Thursday, July 25, 2013

More upsets on non-revealing pictures

Apparently upsets on pictures that could be, but actually are not revealing aren't just a problem in the US (for an example, se my former post on US advertisement here). Reuters comments on "Radwanska upset by Polish uproar to nude photo shoot" where a picture on which she is nude, but is actually completely not revealing, was published on ESPN The Magazine's "Body Issue." For her picture, and a few others, see here

Monday, July 22, 2013

Why Men Need Women

If you ever wondered what to say to "Why Men Need Women", Adam Grant in the NYtimes has an answer. Apparently, "The mere presence of female family members — even infants — can be enough to nudge men in the generous direction."

In a study by  Michael S. Dahl, Cristian L. Dezso and David Gaddis Ross, "Fatherhood and Managerial Style : How a Male CEO's Children Affect the Wages of His Employees" that appeared in Administrative Science Quarterly.
the abstract reads:

"Motivated by a growing literature in the social sciences suggesting that the transition to fatherhood has a profound effect on men’s values, we study how the wages of employees change after a male chief executive officer (CEO) has children, using comprehensive panel data on the employees, CEOs, and families of CEOs in all but the smallest Danish firms between 1996 and 2006. We find that (a) a male CEO generally pays his employees less generously after fathering a child, (b) the birth of a daughter has a less negative influence on wages than does the birth of a son and has a positive influence if the daughter is the CEO’s first, and (c) the wages of female employees are less adversely affected than are those of male employees and positively affected by the CEO’s first child of either gender. We also find that male CEOs pay themselves more after fathering a child, especially after fathering a son. These results are consistent with a desire by the CEO to husband more resources for his family after fathering a child and the psychological priming of the CEO’s generosity after the birth of his first daughter and specifically toward women after the birth of his first child of either gender."

The Nytimes article then writes about studies by Professor Van Lange

"The data showed that players who made the more generous choices had more siblings. The givers averaged two siblings; the others averaged one and a half siblings. More siblings means more sharing, which seems to predispose people toward giving.

And once again, gender mattered. The givers were 40 percent more likely to have sisters than the people who made more self-serving, competitive choices. (There was no difference in the number of brothers; it was the number of sisters, not siblings, that predicted greater giving.)"

It also points to an article by Roy Baumeister, "Is There Anything Good About Men?" At some point he writes:
"One test of what’s meaningfully real is the marketplace. It’s hard to find anybody making money out of gender differences in abilities. But in motivation, there are plenty. Look at the magazine industry: men’s magazines cover different stuff from women’s magazines, because men and women like and enjoy and are interested in different things. Look at the difference in films between the men’s and women’s cable channels. Look at the difference in commercials for men or for women.

This brings us to an important part of the argument. I’m suggesting the important differences between men and women are to be found in motivation rather than ability. What, then, are these differences? I want to emphasize two."

His first is:

"Recent research using DNA analysis answered this question about two years ago. Today’s human population is descended from twice as many women as men."..

This leads him to think that

"Tradeoffs again: perhaps nature designed women to seek to be lovable, whereas men were designed to strive, mostly unsuccessfully, for greatness."

His second point is
"Let me turn now to the second big motivational difference. This has its roots in an exchange in the Psychological Bulletin about ten years ago, but the issue is still fresh and relevant today. It concerns the question of whether women are more social than men.

The idea that women are more social was raised by S.E. Cross and L. Madsen in a manuscript submitted to that journal. I was sent it to review, and although I disagreed with their conclusion, I felt they had made their case well, so I advocated publishing their paper. They provided plenty of evidence. They said things like, look, men are more aggressive than women. Aggression could damage a relationship because if you hurt someone then that person might not want to be with you. Women refrain from aggression because they want relationships, but men don’t care about relationships and so are willing to be aggressive. Thus, the difference in aggression shows that women are more social than men. "

He then goes on to say:

"Now consider helping. Most research finds that men help more than women. Cross and Madsen struggled with that and eventually just fell back on the tired cliché that maybe women don’t help because they aren’t brought up to help or aren’t socialized to help. But I think the pattern is the same as with aggression. Most research looks at helping between strangers, in the larger social sphere, and so it finds men helping more. Inside the family, though, women are plenty helpful, if anything more than men."

I wonder about that, I need to read up on that literature, as my friend and coauthor Lise Vesterlund has a very nuanced story on this topic.

Baumeister goes on to say:

"Women specialize in the narrow sphere of intimate relationships. Men specialize in the larger group."

The Nytimes article then talks about

"On this point, the economists James Andreoni at the University of California, San Diego, and Lise Vesterlund at the University of Pittsburgh report evidence that whereas many women prefer to share evenly, “men are more likely to be either perfectly selfish or perfectly selfless.” It may be that meaningful contact with women is one of the forces that tilt men toward greater selflessness."

Adam Grant finishes his piece with:

"We recognize the direct advantages that women as leaders bring to the table, which often include diverse perspectives, collaborative styles, dedication to mentoring and keen understanding of female employees and customers. But we’ve largely overlooked the beneficial effects that women have on the men around them. Is it possible that when women join top management teams, they encourage male colleagues to treat employees more generously and to share knowledge more freely? Increases in motivation, cooperation, and innovation in companies may be fueled not only by the direct actions of female leaders, but also by their influence on male leaders."

Friday, July 19, 2013

Gender review article

Janet Shibley Hyde has a review article in the Annual Reviews on "Gender Similarities and Differences"

The abstract reads:

"Whether men and women are fundamentally different or similar has been debated for more than a century. This review summarizes major theories designed to explain gender differences: evolutionary theories, cognitive social learning theory, sociocultural theory, and expectancy-value theory. The gender similarities hypothesis raises the possibility of theorizing gender similarities. Statistical methods for the analysis of gender differences and similarities are reviewed, including effect sizes, meta-analysis, taxometric analysis, and equivalence testing. Then, relying mainly on evidence from meta-analyses, gender differences are reviewed in cognitive performance (e.g., math performance), personality and social behaviors (e.g., temperament, emotions, aggression, and leadership), and psychological well-being. The evidence on gender differences in variance is summarized. The final sections explore applications of intersectionality and directions for future research."

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Banned though nothing is to be seen...

Apparently the following Ad for project Runway has been banned in LA...

For more on bans on actually revealing ads, see here 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013

Workshop on Game Theory: Stony Brook

Drew Fudenberg organizes a workshop with the help of Guillaume Frechette, Muriel Niederle, and
Leeat Yariv

Workshop on Experimental Game Theory
July 14-15, 2013 - Stony Brook University

July 14-15, 2013 - Location TBD
July 14 - Day One

 Registration and Breakfast
Welcome remarks
"Institutions build intutitions: creating cultures of cooperation and defection in the laboratory"
David Rand - Yale University

"The relationship between cooperation and punishment: evidence from online experiments"
Alex Peysakhovich - Harvard University

Coffee Break
"It's the Thought that Counts: The Role of intentions in Reciprocal Altruism,"
Anna Dreber - Stockholm School of Economics

"Dissolution of Partnerships in Infinitely Repeated Games: An Experimental Examiniation of Termination Clauses"
Alistair Wilson - University of Pittsburgh


"Native Play and the Process of Choice in Guessing"
Marina Agranov - Caltech

"Identifying Predictable Players"
Muriel Niederle - Stanford University

July 15 - Day Two

"Cheap Talk and Transparency as Substitutes for Commitment in Indefinitely Repeated Policy Games"
John Duffy - University of Pittsburgh

"Cooperation in Dynamic Games: An Experimental Investigation"
Emanuel Vespa - UC Santa Barbara

Coffee Break

"Social Coupons: Mechanism Design for Social Media"

Tanya Rosenblat - Iowa State University

"An Experimental Test of a Complex Market Design: Changing the Course Allocation System at Wharton"
Judd Kessler - University of Pennsylvania

"Bargaining in Supply Chain Networks"
Stephen Leider - University of Michigan

"Belief Updating and the Demand for Information: An Experiment"
Sandro Ambuehl - Stanford University

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wallflowers or being average

Daniel Jones and Sera Linardi have a paper on "Wallflowers Doing Good: Field and Lab Evidence of Heterogeneity in Reputation Concerns"

The abstract reads

"An extensive literature on reputation signaling has focused on the desire for positive reputation. In our paper we provide field and lab evidence that some individuals are averse to any form of reputation; this aversion correlates with gender in a prosocial setting. We formalize our hypotheses of these “wallflower” types in a theoretical model. The model predicts that wallflowers will deflect unwanted attention by choosing actions that signal that they are an “average altruism type” relative to their audience. Our laboratory experiment supports these predictions."

The idea is that women, in prosocial settings, are more driven to appear average. Here is a figure that summarizes some of the work:

Men's contribution is not affected by being made visible, while the women's contribution (bottom two panels)  become more centered on the (believed) average contribution as their own contribution is made visible.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Wine tasting

The guardian has a nice article on "Wine-tasting: it's junk science" by David Derbyshire.

He writes

"Results from the first four years of the experiment, published in the Journal of Wine Economics, showed a typical judge's scores varied by plus or minus four points over the three blind tastings. A wine deemed to be a good 90 would be rated as an acceptable 86 by the same judge minutes later and then an excellent 94.

Some of the judges were far worse, others better – with around one in 10 varying their scores by just plus or minus two. A few points may not sound much but it is enough to swing a contest – and gold medals are worth a significant amount in extra sales for wineries."


"n 2011 Professor Richard Wiseman, a psychologist (and former professional magician) at Hertfordshire University invited 578 people to comment on a range of red and white wines, varying from £3.49 for a claret to £30 for champagne, and tasted blind.

People could tell the difference between wines under £5 and those above £10 only 53% of the time for whites and only 47% of the time for reds. Overall they would have been just as a successful flipping a coin to guess."

and here's a good one:
"Colour affects our perceptions too. In 2001 Frédérick Brochet of the University of Bordeaux asked 54 wine experts to test two glasses of wine – one red, one white. Using the typical language of tasters, the panel described the red as "jammy' and commented on its crushed red fruit.

The critics failed to spot that both wines were from the same bottle. The only difference was that one had been coloured red with a flavourless dye."

HT: Guillaume Frechette

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Disclosing Information is Rewarding

There is an article in PNAS which may help understand the secret of facebook et al: "Disclosing information about the self is intrinsically rewarding" by Diana I. Tamir and Jason P. Mitchell in PNAS. The abstract reads:

"Humans devote 30–40% of speech output solely to informing others of their own subjective experiences. What drives this propensity for disclosure? Here, we test recent theories that individuals place high subjective value on opportunities to communicate their thoughts and feelings to others and that doing so engages neural and cognitive mechanisms associated with  reward. Five studies provided support for this hypothesis. Self-disclosure was strongly associated with increased activation in brain regions that form the mesolimbic dopamine system, including the nucleus accumbens and ventral tegmental area. Moreover, individuals were willing to forgo money to disclose about the self. Two additional studies demonstrated that these effects stemmed from the independent value that individuals placed on self-referential thought and on simply sharing information with others. Together, these findings suggest that the human tendency to convey information about personal experience may arise from the intrinsic value associated with self-disclosure."

Saturday, July 6, 2013

sexual surrogacy

It's funny, in a way, to read in the NYtimes about how conservative the French are, as they allow prostitution but not sexual surrogacy...(see Disabled People Say They, Too, Want a Sex Life, and Seek Help in Attaining It)

What is repugnant and what not is still quite a mystery to me. Recently I was at a discussion group, in the US, where with lots of head nodding it was agreed that obviously, prostitution should be illegal, while paying for egg donors is not (kidney donors are of course a different matter).

While there was a recent paper on "Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human 
Trafficking?" by Seo-Young Cho, Axel Dreher and Eric Neumayer

The abstract reads:

"This paper investigates the impact of legalized prostitution on human trafficking inflows.
According to economic theory, there are two opposing effects of unknown magnitude. The
scale effect of legalized prostitution leads to an expansion of the prostitution market,
increasing human trafficking, while the substitution effect reduces demand for trafficked
women as legal prostitutes are favored over trafficked ones. Our empirical analysis for a
cross-section of up to 150 countries shows that the scale effect dominates the substitution
effect. On average, countries where prostitution is legal experience larger reported human
trafficking inflows."

I haven't read it, but, let's assume it is true. How about other aspects that may correlate (maybe negatively) with legality of prostitution like violence? And is it obvious that sexual trafficking would be reduced, not just shifted around, if it became illegal in the countries it is legal now?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Wearable Devices Nudge You To Health

David Pogue in the NYtimes writes about "Wearable Devices Nudge You to Health"

"You’ve heard of the Quantified Self movement? It’s the rise of watches, clips and bracelets that monitor your physical activity, sleep and other biological functions. The idea is that continual numerical awareness of your lifestyle works to motivate you: to park farther away, to get off the subway one stop sooner, to take more stairs. You study the graphs, you crunch the numbers, you live a longer, healthier life. (And you try to avoid being a crashing bore at parties.)"

I wonder if they really help as nudges... Anyone has a study on this?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Emotions and Faces

The Boston Magazine has an interesting article "About Face" by Shannon Fischer.
The first part is a nice example how different methods of asking questions can lead to different results:
She starts with

"Ekman had traveled the globe with photographs that showed faces experiencing six basic emotions—happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, and surprise. Everywhere he went, from Japan to Brazil to the remotest village of Papua New Guinea, he asked subjects to look at those faces and then to identify the emotions they saw on them. To do so, they had to pick from a set list of options presented to them by Ekman. The results were impressive. Everybody, it turned out, even preliterate Fore tribesmen in New Guinea who’d never seen a foreigner before in their lives, matched the same emotions to the same faces."


“Honestly, this is going to sound terrible,” Lisa Barrett told me when I asked her about Ekman and his original study. “But at first, when I read that work, I thought, Well, nobody can take this seriously. This can’t possibly be right. It’s too cartoonish.”
"She returned to those famous cross-cultural studies that had launched Ekman’s career—and found that they were less than watertight. The problem was the options that Ekman had given his subjects when asking them to identify the emotions shown on the faces they were presented with. Those options, Barrett discovered, had limited the ways in which people allowed themselves to think.

Barrett explained the problem to me this way: “I can break that experiment really easily, just by removing the words. I can just show you a face and ask how this person feels. Or I can show you two faces, two scowling faces, and I can say, ‘Do these people feel the same thing?’ And agreement drops into the toilet.” "

And here is an interesting part: Maybe a key feature to be a successful scientist.. After a rejection of a paper that finds results that differ from the original Ekman study from Science:

"“I felt fed up,” she told me, describing her reaction. “I just felt like, Why am I banging my head against a wall? Life is short. What the hell am I doing? Clearly people don’t give a shit about data, because if they did, I wouldn’t have this battle on my hands.” She paused. “I did feel that way for about 10 minutes. And then I took a step back and said, ‘Okay, I’ve seen reviews like this before.’”

" “Science is about persevering in the face of ambiguity and, oftentimes, adversity,” she says. “And the data, in the end, will point the way.”"

HT: Marginalrevolution

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


I have had a few weird discussions when I first lived in the US, where I was surprised to find out that something that is very common in Austria (at least among those relatively highly educated) is unheard of in the US and by many of my non-local friends in the US.

Here is a link from marginalrevolution that suggests that in sweden it is heard of as well...

For a picture to ease comprehension for my male readers see here...

I guess I now understand better why apartments in the US have so many bathrooms... or even one for her and one for him...

Monday, July 1, 2013

Happiness and Self Control

 Maia Szalavitz in Time writes: "Self-Disciplined People Are Happier (and Not as Deprived as You Think)"

She writes that

"It’s easy to think of the highly self-disciplined as being miserable misers or uptight Puritans, but it turns out that exerting self-control can make you happier not only in the long run, but also in the moment.

The research, which was published in the Journal of Personality, showed that self-control isn’t just about deprivation, but more about managing conflicting goals."


"The authors write that “feeling good rather than bad may be a core benefit of having good self-control, and being well satisfied with life is an important consequence.”

The smartphone experiment also revealed how self-control may improve mood. Those who showed the greatest self-control reported more good moods and fewer bad ones. But this didn’t appear to linked to being more able to resist temptations — it was because they exposed themselves to fewer situations that might evoke craving in the first place. They were, in essence, setting themselves up to happy. “People who have good self-control do a number of things that bring them happiness — namely, they avoid problematic desires and conflict,” says the study’s co-author Kathleen Vohs, professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota."

Here's the abstract of the original study

J Pers. 2013 Jun 11. doi: 10.1111/jopy.12050. [Epub ahead of print]
"Yes, But Are They Happy? Effects of Trait Self-Control on Affective Well-Being and Life Satisfaction." by Hofmann W, Fisher RR, Luhmann M, Vohs KD, Baumeister RF.

Does trait self-control (TSC) predict affective well-being and life satisfaction -positively, negatively, or not?
We conducted three studies (Study 1: n=414; 64.0% female; Mage =35.0 years; Study 2: n=208; 66.0% female; Mage =25.24 years; Study 3: n=234; 61.0% female; Mage =34.53 years). The key predictor was TSC, with affective well-being and life satisfaction ratings as key outcomes. Potential explanatory constructs including goal conflict, goal balancing, and emotional distress also were investigated.
TSC is positively related to affective well-being and life satisfaction, and managing goal conflict is a key as to why. All studies, moreover, showed that the effect of TSC on life satisfaction was at least partially mediated by affect. Study 1's correlational study established the effect. Study 2's experience sampling study demonstrated that compared to those low in TSC, those high in TSC experience higher levels of momentary affect even as they experience desire, an effect partially mediated through experiencing lower conflict and emotional distress. Study 3 found evidence for the proposed mechanism-that TSC may boost well-being by helping people to avoid frequent conflict and balance vice-virtue conflicts by favoring virtues.
Self-control positively contributes to happiness through avoiding and dealing with motivational conflict.

This medical format of conclusion is like the abstract of an abstract. (though in fairness, too often I read abstracts that just pose the question without any hint of at the result. Though, trying to force me to read through the paper to find out only works sometimes...)