Kevin Lewis

July 25, 2021

Trapped by a first hypothesis: How rudeness leads to anchoring
Binyamin Cooper et al.
Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming


In this article we explore the effect of encounters with rudeness on the tendency to engage in anchoring, one of the most robust and widespread cognitive biases. Integrating the self-immersion framework with the selective accessibility model (SAM), we propose that rudeness-induced negative arousal will narrow individuals’ perspectives in a way that will make anchoring more likely. Additionally, we posit that perspective taking and information elaboration will attenuate the effect of rudeness on both negative arousal and subsequent anchoring. Across four experimental studies, we test the impact of exposure to rudeness on anchoring as manifested in a variety of tasks (medical diagnosis, judgment tasks, and negotiation). In a pilot study, we find that rudeness is associated with anchoring among a group of medical students making a medical diagnosis. In Study 1, we show that negative arousal mediates the effect of rudeness on anchoring among medical residents treating a patient, and that perspective taking moderates these effects. Study 2 replicates the results of Study 1 using a common anchoring task, and Study 3 builds on these results by replicating them in a negotiation setting and testing information elaboration as a boundary condition. Across the four studies, we find consistent evidence that rudeness-induced negative arousal leads to anchoring, and that these effects can be mitigated by perspective taking and information elaboration.

Sense of purpose in life predicts greater willingness for COVID-19 vaccination
Patrick Hill, Anthony Burrow & Victor Strecher
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Methods: A nationwide sample of U. S. adults (N = 2009) completed a poll including information on their sense of purpose in life, demographic factors, and depressive symptoms, immediately following the initial approval of a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States in 2020. In addition, they reported on how willing they would be to get the vaccine, assuming that the costs would be covered, as well as their motivations to get the vaccine.

Results: Multiple regression analyses found that sense of purpose predicted greater willingness to get vaccinated, even when accounting for demographic factors, political affiliation, and psychological wellbeing. Adults higher on sense of purpose reported greater importance of getting the vaccine for personal health, the health of others, and to return to regular activities. Exploratory analyses also suggest that purpose may provide a stronger impetus to vaccinate among those in age groups associated with lower risk for severe COVID-19 complications.

Digital Addiction
Hunt Allcott, Matthew Gentzkow & Lena Song
NBER Working Paper, June 2021


Many have argued that digital technologies such as smartphones and social media are addictive. We develop an economic model of digital addiction and estimate it using a randomized experiment. Temporary incentives to reduce social media use have persistent effects, suggesting social media are habit forming. Allowing people to set limits on their future screen time substantially reduces use, suggesting self-control problems. Additional evidence suggests people are inattentive to habit formation and partially unaware of self-control problems. Looking at these facts through the lens of our model suggests that self-control problems cause 31 percent of social media use.

When Falling Just Short is a Good Thing: The Effect of Past Performance on Improvement
Mariya Burdina & Scott Hiller
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming


Models of reference-dependent preferences show that an individual’s utility depends on the difference between the outcome and a “neutral” reference point. Our paper investigates how distance from reference points affects future performance. We find that round numbers and personal bests motivate runners and that missing the goal by a small amount improves future performance. For those who achieve their goal, future performance suffers slightly. In empirical analysis, we use an extensive panel of marathon data, which contains a past running history for every runner in our sample and allows us to estimate runners’ ability and experience.

Effects of Bodily Arousal on Desire to Drink Alcohol among Trauma-Exposed College Students
Nathan Kearns et al.
Alcohol, forthcoming

Methods: The current study examined whether an implicit, trauma-relevant cue of bodily arousal (via voluntary hyperventilation) – independent of any explicit memory cue – would elicit increased desire to drink among 104 (Mage = 20.30; 61.5% female) trauma-exposed undergraduates.

Results: Results found no statistically significant difference in change in alcohol craving between the hyperventilation and control tasks. However, secondary analyses indicated that trauma type (i.e., interpersonal/non-interpersonal) may play an influential role this relationship; more specifically, individuals reporting interpersonal trauma as their most traumatic event evidenced a significantly greater increase in desire to drink following hyperventilation compared to the non-interpersonal index trauma group.

Know when to fold’em: The flip side of grit
Larbi Alaoui & Christian Fons-Rosen
European Economic Review, July 2021


This paper investigates the way different sides of grit influence behavior. In addition to grit’s upside in achieving economic success associated with not giving up, it might also have a downside associated with not letting go. We split grit into two new categories, tenacity and diligence, and hypothesize that tenacity can lead individuals to go beyond their own intended plan of action when making a loss. We test the predictions with an experiment that elicits each individual’s plan of action which we compare to actual choice in a game of luck. Consistent with our priors, grittier individuals have a higher tendency to overplay, and tenacity alone captures the difficulty in respecting ex-ante preferences when this means accepting defeat. We then discuss the external validity of our findings.

Beautiful and Confident: How Boosting Self-Perceived Attractiveness Reduces Preference Uncertainty in Context-Dependent Choices
Zixi Jiang et al.
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming


Despite marketers' efforts to make consumers feel attractive in many sales and advertising contexts, little is known about how consumers' self-perceived physical attractiveness influences their decision-making. The authors examine whether a boost in consumers' self-perceived attractiveness influences subsequent choices in domains unrelated to beauty. Across six studies, the authors find converging evidence that a boost in consumers' self-perceived attractiveness enhances their general self-confidence and reduces preference uncertainty, resulting in less reliance on the choice context and thus fewer choices of compromise, all-average, and default options. Our findings further show that consumers use self-confidence as metacognitive information for inferring preference uncertainty in subsequent decisions. This process is a misattribution that can be attenuated when consumers attribute their self-confidence to the self-perceived attractiveness. The article concludes with a discussion of theoretical and managerial implications.

How Long Has It Been? Self-Construal and Subjective Time Perception
Eugene Chan & Najam Saqib
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming


Do people with independent and interdependent self-construals perceive the amount of time that has passed differently? Results from four experiments (one preregistered) and three supplementary ones reveal that an independent (vs. interdependent) self-construal elongates time perception by making individuals feel that more time has passed than in reality. We find evidence that this is likely because an independent self-construal increases arousal that affects one’s “internal clock,” which determines the subjective passage of time. We find this effect with externally valid and practical measures, such as by measuring how long an online video feels, how long loading a webpage feels, and how long waiting in a line feels. Our research adds to an understanding of the consequences of self-construal for one of human beings’ most important judgments — time. We discuss the theoretical and practical considerations of our results as well as research limitations in closing.

In the Eye of the Beholder: The Interplay of Numeracy and Fluency in Consumer Response to 99-Ending Prices
Brady Hodges & Haipeng (Allan) Chen
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming


Across three laboratory studies, a biometric eye tracking and facial recognition experiment, and a secondary data analysis, we reveal the unique interaction of consumer numeracy and numerical processing fluency as a significant determinant of consumer response to 99-ending prices. We argue that less numerate individuals create mental analog representations around 99-ending prices’ left digits, whereas highly numerate individuals encode 99-ending prices as their one-cent neighbor, with consumers responding more favorably to prices when they mentally encode them around a fluent number. Specifically, highly numerate individuals respond more favorably when 99-ending prices (e.g., 17.99) border a fluent number (i.e., 18). Conversely, less numerate individuals respond more favorably when 99-ending prices (e.g., 16.99) contain fluent left digits (i.e., 16). We provide empirical evidence for the effects of this processing difference on liking, purchase intentions, and actual sales. We also obtain evidence for the underlying process using eye tracking and facial recognition that reveals that highly (vs. less) numerate individuals exhibit less anxiety when processing multi-digit prices, and consequently fixate sooner, more frequently, and for longer durations on the right digits of a price. The findings contribute significantly to the price processing literature and yield substantial managerial implications.

Afraid of the dark: Light acutely suppresses activity in the human amygdala
Elise McGlashan et al.
PLoS ONE, June 2021


Light improves mood. The amygdala plays a critical role in regulating emotion, including fear-related responses. In rodents the amygdala receives direct light input from the retina, and light may play a role in fear-related learning. A direct effect of light on the amygdala represents a plausible mechanism of action for light’s mood-elevating effects in humans. However, the effect of light on activity in the amygdala in humans is not well understood. We examined the effect of passive dim-to-moderate white light exposure on activation of the amygdala in healthy young adults using the BOLD fMRI response (3T Siemens scanner; n = 23). Participants were exposed to alternating 30s blocks of light (10 lux or 100 lux) and dark (<1 lux), with each light intensity being presented separately. Light, compared with dark, suppressed activity in the amygdala. Moderate light exposure resulted in greater suppression of amygdala activity than dim light. Furthermore, functional connectivity between the amygdala and ventro-medial prefrontal cortex was enhanced during light relative to dark. These effects may contribute to light’s mood-elevating effects, via a reduction in negative, fear-related affect and enhanced processing of negative emotion.


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