Posts tagged with "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences"

Going rogue: Marital infidelity and professional misconduct are linked, study shows

August 7, 2019

Once a cheater, always a cheater? There may be some truth to that old saw. People who “two-time” their spouses are significantly more likely to engage in misconduct in the workplace, according to a study conducted by the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin and published in the July 2019 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

According to a report by Phys Org, the researchers looked at the records of police officers, financial advisers, white-collar criminals and senior executives who used the Ashley Madison dating website. Operating under the slogan “Life is short. Have an affair,” Ashley Madison advertises itself as a dating service for married people  who wish to have “discreet encounters.”

The McCombs study, entitled Personal Infidelity and Professional Conduct in 4 Settings, found that Ashley Madison users in the professional settings were more than twice as likely to engage in corporate misconduct.

“This is the first study that’s been able to look at whether there is a correlation between personal infidelity and professional conduct,” author Samuel Kruger of the McCombs Finance Department said. “We find a strong correlation, which tells us that infidelity is informative about expected professional conduct.”

The researchers investigated four study groups totaling 11,235 individuals using data on police officers from the Citizens Police Data Project, data on financial advisers from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority BrokerCheck database, data on defendants in SEC cases from the Securities and Exchange Commission’s litigation release archives, and data on CEOs and CFOs from Execucomp.

Even after matching professionals guilty of misconduct to misconduct-free individuals of similar ages, gender, and experiences—and controlling for a wide range of executive and cultural variables,—the researchers found that people with histories of misconduct were significantly more likely to use the Ashley Madison website.

Their findings suggest a strong connection between people’s actions in their personal and professional lives and provide support for the idea that eliminating workplace sexual misconduct may also reduce fraudulent activity.

“Our results show that personal sexual conduct is correlated with professional conduct,” Kruger said. “Eliminating sexual misconduct in the workplace could have the extra benefit of contributing to more ethical corporate cultures in general.”

Research contact: @UTexasBBA

What time is it in your body?

November 14, 2018

Do you take medicine at a certain time of day? If so, those pharmacy instructions may be about to change: The first simple blood test to identify your body’s precise internal time clock as compared to the external time has been developed by scientists at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

The test, called TimeSignature— which requires only two blood draws— can tell physicians and researchers the time in your body, no matter what global time zone you live in or might be visiting. For instance, even if it’s 8 a.m. in the external world, it might be 6 a.m. in your body.  

“This is a much more precise and sophisticated measurement than identifying whether you are a morning lark or a night owl,” said the study’s lead author, Rosemary Braun, assistant professor of Preventive Medicine (Biostatistics) at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “We can assess a person’s biological clock to within 1.5 hours.

Previously, measurements this precise could only be achieved through a costly and laborious process of taking samples every hour over a span of multiple hours.  “Various groups have tried to get at internal circadian time from a blood test, but nothing has been as accurate or as easy to use as TimeSignature,” Braun said.

Processes in nearly every tissue and organ system in the body are orchestrated by an internal biological clock, which directs circadian rhythm, such as the sleep-wake cycle. Some people’s internal clocks are in sync with external time— but others are out of sync and considered “misaligned.”

The new test for the first time will offer researchers the opportunity to easily examine the impact of misaligned circadian clocks in a range of diseases from heart disease to diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. When the blood test eventually becomes clinically available, it also will provide doctors with a measurement of an individual’s internal biological clock to guide medication dosing at the most effective time for his or her body.

The software and algorithm are available for free to other researchers so they can assess physiological time in a person’s body. Northwestern has filed for a patent on the blood test.

“This is really an integral part of personalized medicine,” said coauthor Dr. Phyllis Zee, chief of Sleep Medicine in Neurology at Feinberg and a Northwestern Medicine neurologist. “So many drugs have optimal times for dosing. Knowing what time it is in your body is critical to getting the most effective benefits. The best time for you to take the blood pressure drug or the chemotherapy or radiation may be different from somebody else.”

The test measures 40 different gene expression markers in the blood and can be taken any time of day, regardless of whether the patient had a good night’s sleep or was up all night with a baby.

A link between circadian misalignment and diabetes, obesity, depression, heart disease, and asthma has been identified in preclinical research by scientist Joe Bass, chief of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Molecular Medicine at Feinberg.

The study was published on September 10 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Research contact: rbraun@northwestern.edu

Tweets using moral-emotional messaging are more likely to go viral

February 27, 2018

Do you want your tweets to go viral? A team of researchers at New York University’s Department of Psychology has found that posts on Twitter are most likely to “trend” if they discuss political topics in the context of morality, using language that resonates emotionally with the reader.

The recent study, Emotion shapes the diffusion of moralized content in social networks—which examined Twitter messages related to gun control, climate change and same-sex marriage—examines both the potential and limits of communicating on social media.

“The content that spreads the most may have the biggest impact on social media, so individuals, community leaders, and even political elites could see their influence enhanced by emphasizing morality and emotion in their online messaging,” explains William Brady, the lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate in NYU’s of Psychology. “However, while using this type of language may help content proliferate within your own social or ideological group, it may find little currency among those who have a different world view.”

The findings appear in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study involved the analysis of more than 560,000 tweets pertaining to an array of contentious political issues.  In reviewing each tweet, the research team separated posts containing words that were:

  • Both moral and emotional (e.g., “greed”),
  • Emotional only (e.g., “fear”), and
  • Moral only (e.g., “duty”).

They relied on previously established language dictionaries to identify them.

The researchers then examined how many times each category of messages was retweeted—as well as the political ideology of both the sender of the original messages and of the retweeted ones. Ideology was calculated using an algorithm—based on previous research that shows users tend to follow those with a similar ideology—that analyzed the follower network of each user.

They found that—across the topics of gun control, climate change and same-sex marriage— the presence of language defined as being both moral and emotional increased retweets by 20% per moral-emotional word.

By contrast, the impact of exclusively moral or exclusively emotional language was not as consistently associated with an increase in retweets. In addition, the uptick in retweets was limited to like-minded networks—a much smaller effect was established among accounts with an ideology conflicting with the sender’s.

There were also some differences among the three issues in the types of moral-emotional messages that were retweeted. For example, in contrast to same-sex marriage, in which people were more likely to retweet positive messages (e.g., tweets using the hashtag “#lovewins”), when discussing climate change people were more likely to retweet negative messages, such as those referring to environmental harms caused by climate change.

“In the context of moral and political discourse in online social networks, subtle features of the content of your posts are associated with how much your content spreads socially,” observes Jay Van Bavel, an associate professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and one of the study’s co-authors. “However, these results also highlight one process that may partly explain increased differences between liberals and conservatives—communications fusing morality and emotion are more likely to resemble echo chambers and may exacerbate ideological polarization.”

The study’s other authors were: Julian Wills, a doctoral candidate in NYU’s Department of Psychology, Joshua Tucker, a professor in NYU’s Department of Politics, and John Jost, a professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology.

The research was supported, in part, by grants from the National Science Foundation (1349089, SES-1248077, SES-1248077-001).

Research contact: williambrady@nyu.edu