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Article

Intergroup Attribution  

Thomas F. Pettigrew

Intergroup attribution refers to causal attributions that people make about the behavior of out-groups and their own in-group. Attribution theory began in the late 1950s and 1960s. This initial interest was limited to how individuals causally interpreted the behavior of other individuals. But in the 1970s social psychologists began to consider causal attributions made about groups. The guiding theory for research in this area has been largely structured by the predictions of the ultimate attribution error (more accurately described as the intergroup attribution bias). Its principal contentions flow from phenomena already uncovered by attribution research on individual behavior. It holds that group attributions, especially among the highly prejudiced, will be biased for the in-group and against out-groups. Ingroup protection (explaining away negative ingroup behavior as situationally determined – “given the situation, we had to act that way”) is typically a stronger effect than ingroup enhancement (accepting positive ingroup behavior as dispositionally determined – “as a people, we are kind and compassionate toward other groups”). Many moderators and mediators of the effect have been uncovered. Asian cultures, for example, tend to be less prone to the intergroup attribution bias, while strong emotions can induce either more or less of the bias. Similarly, empathy and special training can significantly reduce the bias. Together with such closely related processes as the fundamental attribution error and actor-observer asymmetry, the intergroup attribution bias has proven highly useful in a great variety of applications. Moreover, the intergroup attribution bias serves as an integral component of the intergroup prejudice syndrome.

Article

Impression Management  

David M. Long

Impression management is defined as controlling how one is seen by others. Most of the important outcomes in life, including friends, romantic partners, job opportunities, and happiness, are contingent on how one is perceived in social situations. Since the 1950s scholars across multiple disciplines of social science have noted the importance of impression management and have developed key theoretical interpretations and taxonomies of how, why, and for whom impression management occurs and whether it is likely to have its intended effect. Virtually any behavior can be used for impression management purposes, and the desired outcomes range from positive, when the behaviors are intended to be seen in a favorable light, to negative, when the behaviors are intended to be seen in an unfavorable light. Although impression management has been relatively free of controversy as a scholarly topic, some disagreements have formed around the ethics of managing impressions, how to best measure impression management, and whether impression management explains some of the more venerable topics in social science such as prosocial behavior, cognitive dissonance, and moral judgment. A typical episode of impression management occurs when an actor performs an act in the hope of influencing targets in a certain way, and scholarly work has noted the importance of the target in this process since the target is not only the audience who judges the actors’ performances but also the critic who provides the actors with feedback that can be used in subsequent performances. Other work has investigated how easy it is to mismanage an impression, such as when “humble bragging” and giving “backhanded compliments.”

Article

Relationship Conflict and Communication  

Daniel J. Canary

Since the 1970s hundreds of scholars from several disciplines have devoted their energies to understanding interpersonal conflict communication. One cannot offer an inclusive essay on the topic, even if the space allowed is 10 times greater than given here. One can, however, select salient aspects of the topic—those that appear often and implicate relational welfare. Toward that end, there are four parts to approaching the topic. First, a rationale for examining interpersonal conflict communication is presented. Emphasis on interpersonal conflict communication is confined to only a handful of reasons. Second, conceptualizations of interpersonal conflict are briefly represented and analyzed according to two dimensions that can help demarcate what scholars tend to study under the aegis of “conflict.” Third, a general pedagogical model of important considerations or “events” is given; each of the various components are elaborated, and each indicating what one should consider when involved in conflict. Fourth, future directions of research regarding the topic are explored.

Article

Responsibility in Health and Risk Messaging  

Amber K. Worthington

Health risk messages may appeal to the responsibility of individuals or members of interdependent dyads for their own or others’ health using many different message strategies. Health messages may also emphasize society’s responsibility for population health outcomes in order to raise support for health policy changes, and these, too, take many different forms. Message designers are inherently interested in whether these appeals to personal, interdependent, and societal responsibility are persuasive. The central question of interest is therefore whether perceptions of responsibility that result from these messages lead to the desired message outcomes. A growing body of empirical research does suggest that there is a direct persuasive effect of perceptions of personal responsibility and interdependent responsibility on health intentions or behaviors, as well as indirect persuasive effects of responsibility on intentions or behaviors via anticipated emotions, specifically regret, guilt, and pride. Research also suggests that perceptions of societal responsibility increase support for public health policy (i.e., the desired message outcome in societal responsibility messages). Important to this area of research is a conceptual definition of responsibility that lends itself toward identifying specific message features that elicit perceptions of responsibility. Specifically, attributions of causation and solution, obligation, and agency are identified as effect-independent message features of responsibility.

Article

Blame: Stakeholder Judgments That Impact Organizations and Entrepreneurs  

Varkey Titus and Izuchukwu Mbaraonye

Blame is a feature of everyday life, whether or not that blame is directed toward an individual for a willful act of moral transgression, an entrepreneur for taking reckless action that puts the venture and its employees at risk, or a company for the violation of some social norm. Blame identifies morally wrong behavior and has the power to pressure individuals to adhere to a set of norms. More broadly, blame is worthy of scholarly consideration because it is a reality for organizations and the individuals who lead them. Blame is multifaceted because it entails psychological, social, and legal issues. Historically, psychological theories of blame emphasized the rational and prescriptive—how blame attribution processes ought to occur to produce an accurate blame attribution, for example. Over time, psychological theories started to incorporate nonrational elements—such as how socially attractive the potentially blameworthy is, whether the blameworthy engage in “positive” or “negative” actions that are unrelated to the blameworthy act, and so forth. Blame becomes more complicated when it moves from a specific individual (e.g., an entrepreneur) to an aggregate group (a venture) or an abstract entity (a corporation). The aggregation of blame creates an apportionment problem in that it is unclear who within a group ought to be blamed. This complication is further illustrated in the court of law. For instance, courts in the United States have struggled to consistently judge cases of corporate criminal liability due, in part, to the difficulty of knowing how to assign blame to an abstract entity. Part of the challenge relates to establishing a criminal “state of mind” to a corporation, and the broader question whether a corporation can even have such a state of mind (or if that state of mind resides in its leaders, employees, etc.). Management research on blame is limited. Existing work examines blames-shifting tactics, such as scapegoating, wherein organizations place blame on specific organizational actors who may or may not have any direct connection to the blameworthy event. Importantly, blame attributions can flow both ways: employees may sometimes blame the broader organization, despite the employees’ involvement in the blameworthy act. Given the complexities of blame, entrepreneurs face unique blame-related challenges at different points of their venture’s life cycle. At early stages of the life cycle, blameworthy acts are unlikely to have significant societal impact, and attributions are relatively simple due to the minimal number of actors involved in the venture. As the venture grows, the impact of a blameworthy act grows in magnitude, as does the difficulty of accurately apportioning blame for the act among the numerous actors involved. If the venture eventually adopts a formal corporate structure, it also adopts corporate characteristics such as dispersed decision-making processes, a board of directors that are meant to provide some level of oversight, and so forth. This formal corporate structure introduces the challenge of establishing a “state of mind” for a blameworthy act. Ultimately, blame affects entrepreneurs, their ventures, and the corporations that eventually grow from them, and is worth further scholarly investigation.

Article

Attributing Inferred Causes and Explanations to Behavior  

Gordon B. Moskowitz, Irmak Olcaysoy Okten, and Alexandra Sackett

Behavior is a reflection of the intentions, attitudes, goals, beliefs, and desires of a person. These intra-individual factors are coordinated with what opportunities the situation affords and the perceived constraints placed on the person by their context and the norms of the culture they are in. Further, the intentions, attitudes, goals, beliefs, and desires of a person are often not known to them in any given moment, and because they reside within the mind of that person they are almost always not known to the people who are perceiving that person. To know anything about other people we must observe and identify/classify their behavior and then attribute to the observed behavior inferences and judgments about the internal states of that person serving as the motivating force behind their behavior. This entry explores this process of attribution. Heider described attribution as the process that determines “how one person thinks and feels about another person, how he perceives him and what he does to him, what he expects him to do or think, how he reacts to the actions of the other.” The entry explores the rules that people follow in order to make sense of behavior, and the rational versus non-rational nature of the procedure. Even when highly motivated to think rationally, this process can be biased, and flaws can appear in the attribution process, such as from chronic differences among perceivers due to culture, experience, or personality. How the process would unfold if accurate and purely rational is contrasted with how it unfolds when biased. How we feel, and how we choose to act, are derived from how we make sense of the world. Thus, attribution processes are foundational for understanding how we feel, for establishing expectations, and planning how to act in turn.

Article

State Responsibility and Commercial Space Activities  

Danielle Ireland-Piper, Makaela Fehlhaber, and Alana Bonenfant

Commercial activity in outer space has increased. However, space is a dual-use environment, with both military and civilian applications. This raises the important question as to the extent to which a nation-state is responsible for the actions of commercial activities undertaken by corporate entities. The international law principles of state responsibility are complex. However, in some circumstances, these principles do create that potential for states to be liable where, for example, a corporate entity is a de facto organ of the state, or where a corporation acts on the instructions of a state or is under its control. The United Nations Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, or Outer Space Treaty, provides some guidance on this question. Notwithstanding that, this is an uncertain area of the law, not least because of the complexity of space as an operating environment and complications in determining corporate nationality.

Article

Inference in Social Cognition  

D. Vaughn Becker, Christian Unkelbach, and Klaus Fiedler

Inferences are ubiquitous in social cognition, governing everything from first impressions to the communication of meaning itself. Social cognitive inferences are typically varieties of diagnostic reasoning or, more properly, “abductive” reasoning, in which people infer simple but plausible—although not deductively certain—underlying causes for observable social behaviors. Abductive inference and its relationship to inductive and deductive inference are first introduced. A description of how abductive inference operates on a continuum between those that arise rapidly and automatically (and appear like deductions) and those that inspire more deliberative efforts (and thus often recruit more inductive information gathering and testing) is then given. Next, many classic findings in social cognition, and social psychology more broadly, that reveal how widespread this type of inference is explored. Indeed, both judgements under uncertainty and dual-process theories can be illuminated by incorporating the abductive frame. What then follows is a discussion on the work in ecological and evolutionary approaches that suggest that, although these inferences often go beyond the information given and are prone to predictable errors, people are good enough at social inference to qualify as being “ecologically rational.” The conclusion explores emerging themes in social cognition that only heighten the need for this broader understanding of inference processes.

Article

Causal Attribution  

Ahogni N'gbala and Denis Hilton

Attribution theory is an area of research in social psychology, which deals with how people perceive and interpret the causes of their own and others’ behavior. Attributional theory deals with how the observer’s causal perceptions and interpretations guide his/her own subsequent behavior. In recent years, work in the area has been broadened to include new theoretical models concerned with the explanation of intentional behaviors and responsibility, and blame assignment, along with counterfactual thinking, where mental simulations of changes in the causal structure of events have been shown to affect emotional reactions. As such attribution(al) theory overlaps with research in cognitive, developmental, and moral psychology, and its concepts have been applied to a wide variety of domains such as clinical psychology, marketing, and organizational behavior.

Article

Accounting Narratives  

Tracey J. Riley and Alex C. Yen

Although accounting is typically seen as a numbers-oriented discipline, with an emphasis on quantifying economic events and activity, the nexus of language and accounting, specifically the role of language in communicating corporate accounting results, has received an increasing amount of attention in recent years. This is because quantified accounting results (e.g., earnings per share, sales revenue) are rarely communicated in isolation. Rather, they are usually accompanied by a non-quantitative narrative, such as an earnings press release, a corporate annual report, or the president’s letter, which, along with conference calls and content at corporate websites, we collectively refer to as “accounting narratives.” These narratives allow management to elaborate on and contextualize the financial performance of the company. However, because they are not as extensively regulated as the financial statements and are not standardized, these narratives can also be used by companies for impression-management purposes, to obfuscate (poor) performance and to “spin” the financial results to the companies’ favor. Research into accounting narratives dates back to 1952 and has focused on a wide variety of features of narratives and on how those features affect financial statement readers’ (most notably, investors’) reactions. The earliest studies focused on accounting narratives’ readability by performing a syntactic analysis to assess the cognitive difficulty of written passages. This line of research has found that accounting narratives are syntactically complex and difficult to read and that management intentionally makes bad news less readable in order to strain the readers’ cognitive processes and lead to lower comprehension of the bad news. In addition to this evidence of obfuscation, researchers have found support for managers engaging in attributional framing, which is the tendency to attribute positive outcomes to actions within the company and negative outcomes to actions external to the company (e.g., the government or the weather) in an effort to influence readers’ perception of good versus bad news. More recently, researchers have found that managers use syntactic (sentence structure), semantic (word meaning), and metasemantic (abstract versus concrete construal) manipulation and make broad stylistic choices such as emphasis, length, and scenario form. In terms of how those features affect the readers of the narratives, readers (most notably, investors) have been shown to respond to length and readability; level of negativity; words pertaining to risk, uncertainty, credibility, commitment, and responsibility; justifications of excuses of poor performance; optimistic and pessimistic tone; vivid versus pallid language; internal versus external attributions; and use of self-references.

Article

Attitudes Toward Homosexuality and LGBT People: Causal Attributions for Sexual Orientation  

Peter Hegarty

Social scientists have debated whether belief in a biological basis for sexual orientation engenders more positive attitudes toward gay men and lesbians. Belief in the biological theory has often been observed to be correlated with pro-lesbian/gay attitudes, and this gives some “weak” support for the hypothesis. There is far less “strong” evidence that biological beliefs have caused a noteworthy shift in heterosexist attitudes, or that they hold any essential promise of so doing. One reason for this divergence between the weak and strong hypothesis is that beliefs about causality are influenced by attitudes and group identities. Consequently beliefs about a biological basis of sexual orientation have identity-expressive functions over and above their strictly logical causal implications about nature/nurture issues. Four other factors explain why the biological argument of the 1990s was an intuitively appealing as a pro-gay tool, although there is no strong evidence that it had a very substantive impact in making public opinion in the USA more pro-gay. These factors are that the biological argument (a) implied that sexuality is a discrete social category grounded in fundamental differences between people, (b) implied that sexual orientation categories are historically and culturally invariant, (c) implied that gender roles and stereotypes have a biological basis, and (d) framed homosexual development, not heterosexual development, as needing explanation. Understanding this literature is important and relevant for conceptualizing the relationship between biological attributions and social attitudes in domains beyond sexual orientations, such as in the more recent research on reducing transphobia and essentialist beliefs about gender.

Article

Authorship  

John Frow

Questions of authorship bring into play many of the central questions of literary theory: questions as to what constitutes the unity and coherence of texts, the interpretive relevance of authorial intention, the relation of oral to literate cultures, the regulation of writing by church and state, the legal underpinnings of literary property, the significance of forgery and plagiarism, and so on. At the heart of many of these questions is a distinction between two different orders of phenomena. Writers are not necessarily authors: authorship requires recognition and attribution, and these depend on institutional processes of publication, textual stabilization, criticism, education, and appropriate legal, regulatory, and economic conditions. Those processes and conditions vary from culture to culture, as do the particular historical forms that authorship takes. In the contemporary world authorship tends to be cast as though it were directly expressive of a personality, an inner core of selfhood, that underwrites the coherence of the texts attributed to it; the commercialization of that form gives rise to a cult of the author in both academic and popular culture.

Article

Climatology of Flooding in the United States  

Gabriele Villarini and Louise Slater

Flood losses in the United States have increased dramatically over the course of the past century, averaging US$7.96 billion in damages per year for the 30-year period ranging from 1985 to 2014. In terms of human fatalities, floods are the second largest weather-related hazard in the United States, causing approximately 80 deaths per year over the same period. Given the wide-reaching impacts of flooding across the United States, the evaluation of flood-generating mechanisms and of the drivers of changing flood hazard are two areas of active research. Flood frequency analysis has traditionally been based on statistical analyses of the observed flood distributions that rarely distinguish among physical flood-generating processes. However, recent scientific advances have shown that flood frequency distributions are often characterized by “mixed populations” arising from multiple flood-generating mechanisms, which can be challenging to disentangle. Flood events can be driven by a variety of physical mechanisms, including rain and snowmelt, frontal systems, monsoons, intense tropical cyclones, and more generic cyclonic storms. Temporal changes in the frequency and magnitude of flooding have also been the subject of a large body of work in recent decades. The science has moved from a focus on the detection of trends and shifts in flood peak distributions towards the attribution of these changes, with particular emphasis on climatic and anthropogenic factors, including urbanization and changes in agricultural practices. A better understanding of these temporal changes in flood peak distributions, as well as of the physical flood-generating mechanisms, will enable us to move forward with the estimation of future flood design values in the context of both climatic and anthropogenic change.

Article

Attribution Theories  

Sandra Graham and Xiaochen Chen

Attribution theory is concerned with the perceived causes of success and failure. It is one of the most prominent theories of motivation in the field of education research. The starting point for the theory is an outcome perceived as a success or failure and the search to determine why that outcome occurred. Ability and effort are among the most prominent perceived causes of success and failure. Attribution theory focuses on both antecedents and consequences of perceived causality. Antecedents or determinants of attributions may be beneficial or harmful, and they include teacher behaviors such as communicated sympathy, offering praise, and unsolicited help that indirectly function as low-ability cues. Seemingly positive teacher behaviors can therefore have unintended negative consequences if they lead students to question their ability. Attributional consequences are grounded in three properties or dimensions of causes: locus, stability, and controllability. Each dimension is uniquely linked to particular psychological and behavioral outcomes. The locus dimension is related to self-esteem, the stability dimension is linked to expectancy for success or failure, and the controllability dimension is related to interpersonal evaluation. Research on self-handicapping is illustrative of the locus-esteem relation because that literature depicts how dysfunctional causal thinking about the self can undermine achievement. Attribution retraining programs focus on the stability-expectancy link to strengthen individuals’ awareness of how they can alter their causal thoughts and behavior. Changing maladaptive beliefs about the causes of achievement failure (e.g., from low ability to lack of effort) can result in more persistence and improved performance. And, stereotypes about stigmatized groups are grounded in the controllability-interpersonal evaluation attributional lens. Unlike other motivational theories, attribution theory addresses the antecedents and consequences of both intrapersonal attributions (how one perceives the self) and interpersonal attributions (how one perceives other people) with one set of interrelated principles Future research should devote more attention to identifying moderators of attributional effects, multipronged intervention approaches that include an attributional component, and stronger depictions of how race/ethnicity alters attributional thinking.

Article

The Development of Climate Science of the Baltic Sea Region  

Anders Omstedt

Dramatic climate changes have occurred in the Baltic Sea region caused by changes in orbital movement in the earth–sun system and the melting of the Fennoscandian Ice Sheet. Added to these longer-term changes, changes have occurred at all timescales, caused mainly by variations in large-scale atmospheric pressure systems due to competition between the meandering midlatitude low-pressure systems and high-pressure systems. Here we follow the development of climate science of the Baltic Sea from when observations began in the 18th century to the early 21st century. The question of why the water level is sinking around the Baltic Sea coasts could not be answered until the ideas of postglacial uplift and the thermal history of the earth were better understood in the 19th century and periodic behavior in climate related time series attracted scientific interest. Herring and sardine fishing successes and failures have led to investigations of fishery and climate change and to the realization that fisheries themselves have strongly negative effects on the marine environment, calling for international assessment efforts. Scientists later introduced the concept of regime shifts when interpreting their data, attributing these to various causes. The increasing amount of anoxic deep water in the Baltic Sea and eutrophication have prompted debate about what is natural and what is anthropogenic, and the scientific outcome of these debates now forms the basis of international management efforts to reduce nutrient leakage from land. The observed increase in atmospheric CO2 and its effects on global warming have focused the climate debate on trends and generated a series of international and regional assessments and research programs that have greatly improved our understanding of climate and environmental changes, bolstering the efforts of earth system science, in which both climate and environmental factors are analyzed together. Major achievements of past centuries have included developing and organizing regular observation and monitoring programs. The free availability of data sets has supported the development of more accurate forcing functions for Baltic Sea models and made it possible to better understand and model the Baltic Sea–North Sea system, including the development of coupled land–sea–atmosphere models. Most indirect and direct observations of the climate find great variability and stochastic behavior, so conclusions based on short time series are problematic, leading to qualifications about periodicity, trends, and regime shifts. Starting in the 1980s, systematic research into climate change has considerably improved our understanding of regional warming and multiple threats to the Baltic Sea. Several aspects of regional climate and environmental changes and how they interact are, however, unknown and merit future research.

Article

Hedge Funds: Performance, Risk Management, and Impact on Asset Markets  

Vikas Agarwal and Honglin Ren

Hedge funds are dynamic, versatile, opaque, and, according to BarclayHedge, their assets under management have nearly doubled from $2.6 trillion in 2015 to $4.9 trillion in 2021. In the recent decade, whether hedge funds have delivered superior performance is in debate. Researchers conclude differently depending on the sample of hedge funds available for investigation. Recent research has made significant advances in understanding factors that contribute to or impair fund performance and in identifying potential sources of managerial skill. These include changes in disclosure requirements, examination of timing ability, the role of short selling and derivatives use, the effect of fund and manager characteristics, and applications of more advanced econometric techniques. Recent research has also examined different risks hedge funds are exposed to and the risk management practices of hedge funds. Particularly, studies have focused on systematic risk, liquidity risk, and financial intermediary risk stemming from trading in the market and interacting with other market participants. With greater availability of novel data such as regulatory filings (e.g., Form PF), studies have improved understanding of types of risks hedge funds take on and implications of risk taking on fund performance, factors related to heterogeneous risks, and risk management process of hedge funds. Lastly, recent research has also studied the role of hedge funds in the asset market. Hedge funds possess stronger incentives, are less constrained, and are nimbler in their trading than other institutional investments. Studies have investigated the important role of hedge funds in contributing to price discovery, market efficiency, and liquidity in financial markets. Evidence suggests that the ability of hedge funds to arbitrage or provide liquidity depends on market conditions and funds’ funding conditions.

Article

Fatalism, Causal Reasoning, and Natural Hazards  

John McClure

Fatalism about natural disasters hinders action to prepare for those disasters, and overcoming this fatalism is one key element to preparing people for these disasters. Research by Bostrom and colleagues shows that failure to act often reflects gaps and misconceptions in citizen’s mental models of disasters. Research by McClure and colleagues shows that fatalistic attitudes reflect people’s attributing damage to uncontrollable natural causes rather than controllable human actions, such as preparation. Research shows which precise features of risk communications lead people to see damage as preventable and to attribute damage to controllable human actions. Messages that enhance the accuracy of mental models of disasters by including human factors recognized by experts lead to increased preparedness. Effective messages also communicate that major damage in disasters is often distinctive and reflects controllable causes. These messages underpin causal judgments that reduce fatalism and enhance preparation. Many of these messages are not only beneficial but also newsworthy. Messages that are logically equivalent but are differently framed have varying effects on risk judgments and preparedness. The causes of harm in disasters are often contested, because they often imply human responsibility for the outcomes and entail significant cost.

Article

Racial Inequality in Punishment  

Marisa Omori and Oshea Johnson

There have been two major approaches to studying racial and ethnic inequality in punishment: The first approach comes from the sociology of punishment and social inequality literatures, and considers how the carceral state, including criminal justice institutions, create racial inequality through policies and practices broadly, or how racialized narratives are embedded in these policies and practices. This includes how scholarship has been drawn from institutional racism and other race literatures and integrated these ideas into how punishment policies and practices are racialized, as well as how the criminal justice system is both a consequence of and a contributor to increasing racial inequality. In particular, the social inequality literature has also been concerned with the rise of mass incarceration and its consequences for racial inequality in individuals, families, and communities. The second approach is drawn from the criminology literature on courts and sentencing, and generally focuses on the magnitude and location of racial disparities for individuals being processed in the criminal justice system, with a particular attention to sentencing outcomes. There are several complementary frameworks that have been used to frame racial inequalities in punishment outcomes; most of them focus on individual-level decisions and decision-makers, with some considerations of organizational-level factors. Most often, this literature also quantitatively tests racial disparities of court processing and court case outcomes, with a particular focus on sentencing of convicted defendants, including whether a defendant was sentenced to prison or not (the “in/out” decision), and the length of prison sentence. The two perspectives can inform each other; the sociology of punishment focuses on policies and practices that drive racial inequality, and the courts and sentencing literature focuses on the consequences of these factors in case processing outcomes.

Article

On Frequently Used Terms Related to Climate Change  

Guoyu Ren and Hans von Storch

Using terms with the same meaning is a precondition of academic exchange and coordinated international actions to cope with the global climate issue. However, the understanding and usage of some terms in the climate change field are incompatible among researchers, policymakers, and publics. In particular, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have used significantly different definitions of climate change, which may result in unforeseen problems in coping with the global climate issue. Also, when referring to future changes, the terms climate change projection and climate prediction are frequently used inconsistently. Other terms not always used with the same meaning are global warming, global change, global climate change, abrupt climate change, climate change monitoring, climate change detection, and climate change attribution. With respect to the term climate change, it is suggested that it be defined in academic circles as a change in any key climate variables or climate extremes on timescales of multidecades or longer periods caused by any drivers (natural or human and external or internal), whereas the term climate variability should be used to refer to variations on all the spectrums of frequency provoked by natural internal drivers or on high-frequency spectrums caused by natural external drivers. Following the IPCC terminology, it is suggested that climate change projection be defined as estimating possible evolutions of the climate state in the future on scales of decades or longer, based on development scenarios and climate models, with the estimate considered possible, internally consistent, but not necessarily probable. It is also suggested that the term anthropogenic climate change be used to express large-scale climate change caused by various human activities, especially global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions from human activities and the corresponding changes in other components of the climate system as noted in the IPCC reports and international climate negotiations.

Article

Political Prefects: The Regional Political Bosses of Mexico  

Romana Gloria Falcón Vega

During the formation of the Mexican nation, jefaturas políticas, or prefectures, as they will be called generically in this article, were basic institutions (1812–1917) for centralizing and organizing power and assuring governance. This was a vital task given the civil and international wars the country would endure. These powerful institutions were the mediators between the upper and lower political echelons and social classes. In the prefectures were vested an impressive range of diverse responsibilities—agrarian, fiscal, preserving order, military conscriptions, educational, medical and sanitary services, promoting the economy, elaborating statistics, mapmaking—which made modernization and administrative functionality very difficult. At the turn of the 20th century, this was an obstacle to the modernization and efficacy of the regime. Even though prefectures had responsibilities for all of Mexico, they also had an important degree of flexibility to attend to local needs. Therefore, laws and practices were adapted to the peculiarities of the different states, for example, regulating labor or conciliating rivalries that sprang from the application of liberal agrarian policies. Prefects governed specific political districts in which the states were divided and were generally appointed and removed freely by the governors as their personal representatives to enforce laws and policies and to control any opposition. They were remembered in popular imaginary, literary, and revolutionary historiography as brutal and corrupt functionaries loyal only to the upper classes and their clientelist networks. Contemporary studies have proved that these modalities—brutality and corruption—have a place in the prefect’s box of tools, but new research has widened the historiographic perspective and showed how differently these functionaries could act. In fact, they used most of their energy trying to negotiate with the whole range of social classes and political factions. But their repressive character led to its elimination: they fought the revolution of 1910, and when they lost they were suppressed in 1917.