“Birth of a Nation” increased lynchings and race riots
In an instrumental variables design, counties with theaters showing “Birth of a Nation” in 1915 saw sharp post-release increases in lynchings, race riots, and Klan support, and higher rates of hate crimes and hate groups 100 years later.
This paper documents the impact of popular media on racial hate by examining the first American blockbuster: 1915's The Birth of a Nation, a fictional portrayal of the KKK's founding rife with racist stereotypes. Exploiting the film's five-year "road show," I find a sharp spike in lynchings and race riots coinciding with its arrival in a county. Instrumenting for road show destinations using the location of theaters prior to the movie's release, I show that the film significantly increased local Klan support in the 1920s. Road show counties continue to experience higher rates of hate crimes and hate groups a century later.
The impacts of education spending in antebellum New York
In a geographic regression discontinuity design, New York townships that received more school funding prior to the Civil War later had higher median earnings, lower earnings inequality, and higher levels of voter turnout.
Democratic theorists have long argued that states can create more resilient democracies through education. Educational investments are thought to produce more economic equality and instill in citizens greater capacity and responsibility to participate in politics. Using a geographic regression discontinuity design and township-level data from Antebellum New York State, we examine whether state funding for common schools led to higher voter turnout as well as higher earnings and lower inequality. Our estimates support the view that a participatory democratic culture emerged not only because of initial favorable endowments but also because of subsequent government decisions to fund education. New York townships that received more school funding later had higher median earnings, lower earnings inequality, and higher levels of voter turnout. Our findings support the view that maintaining democracy requires active investments by the state, something that has important implications for other places and other times—including today.
Measuring scientific novelty
Computational text analysis applied to data from the Web of Science and Citation Classics reveals that new methods are more disruptive to the production of scientific knowledge than new theories or new results.
Novelty and impact are key characteristics of the scientific enterprise. Classic theories of scientific change distinguish among different types of novelty and emphasize how a new idea interacts with previous work and influences future flows of knowledge. However, even recently developed measures of novelty remain unidimensional, and continued reliance on citation counts captures only the amount, but not the nature, of scientific impact. To better align theoretical and empirical work, we attend to different types of novelty (new results, new theories, and new methods) and whether a scientific offering has a consolidating form of influence (bringing renewed attention to foundational ideas) or a disruptive one (prompting subsequent scholars to overlook them). By integrating data from the Web of Science (to measure the nature of influence) with essays written by authors of Citation Classics (to measure novelty type), and by joining computational text analysis with statistical analyses, we demonstrate clear and robust patterns between type of novelty and the nature of scientific influence. As expected, new methods tend to be more disruptive, whereas new theories tend to be less disruptive. Surprisingly, new results do not have a robust effect on the nature of scientific influence.
Noncompliance in factorial experiments
A new methodology using the potential outcomes framework for analyzing factorial experiments with noncompliance on any number of factors is applied to a field experiment on the effectiveness of different forms of get-out-the-vote canvassing.
Factorial experiments are widely used to assess the marginal, joint, and interactive effects of multiple concurrent factors. While a robust literature covers the design and analysis of these experiments, there is less work on how to handle treatment noncompliance in this setting. To fill this gap, we introduce a new methodology that uses the potential outcomes framework for analyzing 2K factorial experiments with noncompliance on any number of factors. This framework builds on and extends the literature on both instrumental variables and factorial experiments in several ways. First, we define novel, complier-specific quantities of interest for this setting and show how to generalize key instrumental variables assumptions. Second, we show how partial compliance across factors gives researchers a choice over different types of compliers to target in estimation. Third, we show how to conduct inference for these new estimands from both the finite-population and superpopulation asymptotic perspectives. Finally, we illustrate these techniques by applying them to a field experiment on the effectiveness of different forms of get-out-the-vote canvassing. New easy-to-use, open-source software implements the methodology. Supplementary materials for this article are available online.
Understanding parent-child conflict in Micronesia
The anthropology of Pacific cultures spotlights social conflict as a proximate cause of suicide. Ethnographic accounts suggest that suicidal behaviors are high-cost conflict-resolution strategies. We investigate parent-child conflicts and the strategies adolescents and young adults use to resolve them, using concepts from human behavioral ecology to interpret results from in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 58 Chon Chuuk participants. One strategy for resolving conflicts in one's favor is to impose costs through the threat or use of violence, but an alternative strategy for those who lack social power or formidability involves social withdrawal, or withholding cooperation, until the interdependent parties reach an agreement. The Chuukese term amwunumwun refers to a spectrum of social withdrawal, including avoidance, running away, and suicide. Strategies involving withholding cooperation were the most reported child behavioral response. As predicted, low-cost strategies, such as negotiation, were associated with nonsevere conflicts (e.g., playing with friends), whereas high-cost withholding cooperation, such as running away, was associated with severe conflicts (e.g., labor exploitation). Importantly, withholding cooperation was often, but not always, associated with outcomes favoring the child. We propose that withholding cooperation is a culturally ubiquitous strategy, ranging from avoidance to suicidality, used by the powerless to achieve more favorable outcomes.
Reconciling liberty, equality, and slavery in revolutionary Paris
Records of correspondence, legislative committees, the Jacobin Club, and private meetings in Paris during the winter of 1789–90 reveal how French revolutionaries reconciled the slave trade with the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.
During the winter of 1789–90, contemporaries in Paris observed intense controversy over the future of the lucrative colonial slave trade. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, in proclaiming all men free and equal, raised questions about the legality of slaving. Both the abolitionist Society of the Friends of the Blacks and proslavery commercial lobbyists representing France’s chambers of commerce, influenced by developments in Britain and the United States, sought to force the slave trade onto the legislative agenda. Countering a consensus that the French revolutionaries never confronted the problem of the slave trade, this essay looks beyond the floor of the National Constituent Assembly to reveal the high-stakes debates that played out largely shielded from public view: in correspondence, in legislative committees, in the Jacobin Club, and in private meetings. This contest served as a proving ground for France’s new representative government and an engine for political innovation, engaging a broad cast of nonelected political actors in the process of lawmaking. Faced with the threat of bankruptcy, revolutionaries voted overwhelmingly to reconcile liberty, equality, and slavery, establishing precedents for future regimes.
Gender disparities in invited submissions to psychology journals
Relative to the proportion of women full and associate professors in psychology at R1 institutions, women were disproportionately underrepresented as authors of invited submissions in five elite psychology journals between 2015 and 2019.
Women comprise the majority of graduates from psychology doctoral programs, but equity is yet to be achieved in the professoriate. Publication drives career advancement, underscoring the need to investigate publication-based metrics of eminence. To our knowledge, authorship of invited submissions—a proxy of research esteem—has not been the focus of any psychology studies. In this cross-sectional study, authorship of invited submission(s) in five elite psychology journals (2015–2019) was investigated: Psychological Science in the Public Interest, Annual Review of Psychology, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, and Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior. We hypothesized that women would be underrepresented. Author gender was classified using publicly available details (e.g., pronouns on professional websites). Primary outcomes were the proportion of women solo-, first-, or likely invited authors, relative to the proportion of women full and associate professors in psychology at R1 institutions (42.3%). Of 1,828 authorship positions (713 articles), 35.6% were occupied by women. Relative to the nominated base rate, women were disproportionately underrepresented. When the likely invited author on a multi-author publication was a woman, the first author was a woman on 51.0% of papers; when the likely invited author was a man, the first author was a woman on 34.1% of papers. These findings align with prior studies and extend the research by demonstrating that the gender publication gap in psychology is exacerbated in invited submissions and driven by particular subfields. Continued efforts are needed to redress gender disparities in authorship of invited submissions.