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MindReader Weekly – 11th – [Summer reading list] and why you should always carry heavy objects with you

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Potentially MindShifting Papers:*(see below)

„In this paper, we take a structural approach to investigate the effects of wages and working hours on health behaviors of low-educated persons using variation in wages and hours caused by changes in economic activity. We find that increases in hours are associated with an increase in cigarette smoking, a reduction in physical activity, and fewer visits to physicians. More importantly, we find that most of the effects associated with changes in hours can be attributed to the changes in the extensive margin of employment. Increases in wages are associated with greater consumption of cigarettes.“

  • Alexander Haslam, Michelle Ryan, Clara Kulich, Grzegorz Trojanowski, and Cate Atkins (2010):

„This paper presents a comprehensive archival examination of FTSE 100 companies in the period 2001–2005, focusing on the relationship between the presence of women on company boards and both accountancy-based and stock-based measures of company performance. Consistent with work by Adams, Gupta and Leeth this analysis reveals that there was no relationship between women’s presence on boards and ‚objective‘ accountancy-based measures of performance (return on assets, return on equity). However, consistent with ‚glass cliff‘ research there was a negative relationship between women’s presence on boards and ‚subjective‘ stock-based measures of performance. Companies with male-only boards enjoyed a valuation premium of 37% relative to firms with a woman on their board. Results support claims that women are found on the boards of companies that are perceived to be performing poorly and that their presence on boards can lead to the devaluation of companies by investors. Yet the findings also indicate that perceptions and investment are not aligned with the underlying realities of company performance.“

  • Joshua Ackerman, Christopher Nocera, and John Bargh (2010):

„Touch is both the first sense to develop and a critical means of information acquisition and environmental manipulation. Physical touch experiences may create an ontological scaffold for the development of intrapersonal and interpersonal conceptual and metaphorical knowledge, as well as a springboard for the application of this knowledge. In six experiments, holding heavy or light clipboards, solving rough or smooth puzzles, and touching hard or soft objects nonconsciously influenced impressions and decisions formed about unrelated people and situations. Among other effects, heavy objects made job candidates appear more important, rough objects made social interactions appear more difficult, and hard objects increased rigidity in negotiations. Basic tactile sensations are thus shown to influence higher social cognitive processing in dimension-specific and metaphor-specific ways.“

  • Johann Graf Lambsdorff, Björn Frank (2010):

„We let students play a corruption game, embedded into a variant of the ultimatum game. Those allotted the role of public servants chose between whistleblowing, opportunism and reciprocity (delivery of a contract) and those acting as businesspeople chose how to frame the game (calling their payment either a gift or a bribe) and whether to blow the whistle at the end of the game. Opportunism and abstaining from whistleblowing is the Nash equilibrium. In line with widespread experimental evidence we find instead that businesspeople and public servants depart from maximizing payoffs. Businesspeople who strongly preferred to call the payment a bribe were more willing to punish non-delivering public servants. Translated to the real world, this finding reveals that gift-giving is a less effective method for influencing public servants because gifts fail to signal businesspeople’s willingness to retaliate opportunism.“

„This study uses a three-person gift-exchange game experiment to examine the impact of pay comparisons on effort behavior. We compare effort choices made in a treatment where coworkers’ wages are secret with effort choices made in two ‘public wages’ treatments. The two ‘public wages’ treatments differ in whether co-workers’ wages are chosen by an employer, or are fixed exogenously by the experimenter. We find that pay comparison information has an overall detrimental impact on effort choices: employees respond less favorably to the wage offers made by the employer when they receive information about the wage paid to the co-worker as compared to the case where co-workers’ wages are secret. These effects are particularly pronounced in the treatment where the level of the co-worker’s wage is fixed exogenously.“

  • Maia Young, Larisse Tiedens, Heajung Jung, and Tsai Ming-Hong (2009):

„The current research explores the effect of anger on hypothesis confirmation — the propensity to seek information that confirms rather than disconfirms one’s opinion. We argue that the moving against action tendency associated with anger leads angry individuals to seek out disconfirming evidence, attenuating the confirmation bias. We test this hypothesis in two studies of experimentally-primed anger and sadness on the selective exposure to hypothesis confirming and disconfirming information. In Study 1, participants in the angry condition were more likely to choose disconfirming information than those in the sad or neutral condition when given the opportunity to read about a controversial social issue. Study 2 measured participants’ opinions and information selection about the 2008 Presidential Election and the desire to ‘move against’ a person or object. Participants in the angry condition reported a greater tendency to oppose a person or object, and this tendency led them to select more disconfirming information.“

  • John Dickhaut, Sudipta Basu, Kevin McCabe, and Greg Waymire (2010):

We develop the hypothesis that culturally evolved accounting principles will be ultimately explained by their consilience with how the human brain has evolved biologically to evaluate social and economic exchange. We provide background on the structure and evolution of the brain, the measurement of brain behavior during economic decision making, and the brain’s central role in building economic institutions. We describe the emergence of modern accounting principles and argue that the primary function of accounting in evaluating exchange is to provide quantified information on the net benefits of past exchanges. We review evidence documented by neuroscientists that is consistent with the hypothesis that longstanding accounting principles (e. g., Revenue Realization and Conservatism) have distinct parallels in brain behaviors. Our analysis of Neuroaccounting extends Basu and Waymire (2006) to provide a new way to scientifically view accounting, which has implications for how we think about the origins and persistence of longstanding accounting principles.“

  • Christiane Schwieren, Doris Weichselbaumer (2010):

„In this paper, we experimentally test whether competing for a desired reward does not only affect individuals‘ performance, but also their tendency to cheat. Recent doping scandals in sports as well as forgery and plagiarism scandals in academia have been partially explained by „competitive pressures“, which suggests a link between competition and cheating. In our experiment subjects conduct a task where they have the possibility to make use of illegitimate tools to better their results. We find that women react much stronger to competitive pressure by increasing their cheating activity while there is no overall sex difference in cheating. However, the effect of competition on women’s cheating behavior is entirely due to the fact that women, on average, are doing worse with respect to the assigned task. Indeed we find that it is the ability of an individual to conduct a particular task and not sex that crucially affects the reaction to competition. Poor performers significantly increase their cheating behavior under competition which may be a face-saving strategy or an attempt to retain a chance of winning.“

  • Scott Carrell, James West (2010):

„In primary and secondary education, measures of teacher quality are often based on contemporaneous student performance on standardized achievement tests. In the postsecondary environment, scores on student evaluations of professors are typically used to measure teaching quality. We possess unique data that allow us to measure relative student performance in mandatory follow‐on classes. We compare metrics that capture these three different notions of instructional quality and present evidence that professors who excel at promoting contemporaneous student achievement teach in ways that improve their student evaluations but harm the follow‐on achievement of their students in more advanced classes.“

Summer reading list:

  • „The Company of Strangers: A Natural History of Economic Life (Revised Edition)“ by Paul Seabright (2010)
  • „The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves“ by Matt Ridley (2010)
  • „How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like“ by Paul Bloom (2010)
  • „The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home“ by Dan Ariely (2010)
  • „The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us“ by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons (2010)
  • „The Calculus of Selfishness“ by Karl Sigmund (2010)
  • „Better Living through Economics“ by John Siegfried (Editor) (2010)
  • „The Art of Choosing“ by Sheena Iyengar (2010)
  • „Brand Sense: Sensory Secrets Behind the Stuff We Buy“ by Martin Lindstrom (2010)
  • „Identity Economics: How Our Identities Shape Our Work, Wages, and Well-Being“ by George Akerlof and Rachel Kranton (2010). Actually, I’m just finishing this one. The book alone is hugely overrated. Although the idea of identity economics is very inspiring, the book is heavily based on articles published by these authors in recent years, i.e. (2000), (2002), and (2005), and doesn’t bring anything more.

* If you can‘t get any of the mentioned papers, please, contact me. If there is a bunch of curious students interested in discussing the topics published in MindReader, the debate will be held by Petr Koblovský, Ph.D. in „my“ restaurant at 19:00, August 2, 2010. Discussion will be in Czech (unless notified otherwise). If you are interested to participate, please send him an e-mail by July 30, 2010.


  • 2nd International Conference on Neuroeconomics and Neuromanagement (Theme: the Development and Future of Neuroeconomics and Neuromanagement), November 6-7, 2010, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China – General information.