Saturday, March 30, 2013

Women don't run

There is a description in science daily on gender differences in running for office: In "Young Women Do Not Want to Run for Office, Experts Say". they write:
"Lawless and Fox detail the results of a survey of a national sample of more than 2,100 college students. The authors find a dramatic gap between women and men's interest in running for office; men were twice as likely as women to have thought about running for office "many times," whereas women were 20 percentage points more likely than men never to have considered it. Importantly, the 20 point gap is just as large as the one we previously uncovered among adult professionals (in their 40s and 50s) who were well-situated to pursue a candidacy."

"The report identifies five factors that contribute to the gender gap in political ambition among college students:"

The last 3 are:

"3. Young men are more likely than young women to have played organized sports and care about winning.
4. Young women are less likely than young men to receive encouragement to run for office -- from anyone.
5. Young women are less likely than young men to think they will be qualified to run for office, even in the not-so-near future."

Jennifer L. Lawless and Richard L. Fox report on "Girls Just Wanna Not Run The Gender Gap in Young Americans’ Political Ambition"

Friday, March 29, 2013

Stereotype Threat

Here is a collection of recent papers on stereotype threat that caught my eye...

Shapiro, Jenessa R.; Williams, Amy M.; Hambarchyan, Mariam  "Are all interventions created equal? A multi-threat approach to tailoring stereotype threat interventions." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 104(2), Feb 2013, 277-288.
"To date, stereotype threat interventions have been considered interchangeable. Across 4 experiments, the present research demonstrates that stereotype threat interventions need to be tailored to the specific form of experienced stereotype threat to be effective. The Multi-Threat Framework (Shapiro & Neuberg, 2007) distinguishes between group-as-target stereotype threats—concerns that a stereotype-relevant performance will reflect poorly on the abilities of one's group—and self-as-target stereotype threats—concerns that a stereotype-relevant performance will reflect poorly on one's own abilities. The present experiments explored Black college students' performance on diagnostic intelligence tests (Experiments 1 and 3) and women's interest (Experiment 2) and performance (Experiment 4) in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Across the 4 experiments, participants were randomly assigned to experience either a group-as-target or self-as-target stereotype threat. Experiments 1 and 2 revealed that role model interventions were successful at protecting only against group-as-target stereotype threats, and Experiments 3 and 4 revealed that self-affirmation interventions were successful at protecting only against self-as-target stereotype threats. The present research provides an experimental test of the Multi-Threat Framework across different negatively stereotyped groups (Black students, female students), different negatively stereotyped domains (general intelligence, STEM), and different outcomes (test performance, career interest). This research suggests that interventions should address the range of possible stereotype threats to effectively protect individuals against these threats. Through an appreciation of the distinct forms of stereotype threats and the ways in which interventions work to reduce them, this research aims to facilitate a more complete understanding of stereotype threat."

Woodcock, Anna; Hernandez, Paul R.; Estrada, Mica; Schultz, P. Wesley The consequences of chronic stereotype threat: Domain disidentification and abandonment. Pages 635-646 Oct 2012, JPSP

"Stereotype threat impairs performance across many domains. Despite a wealth of research, the long-term consequences of chronic stereotype threat have received little empirical attention. Beyond the immediate impact on performance, the experience of chronic stereotype threat is hypothesized to lead to domain disidentification and eventual domain abandonment. Stereotype threat is 1 explanation why African Americans and Hispanic/Latino(a)s “leak” from each juncture of the academic scientific pipeline in disproportionately greater numbers than their White and Asian counterparts. Using structural equation modeling, we tested the stereotype threat-disidentification hypothesis across 3 academic years with a national longitudinal panel of undergraduate minority science students. Experience of stereotype threat was associated with scientific disidentification, which in turn predicted a significant decline in the intention to pursue a scientific career. Race/ethnicity moderated this effect, whereby the effect was evident for Hispanic/Latino(a) students but not for all African American students. We discuss findings in terms of understanding chronic stereotype threat. "

And a critical review on stereotype threat:

Gijsbert Stoet , David C. Geary, Review of General Psychology, 2012, Vol. 16, No. 1, 93–102

"Men and women score similarly in most areas of mathematics, but a gap favoring men is consistently found at the high end of performance. One explanation for this gap, stereotype threat, was first proposed by Spencer, Steele, and Quinn (1999) and has received much attention. We discuss merits and shortcomings of this study and review replication attempts. Only 55% of the articles with experimental designs that could have replicated the original results did so. But half of these were confounded by statistical adjustment of preexisting mathematics exam scores. Of the unconfounded experiments, only 30% replicated the original. A meta-analysis of these effects confirmed that only the group of studies with adjusted mathematics scores displayed the stereotype threat effect. We conclude that although stereotype threat may affect some women, the existing state of knowledge does not support the current level of enthusiasm for this as a mechanism underlying the gender gap in mathematics. We argue there are many reasons to close this gap, and that too much weight on the stereotype explanation may hamper research and implementation of effective interventions."

This paper, I guess because of its controversy, has received some attention at science daily blog 
"A University of Missouri researcher and his colleague have conducted a review that casts doubt on the accuracy of a popular theory that attempted to explain why there are more men than women in top levels of mathematic fields. The researchers found that numerous studies claiming that the stereotype, "men are better at math" -- believed to undermine women's math performance -- had major methodological flaws, utilized improper statistical techniques, and many studies had no scientific evidence of this stereotype."

I would be happy for comments, as it seems a big literature which I am somewhat familiar with but not really an expert on, I myself have never tried to manipulate stereotype threat...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Daily Horizons...

Here's an interesting piece by Uri Simonsohn and Francesca Gino: "Daily Horizons: Evidence of Narrow Bracketing in Judgment From 10 Years of M.B.A. Admissions Interviews"  Psychological Science, 24(2) 219– 224
The abstract reads:
"Many professionals, from auditors, venture capitalists, and lawyers, to clinical psychologists and journal editors, divide continuous flows of judgments into subsets. College admissions interviewers, for instance, evaluate but a handful of applicants a day. We conjectured that in such situations, individuals engage in narrow bracketing, assessing each subset in isolation and then—for any given subset—avoiding much deviation from the expected overall distribution of judgments. For instance, an interviewer who has already highly recommended three applicants on a given day may be reluctant to do the same for a fourth applicant. Data from more than 9,000 M.B.A. interviews supported this prediction. Auxiliary analyses suggest that contrast effects and nonrandom scheduling of interviews are unlikely alternative explanations of the observed pattern of results."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Spring Break

Here is how I discovered PhD comics (maybe it was a little hint from my advisor)

Here's the latest installment on Spring  Break..

In that spirit, hope you all enjoy your spring break!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Children and Fairness

There is a new article in PLOS on "I Should but I Won’t: Why Young Children Endorse Norms of Fair Sharing but Do Not Follow Them"

The abstract reads:
"Young children endorse fairness norms related to sharing, but often act in contradiction to those norms when given a chance to share. This phenomenon has rarely been explored in the context of a single study. Using a novel approach, the research presented here offers clear evidence of this discrepancy and goes on to examine possible explanations for its diminution with age. In Study 1, 3–8-year-old children readily stated that they themselves should share equally, asserted that others should as well, and predicted that others had shared equally with them. Nevertheless, children failed to engage in equal sharing until ages 7–8. In Study 2, 7–8-year-olds correctly predicted that they would share equally, and 3–6-year-olds correctly predicted that they would favor themselves, ruling out a failure-of-willpower explanation for younger children's behavior. Similarly, a test of inhibitory control in Study 1 also failed to explain the shift with age toward adherence to the endorsed norm. The data suggest that, although 3-year-olds know the norm of equal sharing, the weight that children attach to this norm increases with age when sharing involves a cost to the self."

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Girls outnumbered

The NYTimes posts that Girls Excel in the Classroom but Lag in Entry to 8 Elite Schools in the City.

"Boys make up nearly 60 percent of the largest and most renowned schools, Stuyvesant, the Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Tech, and as much as 67 percent at the High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at City College, according to city statistics."

"The fact that girls are underrepresented in New York’s top high schools, which tend to be focused on math and science, and which have more than a dozen Nobel laureates among their alumni, worries some academics who see the schools as prime breeding grounds for future scientists and engineers."

"The racial makeup of the schools has been a combustible issue for years — 5 percent of the students accepted this month into the elite schools were black, and 7 percent were Hispanic. Civil rights groups have argued that using a test as the sole basis of admission favors students with means to prepare for the test, and have pushed unsuccessfully to have the schools adopt additional criteria, like middle school grades, for admission.

The gender imbalance has not generated the same kind of protest. But several academics and analysts said the reliance on the test might also play a role in keeping girls out. While girls outperform boys on an array of academic benchmarks in high school and college, they still trail on standardized tests, like the SAT, according to federal Department of Education statistics."

Friday, March 22, 2013

Lean In and Gender Differences

The Nytimes wrote in A Titan’s How-To on Breaking the Glass Ceiling about Sheryl Sandberg's book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
"Ms. Sandberg wants to take women through a collective self-awareness exercise. In her book, she urges them to absorb the social science showing they are judged more harshly and paid less than men; resist slowing down in mere anticipation of having children; insist that their husbands split housework equally; draft short- and long-term career plans; and join a “Lean In Circle,” which is half business school and half book club."

"Ms. Sandberg’s chief critic has been Anne-Marie Slaughter, a Princeton professor and former top State Department official, who published an Atlantic Magazine article titled “Why Women Can’t Have It All,” last year arguing that feminism — and Ms. Sandberg — were holding women to unattainable standards for personal and professional success."

I at least often use the work on the gender differences I found in competitiveness (see here, here and for an overview here), self-confidence, choosing challenges as telling my female students that it looks like there is this gender difference, we should just be aware of it, to make sure we make  choices we are happy with. Furthermore, given that competitiveness seems to be important even for career choices (see here), thinking about whether alternative ways to structure those choices could reduce the importance of competitiveness is a worthwhile task.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fur, Faux Fur and Faux Faux Fur

I guess what is desired or less desirable changes over time. Some of my friends were surprised at  the (borrowed) fur extravaganza I wore in Sweden (where, however, given the occasion and environment it was the perfect coat!).

The nytimes writes about Real Fur, Masquerading as Faux, and says:
"The Stuart Weitzman ballet flats from Neiman Marcus sported sweet faux fur pom-poms. The Alice and Olivia coat was trimmed with a dark faux fur collar. A Revolve Clothing ad on the Web for a Marc Jacobs coat, which falsely said its hood was made of faux fur. The problem was that the faux fur was, in fact, real fur.

That’s right: it was faux faux fur."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Girls, Math and Reading

There seems to be an almost uncountable number of results (that sometimes conflict) on gender differences in math, and reading, and how they correlate with "gender equality" in a specific region.

A science blog talks about "A Biological Basis For Gender Differences In Math?" based on a paper by Stoet G, Geary DC, (2013), "Sex Differences in Mathematics and Reading Achievement Are Inversely Related: Within- and Across-Nation Assessment of 10 Years of PISA Data." PLoS ONE 8(3)

Their abstract partly reads:
"Across nations, boys scored higher than girls in mathematics, but lower than girls in reading. The sex difference in reading was three times as large as in mathematics. There was considerable variation in the extent of the sex differences between nations. There are countries without a sex difference in mathematics performance, and in some countries girls scored higher than boys. Boys scored lower in reading in all nations in all four PISA assessments (2000, 2003, 2006, 2009). Contrary to several previous studies, we found no evidence that the sex differences were related to nations’ gender equality indicators. Further, paradoxically, sex differences in mathematics were consistently and strongly inversely correlated with sex differences in reading: Countries with a smaller sex difference in mathematics had a larger sex difference in reading and vice versa. We demonstrate that this was not merely a between-nation, but also a within-nation effect. This effect is related to relative changes in these sex differences across the performance continuum: We did not find a sex difference in mathematics among the lowest performing students, but this is where the sex difference in reading was largest. In contrast, the sex difference in mathematics was largest among the higher performing students, and this is where the sex difference in reading was smallest."

One of those previous studies is Guiso L, Monte F, Sapienza P, Zingales L (2008) Culture, gender, and math. Science 320: 1164–1165.  Another one (the authors do not cite), which focuses only on the US is by
Pope, Devin and Justin Sydnor. “A New Perspective on Stereotypical Gender Differences in Test Scores,” Journal of Economic Perspectives (2010), 24(2), 95-108.

In the paper “Explaining the Gender Gap in Math Test Scores: The Role of Competition,” (Niederle, Muriel and Lise Vesterlund,) Journal of Economic Perspectives, Spring 2010, Vol 24, Number 2, 129-144, we write about the former evidence:

"In countries that score highly on gender equality, Guiso, Monte, Sapienza, and Zingales (2008) find a smaller gender gap in mean math performance as well as in the tail of the distribution. In contrast to Pope and Sydnor (2010), they find a positive correlation between math and reading with women performing well
on both tasks in societies with greater gender equality."

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

smiling and losing

Research Digest, Blogging on brain and Behavior reports that apparently Smiling fighters are more likely to lose. They write that
"Consistent with the researchers' predictions, fighters who smiled more intensely prior to a fight were more likely to lose, to be knocked down in the clash, to be hit more times, and to be wrestled to the ground by their opponent (statistically speaking, the effect sizes here were small to medium). On the other hand, fighters with neutral facial expressions pre-match were more likely to excel and dominate in the fight the next day, including being more likely to win by knock-out or submission."

"These associations between facial expression and fighting performance held even after controlling for betting behaviour by fans, which suggests a fighter's smile reveals information about their lack of aggression beyond what is known by experts. Moreover, the psychological meaning of a pre-match smile appeared to be specific to that fight - no associations were found between pre-match smiles and performance in later, unrelated fights. Incidentally, smaller fighters smiled more often, consistent with the study's main thesis, but smiling was still linked with poorer fight performance after factoring out the role of size (in other words, smiling was more than just an indicator of physical inferiority)."

I found that link on Marginalrevolution

Monday, March 18, 2013

Self-Control Observed in Cockatoos

Cognitive biologists from my alma mater published a paper on "Goffin cockatoos wait for qualitative and quantitative gains but prefer ‘better’ to ‘more’" in Biology Letters.
The abstract reads: "

Evidence for flexible impulse control over food consumption is rare in nonhuman animals. So far, only primates and corvids have been shown to be able to fully inhibit the consumption of a desirable food item in anticipation for a gain in quality or quantity longer than a minute. We tested Goffin cockatoos (Cacatua goffini) in an exchange task. Subjects were able to bridge delays of up to 80 s for a preferred food quality and up to 20 s for a higher quantity, providing the first evidence for temporal discounting in birds that do not cache food."

The science daily has a nice article on it: Doing Business With a Parrot: Self-Control Observed in Cockatoos
They write

"The ability to anticipate a delayed gain is considered cognitively challenging since it requires not only the capacity to control an direct impulse but also to assess the gain's beneficial value relative to the costs associated with having to wait as well as the reliability of the trader. Such abilities can be considered precursors of economic decision making and are rarely found outside humans. Only few, typically large-brained animals, have been shown to be able to inhibit the consumption of an immediate food reward in anticipation for a bigger one for more than one minute."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Women are not men

In "Women are not men", a freakonomics podcast, you can hear lots about gender differences, including the ever growing slice that is devoted to studying gender differences in competitiveness (what a great topic:)
(see e.g. here, here and here).
You can listen to Uri Gneezy, my coauthor on the first gender and competition study, talking about it somewhere in the middle of the podcast... He also emphasizes his paper with Kenneth Leonard and John List: Gneezy, U, Leonard, K.L. and List, J.A. (2009) “Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence from a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society,” Econometrica, 77, 5, 1637-1664.

In the podcast you also find work on gender differences in online presence, Happiness and Crime...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Perceptions of Daily Risks

In "That Daily Shower Can Be a Killer" Jared Diamond writes in the NYtimes about daily doses of small risks. He writes that
"This [..] illustrates the biggest single lesson that I've learned from 50 years of field work on the island of New Guinea: the importance of being attentive to hazards that carry a low risk each time but are encountered frequently. I first became aware of the New Guineans’ attitude toward risk on a trip into a forest when I proposed pitching our tents under a tall and beautiful tree. To my surprise, my New Guinea friends absolutely refused. They explained that the tree was dead and might fall on us."
"Consider: If you’re a New Guinean living in the forest, and if you adopt the bad habit of sleeping under dead trees whose odds of falling on you that particular night are only 1 in 1,000, you’ll be dead within a few years. In fact, my wife was nearly killed by a falling tree last year, and I've survived numerous nearly fatal situations in New Guinea.

I now think of New Guineans’ hypervigilant attitude toward repeated low risks as “constructive paranoia”: a seeming paranoia that actually makes good sense. "

Monday, March 11, 2013

Commitment versus fantasy

In "How Economics Can Help You Lose Weight" Adam Davidson in the NYtimes writes that
"During our conversation, Schelling said that he eventually applied this theory to his struggle to quit smoking. He wanted to think of it as a battle with two choices — quit or die of cancer — but his nicotine-addled brain kept coming up with a third option: sneak one more cigarette and quit later. Of course, later never came. (“I was quitting for 20 years,” he said.)"


"But aligning financial incentives with people who actually want to lose weight is not the best business strategy. John LaRosa, an analyst at Marketdata Enterprises, said Robard was one of a handful of companies, like Health Management Resources and the Center for Medical Weight Loss, that competed for a share of a relatively small market. Altogether, these meal-replacement clinics make around $400 million a year. Diet books and exercise videos, by contrast, make nearly three times as much. The real money, of course, is in the third, easy, magical-option category. All those diet bars, green-coffee-bean-extract capsules and other supplements earn close to $3 billion a year. Diet soda alone is a $21 billion business. Game theory suggests that if you want to truly change your behavior, commit and close off those options. But as basic marketing makes clear, the real money is still in the fantasy business."

Friday, March 8, 2013

coffee and memory

"Nothing kicks the brain in gear like a jolt of caffeine. For bees, that is." I couldn't agree more with this opening sentence of "Where Bees Get Their Buzz: Caffeine-Laced Nectar" byJames Gorman from the NYTimes.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Design and Results

There is a new initiative in psychology, as reported by Science Insider:
"A group of psychologists are launching a project this week that they hope will make studies in their field radically more transparent and prompt other fields to open up as well. With a pledge of $5.25 million from private supporters, they have set up an outfit called the Center for Open Science. It is collaborating with an established journal, Perspectives on Psychological Science, to solicit work from authors who are willing to work completely in the open and have their studies replicated. Authors will be asked to first publish an experimental design and then, after a public vetting, collect data. Findings come in a separate publication."

There is also a nice website that organizes replications (and failed replications):
For more on this see the following article in the chronicle of Higher education
"New Center Hopes to Clean Up Sloppy Science and Bogus Research" by Tom Bartlett where they write:

"The center hopes to encourage scientists to "register" their hypotheses before they carry out experiments, a procedure that should help keep them honest. And the center is working with journals, like Perspectives on Psychological Science, to publish the results of experiments even if they don't pan out the way the researchers hoped. Scientists are "reinforced for publishing, not for getting it right in the current incentives," Mr. Nosek said. "We're working to rejigger those incentives." "

Similar initiatives have been discussed for lab and field experiments in general, and specifically for development economics.

There are two concerns that one hopes to address: My understanding is that this could address two concerns
The first is to distinguish findings that are tests of original hypotheses compared to happenstance findings. This may be harder to distinguish in a final paper, where one could write a model ex post whose hypothesis generates the result found in the experiment. Clearly, this becomes a big issue whenever many variables or many hypotheses are checked in a single experiment.

The second is to reduce the number of studies run that end up in a file cabinet, because they didn't produce the expected result. So, for example running 100 basically similar experiments will quite likely result in some being statistically significant, even if the initial hypothesis is wrong.

While I think this sounds good in theory, I am less convinced how the latter would work in practice, but I bet it slows down research, which seems not a good thing.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bay Area Behavioral and Experimental Economics Workshop

Call for Papers:  Bay Area Behavioral and Experimental Economics Workshop
Saturday May 4, 2013, University of San Francisco

The Bay Area Behavioral Economics and Experimental Workshop (BABEEW) will be hosted this year by the University of San Francisco on Saturday, May 4th 2012, in Fromm Hall.

The objective of the workshop is to provide an opportunity for Bay Area researchers in behavioral
economics and related fields to share their latest research.

All interested researchers are invited to submit an abstract for presentation. We would also appreciate
it if you could advertise this call for papers in your department and inform interested faculty members and students.

The deadline for submitting an abstract (250 words or less) is Friday, April 5th 2013. Acceptance decisions will be e-mailed to registered participants by Friday, April 19th. The workshop program will be e-mailed to registered participant by April 25th.

To submit and register: VE3bTZKVFZ2Y3Fab2c6MA

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

french news on procrastination

My paper with Ned Augenblick and Charles Sprenger on Working Over Time: Dynamic Inconsistency in Real Effort Tasks”, made it to a french blog on Les Affaires by Olivier Schmouker "À quoi bon faire des heures supplémentaires?" It's not completely accurate, but touches on the main points...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Gender and careers

Beryl Benderly at Science, Careers, writes about "The Complexity of Gender Differences in Choosing STEM"
My paper with Thomas Buser and Hessel Oosterbeek Gender, Competitiveness and Career Choices,” receives a very nice summary (see also my former blogposts on it here and here)

I whole heartedly agree with the first and last sentence of Beryl: 
"The question of why academically able girls are less likely than boys—even less accomplished boys—to enroll in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs, especially in physical sciences, technology, and some engineering disciplines, has long bedeviled researchers and educators."
"Clearly, this is a complex problem that cannot be explained by any single factor or rubric."

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Gender bias and discrimination

Lately, I find myself referring a lot of students to the following paper by Iris Bohnet, Alexandra van Geen and Max H. Bazerman: "When Performance trumps Gender Bias: Joint versus Separate Evaluation"

The abstract reads:
"We examine a new intervention to overcome gender biases in hiring, promotion, and job assignments: an “evaluation nudge,” in which people are evaluated jointly rather than separately regarding their future performance. Evaluators are more likely to focus on individual performance in joint than in separate evaluation and on group stereotypes in separate than in joint evaluation, making joint evaluation the money-maximizing evaluation procedure. Our findings are compatible with a behavioral model of information processing and with the System 1/System 2 distinction in behavioral decision research where people have two distinct modes of thinking that are activated under certain conditions."

When I refer to this paper, I also almost always refer to the quite nice paper by Markus Mobius and Tanya Rosenblat: "Why Beauty Matters"
"We decompose the beauty premium in an experimental labor market where ‘employers’ determine wages of ‘workers’ who perform a maze-solving task. This task requires a true skill which we show to be unaffected by physical attractiveness. We find a sizable beauty premium and can identify three transmission channels. (1) Physically-attractive workers are more confident and higher confidence increases wages. (2) For a given level of confidence, physically-attractive workers are (wrongly) considered more able by employers. (3) Controlling for worker confidence, physically-attractive workers have oral skills (such as communication and social skills) that raise their wages when they interact with employers. Our methodology can be adopted to study the sources of discriminatory pay differentials in other settings."