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Archive for 'Research News'

The Need for Justifiable Busyness [study]

Monday, April 19th, 2021

If someone had told Sisyphus that he was no longer required to push a large boulder up a mountainside for all eternity . . . would he have carried on anyway? According to a 2010 paper in the journal Psychological Science, he might well have.

“Our research suggests that Sisyphus was better off with his punishment than he would have been with a punishment of an eternity of doing nothing, and that he might have chosen rolling a rock over idleness if he had been given a slight reason for doing it.”

The research team speculate(d) that :

“[…] most people today no longer expend much energy on basic survival needs, so they have excessive energy, which they like to release through action.”

And so, due to idleness aversion, prefer fighting each other, making money, or writing scientific papers. The authors offer some practical advice regarding their discoveries :

“For example, homeowners may increase the happiness of their idle housekeepers by letting in some mice and prompting the housekeepers to clean up. Governments may increase the happiness of idle citizens by having them build bridges that are actually useless.”

See: Idleness Aversion and the Need for Justifiable Busyness Psychological Science. 21(7):926-30. A free copy of which may be found here

Illustration source Wikipedia. Research research by Martin Gardiner 

Depression and Chocolate

Friday, April 16th, 2021

Depression and Chocolate” is a featured article in the special Chocolate issue (volume 27, number 1) of the Annals of Improbable Research. This article is free to download:

The article highlights several research studies about the search for delicious mood management methods.

Shareholder Value Destruction following Tiger Wood’s Earlier Car Crash

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

Tiger Woods, the celebrated professional golfer, was in a car crash in 2020. This was his second widely-reported major smash-up. After the first crash—in 2009—economists calculated some of the economic knock-on costs to companies that had paid Woods to endorse them or their products and services.

They reported details in a study: “Shareholder Value Destruction following the Tiger Woods Scandal,” Christopher R. Knittel and Victor Stango, University of California, Davis, January 2010. The authors report:

“We estimate that in the days beginning with Tiger Woods’ recent car accident and ending with his announced ‘indefinite leave’ from golf, shareholders of companies that Mr. Woods endorses lost $5-12 billion in wealth. We measure the losses relative to both the entire stock market and a set of competitor firms.”

Do looks matter for an academic career in economics? [study]

Monday, April 12th, 2021

According to a new paper from the Centre for Economic Policy Research, the answer is (a robust) ‘yes’.

We document appearance effects in the economics profession. Using unique data on PhD graduates from ten of the top economics departments in the United States we test whether more attractive individuals are more likely to succeed. We find robust evidence that appearance has predictive power for job outcomes and research productivity. Attractive individuals are more likely to study at higher ranked PhD institutions and are more likely to be placed at higher-ranking academic institutions not only for their first job, but also for jobs as many as 15 years after their graduation, even when we control for the ranking of PhD institution and first job. Appearance also predicts the success of research output: while it does not predict the number of papers an individual writes, it predicts the number of citations for a given number of papers, again even when we control for the ranking of the PhD institution and first job. All these effects are robust, statistically significant, and substantial in magnitude.

You can download the paper here from the UK based Centre for Economic Policy Research for GBP £6.00.

Or, if you prefer, you download it here, for free (from the same organisation).

Note: The photo (not featured in the study) depicts The Right Honourable John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes CB, FBA, (1883–1946) who was, some say, one of the most influential economists of the 20th century.

Research research by Martin Gardiner

Protecting Large Hollow Chocolate Bunnies

Friday, April 2nd, 2021

Protecting Large Hollow Chocolate Bunnies” is a featured article in the special Chocolate issue (volume 27, number 1) of the Annals of Improbable Research. This article is free to download:

The article begins: “There are few peer-reviewed papers on the subject of designing and testing an improved packaging for large hollow chocolate bunnies. Of these, the most bouncily thorough is one called “Designing and Testing an Improved Packaging for Large Hollow Chocolate Bunnies.” Though just seven pages long, it contains everything a research report ought to have….”

Improbable Research