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Finding ways to elect more women

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Leaning in, on request

Political scientists at Brigham Young University conducted an experiment with a state Republican Party to encourage local party caucuses to elect more women delegates to the state convention. Historically, about half of Republican caucus attendees had been women, but only about a quarter of delegates had been women. For the experiment, local party leaders were randomly assigned to receive different letters from the state party. When the letter asked the local party leader to encourage a few women to become delegates or asked the local party leader to encourage attendees to elect women delegates — but particularly when the letter asked the local party leader to do both — more women were indeed chosen.


Karpowitz, C. et al., “How to Elect More Women: Gender and Candidate Success in a Field Experiment,” American Journal of Political Science (forthcoming).

Maybe Hollywood needs more immigrants

A study found that students at “a top international business school” became more creative over the course of a year if they dated someone from a different culture during that time. Likewise, in a sample of Americans, creativity was higher among those who had spent more time in cross-cultural relationships. And foreigners who had worked in the United States reported being more entrepreneurial and innovative back in their home countries if they had more contact with their American friends. To test this effect experimentally, Americans who had dated both natives and foreigners were randomly assigned to write about one or the other experience. Those who wrote about dating a foreigner exhibited more creativity.

Lu, J. et al., “‘Going Out’ of the Box: Close Intercultural Friendships and Romantic Relationships Spark Creativity, Workplace Innovation, and Entrepreneurship,” Journal of Applied Psychology (forthcoming).

How smart is too smart?

Researchers studied a sample of mid-level managers, mostly in Europe. Co-workers’ assessments of their leadership were associated with higher intelligence, but only up to a point — when the manager had an IQ of around 120. After that, higher intelligence became somewhat of a liability.


Antonakis, J. et al., “Can Super Smart Leaders Suffer from Too Much of a Good Thing? The Curvilinear Effect of Intelligence on Perceived Leadership Behavior,” Journal of Applied Psychology (forthcoming).

Disgust on trial

In two experiments, people who reviewed evidence from a murder trial where the defense’s case was strong were more inclined to convict if the evidence included color photographs of the victim’s body. Black-and-white photographs didn’t have the same effect.

Salerno, J., “Seeing Red: Disgust Reactions to Gruesome Photographs in Color (but not in Black and White) Increase Convictions,” Psychology, Public Policy, and Law (forthcoming).

Poor tax returns

Poor people benefit from filing tax returns. Economists from the Office of Tax Analysis at the Department of the Treasury found that low-income individuals who were induced to file a return for 2007 — because filing was required to get a stimulus payment in 2008 — were much more likely to file returns in subsequent years. In those years, they had higher earnings and were more likely to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit. As a result, they were significantly less likely to fall below the poverty line.

Ramnath, S. & Tong, P., “The Persistent Reduction in Poverty from Filing a Tax Return,” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy (forthcoming).

Kevin Lewis is an Ideas columnist. He can be reached at kevin.lewis.ideas@gmail.com.