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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. Although 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, by contrast, stipulate that people prefer to concede agency over negative outcomes. In seven preregistered experiments (N = 3,502), we reconcile these seemingly inconsistent attributional preferences over negative outcomes. First, we test these competing predictions and find—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 reducing the salience of agency moderates the preference for agency over negative outcomes. More interestingly, we find sharing agency reverses attributional preferences: whereas people prefer having agency over negative outcomes when a single agent (themselves or somebody else) causes them, they prefer attributing agency to others when multiple agents (themselves and somebody else) jointly cause them.


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.

We have known for decades that changing a single word in a message can make a world of a difference, largely due to people's sensitivity to semantic differences. In this work, we show even substituting a word with a synonym can affect downstream judgments and behaviors. Specifically, we propose a concept-processing-based account to predict when using an easily reversible word in a statement, rather than a non-reversible synonym, leads to differences in message efficacy. In a preregistered lab experiment (N = 268), we find evidence supporting our novel theoretical framework, and in a preregistered large field experiment (N = 20,118) we show how using a non-reversible (vs. reversible) word increases engagement with communications of a non-profit helping Ukrainian women escape from war.

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