Behavioral Scientist’s Research Lead Highlights of 2022 – By… – Behavior Scientist

As the editor who heads our monthly collection of new research, it’s not uncommon for me to feel both daunted and exhilarated.  

Daunted because there’s a lot out there. In 2021, the American Psychological Association alone published over 5, 000 articles. That’s about 417 content articles per month from one publisher in one field. From economics to sociology, neuroscience to management, plus the applied worlds of government, business, and nonprofits, the ever-expanding, ever-evolving sphere of the social and behavioral sciences keeps us busy.

Exhilarated due to the fact the payoff is well worth it. The right piece associated with research can educate, delight, and inspire. It’s a privilege in order to identify brand new work that readers might not have otherwise come across. To build bridges between fields plus showcase the particular creativity and endeavor of behavioral scientists across the world.

Below, I’ve selected eight highlights from this year’s Research Leads—ideas that I found myself returning to long after we’d written about them.

Here’s to what we learned in 2022 and to questions we’ll ask in 2023.

— Heather Graci, Assistant Editor

P. S. You can access our full collection associated with Research Leads here .

“Can behavior interventions be too salient? Evidence through traffic safety messages” [From our May Research Lead ]

“1669 DEATHS THIS YEAR ON TEXAS ROADS, ” read a digital highway sign along the interstate. If you had to guess, what impact do you think this would have on your driving? Twenty-eight states use a similar program, where highway signs display the number of state-wide traffic deaths so far that year, reaching over 100 million drivers annually.  

Recently, a research team led by Jonathan Hall plus Joshua Madsen identified an opportunity for a natural experiment to evaluate the effect of these indicators on visitors accidents. In Texas, these messages are only displayed during the week leading up to the Texas Department of Transportation’s monthly board meeting. The authors looked into the particular effect from the signs and report that not only are usually these indications ineffective in preventing crashes, there are actually more crashes while these messages were displayed—an estimated 4. 5 percent increase in the first six miles (10 kilometers) downstream from 1 of those symptoms. They present back-of-the-envelope calculations which suggest the Tx signage leads to an additional 2, 600 crashes plus 16 deaths each 12 months at a cost of $377 million.

Why do the particular signs backfire? Hall and Madsen recommend that these types of signs temporarily distract drivers, increasing cognitive load plus inducing anxiety which makes it more difficult to safely react in order to changing traffic conditions. These findings imply that the other 27 states would do well to assess the influence of the signals on their motorists. Additionally , the study serves as a cautionary tale for all those who are usually working to incorporate behavioral insights into public policy—the writers remind us that “measuring an intervention’s effect is important, even for simple interventions, since good intentions need not imply good outcomes. ” [ Science ]

Source: Hall & Madsen, Science .

“The cultural evolution associated with love within literary history” [From our May Research Lead ]

If Tina Turner was a good economist as well because a singer, maybe she would have sung, “What’s love got to do with … economic development? ” And she would have been onto something. In his 1994 book, Love and Marriage in the Middle Ages, medieval historian Georges Duby posited that financial development may help explain the increased importance of romantic really like in the Western world. Interestingly, historians associated with literature possess observed that will romantic adore became a lot more culturally significant beyond the particular West during roughly the same time period, including in India, Persia, China, Japan, plus the Arab world.  

Across a series of four studies published within Nature , Nicolas Baumard and the team of researchers examined this cross-cultural convergence in order to figure out if economic development could help clarify the rise in the significance of romantic love. The authors first built a database associated with 3, 800 years of ancient literary fiction and their narrative elements, such as enjoy at first sight, tragic separations, and vows of eternal fidelity. Then, they analyzed the particular relationship among these mentions of like and measures of financial development in a given region. The authors report a positive relationship between the mentions associated with love plus economic factors like GDP per capita, population density, and size of the largest city. [ Nature ]

“What’s next? Artists’ music after Grammy Awards” [From our September Research Lead ]

How does winning a Grammy Award influence a musician’s subsequent art? What about losing one? A team of researchers recently investigated exactly what happens to an artist’s songs after they are nominated for Album from the Year, Record associated with the 12 months, Song of the Year, or Best New Artist. The research team discovered that after winning, artists were more likely to differentiate their own musical style from other artists, and even from their own prior work. They observed the opposite effect in Grammy nominees who did not win, whose music became less stylistically distinct from comparable artists.  

The reason why this shift? One reason, the writers suggest, is that the increased recognition gives successful artists leverage in their particular relationships along with their record labels to pursue their personal artistic inclinations. Nonwinners, by contrast, may interpret their loss as a signal that their own previous efforts were undeserving of acknowledgement, which could make them more inclined in order to imitate features of successful performers.

Because there are a lot more nominees that lose than win, “The award system apparently exerts a chilling effect on artistic differentiation in a cultural field, ” the authors write, “even though the purposes of award sponsors are often the particular reverse. ” [ American Sociological Review , open access ]

Tap into the wisdom of your “inner crowd” [From our July Research Lead ]

How much does a newborn African elephant weigh? What percentage of its oil does Saudi Arabia consume versus export? The United States is home to what percent from the world’s airports?

If a person don’t have got Google at your fingertips, your best bet to get these queries right is to phone a friend. Or, even better, to phone several friends—the “wisdom of crowds” phenomenon assumes that aggregating independent estimates from a diverse set of individuals is more accurate compared to any single estimate. But if your friends aren’t answering their particular phones, a new study illustrates a way to tap into the knowledge of your own “inner crowd. ” 

Here is how it worked: 1st, researchers asked participants to estimate unknown quantities, like the elephant, oil, plus airport questions above. Then, they requested participants to make a second imagine from a single of three perspectives: their own, a buddy they often agree with, or even a friend they often disagree with. When they averaged the participant’s two guesses, they found that participants who took on a disagreeing perspective together with their own produced more accurate estimates compared with individuals in the some other two conditions. [ Psychological Science ]

Oh, kale no! [From our October Research Lead ]

When I (Evan) was a kid, about five or so, I loved Popeye—the cartoon sailor man along with ridiculously large forearms and a passion for spinach. In the violation associated with unspoken kid law, We loved spinach too. My brother Max was around one at the time, and I actually convinced my mom he needed in order to get on the Popeye diet. My mom dutifully bought a jar of the green stuff. As the spoon-turned-airplane made its approach, the brother’s face contorted, this did not really have permission to land. It was the particular only food my brother spit away as a baby.  

Max would empathize with the participants of a recent study that will explored the taste of leafy greens, albeit they were a bit younger. Lately, a team of researchers wondered how and whether fetuses near their due date, in between 32 plus 36 weeks, experience taste. To figure it out there, they exposed fetuses to the flavor of either carrots or kale, via a pill taken by the mother. Then, these people used an ultrasound in order to observe the particular real-time facial reactions associated with the fetuses.

Certain combinations of these facial movements were of particular interest—they combined to form a “cry-face” or even a “laughter-face. ” If you’ve ever eaten carrots or kale, you can probably suppose which caused which. These people found that fetuses exposed to kale made a “cry-face” more frequently than those uncovered to carrots or in order to nothing, whereas those exposed to carrots were the most likely to make “laughter-face. ” [ Psychological Science ]

An example of the kale-induced grimace (left) and a carrot-induced grin (right). Source: Ustun, et al. (2022) .

What do friends have to perform with economic mobility?   [From our September Research Lead ]

So how exactly does interpersonal capital relate to financial mobility? In a two-part study recently released in Nature , Raj Chetty and his team analyzed data through over 70 million Facebook users to find out. Their work revealed the importance of friendships across socioeconomic class lines. More specifically, they will found that will economic connectedness, or the degree in order to which high-SES and low-SES people are usually friends with each additional, is one of the most powerful predictors of economic mobility identified to date.  

Within their second paper, the particular authors focus on the potential policy implications of this newly uncovered connection between friendships and financial mobility. In case policymakers can successfully foster economic connectedness, the writers argue, they might become able to boost mobility too: “If children with low-SES parents were to grow up in counties with economic connectedness comparable to the average child along with high-SES parents, their incomes in adulthood would increase by 20% on average. ”

The authors provide clear but nuanced advice: within places exactly where people already tend to form cross-class relationships, increased exposure (via more integrated schools, neighborhoods, plus religious organizations) might help increase economic connectedness. In places where people predominantly befriend those within their own group, extra steps may be necessary to foster these types of connections, such as restructuring local institutions and community spaces. To help policymakers integrate these considerations into their particular decision-making, the authors created an interactive visualization associated with all of their data here . [ Nature: Part 1 , Part 2 ]

Source: Opportunity Insights Social Capital Atlas .

An anti-poverty policy that worked left in order to expire [From our May Research Lead ]

During the particular pandemic, congress passed a temporary expanded child tax credit. Parents received $3, 000 for every child aged six to 17 and $3, six hundred for kids under 6. The Center on Poverty & Interpersonal Policy (CPSP) at Columbia University estimated the program reduced the portion of children in poverty from 15. 8 percent in order to 11. 9 percent. But that credit expired within December 2021. In January 2022, an estimated 3. 7 million more were in poverty than the month before. One working paper approximated the program would recoup its cost 10 times over, plus a group of behavioral scientists penned an open letter urging Congress to extend the credit. Without the credit, the particular CPSP reported the poverty rate for children in the United States at close to 17 %. [ Center on Poverty & Social Policy report , open letter , National Bureau of Economic Research working paper ]

Rediscovery: The particular Turnaway Study, a data-driven look at abortion and health (2012)  [From our July Research Lead ]

In 2007, the Supreme Court banned “partial-birth” abortion without exception to protect the patient’s health. In his opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy speculated on the impact an child killingilligal baby killing might have upon a woman’s mental wellness, despite having no data to support his argument. “While we find no reliable information to measure the phenomenon, ” he wrote, “it seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come in order to regret their choice to abort the particular infant life they once created plus sustained. Severe depression and loss of esteem may follow. ”

In response to the Court’s speculation, Diana Greene Foster began “ The Turnaway Study ”—a 10-year research project conducted to better understand the effect of getting an illigal baby killing (or being denied one) on a person’s mental, physical, and socioeconomic well-being. She and her team recruited about 1, 000 ladies who possibly had an abortion or had been denied the particular procedure. They will interviewed each of the women every six months for 5 years, amassing a collection of more than 8, 000 interviews.

Foster and the girl team discovered that women who were denied an abortion experienced worse long-term bodily health plus increased financial insecurity, which in turn took the toll on the development of their existing children. They found simply no evidence associated with negative mental health outcomes among females who receive an child killingilligal baby killing, contrary to Justice Kennedy’s rumours. Foster documents the ten-year project within her 2021 book, The Turnaway Study : Ten Years, a Thousand Women, and the Consequences of Having—or Being Denied—an Abortion . [ The Turnaway Study ]

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