Santanu Roy, Economics, Why Firms Prefer Not to Disclose the Quality of their Products – and How Regulators Might Respond

Royal Economic Society

Media Briefing

Feb. 2015

Rather than explicitly revealing information about the quality of their products and services, many firms prefer to signal quality through the prices they charge, typically working on the assumption that a high price indicates high quality. New research by Maarten Janssen and Santanu Roy provides a new explanation for why firms choose not to disclose quality directly – and explains how prices that are set to signal quality can distort actual buying decisions.

Their study, which is published in the February 2015 issue of the Economic Journal, shows that when firms compete on price, not disclosing product quality voluntarily can soften competition and boost profits. This has an important policy implication for regulators: even if consumers infer all relevant product information from prices (or other actions by firms), there may be a case for imposing mandatory disclosure regulation. Such regulation can reduce market power and the price and consumption distortions resulting from firms’ use of prices to signal product quality.

The researchers begin by noting that in a large number of markets, ranging from educational and health services to consumer goods and financial assets, sellers have important information about the quality of their products. Quality attributes include satisfaction from consuming the product, durability, safety and potential health hazards as well as ethical and environmental attributes. READ MORE

Congratulations to Alicia Meuret, Psychology


Congratulations to Alicia Meuret, the 2015 president of the International Society of Respiratory Psychophysiology (ISARP).

Some background information about ISARP is presented below:

The origins of the International Symposium on Respiratory Psychophysiology date back to the late 1970s when clinical researchers at London’s St Bartholomew’s Hospital confronted problems in the measurement and monitoring of breathing patterns in hyperventilating patients. The International Society for the Advancement of Respiratory Psychophysiology (ISARP) was formally established in 1993. The mission of ISARP is to promote and advance knowledge of the interrelationships between psychological and physiological aspects of respiration in research and application. ISARP is a small, international society comprising of approximately 100 members of a wide interdisciplinary background. There have been 19 past presidents (15 men, 4 women).

Brian Stump, Earth Sciences, Measures fans’ reactions in noise conditions


Originally Posted: December 23, 2014

By Becky Oskin
Senior Writer

NASCAR has loud fans and even louder engines, but can it beat the “Beast Quake?”

Football, NASCAR and their rowdy, roaring crowds faced off in a head-to-head battle this year to see which sport hits highest on the seismic charts, scientists reported Dec. 18 at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting in San Francisco.

Seattle Seahawks football fans have stomped their way to several “earthquakes,” shaking the football stadium so hard that nearby seismometers register tremors. . .

Not to be outdone, this year the Texas Motor Speedway asked seismic experts from Southern Methodist University in Dallas to record the Duck Commander 500 race. It’s a typical NASCAR race, with 43 stock cars roaring around a 1.5-mile (2.4 kilometers) track and twice the number of fans as a Seahawks game.

“The owner wanted to be able to say his race had larger ground motions than the Seattle Seahawks,” joked Brian Stump, a seismologist at Southern Methodist University and co-leader of the project. More seriously, Stump and other scientists are interested in monitoring large crowds with seismic and acoustic signals transmitted through the earth and the air. And large structures such as stadiums, bridges and tunnels have natural frequencies that can change when something is amiss, such as unwanted cracks. As such, monitoring the vibrations is a way to detect unseen damage to these imposing structures.

“We’re thinking about how we can use these techniques to monitor a number of sources,” Stump said. . .

The higher frequencies detected at the Texas race can’t travel far through the earth, so little in the way of race noise was picked outside the speedway. The strongest signal that appeared on the researchers’ distant instruments was from a magnitude-4.5 earthquake in Oklahoma that rattled the stadium during the study, though it was not strong enough to be felt by race fans in Texas.

Inside the Speedway, the Texas researchers and their instruments could also “see” weekend fireworks, two helicopters tracking the race, machines drying the track after a Sunday rain, a fiery crash, and green flag and yellow flag laps. Stump said the overall experiment was a great success.

“We can directly relate the recordings to things going on in the race,” Stump said. “Seeing the physics of the race itself and pairing it with the waveforms was a great educational experience.” READ MORE

Use books by Dedman College faculty to fulfill your holiday gift list


Originally Posted: December 19, 2014

Books published in 2014 by SMU’s faculty, alumni, libraries and museums can complete your holiday gift list with volumes ranging from historical to fiction to inspirational. Some selections are available at the SMU bookstore, but all are available via online booksellers unless otherwise noted. Authors are listed alphabetically.

Books by Faculty:
Cultural anthropologists can be an intellectually adventurous crowd, eager to cross disciplines to gain greater understanding of human behavior and experience. In Anthropological Conversations: Talking Culture across Disciplines (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers 2014) Caroline B. Brettell, Ruth Collins Altshuler Professor and director of SMU’s Interdisciplinary Institute, highlights conversations of anthropologists among scholars of history, geography, literature, biology, psychology and demography. Brettell shows how these scholarship exchanges deepen understanding of culture by anthropologists.

Migration as an issue has risen in global prominence in the last decade, causing controversy among host countries around the world. The third edition of Migration Theory: Talking across Disciplines (Routledge 2014), co-edited by Caroline B. Brettell and James F. Hollifield, political science professor and director of the Tower Center for Political Studies at SMU, is an updated collection of essays by scholars of anthropology, demography, economics, geography, history, law, political science and sociology, each addressing the concepts and theoretical issues of international migration.

Throughout our nation’s history Americans have grappled with such issues as how the U.S. should wield power beyond its borders, whether it should adhere to grand principles or act on narrow self-interest and whether it should partner with other nations or avoid entangling alliances. These questions have come to the fore especially since the emergence of the U.S. as a major world power in the late 19th century. America in the World: A History in Documents from the War with Spain to the War on Terror (Princeton University Press 2014) illuminates this history by capturing the diverse voices and viewpoints of some of the most colorful and eloquent people who participated in these momentous debates. Jeffrey A. Engel, director of SMU’s Center for Presidential History, with fellow historians Andrew Preston and Mark Atwood Lawrence, collect more than 200 documents, including presidential addresses, diplomatic cables, political cartoons and song lyrics. The perspectives presented run the gamut from elite policymakers, newspaper columnists and clergymen, to songwriters, poets and novelists

The U.S. Census predicts that by 2050 nearly one in three U.S. residents will be Latino, with the overwhelming majority of these being of Mexican descent. Such a dramatic demographic shift reshapes politics, culture, and even fundamental ideas about American identity. In Mexicans in the Making of America (Harvard University Press 2014) Neil Foley, the Robert H. and Nancy Dedman Chair in History and a leading scholar of Mexican-American history, offers a sweeping view of the evolution of Mexican America, from a colonial outpost on Mexico’s northern frontier to a 21st-century people integral to the nation they helped to build. This book demonstrates how America was never a purely white Anglo-Protestant nation, but instead a composite of racially blended peoples.

In William Wells Brown: An African American Life (W. W. Norton & Company 2014), Ezra Greenspan, the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Chair in Humanities, has written a groundbreaking biography of the most pioneering and accomplished African-American writer of the 19th century. Born to slavery in Kentucky, raised on the Western frontier, and rented out in adolescence to a succession of steamboat captains on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, the young man known as Sandy reinvented himself as William Wells Brown after escaping to freedom. Brown lifted himself out of illiteracy. He became an admired and popular speaker on both American and British antislavery circuits, and a writer of the earliest African-American works including a travelogue, a novel, a printed play and historical accounts. In this masterful work, Greenspan expertly frames Brown’s life in the context of his times, creating a fascinating portrait of an extraordinary figure who challenged the racial orthodoxies and complexities of 19th century America. Brown also practiced medicine, ran for office and campaigned for black elevation, temperance and civil rights.

William Wells Brown: Clotel & Other Writings (The Library of America 2014) by Ezra Greenspan the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Chair in Humanities, brings together for the first time all Brown’s groundbreaking works, including the memoirs “Narrative of William W. Brown” and “My Southern Home,” recounting his childhood as a slave, his flight to freedom, and his experience of the contradictions of Reconstruction; “Clotel or, the President’s Daughter,” a controversial novel depicting the fate of Thomas Jefferson’s black daughters and granddaughters; “The American Fugitive in Europe,” Brown’s pioneering travelogue about his years abroad; and “The Escape, or A Leap for Freedom and The Black Man, His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements,” the first published play and first work of history, by an African American. The volume also includes 18 speeches and public letters from Brown’s career as an antislavery activist, a detailed chronology of Brown’s life, and helpful notes.


Brian Zoltowski, Chemistry, good and the bad about blue light


The Bright Side And Dark Side Of Blue Light


Light is necessary for life on earth, but scientists believe that too much of a certain wavelength can cause everything from crop diseases to changes in the migratory patterns of animals. SMU professor Brian Zoltowski is working to unravel the mystery of blue light in a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. LISTEN HERE

Sam Ross Sloan Selected as Peruna Professor

1417462023Congratulations to Lecturer of English, Sam Ross Sloan!

In this the Year of the Faculty, SMU students voted for professors they feel are exceptional and inspiring. The winners were honored with a surprise visit from our beloved mascot Peruna in recognition of their outstanding work. Watch the Video.

Seismologist Brian Stump joins four Dedman College faculty members as the newest AAAS Fellow

Congratulations to seismologist Brian Stump who has been named an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow for distinguished contributions to his field, particularly in the area of seismic monitoring in support of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science.

Stump joins four other Dedman College faculty members who have previously been named as AAAS Fellows. The Fellows are volcanologist, SMU vice president for research and dean of graduate studies, James Quick, who was named a Fellow in 2013; environmental biochemistry scholar Paul W. Ludden, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs and a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, who was named a Fellow in 2003; anthropologist David J. Meltzer, Henderson-Morrison Professor of Prehistory in the Department of Anthropology who was named a Fellow in 1998; and James E. Brooks, provost emeritus and professor emeritus in the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, who was named a Fellow in 1966.