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Tropical Leaves

Selected Research


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

Academics use citations to acknowledge the contribution of past work and promote scientific advancement. However, analyzing citation data of 32,025 publications spanning 18 academic fields, we find evidence suggesting citations may also serve as a currency to reward and punish scientists’ morality. We find that, relative to controls, the citation rates of scholars accused of sexual misconduct decrease after the accusations become public. Interestingly, this citation penalty is larger than the one incurred by scientists accused of scientific fraud. Our findings suggest that, in addition to serving the purpose of maintaining intellectual integrity and promoting scientific advancement, citation decisions are also driven by scholars’ attitudes toward the publications’ authors.

Citation Penalties Following Sexual Misconduct versus Scientific Fraud Allegations

Not All Attributions are Self-Serving: A Preference for Agency Over Negative Outcomes

Two streams of literature address attributional preferences: self-determination and self-serving preferences. While these two theories make the same prediction for individuals’ attributional preferences over positive outcomes, they make competing predictions for attributional preferences over negative outcomes. Self-determination maintains that people prefer to have agency over negative outcomes. Self-serving preferences, in contrast, stipulate that people prefer to concede agency over negative outcomes. In eight preregistered experiments (N = 3,946), we reconcile these seemingly inconsistent attributional preferences over negative outcomes. First, we test these competing predictions and find that—consistent with self-determination—people would rather “own” their negative outcomes than externally attribute them. Overplacement and impact bias cannot explain this preference. Instead, we find that reducing the salience of agency moderates the preference for agency over negative outcomes. More interestingly, we find that sharing agency reverses attributional preferences: while people prefer having agency over negative outcomes when these are exclusively caused by a single agent (themselves or somebody else), they prefer attributing agency to others when these outcomes are jointly caused by multiple agents (themselves and somebody else).


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

"Don't Forget Them" or "Don't Overlook Them"? How the
Non-Reversibility of a Word  Improves Message Efficacy


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

Marketers have known for years that each word in a message can make a world of a difference, but less is known about the how and the why. Across five preregistered field and lab experiments (N = 22,024), we demonstrate when and how using an easily reversible (i.e., bi-polar) word in a statement, rather than a non-reversible one with the same meaning, engages different cognitive processes and leads to different outcomes. In particular, when a statement containing a bi-polar word is processed as a negation (i.e., opposing a claim rather than affirming it), a slower more elaborate cognitive process occurs. We show that this results in lower judgment confidence, and a lower likelihood to act on the message. In addition, we find that this more elaborative process also leads to weaker attitudes towards the message source. Our findings advance consumer theories by shedding light on the ways in which linguistic elements of communication impact judgments and real-world behaviors. They additionally offer practical persuasive messaging strategies for those engaged in a range of marketing and policy communications.

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