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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 or Online

When: Every Thursday from 5 to 6 pm

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UPCOMING MEETING

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 8yh from 5 to 6 pm

Where: Online

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.


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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

Where: Online

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.


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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

Where: Online

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.


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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

Where: Online

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.


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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

Where: Online

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.


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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

Where: Online

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.


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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

Where: Online

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.


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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

Where: Online

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.


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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

Where: Online

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.


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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

Where: Online

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.


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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

Where: Online

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. 


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Discussion papers:

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

Where: Online

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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

Where: Online

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

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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

Where: Online

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.

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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

Where: Online

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.

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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

Where: Online

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.

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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

Where: Online

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.

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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

Where: Online

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.

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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

Where: Online

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.

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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

Where: Online

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.

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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

Where: Online

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.

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Discussion paperLim, 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

Where: Online

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.

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Discussion paperGarcia-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

Where: Online

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.

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Discussion paperMrkva, 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

Where: Online

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.

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Discussion paperChen, 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

Where: Online

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.

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Discussion paperMakov, 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

Where: Online

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.

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Discussion paperJeong, 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

Where: Online

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).

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Discussion paperFalk, 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

Where: Online

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.

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Discussion paperKassirer, 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

Where: Online

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.

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Discussion paperRobinson, 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

Where: Online

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.

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Discussion paperKristal, 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

Where: Online

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.

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Discussion paperBrandes, 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

Where: Online

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.

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Discussion paperFerguson, 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

Where: Online

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.

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Discussion paperJung, 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

Where: Online

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.

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Discussion paperCheng-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.

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Discussion paperObermeyer, 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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Discussion paperHmurovic, 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Discussion paperLee, 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.

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Discussion paperKristal, 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.

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Discussion paperDana, 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.

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Discussion paperKrefeld-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. 

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Discussion paperFriedman, 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. 

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Discussion paperMüller-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.

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Discussion paperOrhun, 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.

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Discussion paperCatapano, 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.

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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.

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Discussion paperAtlas, 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.

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Discussion paperO’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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Last update 06 April 2021 - 19:21:52