Spring 2012 Awards

Cohort Highlight: ISS’ Grants Fund Research from Body Odor to Democracy

Civic Engagement, Civil Society Organizations, and Urban Environmental Governance: Implications for the New Environmental Politics of Urban Development
Shorna Allred, Natural Resources

Targeting and Impacts of India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme

Christopher Barrett, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management

Cyber-­Boosting African Social Science: Exporting the CISER Experience 
Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue, Development Sociology
William Block, Cornell Institute for Social and Economic Research
Sarah Giroux, Development Sociology

Listening to the Nation: Mass Culture and Identities in Interwar Egypt

Ziad Fahmy, Department of Near Eastern Studies

Education Work in China: A Comparative Study of Beijing’s Separate School Systems
Eli Friedman, Department of International and Comparative Labor

Health Insurance Choice and Utilization
Don Kenkel, Department of Policy Analysis and Management

Toward Sustainable Health: Modernizing Traditional Medicine in Tanzania
Stacey Langwick, Department of Anthropology

Innovating the Smart Grid: Organization of R&D, Standards, and the Electricity Industry
Aija Leiponen, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management

Modeling College Choice: The Role of Preferences and Constraints in Producing Disparities in College Attendance Outcomes
Jordan Matsudaira, Policy Analysis and Mangement

Policymaking under the Shadow of Death: the Policymaking Process under the Khmer Rouge in Democratic Kampuchea
Andrew Mertha, Government

Elections, Accountability, and Democratic Governance in Africa
Muna Ndulo, Law and African Development

Fuzzy-Trace Theory and the Law: Testing a Theoretical Model of Juror Damage Awards

Valerie Reyna, Human Development

Time-Varying Risk Preferences and Asset Prices: Evidence from Lottery Bonds

Andrey Ukhov, Hotel Administration

Platonic Friendship and Social Olfactory Cues in Human Body Odor

Vivian Zayas, Psychology

Civic Engagement, Civil Society Organizations, and Urban Environmental Governance: Implications for the New Environmental Politics of Urban Development
Shorna Allred, Natural Resources

In an age of global environmental problems, recognition of the environmental impact of urbanization and development is critical for creating sustainable and livable cities in the future. Urban political theory has underestimated environmental issues, as well as the influence of civil society organizations (e.g. non-profits) in shaping local land use. Today, there is a vibrant network of civil society organizations actively stewarding and managing public urban lands through urban greening activities, such as community gardening and tree planting. These organizations have also mobilized environmentally related civic engagement among residents. Civic engagement, the manner in which citizens participate in their community, occurs in different types of activities, including voting, fundraising for charity, volunteering, and engaging in political conversations with others. Civic engagement is the basis for “civic stewardship” in which citizens take actions (often through civil society organizations) to govern and steward urban eco systems in their community. However, the process through which these organizations mobilize public participation, and thereby build their capacity for influence within urban regimes, is not clear. These research will provide key insights into these processes by conducting quantitative survey research among environmental civil society organizations throughout the U.S. Findings will contribute to new environmental urban politics literature through an understanding of how environmental civil society organizations bolster influence in urban regimes through the mobilization of public particpation. By focusing on civic engagement in the context of urban environmental management, this research will help contribute to new environmental urban political theory.

Update: This research project utilizes a governance framework to examine the civic engagement strategies of civil society organizations involved in urban environmental management, and how those strategies strengthen the influence of civil society organizations in urban regimes for land-use management. Dr. Allred has conducted a literature review on the community outreach and volunteer management strategies used by nonprofit environmental organizations in urban areas.  Dr. Allred will conduct a national survey of nonprofit environmental organizations in summer 2013.  In preparation, she has adapted and created scales for measuring civic engagement strategies as well as a database of urban environmental organizations across the United States.  Additionally, she submitted am NSF grant proposal to the Science of Organizations program area with collaborators from University of Washington and the U.S. Forest Service.  This research is based on a conceptual framework that asserts that organizational resilience is a function of individual-level skills, knowledge, and abilities that are enhanced through organizational processes. She will apply this conceptual framework to empirically investigate volunteer contributions in environmental nonprofit sector organizations. Media coverage includes: Shorna Allred leads researchers in climate change survey (2014).

Targeting and Impacts of India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme
Christopher Barrett, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management

India’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), started in 2006, is the largest public works employment project in the world. It gives each rural household a legal right to be employed up to 100 days per year at a state‐specific minimum wage rate. Taking advantage of a three‐round panel data (2004, 2006, and 2008) from 4,800 households in Andhra Pradesh and the National Sample Survey data, a repeated cross‐sectional survey collected annually in all districts, we will explore the targeting performance and the impacts of NREGS on the welfare of rural households. We aspire not just to publish our findings and thereby inform both the policy community in India and other development researchers, but also to use these results to generate more substantial external research funding to field further surveys and explore the issue in greater depth in collaboration with partners in India and elsewhere.

Update: The research team has made significant progress with the support of ISS funds. First, we produced a paper entitled “Heterogeneous Pro-Poor Targeting in India’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme” which is published in Economic and Political Weekly Vol – XLVIII No. 10, March 09, 2013 (Yanyan Liu and Christopher B. Barrett). Second, the team has successfully generated external research funds from the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) to support further research activities on this topic during next two years. That work will be in collaboration with the International Food Policy Research Institute and the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR)  in India.  Third, other analyses on impacts of NREGS are ongoing, one graduate student, one undergraduate student and two faculty at Cornell and one faculty member and one PhD student from IGIDR are involved in the analyses. Media Coverage includes: Highway Robbery On The High Seas (2014).

Cyber-­Boosting African Social Science: Exporting the CISER Experience 
Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue, Development Sociology
William Block, Cornell Institute for Social and Economic Research
Sarah Giroux, Development Sociology

Quantitative social science has now entered an era of data abundance, owing to cumulative innovations in research, metadata, and computer technology. The Cornell Institute for Social and Economic Research CISER), with a robust environment for data curation, dissemination, and analysis, exemplifies this trend. This data support infrastructure makes it possible for social scientists at Cornell to easily store, retrieve, share, and analyze large datasets in ways that enhance the timeliness, scope and rigor of their empirical work. Ultimately, this access boosts social science’s ability to study a range of pressing social questions. On a global scale however, this access remains highly uneven. Technological advances have widened the gulf in research productivity between North and South. Social scientists in sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, continue to lag behind. This lag is less about access to “hardware” or “software”, but rather  comprehensive “data warehousing” environment to support research. Although many African research institutions have invested in computers and statistical software, they often lack this data warehousing capacity. In the last three years, and with support from the Hewlett Foundation and Cornell, we have led an effort to donate computers and software, and provide methodological training to a large network of scholars in Francophone Africa. We see these previous accomplishments as the first leg of a broader project to build more vibrant research institutions in this sub-region. One important hurdle, which this project begins to address, is to build the data warehousing capacities of the kind that CISER has created at Cornell.

Update: This proposal was designed to work collaboratively with CISER and a Cameroon-based pan-African institute for demographic training (IFORD) to improve access to data, statistical software, and data platforms. The ISS grant supported preliminary activities needed to prepare and submit a larger proposal for outside funding in order to continue the above-mentioned activities on a larger scale. The grant monies were used to support a visit to Cameroon by one of the main investigators (December 2012) and a more recent visit (April 13-19) by the IFORD’s Director of International Cooperation. During this last visit, we worked to set up, as a starting point, a system to give IFORD scholars restricted access to the CISER platform and to begin the training activities envisioned. We also drafted and have now submitted (May 2013) a proposal ($100,000) to the Gates Foundation. If successful in this first proposal, we will become eligible to compete in a larger pool of applications for substantially higher awards. The ISS seed also helped us finalize a grant submission (May 2013) to the Hewlett Foundation to support statistical training in Africa as well. Population makeup is major factor in global resource allocation (October 2015).

Listening to the Nation: Mass Culture and Identities in Interwar Egypt

Ziad Fahmy, Department of Near Eastern Studies

Historians of modern Egypt have neglected the role and impact of sound and aurality/orality on public culture and on the diffusion of an Egyptian national culture. This traditional ocularcentric approach relies almost exclusively on written classical Arabic texts and sources, tilting the historiography towards an elite perspective. Indeed, the cultural implications of radio broadcasts and phonograph recordings on an ever increasing mass-listenership were immense. By not requiring literacy as a prerequisite for participation, sound media allowed for the spread of a national culture beyond a small coterie of elites and intellectuals. An ISS small grant would enable me to begin research on my new book manuscript tentatively titled, Listening to the Nation: Mass Culture and Identities in Interwar Egypt. My proposed preliminary research in London will lead to a broad examination of the soundscape of street and café culture in interwar urban Egypt. I will primarily investigate the effects of radio and phonograph records on the Egyptian streets while examining the critical role coffee shops played as cultural hubs where differing mass media from newspapers to radio were publicly merged, negotiated, discussed, and digested. The role of the thousands of urban cafés and other public meeting areas in the broadcasting and reception of these new cultural productions is central to understanding the pervasiveness and effectiveness of these new media. Indeed, coffeehouses, as Peter Burke has remarked, “inspired the creation of imagined communities of oral communication.”

Update: Professor Fahmy used the ISS grant to conduct research at the British National Archives during the summer of 2012. He consulted important British Foreign Office records related to his next book project titled: Listening to the Streets: Radio, Noise, and Soundscapes in Inter-War Egypt. The ISS grant also allowed Prof. Fahmy to collect critical data, helping him secure an NEH funded yearlong grant worth up to $42,000 for research as a fellow at the American Research Center in Egypt. This fellowship will allow Prof. Fahmy to complete the research for his book manuscript in 203-2014 at the Egyptian National Archives and the Egyptian National Library in Cairo, Egypt.

Education Work in China: A Comparative Study of Beijing’s Separate School Systems
Eli Friedman, Department of International and Comparative Labor

During the summer of 2012 I will investigate the work of teachers in public and private elementary schools in Beijing. Although there is a growing body of literature by education scholars on China’s segregated school system which confines the children of migrants from the countryside to an inferior system of privately operated schooling, there is no research on the teachers themselves. Additionally, while sociologists have increasingly focused on workers in the service sector, there is still relatively little literature on education work. In order to address these shortcomings, my research will analyze the work and social position of teachers in Beijing’s schools, including both those public schools that serve urban residents and the private schools that serve migrants’ children. I am interested in how the divergent class and citizenship status of students and parents impacts work for teachers. In particular, I hypothesize that greater precarity of labor for migrant workers will be refracted and reproduced in the classroom of migrant schools, thus posing new pedagogical and work challenges for teachers. On the other hand, teachers in officially recognized public schools are likely subjected to much greater disciplinary forces, both from the state but also from parents that are relatively well endowed with social and cultural capital. In sum, I will investigate how the multidimensional relationships between parents, students, principals, and the state impact teacher’s working lives in these two different labor regimes. In addition to addressing particular concerns about education and sociology of work, this research will approach the question of education work as a prism through which we can understand more general social cleavages that have developed during China’s
economic reform.

Update: Professor Friedman has expanded the study of teachers’ work in migrant schools to include sites in Beijing and Guangzhou. He and his research assistants have completed more than 70 interviews with teachers and school administrators, and they intend to conduct a survey in the next year. Preliminary results from the research have been written up in an article entitled Teachers’ Work in China Migrant Schools,” which was presented at the 2013 International Labor Process Conference. Following revisions, the article will be submitted for publication. In the summer of this year, new research sites in Chengdu will be incorporated into the study.

Health Insurance Choice and Utilization
Don Kenkel, Department of Policy Analysis and Management

What is the value of non-monetary features of health insurance to employees? The aim of this research is to estimate the value to an employee of features such as physician network and mandatory health checks. The basis of this research is the Cornell Plan for Healthy Living (CPHL), a health insurance introduced by the Oce of Benet Services in 2008. To encourage enrollment, CPHL has been priced below and provides identical or improved benets compared to all other plan. Despite the nancial incentives, less then 25% of Cornell endowed employees have taken up the plan. With the approval of the Oce of Benet Services and the IRB, we will use health insurance choice and medical care utilization data to investigate how the non-monetary features of the other plans give incentive to Cornell employees not to switch to CPHL.

Update: In the summer 2012, Prof. Kenkel along with Shooshan Danagoulian, a doctoral student in Economics, purchased the health insurance choice and utilization data.  The data was prepared for analysis, and preliminary results are being prepared for publication.  The results will be presented at a number of conferences in Fall 2013 (e.g. Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management Conference, 2013).  The preliminary results suggest that employees rely heavily on information from colleagues in selection of the health plan.  There is evidence of willingness to pay up to $1450 to avoid supervision from a primary care physician and health care planning.  The research will continue to obtain more precise estimates of the dis-utility of wellness program, and to evaluate the costs associated with switching health insurance plans.

Toward Sustainable Health: Modernizing Traditional Medicine in Tanzania
Stacey Langwick, Department of Anthropology

This research examines the intersection of scientific research, traditional medicine, and intellectual property (IP) law in Africa. Traditional knowledge challenges current forms of IP by raising questions about the centrality of authorship, the definition of property, the obligations of ownership, and the territoriality of the patent system. Langwick hypothesizes that scientists and scientific institutions investigating traditional medicine in Africa are innovating new sustainable forms of intellectual property as the grace periods for the implementation of the World Trade Organization’s Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights requirements near their end and developing countries are compelled to complete the transition to the new global property regime. This project examines the ways that two research centers in Tanzania (East Africa) are interpreting, applying and re-working global intellectual property policies during their research into traditional medicines. Her ethnographic approach promises to identify new forms of collaboration that are emerging between healers, patients, scientists, scientific institutions and private companies in the name of modernizing traditional medicine; account for the relationship between property and health that inheres in visions of sustainable health; and describe the forms of commons that are being imagined in efforts to develop traditional medicine with the goal of contributing to sustainable health.

Update: Professor Langwick is currently conducting fieldwork in Tanzania. Since January when she entered the field she has been conducting an ethnography of traditional medicine in the Regional Dermatology Training Center at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center (KCMC). She is interested in the ways that scientific development of traditional medicines is contributing to notions of sustainable health care. She has observed clinical interactions between doctors and patients, conducted private interviews in both the out-patient clinic and the ward with patients who had used traditional medicines, examined the interest in traditional medicine among leaders in the center including their experimentation with a database of herbal therapies. She has also interviewed policy makers around issues of traditional medicine and intellectual property in Dar es Salaam, and is currently investigating how these changes are affecting KCMC. She will complete this phase of her research, and the ISS small grant, at the end of June. The ISS small grant however has contributed to success of the broader proposed research project which was recently funded by both the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation. Therefore Professor Langwick will be continuing her examination of the complex intersection of traditional medicine and scientific practice in Africa through 2015. Professor Langwick received an additional $233,765 from the National Science Foundation and $19,625 from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research to support her work.

Innovating the Smart Grid: Organization of R&D, Standards, and the Electricity Industry
Aija Leiponen, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management

This research will generate academic, policy, and managerial insights into smart-grid standards. Smart grid, nicknamed the Internet of Energy, will incorporate features such as real-time metering and management of consumption and virtual power plants that integrate distributed power generation, often from renewable energy sources. Advanced information and communication technologies (ICTs) are expected to substantially improve resource utilization, but they require compatibility standards in order to generate positive network externalities. Compatibility standards are technical specifications that define how an electronic signal is transmitted between two devices. There is regulatory pressure to develop open standards, but some firms are developing their own proprietary standards to better control the network. It is well known from other communication networks (e.g. telecommunications, computing) that the control of technical interfaces determines the control of information flows, the network, and subsequent innovation for extended periods of time, sometimes for decades. This project will examine the smart-grid standard-setting process, particularly focusing on the neglected role of industry consortia and other cooperative organizations, and inform policymakers and technology entrepreneurs about the dynamics and long-term implications of standards competition. The results will help States such as New York build more efficient and innovative smart-grid industry ecosystems. This project will build on my previous research on the economics and strategic management of wireless communication standards. It involves a comparative research design between smart-grid industries in the United States and in the United Kingdom, and between the smart grid and wireless telecommunications industries.

Update: The project has been slightly delayed due to data collection challenges. Data collection will be completed over the summer of 2013. The preliminary data reveal a complex institutional arrangement whereby the US government sponsors both R&D, demonstration grid projects, and standard setting activities, whereas industrial companies have applied for patents and organized their own consortia and alliances to respond to more immediate market opportunities. The two types of players interact in a complex ecosystem. Combining detailed information about firms’ institutional strategies and company-level financial and patenting data will generate novel insights about the innovation and cooperation behavior of firms operating in an emerging industry with an exceptionally complicated institutional and political structure, and about how government research funding is utilized and deployed through private firms’ strategic innovation behavior.

Modeling College Choice: The Role of Preferences and Constraints in Producing Disparities in College Attendance Outcomes
Jordan Matsudaira, Policy Analysis and Mangement

Choosing a college is one of the most economically important and personally consequential choices made by a young adult. Students from low-income backgrounds and some minority
groups, however, appear to be underrepresented at selective universities, even conditioning on income and academic preparation. While several recent studies have investigated the role of factors such as distance, cost, school quality, school resources, and financial aid on school choice, these studies often lack detailed information about the prospective student and the schools in their respective choice-sets. Using a unique dataset provided by the social media website Zinch.com, we plan to build a model of college choice to explore how student preferences and constraints interact to determine attendance outcomes for students. We are particularly interested in understanding what portion of the differences in college attendance decisions are driven by differences in preferences for school characteristics versus differences in student resources or constraints; and understanding how the impacts of various policies like financial aid on enrollment and college choice might depend on student preferences for college quality. This dataset is larger and contains more information about student characteristics than any other previously brought to bear in the study of college choice, and thus provides a unique opportunity to shed light on these issues.

Update: This project has been substantially reformulated due to changes in our relationship with Zinch.com – a social networking site that tracks student interests and applications to colleges.  The company was purchased by a textbook publishing company, and the new management of that company was unwilling to share some of the data elements that we had negotiated access to originally.  We have pivoted to a study of self-control in the online education industry, and are developing behavioral economics experiments that aim to assess strategies for ameliorating self-control problems that contribute to low course completion rates in online education.  The study should be in the field in the fall, with results expected early next Spring.

Policymaking under the Shadow of Death: the Policymaking Process under the Khmer Rouge in Democratic Kampuchea
Andrew Mertha, Government

In this project, I look at the part of the Democratic Kampuchea that was not directly involved in killing in order to provide an institutionally-grounded map onto which our growing knowledge of DK as an epicenter of death on an almost unimaginable scale can be placed. By doing so, my hope is to contribute to a more nuanced and complex picture of the terrible regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975 until the end of 1978.

Updates: Cambridge University Press is very interested in a potential book project. I will be sending them a book prospectus in the next several months, which they will send out for review (2013). For more information, see ISS’ Spring 2012 Small Grant Awardee, Andrew Mertha, Documents Chinese ‘Tutelage’ of Khmer Rouge (2014).

Elections, Accountability, and Democratic Governance in Africa
Muna Ndulo, Law and African Development

The Institute for African Development (IAD) is holding a symposium to critically examine governance, development and security issues in Africa. We hope to address such issues as: democratic reform in Africa; defining accountable governance; accountability institutions such as human Rights Commissions; constitution making, external accountability enforced by donors, electoral systems, elections and democracy; civil society and democratic consolidation; democracy in cultural and religious contexts; the contradiction of state without citizens; and challenges of state-building and institution-building. We have identified 18 leading academics experts and practitioners from around the globe to examine the key issues identified above. It is expected that the proceedings of the symposium will be published in an edited volume.

Update: The ISS’ grant program helped to fund a conference on Elections, Accountability, and Democratic Governance in Africa. The conference brought together leading academic experts and practitioners from all over the world to examine governance, development and security issues in Afranca. The proceedings from the event will be published by Cambridge Scholars Press.

Fuzzy-Trace Theory and the Law: Testing a Theoretical Model of Juror Damage Awards
Valerie Reyna, Human Development

The aim of the present proposal is to explain the factors that determine how an individual uses qualitative information from a court case to come up with a quantitative amount, in the form of a monetary award, by testing a theoretical model of jury decision-making (Hans & Reyna, 2011) based on the empirical work from fuzzy-trace theory (FTT). According to FTT, jurors will ultimately rely on gist representations of a court case to come to their conclusions about the case and to come up with a monetary amount that based on the ranking of damages. To test this premise, we will begin by creating three sets of civil court cases that will vary by the severity of the case (low, medium, high) involved in each case (as assessed by a legal expert). Within the cases, we will vary the presence of a numerical amount (none, low, high) that is relevant or irrelevant to the situation. Subjects will be asked to come up with the gist of the award, a dollar amount for the plaintiff, an estimate of the highest and lowest amount they would consider awarding for each case, as well as to judge the severity of the case. Memory and individual differences will also be measured. Subjects will range from different levels of expertise, from college students (Experiment 1) to adults who are eligible for jury duty (Experiment 2) to law students and lawyers (Experiment 3). This research will test fuzzy-trace theory predictions with respect to what types of information affect jury award estimates, and how this changes with age and expertise.

Update: The civil jury system rests on laypeople’s ability to make fair and just decisions about damage awards. Yet, damage awards are often criticized and jurors have difficulty translating an individual’s misfortune into a monetary value. This research tests the first model of jury damage award decision-making, grounded in fuzzy-trace theory. Preliminary results suggest that laypeople base award judgments on imprecise qualitative perceptions of damages as low, medium, or high, but providing meaningful numbers can guide assigning monetary values. This support has benefitted undergraduate mentoring (resulting in an honors thesis), graduate-student learning, and the results have been presented at national meetings (2013 Law, Behavior, and Social Science Seminary held at University of Illinois and the 2013 William and Mary Law Review Symposium). Press coverage includes: ISS’ Judgment Faculty Fellows’ Book Debuts Brain Models of Risky Decision-Making, ISS’ Judgment Faculty Fellow, Valerie Reyna, Co-directs the Cornell MRI Facility which Opens Doors to Understanding Human Cognition. New Institute Focuses on Human Brain Research (February 2014), ISS’ Faculty Fellow Valerie Reyna Examines the Hows and Whys of Economic Choices in New Book (July 2014), Gist, not rational analysis cuts risky behavior (October 2014), Fuzzy reasoning may lead to antibiotic overuse (December 2014), New study shows the power of gist in courtroom cases (July 2015). Simple questionnaire predicts unprotected six, binge drinking (October 2016).

Time-Varying Risk Preferences and Asset Prices: Evidence from Lottery Bonds
Andrey Ukhov, Hotel Administration

This proposal is for a study of time variation in preferences toward risk among financial market participants. The project aims to study the relationship between investor risk preferences and asset returns. The study seeks to provide direct evidence on the risk aversion of participants in a
securities market. It will use the prices of lottery bonds issued by the Imperial Russian Government in 1864 and 1866 to estimate investor risk aversion and to study changes in preferences toward risk. Time variation in investor risk preferences will then be compared to the dynamics of the Russian bond market. Preliminary evidence based on a limited data set indicates that increases in risk aversion are positively associated with increases in the price of a risk-free asset. This result is in accord with economic intuition that higher risk aversion is associated with higher demand for a safe asset, and hence, higher equilibrium price of a risk-free security and a lower risk-free rate. Implications of a Consumption Capital Asset Pricing Model for relationship between changes in interest rates and changes of risk aversion will also be tested. Based on a limited data already collected, evidence supporting the model is found. The paper aims to provide evidence on the role of risk aversion in securities market dynamics. Funding will be used to collect additional data to significantly expand the data used in the study, increasing power of the statistical tests.

Platonic friendship and social olfactory cues in human body odor
Vivian Zayas, Psychology

If you are sitting next to a stranger on the bus, how do you decide whether or not to strike up a conversation? Although there is great interest in social psychology in understanding the factors that color social preferences, the effects of olfactory information on judgments of liking have received little attention. The lack of attention to olfactory cues is surprising considering that literature in neighboring disciplines (cognitive science, neurobiology) has shown that humans can select genetically complimentary mates, identify kin, and respond to emotional cues based solely on information encoded in body odor. We propose to bridge the gap between psychobiological and social psychology methods by developing and validating a novel method for studying the effect of body odor, both natural scent (in the absence of any artificial fragrance) and social scent (artificial scent used on a daily basis, e.g., perfume, deodorant, etc.), on judgments of liking. Experiment 1 will investigate the 1-week reliability of judgments of liking based on natural scent alone. Experiment 2 will investigate the extent to which judgments of liking based on natural scent converge with judgments of liking based on social scent, and the extent to which these two types of scents uniquely and jointly predict judgments of liking. We predict that judgments of liking based on natural body odor will be reliable over a 1-week period. We hypothesize that that social scents enhance olfactorily communicated information, which will be reflected in judgments of liking. The present research will shed light on the information conveyed by body odor and will forge the way for other investigations into olfactory judgments of holistic body odor, rather than the disembodied presentation that is currently common.

Update: This project has validated a novel protocol for examining human olfactory cues. Whereas commonly used methods present human olfactory cues artificially via t-shirts or pads, the novel protocol presents olfactory cues as they occur within ecologically valid social (platonic) interactions. A key finding from this ISS funded project is that participants (who don blindfolds and earplugs) are highly reliable in using olfactory cues in making social inferences in ecologically relevant platonic interactions. These effects were observed in the overwhelming majority of participants, and not driven simply by scents of a few donors. The results were presented at the annual Association for Chemosensory Sciences meeting, and are being written up for publication. Follow-up studies will compare the predictive ability of the new protocol with more traditional methods. For more information, see ISS’ Judgment Faculty Fellows’ Book Debuts Brain Models of Risky Decision-Making (2013). ‘Involuntary Excluders’ aren’t always in cahoots. (2014) Two Cornell psychologists give academic take on human bonding (2015)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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