Saturday, November 29, 2008

Risk and Action

Foregoing the Labor for the Fruits: The Effect of Just World Threat on the Desire for Immediate Monetary Rewards

Mitchell Callan, Will Shead & James Olson
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Previous theorizing and research suggests that the need to believe in a just world develops when children begin to understand the benefits of foregoing their immediate gratifications for more desirable, long-term outcomes. Drawing on this previous work, we propose that an extant just world threat may induce a desire for smaller, immediate rewards at the expense of larger, delayed rewards. Participants were exposed to the suffering of an innocent or non-innocent victim and then, in a different context, completed a temporal discounting task that assessed, across 6 time delays, their preferences for smaller, immediate monetary rewards versus a constant, larger, delayed reward. Consistent with our reasoning, participants exposed to the suffering of an innocent versus non-innocent victim more steeply discounted the value of the delayed reward — that is, they were willing to accept smaller immediate rewards in place of the larger, delayed reward. The theoretical and practical implications of these results are discussed.


Risk Loving after the Storm: A Bayesian-Network Study of Hurricane Katrina Evacuees
Catherine Eckel, Mahmoud El-Gamal & Rick Wilson
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

We investigate risk preferences of a sample of hurricane Katrina evacuees shortly after they were evacuated and transported to Houston, and another sample from the same population taken a year later. We also consider a third sample of resident Houstonians with demographics similar to the Katrina evacuees. Conventional statistical methods fail to explain a strong risk-loving bias in the first Katrina-evacuees sample. We utilize Bayesian Networks to investigate all relevant conditional distributions for gamble choices, demographic variables, and responses to psychometric questionaires. We uncover surprising results: Contrary to prior experimental evidence, we find that women in our sample were signicantly more risk loving in the first Katrina sample and only mildly more risk averse in the other two samples. We find that gamble choices are best predicted by positive-emotion variables. We therefore explain the risk-loving choices of the first Katrina-evacuees sample by the detected primacy of negative emotion variables in that sample and explain the latter by traumatic and heightened-stress experiences
shortly after the hurricane.

(Nod to KL)