Video of the day

Okay, this is 10 minutes– definitely long for anything I put here– but this is kind of amazing.  A 10-minute beat poem, amazingly animated, ranting against alternative medicine, etc.  More here.

How your marriage leads to political polarization

In a recent quick hit, I linked to a piece about how on-line dating can contribute to political polarization.  Jennifer Victor Casey Klofstad has a really nice post in the Mischiefs of Faction that summarizes it such that I wanted to give it its own post:

These exceptions aside, the finding that liberals and conservatives generally want to date people who share their characteristics has two implications. First,in an earlier paper we published with this same data set, we found that many people avoid politics in their dating profiles…

This said, while politics appears to be avoided actively at the outset of the dating process, most long-term partners share political preferences. If this is the case, how do we find a partner that shares our views if we avoid politics when dating? Our results suggest that by matching on other factors, such as those listed in the online dating profiles, we might also match on political preferences.
Second, parents pass their political preferences on to their offspring through socialization and through their genes. Consequently, the more we pair off with partners who share our political preferences, the more likely we are to pass those shared preferences on to future generations. In other words, like-seeks-like mating can lead to increased political polarization over time. [emphasis mine] If we are more easily able to find partners like ourselves by “shopping” for them online, Internet dating could hasten this process. We show in a computer simulation that this would occur over generations, not overnight.
Well, the Greene family socialization and genes should presumably lead to a new generation of liberals.  I’m quite confident that’s how David will turn out.  I fear that Evan will be our very own Alex P. Keaton, just to torment his parents as if for no other reason.

Photo of the day

Amazing gallery of aerial photography.


Victoria Falls



Improve your sons– have a daughter, too

For some reason, I’ve been meaning to blog about this for almost two months before getting around to it.  Today’s the day.

Anyway, some really interesting research suggests that I’ve done David, Alex, and Evan, a real favor by providing them a sister (always looking out for my boys):

New evidence reveals a surprising answer. The mere presence of female family members — even infants — can be enough to nudge men in the generous direction.

In a provocative new study, the researchers Michael Dahl, Cristian Dezso and David Gaddis Ross examined generosity and what inspires it in wealthy men. Rather than looking at large-scale charitable giving, they looked at why some male chief executives paid their employees more generously than others. The researchers tracked the wages that male chief executives at more than 10,000 Danish companies paid their employees over the course of a decade.

Interestingly, the chief executives paid their employees less after becoming fathers. On average, after chief executives had a child, they paid about $100 less in annual compensation per employee. To be a good provider, the researchers write, it’s all too common for a male chief executive to claim “his firm’s resources for himself and his growing family, at the expense of his employees.”

But there was a twist. When Professor Dahl’s team examined the data more closely, the changes in pay depended on the gender of the child that the chief executives fathered. They reduced wages after having a son, but not after having a daughter.

Daughters apparently soften fathers and evoke more caretaking tendencies. The speculation is that as we brush our daughters’ hair and take them to dance classes, we become gentler, more empathetic and more other-oriented.

Now, that less bit seems pure speculation.  I’d really like to see more research on the mechanism.  But there’s lots more related research:

The players expressed consistent preferences in each of the nine rounds they played on Professor Van Lange’s watch. The data showed that players who made the more generous choices had more siblings. The givers averaged two siblings; the others averaged one and a half siblings. More siblings means more sharing, which seems to predispose people toward giving.

And once again, gender mattered. The givers were 40 percent more likely to have sisters than the people who made more self-serving, competitive choices. (There was no difference in the number of brothers; it was the number of sisters, not siblings, that predicted greater giving.) And Professor Van Lange’s team pointed to another study showing that the more sisters a father has, the more time he spends raising his own children. After growing up with sisters, men who have opportunities to give are more likely to do so.

SOCIAL scientists believe that the empathetic, nurturing behaviors of sisters rub off on their brothers. For example, studies led by the psychologist Alice Eagly at Northwestern University demonstrate that women tend to do more giving and helping in close relationships than men. It might also be that boys feel the impulse — by nature and nurture — to protect their sisters. Indeed, Professor Eagly finds that men are significantly more likely to help women than to help men.

I’m certainly an empathetic guy, :-), I guess I can credit growing up with a sister (who, is not among the most empathetic and nurturing of people).  Anyway, lots more good stuff here on social science research about the influence (including political) on men of having a sister or daughter.  I’d love to do some similar research myself, but much to my dismay, the two major ongoing datasets on American political behavior ask whether the respondent has children, but not the gender of children, and definitely never ask whether the respondent has a sister.  If those questions ever do get on there, it should lead to some really interesting further insights along these lines with respect to American politics.

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