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I often come across a use of parentheses where the parentheses refer to an "alternative layer" of a statement.

An example might be helpful here:

"Hence, changes in employment that increase (decrease) earnings or that cause investors to expect higher (lower) future earnings should lead to changes in stock prices."
Cascio, W. F., Young, C. E., & Morris, J. R. (1997). Financial consequences of employment-change decisions in major US corporations. Academy of Management Journal, 40(5), 1175-1189.

I've googled my heart out, but I can't seem to find anything on this kind of usage. I find it mostly in textbooks and academic papers. Is there a specific name for this usage of parentheses, and under which conditions is it appropriate?

UPDATE: I'm adding a more prototypical example, with a causal link between the pairs of alternatives:

"The higher (lower) the buyer's perceptions of the pace of technological change, the lower (higher) the likelihood that a closed consideration set will be used."
Heide, J. B., & Weiss, A. M. (1995). Vendor consideration and switching behavior for buyers in high-technology markets. The Journal of Marketing, 30-43.

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    I would call it a "parenthetical alternative"; but like you, I haven't been able to find a style guide or usage manual that discusses it. My sense is that it arose in the past two decades, perhaps influenced by computer programs that complete fill-in-the-blanks templates in different ways depending on certain triggering criteria. In any event, I think they are a bad idea because they clash with other uses of parentheses, such as parenthetical translations and parenthetical clarifications. "Police today arrested the vicious murderer (innocent bystander)"—who needs it? – Sven Yargs Oct 29 '14 at 1:37
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The parentheses are equivalent to 'or' or the oblique ('/'). In the instant case, a "respectively" is additionally implied. This is a common usage.

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Agreed, common, and implicative of brevity. This kind of abbreviation is typically used in coarse or rough notes that accompany the main article, wherein more formal constructs are likely to be used.

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    I think it's formal enough, not coarse/rough/draft style. – Kris Oct 29 '14 at 7:33
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I would put it this way: Hence, changes in employment that increase or decrease earnings or changes that cause investors to expect higher or lower future earnings should lead to changes in stock prices.

  • It doesn't always mean the same thing, though. – Kris Oct 29 '14 at 8:36

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