New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2012‒02‒01
two papers chosen by

  1. The Wages of Sinistrality: Handedness, Brain Structure and Human Capital Accumulation By Goodman, Joshua
  2. The Differential Effect of Applicants’ Self-Versus Other-Referenced Anxiety on Test Performance By Proost, Karin; Derous, Eva; Schreurs, Bert; Hagtvet, Knut Arne; De Witte, Karel

  1. By: Goodman, Joshua (Harvard University)
    Abstract: Left- and right-handed individuals have different brain structures, particularly in relation to language processing. Using five data sets from the US and UK, I show that poor infant health increases the likelihood of a child being left-handed. I argue that handedness can thus be used to explore the long-run impacts of differential brain structure generated in part by poor infant health. Even conditional on infant health and family background, lefties exhibit economically and statistically significant human capital deficits relative to righties. Compared to righties, lefties score a tenth of a standard deviation lower on measures of cognitive skill and, contrary to popular wisdom, are not over-represented at the high end of the distribution. Lefties have more emotional and behavioral problems, have more learning disabilities such as dyslexia, complete less schooling, and work in less cognitively intensive occupations. Differences between left- and right-handed siblings are similar in magnitude. Most strikingly, lefties have six percent lower annual earnings than righties, a gap that can largely be explained by these differences in cognitive skill, disabilities, schooling and occupational choice. Lefties work in more manually intensive occupations than do righties, further suggesting that lefties' primary labor market disadvantage is cognitive rather than physical. Those likely be left-handed due to genetics show smaller or no deficits relative to righties, suggesting the importance of environmental shocks as the source of disadvantage. Handedness provides parents and schools a costlessly observable characteristic with which to identify young children whose cognitive and behavioral development may warrant additional attention.
    Date: 2012–01
  2. By: Proost, Karin (Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel (HUB), Belgium); Derous, Eva; Schreurs, Bert; Hagtvet, Knut Arne; De Witte, Karel
    Abstract: This study investigated to what extent the cognitive worries of anxious persons impair test performance in both an educational and a personnel selection context. A distinction was made between two types of cognitive anxiety, namely Self-Referenced Anxiety, where oneself is held as the critical evaluator of one’s performance, and Other-Referenced Anxiety, where a significant other is held as the critical evaluator of one’s performance. A differential relationship of both types of worries with test performance was suggested. In both studies (n = 176 undergraduates and n = 1459 applicants), a negative relationship with test performance was found for Other-Referenced Anxiety and no relationship was found for Self-Referenced Anxiety. In an attempt to clarify these differential relations with test performance, the mediating effects of identified and external behavioral regulation, respectively on the relationships between SRA and test performance and ORA and test performance were put forward but could not be confirmed. The scientific and practical relevance of these findings were discussed.
    Date: 2011–06

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