Digital platforms induce addictive behaviors

A randomized experiment incentivizing reduced use of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, web browsers, and YouTube reveals that 31 percent of social media use can be attributed to addictive behaviors.

Digital Addiction
Author(s)
Hunt Alcott, Matthew Gentzkow, and Lena Song
Journal
American Economic Review
Citation
Allcott, Hunt, Matthew Gentzkow, and Lena Song. “Digital Addiction.” American Economic Review 112, no. 7 (2022): 2424–63. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.20210867. Copy
Abstract

Many have argued that digital technologies such as smartphones and social media are addictive. We develop an economic model of digital addiction and estimate it using a randomized experiment. Temporary incentives to reduce social media use have persistent effects, suggesting social media are habit forming. Allowing people to set limits on their future screen time substantially reduces use, suggesting self-control problems. Additional evidence suggests people are inattentive to habit formation and partially unaware of self-control problems. Looking at these facts through the lens of our model suggests that self-control problems cause 31 percent of social media use.

Social desirability bias increased Putin’s popularity after Crimea annexation

Panel survey data and a list experiment reveal that 75 percent of the post-Crimea increase in Vladimir Putin’s popularity was not sincere.

Authoritarian Rallying as Reputational Cascade? Evidence from Putin’s Popularity Surge after Crimea
Author(s)
Henry E. Hale
Journal
American Political Science Review
Citation
Hale, Henry E. “Authoritarian Rallying as Reputational Cascade? Evidence from Putin’s Popularity Surge after Crimea.” American Political Science Review 116, no. 2 (2022): 580–594. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003055421001052. Copy
Abstract

When international conflict causes an authoritarian leader’s popularity to soar, extant theories lead us to treat such “rallying” as sincere preference change, the product of surging patriotism or cowed media. This study advances a theory of less-than-fully sincere rallying more appropriate for nondemocratic settings, characterizing it as at least partly reflecting cascading dissembling driven by social desirability concerns. The identification strategy combines a rare nationally representative rally-spanning panel survey with a list experiment and econometric analysis. This establishes that three quarters of those who rallied to Putin after Russia annexed Crimea were engaging in at least some form of dissembling and that this rallying developed as a rapid cascade, with social media joining television in fueling perceptions this was socially desirable.

Male patients seek male medical providers, contributing to the gender pay gap in medicine

In a sample of 2 million first-time referrals of adult patients to specialist medical providers, male patients referred to female specialists disproportionately seek second opinions and further treatment from male specialists, reducing female specialist billings by 11 percent.

Gender in the Markets for Expertise
Author(s)
Mathijs de Vaan and Toby Stuart
Journal
American Sociological Review
Citation
de Vaan, Mathijs, and Toby Stuart. “Gender in the Markets for Expertise.” American Sociological Review 87, no. 3 (June 2022): 443–477. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F00031224221087374. Copy
Abstract

Stratification in professional careers arises in part from interpersonal dynamics in client-expert dyads. To reduce perceived uncertainty in judgments of the quality of experts, clients may rely on ascriptive characteristics of experts and on pairwise, relational factors to assess the advice they receive. Two such characteristics, expert gender and client-expert gender concordance, may lead to differences in clients’ trust in expert advice. To explore these issues, we investigate the incidence of patient-initiated second opinions (SOs) in medicine. In an examination of millions of medical claims in Massachusetts, we find that male patients are much more likely than female patients to obtain an SO if the first specialist they consult is female. Moreover, when the first specialist a patient consults is gender non-concordant and the patient seeks an SO, male patients are substantially more likely to switch to a same-gender specialist in the SO visit. Because patients who lack confidence in the advice of the first-seen specialist infrequently return to this specialist for medical services, female specialists generate lower billings. Analyses of medical spending in follow-up visits suggest that gendered patterns in questioning the advice of medical experts have the potential to contribute substantially to the gender pay gap in medicine.

Post-matching inference may result in invalid standard errors

Regression models estimated after matching control and treatment groups on observables must explicitly account for the matching step in order to estimate asymptotically valid standard errors.

Robust Post-Matching Inference
Author(s)
Alberto Abadie and Jann Spiess
Journal
Journal of the American Statistical Association
Citation
Abadie, Alberto, and Jann Spiess. “Robust Post-Matching Inference.” Journal of the American Statistical Association 117, no. 538 (2022): 983–995. https://doi.org/10.1080/01621459.2020.1840383. Copy
Abstract

Nearest-neighbor matching is a popular nonparametric tool to create balance between treatment and control groups in observational studies. As a preprocessing step before regression, matching reduces the dependence on parametric modeling assumptions. In current empirical practice, however, the matching step is often ignored in the calculation of standard errors and confidence intervals. In this article, we show that ignoring the matching step results in asymptotically valid standard errors if matching is done without replacement and the regression model is correctly specified relative to the population regression function of the outcome variable on the treatment variable and all the covariates used for matching. However, standard errors that ignore the matching step are not valid if matching is conducted with replacement or, more crucially, if the second step regression model is misspecified in the sense indicated above. Moreover, correct specification of the regression model is not required for consistent estimation of treatment effects with matched data. We show that two easily implementable alternatives produce approximations to the distribution of the post-matching estimator that are robust to misspecification. A simulation study and an empirical example demonstrate the empirical relevance of our results. Supplementary materials for this article are available online.

Water sharing practices in water-insecure environments are associated with increased conflict

Survey data from 20 global sites reveal that the practice of reciprocal household water sharing in water-insecure environments is associated with increased conflict and emotional distress.

Water sharing is a distressing form of reciprocity: Shame, upset, anger, and conflict over water in twenty cross-cultural sites
Author(s)
Amber Wutich, Asher Rosinger, Alexandra Brewis, Melissa Beresford, Sera Young, and Household Water Insecurity Experiences Research Coordination Network
Journal
American Anthropologist
Citation
Wutich, Amber, Asher Rosinger, Alexandra Brewis, Melissa Beresford, Sera Young, and Household Water Insecurity Experiences Research Coordination Network. “Water Sharing is a Distressing Form of Reciprocity: Shame, Upset, Anger, and Conflict over Water in Twenty Cross-cultural Sites.” American Anthropologist 124, no. 2 (2022): 279–290. https://doi.org/10.1111/aman.13682. Copy
Abstract

Anthropological theories of reciprocity suggest it enhances prestige, social solidarity, and material security. Yet, some ethnographic cases suggest that water sharing—a form of reciprocity newly gaining scholarly attention—might work in the opposite way, increasing conflict and emotional distress. Using cross-cultural survey data from twenty global sites (n = 4,267), we test how household water reciprocity (giving and receiving) is associated with negative emotional and social outcomes. Participation in water sharing as both givers and receivers is consistently associated with greater odds of reporting shame, upset, and conflict over water. Water sharing experiences in a large, diverse sample confirm a lack of alignment with predictions of classic reciprocity theories. Recent ethnographic research on reciprocity in contexts of deepening contemporary poverty will allow development of ethnographically informed theories to better explain negative experiences tied to water reciprocity.

US WWII procurement efforts created local export monopolies in China

Newly uncovered archival sources in China, Taiwan, and the United States reveal the role played by US WWII wartime procurement efforts in contributing to local export monopolies and economic inequality in postwar China.

Wartime Dollars and the Crowning of China’s Hog Bristle King: The Dubious Legacies of American Aid, 1938–1949
Author(s)
Judd Kinzley
Journal
The American Historical Review
Citation
Kinzley, Judd. “Wartime Dollars and the Crowning of China’s Hog Bristle King: The Dubious Legacies of American Aid, 1938–1949,” The American Historical Review 127, no. 1 (March 2022): 31–61. https://doi.org/10.1093/ahr/rhac008. Copy
Abstract

US war mobilization efforts in the early 1940s helped create demand for a vast assortment of raw materials not produced in the domestic United States. These demands led to the formation of a new foreign aid regime that sought to procure strategic materials in exchange for loans, cash, and industrial and military goods. This essay, which draws on archival sources collected in China, Taiwan, and the United States, examines the power and legacy of US overseas procurement programs by focusing on the case of China and the US effort to acquire hog bristles. Hog bristles, which were used for the production of a vast assortment of brushes, were one of China’s largest wartime exports. The US wartime demand for bristles helped empower a small number of Chinese firms that controlled local production. One of these firms used wartime controls to dominate the industry by 1945, and the head of the firm, Gu Gengyu, was later deemed the “hog-bristle king.” This essay explores the long-term legacies of US wartime procurement programs, revealing how they helped empower a new and powerful class of transnational businessmen with strong ties to the government, as well as deep connections to US markets.

Preregistration of quantitative research increases scientific credibility

A task force sponsored by the American Psychological Association, the British Psychological Society, and the German Psychological Society produced a template for preregistering quantitative research as a means to increase the transparency and robustness of scientific findings.

A Template for Preregistration of Quantitative Research in Psychology: Report of the Joint Psychological Societies Preregistration Task Force
Author(s)
Michael Bosnjak, Christian J. Fiebach, David Mellor, Stefanie Mueller, Daryl B. O’Connor, Frederick L. Oswald, and Rosemarie I. Sokol
Journal
American Psychologist
Citation
Bosnjak, Michael, Christian J. Fiebach, David Mellor, Stefanie Mueller, Daryl B. O'Connor, Frederick L. Oswald, and Rosemarie I. Sokol. “A Template for Preregistration of Quantitative Research in Psychology: Report of the Joint Psychological Societies Preregistration Task Force.” American Psychologist 77, no. 4 (2022): 602–615. https://doi.org/10.1037/amp0000879. Copy
Abstract

Recent years have seen dramatic changes in research practices in psychological science. In particular, preregistration of study plans before conducting a study has been identified as an important tool to help increase the transparency of science and to improve the robustness of psychological research findings. This article presents the Psychological Research Preregistration-Quantitative (PRP-QUANT) Template produced by a Joint Psychological Societies Preregistration Task Force consisting of the American Psychological Association (APA), the British Psychological Society (BPS), and the German Psychological Society (DGPs), supported by the Center for Open Science (COS) and the Leibniz Institute for Psychology (ZPID). The goal of the Task Force was to provide the psychological community with a consensus template for the preregistration of quantitative research in psychology, one with wide coverage and the ability, if necessary, to adapt to specific journals, disciplines, and researcher needs. This article covers the structure and use of the PRP-QUANT template, while outlining and discussing the benefits of its use for researchers, authors, funders, and other relevant stakeholders. We hope that by introducing this template and by demonstrating the support of preregistration by major academic psychological societies, we will facilitate an increase in preregistration practices and also the further advancement of transparency and knowledge-sharing in the psychological sciences.

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