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Social Studies: Female lawmakers’ burden; the voice in your head; change yourself or change your job?

New research indicates that constituents expect female legislators like Senator Elizabeth Warren to work on more policy issues than male legislators do.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

Ask her

Political scientists worked with two pairs of legislators in two states to send out a survey to constituents. One pair were Democrats representing the same suburban district, and the other pair were Republicans representing the same rural town. Each pair consisted of a female and a male legislator of the same race. Half the constituents received the survey from the female legislator, while the other half received it from the male legislator. The survey asked an open-ended question: “What policy issues do you think I should work on during the upcoming session?” In both states, constituents were more likely to respond to the female legislator, and as a result, she was asked to work on more issues.


Butler, D. et al., “Constituents Ask Female Legislators to Do More,” Journal of Politics (forthcoming).

Tough childhood

Study subjects who were given fictitious profiles of white boys expected that the kids from working-class backgrounds would feel less pain from a range of painful stimuli than affluent kids would. The subjects apparently presumed that the lower-class kids would have had more hardship in their lives, and this presumption also led the study subjects to expect that working-class kids would need less pain medication for various injuries.

Summers, K. et al., “Poor Toddlers Feel Less Pain? Application of Class-Based Pain Stereotypes in Judgments of Children,” Social Psychological and Personality Science (forthcoming).

Necessity is the mother of invention

Why did the Industrial Revolution begin in some parts of Britain rather than others? Explanations have ranged wildly. Some historians say industrialization grew out of colonial exploitation and a desire to substitute machinery for expensive workers. Other scholars have suggested that proximity to coal, literacy rates, or access to capital were major factors. But a recent study by economists challenges these explanations. The economists say that the spark came from areas with “poor agricultural potential,” where workers did not earn high wages and had to develop versatile artisanal skills that “could be readily adapted and transferred to the increasingly sophisticated machinery and manufacturing processes of the early Industrial Revolution.”


Kelly, M. et al., “The Mechanics of the Industrial Revolution,” Journal of Political Economy (forthcoming).

Hearing aids

In experiments, people who listened to an audio clip on headphones rather than speakers generally felt closer to the person speaking in the clip and were more strongly persuaded by them. This effect was attenuated when a surround-sound audio filter was applied, suggesting that the effect is caused by the feeling that the voice is inside your head.

Lieberman, A. et al., “A Voice Inside My Head: The Psychological and Behavioral Consequences of Auditory Technologies,” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes (May 2022).

You and your job

In an experiment with a Fortune 500 technology company, employees were randomly assigned to one of three “career development” workshops. One encouraged a self-growth mindset (i.e., changing your abilities or traits to better suit your job’s tasks and relationships). One encouraged a job-growth mindset (i.e., changing your job’s tasks and relationships to better suit your abilities and traits). And the third encouraged a dual-growth mindset (i.e., changing both abilities/traits and tasks/relationships to better suit each other). Six months later, managers and coworkers of the employees who attended the dual-growth-mindset workshop perceived the employees to be happier. No effect was seen in the employees who attended the other workshops. A similar experiment done online with people working for various employers produced similar results.


Berg, J. et al., “Getting Unstuck: The Effects of Growth Mindsets About the Self and Job on Happiness at Work,” Journal of Applied Psychology (forthcoming).