American Individualism Rises and Falls with the Economy: Cross-temporal Evidence that Individualism Declines When the Economy Falters

EMILY BIANCHI

JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY, Volume 111, Issue 3

Abstract: Past work has shown that economic growth often engenders greater individualism. Yet much of this work charts changes in wealth and individualism over long periods of time, making it unclear whether rising individualism is primarily driven by wealth or by the social and generational changes that often accompany large-scale economic transformations. This article explores whether individualism is sensitive to more transient macroeconomic fluctuations, even in the absence of transformative social changes or generational turnover. Six studies found that individualism swelled during prosperous times and fell during recessionary times. In good economic times, Americans were more likely to give newborns uncommon names (Study 1), champion autonomy in children (Study 2), aspire to look different from others (Study 3), and favor music with self-focused language (Study 4). Conversely, when the economy was floundering, Americans were more likely to socialize children to attend to the needs of others (Study 2) and favor music with other-oriented language (Study 4). Subsequent studies found that recessions engendered uncertainty (Study 5) which in turn tempered individualism and fostered interdependence (Study 6).

The Weakness of Postcommunist Civil Society Reassessed

ROBERTO STEFAN FOA & GRZEGORZ EKIERT

EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF POLITICAL RESEARCH

Abstract: During the last two decades, scholars from a variety of disciplines have argued that civil society is structurally deficient in postcommunist countries. Yet why have the seemingly strong, active and mobilised civic movements of the transition period become so weak after democracy was established? And why have there been diverging political trajectories across the postcommunist space if civil society structures were universally weak? This article uses a new, broader range of data to show that civil societies in Central and Eastern European countries are not as feeble as commonly assumed. Many postcommunist countries possess vigorous public spheres and active civil society organisations strongly connected to transnational civic networks able to shape domestic policies. In a series of time-series cross-section models, the article shows that broader measures of civic and social institutions are able to predict the diverging transition paths among postcommunist regimes, and in particular the growing gap between democratic East Central Europe and the increasingly authoritarian post-Soviet space.

Identity Voting

STEPHEN ANSOLABEHERE & M. SOCORRO PUY

PUBLIC CHOICE, October 2016, Volume 169, Issue 1, pp 77–95

Abstract: This paper analyzes voting behavior in parliamentary elections in which positional and identity issues sustain the party system. We extend the conventional spatial voting model to incorporate identity issues. Identity is tied to the race, language, religion or culture of the voters and both voters and political parties may belong to different identity groups. By identity voting we show that voters, who are otherwise centrist, move toward the parties that align with their identities. To illustrate the mechanics of identity voting, we provide an empirical analysis of parliamentary elections to the Basque Autonomous Community. Besides the two positional issues in the region—left–right ideology and nationalism—we show that language and Basque sentiment have significant effects on voting. Our analysis suggests that identity voting polarizes voters and can sustain stable multi-party systems. This finding is of immediate importance to other regions and countries where the electorate is divided by strong ties to different religions, languages or cultures.

Privacy, Neuroscience, and Neuro-Surveillance

ADAM D. MOORE

RES PUBLICA, pp 1-19

Abstract: The beliefs, feelings, and thoughts that make up our streams of consciousness would seem to be inherently private. Nevertheless, modern neuroscience is offering to open up the sanctity of this domain to outside viewing. A common retort often voiced to this worry is something like, ‘Privacy is difficult to define and has no inherent moral value. What’s so great about privacy?’ In this article I will argue against these sentiments. A definition of privacy is offered along with an account of why privacy is morally valuable. In the remaining sections, several privacy protecting principles are defended that would limit various sorts of neuro-surveillance promised by advancements in neuroscience.

Mindful Economics: The Production, Consumption, and Value of Beliefs

ROLAND BÉNABOU AND JEAN TIROLE
THE JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC PERSPECTIVES 30.3 (2016): 141-164

Abstract: In this paper, we provide a perspective into the main ideas and findings emerging from the growing literature on motivated beliefs and reasoning. This perspective emphasizes that beliefs often fulfill important psychological and functional needs of the individual. Economically relevant examples include confidence in ones’ abilities, moral self-esteem, hope and anxiety reduction, social identity, political ideology, and religious faith. People thus hold certain beliefs in part because they attach value to them, as a result of some (usually implicit) tradeoff between accuracy and desirability. In a sense, we propose to treat beliefs as regular economic goods and assets—which people consume, invest in, reap returns from, and produce, using the informational inputs they receive or have access to. Such beliefs will be resistant to many forms of evidence, with individuals displaying non-Bayesian behaviors such as not wanting to know, wishful thinking, and reality denial.

Inference of Trustworthiness from Intuitive Moral Judgments

EVERETT, JIM A. C.; PIZARRO, DAVID A.; CROCKETT, M. J.
JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY: GENERAL,  145.6 (2016):  772-787.

Abstract: Moral judgments play a critical role in motivating and enforcing human cooperation, and research on the proximate mechanisms of moral judgments highlights the importance of intuitive, automatic processes in forming such judgments. Intuitive moral judgments often share characteristics with deontological theories in normative ethics, which argue that certain acts (such as killing) are absolutely wrong, regardless of their consequences. Why do moral intuitions typically follow deontological prescriptions, as opposed to those of other ethical theories? Here, we test a functional explanation for this phenomenon by investigating whether agents who express deontological moral judgments are more valued as social partners. Continue reading

What Makes Law to Change Behavior? An Experimental Study

RUSTAM ROMANIUC
REVIEW OF LAW & ECONOMICS (2016). ADVANCED ONLINE PUBLICATION DOI: 10.1515/rle-2015-0045.

Abstract: The use of mild laws to affect people’s behavior is pervasive – from environmental regulation to tort law – but little is known about how the law changes human behavior and social outcomes when it uses non-deterrent monetary incentives. We find that when low monetary incentives are framed so as to indicate what is group desirable behavior, people behave more cooperatively in a public goods game than when no-incentives exist. However, we find that the effect is transitory. Surprisingly, the effect is long lasting when low monetary incentives are presented as payments for some neutral behavior – that is, when the fine is presented as a mere price change. Continue reading