Ideas
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    Brainiac

    Fait accompli on bottle bans

    A student grabs a flavored seltzer water in the University of Vermont's cafeteria, The Marketplace, in the Dudley S. Davis Student Center, while flavored water and seltzer waters are still available after the banning of plastic water bottles on campus
    Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist for The Boston Globe

    Fait accompli

    The very fact of something taking effect makes people more likely to accept it, new research indicates. Right after a ban on selling plastic water bottles took effect in San Francisco, residents reported more positive attitudes towards the ban than when they were asked right before it took effect. When interviewed right after a ban on smoking in certain areas took effect in Ontario, smokers reported having smoked less in those areas in the past — as compared with smokers who were asked right before the ban took effect. Likewise, Americans reported more support for President Trump right after his inauguration than immediately before.

    Laurin, K., “Inaugurating Rationalization: Three Field Studies Find Increased Rationalization When Anticipated Realities Become Current,” Psychological Science (forthcoming).

    Neighborhood attractions

    Analyzing data on residential property sales and exploiting the timing of the unexpected lifting of a moratorium on new strip clubs in Seattle, economists found “no statistical evidence that the presence of strip clubs was associated with any abnormal property price declines,” while “the evidence suggests some excess price appreciation for properties located 1,000 to 2,000 feet from clubs.”

    Brooks, T. et al., “Strip Clubs, ‘Secondary Effects,’ and Residential Property Prices,” Real Estate Economics (forthcoming).

    Seeing is believing

    In a series of experiments, researchers at the University of Chicago showed people a brief video clip of someone performing a difficult action (e.g., yanking a tablecloth from under tableware, throwing darts, doing the moonwalk a la Michael Jackson, juggling bowling pins). After watching the video clip over and over many times, people become significantly more confident in their ability to perform the action than if they’d watched the video once or received non-visual instruction. They were also more confident than their own actual performance might justify. In other words, binge-watching led to overconfidence.

    Kardas, M. & O’Brien, E., “Easier Seen than Done: Merely Watching Others Perform Can Foster an Illusion of Skill Acquisition,” Psychological Science (forthcoming).

    Unrepresentative

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    By comparing the ideological positions of voters and candidates for the US House of Representatives, political scientists found that “the ideological positions of individual congressional candidates have only a modest effect on citizens’ voting decisions,” such that voters are really just considering party affiliation, not ideology. As a result, ideological moderation is worth only 1 or 2 percentage points for congressional candidates.

    Tausanovitch, C. & Warshaw, C., “Does the Ideological Proximity between Candidates and Voters Affect Voting in U.S. House Elections?” Political Behavior (forthcoming).

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    Quick, read this

    In several experiments, participants had to choose between identical tasks with different payouts. Each task was also said to “expire” after either a short or long period of time — though, in both cases, the expiration deadline was always longer than the time participants were told they’d have to complete the task. In other words, the expiration deadline was specious. Nevertheless, a significant fraction of participants chose the task with the lower payout when it had a tight deadline, suggesting how easy it is to create an illusion of urgency. This was particularly true for participants who thought of themselves as busy.

    Zhu, M. et al., “The Mere Urgency Effect,” Journal of Consumer Research (forthcoming).

    kevin.lewis.ideas@globe.com