussion paper: Gershon, Rachel, and Ariel Fridman, "Individuals prefer to harm their own group rather than help an opposing group," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119(49), (2022).
When: Wednesday 22 February at 5pm
Abstract: Group-based conflict enacts a severe toll on society, yet the psychological factors governing behavior in group conflicts remain unclear. Past work finds that group members seek to maximize relative differences between their in-group and out-group (“in-group favoritism”) and are driven by a desire to benefit in-groups rather than harm out-groups (the “in-group love” hypothesis). This prior research studies how decision-makers approach trade-offs between two net-positive outcomes for their in-group. However, in the real world, group members often face trade-offs between net-negative options, entailing either losses to their group or gains for the opposition. Anecdotally, under such conditions, individuals may avoid supporting their opponents even if this harms their own group, seemingly inconsistent with “in-group love” or a harm minimizing strategy. Yet, to the best of our knowledge, these circumstances have not been investigated. In six pre-registered studies, we find consistent evidence that individuals prefer to harm their own group rather than provide even minimal support to an opposing group across polarized issues (abortion access, political party, gun rights). Strikingly, in an incentive-compatible experiment, individuals preferred to subtract more than three times as much from their own group rather than support an opposing group, despite believing that their in-group is more effective with funds. We find that identity concerns drive preferences in group decision-making, and individuals believe that supporting an opposing group is less value-compatible than harming their own group. Our results hold valuable insights for the psychology of decision-making in intergroup conflict as well as potential interventions for conflict resolution.
Discussion paper: Ba, Bocar A., Dean Knox, Jonathan Mummolo, and Roman Rivera, "The role of officer race and gender in police-civilian interactions in Chicago," Science, 371(6530), 696-702.
When: Wednesday 15 February at 5pm
Abstract: Diversification is a widely proposed policing reform, but its impact is difficult to assess. We used records of millions of daily patrol assignments, determined through fixed rules and preassigned rotations that mitigate self-selection, to compare the average behavior of officers of different demographic profiles working in comparable conditions. Relative to white officers, Black and Hispanic officers make far fewer stops and arrests, and they use force less often, especially against Black civilians. These effects are largest in majority-Black areas of Chicago and stem from reduced focus on enforcing low-level offenses, with greatest impact on Black civilians. Female officers also use less force than males, a result that holds within all racial groups. These results suggest that diversity reforms can improve police treatment of minority communities.
Discussion paper: Evers, Ellen R. K., Michael O'Donnell, and Yoel Inbar, "Arbitrary Fairness in Reward and Punishments," Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, (2022).
When: Wednesday 8 February at 5pm
Abstract: People have a strong preference for fairness. For many, fairness means equal reward and punishments for equal efforts and offences. However, this belief does not specify the units in which equality should be expressed. We show that people generally fail to take the interchangeability of units into account when judging and assigning fair punishments and reward. Therefore, judgments about and distributions of resources are strongly influenced by arbitrary decisions about which unit to express them in. For example, if points represent different monetary values for different recipients, people attempt to distribute money equally if money is salient but attempt to distribute points equally if points are salient. Because beliefs about fairness are a fundamental principle in many domains, the implications of these findings are broad. Essentially any distribution of outcomes can be made to appear more or less fair by changing the units these outcomes are expressed in.
Discussion paper: Evangelidis, Ioannis, and Minah Jung, "When willingness-to-pay seems irrational: The role of perceived market price," Unpublished Manuscript, (2022).
When: Tuesday 6 December at 5pm
Discussion paper: Davenport, Diag, and Yuji K. Winet, "Pivotal voting: The opportunity to tip group decisions skews juries and other voting outcomes," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119 (32), (2022).
When: Wednesday 30 November at 5pm
Abstract: Many important social and policy decisions are made by small groups of people (e.g. juries, college admissions officers, or corporate boards) with the hope that a collective process will yield better and fairer decisions. In many instances, it is possible for these groups to fail to reach a decision by not garnering a minimum number of votes (e.g. hung juries). Our research finds that pivotal voters vote to avoid such decision failure—voters who can “tip” their group into a punishment decision will be more likely to do so. This effect is distinct from well-known social pressures to simply conform with others or reach unanimity. Using observational data from Louisiana court cases, we find a sharp discontinuity in juries’ voting decisions at the threshold between indecision and conviction (Study 1). In a third-party punishment paradigm, pivotal voters were more likely to vote to punish a target than non pivotal voters, even when holding social information constant (Study 2), and adopted harsher views about the target’s deservingness of punishment (Study 3). Using vignettes, we find that pivotal voters are judged to be differentially responsible for the outcomes of their votes—those who “block” the group from reaching a punishment decision are deemed more responsible for the outcome than those who“fall in line” (Study 4). These findings provide insight into how we might improve group decision-making environments to ensure that their outcomes accurately reflect group members’ actual beliefs and not the influence of social pressures.
Discussion paper: Mastroianni, AM & Ludwin-Peery, EJ. (2022), "Things could be better". OSF.IO/BK7ZT
When: Wednesday 16 November at 5pm
Discussion paper: Smith, Stephanie M. and Ian Krajbich, "Predictions and Choices for Others: Some Insights Into How and Why They Differ," Journal of Experimental Psychology: General (2022).
When: Wednesday 9 November at 5pm
Abstract: Being able to learn another person’s preferences and choose on their behalf are important skills. However, people often do not choose what the other would choose for themselves. Over two incentive-compatible studies, we identify how and why people choose differently for others than the others would choose for themselves. Participants observed choices made by another person and then (a) predicted what this person would choose or (b) chose for them in new decisions, while we tracked their mouse movements. Participants learned noisy human preferences as easily as they learned noiseless algorithms. Moreover, participants’ predictions of what others would choose were in line with the others’ actual choices roughly 80% of the time, regardless of whether they were paid for predicting consistently with the others’ actual choices. Thus, neither difficulty in learning noisy preferences nor motivation appear to be major factors in how people choose for others. However, participants were much less consistent with their recipients’ preferences when choosing for them. Surrogates incorporated their own preferences and tried to maximize expected value. Mouse-tracking results imply that the recipient’s preferences affect the surrogate’s decision later in the choice process when choosing (vs. predicting).
Discussion paper: Nunnari, Salvatore and Massimiliano Pozzi, "Meta-Analysis of Inequality Aversion Estimates" (2022). CESifo Working Paper No. 9851
When: Wednesday 12 October at 5pm
Abstract: We conduct an interdisciplinary meta-analysis to aggregate the knowledge from empirical estimates of inequality aversion reported from 1999 to 2022. In particular, we examine 85 estimates of disadvantageous inequality aversion (or envy) and advantageous inequality aversion (or guilt) from 26 articles in economics, psychology, neuroscience and computer science that structurally estimate the Fehr and Schmidt (1999) model of social preferences. Our meta-analysis supports the presence of inequality concerns: the mean envy coefficient is 0.426 with a 95% probability that the true value lies in the interval [0.240; 0.620]; the mean guilt coefficient is 0.290 with a 95% probability that the true value lies in the interval [0.212; 0.366]. Moreover, we observe high levels of heterogeneity, both across studies and across individuals, with estimated parameters sensitive to the experimental task and the subject population.
The Human Black-Box: The Illusion of Understanding Human Better than Algorithmic Decision-Making
Discussion paper: Bonezzi, Andrea, Massimiliano Ostinelli, and Johann Melzner (2022), “The Human Black-Box: The Illusion of Understanding Human Better than Algorithmic Decision-Making,” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
When: Friday 1 April at 11:30 am
Where: 4-E4-SR03 (seminar room)
Abstract: As algorithms increasingly replace human decision-makers, concerns have been voiced about the black-box nature of algorithmic decision-making. These concerns raise an apparent paradox. In many cases, human decision-makers are just as much of a black-box as the algorithms that are meant to replace them. Yet, the inscrutability of human decision-making seems to raise fewer concerns. We suggest that one of the reasons for this paradox is that people foster an illusion of understanding human better than algorithmic decision-making, when in fact, both are black-boxes. We further propose that this occurs, at least in part, because people project their own intuitive understanding of a decision-making process more onto other humans than onto algorithms, and as a result, believe that they understand human better than algorithmic decision-making, when in fact, this is merely an illusion.
The “Equal-Opportunity Jerk
Discussion paper: Belmi, Peter, Sora Jun, and Gabrielle S. Adams (2022), "The “Equal-Opportunity Jerk” Defense: Rudeness Can Obfuscate Gender Bias," Psychological Science, 33(3), 397–411.
When: Friday 25 March at 11:30 am
Where: 4-E4-SR03 (seminar room)
Abstract: To address sexism, people must first recognize it. In this research, we identified a barrier that makes sexism hard to recognize: rudeness toward men. We found that observers judge a sexist perpetrator as less sexist if he is rude toward men. This occurs because rudeness toward men creates the illusion of gender blindness. We documented this phenomenon in five preregistered studies consisting of online adult participants and adult students from professional schools (total N = 4,663). These attributions are problematic because sexism and rudeness are not mutually exclusive. Men who hold sexist beliefs about women can be—and often are—rude toward other men. These attributions also discourage observers from holding perpetrators accountable for gender bias. Thus, rudeness toward men gives sexist perpetrators plausible deniability. It protects them and prevents the first perceptual step necessary to address sexism.
Widespread Misperceptions of Long-Term Attitude Change
Discussion paper: Mastroianni, Adam M. and Jason Dana (2022), “Widespread Misperceptions of Long-Term Attitude Change,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119(11).
When: Friday 18 March at 11:30 am
Where: 4-E4-SR03 (seminar room)
Abstract: America is embroiled in cultural wars over abortion, immigration, gun control, climate change, religion, race, gender, and everything in between. Do people know how much attitudes have shifted on these contentious issues, or even which side is winning? Two preregistered studies suggest they do not. In Study 1, we asked a nationally representative sample of participants to estimate how 51 different attitudes had changed over time and compared their estimates to actual polling data. Participants overestimated the amount of change on 29 attitudes (57%), underestimated change on 10 attitudes (20%), estimated change in the wrong direction on 10 attitudes (20%), and estimated change correctly on only two attitudes (4%). In most cases, participants did not know whether an attitude had grown to a majority or shrunk to a minority. These misperceptions had little to do with participants’ demographics or ideologies and seemed instead to arise from a stereotype that the present is far more liberal than the past. Indeed, in Study 2, participants overestimated the liberal shift on most attitudes, believing that the liberal side had gained ground that it had in fact lost (e.g., gun control), or already held (e.g., climate change), or never held (e.g., religion). In three additional preregistered studies, we found that these misperceptions could justify policies that would otherwise seem objectionable. Overall, our findings suggest that widely shared stereotypes of the past lead people to misperceive attitude change, and these misperceptions can lend legitimacy to policies that people may not actually prefer.
"Feeling the Future: The Emotional Oracle Effect
Discussion paper: Pham, Michel Tuan, Leonard Lee, and Andrew T. Stephen (2012), "Feeling the Future: The Emotional Oracle Effect," Journal of Consumer Research, 39(3), 461-77.
When: Friday 4 March at 11:30 am
Where: 4-E4-SR03 (seminar room)
Abstract: Eight studies reveal an intriguing phenomenon: individuals who have higher trust in their feelings can predict the outcomes of future events better than individuals with lower trust in their feelings. This emotional oracle effect was found across a variety of prediction domains, including (a) the 2008 US Democratic presidential nomination, (b) movie box-office success, (c) the winner of American Idol, (d) the stock market, (e) college football, and even (f) the weather. It is mostly high trust in feelings that improves prediction accuracy rather than low trust in feelings that impairs it. However, the effect occurs only among individuals who possess sufficient background knowledge about the prediction domain, and it dissipates when the prediction criterion becomes inherently unpredictable. The authors hypothesize that the effect arises because trusting one’s feelings encourages access to a “privileged window” into the vast amount of predictive information that people learn, often unconsciously, about their environments.
Construction of Preferences by Constraint Satisfaction
Discussion paper: Simon, Dan, Daniel C. Krawczyk, and Keith J. Holyoak (2004), “Construction of Preferences by Constraint Satisfaction,” Psychological Science, 15(5), 331–336.
When: Friday 25 February at 11:30 am
Where: 4-E4-SR03 (seminar room)
Abstract: Participants were given a choice between two multiattribute alternatives (job offers). Preferences for the attributes were measured before, during, and after the choices were made. We found that over the course of decision making, the preferences shifted to cohere with the choice: The attributes of the option that was eventually chosen came to be rated more favorably than they had been rated initially, while the attributes of
the rejected option received lower preference ratings than before. These coherence shifts were triggered by a single attribute that decisively favored one option (Experiment 1), and occurred spontaneously in the absence of a decisive attribute (Experiment 2). The coherence shift preceded commitment to choice. These findings favor constraint-satisfaction models of decision making.
Time to Pay Attention? Information Search Explains Amplified Framing Effects Under Time Pressure,
Discussion paper: Roberts, Ian D., Yi Yang Teoh, and Cendri A. Hutcherson (2022), “Time to Pay Attention? Information Search Explains Amplified Framing Effects Under Time Pressure,” Psychological Science, forthcoming.
When: Friday February 11 at 11:30am
Where: 4-E4-SR03 (seminar room)
Abstract: Decades of research have established the ubiquity and importance of choice biases, such as the framing effect, yet why these seemingly irrational behaviors occur remains unknown. A prominent dual-system account maintains that alternate framings bias choices because of the unchecked influence of quick, affective processes, and findings that time pressure increases the framing effect have provided compelling support. Here, we present a novel alternative account of magnified framing biases under time pressure that emphasizes shifts in early visual attention and strategic adaptations in the decision-making process. In a preregistered direct replication (N = 40 adult undergraduates), we found that time constraints produced strong shifts in visual attention toward reward-predictive cues that, when combined with truncated information search, amplified the framing effect. Our results suggest that an attention-guided, strategic information-sampling process may be sufficient to explain prior results and raise challenges for using time pressure to support some dual-system accounts.
Feelings of Culpability: Just Following Orders Versus Making the Decision Oneself
Discussion paper: Malter, Maayan S., Sonia S. Kim, and Janet Metcalfe (2021), “Feelings of Culpability: Just Following Orders Versus Making the Decision Oneself,” Psychological Science, 32(5), 635–45.
When: Thursday November 18 from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4-E4-SR02 and Online
Abstract: In five experiments (N = 1,490), participants were asked to imagine themselves as programmers of self-driving cars who had to decide how to program the car to respond in a potential accident: spare the driver or spare pedestrians. Alternatively, participants imagined that they were a mayor grappling with difficult moral dilemmas concerning COVID-19. Either they, themselves, had to decide how to program the car or which COVID-19 policy to implement (high-agency condition) or they were told by their superior how to act (low-agency condition). After learning that a tragic outcome occurred because of their action, participants reported their felt culpability. Although we expected people to feel less culpable about the outcome if they acted in accordance with their superior’s injunction than if they made the decision themselves, participants actually felt more culpable when they followed their superior’s order. Some possible reasons for this counterintuitive finding are discussed.
The Threshold-Crossing Effect: Just-Below Pricing Discourages Consumers to Upgrade
Discussion paper: Kim, Junha, Selin A Malkoc, and Joseph K Goodman (2021). The Threshold-Crossing Effect: Just-Below Pricing Discourages Consumers to Upgrade. Journal of Consumer Research, 1–17.
When: Thursday November 4 from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4-E4-SR02 and Online
Abstract: Managers often set prices just-below a round number (e.g., $39)—a strategy that lowers price perceptions and increases sales. The authors question this conventional wisdom in a common consumer context: upgrade decisions (e.g., whether to upgrade a rental car or hotel room). Seven studies—including one field study—provide empirical evidence for a threshold-crossing effect. When a base product is priced at or just-above a threshold, consumers are more likely to upgrade and spend more money (studies 1–3) because they perceive the upgrade option as less expensive (study 4), and they place less weight on price (study 5). Testing theoretically motivated and managerially relevant boundary conditions, studies find that the threshold-crossing effect is mitigated under sequential choice (study 6) and when an upgrade price crosses an upper threshold (study 7). These studies demonstrate that a small increase in price on a base product can decrease price perceptions of an upgrade option and, thus, increase consumers’ likelihood to upgrade. Results suggest that just-below pricing, while sometimes advantageous at first, may not always be an optimal strategy for managers trying to encourage consumers to ultimately choose an upgrade option.
The Magician’s Choice: Providing Illusory Choice and Sense of Agency with the Equivoque Forcing Technique
Discussion paper: Pailhès, Alice, Shringi Kumari, and Gustav Kuhn (2021). The Magician’s Choice: Providing Illusory Choice and Sense of Agency with the Equivoque Forcing Technique. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 150(7), 1358–72.
When: Thursday October 14 from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4-E4-SR02 and Online
Abstract: Forcing techniques allow magicians to subtly influence spectators’ choices and the outcome of their actions, and they provide powerful tools to study decision-making and the illusory sense of agency and freedom over choices we make. We investigated the equivoque force, a technique that exploits semantic ambiguities and people’s failure to notice inconsistencies, to ensure that a spectator ends up with a predetermined outcome. Similar to choice blindness paradigms, the equivoque forces participants to end up with an item they did not choose in the first place. However, here, the subterfuge is accomplished in full view. In 3 experiments, we showed that the equivoque is highly effective in providing participants an illusory sense of agency over the outcome of their actions, even after 2 repetitions of the trick (Experiment 2) and using items for which preexisting preferences can be present (Experiment 3). Across all experiments, participants were oblivious to inconsistencies in the procedure used to guide their decisions, and they were genuinely surprised by the experimenter’s matching prediction. Contrary to our prediction, the equivoque force did not significantly change participants’ preference for the chosen item. We discuss the results with regard to other illusions of agency (e.g., forcing, choice blindness), failures in noticing semantic inconsistencies (e.g., Moses illusion), and issues surrounding choice-induced preference literature.
Anger Damns the Innocent
Discussion paper: DeCelles, Katherine A., Gabrielle S. Adams, Holly S. Howe, and Leslie K. John (2021), “Anger Damns the Innocent,” Psychological Science, 32(8), 1214–26.
When: Thursday September 30 from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4-E4-SR02 and Online
Abstract: False accusations of wrongdoing are common and can have grave consequences. In six studies, we document a worrisome paradox in perceivers’ subjective judgments of a suspect’s guilt. Specifically, we found that people (including online panelists, n = 4,983, and working professionals such as fraud investigators and auditors, n = 136) use suspects’ angry responses to accusations as cues of guilt. However, we found that such anger is an invalid cue of guilt and is instead a valid cue of innocence; accused individuals (university students, n = 230) and online panelists (n = 401) were angrier when they are falsely relative to accurately accused. Moreover, we found that individuals who remain silent are perceived to be at least as guilty as those who angrily deny an accusation.
The Attitude–Behavior Relationship Revisited
Discussion paper: Bechler, Christopher J., Zakary L. Tormala, and Derek D. Rucker (2021), “The Attitude–Behavior Relationship Revisited,” Psychological Science, 32(8), 1285–97.
When: Thursday September 16 from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: The attitude–behavior relationship is of great import to many areas of psychology. Indeed, psychologists across disciplines have published thousands of articles on the topic. The majority of this research implies that the attitude–behavior relationship is linear. However, observations from 4,101 participants on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and 321,876 online reviews demonstrate that this relationship is systematically nonlinear. Across diverse topics, measures, and contexts, as attitudes move from extremely negative to extremely positive, the corresponding shift in behavior tends to be relatively flat at first (as attitudes move from extremely to moderately negative), to steepen when attitudes cross neutral and shift from negative to positive, and to taper off again as attitudes move from moderately to extremely positive. This result can be explained on the basis of research on categorical perception. The present research suggests a fundamental pivot in how researchers construe, study, and assess the attitude–behavior relationship.
Early Cost Realization and College Choice
Discussion paper: Yoon, H., Yang, Y., & Morewedge, C. K. (2021). EXPRESS: Early Cost Realization and College Choice. Journal of Marketing Research.
When: Thursday June 17th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: We propose a formal tuition myopia model of the decision-making process by which students evaluate the financial costs and returns of college. In simulations, surveys, and experiments, we find that even when student loans defer payment of attendance costs until after graduation—the same moment when students can begin earning a salary that reflects their degree—students psychologically realize the financial costs of college much earlier. This early cost realization frames a majority of choices between any pair of colleges as an intertemporal tradeoff between a smaller short-term investment with smaller long-term returns (a low cost-low return college; LCLR) and a larger short-term investment with larger long-term returns (a high cost-high return college; HC-HR). While a rational model based on projected future cash flows most often favors the HC-HR college, our model predicts a preference for the LC-LR college among students who are financially impatient and in choice pairs where the equilibrium between LC-LR and HC-HR options is at a low discount rate threshold. Our model of a life-altering financial decision that affects millions of students each year offers valuable insights for universities, policymakers, and non-profit organizations advocating for students to treat higher education as an investment decision.
The Impact of a Two-Step Choice Process on Trade-Off Decisions
Discussion paper: Lei, J., & Zhang, Y. (2021). The Impact of a Two-Step Choice Process on Trade-Off Decisions. Journal of Consumer Research.
When: Thursday June 10th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: Trade-offs between attributes are common when making product choices. Prior research suggests that consumers tend to avoid the extremes and opt for the middle options when they make a trade-off decision between two key product attributes (e.g., tastiness and healthiness of food items) in one step. In this research, we examine how consumers make such trade-off decisions in a two-step choice process in which consumers first choose between product categories competing on two key attributes and then make a final choice within the chosen category. In three studies, we show that when holding the actual choice options unchanged, consumers are more likely to make a more extreme final choice, prioritizing a single attribute rather than compromising when they follow a two-step choice process instead of a one-step process.
Nonreplicable publications are cited more than replicable ones
Discussion paper: Serra-Garcia, M., & Gneezy, U. (2021). Nonreplicable publications are cited more than replicable ones. Science advances, 7(21).
When: Thursday June 3rd from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: We use publicly available data to show that published papers in top psychology, economics, and general interest journals that fail to replicate are cited more than those that replicate. This difference in citation does not change after the publication of the failure to replicate. Only 12% of postreplication citations of nonreplicable findings acknowledge the replication failure. Existing evidence also shows that experts predict well which papers will be replicated. Given this prediction, why are nonreplicable papers accepted for publication in the first place? A possible answer is that the review team faces a trade-off. When the results are more “interesting,” they apply lower standards regarding their reproducibility.
Do People Prescribe (Over) Optimism?
Discussion paper: Miller, J. E., Park, I., Smith, A. R., & Windschitl, P. D. (2021). Do People Prescribe (Over) Optimism?. Psychological Science.
When: Thursday May 27th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: Past work has suggested that people prescribe optimism—believing it is better to be optimistic, instead of accurate or pessimistic, about uncertain future events. Here, we identified and addressed an important ambiguity about whether those findings reflect an endorsement of biased beliefs—i.e., whether people prescribe likelihood estimates that reflect overoptimism. In three studies, participants (total N = 663 U.S. university students) read scenarios about protagonists facing uncertain events with a desired outcome. Results replicated prescriptions of optimism when using the same solicitations as in past work. However, we found quite different prescriptions when using alternative solicitations that asked about potential bias in likelihood estimations and that did not involve vague terms like “optimistic.” Participants generally prescribed being optimistic, feeling optimistic, and even thinking optimistically about the events, but they did not prescribe overestimating the likelihood of those events.
Noise Increases Anchoring Effects
Discussion paper: Lee, C. Y., & Morewedge, C. (2021). Noise Increases Anchoring Effects. Lee, CY, & Morewedge, CK (In press). Noise increases anchoring effects. Psychological Science.
When: Thursday May 20th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: We introduce a theoretical framework distinguishing between anchoring effects, anchoring bias, and judgmental noise: Anchoring effects require anchoring bias, but noise modulates their size. We test it by manipulating stimulus magnitudes. As magnitudes increase, psychophysical noise due to scalar variability widens the perceived range of plausible values for the stimulus. This increased noise, in turn, increases the influence of anchoring bias on judgments. In eleven preregistered experiments (N = 3,552), anchoring effects increased with stimulus magnitude for point estimates of familiar and novel stimuli (e.g., reservation prices for hotels and donuts, counts in dot arrays). Comparisons between relevant and irrelevant anchors showed noise itself did not produce anchoring effects. Noise amplified anchoring bias. Our findings identify a stimulus feature predicting the size and replicability of anchoring effects––stimulus magnitude. More broadly, we show how to use psychophysical noise to test relationships between bias and noise in judgment under uncertainty.
People systematically overlook subtractive changes
Discussion paper: Adams, G. S., Converse, B. A., Hales, A. H., & Klotz, L. E. (2021). People systematically overlook subtractive changes. Nature, 592(7853), 258-261.
When: Thursday April 22nd from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: Improving objects, ideas or situations—whether a designer seeks to advance technology, a writer seeks to strengthen an argument or a manager seeks to encourage desired behaviour—requires a mental search for possible changes. We investigated whether people are as likely to consider changes that subtract components from an object, idea or situation as they are to consider changes that add new components. People typically consider a limited number of promising ideas in order to manage the cognitive burden of searching through all possible ideas, but this can lead them to accept adequate solutions without considering potentially superior alternatives. Here we show that people systematically default to searching for additive transformations, and consequently overlook subtractive transformations. Across eight experiments, participants were less likely to identify advantageous subtractive changes when the task did not (versus did) cue them to consider subtraction, when they had only one opportunity (versus several) to recognize the shortcomings of an additive search strategy or when they were under a higher (versus lower) cognitive load. Defaulting to searches for additive changes may be one reason that people struggle to mitigate overburdened schedules, institutional red tape and damaging effects on the planet.
The endowment effect: Loss aversion or a buy-sell discrepancy?
Discussion paper: Smitizsky, G., Liu, W., & Gneezy, U. (2021). The endowment effect: Loss aversion or a buy-sell discrepancy?. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
When: Thursday April 15th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: In a typical endowment effect experiment, individuals state a higher willingness-to-accept to sell an object than a willingness-to-pay to obtain the object. The leading explanation for the endowment effect is loss aversion for the object. An alternative explanation is based on a buy-sell discrepancy, according to which people price the object in a strategic way. Disentangling these two explanations is the goal of this research. To this end, we introduce a third condition, in which participants receive an object and are asked how much they are willing to pay to keep it (Pay-to-Keep). Comparing the three conditions we find no evidence for loss aversion in the endowment effect setting. We found support for the buy-sell strategy mechanism. Our results have important implications for the understanding of buyer and seller behaviors, subjective value, and elicitation methods.
Expression Modalities: How Speaking Versus Writing Shapes What Consumers Say, and Its Impact
Discussion paper: Berger, J. A., Rocklage, M., & Packard, G. M. (2021). Expression Modalities: How Speaking Versus Writing Shapes What Consumers Say, and Its Impact. Available at SSRN 3791506.
When: Thursday April 8th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: Word of mouth is both frequent and important. But might the way consumers communicate (i.e., speaking versus writing) shape the language they use? And, as a result, the impact of what the share? While a great deal of research has begun to examine the behavioral drivers of word of mouth, there has been less attention to how communication modality might shape what consumers share. Five studies demonstrate that compared to writing, speaking increases the emotionality of communication. Speaking often involves less time to deliberate about what to say, so consumers use more emotional language. This difference in language produced, in turn, can lead to greater persuasion. This work sheds light on drivers of word of mouth, effects of communication modality, and role of language in communication.
Shifting attention to accuracy can reduce misinformation online
Discussion paper: Pennycook, G., Epstein, Z., Mosleh, M., Arechar, A. A., Eckles, D., & Rand, D. G. (2021). Shifting attention to accuracy can reduce misinformation online. Nature, 1-6.
When: Thursday April 1st from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: In recent years, there has been a great deal of concern about the proliferation of false and misleading news on social media. Academics and practitioners alike have asked why people share such misinformation, and sought solutions to reduce the sharing of misinformation. Here, we attempt to address both of these questions. First, we find that the veracity of headlines has little effect on sharing intentions, despite having a large effect on judgments of accuracy. This dissociation suggests that sharing does not necessarily indicate belief. Nonetheless, most participants say it is important to share only accurate news. To shed light on this apparent contradiction, we carried out four survey experiments and a field experiment on Twitter; the results show that subtly shifting attention to accuracy increases the quality of news that people subsequently share. Together with additional computational analyses, these fndings indicate that people often share misinformation because their attention is focused on factors other than accuracy—and therefore they fail to implement a strongly held preference for accurate sharing. Our results challenge the popular claim that people value partisanship over accuracy, and provide evidence for scalable attention-based interventions that social media platforms could easily implement to counter misinformation online.
People Behave as if they Anticipate Regret Conditional on Experiencing a Bad Outcome
Discussion paper: Ryan, W., Baum, S., & Evers, E. People Behave as if they Anticipate Regret Conditional on Experiencing a Bad Outcome. Working Paper.
When: Thursday March 25th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: Decision-makers often must decide whether to invest in prospects to reduce risk or instead save scarce resources. Existing models of risky decision making assume that decision-makers consider the absolute improvement in probabilistic chances (e.g., increasing a 10% chance of winning $10 to a 20% chance is roughly similar to increasing an 80% chance of winning $10 to a 90% chance). We present evidence that people instead behave as if they consider the relative reduction in bad outcomes (increasing a 10% chance to a 20% chance eliminates 1/9th of all bad outcomes, while increasing an 80% chance to a 90% chance eliminates 1/2 of all bad outcomes). This bias in the anticipation of preventable bad outcomes drives risk preferences that violate normative standards and results in the same participants behaving both risk-seeking and risk-averse within the same decision-making task. We discuss how regret theory can be adjusted to accommodate these results.
Heterogeneity of Research Results: A New Perspective From Which to Assess and Promote Progress in Psychological Science.
Discussion paper: Linden, A. H., & Hönekopp, J. (2020). Heterogeneity of Research Results: A New Perspective From Which to Assess and Promote Progress in Psychological Science. Perspectives on Psychological Science.
When: Thursday March 18th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: Heterogeneity emerges when multiple close or conceptual replications on the same subject produce results that vary more than expected from the sampling error. Here we argue that unexplained heterogeneity reflects a lack of coherence between the concepts applied and data observed and therefore a lack of understanding of the subject matter. Typical levels of heterogeneity thus offer a useful but neglected perspective on the levels of understanding achieved in psychological science. Focusing on continuous outcome variables, we surveyed heterogeneity in 150 meta-analyses from cognitive, organizational, and social psychology and 57 multiple close replications. Heterogeneity proved to be very high in meta-analyses, with powerful moderators being conspicuously absent. Population effects in the average meta-analysis vary from small to very large for reasons that are typically not understood. In contrast, heterogeneity was moderate in close replications. A newly identified relationship between heterogeneity and effect size allowed us to make predictions about expected heterogeneity levels. We discuss important implications for the formulation and evaluation of theories in psychology. On the basis of insights from the history and philosophy of science, we argue that the reduction of heterogeneity is important for progress in psychology and its practical applications, and we suggest changes to our collective research practice toward this end.
Do conversations end when people want them to?
Discussion paper: Mastroianni, A. M., Gilbert, D. T., Cooney, G., & Wilson, T. D. (2021). Do conversations end when people want them to?. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(10).
When: Thursday March 11th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: Do conversations end when people want them to? Surprisingly, behavioral science provides no answer to this fundamental question about the most ubiquitous of all human social activities. In two studies of 932 conversations, we asked conversants to report when they had wanted a conversation to end and to estimate when their partner (who was an intimate in Study 1 and a stranger in Study 2) had wanted it to end. Results showed that conversations almost never ended when both conversants wanted them to and rarely ended when even one conversant wanted them to and that the average discrepancy between desired and actual durations was roughly half the duration of the conversation. Conversants had little idea when their partners wanted to end and underestimated how discrepant their partners’ desires were from their own. These studies suggest that ending conversations is a classic “coordination problem” that humans are unable to solve because doing so requires information that they normally keep from each other. As a result, most conversations appear to end when no one wants them to.
Audio Mining: The Role of Vocal Tone in Persuasion
Discussion paper: Wang, X. S., Lu, S., Li, X., Khamitov, M., & Bendle, N. (2021). Audio Mining: The Role of Vocal Tone in Persuasion. Journal of Consumer Research.
When: Thursday March 4th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: Persuasion success is often related to hard-to-measure characteristics, such as the way the persuader speaks. To examine how vocal tones impact persuasion in an online appeal, this research measures persuaders’ vocal tones in Kickstarter video pitches using novel audio mining technology. Connecting vocal tone dimensions with real-world funding outcomes offers insight into the impact of vocal tones on receivers’ actions. The core hypothesis of this paper is that a successful persuasion attempt is associated with vocal tones denoting (1) focus, (2) low stress, and (3) stable emotions. These three vocal tone dimensions—which are in line with the stereotype content model—matter because they allow receivers to make inferences about a persuader’s competence. The hypotheses are tested with a large-scale empirical study using Kickstarter data, which is then replicated in a different category. In addition, two controlled experiments provide evidence that perceptions of competence mediate the impact of the three vocal tones on persuasion attempt success. The results identify key indicators of persuasion attempt success and suggest a greater role for audio mining in academic consumer research.
Attitudes Based on Feelings: Fixed Or Fleeting?
Discussion paper: D Rocklage, M., & Luttrell, A. (2019). Attitudes Based on Feelings: Fixed Or Fleeting?. Psychological Science.
When: Thursday February 25th from 4 to 5 pm
Abstract: Researchers and practitioners want to create opinions that stick. Yet whereas some opinions stay fixed, others are as fleeting as the time it takes to report them. In seven longitudinal studies with more than 20,000 individuals, we found that attitudes based more on emotion are relatively fixed. Whether participants evaluated brand-new Christmas gifts or one of 40 brands, the more emotional their opinion, the less it changed over time, particularly if it was positive. In a word-of-mouth linguistic analysis of 75,000 real-world online reviews, we found that the more emotional consumers are in their first review, the more that attitude persists when they express it again even years later. Finally, more emotion-evoking persuasive messages create attitudes that decay less over time, further establishing emotion’s causal effect. These effects persist above and beyond other attitude-strength attributes. Interestingly, we also found that lay individuals generally fail to appreciate the relation between emotionality and attitude stability.
Experienced well-being rises with income, even above $75,000 per year
Discussion paper: Killingsworth, M. A. (2021). Experienced well-being rises with income, even above $75,000 per year. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(4).
When: Thursday February 18th from 4 to 5 pm
Abstract: What is the relationship between money and well-being? Research distinguishes between two forms of well-being: people’s feelings during the moments of life (experienced well-being) and people’s evaluation of their lives when they pause and reflect (evaluative well-being). Drawing on 1,725,994 experience-sampling reports from 33,391 employed US adults, the present results show that both experienced and evaluative well-being increased linearly with log(income), with an equally steep slope for higher earners as for lower earners. There was no evidence for an experienced well-being plateau above $75,000/y, contrary to some influential past research. There was also no evidence of an income threshold at which experienced and evaluative well being diverged, suggesting that higher incomes are associated with both feeling better day-to-day and being more satisfied with life overall.
Nudging at scale: Experimental evidence from FAFSA completion campaigns
Discussion paper: Bird, K. A., Castleman, B. L., Denning, J. T., Goodman, J., Lamberton, C., & Rosinger, K. O. (2019). Nudging at scale: Experimental evidence from FAFSA completion campaigns. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 183, 105-128.
When: Thursday February 4th from 4 to 5 pm
Abstract: Do successful local nudge interventions maintain efficacy when scaled state or nationwide? We investigate, through two randomized controlled trials, the impact of a national and state-level campaign encouraging students to apply for financial aid for college. The campaigns collectively reached over 800,000 students, with multiple treatment arms patterned after prior local interventions in order to explore potential mechanisms. We find no impacts on aid receipt or college enrollment overall or for any subgroups. We find no evidence that different approaches to message framing, delivery, or timing, or access to one-on-one advising affected campaign efficacy. We discuss why nudge strategies that work locally may be hard to scale effectively.
Eliciting preferences for truth-telling in a survey of politicians
Discussion paper: Janezic, K. A., & Gallego, A. (2020). Eliciting preferences for truth-telling in a survey of politicians. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(36), 22002-22008.
When: Thursday January 28th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: Honesty is one of the most valued traits in politicians. Yet, because lies often remain undiscovered, it is difficult to study if some politicians are more honest than others. This paper examines which individual characteristics are correlated with truth-telling in a controlled setting in a large sample of politicians. We designed and embedded a game that incentivizes lying with a nonmonetary method in a survey answered by 816 Spanish mayors. Mayors were first asked how interested they were in obtaining a detailed report about the survey results, and at the end of the survey, they had to flip a coin to find out whether they would be sent the report. Because the probability of heads is known, we can estimate the proportion of mayors who lied to obtain the report. We find that a large and statistically significant proportion of mayors lied. Mayors that are members of the two major political parties lied significantly more. We further find that women and men were equally likely to lie. Finally, we find a negative relationship between truth-telling and reelection in the next municipal elections, which suggests that dishonesty might help politicians survive in office.
Do people inherently dislike uncertain advice?
Discussion paper: Gaertig, C., & Simmons, J. P. (2018). Do people inherently dislike uncertain advice?. Psychological Science, 29(4), 504-520.
When: Thursday January 21st from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: Research suggests that people prefer confident to uncertain advisors. But do people dislike uncertain advice itself? In 11 studies (N = 4,806), participants forecasted an uncertain event after receiving advice and then rated the quality of the advice (Studies 1–7, S1, and S2) or chose between two advisors (Studies 8–9). Replicating previous research, our results showed that confident advisors were judged more favorably than advisors who were “not sure.” Importantly, however, participants were not more likely to prefer certain advice: They did not dislike advisors who expressed uncertainty by providing ranges of outcomes, giving numerical probabilities, or saying that one event is “more likely” than another. Additionally, when faced with an explicit choice, participants were more likely to choose an advisor who provided uncertain advice over an advisor who provided certain advice. Our findings suggest that people do not inherently dislike uncertain advice. Advisors benefit from expressing themselves with confidence, but not from communicating false certainty.
Preregistration Is Neither Sufficient nor Necessary for Good Science
Pham, M.T. and Oh, T.T. (2021), Preregistration Is Neither Sufficient nor Necessary for Good Science. Journal of Consum Psychology. Accepted Author Manuscript.
Pham, M.T. and Oh, T.T. (2021), On Not Confusing the Tree of Trustworthy Statistics with the Greater Forest of Good Science: A Comment on Simmons et al.’s Perspective on Preregistration. Journal of Consumer Psychology. Accepted Author Manuscript.
Simmons, J., Nelson, L. and Simonsohn, U. (2021), Pre‐registration Is A Game Changer. But, Like Random Assignment, It Is Neither Necessary Nor Sufficient For Credible Science. Journal of Consumer Psychology. Accepted Author Manuscript.
Simmons, J., Nelson, L. and Simonsohn, U. (2021), Pre‐registration: Why and How. Journal of Consumer Psychology. Accepted Author Manuscript.
When: Thursday January 14th from 5 to 6 pm
A Dragging-Down Effect: Consumer Decisions in Response to Price Increases
Discussion paper: Zhang, S., Sussman, A. B., & Hsee, C. K. (2020). A Dragging-Down Effect: Consumer Decisions in Response to Price Increases. Journal of Consumer Research.
When: Thursday December 17th from 3 to 4 pm
Abstract: Four studies, across a range of domains, find a dragging-down effect in which consumers purchase fewer units of a product when a discount applies to more units. For example, consumers buy fewer peaches when each customer can buy up to three peaches at a discount than when each customer can buy only one peach at a discount or when there is no discount at all. In contrast to basic economic principles, this dragging down effect implies that consumers purchase less (more) when the per-unit price is lower (higher). We propose and our results support an acceptability account: consumers will adopt the price-increase point (i.e., maximum discounted quantity) as their purchase quantity if that point falls within an acceptable range, and will ignore that point and purchase their initially preferred quantity instead if the price-increase point falls below the acceptable range. The current work enriches existing research on anchoring and pricing and carries implications for consumers, marketers, and policy-makers
Consumers Prefer “Natural” More for Preventatives Than for Curatives
Discussion paper: Scott, E.S., Rozin, P., & Smal, D.A. (2020). Consumers Prefer “Natural” More for Preventatives Than for Curatives. Journal of Consumer Research, 47(3), 454-71.
When: Thursday December 10th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: We demonstrate that natural products are more strongly preferred when used to prevent a problem than when used to cure a problem (the prevent/cure effect). This organizing principle explains variation in the preference for natural across distinct product categories (e.g., food vs. medicine), within product categories (e.g., between different types of medicines), and for the same product depending on how it is used (to prevent or to cure ailments). The prevent/cure effect is driven by two factors: lay beliefs about product attributes and importance of product attributes. Specifically, (a) consumers hold lay beliefs that natural products are safer and less potent and (b) consumers care more about safety and less about potency when preventing as compared to when curing, which leads to a stronger preference for natural when preventing. Consistent with this explanation, when natural products are described as more risky and more potent, reversing the standard inferences about naturalness, then natural products become more preferred for curing than for preventing. This research sheds light on when the marketing of “natural” is most appealing to consumers.
Maximal positive controls: A method for estimating the largest plausible effect size
Discussion paper: Hilgard, J. (2021). Maximal positive controls: A method for estimating the largest plausible effect size. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 93, 104082.
When: Thursday December 3rd from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: Effect sizes in social psychology are generally not large and are limited by error variance in manipulation and measurement. Effect sizes exceeding these limits are implausible and should be viewed with skepticism. Maximal positive controls, experimental conditions that should show an obvious and predictable effect, can provide estimates of the upper limits of plausible effect sizes on a measure. In this work, maximal positive controls are conducted for three measures of aggressive cognition, and the effect sizes obtained are compared to studies found through systematic review. Questions are raised regarding the plausibility of certain reports with effect sizes comparable to, or in excess of, the effect sizes found in maximal positive controls. Maximal positive controls may provide a means to identify implausible study results at lower cost than direct replication.
Behavioral nudges reduce failure to appear for court
Discussion paper: Fishbane, A., Ouss, A., & Shah, A. K. (2020). Behavioral nudges reduce failure to appear for court. Science, 370, 6517.
When: Thursday November 19th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: Each year, millions of Americans fail to appear in court for low-level offenses, and warrants are then issued for their arrest. In two field studies in New York City, we make critical information salient by redesigning the summons form and providing text message reminders. These interventions reduce failures to appear by 13-21% and lead to 30,000 fewer arrest warrants over a 3-year period. In lab experiments, we find that while criminal justice professionals see failures to appear as relatively unintentional, laypeople believe they are more intentional. These lay beliefs reduce support for policies that make court information salient and increase support for punishment. Our findings suggest that criminal justice policies can be made more effective and humane by anticipating human error in unintentional offenses.
The Role of Heritage in Consumer Valuation
Discussion paper: Christensen, K.L., & Shu, S.B. (2020). The Role of Heritage in Consumer Valuation. Working Paper.
When: Thursday November 5th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: From our alma mater to our DNA, heritage – a connection to a shared past – generates consumer value. In five studies, this research demonstrates that sellers have a lower willingnessto-accept (WTA) for heritage goods when selling to buyers with a shared heritage connection relative to buyers without heritage connection (i.e., a heritage discount). This heritage discount holds after controlling for buyer’s usage, cannot be explained by similarity, and remains even when sellers perceive that this buyer has a high willingness-to-pay (WTP). We find a WTA/WTP asymmetry, and we provide process evidence that the effect of the buyer’s identity on the seller’s WTA is driven by heritage loss. The current research contributes to the literatures on sharing, sentimental goods, psychological ownership and the endowment effect. The findings have marketing implications for consumer goods (e.g., collectibles) that derive product value by connecting consumers to history and traditions that matter.
Start with the Cause: How Constructing Charity Portfolios Affects the Pain of Paying and Total Contributions Made
Discussion paper: Okutur, N.G., & Berman, J.Z. (2020). Start with the Cause: How Constructing Charity Portfolios Affects the Pain of Paying and Total Contributions Made. Working Paper.
When: Thursday October 29th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: How does the manner in which people construct donation portfolios affect the amount of money they choose to give? Nine studies (N = 5,635) show that when donating to multiple charities, individuals contribute more money when they first identify which charities to support in advance of determining how much money to allocate than vice versa. This effect holds regardless if charity options are selected from a list (Studies 1, 2, 3a, 4, 5) or are selfdetermined (Studies 3b, 6a, 6b, 7), and does not go away when participants deliberate over the worthiness of each charity option in advance (Study 5). Rather, the authors propose that individuals feel greater pain in parting with their money when the target charities are not yet determined, causing them to donate less than they would after they have actively determined their target charities (Studies 6a, 6b, 7). The authors discuss the importance of accounting for the pain of paying when developing theoretical accounts of charitable giving and additionally propose recommendations to choice architects and practitioners in the design of fundraising platforms.
The Agent-Selection Dilemma in Distributive Bargaining
Discussion paper: Hagmann, D., & Feiler, D.C. (2020). The Agent-Selection Dilemma in Distributive Bargaining. Working paper.
When: Thursday October 22nd from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: Principals often bargain through agents, and past work suggests that such bargaining too often ends in costly impasse. We present experimental evidence that the agent-selection process which precedes bargaining may be a significant driver of failures to reach agreement. We find that principals select overly aggressive agents, such that those sent to the bargaining table are more polarized in their views than are potential agents in general. Agent-selection makes parties worse off than if they were assigned an agent at random and, conditional on engaging in agent-selection, both parties could improve their outcome by selecting a less aggressive agent.
Consumers Believe that Products Work Better for Others
Discussion paper: Polman, E., Ziano, I., Wu, K., & Van Kerckhove, A. (2020). Consumers Believe that Products Work Better for Others. Working paper.
When: Thursday October 15th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: Hundreds of studies have shown that consumers tend to see themselves in the best possible light, yet we present evidence that consumers have a surprisingly glum perspective on receiving a product’s claimed effects. In 10 studies (N = 3,825; including 8 pre-registered), we found that consumers believe that product efficacy is higher for others than it is for themselves. For example, consumers believe that consuming products like an adult coloring book (to inspire creativity), or a granola bar (to satisfy hunger), or moisturizer (to hydrate skin), or an online class (to learn something new) will have a greater effect on others than on themselves. We show that this bias holds across many kinds of products and populations, and inversely correlates with self-selecting product usership. We evidence that this bias stems from the fact that consumers believe they are more unique than others, and less malleable; and we show that this bias in perceived product efficacy alters the choices that consumers make for others. We conclude by discussing implications for research on gift-giving, advice-giving, and for interpersonal social-, health-, and financial-choices.
The Longshot Bias is a Context Effect
Discussion paper: Meyer, A., & Hundtofte, S. (2020). The Longshot Bias is a Context Effect. Working paper.
When: Thursday October 8th from 6 to 7 pm
Abstract: In nearly every sport-betting market, gamblers overvalue longshot bets relative to favorites. This “longshot bias” is usually explained by a tendency to over-weight low probability events. We offer a novel explanation: comparisons between bets enhance the attractiveness of longshots because gambles contrast against one another on the payoff dimension, but not on the probability dimension. We provide both experimental and field evidence that the longshot bias does not occur when gamblers consider bets in isolation, but emerges in the context of a menu of bets considered concurrently or in sequence. Moreover, the bias occurs only when winning probabilities are difficult to compare.
What's your name? Why and when consumer identification increases consumer preference and satisfaction
Discussion paper: Lim, S., Van Osselaer, S.M.J., Goodman, J.K., Fuchs, C., & Schreier, M. (2020). What's your name? Why and when consumer identification increases consumer preference and satisfaction. Working paper.
When: Thursday September 24th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: In the marketplace, it is increasingly common for producers or service providers to ask for a consumers’ name in order to identify their order. The current research examines why and when the act of identification — identifying consumers by name to a producer or service provider — influences consumers’ choices and experiences. Across six studies, including two incentive compatible studies and a large field study, the authors find that consumer identification leads to a higher willingness to pay, a more favorable attitude toward the firm, as well as a greater sense of satisfaction. The studies show that this effect occurs because consumers expect the producer to objectify them less as an instrument for profit when they are identified by name. To further delineate the mechanism underlying the effect, this research documents conditions under which consumer identification backfires: identifying consumers by name has a negative effect when the producer is a robot (vs. a human) and when the consumer makes an embarrassing purchase.
A Preference for Effort When Caring for Close Others
Discussion paper: Garcia-Rada, X., Steffel, M., Williams, E.F., & Norton, M.I. (2020). A Preference for Effort When Caring for Close Others. Working paper.
When: Thursday September 10th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: Many new products are designed to simplify caregiving and make consumers’ lives easier when providing direct care to close others, from premade meals to feed families to robo-cribs that automatically rock babies back to sleep. Yet, using these products may come with a cost: consumers feel they have not exerted enough effort because that very ease may signal that they are failing to be loving and dedicated caregivers. Nine experiments show that consumers feel like worse caregivers when they use effort-reducing products to take care of close others (e.g., their partners, children, or family members) because they perceive that their caregiving lacks symbolic meaning. Specifically, choosing effort-reducing products makes consumers feel that they are doing a worse job of signaling that they care about their loved ones even when effort-reducing products provide similar quality of care. Taken together, these findings expand our current understanding of effort, caregiving, and, more broadly, the many choices that consumers make in the context of close relationships.
Salience theory of mere exposure: Relative exposure increases liking, extremity, and emotional intensity
Discussion paper: Mrkva, K., & Van Boven, L. (2020). Salience theory of mere exposure: Relative exposure increases liking, extremity, and emotional intensity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 118 (6), 1118.
When: Thursday September 3rd from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: We propose and support a salience explanation of exposure effects. We suggest that repeated exposure to stimuli influences evaluations by increasing salience, the relative quality of standing out from othercompeting stimuli. In Experiments 1 and 2, we manipulated exposure, presenting some stimuli 9 timesand other stimuli 3 times, 1 time, or 0 times, as in previous mere exposure research. Exposure increased liking, replicating previous research (Zajonc, 1968), and increased salience, made evaluations more extreme, and made stimuli more emotionally intense. Across experiments, results of multiple mediation models and a causal chain of experiments supported the idea that salience explains these exposure effects. Fluency and apprehension, 2 constructs that have been invoked to explain mere exposure, accounted for less of these effects according to the mediation models and the chain of experiments. We next manipulated relative exposure and absolute exposure orthogonally, finding that relative exposure increases liking more than absolute exposure. Stimuli presented 9 times were liked more when other stimuli in the context were presented less than 9 times than when the other stimuli were presented more than 9 times (Experiment 4). Whereas absolute exposure had no significant effect in Experiment 4, relative exposure increased liking, extremity, and emotional intensity. In Experiment 5, a direct manipulation of salience increased liking, evaluative extremity, and emotional intensity. These results suggest that salience partially explains effects previously attributed to absolute “mere” exposure.
Geographic Mobility in America: Evidence from Cell Phone Data
Discussion paper: Chen, M. K., & Pope, D. G. (2020). Geographic Mobility in America: Evidence from Cell Phone Data (No. w27072). National Bureau of Economic Research.
When: Thursday July 2nd from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: Traveling beyond the immediate surroundings of one’s residence can lead to greater exposure to new ideas and information, jobs, and greater transmission of disease. In this paper, we document the geographic mobility of individuals in the U.S., and how this mobility varies across U.S. cities, regions, and income classes. Using geolocation data for ~1.7 million smartphone users over a 10— month period, we compute different measures of mobility, including the total distance traveled, the median daily distance traveled, the maximum distance traveled from one’s home, and the number of unique haunts visited. We find large differences across cities and income groups. For example, people in New York travel 38% fewer total kilometers and visit 14% fewer block-sized areas than people in Atlanta. And, individuals in the bottom income quartile travel 12% less overall and visit 13% fewer total locations than the top income quartile.
Inconsistent allocations of harms versus benefits may exacerbate environmental inequality
Discussion paper: Makov, T., Newman, G. E., & Zauberman, G. (2020). Inconsistent allocations of harms versus benefits may exacerbate environmental inequality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(16), 8820-8824.
When: Thursday June 25th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: We report five studies that examine preferences for the allocation of environmental harms and benefits. In all studies, participants were presented with scenarios in which an existing environmental inequality between two otherwise similar communities could either be decreased or increased through various allocation decisions. Our results demonstrate that despite well-established preferences toward equal outcomes, people express weaker preferences for options that increase equality when considering the allocation of environmental harms (e.g., building new polluting facilities) than when considering the allocation of environmental benefits (e.g., applying pollution-reducing technologies). We argue that this effect emerges from fairness considerations rooted in a psychological incompatibility between the allocation of harms, which is seen as an inherently unfair action, and equality, which is a basic fairness principle. Since the allocation of harms is an inevitable part of operations of both governments and businesses, our results suggest that where possible, parties interested in increasing environmental equality may benefit from framing such proposals as bestowing relative benefits instead of imposing relative harms.
In Generous Offers I Trust: The Effect of First-Offer Value on Economically Vulnerable Behaviors
Discussion paper: Jeong, M., Minson, J. A., & Gino, F. (2020). In Generous Offers I Trust: The Effect of First-Offer Value on Economically Vulnerable Behaviors. Psychological Science, 0956797620916705.
When: Thursday June 11th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: Negotiation scholarship espouses the importance of opening a bargaining situation with an aggressive offer, given the power of first offers to shape concessionary behavior and outcomes. In our research, we identified a surprising consequence to this common prescription. Through four studies in the field and laboratory (total N = 3,742), we explored how first-offer values affect the recipient’s perceptions of the offer-maker’s trustworthiness and, subsequently, the recipient’s behaviors. Specifically, we found that recipients of generous offers are more likely to make themselves economically vulnerable to their counterparts, exhibiting behaviors with potentially deleterious consequences, such as disclosing negative information. We observed this effect in an online marketplace (Study 1) and in an incentivized laboratory experiment (Study 3). We found that it is driven by the greater trust that generous first offers engender (Studies 2 and 3). These results persisted in the face of debiasing attempts and were surprising to lay negotiators (Studies 3 and 4).
Delayed negative effects of prosocial spending on happiness
Discussion paper: Falk, A., & Graeber, T. (2020). Delayed negative effects of prosocial spending on happiness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(12), 6463-6468.
When: Thursday June 4th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: Does prosocial behavior promote happiness? We test this longstanding hypothesis in a behavioral experiment that extends the scope of previous research. In our Saving a Life paradigm, every participant either saved one human life in expectation by triggering a targeted donation of 350 euros or received an amount of 100 euros. Using a choice paradigm between two binary lotteries with different chances of saving a life, we observed subjects’ intentions at the same time as creating random variation in prosocial outcomes. We repeatedly measured happiness at various delays. Our data weakly replicate the positive effect identified in previous research but only for the very short run. One month later, the sign of the effect reversed, and prosocial behavior led to significantly lower happiness than obtaining the money. Notably, even those subjects who chose prosocially were ultimately happier if they ended up getting the money for themselves. Our findings revealed a more nuanced causal relationship than previously suggested, providing an explanation for the apparent absence of universal prosocial behavior.
Decisional autonomy undermines advisees’ judgments of experts in medicine and in life
Discussion paper: Kassirer, S., Levine, E. E., & Gaertig, C. (2020). Decisional autonomy undermines advisees’ judgments of experts in medicine and in life. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
When: Thursday May 14th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: Over the past several decades, the United States medical system has increasingly prioritized patient autonomy. Physicians routinely encourage patients to come to their own decisions about their medical care rather than providing patients with clearer yet more paternalistic advice. Although political theorists, bioethicists, and philosophers generally see this as a positive trend, the present research examines the important question of how patients and advisees in general react to full decisional autonomy when making difficult decisions under uncertainty. Across six experiments (N = 3,867), we find that advisers who give advisees decisional autonomy rather than offering paternalistic advice are judged to be less competent and less helpful. As a result, advisees are less likely to return to and recommend these advisers and pay them lower wages. Importantly, we also demonstrate that advisers do not anticipate these effects. We document these results both inside and outside the medical domain, suggesting that the preference for paternalism is not unique to medicine but rather is a feature of situations in which there are adviser–advisee asymmetries in expertise. We find that the preference for paternalism holds when advice is solicited or unsolicited, when both paternalism and autonomy are accompanied by expert guidance, and it persists both before and after the outcomes of paternalistic advice are realized. Lastly, we see that the preference for paternalism only occurs when decision makers perceive their decision to be difficult. These results challenge the benefits of recently adopted practices in medical decision making that prioritize full decisional autonomy.
The demotivating effect (and unintended message) of awards
Discussion paper: Robinson, C. D., Gallus, J., Lee, M. G., & Rogers, T. (2019). The demotivating effect (and unintended message) of awards. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.
When: Thursday May 7th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: It is common for organizations to offer awards to motivate individual behavior, yet few empirical studies evaluate their effectiveness in the field. We report a randomized field experiment (N = 15,329) that tests the impact of two common types of symbolic awards: pre-announced awards (prospective) and surprise awards (retrospective). The context is U.S. schools, where we explore how awards motivate student attendance. Contrary to our pre-registered hypotheses and organizational leaders’ expectations, the prospective awards did not on average improve behavior, and the retrospective awards decreased subsequent attendance. Moreover, we find a significant negative effect on attendance after prospective incentives were removed, which points to a crowding-out effect. Survey experiments probing the mechanisms suggest that awards may cause these unintended effects by inadvertently signaling that the target behavior (perfect attendance) is neither the social norm nor institutionally expected. In addition, receiving the retrospective award suggests to recipients that they have already outperformed the norm and what was expected of them, hence licensing them to miss school. Exploratory analyses shed further light on differential effects of awards by age and performance.
Signing at the beginning versus at the end does not decrease dishonesty
Discussion paper: Kristal, A. S., Whillans, A. V., Bazerman, M. H., Gino, F., Shu, L. L., Mazar, N., & Ariely, D. (2020). Signing at the beginning versus at the end does not decrease dishonesty. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(13), 7103-7107.
When: Thursday April 23rd from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: Honest reporting is essential for society to function well. However, people frequently lie when asked to provide information, such as misrepresenting their income to save money on taxes. A landmark finding published in PNAS [L. L. Shu, N. Mazar, F. Gino, D. Ariely, M. H. Bazerman, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 109, 15197–15200 (2012)] provided evidence for a simple way of encouraging honest reporting: asking people to sign a veracity statement at the beginning instead of at the end of a self-report form. Since this finding was published, various government agencies have adopted this practice. However, in this project, we failed to replicate this result. Across five conceptual replications (n = 4,559) and one highly powered, preregistered, direct replication (n = 1,235) conducted with the authors of the original paper, we observed no effect of signing first on honest reporting. Given the policy applications of this result, it is important to update the scientific record regarding the veracity of these results.
What drives extremity bias in online reviews? Theory and experimental evidence
Discussion paper: Brandes, L., Godes, D., & Mayzlin, D. (2019). What drives extremity bias in online reviews? Theory and experimental evidence. Theory and Experimental Evidence (September 6, 2019).
When: Thursday April 2nd from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: In a range of studies across platforms, online ratings have been shown to be characterized by distributions with disproportionately-heavy tails. We focus on understanding the underlying process that yields such “j-shaped” or “extreme” distributions. We develop a simple analytical model to capture the most-common explanations: differences in utility or differences in base rates associated with posting extreme versus moderate reviews. We compare the predictions of these explanations with those of an alternative theory based on differential rates of attrition from the potential reviewer pool across people with moderate versus extreme experiences. The attrition rate, by assumption, is higher for moderate reviews. The three models yield starkly different predictions with respect to the impact on the relative prevalence of extreme versus moderate reviews of a review solicitation email: while existing theories predict a relative increase in extreme reviews, our attrition-based model predicts a decrease. Our results from a large-scale field experiment with an online travel platform clearly support the predictions from the attrition-based explanation, but are inconsistent with those from the utility-based and base-rate explanations alone.
Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand
Discussion paper: Ferguson, N. M., Laydon, D., Nedjati-Gilani, G., Imai, N., Ainslie, K., Baguelin, M., ... & Dighe, A. (2020). Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand. London: Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team, March, 16.
When: Thursday March 26th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: The global impact of COVID-19 has been profound, and the public health threat it represents is the most serious seen in a respiratory virus since the 1918 H1N1 influenza pandemic. Here we present the results of epidemiological modelling which has informed policymaking in the UK and other countries in recent weeks. In the absence of a COVID-19 vaccine, we assess the potential role of a number of public health measures – so-called non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) – aimed at reducing contact rates in the population and thereby reducing transmission of the virus. In the results presented here, we apply a previously published microsimulation model to two countries: the UK (Great Britain specifically) and the US. We conclude that the effectiveness of any one intervention in isolation is likely to be limited, requiring multiple interventions to be combined to have a substantial impact on transmission. Two fundamental strategies are possible: (a) mitigation, which focuses on slowing but not necessarily stopping epidemic spread – reducing peak healthcare demand while protecting those most at risk of severe disease from infection, and (b) suppression, which aims to reverse epidemic growth, reducing case numbers to low levels and maintaining that situation indefinitely. Each policy has major challenges. We find that that optimal mitigation policies (combining home isolation of suspect cases, home quarantine of those living in the same household as suspect cases, and social distancing of the elderly and others at most risk of severe disease) might reduce peak healthcare demand by 2/3 and deaths by half. However, the resulting mitigated epidemic would still likely result in hundreds of thousands of deaths and health systems (most notably intensive care units) being overwhelmed many times over. For countries able to achieve it, this leaves suppression as the preferred policy option. We show that in the UK and US context, suppression will minimally require a combination of social distancing of the entire population, home isolation of cases and household quarantine of their family members. This may need to be supplemented by school and university closures, though it should be recognised that such closures may have negative impacts on health systems due to increased absenteeism. The major challenge of suppression is that this type of intensive intervention package –or something equivalently effective at reducing transmission – will need to be maintained until a vaccine becomes available (potentially 18 months or more) – given that we predict that transmission will quickly rebound if interventions are relaxed. We show that intermittent social distancing – triggered by trends in disease surveillance – may allow interventions to be relaxed temporarily in relative short time windows, but measures will need to be reintroduced if or when case numbers rebound. Last, while experience in China and now South Korea show that suppression is possible in the short term, it remains to be seen whether it is possible long-term, and whether the social and economic costs of the interventions adopted thus far can be reduced.
Overestimating the valuations and preferences of others
Discussion paper: Jung, M. H., Moon, A., & Nelson, L. D. (2019). Overestimating the valuations and preferences of others. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
When: Thursday March 19th from 5 to 6 pm
Abstract: People often make judgments about their own and others’ valuations and preferences. Across 12 studies (N 17,594), we find a robust bias in these judgments such that people overestimate the valuations and preferences of others. This overestimation arises because, when making predictions about others, people rely on their intuitive core representation of the experience (e.g., is the experience generally positive?) in lieu of a more complex representation that might also include countervailing aspects (e.g., is any of the experience negative?). We first demonstrate that the overestimation bias is pervasive for a wide range of positive (Studies 1–5) and negative experiences (Study 6). Furthermore, the bias is not merely an artifact of how preferences are measured (Study 7). Consistent with judgments based on core representations, the bias significantly reduces when the core representation is uniformly positive (Studies 8A– 8B). Such judgments lead to a paradox in how people see others trade off between valuation and utility (Studies 9A–9B). Specifically, relative to themselves, people believe that an identically paying other will get more enjoyment from the same experience, but paradoxically, that an identically enjoying other will pay more for the same experience. Finally, consistent with a core representation explanation, explicitly prompting people to consider the entire distribution of others’ preferences significantly reduced or eliminated the bias (Study 10). These findings suggest that social judgments of others’ preferences are not only largely biased, but they also ignore how others make trade-offs between evaluative metrics.
Better is worse, worse is better: Reexamination of violations of dominance in intertemporal choice
Discussion paper: Cheng-Ming, J., Hong-Mei, S., Long-Fei, Z., Zhao, L., Hong-Zhi, L., & Hong-Yue, S. (2017). Better is worse, worse is better: Reexamination of violations of dominance in intertemporal choice. Judgment and Decision Making, 12(3), 253.
When: Thursday February 20th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: Recently, Scholten and Read (2014) found new violations of dominance in intertemporal choice. Although adding a small receipt before a delayed payment or adding a small delayed receipt after an immediate receipt makes the prospect objectively better, it decreases the preference for that prospect (better is worse). Conversely, although adding a small payment before a delayed receipt or adding a small delayed payment after an immediate payment makes the prospect objectively worse, it increases the preference for that prospect (worse is better). Scholten and Read explained these violations in terms of a preference for improvement. However, to produce violations such as these, we find that the temporal sequences need not be constructed as Scholten and Read suggested. In this study, adding a small receipt before a dated receipt (thus constructed as improving) or adding a receipt after a dated payment (thus constructed as improving) decreases preferences for those prospects. Conversely, adding a small payment after a dated receipt (thus constructed as deteriorating) or adding a small payment before a delayed payment (thus constructed as deteriorating) increases preferences for those prospects.
Dissecting racial bias in an algorithm used to manage the health of populations
Discussion paper: Obermeyer, Z., Powers, B., Vogeli, C., & Mullainathan, S. (2019). Dissecting racial bias in an algorithm used to manage the health of populations. Science, 366(6464), 447-453.
When: Thursday February 13th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: Health systems rely on commercial prediction algorithms to identify and help patients with complex health needs. We show that a widely used algorithm, typical of this industry-wide approach and affecting millions of patients, exhibits significant racial bias: At a given risk score, Black patients are considerably sicker than White patients, as evidenced by signs of uncontrolled illnesses. Remedying this disparity would increase the percentage of Black patients receiving additional help from 17.7 to 46.5%. The bias arises because the algorithm predicts health care costs rather than illness, but unequal access to care means that we spend less money caring for Black patients than for White patients. Thus, despite health care cost appearing to be an effective proxy for health by some measures of predictive accuracy, large racial biases arise. We suggest that the choice of convenient, seemingly effective proxies for ground truth can be an important source of algorithmic bias in many contexts.
Prospective outcome bias: Incurring (unnecessary) costs to achieve outcomes that are already likely
Discussion paper: Lewis, J., & Simmons, J. P. (2019). Prospective outcome bias: Incurring (unnecessary) costs to achieve outcomes that are already likely. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
When: Thursday February 6th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: How do people decide whether to incur costs to increase their likelihood of success? In investigating this question, we offer a theory called prospective outcome bias. According to this theory, people tend to make decisions that they expect to feel good about after the outcome has been realized. Because people expect to feel best about decisions that are followed by successes— even when the decisions did not cause those successes—they will pay more to increase their chances of success when success is already likely (e.g., people will pay more to increase their probability of success from 80% to 90% than from 10% to 20%). We find evidence for prospective outcome bias in nine experiments. In Study 1, we establish that people evaluate costly decisions that precede successes more favorably than costly decisions that precede failures, even when the decisions did not cause the outcome. Study 2 establishes, in an incentive-compatible laboratory setting, that people are more motivated to increase higher chances of success. Studies 3–5 generalize the effect to other contexts and decisions and Studies 6 – 8 indicate that prospective outcome bias causes it (rather than regret aversion, waste aversion, goals-as-reference-points, probability weighting, or loss aversion). Finally, in Study 9, we find evidence for another prediction of prospective outcome bias: people prefer small increases in the probability of large rewards (e.g., a 1% improvement in their chances of winning $100) to large increases in the probability of small rewards (e.g., a 10% improvement in their chances of winning $10).
Food restriction and the experience of social isolation
Discussion paper: Woolley, K., Fishbach, A., & Wang, R. M. (2019). Food restriction and the experience of social isolation. Journal of personality and social psychology.
When: Thursday January 30th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: Across 7 studies, food restrictions increased loneliness by limiting the ability to bond with others through similar food consumption. We first found that food restrictions predict loneliness using observer- and self-reports among children and adults (Studies 1–3). Next, we found mediation by the experience of worry and moderation by eating similar food as others. When restricted individuals were unable to bond over a meal (i.e., they ate different vs. the same food as others), they worried. These “food worries” mediated the effect of restrictions on loneliness (Studies 4 and 5). Moving to controlled experiments, manipulating the presence of a food restriction for unrestricted individuals increased reported loneliness (Study 6). This effect replicated in an experiment that capitalized on a naturally occurring food restriction—the holiday of Passover—where Jewish observers were restricted from eating chametz (leavened food; Study 7). Overall, while both food restrictions and loneliness are on the rise; this research found they may be related epidemics.
Crowdsourcing hypothesis tests: Making transparent how design choices shape research results
Discussion paper: Landy, J., Jia, M., Ding, I., Viganola, D., Tierney, W., Dreber, A., ... & Ly, A. (2019). Crowdsourcing hypothesis tests: Making transparent how design choices shape research results. Psychological Bulletin.
When: Thursday January 23rd from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: To what extent are research results influenced by subjective decisions that scientists make as they design studies? Fifteen research teams independently designed studies to answer five original research questions related to moral judgments, negotiations, and implicit cognition. Participants from two separate large samples (total N > 15,000) were then randomly assigned to complete one version of each study. Effect sizes varied dramatically across different sets of materials designed to test the same hypothesis: materials from different teams rendered statistically significant effects in opposite directions for four out of five hypotheses, with the narrowest range in estimates being d = -0.37 to +0.26. Meta-analysis and a Bayesian perspective on the results revealed overall support for two hypotheses, and a lack of support for three hypotheses. Overall, practically none of the variability in effect sizes was attributable to the skill of the research team in designing materials, while considerable variability was attributable to the hypothesis being tested. In a forecasting survey, predictions of other scientists were significantly correlated with study results, both across and within hypotheses. Crowdsourced testing of research hypotheses helps reveal the true consistency of empirical support for a scientific claim.
Love, Lies, and Money: Financial Infidelity in Romantic Relationships
Discussion paper: Garbinsky, E. N., Gladstone, J. J., Nikolova, H., & Olson, J. G. (2019). Love, Lies, and Money: Financial Infidelity in Romantic Relationships. Journal of Consumer Research.
When: Thursday January 16th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: Romantic relationships are built on trust, but partners are not always honest about their financial behavior—they may hide spending, debt, and savings from one another. This article introduces the construct of financial infidelity, defined as “engaging in any financial behavior expected to be disapproved of by one’s romantic partner and intentionally failing to disclose this behavior to them.” We develop and validate the Financial Infidelity Scale (FI-Scale) to measure individual variation in consumers’ financial infidelity proneness. In 10 lab studies, one field study, and analyses of real bank account data collected in partnership with a couples’ money-management mobile application, we demonstrate that the FI-Scale has strong psychometric properties, is distinct from conceptually related scales, and predicts actual financial infidelity among married consumers. Importantly, the FIScale predicts a broad range of consumption-related behaviors (e.g., spending despite anticipated spousal disapproval, preferences for discreet payment methods and unmarked packaging, concealing bank account information). Our work is the first to introduce, define, and measure financial infidelity reliably and succinctly and examine its antecedents and consequences.
Deception and self-deception
Discussion paper: Schwardmann, P., & Van der Weele, J. (2019). Deception and self-deception. Nature human behaviour, 3(10), 1055-1061.
When: Friday December 13th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: There is ample evidence that the average person thinks he or she is more skilful, more beautiful and kinder than others and that such overconfidence may result in substantial personal and social costs.To explain the prevalence of overconfidence, social scientists usually point to its affective benefits, such as those stemming from a good self-image or reduced anxiety about an uncertain future. An alternative theory, first advanced by evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers, posits that people self-deceive into higher confidence to more effectively persuade or deceive others. Here we conduct two experiments (combined n= 688) to test this strategic self-deception hypothesis. After performing a cognitively challenging task, half of our subjects are informed that they can earn money if, during a short face-to-face interaction, they convince others of their superior performance. We find that the privately elicited beliefs of the group that was informed of the profitable deception opportunity exhibit significantly more overconfidence than the beliefs of the control group. To test whether higher confidence ultimately pays off, we experimentally manipulate the confidence of the subjects by means of a noisy feedback signal. We find that this exogenous shift in confidence makes subjects more persuasive in subsequent face-to-face interactions. Overconfidence emerges from these results as the product of an adaptive cognitive technology with important social benefits, rather than some deficiency or bias.
The Influence of the Phonetic Elements of a Name on Risk Assessment
Discussion paper: Botner, K. A., Mishra, A., & Mishra, H. (2019). The Influence of the Phonetic Elements of a Name on Risk Assessment. Journal of Consumer Research.
When: Friday December 6th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: The authors propose that the phonetic elements of a name affect risk perception. Specifically, it is found that people prefer a name that evokes volatility when faced with a risky prospect, but prefer a name that evokes calmness when faced with a safe prospect. The authors posit that a volatile (versus calm) prospect name results in more perceived fluctuations, and thus greater movement from, the given risk level. Therefore, a volatile prospect name results in a wider range of probabilities compared to a calm prospect name. The authors test the proposed effect and the role of the phonetic elements of a name using real-world data and controlled studies within diverse consumer domains (e.g., product evaluations, wagering, and branding). Findings contribute to the larger theoretical area of phonetic symbolism and provide guidance for practitioners trying to maximize preference for a given product, service, or policy.
Evaluations Are Inherently Comparative, But Are Compared To What?
Discussion paper: Jung, M. H., Critcher, C. R., & Nelson, L. D. (2019). Evaluations Are Inherently Comparative, But Are Compared To What?Working Paper.
When: Monday November 11th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: Understanding how objective quantities are subjectively characterized has been a central topic of investigation in psychology. Decision by sampling has offered the first comprehensive account for how objective stimuli are subjectively evaluated to guide decisions. That theory suggests an inherently comparative procedure: Values seem larger or smaller based on how they rank in a comparative set, the decision sample. Although decision by sampling has proven its practical utility in several ways, its application is limited by offering an incomplete answer to a central question: What values are included in the decision sample? We identify and test four accounts, each suggesting that how values are processed determines whether they linger in the sample. Testing our ideas through studies of loss aversion and temporal discounting, we find clear support for one account: Quantities need to be subjectively evaluated—rather than merely seen—for them to enter the sample and guide decision making.
Decision by sampling
Discussion paper: Stewart, N., Chater, N., & Brown, G. D. (2006). Decision by sampling. Cognitive psychology, 53(1), 1-26. Jung, M. H., Critcher, C. R., & Nelson, L. D. (2019). Evaluations Are Inherently Comparative, But Are Compared To What? Working Paper.
When: Monday November 4th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: We present a theory of decision by sampling (DbS) in which, in contrast with traditional models, there are no underlying psychoeconomic scales. Instead, we assume that an attribute’s subjective value is constructed from a series of binary, ordinal comparisons to a sample of attribute values drawn from memory and is its rank within the sample. We assume that the sample reflects both the immediate distribution of attribute values from the current decision’s context and also the background, real-world distribution of attribute values. DbS accounts for concave utility functions; losses looming larger than gains; hyperbolic temporal discounting; and the overestimation of small probabilities and the underestimation of large probabilities.
A Prototype Theory of Consumer Expense Misprediction
Discussion paper: Howard, C., Hardisty D.J., Sussman, A.B., (2019) A Prototype Theory of Consumer Expense Misprediction. Job market paper.
When: Friday October 25th from 3.30 to 4.30 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: The present research theorizes that consumer expense predictions are shaped by prototype attributes that come to mind with relative ease when predictions are being constructed. These attributes represent average spending, where “average” is akin to the mode of a consumer’s expense distribution. This leads to an expense prediction bias in which consumers under-predict their expenses because the distribution of consumer expenses is positively skewed with mode < mean. Accordingly, it is proposed that prompting consumers to consider reasons why their expenses might be different than usual will increase prediction accuracy by making atypical expenses easier to retrieve. Five studies, including a longitudinal field study with members of a financial cooperative, provide support for this account of the bias.
You Only Get One Shot: Restricting the Number of Times Consumers Can Access Content Increases Their Resource Allocation During Information Processing
Discussion paper: Barnea, U., Meyer, R.J., Nave, G., (2019) You Only Get One Shot: Restricting the Number of Times Consumers Can Access Content Increases Their Resource Allocation During Information Processing. Job market paper.
When: Friday October 4th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: Many social media platforms, including leading apps such as Snapchat and Telegram, limit the number of times an audience can view content. We investigate how this restriction affects processing of received information. Building on the notion that people strategically allocate cognitive resources, we propose that receivers increase resource allocation when processing information that they cannot reexamine. Six pre-registered studies (N = 7,048) demonstrate that restricting people to a single view (vs. multiple views) leads to increased attention, better content recall (both cued and free recall), improved comprehension, and more favorable attitudes towards the content, as well as longer voluntary viewing time, both of the content and of ads preceding it. These results suggest that marketers can affect meaningful metrics by communicating with
consumers via channels that limit their repeated access to the message.
The Role of Location Crowdedness in Visual Product Search
Discussion paper: Scekic, A., Atalay, A.S., Yang, C.L., Ebbes, P., (2019) The Role of Location Crowdedness in Visual Product Search. Job market paper.
When: Friday September 27th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: In the context of searching for a particular product in a product display, we show that the various product locations in the display are different in terms of their location crowdedness. Location crowdedness for a product in a display is a function of its location relative to all the other products in the display. We demonstrate that the location crowdedness for a product in a display impacts consumers’ performance in finding that product. Across four studies, we show that location crowdedness affects consumers’ search performance: as the location crowdedness in a product’s location increases, it takes longer to find that product in the display. Eye-tracking data suggests that the search process is more effortful when the product searched for is in a location that is higher in location crowdedness. We develop a location crowdedness metric (LCM),
quantifying location crowdedness in each location of a given product display. The LCM can be used by researchers and practitioners alike to estimate the amount of visual search effort needed to find a product in a display.
Why People Eat the Same Breakfast Everyday: Variation in Hedonic Goals and Variety Seeking in Meals
Discussion paper: Cadario, R., Morewedge, C.K., (2019) Why People Eat the Same Breakfast Everyday: Variation in Hedonic Goals and Variety Seeking in Meals. Job market paper.
When: Friday September 20th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: Why do people eat the same foods for breakfast more often than for lunch or dinner? We propose that differences in hedonic goals explain this variation in variety seeking between meals, across days. We test our theory in five studies (N = 4033) using diary data, event reconstruction methods, and experiments with French and American participants. We find that natural (e.g., weekday versus weekend) and experimentally induced variation in hedonic goals modulates variety seeking, but this relationship decreases in strength from breakfast to lunch to dinner. The effect is not explained by differences in time devoted to meals, company, or their location. We explain this nonlinear effect as the confluence of two mechanisms. First, diminishing marginal utility leads there to be a smaller impact of hedonic goals on variety seeking as hedonic goals near their ceiling. Second, there is more variation in hedonic goals for breakfast than for lunch than for dinner. Our results suggest that the current utilitarian positioning of breakfast by most marketers may be detrimental to encouraging trial of new foods, and that consumers welcome an increase in hedonic goals for breakfast as a means to reduce monotonous habits and achieve more variety.
Prompts with Punch: Timing Planning Nudges for Maximum Effectiveness
Discussion paper: Hmurovic, J., Lamberton, C., Page, L. C., (2019) Prompts with Punch: Timing Planning Nudges for Maximum Effectiveness. Job market paper.
When: Friday September 13th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: Although prompting plan-making can offset procrastination and increase task completion for typical, terminal deadline tasks (e.g., those with a single “last chance” deadline), we know little about its effects for the many tasks that also contain an optimal deadline, after which benefits of task completion diminish (e.g., “early bird” deadline). This paper explores how the timing of planning nudge delivery impacts intervention effectiveness in such cases. Results from two field studies, including an online lottery and a large-scale experiment involving students filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), suggest that although planning nudges implemented before an optimal deadline appear to offer little benefit over simple reminders, these prompts are significantly more effective than control messages if delivered after the optimal deadline. These findings call for 1) strategic temporal management of planning prompts and 2) increased research exploring the ideal timing of nudge delivery, as understanding how time-related decisions alter the efficacy of established behavioral interventions enriches both our theoretical and practical use of these tools.
Not-so Easy Listening: Roots and Repercussions of Auditory Choice Difficulty in Voice Commerce
Discussion paper: Munz, K., Morwitz, V. (2019) Not-so Easy Listening: Roots and Repercussions of Auditory Choice Difficulty in Voice Commerce. Job market paper.
When: Friday September 6th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: In the context of voice commerce, six experiments demonstrate that information presented by voice is more difficult to process than the same information presented in writing. This processing difficulty stems from greater difficulty comparing auditory options compared to visually presented options. Consequently, consumers are less able to differentiate between auditory choice options, leading them to choose recommended items more often, but also to defer choice at higher rates compared to when the options are presented visually. It also leads to an attenuation of joint versus separate preference reversals when the items are presented by voice, as auditory evaluations are less affected by comparisons to other items in the choice set. Difficulty making auditory comparisons also negatively affects evaluations of a single item when comparing it against a reference held in memory, a very likely scenario in the marketplace. This research represents one of the first explorations of voice commerce and offers insight for both theory and application.
Fit in or Stand out? The Evaluation of Academic Quality and Fit in College Choices
Discussion paper: Choi, P., Hong, S., Stüttgen, P. (2019). Fit in or Stand out? The Evaluation of Academic Quality and Fit in College Choices. Working paper.
When: Friday June 7th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: Understanding students’ college enrollment decisions is of crucial importance as the admission outcome has an impact on the quality of a school and its reputation. In this paper, we study how students evaluate academic quality and fit in making their college matriculation decisions. In particular, we look at how they take into consideration their relative academic ability compared to their potential peer students in class. Drawing from social comparison theory, we posit that there are asymmetric effects due to deviation from peers’ ability depending on the direction of the deviations. By analyzing a rich data set collected from college applicants in a wide range of aptitude, we find that, while the applicants evaluate negatively their deviations below the potential peers, they value positively those above the peers (the “big fish, little pond” effect). By investigating heterogeneity of the effects across students driven by their application behaviors, we find evidence that the students who applied to more universities are more susceptible to these psychological effects. Further analysis points to the level of the individual student’s self-confidence as a possible explanation.
Opting-in to prosocial incentives
Discussion paper: Schwartz, D., Keenan, E. A., Imas, A., & Gneezy, A. (2019). Opting-in to prosocial incentives. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes (in press).
When: Friday May 24th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: The design of effective incentive schemes that are both successful in motivating employees and keeping down costs is of critical importance. Research has demonstrated that prosocial incentives, where individuals’ effort benefits a charitable organization, can sometimes be more effective than standard monetary incentives. However, most research has focused on the intensive margin, examining effort conditional on participation in the activity. We examine the effectiveness of standard and prosocial incentives on the extensive margin, corresponding to people’s decisions to opt-in to an incentivized activity. In addition, we test the effectiveness of optional prosocial incentives, where individuals can choose between keeping or donating all or part of their payment. Across four experiments that vary the type and size of incentives, we find that individuals are more likely to avoid activities that involve any prosocial incentive. Our results highlight the importance of considering the margin of decisions when designing incentive schemes.
Objecting to experiments that compare two unobjectionable policies or treatments
Discussion papers: 1) Meyer, M. N., Heck, P. R., Holtzman, G. S., Anderson, S. M., Cai, W., Watts, D. J., & Chabris, C. F. (2019). Objecting to experiments that compare two unobjectionable policies or treatments. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201820701.
2) Mislavsky, Dietvorst, & Simonsohn (in press) “Critical Condition: People Don’t Dislike A Corporate Experiment More than They Dislike Its Worst Condition” Marketing Science.
When: Friday May 17th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: 1) Randomized experiments have enormous potential to improve human welfare in many domains, including healthcare, education, finance, and public policy. However, such “A/B tests” are often criticized on ethical grounds even as similar, untested interventions are implemented without objection. We find robust evidence across 16 studies of 5,873 participants from three diverse populations spanning nine domains—from healthcare to autonomous vehicle design to poverty reduction—that people frequently rate A/B tests designed to establish the comparative effectiveness of two policies or treatments as inappropriate even when universally implementing either A or B, untested, is seen as appropriate. This “A/B effect” is as strong among those with higher educational attainment and science literacy and among relevant professionals. It persists even when there is no reason to prefer A to B and even when recipients are treated unequally and randomly in all conditions (A, B, and A/B). Several remaining explanations for the effect— a belief that consent is required to impose a policy on half of a population but not on the entire population; an aversion to controlled but not to uncontrolled experiments; and a proxy form of the illusion of knowledge (according to which randomized evaluations are unnecessary because experts already do or should know “what works”)—appear to contribute to the effect, but none dominates or fully accounts for it. We conclude that rigorously evaluating policies or treatments via pragmatic randomized trials may provoke greater objection than simply implementing those same policies or treatments untested.
2) Why have companies faced a backlash for running experiments? Academics and pundits have argued people find corporate experimentation intrinsically objectionable. Here we investigate “experiment aversion,” finding evidence that, if anything, experiments are more acceptable than the worst policies they contain. In six studies participants evaluated the acceptability of either corporate policy changes or of experiments testing them. When all policy changes were deemed acceptable, so was the experiment, even when it involved deception, unequal outcomes, and lack of consent. When a policy change was deemed unacceptable, so was the experiment, but less so. The acceptability of an experiment hinges on its critical condition—its least acceptable policy. Experiments are not unpopular, unpopular policies are unpopular.
Small Probabilistic Discounts Stimulate Spending: Pain of Paying in Price Promotions
Discussion paper: Lee, C. Y., Morewedge, C. K., Hochman, G., & Ariely, D. (2019). Small Probabilistic Discounts Stimulate Spending: Pain of Paying in Price Promotions. Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, 4(2).
When: Friday May 10th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: We find that small probabilistic price promotions effectively stimulate demand, even more so than comparable fixed price promotions (e.g., “1% chance it’s free” vs. “1% off,” respectively), because they more effectively reduce the pain of paying. In three field experiments at a grocer, we exogenously and endogenously manipulated the salience of pain of paying via elicitation timing (e.g., at entrance or checkout) and payment method (i.e., cash/debit cards or credit cards). This modulated the attractiveness of probabilistic discounts and their ability to stimulate spending. Shoppers paying with cash or debit cards, for example, spent 54% more if they received a 1% probabilistic discount than a 1% fixed discount (experiment 2). A fourth experiment showed that consumers’ sensitivity to pain of paying modulates the greater comparative efficacy of small probabilistic than fixed discounts. More broadly, the results elucidate a novel affective route through which price promotions stimulate demand––pain of paying.
Yesterday’s News: A Temporal Discontinuity in the Sting of Inferiority
Discussion paper: Kristal, A. C., O’Brien, E., & Caruso, E. M. (2019). Yesterday’s News: A Temporal Discontinuity in the Sting of Inferiority. Psychological Science.
When: Friday May 3rd from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: Reactions to other people who get desirable outcomes should be a simple function of how much one desires those outcomes. Four studies (N = 4,978) suggest that one’s reactions depend on the temporal location of outcome acquisition: Observers care more (e.g., feel more envy) right before, versus right after, other people have identical experiences (Studies 1, 2a, and 2b). For example, participants’ envy in February rose as Valentine’s Day approached (as a peer’s enviable date loomed in the future) but abruptly plateaued come February 15 onward (after the date occurred). Further, the passing of time specifically assuaged the pain of comparison (whereas positive reactions, such as feeling inspired, remained high; Studies 3a, 3b, and 3c); therefore, taking a past perspective can be used to regulate negative emotions in the present (Study 4). Time asymmetrically shapes the experience of upward comparison, despite other people’s desirable outcomes indeed being achieved. Other people’s good lives sting less if they have already lived them.
Are markets more accurate than polls? The surprising informational value of “just asking”
Discussion paper: Dana, J., Atanasov, P., Tetlock, P., & Mellers, B. (2019). Are markets more accurate than polls? The surprising informational value of “just asking”. Judgment and Decision Making, 14(2), 135-147.
When: Friday Apr. 12th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: Psychologists typically measure beliefs and preferences using self-reports, whereas economists are much more likely to infer them from behavior. Prediction markets appear to be a victory for the economic approach, having yielded more accurate probability estimates than opinion polls or experts for a wide variety of events, all without ever asking for self-reported beliefs. We conduct the most direct comparison to date of prediction markets to simple self-reports using a within-subject design. Our participants traded on the likelihood of geopolitical events. Each time they placed a trade, they first had to report their belief that the event would occur on a 0–100 scale. When previously validated aggregation algorithms were applied to self-reported beliefs, they were at least as accurate as prediction-market prices in predicting a wide range of geopolitical events. Furthermore, the combination of approaches was significantly more accurate than prediction-market prices alone, indicating that self-reports contained information that the market did not efficiently aggregate. Combining measurement techniques across behavioral and social sciences may have greater benefits than previously thought.
Tighter nets for smaller fishes: Mapping the development of statistical practices in consumer research between 2011 and 2016
Discussion paper: Krefeld-Schwalb, A., & Scheibehenne, B. (2019). Tighter nets for smaller fishes: Mapping the development of statistical practices in consumer research between 2011 and 2016. Working paper.
When: Friday Apr. 5th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: Replicability is a central aspect of all empirical research. To survey replicability and its development over time in consumer research, we used text mining to extract sample sizes, effect sizes, and p-values from statistical tests in N = 971 articles, published between 2011 and 2018 in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, the Journal of Consumer Research and the Journal of Marketing Research. Based on this data, we quantified statistical power and the distribution of published p-values as indicators of replicability. Results show a trend for increased sample sizes and decreased effect sizes across all three journals, and subsequently unchanged statistical power. Together with the analysis of the distribution of p-values over time, these results indicate
that selective reporting of significant results decreased over time, which has increased the precision of effect size estimation and augmented the probability to replicate more recently published findings.
Apples, Oranges, and Erasers: The Effect of Considering Similar versus Dissimilar Alternatives on Purchase Decisions
Discussion paper: Friedman, E. M., Savary, J., & Dhar, R. (2018). Apples, Oranges, and Erasers: The Effect of Considering Similar versus Dissimilar Alternatives on Purchase Decisions. Journal of Consumer Research, 45(4), 725-742.
When: Friday Mar. 29th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: When deciding whether to buy an item, consumers sometimes think about other ways they could spend their money. Past research has explored how increasing the salience of outside options (i.e., alternatives not immediately available in the choice set) influences purchase decisions, but whether the type of alternative considered systematically affects buying behavior remains an open question. Ten studies find that relative to considering alternatives that are similar to the target, considering dissimilar alternatives leads to a greater decrease in purchase intent for the target. When consumers consider a dissimilar alternative, a competing nonfocal goal is activated, which decreases the perceived importance of the focal goal served by the target option. Consistent with this proposed mechanism, the relative importance of the focal goal versus the nonfocal goal mediates the effect of alternative type on purchase intent, and the effect attenuates when the focal goal is shielded from activation of competing goals. We conclude with a discussion of the theoretical and practical implications of our findings.
When payoffs look like probabilities: Separating form and content in risky choice.
Discussion paper: Müller-Trede, J., Sher, S., & McKenzie, C. R. (2018). When payoffs look like probabilities: Separating form and content in risky choice. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 147(5), 662.
When: Friday Mar. 22nd from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: Paralleling research in perception, behavioral models of risky choice posit “psychophysical” transformations of material outcomes and probabilities. Prospect theory assumes a value function that is concave for gains and convex for losses, and an inverse S-shaped probability weighting function. But in typical experiments, form and content are confounded: Probabilities are represented on a bounded numerical scale, whereas representations of monetary gains (losses) are unbounded above (below). To unconfound form and content, we conducted experiments using a probability-like representation of outcomes and an outcome-like representation of probability. We show that interchanging numerical representations can interchange the resulting psychophysical functions: A proportional (rather than absolute) representation of outcomes leads to an inverse S-shaped value function for gains. This alternative value function generates novel framing effects, a common ratio effect for bounded gains, and a “framing interaction,” where gain-loss framing matters less for proportional outcomes. In addition, we show that an absolute (rather than proportional) representation of probability reduces sensitivity to large probabilities. These findings highlight the deeply constructive nature of the psychophysics of risky choice, and suggest that traditional models may reflect subjective reactions to numerical form rather than substantive content.
Frugality is hard to afford
Discussion paper: Orhun, A. Y., & Palazzolo, M. (2016). Frugality is hard to afford. Journal of Marketing Research.
When: Friday Mar. 1st from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: Intertemporal savings strategies, such as bulk buying or accelerating purchase timing to take advantage of a good deal, provide long-term savings in exchange for an increase in immediate spending. Although households with limited financial resources stand to benefit the most from these strategies, they are less likely to make use of them. The authors provide causal evidence that liquidity constraints impede low-income households’ ability to use these strategies, above and beyond the impact of other constraints. Exploiting recurring variation in household liquidity, this study shows that when low-income households have more liquidity, they partially catch up to higher-income households’ ability to use intertemporal savings strategies. The findings provide guidance to marketing managers and researchers regarding targeted promotional design and measurement of dealproneness. For policy makers, they suggest a new path for decreasing the higher prices low-income households have been documented to pay for everyday goods. Policies have traditionally focused on increasing financial literacy or access to supermarkets. Our work suggests that providing greater liquidity can help low-income households make better use of savings opportunities already available to them.
Perspective Taking and Self-Persuasion: Why “Putting Yourself in Their Shoes” Reduces Openness to Attitude Change
Discussion paper: Catapano, R., Tormala, Z. L., & Rucker, D. D. (2019). Perspective Taking and Self-Persuasion: Why “Putting Yourself in Their Shoes” Reduces Openness to Attitude Change. Psychological Science.
When: Friday Feb. 22nd from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: Counterattitudinal-argument generation is a powerful tool for opening people up to alternative views. On the basis of decades of research, it should be especially effective when people adopt the perspective of individuals who hold alternative views. In the current research, however, we found the opposite: In three preregistered experiments (total N =2,734), we found that taking the perspective of someone who endorses a counterattitudinal view lowers receptivenessto that view and reduces attitude change following a counterattitudinal-argument-generation task. This ironic effect can be understood through value congruence: Individuals who take the opposition’s perspective generate arguments that are incongruent with their own values, which diminishes receptiveness and attitude change. Thus, trying to “put yourself in their shoes” can ultimately undermine self-persuasion. Consistent with a value-congruence account, this backfire effect is attenuated when people take the perspective of someone who holds the counterattitudinal view yet has similar overall values.
Extreme opponents of genetically modified foods know the least but think they know the most
Discussion paper: Fernbach, P. M., Light, N., Scott, S. E., Inbar, Y., & Rozin, P. (2019). Extreme opponents of genetically modified foods know the least but think they know the most. Nature Human Behaviour, 1.
When: Friday Feb. 15th from 4:30 to 5:30 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: There is widespread agreement among scientists that genetically modified foods are safe to consume and have the potential to provide substantial benefits to humankind. However, many people still harbour concerns about them or oppose their use. In a nationally representative sample of US adults, we find that as extremity of opposition to and concern about genetically modified foods increases, objective knowledge about science and genetics decreases, but perceived understanding of genetically modified foods increases. Extreme opponents know the least, but think they know the most. Moreover, the relationship between selfssessed and objective knowledge shifts from positive to negative at high levels of opposition. Similar results were obtained in a parallel study with representative samples from the United States, France and Germany, and in a study testing attitudes about a medical application of genetic engineering technology (genetherapy). This pattern did not emerge, however, for attitudes and beliefs about climate change.
Periodic pricing and perceived contract benefits
Discussion paper: Atlas, S. A., & Bartels, D. M. (2017). Periodic pricing and perceived contract benefits. Journal of Consumer Research.
When: Friday Feb. 8th from 4 to 5 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: Framing a contract’s cost as a series of payments over time structures how people mentally account for the contract’s benefits. For example, when people are asked to donate to a charity once a year (aggregate pricing), they imagine the benefits they will feel from a single, large donation. In contrast, if the charity frames its request in terms of the equivalent daily donation (periodic pricing), people consider the benefits from making many smaller donations, which is often a more enticing prospect than a single gift. Eight lab experiments and a field test examine how periodic pricing influences purchase intentions. Periodic prices can increase perceived benefits, particularly when people value the first few units of a product each more than additional units of consumption. More frequent payments can help people appreciate recurring pleasures and increase the likelihood of purchasing.
People Are Slow to Adapt to the Warm Glow of Giving
Discussion paper: O’Brien, E., & Kassirer, S. (2018). People Are Slow to Adapt to the Warm Glow of Giving. Psychological Science.
When: Thursday Jan. 24th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: People adapt to repeated getting. The happiness we feel from eating the same food, from earning the same income, and from many other experiences quickly decreases as repeated exposure to an identical source of happiness increases. In two preregistered experiments (N = 615), we examined whether people also adapt to repeated giving—the happiness we feel from helping other people rather than ourselves. In Experiment 1, participants spent a windfall for 5 days ($5.00 per day on the same item) on themselves or another person (the same one each day). In Experiment 2, participants won money in 10 rounds of a game ($0.05 per round) for themselves or a charity of their choice (the same one each round). Although getting elicited standard adaptation (happiness significantly declined), giving did not grow old (happiness did not significantly decline; Experiment 1) and grew old more slowly than equivalent getting (happiness declined at about half the rate; Experiment 2). Past research suggests that people are inevitably quick to adapt in the absence of change. These findings suggest otherwise: The happiness we get from giving appears to sustain itself.
Prevalence-induced concept change in human judgment
Discussion paper: Levari, D. E., Gilbert, D. T., Wilson, T. D., Sievers, B., Amodio, D. M., & Wheatley, T. (2018). Prevalence-induced concept change in human judgment. Science, 360 (6396), 1465-1467.
When: Friday Jan. 11th from 3 to 4 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: Why do some social problems seem so intractable? In a series of experiments, we show that people often respond to decreases in the prevalence of a stimulus by expanding their concept of it. When blue dots became rare, participants began to see purple dots as blue; when threatening faces became rare, participants began to see neutral faces as threatening; and when unethical requests became rare, participants began to see innocuous requests as unethical. This “prevalence-induced concept change” occurred even when participants were forewarned about it and even when they were instructed and paid to resist it. Social problems may seem intractable in part because reductions in their prevalence lead people to see more of them.
People Make the Same Bayesian Judgment They Criticize in Others
Discussion paper: Cao, J., Kleiman-Weiner, M., & Banaji, M. R. (2018). People Make the Same Bayesian Judgment They Criticize in Others. Psychological science, 0956797618805750.
When: Thursday Dec. 6th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 C4 SR02
Abstract: When two individuals from different social groups exhibit identical behavior, egalitarian codes of conduct call for equal judgments of both individuals. However, this moral imperative is at odds with the statistical imperative to consider priors based on group membership. Insofar as these priors differ, Bayesian rationality calls for unequal judgments of both individuals. We show that participants criticized the morality and intellect of someone else who made a Bayesian judgment, shared less money with this person, and incurred financial costs to punish this person. However, participants made unequal judgments as a Bayesian statistician would, thereby rendering the same judgment that they found repugnant when offered by someone else. This inconsistency, which can be reconciled by differences in which base rate is attended to, suggests that participants use group membership in a way that reflects the savvy of a Bayesian and the disrepute of someone they consider to be a bigot.
Inaugurating rationalization: Three field studies find increased rationalization when anticipated realities become current
Discussion paper: Laurin, K. (2018). Inaugurating rationalization: Three field studies find increased rationalization when anticipated realities become current. Psychological Science, 29(4), 483-495.
When: Wednesday Nov. 28th from 4 to 5 pm
Where: 4 C4 SR02
Abstract: People will often rationalize the status quo, reconstruing it in an exaggeratedly positive light. They will even rationalize the status quo they anticipate, emphasizing the upsides and minimizing the downsides of sociopolitical realities they expect to take effect. Drawing on recent findings on the psychological triggers of rationalization, I present results from three field studies, one of which was preregistered, testing the hypothesis that an anticipated reality becoming current triggers an observable boost in people’s rationalizations. San Franciscans rationalized a ban on plastic water bottles, Ontarians rationalized a targeted smoking ban, and Americans rationalized the presidency of Donald Trump, more in the days immediately after these realities became current compared with the days immediately before. Additional findings show evidence for a mechanism underlying these behaviors and rule out alternative accounts. These findings carry implications for scholarship on rationalization, for understanding protest behavior, and for policymakers.
Need depriving effects of financial insecurity: Implications for well-being and financial behaviors
Discussion paper: Weinstein, N., & Stone, D. N. (2018). Need depriving effects of financial insecurity: Implications for well-being and financial behaviors. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 147(10), 1503-1520.
When: Wednesday Nov. 14th from 4 to 5 pm
Where: 4 C4 SR02
Abstract: Evidence suggests that experiencing financial insecurity lowers well-being and increases problematic financial behaviors. The present article employs a self-determination theory (SDT; R. M. Ryan & Deci, 2000a) perspective to understand the mechanisms by which experiencing financial insecurity contributes to these detrimental outcomes. Informed by SDT, we expected that the basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness would drive these effects. Studies were concerned with individuals’ general experiences of financial insecurity (using community samples; Studies 1 and 2), and employed manipulations involving self-reflection (Study 3) and hypothetical scenarios (Study 4). Findings demonstrated that financially insecure conditions undermined basic psychological needs and lowered well-being (measured in terms of self-esteem, depression, and anxiety). In addition, lower satisfaction of basic psychological needs linked financial insecurity to a greater likelihood of engaging in financial cheating (Studies 2 and 3) and risky financial decisions (Study 4). Importantly, this pattern of effects remained in evidence across socioeconomically diverse samples and income levels. We discuss implications for future interventions to improve the wellness of individuals in financially insecure circumstances.
Sudden-death aversion: Avoiding superior options because they feel riskier
Discussion paper: Walker, J., Risen, J. L., Gilovich, T., & Thaler, R. (2018). Sudden-death aversion: Avoiding superior options because they feel riskier. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 115(3), 363-378.
When: Wednesday Nov. 7th from 4 to 5 pm
Where: 4 C4 SR02
Abstract: We present evidence of sudden-death aversion (SDA)—the tendency to avoid “fast” strategies that provide a greater chance of success, but include the possibility of immediate defeat, in favor of “slow” strategies that reduce the possibility of losing quickly, but have lower odds of ultimate success. Using a combination of archival analyses and controlled experiments, we explore the psychology behind SDA. First, we provide evidence for SDA and its cost to decision makers by tabulating how often NFL teams send games into overtime by kicking an extra point rather than going for the 2-point conversion (Study 1) and how often NBA teams attempt potentially game-tying 2-point shots rather than potentially game-winning 3-pointers (Study 2). To confirm that SDA is not limited to sports, we demonstrate SDA in a military scenario (Study 3). We then explore two mechanisms that contribute to SDA: myopic loss aversion and concerns about “tempting fate.” Studies 4 and 5 show that SDA is due, in part, to myopic loss aversion, such that decision makers narrow the decision frame, paying attention to the prospect of immediate loss with the “fast” strategy, but not the downstream consequences of the “slow” strategy. Study 6 finds that people are more pessimistic about a risky strategy that needn’t be pursued (opting for sudden death) than the same strategy that must be pursued. We end by discussing how these twin mechanisms lead to differential expectations of blame from the self and others, and how SDA influences decisions in several different walks of life.
Status Goods: Experimental Evidence From Platinum Credit Cards
Discussion paper: Rao, G., Bursztyn, L.,Fiorin,S., Kanz,M., & Rao.G. (2018). Status Goods: Experimental Evidence From Platinum Credit Cards. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 1, 35.
When: Friday Oct. 19th from 4 to 5 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: This article provides field-experimental evidence on status goods. We work with an Indonesian bank that markets platinum credit cards to high-income customers. In a first experiment, we show that demand for the platinum card exceeds demand for a nondescript control product with identical benefits, suggesting demand for the pure status aspect of the card. Transaction data reveal that platinum cards are more likely to be used in social contexts, implying social image motivations. In a second experiment, we provide evidence of positional externalities from the consumption of these status goods. A final experiment provides suggestive
evidence that increasing self-esteem causally reduces demand for status goods, indicating that social image might be a substitute for self-image.
Circle of Incompetence: Sense of Understanding as an Improper Guide to Investment Risk
Discussion paper: Long, A. R.,Fernbach, P. M., & de Langhe, B. (2018). Circle of Incompetence: Sense of Understanding as an Improper Guide to Investment Risk. Journal of Marketing Research. Vol. LV (August 2018), 474–488
When: Friday Sept. 28th from 3 to 4 pm
Where: 4 C4 SR02
Abstract: Consumers incorrectly rely on their sense of understanding of what a company does to evaluate investment risk. In three correlational studies, greater sense of understanding was associated with lower risk ratings (Study 1) and with prediction distributions of future stock performance that had lower standard deviations and higher means (Studies 2 and 3). In all studies, sense of understanding was unassociated with objective risk measures. Risk perceptions increased when the authors degraded sense of understanding by presenting company information in an unstructured versus structured format (Study 4). Sense of understanding also influenced downstream investment decisions. In a portfolio construction task, both novices and seasoned investors allocated more money to hard-to-understand companies for a risk-tolerant client relative to a risk-averse one (Study 5). Study 3 ruled out an alternative explanation based on familiarity. The results may explain both the enduring popularity and common misinterpretation of the “invest in what you know” philosophy
Would you like to round up and donate the difference? Roundup requests reduce the perceived pain of donating
Discussion paper: Kelting, K., Robinson, S., & Lutz, R. J. (2018) Would you like to round up and donate the difference? Roundup requests reduce the perceived pain of donating. Journal of Consumer Psychology.
When: Friday Sept. 21st from 3 to 4 pm
Where: 4 C4 SR02
Abstract: Recently, some companies have begun to ask their customers to “round up” transactions to the next highest dollar and donate the difference to charity. However, little is known about how consumers respond to such an appeal. Across a series of lab experiments and one large field study, we find that consumers respond more favorably to a roundup than to a flat donation request, even when the requested amount is identical. We find evidence that the effect arises because a roundup request reduces consumers’ perceived pain of donating. Three alternative explanations are examined (i.e., objective financial cost, inattention to donation cost, and perceived novelty of the request) but not supported. This research has important implications for both companies and nonprofits seeking to increase charitable donations from consumers.
Reducing student absences at scale by targeting parents’ misbeliefs
Discussion paper: Rogers, T., & Feller, A. (2018). Reducing student absences at scale by targeting parents’ misbeliefs. Nature Human Behaviour, 2, 335-342.
When: Friday Sept. 14th from 3 to 4 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: Student attendance is critical to educational success, and is increasingly the focus of educators, researchers, and policymakers. We report the results of a randomized experiment examining interventions targeting student absenteeism. Parents of 28,080 high-risk Kindergarten through 12th grade students received one of three personalized information treatments repeatedly throughout the school year or received no additional communication (control). The most e
ective versions reduced chronic absenteeism by 10% or more, partly by correcting parents' biased beliefs about their students' total accumulated absences. The intervention reduced student absences comparably across grade levels, and reduced absences among untreated cohabiting students in treated households. This intervention is easy to scale and is more than one order of magnitude more cost e
ective than current absence-reduction best practices. Educational interventions that inform and empower parents, like those reported here, can complement more intensive student-focused absenteeism interventions.
The Paradox of Viral Outrage
Discussion paper: Sawaoka, T., & Monin, B. (2018). The Paradox of Viral Outrage. Psychological science, 1-14.
When: Thursday Sept. 6th from 5 to 6 pm
Where: 4 E4 SR03
Abstract: Moral outrage has traditionally served a valuable social function, expressing group values and inhibiting deviant behavior, but the exponential dynamics of Internet postings make this expression of legitimate individual outrage appear excessive and unjust. The same individual outrage that would be praised in isolation is more likely to be viewed as bullying when echoed online by a multitude of similar responses, as it then seems to contribute to disproportionate group condemnation. Participants (N = 3,377) saw racist, sexist, or unpatriotic posts with accompanying expressions of outrage and formed impressions of a single commenter. The same commenter was viewed more negatively when accompanied by a greater number of commenters (i.e., when outrage was viral vs. nonviral), and this was because viral outrage elicited greater sympathy toward the initial offender. We examined this effect and its underlying processes across six studies.