Exploiting social influence to magnify population-level behaviour change in maternal and child health: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial of network targeting algorithms in rural Honduras Shakya, Holly, Stafford, Derek, Hughes, D. Alex, Keegan, Thomas, Negron, Rennie, Broome, Jai, McKnight, Mark, Nicoll, Liza, Nelson, Jennifer, Iriarte, Emma, and others, BMJ open 2017
Despite global progress on many measures of child health, rates of neonatal mortality remain high in the developing world. Evidence suggests that substantial improvements can be achieved with simple, low-cost interventions within family and community settings, particularly those designed to change knowledge and behaviour at the community level. Using social network analysis to identify structurally influential community members and then targeting them for intervention shows promise for the implementation of sustainable community-wide behaviour change.
The Impact of GOTV Depends upon Campaign Context: A Field Experiment in the 2014 California Primary Hughes, D. Alex, Levitt, Justin, Hill, Seth, and Kousser, Thad California Journal of Politics and Policy 2017
Millions of California voters regularly turn out in November but abstain from primary elections. A randomized Get Out the Vote experiment conducted in the state’s 2014 primary contest shows that this dormant electorate can be mobilized if campaigns target these unlikely voters. Here, we extend these findings to examine whether the electoral context of the district shapes the effectiveness of a primary mobilization effort. To do so, we develop two conceptualizations of campaign context. The first is based on a district’s typical level of competitiveness. The second looks at total spending levels in the current campaign. Theories of voter information processing predict differential responsiveness by voters to mobilization efforts in these different contexts.To test these predictions, we analyze a field experiment that sends direct mail to 149,596 registered low-propensity California voters. Consistent with theory, we find that voter mobilization mailings have different effects in these two distinct contexts. Although mobilization efforts always increase turnout, in districts that are typically competitive we find that mobilization efforts are more effective
Intimate partner violence norms cluster within households: an observational social network study in rural Honduras Shakya, Holly, Hughes, D. Alex, Stafford, Derek, Christakis, Nicholas, Fowler, James, and Silverman, Jay BMC public health 2016
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a complex global problem, not only because it is a human rights issue, but also because it is associated with chronic mental and physical illnesses as well as acute health outcomes related to injuries for women and their children. Attitudes, beliefs, and norms regarding IPV are significantly associated with the likelihood of both IPV experience and perpetration. Our results show that differential targeting of individuals and relationships in order to reduce the acceptability and, subsequently, the prevalence of IPV may be most effective. Because IPV norms seem to be strongly held within households, the household is probably the most logical unit to target in order to implement change. This approach would include the possible benefit of a generational effect. Finally, in social contexts in which perpetration of IPV is not socially acceptable, the most effective strategy may be to implement change not at the center but at the periphery of the community.
Social network targeting to maximise population behaviour change: a cluster randomised controlled trial Kim, David, Hwong, Alison, Stafford, Derek, Hughes, D. Alex, O’Malley, James, Fowler, James, and Christakis, Nicholas The Lancet 2015
Information and behaviour can spread through interpersonal ties. By targeting influential individuals, health interventions that harness the distributive properties of social networks could be made more effective and efficient than those that do not. Our aim was to assess which targeting methods produce the greatest cascades or spillover effects and hence maximise population-level behaviour change.
The role of self-interest in elite bargaining LeVeck, Brad, Hughes, D. Alex, Fowler, James, Hafner-Burton, Emilie, and Victor, David Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2014
One of the best-known and most replicated laboratory results in behavioral economics is that bargainers frequently reject low offers, even when it harms their material self-interest. This finding could have important implications for international negotiations on many problems facing humanity today, because models of international bargaining assume exactly the opposite: that policy makers are rational and self-interested. However, it is unknown whether elites who engage in diplomatic bargaining will similarly reject low offers because past research has been based almost exclusively on convenience samples of undergraduates, members of the general public, or small-scale societies rather than highly experienced elites who design and bargain over policy. Using a unique sample of 102 policy and business elites who have an average of 21 y of practical experience conducting international diplomacy or policy strategy, we show that, compared with undergraduates and the general public, elites are actually more likely to reject low offers when playing a standard “ultimatum game” that assesses how players bargain over a fixed resource. Elites with more experience tend to make even higher demands, suggesting that this tendency only increases as policy makers advance to leadership positions. This result contradicts assumptions of rational self-interested behavior that are standard in models of international bargaining, and it suggests that the adoption of global agreements on international trade, climate change, and other important problems will not depend solely on the interests of individual countries, but also on whether these accords are seen as equitable to all member states.
The cognitive revolution and the political psychology of elite decision making Hafner-Burton, Emilie, Hughes, D. Alex, and Victor, David Perspectives on Politics 2013
Experimental evidence in cognitive psychology and behavioral economics is transforming the way political science scholars think about how humans make decisions in areas of high complexity, uncertainty, and risk. Nearly all those studies utilize convenience samples of university students, but in the real world political elites actually make most pivotal political decisions such as threatening war or changing the course of economic policy. Highly experienced elites are more likely to exhibit the attributes of rational decision making; and over the last fifteen years a wealth of studies suggest that such elites are likely to be more skilled in strategic bargaining than samples with less germane experience. However, elites are also more likely to suffer overconfidence, which degrades decision making skills. We illustrate implications for political science with a case study of crisis bargaining between the US and North Korea. Variations in the experience of US elite decision-makers between 2002 and 2006 plausibly explain the large shift in US crisis signaling better than other rival hypotheses such as “Iraq fatigue.” Beyond crisis bargaining other major political science theories might benefit from attention to the attributes of individual decision makers.