HERE'S SOME ADVICE for women: think twice about marrying that good-looking guy. A team of psychologists recruited 82 newlywed couples and rated each spouse's physical attractiveness and satisfaction with the marriage. They then observed how the two interacted with each other while discussing personal issues. It turns out that couples where the wife was more attractive were characterized by more supportive interaction on the part of both spouses; but, if the husband was more attractive, he was less satisfied and both spouses exhibited less supportive interaction. The psychologists suggest that a relatively attractive husband may feel he has more extramarital options, causing him to be less supportive of his wife, who, in turn, is less supportive of her husband. On the other hand, because women are less focused on the physical appearance of their mate, a more attractive wife is less likely to harbor resentment about her spouse and, meanwhile, has a husband who counts his blessings.
McNulty, J. et al., "Beyond Initial Attraction: Physical Attractiveness in Newlywed Marriage," Journal of Family Psychology (February 2008).
PERHAPS CONSERVATIVES SHOULD give John McCain more credit on economic policy. McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts, something that haunted him on his path to the Republican nomination. He defends himself by saying that tax cuts must be matched by spending restraint, but many conservatives believe that cutting taxes preemptively is the best way to restrain spending - the "starve the beast" hypothesis. Now two economists find no support in the historical record to indicate that tax cuts have a negative effect on federal spending. In fact, they found a positive effect - the tax cuts were followed by spending increases. Unless politicians explicitly connect spending and tax policy, there is a tendency to disassociate the two. Meanwhile, contrary to the notion that tax cuts pay for themselves via extra growth, most of the subsequent recovery in lost revenue came as a result of tax increases enacted specifically to counter the initial tax cuts.
Romer, C. and Romer, D., "Do Tax Cuts Starve the Beast: The Effect of Tax Changes on Government Spending," National Bureau of Economic Research (October 2007).
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ALTHOUGH THE ISSUE of race is now front and center in the Democratic presidential primary, it was not that long ago that Obama had to contend with accusations that he was not "black enough," given his biracial heritage and lighter skin color. One reason why this is an issue for the black community is that there is a sense of differential treatment, not just between whites and blacks, but between people of different shades of black. Several economists decided to test whether there is indeed a "preference for whiteness" in the labor market. They analyzed data from two large interview-based surveys and found that average wages do indeed rise with lighter skin tone, due to more favorable treatment by employers.
Goldsmith, A. et al., "From Dark to Light: Skin Color and Wages Among African-Americans," Journal of Human Resources (Fall 2007).
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THE GOAL OF marketing is to make you buy something. But what if it does more than that? A team of psychologists wanted to find out if some brands can actually change behavior in situations that have nothing to do with buying something. Specifically, the psychologists set up experiments where people were exposed to a brand logo, even subliminally, and then given tests of creativity or honesty. Those who were exposed to an Apple logo were more creative than those who were exposed to an
Fitzsimons, G. et al., "Automatic Effects of Brand Exposure on Motivated Behavior: How Apple Makes You 'Think Different,' " Journal of Consumer Research (forthcoming).
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WITH WALL STREET in turmoil, everyone is anxious about the state of the economy. Although bear markets ostensibly rebound to become bull markets, there are lingering consequences, even for the best and brightest. A Stanford professor analyzed data from a survey of business school alumni in the late 1990s and found that stock market conditions while attending business school have an effect on the careers of would-be investment bankers. A bull market, they found, draws more students into investment banking - and away from pursuits like actually running a business. The study is a hint that many of us may end up in careers by accident; we were not destined to do what we're doing now.
Oyer, P., "The Making of an Investment Banker: Stock Market Shocks, Career Choice, and Lifetime Income," Journal of Finance (forthcoming).