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Social Studies: It feels good to win, guilt by association, and self-sacrifice in Japanese baseball

Former New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka gestures at a news conference in January, after returning to his home country of Japan to rejoin the Rakuten Golden Eagles. New research suggests the differing styles of baseball played in Japan and North America reflect the cultures in both places.
Former New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka gestures at a news conference in January, after returning to his home country of Japan to rejoin the Rakuten Golden Eagles. New research suggests the differing styles of baseball played in Japan and North America reflect the cultures in both places.Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

Turning out for winners

Political scientists found that turnout was higher among voters who were redistricted into a new congressional district with a partisan tilt that matched their own partisan affiliation, compared with similar voters remaining in a district that didn’t match. People are more likely to vote, the study suggests, if they think they’re backing a winner.

Fraga, B. et al., “Partisan Alignment Increases Voter Turnout: Evidence from Redistricting,” Political Behavior (forthcoming).

Guilt by association

People in Hollywood who were blacklisted in the McCarthy era had trouble getting work in film until the end of the 1950s, when the stigma lifted and their employment recovered to what was typical for the industry. By contrast, those who were mere associates — those who had simply worked on a film with someone who was eventually blacklisted — suffered to a lesser extent during the McCarthy era. And yet after the blacklisting era ended, these associates continued to suffer an employment penalty — and saw that penalty grow even stiffer than before. Researchers surmise that there was sympathy in Hollywood for the formerly blacklisted while a lingering stain on their associates was unconsciously perpetuated.

Negro, G. et al., “Destigmatization and Its Imbalanced Effects in Labor Markets,” Management Science (forthcoming).

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Jury of your peers?

An analysis of jury and trial data for Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston, reveals that jurors from whiter and wealthier neighborhoods are over-represented on juries, and that this is more a reflection of the jury pool that shows up on any given day than any bias in jury selection. When people from whiter and wealthier neighborhoods are over-represented in the jury pool, researchers found, “Black defendants are much more likely to be convicted, receive more severe jury-determined sentences, and are much more likely to receive life sentences when eligible.”

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Anwar, S. et al., “Unequal Jury Representation and Its Consequences,” National Bureau of Economic Research (March 2021).

Playing at home

There are more home runs and strikeouts per game and fewer sacrifice bunts in Major League Baseball than in the Japanese equivalent, Nippon Professional Baseball. Researchers suggest that it’s because high-risk/high-reward strategies are more valued in North America. In surveys of baseball fans in both cultures, Americans were more focused on getting rewards than avoiding mistakes in their day-to-day lives, and they more strongly preferred high-risk/high-reward strategies in various baseball scenarios.

Chuang, R. et al., “Swinging for the Fences Versus Advancing the Runner: Culture, Motivation, and Strategic Decision Making,” Social Psychological and Personality Science (forthcoming).