added a research item
What most in this room believe… The general welfare is greatest when the “simple and obvious system of natural liberty” that Adam Smith described prevails. Who can really know better…what is best for us, than we do ourselves? But not everyone agrees that freedom trumps all other values. So what is the evidence that regulation can and does increase welfare?
Online Supplement to: Green, K. C., & Armstrong, J. Scott. “Evidence on the Effects of Mandatory Disclaimers in Advertising” in Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, Autumn 2012
Problem How to help practitioners, academics, and decision makers use experimental research findings to substantially reduce forecast errors for all types of forecasting problems. Methods Findings from our review of forecasting experiments were used to identify methods and principles that lead to accurate forecasts. Cited authors were contacted to verify that summaries of their research were correct. Checklists to help forecasters and their clients undertake and commission studies that adhere to principles and use valid methods were developed. Leading researchers were asked to identify errors of omission or commission in the analyses and summaries of research findings. Findings Forecast accuracy can be improved by using one of 15 relatively simple evidence-based forecasting methods. One of those methods, knowledge models, provides substantial improvements in accuracy when causal knowledge is good. On the other hand, data models – developed using multiple regression, data mining, neural nets, and “big data analytics” – are unsuited for forecasting. Originality Three new checklists for choosing validated methods, developing knowledge models, and assessing uncertainty are presented. A fourth checklist, based on the Golden Rule of Forecasting, was improved. Usefulness Combining forecasts within individual methods and across different methods can reduce forecast errors by as much as 50%. Forecasts errors from currently used methods can be reduced by increasing their compliance with the principles of conservatism (Golden Rule of Forecasting) and simplicity (Occam’s Razor). Clients and other interested parties can use the checklists to determine whether forecasts were derived using evidence-based procedures and can, therefore, be trusted for making decisions. Scientists can use the checklists to devise tests of the predictive validity of their findings.
Decision making is improved by avoiding unaided expert judgment, and using structured judgmental procedures instead. The Red Team-Blue Team approach is one such structured approach. It recognizes that it is difficult for people-including scientists and public officials-to remain objective about the consequences of public policies and regulations. The solution that the approach provides is akin to the adversarial system that we use in our courts.
This article reviews experimental evidence on the effects of policies intended to promote behavior by firms that is more socially responsible and less socially irresponsible. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) can provide firms with opportunities for profit, but changes are likely to increase total welfare only if firms adopt them freely and without taxpayer subsidies. Mandated CSR circumvents people’s own plans and preferences, distorts the allocation of resources, and increases the likelihood of irresponsible decisions. Evidence that government policies will increase welfare and a compelling argument that proven benefits justify reductions in freedom are necessary in order to justify CSR mandates. To date, this has apparently not been achieved. Corporate social irresponsibility (CSI) is concerned with whether firms undertake harmful actions that managers would be unwilling to undertake acting for themselves, or that a reasonable person would expect to cause substantive net harm when all parties are considered. Markets in which stakeholders are free to make decisions in their own interests provide some protection against CSI. Tort and contract law provide additional protection. Nevertheless, managers sometimes act irresponsibly. Codes of ethics that require fair treatment of stakeholders while pursuing long-term profit reduce the risk of irresponsible decisions. Management support and stakeholder accounting are important for successful implementation. Firms may wish to consider these measures; many already have.
We found no evidence that consumers benefit from government-mandated disclaimers in advertising. Experiments and common experience show that admonishments to change or avoid behaviors often have effects opposite to those intended. We found 18 experimental studies that provided evidence relevant to mandatory disclaimers. Mandated messages increased confusion in all, and were ineffective or harmful in the 15 studies that examined perceptions, attitudes, or decisions. We conducted an experiment on the effects of a government-mandated disclaimer for a Florida court case. Two advertisements for dentists offering implant dentistry were shown to 317 subjects. One advertiser had implant dentistry credentials. Subjects exposed to the disclaimer more often recommended the advertiser who lacked credentials. Women and less-educated subjects were particularly prone to this error. In addition, subjects drew false and damaging inferences about the credentialed dentist.