Facebook’s arrival negatively impacted students’ mental health
The rollout of Facebook on college campuses negatively impacted students’ mental health and academic performance.
We provide quasi-experimental estimates of the impact of social media on mental health by leveraging a unique natural experiment: the staggered introduction of Facebook across US colleges. Our analysis couples data on student mental health around the years of Facebook's expansion with a generalized difference-in-differences empirical strategy. We find that the rollout of Facebook at a college had a negative impact on student mental health. It also increased the likelihood with which students reported experiencing impairments to academic performance due to poor mental health. Additional evidence on mechanisms suggests the results are due to Facebook fostering unfavorable social comparisons.
Black enfranchisement led to white backlash
Black state prison admissions increased disproportionately after 1965 in states and counties covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
The 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) fundamentally changed the distribution of electoral power in the US South. We examine the consequences of this mass enfranchisement of Black people for the use of the carceral state—police, the courts, and the prison system. We study the extent to which white communities in the US South responded to the end of Jim Crow by increasing the incarceration of Black people. We test this with new historical data on state and county prison intake data by race (~1940–1985) in a series of difference-in-differences designs. We find that states covered by Section 5 of the VRA experienced a differential increase in Black prison admissions relative to those that were not covered and that incarceration varied systematically in proportion to the electoral threat posed by Black voters. Our findings indicate the potentially perverse consequences of enfranchisement when establishment power seeks—and finds—other outlets of social and political control.
Legacy admissions benefit universities economically but decrease diversity
Legacy admissions provide greater economic benefits to universities than non-legacy admissions but decrease class diversity.
When screening candidates, organizations often give preference to certain applicants on the basis of their familial ties. This “legacy preference,” particularly widespread in college admissions, has been criticized for contributing to inequality and class reproduction. Despite this, studies continue to report that legacies are persistently admitted at higher rates than non-legacies. In this article, we develop a theoretical framework of three distinct sense-making strategies at play when decision-makers screen applicants into their organizations—the meritocratic, material, and diversity logics. We then apply this framework to investigate how legacy preferences either support or undermine each organizational logic using comprehensive data on the population of applicants seeking admission into one elite U.S. college. We find strong support for the material logic at the cost of the other two organizational logics: legacies make better alumni after graduation and have wealthier parents who are materially-positioned to be more generous donors than non-legacy parents. Contrary to the meritocratic logic, we find that legacies are neither more qualified applicants nor better students academically. From a diversity standpoint, legacies are less racially diverse than non-legacies. We conclude with a discussion of our study’s implications for understanding the role of family relationships and nepotism in today’s organizational selection processes.
Empirical Bayes applications
Advances in nonparametric empirical Bayes methods are useful for analyzing data from multiple large-scale randomized controlled trials and for estimating value-added models in education.
In response to Nikolaos Ignatiadis and Stefan Wager’s paper on empirical Bayes procedures, this article evaluates the proposed tools for constructing confidence intervals and proposes new areas where the tools may be useful. The tools developed by Ignatiadis and Wager could be useful in the analysis of random experiments, which are frequently used in pharmaceutical trials and in the private sector. These tools could also help better create value-added models in education, which calculate the impact of individual teachers on student performance. Though these applications are promising, there are still issues to solve, such as adapting to unit-specific covariates.
Rituals of non-accumulation may limit societies’ opportunities for growth
The famous “kula exchange” in Papua New Guinea may serve the function of keeping exchanging communities small and isolated.
This article interprets the kula system through the lens of the Laozi, a Chinese classic of the 6th century BCE. Laozi's ideas regarding “esteeming goods,” “non-accumulation,” and “small realms with few people” allow us to understand why kula shells and names are precious but impossible to accumulate and how kula serves to keep societies small and peaceful with its subtle practice of organizations, technologies, and calendars. Through exemplary “elders” who esteem goods hard to accumulate, the kula operates as a void system close to the spontaneous order idealized by Laozi, who promoted the ideal of the non-accumulative Sage. Epistemologically, the article continues the anthropological tradition of perspectivist comparison by proposing a Sinic interpretation, a version of multi-universalism that does not intend to invalidate the existing universalism but seeks to transcend the view of a singular western universalism and multiple non-Western exceptionalisms.
Toppling historical monuments
A narrated gallery of global conflicts over historical monuments illuminates the many settings in which engaged publics are challenging dominant historical narratives.
These capsule case studies of contestations over monuments illuminate the global iconoclasm that has marked our recent past and attend to the many registers and settings in which publics are challenging seemingly settled historical narratives. They take readers to monumental public campaigns in South Africa, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Belgium, and the United States. Each capsule includes an image, a short description and suggestions for further reading. We hope that these might prove useful as teaching texts, and we have where possible included multimedia sources.
Self-reported moral values are associated with Covid-19 vaccination rates
County-level measures of self-reported moral values are correlated with county-level COVID-19 vaccination rates.
Despite the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines, the United States has a depressed rate of vaccination relative to similar countries. Understanding the psychology of vaccine refusal, particularly the possible sources of variation in vaccine resistance across U.S. subpopulations, can aid in designing effective intervention strategies to increase vaccination across different regions. Here, we demonstrate that county-level moral values (i.e., Care, Fairness, Loyalty, Authority, and Purity) are associated with COVID-19 vaccination rates across 3,106 counties in the contiguous United States. Specifically, in line with our hypothesis, we find that fewer people are vaccinated in counties whose residents prioritize moral concerns about bodily and spiritual purity. Further, we find that stronger endorsements of concerns about Fairness and Loyalty to the group predict higher vaccination rates. These associations are robust after adjusting for structural barriers to vaccination, the demographic makeup of the counties, and their residents’ political voting behavior. Our findings have implications for health communication, intervention strategies based on targeted messaging, and our fundamental understanding of the moral psychology of vaccination hesitancy and behavior.