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Uncommon Knowledge: ‘First’ drafts, Limousine liberals, and IQ tests

None of her business

A professor at Columbia University’s business school collected data from entrepreneur clubs and found that female members working in predominantly male occupations received significantly fewer business contact referrals from other members, even controlling for other aspects of each member’s club and referral activity. This disparity was not the case for deals between members themselves, suggesting that members were worried what third-party contacts would think about female entrepreneurs in predominantly male occupations.

Abraham, M., “Gender-Role Incongruity and Audience-based Gender Bias: An Examination of Networking among Entrepreneurs,” Administrative Science Quarterly (forthcoming).

The new, new thing

Research from Harvard Business School suggests that you should avoid presenting “first” drafts. In one experiment, independent evaluators rated drafts higher when they were labeled as final rather than first drafts, regardless of which version they actually were, or how improved the authors themselves thought they were. Similar labeling effects were found in evaluations of food, logos, and video games, even when the ostensibly older and newer versions were exactly the same.

Garcia-Rada, X. et al., “The Revision Bias,” Harvard University (February 2019).


Smarter at the top

In an experiment with people in both France and the United States, participants were put in a low-social-class or high-social-class frame of mind — by comparing themselves to people at the top or the bottom — and were then asked to take an IQ test with the goal of doing better than others or just doing one’s best. Those put in a low-social-class frame of mind performed worse when the goal was doing better than others.

Crouzevialle, M. & Darnon, C., “On the Academic Disadvantage of Low Social Class Individuals: Pursuing Performance Goals Fosters the Emergence of the Achievement Gap,” Journal of Educational Psychology (forthcoming).

Limousine liberals

In the wake of the Citizens United campaign finance decision by the Supreme Court in 2010, there has been a surge in dark-money groups — 501(c)(4) non-profits that are not required to disclose donors — involved in politics. Relying on “the only publicly available donor list for a dark money group in existence today — that of ‘Americans for Job Security,’ who contributed $11 million to two conservative-leaning ballot initiative campaigns in California during the 2012 elections,” a political scientist found that the group’s donors were more liberal, as measured by the ideologies of the candidates to whom they donated publicly, compared to non-dark-money donors to the same initiative campaigns. That suggests left-leaning donors felt social pressure to conceal their donations to a right-leaning cause.


Oklobdzija, S., “Public Positions, Private Giving: Dark Money and Political Donors in the Digital Age,” Research & Politics (forthcoming).

One strike and you’re out

A political scientist at MIT analyzed data on first-time misdemeanor defendants in Harris County (Houston), Texas, and found that black defendants who got jail time because they were randomly assigned to a more punitive courtroom were significantly less likely to vote in the next presidential election. This wasn’t the case for whites, perhaps because black defendants were more politically engaged to begin with — they were more likely to have voted in the previous presidential election — making them more vulnerable to being discouraged by a punitive sentence. Extrapolating nationwide, upwards of 100,000 blacks in similar circumstances may have been discouraged from voting.

White, A., “Misdemeanor Disenfranchisement? The Demobilizing Effects of Brief Jail Spells on Potential Voters,” American Political Science Review (forthcoming).


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