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Journal Club

What is Journal Club?

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: students (master and Ph.D.), RAs, faculty.

Where: 4 E4 SR03

When: Every Friday from 3 to 4 pm



Discussion paperLevari, 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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



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.



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.


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.



Last update 09 January 2019 - 17:48:44