Uncommon Knowledge: From investments to gender blindness

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Invest in Quebec? Mais non!

Even though corporations headquartered in Quebec and traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange are subject to the same accounting rules as corporations headquartered elsewhere in Canada, and even though their disclosures are issued in both English and French, and even controlling for cross-listing, provincial tax rate, and various corporation characteristics, Quebec corporations attract significantly less interest from US investors. Investors were especially averse to Quebec corporations whose names turned up more documents in French relative to English in a Google search. British investors showed a similar bias against Quebec firms; French investors did not.

Lundholm, R. et al., “The Foreign Investor Bias and Its Linguistic Origins,” Management Science (forthcoming).

Believe it or not

In an experiment, people read about a research study relevant to a policy topic. The results of the study, if properly interpreted, were either consistent or inconsistent with the participant’s own view of the topic. Sadly, both conservative and liberal participants were less likely to correctly interpret the study’s results if it didn’t line up with their views, especially in the case of controlling carbon emissions. Participants were also more skeptical of the study and its authors when the correct interpretation didn’t line up with their views, especially in the case of same-sex marriage.

Washburn, A. & Skitka, L., “Science Denial Across the Political Divide: Liberals and Conservatives Are Similarly Motivated to Deny Attitude-Inconsistent Science,” Social Psychological and Personality Science (forthcoming).

Under the influence (of science)

Economists at Washington State University found that more demanding math and science graduation requirements were associated with less drinking among high-school students, with no offsetting increase in marijuana use, even controlling for other factors. The effect was concentrated among male and minority students. There was little evidence that the extra graduation requirements increased dropout rates.

Hao, Z. & Cowan, B., “The Effects of Graduation Requirements on Risky Health Behaviors of High School Students,” National Bureau of Economic Research (September 2017).


Trickle-down representation

Political scientists at UMass Amherst compared Americans’ household incomes and ideological positions against the voting records of their members of Congress. On overall voting, including low-profile votes, people in Republican districts were more aligned with their representative the higher their incomes were; in Democratic districts, the opposite was true.

Rhodes, J. & Schaffner, B., “Testing Models of Unequal Representation: Democratic Populists and Republican Oligarchs?” Quarterly Journal of Political Science (September 2017).

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Gender-blindness has benefits

Researchers found that women who downplayed gender differences — either on their own or after reading an article advocating such a perspective — reported higher workplace confidence, especially if they worked in male-dominated workplaces, and were less cautious in decision-making scenarios.

Martin, A. & Phillips, K., “What ‘Blindness’ to Gender Differences Helps Women See and Do: Implications for Confidence, Agency, and Action in Male-Dominated Environments,” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes (September 2017).

Kevin Lewis is an Ideas columnist. He can be reached at