Sunday, 22 July 2012

Sociology and Psychology stuff from the week 16-22/7/12

Peer pressure really counts -- even to charitable donations
'Researchers reveal 'peer effect' really counts when it comes to charitable giving'
"The University of Bristol study found that donors were strongly influenced by how much other people had given. One donation of £100 typically shifts average donations from £20 to £30. The effects also appear to be fairly persisent, lasting at least up to 20 donations after. Similarly, a single small donation to a website lowers the amounts that are subsequently given by around £5."

Companies with Republican-supporting CEOs pay more tax than companies with Democrat-supporting CEOs, despite Republicans being more anti-tax.
The reason for this is that Republicans are more conservative - they are less tolerant of ambiguity, and more risk-averse - which means they accept less risk with tax avoidance schemes, meaning they end up paying more tax.
The researchers found that this is the case, and not simply the higher-tax-payers resenting doing so, by noticing that changes in CEO were succeeded by changes in the companies tax avoidance riskiness.

An insight into cultural variations around the world:
US women with east asian ancestry, who had suffered domestic violence "used mental health services only 5.3 percent of the time, while Latino victims used them 14.6 percent of the time"
A study using several national surveys found that "asian victims of domestic violence were at least four times less likely to use mental health services than whites, blacks or Latinos"
"In many Asian cultures, seeking help can be seen as shameful to the victim and the victim's family."

'Anxiety disorders in poor moms likely to result from poverty, not mental illness'
Anxiety: internally or externally caused? In many, it's caused by physiological deficit, but the trials of living in poverty seem to cause anxiety in mothers, independently of any anxiety disorder.
"the poorest mothers had greater odds of being classified as having [Generalised anxiety disorder] but that the path from anxiety to parenting stress was not supported..."
"Our findings suggest that anxiety in poor mothers is usually not a psychiatric problem but a reaction to severe environmental deficits"

Want to get more money for your items on ebay? Put them on a red background.
The red background motivationally arouses bidders, causing them to bid more aggressively, and end up paying more for the item.
But in negotiations, this effect causes them to submit lower bids, resulting in a lower payment. Here, blue maximises amount paid.
"Buyers think they are competing against other bidders in auctions. Therefore, a red background is advantageous to sellers as aggressive bidders will try to win by outbidding other potential buyers and therefore offer higher bids. In negotiations, however, buyers are competing against the seller and will try to get the best deal. In this case, sellers will benefit from a blue background."
Whether this colour-perception is immutable or cultural, is, i think, still being debated.

Consumers have a tendency to select options from the centre of their field of view, and are unaware that they're even doing this.
"Using eye-tracking devices, the authors investigated how location influences choices for products as varied as vitamins, meal replacement bars, and energy drinks. Consumers had a tendency to increase their visual focus on the central option in the final five seconds prior to a decision and this determined which option they would choose."
The researchers say this phenomenon comes in to play when the consumers are choosing between unfamiliarised varieties of products, that they frequently purchase.

Oh -- the perils of self-assessment. I hated these, at school!
"Consumers often fear the worst when it comes to their own health while maintaining a calm objectivity with regard to others. For example, when someone else suffers from indigestion, we tend to accurately perceive it as indigestion, but experiencing the same symptom might lead us to panic and worry that we're having a heart attack."
This is how people do on-line diagnoses, and conclude that they have tropical frostbite, as well as being in a coma: the process of self-assessment allows emotionalism to creep into judgement, meaning a compromised appreciation of the facts. Symptoms are matched up to conditions, rather than conditions matched up to symptoms.
"One of the easiest ways to get rid of this bias is to see a real doctor instead of Dr. Google. A real doctor possesses much more knowledge and will take the prevalence of a disease into consideration because she is viewing the patient from a distance. This will prevent symptoms from exerting a disproportionate influence on the diagnosis"

Magnitudinous thinking, yet again: blurring the variables of spatial distance and temporal distance:
'Why does the week before your vacation seem longer when you're going far away?'
"The authors asked consumers to imagine visiting a post office today and a bookstore in three months. Some were told that the distance between the post office and the bookstore was long, while others were told it was short. When the distance was long, consumers perceived the same three month period to be longer. Similarly, consumers who imagined moving far away when they retire felt their retirement was farther away in time than those who imagined moving near their current location."

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