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Tropical Leaves

Selected Research

Citation Penalties Following Sexual Misconduct versus Scientific Fraud Allegations


Maimone, G., Appel, G., McKenzie, C.R.M., Gneezy, A.

Citations in academia have long been regarded as a fundamental means of acknowledging the contribution of past work and promoting scientific advancement. However, our analysis of data encompassing 31,941 publications across 18 diverse academic disciplines reveals that citations may also serve as a currency to reward and punish scientists’ morality. In particular, we find that the citation rates of scholars accused of sexual misconduct decrease in the three years after the accusations become public, while we do not find a significant citation penalty in the same time frame for scholars accused of scientific fraud. These findings add a new dimension to a body of research showing that citation decisions are sensitive to factors unrelated to a publication's scientific merit.

Not All Attributions Are Self-Serving:
A Preference for Agency over Negative Outcomes

Two motives govern attributional preferences. One is self-determination, according to which people have a general desire for control over their lives and environment. The other is self-enhancement, according to which people are motivated to sustain or enhance their sense of self-worth. Whereas both motives predict a preference for personal agency over positive outcomes, they make competing predictions for attributional preferences over negative outcomes. Specifically, self-determination predicts a preference for assuming agency, while self-enhancement predicts a preference for conceding agency to others. In nine preregistered experiments (N=4,222), we reconcile these inconsistent predictions about attributional preferences over negative outcomes. We find that when negative outcomes are caused by single agents (oneself or someone else), people prefer assuming agency over these outcomes. However, when negative outcomes are caused jointly by multiple agents (oneself and someone else), people prefer conceding agency over these outcomes. We show that both the self-determination and self-enhancement motives underlie attributional preferences, with the self-determination motive being superordinate to the self-enhancement motive.


Maimone, G., Vosgerau, J., Gneezy, A.

"Don't Forget Them" or "Don't Overlook Them"?
How Word Reversibility Impacts Message Efficacy


Maimone, G., Karmarkar, U.R., Amir, O.

From interpersonal to political messages, our societies revolve around people making sense of communications. Selecting the right word in a sentence can then make a world of a difference. Cognitive linguistics has shown that words can differ in their “reversibility,” that is, how easily their antonyms can be retrieved. In addition to known sensitivities to semantics, we demonstrate how synonyms that differ in their reversibility engage different psychological processes that determine differential message efficacy on downstream judgments and behaviors. We propose a novel concept-processing account and test it both in the lab (N = 268) and in a large-scale field experiment on a social media platform (N = 20,118) where our framework’s predictions are shown to increase engagement with non-profit messaging about aid to victims of war.

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