Tag Archives: risk-taking

Does Music Increase Risk-Taking, Ethical Lapses?

John DrydenJohn Dryden

John Dryden

What passion cannot Music raise and quell?” asked English poet, playwright, and critic John Dryden in A Song for St. Cecilia’s Day, 1687.

More recently, researchers have identified that music can increase risk-taking and ethically questionable behaviors in experimental settings.

Marja-Liisa Halko

Marja-Liisa Halko

Listening to preferred music was associated with increased risk-taking in a study of 23 adolescents ages 12 to 17 conducted by University of Helsinki’s Marja-Liisa Halko and Markku Kaustia of Aalto University.
Participants identified favorite and most disliked songs, and these tracks provided alternating background music during 16 opportunities to gamble for real money in trials with varying risk.

Volunteers could choose whether to participate or pass on gambles that offered a 50-50 chance to win or lose money.
If they accepted a gamble marked “plus 1.50, minus 1.20,” they had a 50 percent chance of winning 1.5 Euros, and a 50 percent chance of losing 1.2 Euros.
Preferred music was played during 64 gambles, whereas disliked music provided the auditory background during 64 other trials, and another 128 gambles were conducted in silence.

Markku Kaustia

Markku Kaustia

Participants accepted more risky gambles when their favorite music played, and they accepted fewest high risk gambles when accompanied by disliked tunes. These findings suggest that preferred music increases money’s “marginal utility” or additional satisfaction a consumer gains from “consuming one more unit of a good or service.”

Favorite music seemed to encourage people to “do what it takes” to earn more money, even if it involves greater risk and potential loss.

Naomi Ziv

Naomi Ziv

Many people prefer up-tempo music due to its mood-enhancing effects, yet upbeat music may have a darker side:  It can move people to harm others, found NYU’s Naomi Ziv.

More than 100 volunteers spent 90 seconds trying to underline all vowels in an unclear photocopied page of text.
One-quarter of the participants completed the task in silence, while the others heard one of four upbeat musical numbers, including James Brown’s I Feel Good while they finished the job.

Erica Nadera

Erica Nadera

Ziv’s team asked volunteers to inconvenience and disappoint their peers by telling saying that other volunteers couldn’t participate in a study required for academic credit because the researcher didn’t feel like staying during the experiment.

In another study, Ziv’s team asked voluntary participants to tell another volunteer who had been seriously ill that the researcher would not provide previously-promised course material, again because the researcher didn’t feel like doing so.

Steven Brown

Steven Brown

People who heard upbeat music played in the background were significantly more willing to provide the ethically dubious excuse to another volunteer compared with people who completed the task in silence.

Ulrik Volgsten

Ulrik Volgsten

Effective manipulation through music, including its use in advertising and in torture were summarized by Erica Nadera of Rutgers, while MacMaster University’s Steven Brown and Ulrik Volgsten of Örebro University assembled academic articles on music’s social uses and social control processes.

Daniel Västfjäll

Daniel Västfjäll

The specific mechanism to trigger changes in individuals’ experienced affective processes has been called including “musical mood induction procedure” (MMIP) by Linköping University’s Daniel Västfjäll in his review of research demonstrating music’ effect on peoples’ moods and emotions.

Emmett Velten

Emmett Velten

The most frequently-used mood induction procedure was developed by University of Southern California’s Emmett Velten and typically asks participants to read 60 self-referent statements including “This is great, I really do feel good” (elated condition), “I have too many bad things in my life” (depressed condition), and  “This book or any part thereof must not be reproduced in any form” (neutral condition).

However, this approach’s validity and reliability are limited by demand characteristics biasing results because the experimenters’ expectations suggest an implicit demand for specific performance requirements.

David M Clark

David M Clark

As a result, University of Oxford’s David M. Clark developed the Musical MIP eliciting depressed, neutral, and elated mood conditions based on music, and University of Oxford colleague Maryanne Martin noted that the MMIP induced the desired mood more than 75% of experimental trials.

She also concluded that the MMIP was especially efficient in inducing depressed and anxious moods, but inferior to other MIPs (such as Welten’s mood-induction procedure, social feedback, and social recollection) in inducing elated moods

Music’s varied impact on mood, performance, decision-making, pain perception, endurance and other dimensions is discussed in related blog posts, as is its use for beneficial and these less altruistic ends.

-*How do you use music to manage your own and others’ mood and productivity?

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Do “Hot” Emotions Lead to Better Decisions?

-*Do people in an agitated emotional state tend to make decisions they later regret?

Popular wisdom counsels against making decisions when influenced by “hot emotions” including feeling HALT – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired,
This guidance is based on the assumption that these physical and emotional experiences lead to regrettable decisions, such as relapsing to substance use.

Shane Frederick

Shane Frederick

Contradictory theories and research findings compete to explain the process of emotional decision-making.
One view, suggested by Princeton’s Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman with Shane Frederick of Yale, is that these two modes operate sequentially:  Intuitive judgments (“reflexive system”) are rapidly generated, whereas the analytical decisions (“reflective system”) are slower, and involve monitoring and modifying initial intuitive responses.

Andreas Glöckner

Andreas Glöckner

A contrasting view is that the two thinking modes work in parallel, and are applied in different decision environments, proposed by Max Planck Institute’s Andreas Glöckner and Tillman Betsch of Universität Erfurt.

J. Scott Armstrong

J. Scott Armstrong

Similarly, there are two divergent views of the quality of emotional decision-making.
One position is that the intuitive mode’s emotional approach may lead to faulty decisions, argued by Decision Research’s Donald MacGregor and J. Scott Amstrong of Wharton.

Marius Usher

Marius Usher

A counterpoint view is that the intuitive mode yields equal or better decisions compared with the analytical mode, offered by Tel Aviv University’s Marius Usher, Ran Brauner, and Dan Zakay with Zohar Rusou of Open University of Israel and University College London’s Mark Weyers.

Antonio Damasio

Antonio Damasio

Consistent with this view that intuitive thinking can enhance decisions, University of Southern California’s Antonio Damasio suggested that uncomfortable physical states like hunger, can provide access to unconscious processes that may determine decisions later rationalized with more rational explanations:  We feel, therefore we are, despite Descartes’ contrary assertion, he argued.

Dan Zakay

Dan Zakay

An integrative view is that decision quality depends on consistency (“transitivity”) between thinking modes during decision-making and characteristics of the decision, proposed Tel Aviv University’s Zohar Rusou and Marius Usher, with Dan Zakay of IDC Herzliya in their comparison of thinking during intuitive or analytical tasks.

Based on these views of thinking during decision making, the HALT theory that physiological arousal leads to poorer decisions was tested by asking hungry people to make complex choices.

Denise de Ridder

Denise de Ridder

Utrecht University’s Denise de Ridder, Floor Kroese, Marieke Adriaanse, and Catharine Evers asked volunteers to avoid eating and drinking between 11 p.m. the night before the experiment and 8:30 – 9:15 am, when they arrived at the lab.

Antoine Bechara

Antoine Bechara

Half of the participants received breakfast before beginning the task, whereas the remaining group immediately began the Iowa Gambling Task, developed by University of Southern California’s Antoine Bechara, Antonio Damasio and Hannah Damasio, with Steven W Anderson of University of Iowa to simulate real-life decision making using uncertainty, rewards, and penalties.

Iowa Gambling Task

Iowa Gambling Task

Participants received four decks of cards and were told to earn as much money as possible and lose the least possible when they selected one card at a time.
Cards in decks A and B had a 100 Euro payoff, whereas those in decks C and D has a 50 Euro reward.

In addition, decks A and B also had cards with a larger penalty than in decks C and D.
Consequently, selecting cards from decks A and B resulted in a loss, whereas cards from C and D led to a gain.

Floor Kroese

Floor Kroese

Hungry participants selected more cards from decks C and D, leading to greater financial gains.
Similarly, hungry participants made equally astute decisions about long term payoffs when choosing between 50 Euros in 21 days instead of 27 Euros today.

People in a “hot” emotional state like hunger actually made better decisions involving uncertain outcomes because recognized the risks of loss associated with higher rewards, concluded de Ridder’s team.
This team’s findings contrasts to conventional belief that impulsivity impairs decision-making.

  • When do you make better decisions in “hot” states like “HALT”?

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Executives’ Financial Risk Tolerance Related to Marital Status

 

Nickolai Roussanov

Nickolai Roussanov

Unmarried executives tend to advocate more aggressive investments in corporate capital expenditures, innovation activity, research and development, and acquisitions, resulting in significantly higher stock return volatility, according to Wharton’s Nikolai Roussanov and Pavel G. Savor of Temple University.

Pavel G. Savor

Pavel G. Savor

Marital status is a changeable characteristic rather than a personal inherent trait, previously considered as unrelated to risk-taking decisions.

However, Roussanov and Savor found that marital status can both reflect and affect individual risk preferences based on their analysis of financial risk-taking decisions of CEOs of the U.S.’s 1,500 largest public companies and variations in divorce laws across U.S. states.

Although unmarried CEOs tend lead smaller, early-stage, high-growth firms that benefit from greater investing, Roussanov and Savor controlled for various differences between firms and found that unmarried CEOs make about 10% more risky investments than married CEOs.
Managers are “rational maximizers,” and the target of maximization can change based on personal circumstances, they concluded.

Terence Burnham

Terence Burnham

Unmarried men are more aggressive and willing to take risks, due to higher testosterone levels, according to Chapman University’s Terence Burnham, with colleagues Judith Flynn Chapman and Peter Ellison of Harvard, University of Nevada’s Peter Gray, Matthew McIntyre of 23and Me, and University of Rochester’s Susan Lipson.

Judith Flynn Chapman

Judith Flynn Chapman

In addition, they note that married men may become more cautious as responsibilities for family members increase and testosterone levels decrease.

CEOs, they found, are more likely to be unmarried in U.S. community property states because it is much costlier for a wealthy individual to be divorced.
As a result, it  may be potentially costlier to marry, given the significant chance of divorce.

Peter Ellison

Peter Ellison

A person’s individual characteristics and … individual life cycle matter for the decisions that they make…on behalf of the firms that they lead… Managerial decisions are affected by what is happening in those individual’s personal lives.,” said Roussanov.

Peter Gray

Peter Gray

Boards of Directors may consider a leader’s or candidate’s personal situation, although in the U.S., this is not a legitimate selection criterion.
However, Boards may design CEO incentive compensation tailored to the executive’s risk tolerance, informed by marital status.

Paola Sapienza

Paola Sapienza

For example, a married male or a female CEO leading a fast-growing firm may need financial incentives to increase risk tolerance, since both groups tend to have lower average testosterone levels and lower risk appetite than unmarried men, according to researchers including Northwestern’ s Paola Sapienza, with Luigi Zingales and Dario Maestripieri of University of Chicago

Likewise, a younger unmarried male or CEO of a less dynamic business may need compensation that rewards slower but consistent long term growth.

-*To what extent have you seen organizational leader’s changeable characteristics affect business performance?

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Anxiety Undermines Negotiation Performance

Maurice Schweitzer

Maurice Schweitzer

Anxious negotiators make lower first offers, exit earlier, and earn lower profits than less anxious people due to their “low self-efficacy” beliefs, according to Harvard’s Alison Wood Brooks and Maurice E. Schweitzer of University of Pennsylvania,

Alison Wood Brooks

Alison Wood Brooks

Brooks and Schweitzer induced anxious feelings or neutral reactions during continuous “shrinking-pie” negotiation tasks.
Compared with negotiators experiencing neutral feelings, negotiators who feel anxious typically expect to achieve lower profits, present more cautious offers, and respond more cautiously to propositions presented by negotiation counterparts.

Anxious negotiators who achieved poor bargaining outcomes typically did not manage emotions with a cognitive strategies including:

Julie Norem

Julie Norem

  • Strategic optimism, indicated by expecting positive outcomes without anxiety or detailed reflection, according to University of Miami’s Stacie Spencer and Julie Norem of Wellesley
  • Reattribution, identified by considering alternate interpretations of events to increase optimism and self-efficacy beliefs
  • Defensive pessimism, marked by high motivation toward achievement coupled with negative expectations for future challenges, leading to increased effort and preparation, according to Wellesley College’s Julie Norem and Edward Chang of University of Michigan.
Edward Chang

Edward Chang

Norem and Cantor concluded that defensive pessimists performed worse when “encouraged by telling them that that based on their academic performance, they should expect to perform well on anagram and puzzle tasks.

Among university students, defensive pessimism was related to lower self-esteem, self-criticism, pessimism, and discounting previous successful performances when they began university studies, according to Norem and Brown’s Jasmina Burdzovic Andreas.

Jasmina Burdzovic Andreas

Jasmina Burdzovic Andreas

However, their longitudinal study demonstrated that self-esteem increased to almost the same levels as optimists during their four years of university study.
Pessimists’ precautionary countermeasures may have resulted in strong performance, which built credible self-esteem.

In contrast to general pessimism, defensive pessimism is not characterized by an internal, global, and stable attribution style linked to depression and less proactive problem-solving behavior.
Defensive pessimism’s positive performance outcomes suggest that this cognitive strategy is an effective, if uncomfortable, approach to managing anxiety and performance motivation.

-*How do you manage anxiety in high-stakes negotiations?

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Genes and Neurotransmitters Influence Investment Risk-Taking: Implications for Taking Career Risks?

Camelia Kuhnen

Camelia Kuhnen

Brian Knutson

Brian Knutson

Camelia Kuhnen, then of Stanford with her Stanford colleague Brian Knutson and Vanderbilt’s Gregory Samanez-Larkin posit a small but meaningful genetic basis to risk-averse financial investing, providing a biological basis for findings that women hedge fund managers outperformed male counterparts.

Volunteers with two short serotonin transporter genes (5-HTTLPR) reported that they tend to worry, and this pattern was associated with chosing less risky investment choices.

Gregory Samanez-Larkin

Gregory Samanez-Larkin

“Short allele carriers” also showed higher levels of the personality trait “neuroticism,” but no significant difference in cognitive skills, education, or financial status.
Kuhnen estimates that less than 30 percent of variance in risk-taking is attributable to short 5-HTTLPR, and the remaining difference is derived from experience, culture, education, and social environment.

Kuhnen and Knutson reported the neural basis of financial risk taking using event-related fMRI.
They observed that the nucleus accumbens was activated before volunteers made risky choices and made risk-seeking mistakes.
In contrast, they found that the anterior insula was activated before risk-free choices and risk-aversion mistakes.

They proposed that different neural circuits are associated with differing emotions as volunteers anticipate gain or loss associated with financial choices.
This emotional activation “signature” can lead to specific investment choices, favoring or avoiding risk, and may lead to investing mistakes.

In unpublished research, Kuhnen found that short-allele carriers showed increased anxiety before making a decision in a trial-and-error risk discovery task, but reacted no differently than long-allele carriers when they observed a negative outcome.

She noted that volunteers differ in how they anticipate and react to a potential decision before they make it rather that in their reactions to actual outcomes of investment decisions.

Joan Chiao

Joan Chiao

Kuhnen, now at Northwestern collaborated with Northwestern colleague Joan Chiao to investigate the impact of both the 5-HTTLPR gene and the DRD4, gene, which regulates dopamine transmission.
These genes and their related neurotransmitters have been linked to emotional behavior, anxiety and addiction.

Their research replicated Kuhnen’s earlier finding that individuals with two short 5-HTTLPR alleles take 28% less risk than people with other combinations, and they demonstrated that the double DRD4 7 allele carriers took 25% more risk than people with other combinations.
They conclude that serotonin is associated with risk-averse investment choices, whereas dopamine is associated with riskier choices.

Kuhnen and Chiao argue that risky investment behavior shares commonalities with other risky behaviors like drug use, gambling, unsafe sex, dangerous physical and social pursuits, and more.

-*How do you determine the right amount of risk to undertake in career development and financial investing?

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Women’s Career Development Model – Individual Action in Negotiation, Networking-Mentoring-Sponsorship, Skillful Self-Promotion – Part 2 of 2

Kenexa Career Development Model-Individual Behaviors

Kenexa Career Development Model-Individual Behaviors

Part 1 of this post, Women’s Career Development Model – Individual Action in Career Planning and the Contest and Sponsorship Pathways to Advancement – Part 1 of 2,  highlighted Ines Wichart’s model of women’s career development with three levels and 11 components, based on her research as Kenexa High Performance Institute (KHPI), a subsidiary of IBM.

Ines Wichert

Ines Wichert

She outlined four behaviors that individuals can control or influence toward career advancement:

  • Career planning 
  • Opportunity-seeking, Negotiation
  • Career-building networking; Mentoring-Sponsorship    
  • Skillful self-promotion

The first segment of this two-part post considered facets of Career Planning and two independent paths to career advancement: Contest and Sponsorship routes.

Let’s consider the additional elements that respond to individual attention and efforts, including Opportunity-seeking while embracing risk.  

Susan Vinnicombe

Susan Vinnicombe

Val Singh

Val Singh

Highly effective career advancement opportunities include stretch assignments and on-the-job training.

Susan Vinnicombe and Val Singh of Cranfield University report that these development activities are most effective in building credibility, visibility, reputation as a capable, well-rounded leader.

However, their research found that women need more encouragement to take on challenging assignments than men, who are more likely to ask for these assignments.

Linda Babcock

Linda Babcock

Similarly, Linda Babcock reported that women tend to need encouragement to ask for promotions and salary increases.

Her research demonstrated that women are less likely to negotiate for their first salaries, unless they know that these are acceptable practices.

Manhattan CollegeAs a countermeasure, Babcock recommends negotiation practices demonstrated to mitigate negative perceptions by both men and women negotiation partners

Like Babcock, Mary Wade’s research at Manhattan College found that both men and women evaluated more negatively women who negotiated for salary using the same script as men.

Corinne Moss-Racusin

Corinne Moss-Racusin

Laurie Rudman

Laurie Rudman

Corinne Moss-Racusin and Laurie Rudman replicated this disconcerting finding at Rutgers University, leading to their formulation of “The Backlash Avoidance Model” (BAM)”.

According to this construct, women may demonstrate traditional gender role behaviors to mitigate “backlash” of negative reaction by men and women to “role discrepant” behaviors like asking for career advancement and commensurate compensation.

  • What approaches have been effective when you have asked for a salary increase or promotion?
         –How did you prepare?

         -How did you overcome objections?
  • When people ask you for a salary increase or promotion, what negotiation approaches have been most effective?
              -What have been least effective?

Wichart’s model of individual initiatives toward career advancement points to the importance of skillful professional networking, mentoring, and sponsorship.

National Center for Women and Information TechnologyNational Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) reported that nearly half of technical women surveyed said they lack role models and mentors, and 84% said they lack sponsors.
The result is that these women are four times more likely to leave the current job role.

One reason that women’s professional networking efforts and seeking mentors may yield less effective career advancement than men:  Women tend to engage in professional networking for affiliation and emotional support with people close to their job level whereas men tend to network for career development with people significantly above the job level, according to Adelina Broadbridge of University of Stirling.University of Stirling

As a result of these differing approaches to professional networking, men may enjoy more rapid career advancement due to visibility and sponsorship.

Pamela Perrewe

Pamela Perrewe

F. Randy Blass

F. Randy Blass

In addition, women are likely to demonstrate less political understanding and insight because mentors are not sufficiently senior, according to Florida State University’s F. Randy Blass, Pamela Perrewe, and Gerald Ferris with Robyn Brouer of SUNY Buffalo.

Gerald Ferris

Gerald Ferris

Robyn Brouer

Robyn Brouer

Organizational support for formal and informal mentoring has been shown to increase employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention.

Therefore, organizations concerned with retaining talented women and minorities can increase the likelihood of keeping skilled employees by initiating structured mentoring programs and encouraging selective sponsorship.

  •  How have mentors and sponsors enabled your career moves?
  •  How do you decide who you are willing to mentor or sponsor?   

Previous posts have shared much current research and leading recommendations in building personal brand and practicing skillful self-promotion:

In light of the potential negative perceptions of women who showcase their accomplishments as they ask for salary increases and role advancement:

  •   How do you raise awareness of your accomplishments’ impact to avoid “backlash”?
  •   How do you define, develop, and communicate, “skillfully promote” your personal brand?

These research findings suggest three parting suggestions for women who want to Play Bigger:

  1. Question the thought that “I’m not ready yet.”
  2. Develop resilience and “a thick skin”:   If you are doing something innovative or important, you may draw both praise and criticism when you are noticed.
  3. Filter advice:  Implement recommendations that have “the ring of truth” and “resonate”;
    leave the rest.
  • What is the most helpful career advice you implemented?
  • What career advice have you decided not to implement?

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Why Organizations Care about Employee “Happiness”

“Command-and-control” managers of the past might have scoffed at current business research on happiness.
Under their spans-of-control, employees ought to have been happy to have a job from which they derived an income.
This view has been supplanted by widespread recognition that desirable outcomes like innovative problem solving, flexible decision making, and workplace productivity are associated with employees’ positive mood.

GallupResearch by the Gallup Organization offers further justification in its finding that disgruntled employees disengage and cost the American economy up to $350 billion a year in lost productivity.

Therefore, organizations can increase financial performance by improving operational efficiency in the many processes involving people.

Sigal Barsade

Sigal Barsade

Sigal Barsade of the Wharton School of Business contributed to the investigation of happiness’s impact on organizational productivity.
She found that positive moods prompt “more flexible decision-making, wider search behavior and greater analytic precision,” which enable the organization to take considered risks.

Jennifer Aaker

Jennifer Aaker

On the other coast, Jennifer Aaker, award-winning professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, links workplace happiness and a sense of meaning.

She asserts that having a meaningful impact on the world is a strong predictor of happiness and that it’s possible to cultivate mindfulness and awareness of meaning in work and personal activities.
This cultivated awareness, she said, influences people’s subjective well-being and may positively affect that of others in a contagion effect.

Jonathan Haidt

Jonathan Haidt

New York University’s Jonathan Haidt, a psychologist in the Stern School of Business, takes a more philosophical view of happiness.
He redefines “wisdom” – other might say “leadership” or “self-management” – as the ability to adapt, shape the environment, and know when to move to new environments.

His moral and ethical framework includes high-level philosophical “virtues” associated with a sense of well-being and shared across cultures:

  • Courage
  • Humanity
  • Justice
  • Temperance
  • Transcendence

The Happiness HypothesisHaidt’s book, The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom , specified contributors to well-being:

  • Strong marriages
  • Physical touch
  • Meaningful relationships
  • Religious affiliation
  • Autonomy
  • Meaningful engagement in work
  • Contributing to a community through voluntary effort

Engineering organizations analyze issues according to “Is-Is Not.
Using this approach, Jonathan Haidt’s research offered some surprising happiness detractors or “is-nots”:

  • Persistent noise
  • Long commutes
  • Lack of situational and person control
  • Shame
  • Dysfunctional relationships

Matthias Mehl

Matthias Mehl

Matthias Mehl of the University of Arizona offered an additional contributor to happiness: Interpersonal dialog.
He found that volunteers who engaged in a meaningful conversation create shared meaning, strengthened their connections, and reported feeling happy.

Jennifer Michael Hecht

Jennifer Michael Hecht

Jennifer Michael Hecht’s The Happiness Myth, offers a framework for types and levels of happiness:

  • Good day, awareness, savoring, and gratitude for the fortunate conditions of one’s life
  • Good life, engaging in meaningful and challenging tasks that help provide a material quality of life and doing one’s best in any endeavor
  • Peak, choosing experiences that inspire awe and a sense of the eternal, connect to families and communities.

The Happiness MythShe cites familiar recommendations to:

  • Cultivate self-knowledge
  • Develop a clear view of one’s worth
  • Moderate desires
  • Appreciate mortality and time limits
  • Try new things
  • Increase involvement with others and the community.

Organizational policies can contribute to employees’ sense of well-being through establishing:

  • Opportunities for career movement and development
  • Regular acknowledgement and praise for a job well done
  • Focus on well-being as individuals through health and work/life integration programs

The payoffs to organizations include increased productivity, innovation and engagement.

-*How have you seen efforts to increase organizational “happiness” result in improved employee engagement, productivity, or decision-making?

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