Week by week readings and presentation assignments

date / meeting # topic readings presenters
August 28
meeting #1
Introduction and overview
How can happiness be usefully defined and measured? Why, or why not, should people expect to be happy? And what does this have to do with power and money?
  1. R. M. Ryan and E. L. Deci. On happiness and human potentials: a review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology, 52:141–166, 2001.
  2. R. M. Nesse. Natural selection and the elusiveness of happiness. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, series B, 359:1333-1348, 2004.
  3. Y. Gao and S. Edelman. Between Pleasure and Contentment: Evolutionary Dynamics of Some Possible Parameters of Happiness, PLoS One 11(5):e0153193, 2016.
  4. R. A. Easterlin. Does money buy happiness? The Public Interest, Winter 1973: 3-10.

  5. S. Edelman. The Happiness of Pursuit. Basic Books, New York, NY, 2012.
September 4
Labor Day
[no meeting]
    [Catch up with the readings from the previous week.
    Also, skim the general-audience background readings — the articles from the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Economist, etc., which are included in the readings packet.]
September 11
meeting #2
Inequality and happiness
Does growth lead to increased personal well-being? What about comparative wealth? How does inequality in wealth and power affect happiness?
  1. R. A. Easterlin. The happiness-income paradox revisited. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 107:22463–22468, 2010.
  2. J. Delhey and U. Kohler. Is happiness inequality immune to income inequality? New evidence using instrument-effect corrected standard deviations. Social Science Research, 40:742-756, 2011.
  3. S. Oishi, S. Kesebir, and E. Diener. Income inequality and happiness. Psychological Science, 22:1095–1100, 2011.
  4. E. Diener, L. Tay, and S. Oishi. Rising income and the subjective well-being of nations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104:267-276 (2013).

  5. R. A. Easterlin. Does economic growth improve the human lot? Some empirical evidence. In P. A. David and W. R. Melvin, editors, Nations and households in economic growth, pages 89–125. Academic Press, New York, NY, 1974.
  6. R. A. Easterlin. Explaining happiness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 100:11176–11183, 2003.
  7. S. Oishi, U. Schimmack, and E. Diener. Progressive taxation and the subjective well-being of nations. Psychological Science, 23:86–92, 2012.
Won Young, Willy, Steven, Amanda
September 18
meeting #3
The poverty trap
In light of the inter-individual differences in intelligence, can there be a "level playing field" in economics? What does socioeconomic disparity do to cognitive functioning and emotional well-being?
  1. L. S. Gottfredson. Life, death, and intelligence. Journal of Cognitive Education and Psychology, 1:23–46, 2004.
  2. A. Mani, S. Mullainathan, E. Shafir, and J. Zhao. Poverty impedes cognitive function. Science 341:976-980, 2013.
  3. J. Haushofer and E. Fehr. On the psychology of poverty. Science 344:862–867, 2014.
  4. G. W. Evans. Childhood poverty and adult psychological well-being. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 113:14949-14952, 2016.

  5. R. E. Nisbett, J. Aronson, C. Blair, W. Dickens, J. Flynn, D. F. Halpern, and E. Turkheimer. Intelligence: new findings and theoretical developments. American Psychologist, 2012.
  6. J. Haushofer. The psychology of poverty: Evidence from 43 countries, technical report, Princeton U., 2013.
  7. M. Altman. Implications of behavioural economics for financial literacy and public policy. The Journal of Socio-Economics, 41:677–690, 2012.
  8. S. Loughnan, P. Kuppens, J. Allik, K. Balazs, S. de Lemus, K. Dumont, R. Gargurevich, I. Hidegkuti, B. Leidner, L. Matos, J. Park, A. Realo, J. Shi, V. E. Sojo, Y. y. Tong, J. Vaes, P. Verduyn, V. Yeung, and N. Haslam. Economic inequality is linked to biased self-perception. Psychological Science, 22:1254–1258, 2011.
Jenna, Jeff, Steven, Amanda
September 25
meeting #4
Class, elites, and inequality
What does it mean to be part of an elite? Does elite status encourage deference? Does it make the person more moral? What is the political role of economic elites in the U.S.?
  1. S. R. Khan. The sociology of elites. Annual Review of Sociology, 2012.
  2. P. K. Piff, D. M. Stancato, S. Côtéb, R. Mendoza-Denton, and D. Keltner. Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 109:4086-4091, 2012.
  3. M. Gilens and B. I. Page. Testing theories of American politics: elites, interest groups, and average citizens. Perspectives on Politics 12:564–581, 2014.
  4. M. W. Kraus, J. W. Park, and J. J. X. Tan. Signs of social class: the experience of economic inequality in everyday life. Perspectives on Psychological Science 12:422-435, 2017.

  5. A. N. Doob and A. E. Gross. Status of frustrator as an inhibitor of horn-honking responses. Journal of Social Psychology, 76:213–218, 1968.
  6. A. Guinote, I. Cotzia, S. Sandhu, and P. Siwa. Social status modulates prosocial behavior and egalitarianism in preschool children and adults. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 112:731–736, 2015.
Willy, Won Young, Tori, Jenna
October 2
meeting #5
Power and inequality
What is power? How does it affect inequality?
  1. V. J. Roscigno. Power, revisited. Social Forces, 90:349–374, 2011.
  2. P. K. Smith and W. Hofmann, Power in everyday life, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 113:10043-10048, 2016.
  3. J. K. Dubrow. Political Inequality is International, Interdisciplinary, and Intersectional. Sociology Compass 9:477-486, 2015.
  4. J. Gaventa and B. Martorano. Inequality, Power and Participation – Revisiting the Links. Institute of Development Studies Bulletin 47:5, 2016.

  5. B. Mahault, A. Saxena, and C. Nisoli. Emergent inequality and self-organized social classes in a network of power and frustration. PLoS ONE 12(2):e0171832, 2017.
Thomas, Hannah, Lisa, Robert
October 9
Fall break
[no meeting]
    [Read ahead for the next meeting!]
October 16
meeting #6
Morality and religion: power, class, and inequality
What is moral? How does religion weigh in on morality and inequality?
  1. J. Haidt and S. Kesebir. Morality. In S. Fiske, D. Gilbert, and G. Lindzey, editors, Handbook of Social Psychology, pages 797–832. Wiley, Hoboken, NJ, 2010. 5th Edition.
  2. F. Solt, P. Habel, and J. Tobin Grant. Economic inequality, relative power, and religiosity. Social Science Quarterly, 92:447–465, 2011.
  3. S. McCloud. Putting some class into religious studies: resurrecting an important concept. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 75:840-862, 2007.

  4. M. van Zomeren, T. Postmes, R. Spears, and K. Bettache. Can moral convictions motivate the advantaged to challenge social inequality? Extending the social identity model of collective action. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 14:735–753, 2011.
Christina, Rene, Amelia, Quynh
October 23
meeting #7
Morality and religion: some empirical findings
Some empirical findings on morality, inequality, and religion.
  1. L. D. Ross, Y. Lelkes, and A. G. Russell. How Christians reconcile their personal political views and the teachings of their faith: projection as a means of dissonance reduction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 109:3616–3622, 2012.
  2. L. R. Saslow, R. Willer, M. Feinberg, P. K. Piff, K. Clark, D. Keltner, and S. R. Saturn. My brother’s keeper? Compassion predicts generosity more among less religious individuals. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2012.
  3. M. J. Brandt and P. J. Henry. Psychological defensiveness as a mechanism explaining the relationship between low socioeconomic status and religiosity. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 22:321-332, 2012.

  4. N. Epley, B. A. Converse, A. Delbosc, G. A. Monteleone, and J. T. Cacioppo. Believers’ estimates of God’s beliefs are more egocentric than estimates of other people’s beliefs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 106:21533–21538, 2009.
Jenna, Dylan, Amelia, Tori
October 30
meeting #8
Evolutionary factors
How is evolution relevant to power and politics?
  1. M. Fieder and S. Huber. An evolutionary account of status, power, and career in modern societies. Human Nature, 2012.
  2. D. S. Rogers, O. Deshpande, and M. W. Feldman. The spread of inequality. PLoS ONE, 6(9):e24683, 2011.
  3. A. Kong et al. Selection against variants in the genome associated with educational attainment. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 114:E727-E732, 2017.

  4. J. R. Alford, P. K. Hatemi, J. R. Hibbing, N. G. Martin, and L. J. Eaves. The politics of mate choice. The Journal of Politics, 73:362–379, 2011.
  5. C. A. Klofstad, R. McDermott, and P. K. Hatemi. Do bedroom eyes wear political glasses? The role of politics in human mate attraction. Evolution and Human Behavior, 33:100–108, 2012.
  6. C. Kandler, W. Bleidorn, and R. Riemann. Left or right? Sources of political orientation: The roles of genetic factors, cultural transmission, assortative mating, and personality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102:633–645, 2012.
Thomas, Rene, Ooreeel
November 6
meeting #9
The dynamics of inequality: individual views and interventions
Inequality and happiness, revisited. Attitudes toward inequality.
  1. R. H. Frank. Positional externalities cause large and preventable welfare losses. The American Economic Review, 95:137–141, 2005.
  2. T. Saguy, N. Tausch, J. F. Dovidio, and F. Pratto. The irony of harmony: intergroup contact can produce false expectations for equality. Psychological Science, 20:114–121, 2009.
  3. K. Savani and A. Rattan. A choice mind-set increases the acceptance and maintenance of wealth inequality. Psychological Science, 23:796–804, 2012.
  4. M. L. Sands. Exposure to inequality affects support for redistribution. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 114:663-668, 2017.

  5. J. Delhey, K. Newton, and C. Welzel. How general is trust in “most people”? Solving the radius of trust problem. American Sociological Review, 76:786–807, 2011.
  6. T. L. Stewart, I. M. Latu, N. R. Branscombe, and H. T. Denney. Yes we can! Prejudice reduction through seeing (inequality) and believing (in social change). Psychological Science, 21:1557–1562, 2010.
Hannah, Jeff, Carmine, Robert
November 13
meeting #10
The dynamics of inequality: public policy
How do people’s views on inequality develop? Can the effects of inequality on happiness be alleviated through public policy? Through collective action?
  1. P. R. Blake, K. McAuliffe, J. Corbit, T. C. Callaghan, O. Barry, A. Bowie, L. Kleutsch, K. L. Kramer, E. Ross, H. Vongsachang, R. Wrangham, and F. Warneken. The ontogeny of fairness in seven societies. Nature, 528:258–262, 2015.
  2. C. Starmans, M. Sheskin, and P. Bloom. Why people prefer unequal societies. Nature Human Behaviour 1:0082, 2017.
  3. J. Haidt, P. Seder, and S. Kesebir. Hive psychology, happiness, and public policy. Journal of Legal Studies, 37:S133–S156, 2008.
  4. A. C. Kay, D. Gaucher, J. M. Peach, K. Laurin, K. Friesen, J. Friesen, M. P. Zanna, and S. J. Spencer. Inequality, discrimination, and the power of the status quo: Direct evidence for a motivation to see the way things are as the way they should be. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97:421–434, 2009.
  5. A. Madestam, D. Shoag, S. Veuger, and D. Yanagizawa-Drott. Do political protests matter? Evidence from the Tea Party movement. The Quarterly Journal of Economics 128:1633-1685, 2013.

  6. R. Veenhoven. Is happiness a trait? Tests of the theory that a better society does not make people any happier. Social Indicators Research, 32:101–160, 1994.
  7. K. Savani, N. M. Stephens, and H. R. Markus. The unanticipated interpersonal and societal consequences of choice: victim blaming and reduced support for the public good. Psychological Science, 22:795–802, 2011.
Christina, Quynh, Carmine
November 20
meeting #11
The dynamics of inequality: prospects
Are things only going to get worse, or is change to the better possible?
  1. D. S. Rogers, A. K. Duraiappah, D. C. Antons, P. Munoz, X. Bai, M. Fragkias, and H. Gutscher. A vision for human well-being: transition to social sustainability. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 4:61-73, 2012.
  2. A. Bonica, N. McCarty, K. T. Poole, and H. Rosenthal. Why hasn't democracy slowed rising inequality? Journal of Economic Perspectives 27:103-124, 2013.
  3. T. Piketty and E. Saez. Inequality in the long run. Science, 344:838–843, 2014.
  4. F. Alvaredo, L. Chancel, T. Piketty, E. Saez, and G Zucman. Global inequality dynamics: new findings from WID.world. National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 23119 (2017).

  5. A. Banerjee, E. Duflo, N. Goldberg, D. Karlan, R. Osei, W. Parienté, J. Shapiro, B. Thuysbaert, and C. Udry. A multifaceted program causes lasting progress for the very poor: Evidence from six countries. Science 348:772, 2015.
  6. A. Carnevale and J. Strohl. How Increasing College Access Is Increasing Inequality, and What to Do about It. In Rewarding Strivers: Helping Low-Income Students Succeed in College, pages 71-207, R. D. Kahlenberg, editor, The Century Foundation Press (2010).
Dylan, Lisa, Ooreeel
November 27
meeting #12
Closing remarks and discussion
Is the status quo acceptable? If not, what should be done? Is there anything that can be done?
  1. U. K. Le Guin. The ones who walk away from Omelas. In R. Silverberg, editor, New Dimensions 3, pages 1–8. Nelson Doubleday, 1973.

Last modified on Mon Sep 11 07:57:13 2017