Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Emission budgets and pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5 °C

Emission budgets and pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5 °C. Richard J. Millar et al. Nature Geoscience (2017), doi:10.1038/ngeo3031

Abstract: The Paris Agreement has opened debate on whether limiting warming to 1.5 °C is compatible with current emission pledges and warming of about 0.9 °C from the mid-nineteenth century to the present decade. We show that limiting cumulative post-2015 CO2 emissions to about 200 GtC would limit post-2015 warming to less than 0.6 °C in 66% of Earth system model members of the CMIP5 ensemble with no mitigation of other climate drivers, increasing to 240 GtC with ambitious non-CO2 mitigation. We combine a simple climate–carbon-cycle model with estimated ranges for key climate system properties from the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. Assuming emissions peak and decline to below current levels by 2030, and continue thereafter on a much steeper decline, which would be historically unprecedented but consistent with a standard ambitious mitigation scenario (RCP2.6), results in a likely range of peak warming of 1.2–2.0 °C above the mid-nineteenth century. If CO2 emissions are continuously adjusted over time to limit 2100 warming to 1.5 °C, with ambitious non-CO2 mitigation, net future cumulative CO2 emissions are unlikely to prove less than 250 GtC and unlikely greater than 540 GtC. Hence, limiting warming to 1.5 °C is not yet a geophysical impossibility, but is likely to require delivery on strengthened pledges for 2030 followed by challengingly deep and rapid mitigation. Strengthening near-term emissions reductions would hedge against a high climate response or subsequent reduction rates proving economically, technically or politically unfeasible.

“No one wants to be seen as someone who can’t afford to get online.”

Facebook Faces a New World as Officials Rein In a Wild Web. By PAUL MOZUR, MARK SCOTT and MIKE ISAAC. TNYT, Sept 17, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/17/technology/facebook-government-regulations.html

Facebook expanded its efforts in [Kenya,] country of 48 million in 2014. It teamed up with Airtel Africa, a mobile operator, to roll out Facebook’s Free Basics — a no-fee version of the social network, with access to certain news, health, job and other services there and in more than 20 other countries worldwide. In Kenya, the average person has a budget of just 30 cents a day to spend on internet access.

Free Basics now lets Kenyans use Facebook and its Messenger service at no cost, as well as read news from a Kenyan newspaper and view information about public health programs. Joe Mucheru, Kenya’s tech minister, said it at least gives his countrymen a degree of internet access.

Still, Facebook’s plans have not always worked out. Many Kenyans with access to Free Basics rely on it only as a backup when their existing smartphone credit runs out.

“Free Basics? I don’t really use it that often,” said Victor Odinga, 27, an accountant in downtown Nairobi. “No one wants to be seen as someone who can’t afford to get online.”

Encouraging consumers to take photos of sentimental possessions before donating them increases donations

Karen Page Winterich, Rebecca Walker Reczek, and Julie R. Irwin (2017) Keeping the Memory but Not the Possession: Memory Preservation Mitigates Identity Loss from Product Disposition. Journal of Marketing: September 2017, Vol. 81, No. 5, pp. 104-120. https://doi.org/10.1509/jm.16.0311

Abstract: Nonprofit firms' reliance on donations to build inventory distinguishes them from traditional retailers. This reliance on consumer donations means that these organizations face an inherently more volatile supply chain than retailers that source inventory from manufacturers. The authors propose that consumer reluctance to part with possessions with sentimental value causes a bottleneck in the donation process. The goal of this research is therefore to provide nonprofits with tools to increase donations of used goods and provide a theoretical link between the literature streams on prosocial behavior, disposition, memory, and identity. As such, the authors explore the effectiveness of memory preservation strategies (e.g., taking a photo of a good before donating it) in increasing donations to nonprofits. A field study using a donation drive demonstrates that encouraging consumers to take photos of sentimental possessions before donating them increases donations, and five laboratory experiments explicate this result by mapping the proposed psychological process behind the success of memory preservation techniques. Specifically, these techniques operate by ameliorating consumers' perceived identity loss when considering donation of sentimental goods.

Keywords: nonprofit marketing, donation, memory, identity, product disposition

Propensity for self-employment and success increase with ability balance

All About Balance? A Test of the Jack-of-all-Trades Theory Using Military Enlistment Data. Lina Aldén, Mats Hammarstedt, and Emma Neuman. Labour Economics. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.labeco.2017.09.001

•    We test the Jack-of-all-trades theory using Swedish military enlistment data
•    Ability balance is measured based on tests of cognitive and non-cognitive ability
•    The unique data addresses the issue of endogeneity in skill balance
•    We find that both propensity for self-employment and success increase with ability balance
•    Policies for skill-building in many areas should encourage self-employment

Abstract: According to the Jack-of-all-trades theory, people with a balanced set of skills are more suitable for self-employment than are those without. In this paper we test this theory using Swedish Military Enlistment data. This data enables us to construct a measure of balance in abilities that, in comparison to measures used in previous research, is less contaminated by endogeneity problems. We find clear support for the Jack-of-all-trades theory, in the sense that the likelihood of being self-employed is higher for individuals whose skills are balanced. In addition, their earnings from self-employment tend to be higher.

Keywords: Ability balance; Cognitive and non-cognitive ability; Earnings; Jack-of-all-trades theory; Occupational choice; Self-employment

JEL-classification: J24; J31; L26

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Evolutionary Psychology of Envy and Jealousy

The Evolutionary Psychology of Envy and Jealousy. Vilayanur S. Ramachandran and Baland Jalal. Front. Psychol., 19 September 2017 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01619

Abstract: The old dogma has always been that the most complex aspects of human emotions are driven by culture; Germans and English are thought to be straight-laced whereas Italians and Indians are effusive. Yet in the last two decades there has been a growing realization that even though culture plays a major role in the final expression of human nature, there must be a basic scaffolding specified by genes. While this is recognized to be true for simple emotions like anger, fear, and joy, the relevance of evolutionary arguments for more complex nuances of emotion have been inadequately explored. In this paper, we consider envy or jealousy as an example; the feeling evoked when someone is better off than you. Our approach is broadly consistent with traditional evolutionary psychology (EP) approaches, but takes it further by exploring the complexity and functional logic of the emotion – and the precise social triggers that elicit them – by using deliberately farfetched, and contrived “thought experiments” that the subject is asked to participate in. When common sense (e.g., we should be jealous of Bill Gates – not of our slightly richer neighbor) appears to contradict observed behavior (i.e., we are more envious of our neighbor) the paradox can often be resolved by evolutionary considerations which predict the latter. Many – but not all – EP approaches fail because evolution and common sense do not make contradictory predictions. Finally, we briefly raise the possibility that gaining deeper insight into the evolutionary origins of certain undesirable emotions or behaviors can help shake them off, and may therefore have therapeutic utility. Such an approach would complement current therapies (such as cognitive behavior therapies, psychoanalysis, psychopharmacologies, and hypnotherapy), rather than negate them.

(3) Let us say I were to prove by brain scans or some other reliable measure (e.g., mood/affect inventory) that (A) the Dalai Lama was vastly happier on some abstract, but very real, scale than (B) someone (say Hugh Heffner) who has limitless access to attractive women. Who are you more envious of?

Most men are more envious of the latter (9 out of 9 males we surveyed chose B). In other words, you are more jealous of what the other person has access to (in relation to what you desire), than of the final overall state of joy and happiness. This is true even though common sense might dictate the opposite. Put differently, evolution has programmed into you an emotion (jealousy) that is triggered by certain very specific “releasers” or social cues; it is largely insensitive to what the other person’s final state of happiness is. The final state of happiness is too abstract to have evolved as a trigger of envy or jealousy.

For similar reasons, if you are starving it makes more sense that you would be more jealous (at least temporarily) of someone enjoying a fine meal than someone having sex with a beautiful woman or man. If you are only slightly hungry, however, you might pick sex. This is because there is an unconscious metric in your brain that computes the probability of finding food in the near future vs. finding a nubile, available mate; and of the urgency of your need for food over the urgency of mating. If you are starving to death and have one last fling, you have only that single mating opportunity whereas if you eat and live you will have plenty of mating opportunities in the future.

Higher USA State Resident Neuroticism Is Associated With Lower State Volunteering Rates

Higher USA State Resident Neuroticism Is Associated With Lower State Volunteering Rates. Stewart McCann. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167217724802

Abstract: Highly neurotic persons have dispositional characteristics that tend to precipitate social anxiety that discourages formal volunteering. With the 50 American states as analytical units, Study 1 found that state resident neuroticism correlated highly (r = -.55) with state volunteering rates and accounted for another 26.8% of the volunteering rate variance with selected state demographics controlled. Study 2 replicated Study 1 during another period and extended the association to college student, senior, secular, and religious volunteering rates. Study 3 showed state resident percentages engaged in other social behaviors involving more familiarity and fewer demands than formal volunteering related to state volunteering rates but not to neuroticism. In Study 4, state resident neuroticism largely accounted statistically for relations between state volunteering rates and state population density, collectivism, social capital, Republican preference, and well-being. This research is the first to show that state resident neuroticism is a potent predictor of state volunteering rates.

Outrage-inducing content appears to be more prevalent and potent online than offline

Moral outrage in the digital age. M. J. Crockett. Nature Human Behaviour (2017). doi:10.1038/s41562-017-0213-3

Moral outrage is a powerful  emotion that motivates people to shame and punish wrongdoers. Moralistic punishment can be a force for good, increasing cooperation by holding bad actors accountable. But punishment also has a dark side — it can exacerbate social conflict by dehumanizing others  and escalating into destructive feuds.

Moral outrage is at least as old as civilization itself, but civilization is rapidly changing in the face of new technologies. Worldwide, more than a billion people now spend at least an hour a day on social media, and moral outrage is all the rage online. In recent years, viral online shaming has cost
companies millions, candidates elections, and individuals their careers overnight.

As digital media infiltrates our social lives, it is crucial that we understand how this technology might transform the expression of moral outrage and its social consequences. Here, I describe a simple psychological framework for tackling this question (Fig. 1). Moral outrage is triggered by stimuli that call attention to moral norm violations. These stimuli evoke a range of emotional and behavioural responses that vary in their costs and constraints. Finally, expressing outrage leads to a variety of personal and social outcomes. This framework reveals that digital media may exacerbate the expression of moral outrage by inflating its triggering stimuli, reducing some of its costs and amplifying many of its personal benefits.

If moral outrage is a fire, is the internet like gasoline? Technology companies have argued that their products provide neutral platforms for social behaviours but do not change those behaviours. This is an empirical question that behavioural scientists should address, because its answer has ethical and regulatory implications.

The framework proposed here offers a set of testable hypotheses about the impact of digital media on the expression of moral outrage and its social consequences. Digital media may promote the expression of moral outrage by magnifying its triggers, reducing its personal costs and amplifying its personal benefits. At the same time, online social networks may diminish the social benefits of outrage by reducing the likelihood that norm-enforcing messages reach their targets, and could even impose new social costs by increasing polarization.

Preliminary data support the framework’s predictions, showing that outrage-inducing content appears to be more prevalent and potent online than offline. Future studies should investigate the extent to which digital media platforms intensify moral emotions, promote habit formation, suppress productive social discourse, and change the nature of moral outrage itself. There are vast troves of data that are directly pertinent to these questions, but not all of it is publicly available. These data can and should be used to understand how new technologies might transform ancient social emotions from a force for collective good into a tool for collective self-destruction.

Cognitive Resources in the Service of Identity Expression

An Expressive Utility Account of Partisan Cue Receptivity: Cognitive Resources in the Service of Identity Expression. Yphtach Lelkes, Ariel Malka, and Bert N. Bakker. https://www.dropbox.com/s/gbw56kdk8d0aoa1/expressivecues.pdf

Abstract: What motivates citizens to rely on partisan cues when forming political judgments? Extant literature offers two perspectives on this matter: an optimistic view that reliance on cues serves to enable adequate decision making when cognitive resources are low, and a pessimistic view that reliance on cues serves to channel cognitive resources to the goal of expressing valued political identities. In the present research we seek to further understanding of the relative importance of these two motives. We find that individuals low in cognitive resources are not more likely to follow partisan cues than are individuals high in cognitive resources. Furthermore, we find the highest level of cue receptivity is observed for those individuals who have both a strong social identification with their party and high cognitive resources. This suggests that partisan cue receptivity more often involves a harnessing of cognitive resources for the goal of identity expression.

Keywords: Partisan Cues, Social Identity, Cognitive Reflection, Motivated Reasoning

This work complements and extends two recent projects on the role of reflection on political reasoning. First, Arceneaux and Vander Wielen (2017) argue that those who are the least likely to be affectively attached to issues or parties and the most likely to be reflective exhibit behavior most akin to democratic ideals. In particular, these low affect/high reflection citizens are less likely to conform to elite cues than those who are high in affect and low in reflection. This is because these citizens combine relative weak emotional attachments to party-consistent issue positions with a relatively strong tendency to engage in effortful reasoning that could override emotional intuitions. As our strength of party identity measures affective attachment to a party (Huddy et al., 2015), the present work investigates the effect of high affect/high reflection on political reasoning, and our results are in line with Arceneaux and Vander Wielen (2017) untested predictions which they suggest for future research. Specifically, strong cognitive resources combined with an emotional attachment to partisanship seems to lead to toeing the party line. Second, Groenendyk (2013) argues that cognitive resources are required to defend one’s partisan identity–one reason partisan identities may remain stable among those high in cognitive resources is because they are able to rationalize changing attitude structures. The present findings reinforce that perspective as well.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

How the Presence of Others Affects Desirability Judgments in Heterosexual and Homosexual Participants

Scofield, John E, Bogdan Kostic, and Erin M Buchanan. 2017. “How the Presence of Others Affects Desirability Judgments in Heterosexual and Homosexual Participants”. Open Science Framework. September 17. www.osf.io/ej5kh.

Abstract: Mate-choice copying is a mating strategy wherein females rely on contextual information to assist in securing accurate assessments of potential mates. Mate-choice copying has been extensively studied in non-human species and has begun to be examined in humans as well. Hill and Buss (2008) found evidence of opposing effects for men and women in desirability judgments based on the presence of other opposite-sex people. The current project successfully replicated Hill and Buss (2008), Experiment 1, finding support for the desirability enhancement effect and the desirability diminution effect. The current project also extended Hill and Buss, Experiment 1, to include homosexual participants. Homosexual men showed similar patterns as heterosexual women, and homosexual women showed similar patterns as heterosexual men, revealing differences across sexual orientation in human mate-choice copying.

The purpose of the current project was to replicate Hill and Buss (2008), Experiment 1 and to extend their findings to include homosexual populations. Hill and Buss found opposing sex differences while investigating the presence of others on judgments of desirability. Hill and Buss found evidence for the desirability enhancement effect, in which females rated male targets surrounded by females as more desirable compared to those same males surrounded by other males. Desirability judgments had the opposite effect on male participants, known as the desirability diminution effect. Male participants rated target females as less desirable when surrounded by males, compared to when those same females were surrounded by other females.

Females were suggested to employ mate-choice copying mating tactics, such as social information provided in stimulus photographs when making mate assessments. In evolutionary theory, females may take into consideration the presence of other females, providing cues to the mate quality of males. Specifically, with females surrounding males, the mate quality of the male is assumed to be higher. Men were shown not to use typical mate-choice copying mating tactics. Males rated female targets surrounded by males as less desirable than when surrounded by other females or when alone. Males were suggested to assess potential mates with a probabilistic orientation, suggesting that the presence of other males in the scene hint at a decreased probability of gaining access to that mate, negatively influencing desirability judgments of that target female.


Results showed that homosexual male participants rated target males surrounded by females as more desirable compared to male targets surrounded by other males. Homosexual female participants, however, showed the opposite effect in that they rated target females less desirable when surrounded by males compared to when surrounded by females. This result is contrary to our predictions that heterosexual and homosexual judgments would both follow similar patterns, dictated per biological sex (regardless of sexual orientation). That is, homosexual and heterosexual men would both exhibit the desirability diminution effect, and both homosexual and heterosexual women would exhibit the desirability enhancement effect.

Liberals and Conservatives Are Similarly Motivated to Deny Attitude-Inconsistent Science

Science Denial Across the Political Divide -- Liberals and Conservatives Are Similarly Motivated to Deny Attitude-Inconsistent Science. Anthony N. Washburn, Linda J. Skitka. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 10.1177/1948550617731500

Abstract: We tested whether conservatives and liberals are similarly or differentially likely to deny scientific claims that conflict with their preferred conclusions. Participants were randomly assigned to read about a study with correct results that were either consistent or inconsistent with their attitude about one of several issues (e.g., carbon emissions). Participants were asked to interpret numerical results and decide what the study concluded. After being informed of the correct interpretation, participants rated how much they agreed with, found knowledgeable, and trusted the researchers’ correct interpretation. Both liberals and conservatives engaged in motivated interpretation of study results and denied the correct interpretation of those results when that interpretation conflicted with their attitudes. Our study suggests that the same motivational processes underlie differences in the political priorities of those on the left and the right.

Check also: Kahan, Dan M. and Peters, Ellen, Rumors of the 'Nonreplication' of the 'Motivated Numeracy Effect' are Greatly Exaggerated (August 26, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3026941

And: Biased Policy Professionals. Sheheryar Banuri, Stefan Dercon, and Varun Gauri. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 8113. https://t.co/Jga1EUEkbF.

And: Dispelling the Myth: Training in Education or Neuroscience Decreases but Does Not Eliminate Beliefs in Neuromyths. Kelly Macdonald et al. Frontiers in Psychology, Aug 10 2017. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01314

And: Wisdom and how to cultivate it: Review of emerging evidence for a constructivist model of wise thinking. Igor Grossmann. European Psychologist, in press. Pre-print: https://osf.io/preprints/psyarxiv/qkm6v/

Liberals Possess More National Consensus on Political Attitudes in the US

Liberals Possess More National Consensus on Political Attitudes in the United States -- An Examination Across 40 Years. Peter Ondish, Chadly Stern. Social Psychological and Personality Science, https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550617729410

Abstract: Do liberals or conservatives have more agreement in their political attitudes? Recent research indicates that conservatives may have more like-minded social groups than do liberals, but whether conservatives have more consensus on a broad, national level remains an open question. Using two nationally representative data sets (the General Social Survey and the American National Election Studies), we examined the attitudes of over 80,000 people on more than 400 political issues (e.g., attitudes toward welfare, gun control, same-sex marriage) across approximately 40 years. In both data sets, we found that liberals possessed a larger degree of agreement in their political attitudes than did conservatives. Additionally, both liberals and conservatives possessed more consensus than did political moderates. These results indicate that social–cognitive motivations for building similarity and consensus within one’s self-created social groups may also yield less consensus on a broad, national level. We discuss implications for effective political mobilization and social change.

“All my life I have been told that capitalism, particularly the American type, was bad,” Mr. Gujanicic, 63, said

As China Moves In, Serbia Reaps Benefits, With Strings Attached. By BARBARA SURK. The New York Times, Sep 09, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/09/world/europe/china-serbia-european-union.html

Mileta Gujanicic, a steelworker and union leader, is one of those who hope China fulfills its vision for the Smederevo mill: He has worked there for 40 years and says he got used to the ways of the Americans, whom he called “the aristocracy of the industrial world.”

“All my life I have been told that capitalism, particularly the American type, was bad,” Mr. Gujanicic, 63, said. “But we workers have been valued, well paid and respected when the Americans ran this place.”

The Chinese approach to running the mill, he said, is sharply different. So far, the new owners have maintained their pledge to retain jobs. But none of the promises Mr. Xi made during his visit have been kept.

Workers’ contracts are veiled in secrecy, safety standards have fallen, maintenance is at the bare minimum, and contact between the owners and the employees does not exist, he said. The erosion of workers’ rights and the employers’ disregard of labor laws are troubling, he said.

My comment: Mr Gujanicic, 63, was a Communist some time, but changed his opinion. What do you think, that he is being (more or less) objective, or that he has idealized his American bosses?

Research: The readability of scientific texts is decreasing over time

Research: The readability of scientific texts is decreasing over time. Pontus Plavén-Sigray et al. eLife 2017;6:e27725. https://elifesciences.org/articles/27725

Abstract: Clarity and accuracy of reporting are fundamental to the scientific process. Readability formulas can estimate how difficult a text is to read. Here, in a corpus consisting of 709,577 abstracts published between 1881 and 2015 from 123 scientific journals, we show that the readability of science is steadily decreasing. Our analyses show that this trend is indicative of a growing use of general scientific jargon. These results are concerning for scientists and for the wider public, as they impact both the reproducibility and accessibility of research findings.

My comment: Why is this so? Is there a part of snob behavior? A way to separate oneself from the great unwashed?

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Local mating markets in humans and non-human animals

Local mating markets in humans and non-human animals. Ronald Noë. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, October 2017, 71:148. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-017-2376-3

Abstract: In biology, the term ‘mating market’ has been fashionable for a few decades only, but sexual selection theory was implicitly based on economic principles from the start. I regard mating individuals explicitly as traders on markets and distinguish ‘global mating markets’, consisting of all reproducing members of a population, from ‘local mating markets’ (LMMs) that are disconnected in space and/or time. I focus on ways in which individuals make the best of variation among LMMs by adapting their mating strategy to each local market they enter. The ‘operational sex ratio’ (OSR; Emlen ST, Oring LW (1977) Science 197:215–223) gives a first approximation of the balance of power between the two trader classes: males and females ready to reproduce. The parameter I use is the local OSR (LOSR), the OSR of a single LMM. The balance of power is dependent not only on the LOSR, however, but also on the production costs and exchange values of ‘crucial commodities’, which often vary locally and over time. Distinguishing LMMs is most useful for species with strong variation in the LOSR. Human mating markets distorted by war, selective abortion and sex-biased migration are among the best-documented local markets with aberrant OSRs. Traders on LMMs may strategically adjust to supply and demand ratios and changes in their own market value but also attempt to change local market conditions or transfer to another local market with better conditions. Fine-tuning can result not only from conditional strategies, evolved under natural and sexual selection, but also from learning processes as far as species-specific cognitive constraints allow.

Significance statement: Biological market theory (BMT), which deals with cooperation among unrelated agents in general, is combined with sexual selection theory (SST), which deals with reproductive cooperation, to focus on an aspect that received little attention in the vast SST literature: adaptations that improve mating success when the market value of an individual varies considerably from one local mating market (LMM) to the next. An individual’s market value on an LMM is determined not only by the local operational sex ratio (LOSR) but also by the value of the goods and services that both sexes invest in their mates and/or the communal offspring. Case studies of both humans and non-human animals are used to illustrate the difference between global and local markets and to evaluate predictions based on the LMM-hypothesis.

Prediction 2: sensitivity to one’s own market value and adjustment to changes in market value of self and others

...Broadly speaking, individual changes inmarket value can be due to changes relative to local competitors, changes in the LOSR, or changes in the production costs of commodities. As the consequences of the latter are hard to predict, I will concentrate on the other two factors, the first of which is notably well documented in humans. ***A universal, frequently reported human pattern is that men are attracted by youth in women and women are attracted by men that can offer resources***... During their exceptionally long mating career, men can gradually gain in value with age by slowly accumulating wealth or a steady rise in salary. Their market value can also increase abruptly, for example by high gains in the lottery, or a sudden ascent to a powerful position. ***After reaching maximal fertility in their early twenties (Hawkes and Smith 2010), women tend to gradually lose market value, as far as this is contingent on their age. Men are sensitive to cues informing about age, which is ultimately linked to reproductive potential***. Humans of either sex tend to adjust their demands and expectations to changes in their market value. For example, following earlier papers... in both methods and ideas, Pawłowski and Dunbar... showed that ***with increasing age, women become less demanding, quantified as the number of preferred characteristics listed in ‘Lonely Hearts’ advertisements. This sensitivity to market value of self in humans has since been confirmed in numerous other studies...  Climbing down a peg when one is not doing very well on the mating market, often is a ‘best-of-a-bad-job’ strategy***... Inferior competitors in several species use strategies radically different from those of their high-quality rivals. ***For example, big bullfrogs croak loudly in order to attract females, but small males of the same species remain silent and ambush the females that are on their way to the big bullies, a strategy known as ‘sneaking’...  Strategies that differ radically from the main stream exist among humanmales too, of course, e.g. rape and brothel visits.***

Members of several other species are also able to calibrate their mate preferences according to their own market value.  Spotted bowerbird males decorate their bowers with Solanum berries, the number of which shows considerable variation among males with higher numbers correlating with higher mating success. After experimental changes of the number of berries that decorated their bower, males added or removed berries to such an extent that the natural number was more or less restored. Males with berry-numbers considerably larger than what they had contributed themselves, suffered an increased risk of having their bowers disrupted by neighbouring males. - (Griggio and Hoi 2010). The latter authors also found indications of sensitivity to the own attractivity in bearded reedlings... Another house sparrow study (Schwagmeyer 2014) showed similar market effects, not only during pair formation at the start of the reproductive season but also in the form of partner switches during the season. ***The latter reminds of humans again: people report more satisfaction with their present partner when their prospects of switching to a higher quality mate are dim...***

Check also: Behavioral display of lumbar curvature in response to the opposite sex. Zeynep Şenveli Bilkent University, Graduate Program in Neuroscience - Master's degree thesis. http://repository.bilkent.edu.tr/handle/11693/33362

And: The Reversed Gender Gap in Education and Assortative Mating in Europe. De Hauw, Yolien, Grow, Andre, and Van Bavel, Jan. European Journal of Population, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10680-016-9407-z

And: Marzoli, D., Havlícek, J. and Roberts, S. C. (2017), Human mating strategies: from past causes to present consequences. WIREs Cognitive Science, e1456. doi:10.1002/wcs.1456

And: The Causes and Consequences of Women’s Competitive Beautification. Danielle J. DelPriore, Marjorie L. Prokosch, and Sarah E. Hill. The Oxford Handbook of Women and Competition, edited by Maryanne L. Fisher. http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199376377.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199376377-e-34

Understanding what makes terrorist groups’ propaganda effective: an integrative complexity analysis of ISIL and al Qaeda

Understanding what makes terrorist groups’ propaganda effective: an integrative complexity analysis of ISIL and Al Qaeda. Shannon C. Houck, Meredith A. Repke & Lucian Gideon Conway III. Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism, Vol. 12, issue 2, Pages 105-118.

ABSTRACT: The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) became an increasingly powerful terrorist organisation in a relatively short period of time, drawing more recruits than its former affiliate, Al Qaeda. Many have attributed ISIL’s successful expansion in part to its extensive propaganda platform. But what causes terrorist groups to be effective in their communication to the public? To investigate, we examined one aspect of terrorists’ rhetoric: Integrative complexity. In particular, this historical examination provides a broad integrative complexity analysis of public statements released by key members of ISIL and Al Qaeda over a 10-year period when ISIL was rapidly growing as a terrorist entity (2004–2014). Findings revealed that (a) ISIL demonstrated less complexity overall than Al Qaeda (p < .001) and (b) ISIL became increasingly less complex over this focal time period (p < .001), while Al Qaeda’s complexity remained comparatively stable (p = .69). Taken together, these data suggest that as ISIL grew in size and strength between 2004 and 2014 – surpassing Al Qaeda on multiple domains such as recruitment, monetary resources, territorial control, and arms power – it simultaneously became less complex in its communication to the public.

KEYWORDS: Terrorism, propaganda, integrative complexity, ISIL, Al Qaeda

Myths and truths about the cellular composition of the human brain: A review of influential concepts

Myths and truths about the cellular composition of the human brain: A review of influential concepts. Christopher S.Bvon Bartheld. Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jchemneu.2017.08.004

•    The myth of a 10:1 glia-neuron ratio in human brains has been debunked.
•    The myth of one trillion glial cells in human brains has been debunked.
•    The number of cortical neurons does not decline significantly in normal aging.
•    All counting methods benefit from calibration and validation.
•    Proof is needed for altered cell numbers in neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Abstract: Over the last 50 years, quantitative methodology has made important contributions to our understanding of the cellular composition of the human brain. Not all of the concepts that emerged from quantitative studies have turned out to be true. Here, I examine the history and current status of some of the most influential notions. This includes claims of how many cells compose the human brain, and how different cell types contribute and in what ratios. Additional concepts entail whether we lose significant numbers of neurons with normal aging, whether chronic alcohol abuse contributes to cortical neuron loss, whether there are significant differences in the quantitative composition of cerebral cortex between male and female brains, whether superior intelligence in humans correlates with larger numbers of brain cells, and whether there are secular (generational) changes in neuron number. Do changes in cell number or changes in ratios of cell types accompany certain diseases, and should all counting methods, even the theoretically unbiased ones, be validated and calibrated? I here examine the origin and the current status of major influential concepts, and I review the evidence and arguments that have led to either confirmation or refutation of such concepts. I discuss the circumstances, assumptions and mindsets that perpetuated erroneous views, and the types of technological advances that have, in some cases, challenged longstanding ideas. I will acknowledge the roles of key proponents of influential concepts in the sometimes convoluted path towards recognition of the true cellular composition of the human brain.

Abbreviations: CNScentral nervous system
GNR glia-neuron ratio
IF isotropic fractionator

Individuals who follow and are followed by the people who correct them are significantly more likely to accept the correction than individuals confronted by strangers

Political Fact-Checking on Twitter: When Do Corrections Have an Effect? Drew Margolin, Aniko Hannak and Ingmar Weber. Political Communication, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10584609.2017.1334018

Abstract: Research suggests that fact checking corrections have only a limited impact on the spread of false rumors. However, research has not considered that fact-checking may be socially contingent, meaning there are social contexts in which truth may be more or less preferred. In particular, we argue that strong social connections between fact-checkers and rumor spreaders encourage the latter to prefer sharing accurate information, making them more likely to accept corrections. We test this argument on real corrections made on Twitter between January 2012 and April 2014. As hypothesized, we find that individuals who follow and are followed by the people who correct them are significantly more likely to accept the correction than individuals confronted by strangers. We then replicate our findings on new data drawn from November 2015 to February, 2016. These findings suggest that the underlying social structure is an important factor in the correction of misinformation.

Keywords: accountability, fact-checking, misinformation, rumor, social networks

Land plants have regulated their stomatal conductance to allow their intrinsic water use efficiency to increase in nearly constant proportion to the rise in atmospheric [CO2]

Atmospheric evidence for a global secular increase in carbon isotopic discrimination of land photosynthesis. Ralph F. Keeling et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, http://m.pnas.org/content/early/2017/09/05/1619240114

Significance: Climate change and rising CO2 are altering the behavior of land plants in ways that influence how much biomass they produce relative to how much water they need for growth. This study shows that it is possible to detect changes occurring in plants using long-term measurements of the isotopic composition of atmospheric CO2. These measurements imply that plants have globally increased their water use efficiency at the leaf level in proportion to the rise in atmospheric CO2 over the past few decades. While the full implications remain to be explored, the results help to quantify the extent to which the biosphere has become less constrained by water stress globally.

Abstract: A decrease in the 13C/12C ratio of atmospheric CO2 has been documented by direct observations since 1978 and from ice core measurements since the industrial revolution. This decrease, known as the 13C-Suess effect, is driven primarily by the input of fossil fuel-derived CO2 but is also sensitive to land and ocean carbon cycling and uptake. Using updated records, we show that no plausible combination of sources and sinks of CO2 from fossil fuel, land, and oceans can explain the observed 13C-Suess effect unless an increase has occurred in the 13C/12C isotopic discrimination of land photosynthesis. A trend toward greater discrimination under higher CO2 levels is broadly consistent with tree ring studies over the past century, with field and chamber experiments, and with geological records of C3 plants at times of altered atmospheric CO2, but increasing discrimination has not previously been included in studies of long-term atmospheric 13C/12C measurements. We further show that the inferred discrimination increase of 0.014 ± 0.007‰ ppm−1 is largely explained by photorespiratory and mesophyll effects. This result implies that, at the global scale, land plants have regulated their stomatal conductance so as to allow the CO2 partial pressure within stomatal cavities and their intrinsic water use efficiency to increase in nearly constant proportion to the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

A semantic space analysis of how presidential candidates and their supporters represent abstract political concepts differently

Speaking two "Languages" in America: A semantic space analysis of how presidential candidates and their supporters represent abstract political concepts differently. Ping Li, Benjamin Schloss and  Jake Follmer. Behavior Research Methods, https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758%2Fs13428-017-0931-5

Abstract: In this article we report a computational semantic analysis of the presidential candidates' speeches in the two major political parties in the USA. In Study One, we modeled the political semantic spaces as a function of party, candidate, and time of election, and findings revealed patterns of differences in the semantic representation of key political concepts and the changing landscapes in which the presidential candidates align or misalign with their parties in terms of the representation and organization of politically central concepts. Our models further showed that the 2016 US presidential nominees had distinct conceptual representations from those of previous election years, and these patterns did not necessarily align with their respective political parties' average representation of the key political concepts. In Study Two, structural equation modeling demonstrated that reported political engagement among voters differentially predicted reported likelihoods of voting for Clinton versus Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Study Three indicated that Republicans and Democrats showed distinct, systematic word association patterns for the same concepts/terms, which could be reliably distinguished using machine learning methods. These studies suggest that given an individual's political beliefs, we can make reliable predictions about how they understand words, and given how an individual understands those same words, we can also predict an individual's political beliefs. Our study provides a bridge between semantic space models and abstract representations of political concepts on the one hand, and the representations of political concepts and citizens' voting behavior on the other.

Attitudes toward science seem to become ever more polarized

Attitudes Towards Science. Bastiaan T. Rutjens et al. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.aesp.2017.08.001

Abstract: As science continues to progress, attitudes toward science seem to become ever more polarized. Whereas some put their faith in science, others routinely reject and dismiss scientific evidence. This chapter provides an integration of recent research on how people evaluate science. We organize our chapter along three research topics that are most relevant to this goal: ideology, motivation, and morality. We review the relations of political and religious ideologies to science attitudes, discuss the psychological functions and motivational underpinnings of belief in science, and describe work looking at the role of morality when evaluating science and scientists. In the final part of the chapter, we apply what we know about science evaluations to the current crisis of faith in science and the open science movement. Here, we also take into account the increased accessibility and popularization of science and the (perceived) relations between science and industry.

Keywords: Science; Belief in science; Antiscience; Motivation; Ideology; Religion; Morality; Control; Order; Existential meaning; Popularization of science; Open science

Tax compliance is greater for women than men, but men are more willing to contribute to public goods

The Role of Gender in the Provision of Public Goods through Tax Compliance. David M. Bruner, John D'Attoma, Sven Steinmo. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socec.2017.09.001

•    The results of a large scale laboratory tax compliance experiment conducted in the U.S., the U.K., Sweden, and Italy with nearly 5000 subjects are reported.
•    We find significant evidence of gender differences in tax compliance and the willingness to contribute to public goods.
•    We find robust evidence that tax compliance is greater for women than men.
•    We also find evidence that men are more willing to contribute to public goods.
•    Overall, the compliance effect dominates the free-riding effect for the parameters in the experiment such that women bear a greater burden of the provision of the public good.

Abstract: The existing experimental literature suggests women are more compliant than men when paying taxes but may free ride more when contributing to public goods. It is unclear which effect dominates when paying for public goods through taxation. Experiments conducted in three European countries and the U.S. are used to investigate this issue. The results suggest that women bear a greater burden of the provision of public goods for the parameters in the experiment. The results indicate the gender gap in compliance is due to differences in both the extensive and intensive margins.

Keywords: Individual income tax; Public goods; Gender; Experiments
JEL codes:     H2; H26; C91

My comment: As if it were some kind of compensation, women hide less from taxation and smaller amounts than men, but men are more willing to contribute more if the benefits for all increase.

Friday, September 15, 2017

People believe that future others' preferences and beliefs will change to align with their own

The Belief in a Favorable Future. Todd Rogers, Don Moore and Michael Norton. Psychological Science, Volume 28, issue 9, page(s): 1290-1301, https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797617706706

Abstract: ***People believe that future others' preferences and beliefs will change to align with their own***. People holding a particular view (e.g., support of President Trump) are more likely to believe that future others will share their view than to believe that future others will have an opposing view (e.g., opposition to President Trump). ***Six studies demonstrated this belief in a favorable future (BFF) for political views, scientific beliefs, and entertainment and product preferences***. BFF is greater in magnitude than the tendency to believe that current others share one's views (false-consensus effect), arises across cultures, is distinct from general optimism, is strongest when people perceive their views as being objective rather than subjective, and can affect (but is distinct from) beliefs about favorable future policy changes. A lab experiment involving monetary bets on the future popularity of politicians and a field experiment involving political donations (N = 660,542) demonstrated that BFF can influence people's behavior today.

Authoritarianism and Affective Polarization: A New View on the Origins of Partisan Extremism

Authoritarianism and Affective Polarization: A New View on the Origins of Partisan Extremism. Matthew Luttig. Public Opinion Quarterly, nfx023, https://doi.org/10.1093/poq/nfx023

Abstract: What drives affective polarization in American politics? One common argument is that Democrats and Republicans are deeply polarized today because they are psychologically different - motivated by diametrically opposed and clashing worldviews. This paper argues that the same psychological motivation - authoritarianism - is positively related to partisan extremism among both Republicans and Democrats. Across four studies, this paper shows that authoritarianism is associated with strong partisanship and heightened affective polarization among both Republicans and Democrats. Thus, strong Republicans and Democrats are psychologically similar, at least with respect to authoritarianism. As authoritarianism provides an indicator of underlying needs to belong, these findings support a view of mass polarization as nonsubstantive and group-centric, not driven by competing ideological values or clashing psychological worldviews.

Staggering SNAP benefits throughout the month leads to a 32 pct decrease in grocery store theft

SNAP Benefits and Crime: Evidence from Changing Disbursement Schedules. Jillian B. Carr and Analisa Packham. University of Miami, Oxford, OH., Department of Economics
Working Paper # - 2017-01. http://www.fsb.muohio.edu/fsb/ecopapers/prog/displayprof.php?id=packhaam

Abstract: Government transfer programs infuse a substantial amount of resources into the budgets of millions of low-income families each month. Under some states' aid disbursement schemes, there are extended periods of time within each month in which no recipients receive transfers, generally limiting the amount of resources in communities. In this paper, we study the effects of nutritional aid disbursement on crime, utilizing two main sources of variation: (i) a policy change in Illinois which substantially increased the number of SNAP distribution days, and (ii) an existing Indiana policy that issues SNAP benefits by last name. We find that ***staggering SNAP benefits throughout the month leads to a 32 percent decrease in grocery store theft and reduces monthly cyclicity in grocery store crimes***. Moreover, we find that the relationship between time since SNAP issuance and crime is nonlinear. Findings show that criminal behavior decreases in the second and third weeks following receipt, but increases in the last week of the benefit cycle, potentially due to resource constraints.

My comment: Petty crime is rational most of the time... If you get government money you commit less theft, probably due to the cost (jail time, fines). If you don't get the money it pays to enter into small theft, despite possible consequences.

Obviously, impulsivity is also an issue here. They control better their spending if the money is staggered, but if they get a lump sum every month, theft increases in the last week of that month...

Students who believed that their peers were more socially connected reported lower well-being and belonging

From Misperception to Social Connection: Correlates and Consequences of Overestimating Others’ Social Connectedness. Ashley V. Whillans et al. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167217727496

Abstract: Two studies document the existence and correlates of a widespread social belief, wherein individuals who have recently moved to a new social environment see their peers as more socially connected than they themselves are. In Study 1, the prevalence of this belief was documented in a large sample of first-year students (N = 1,099). In Study 2, the prevalence of this social belief was replicated in a targeted sample of university students (N = 389). Study 2 also documented both positive and negative implications of this belief. Specifically, at any given time, students who believed that their peers were more socially connected reported lower well-being and belonging. Over time, however, the belief that one’s peers are moderately more socially connected than oneself was associated with more friendship formation.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Backward planning led to greater motivation, higher goal expectancy, less time pressure and better goal-relevant performance

Relative Effects of Forward and Backward Planning on Goal Pursuit. Jooyoung Park, Fang-Chi Lu, and William M. Hedgcock. Psychological Science, https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797617715510

Abstract: Considerable research has shown that planning plays an important role in goal pursuit. But how does the way people plan affect goal pursuit? Research on this question is scarce. In the current research, we examined how planning the steps required for goal attainment in chronological order (i.e., forward planning) and reverse chronological order (i.e., backward planning) influences individuals’ motivation for and perceptions of goal pursuit. Compared with forward planning, backward planning not only led to greater motivation, higher goal expectancy, and less time pressure but also resulted in better goal-relevant performance. We further demonstrated that this motivational effect occurred because backward planning allowed people to think of tasks required to reach their goals more clearly, especially when goals were complex to plan. These findings suggest that the way people plan matters just as much as whether or not they plan.

Wind farms suppressed soil moisture and enhanced water stress

The Observed Impacts of Wind Farms on Local Vegetation Growth in Northern China. Bijian Tang et al.

Abstract: Wind farms (WFs) can affect the local climate, and local climate change may influence underlying vegetation. Some studies have shown that WFs affect certain aspects of the regional climate, such as temperature and rainfall. However, there is still no evidence to demonstrate whether WFs can affect local vegetation growth, a significant part of the overall assessment of WF effects. In this research, based on the moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) vegetation index, productivity and other remote-sensing data from 2003 to 2014, the effects of WFs in the Bashang area of Northern China on vegetation growth and productivity in the summer (June–August) were analyzed. The results showed that: (1) WFs had a significant inhibiting effect on vegetation growth, as demonstrated by decreases in the leaf area index (LAI), the enhanced vegetation index (EVI), and the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) of approximately 14.5%, 14.8%, and 8.9%, respectively, in the 2003–2014 summers. There was also an inhibiting effect of 8.9% on summer gross primary production (GPP) and 4.0% on annual net primary production (NPP) coupled with WFs; and (2) the major impact factors might be the changes in temperature and soil moisture: WFs suppressed soil moisture and enhanced water stress in the study area. This research provides significant observational evidence that WFs can inhibit the growth and productivity of the underlying vegetation.

Keywords: wind farm impact; vegetation decrease; satellite observations; GPP; land surface temperature; land use change

My comment: Despite knowing this and many other reasons, we keep supporting wind farms...

Wheat Agriculture Induce Bigger GDP, Which Yields Smaller Family Ties

Wheat Agriculture and Family Ties. James Ang & Per Fredriksson. European Economic Review, Volume 100, November 2017, Pages 236-256, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.euroecorev.2017.08.007

Abstract: Several recent contributions to the literature have suggested that the strength of family ties is related to various economic and social outcomes. For example, Alesina and Giuliano (2014) highlight that the strength of family ties is strongly correlated with lower GDP and lower quality of institutions. However, the forces shaping family ties remain relatively unexplored in the literature. This paper proposes and tests the hypothesis that the agricultural legacy of a country matters for shaping the strength of its family ties. Using data from the World Values Survey and the European Values Study, the results show that societies with a legacy in cultivating wheat tend to have weaker family ties. Analysis at the sub-national level (US data) and the country level corroborate these findings. The estimations allow for alternative hypotheses which propose that pathogen stress and climatic variation can potentially also give rise to the formation of family ties. The results suggest that the suitability of land for wheat production is the most influential factor in explaining the variation in the strength of family ties across societies and countries.

Extraversion and life satisfaction: A cross-cultural examination of student and nationally representative samples

Kim, H., Schimmack, U., Oishi, S. and Tsutsui, Y. (), Extraversion and life satisfaction: A cross-cultural examination of student and nationally representative samples. Journal of Personality. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/jopy.12339

Method: The current study examined student and nationally representative samples from Canada, US, UK, Germany and Japan (Study 1, N = 1,460; Study 2, N = 5,882; Study 3, N =18,683; Study 4, N = 13,443; Study 5, Japan N = 952 and US N = 891). The relationship between Extraversion and life satisfaction was examined using structural equation modeling by regressing life satisfaction on the Big Five traits.

Results: Extraversion was a unique predictor of life satisfaction in the North American student and nationally representative samples (Study 1, β = .232; Study 2, β = .225; Study 5, β = .217) but the effect size was weaker or absent in other non-North American samples (Germany, UK, and Japan).

Can Superstition Create a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? School Outcomes of Dragon Children of China

Can Superstition Create a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? School Outcomes of Dragon Children of China. Naci Mocan and Han Yu. NBER Working Paper, August 2017, http://www.nber.org/papers/w23709

Abstract: In Chinese culture those who are born in the year of the Dragon under the zodiac calendar are believed to be destined for good fortune and greatness, and parents prefer their kids to be born in a Dragon year. Using province level panel data we show that the number of marriages goes up during the two years preceding a Dragon year and that births jump up in a Dragon year. Using three recently collected micro data sets from China we show that those born in a Dragon year are more likely to have a college education, and that they obtain higher scores at the university entrance exam. Similarly, Chinese middle school students have higher test scores if they are born in a Dragon year. We show that these results are not because of family background, student cognitive ability, self-esteem or students’ expectations about their future. We find, however, that the “Dragon” effect on test scores is eliminated when we account for parents’ expectations about their children’s educational and professional success. We find that parents of Dragon children have higher expectations for their children in comparison to other parents, and that they invest more heavily in their children in terms of time and money. Even though neither the Dragon children nor their families are inherently different from other children and families, the belief in the prophecy of success and the ensuing investment become self-fulfilling.

Speaking about the future in the present tense may result in the belief that adverse credit events are more imminent

Languages and Corporate Savings Behavior. Shimin Chen et al. Journal of Corporate Finance, Vol. 46, October 2017, Pages 320-341, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcorpfin.2017.07.009

Abstract: Speakers of strong future time reference (FTR) languages (e.g., English) are required to grammatically distinguish between future and present events, while speakers of weak-FTR languages (e.g., Chinese) are not. We hypothesize that speaking about the future in the present tense may result in the belief that adverse credit events are more imminent. Consistent with such a linguistic hypothesis, weak-FTR language firms are found to have higher precautionary cash holdings. We report additional supportive results from changes in the relative importance of different languages in a country’s business domain, evidence from within one country with several distinct languages, and results related to changes following a severe financial crisis. Our evidence introduces a new explanation for heterogeneity in corporate savings behavior, provides insights about belief formation in firms, and adds to research on the effects of languages on economic outcomes.

Marriage Gap in Christians and Muslims

Marriage Gap in Christians and Muslims. Martin Fieder et al. Journal of Biosocial Science, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0021932017000086

Summary: For modern Western societies with a regime of monogamy, it has recently been demonstrated that the socioeconomic status of men is positively associated with being or having been married. This study aims to compare marriage patterns (if a person has been married at least once) for cultures with a tradition of monogamy and polygyny. As no worldwide data on polygyny exist, religion was used as a proxy for monogamy (Christians) vs polygyny (Muslims). The analyses were based on 2000–2011 census data from 39 countries worldwide for 52,339,594 men and women, controlling for sex, sex ratio, age, education, migration within the last 5 years and employment. Overall, a higher proportion of Muslims were married compared with Christians, but the difference in the fraction of married men compared with married women at a certain age (the ‘marriage gap’) was much more pronounced in Muslims than in Christians, i.e. compared with Christians, a substantially higher proportion of Muslim women than men were married up to the age of approximately 31 years. As expected for a tradition of polygyny, the results indicate that the socioeconomic threshold for entering marriage is higher for Muslim than Christian men, and Muslim women in particular face a negative effect of socioeconomic status on the probability of ever being married. The large ‘marriage gap’ at a certain age in Muslim societies leads to high numbers of married women and unmarried young men, and may put such polygenic societies under pressure.

Highly educated women tend to partner more often “downwards” with less educated men, rather than remaining single

The Reversed Gender Gap in Education and Assortative Mating in Europe. De Hauw, Yolien, Grow, Andre, and Van Bavel, Jan. European Journal of Population, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10680-016-9407-z

Abstract: While in the past men received more education than women, the gender gap in education has turned around: in recent years, more highly educated women than highly educated men are reaching the reproductive ages. Using data from the European Social Survey (rounds 1–6), we investigate the implications of this reversed gender gap for educational assortative mating. We fit multilevel multinomial regression models to predict the proportions of men and women living with a partner of a given level of education, contingent on respondents’ own educational attainment and on the cohort-specific sex ratio among the population with tertiary education at the country level. We find that highly educated women tend to partner more often “downwards” with less educated men, rather than remaining single more often. Medium educated women are found to partner less often “upwards” with highly educated men. For men, there is no evidence that they are more likely to partner with highly educated women. Rather, they are found to be living single more often. In sum, women’s advantage in higher education has affected mating patterns in important ways: while women previously tended to form unions with men who were at least as highly educated as themselves, they now tend to live with men who are at most as highly educated. Along the way, advanced education became a bonus on the mating market for women as well as for men.

In men, education is positively associated with eventual fertility

Education, Other Socioeconomic Characteristics Across the Life Course, and Fertility Among Finnish Men. Jessica Nisén et al. European Journal of Population, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10680-017-9430-8

Abstract: The level of education and other adult socioeconomic characteristics of men are known to associate with their fertility, but early-life socioeconomic characteristics may also be related. We studied how men’s adult and early-life socioeconomic characteristics are associated with their eventual fertility and whether the differences therein by educational level are explained or mediated by other socioeconomic characteristics. The data on men born in 1940–1950 (N = 37,082) were derived from the 1950 Finnish census, which is linked to later registers. Standard and sibling fixed-effects Poisson and logistic regression models were used. Education and other characteristics were positively associated with the number of children, largely stemming from a higher likelihood of a first birth among the more socioeconomically advantaged men. The educational gradient in the number of children was not explained by early socioeconomic or other characteristics shared by brothers, but occupational position and income in adulthood mediated approximately half of the association. Parity-specific differences existed: education and many other socioeconomic characteristics predicted the likelihood of a first birth more strongly than that of a second birth, and the mediating role of occupational position and income was also strongest for first births. Relatively small differences were found in the likelihood of a third birth. In men, education is positively associated with eventual fertility after controlling for early socioeconomic and other characteristics shared by brothers. Selective entry into fatherhood based on economic provider potential may contribute considerably to educational differentials in the number of children among men.

Enhancing a men's perception of their own mate value shifts attitude toward casual sex to very interested

Marzoli, D., Havlícek, J. and Roberts, S. C. (2017), Human mating strategies: from past causes to present consequences. WIREs Cognitive Science, e1456. doi:10.1002/wcs.1456

Abstract: In both humans and nonhuman animals, mating strategies represent a set of evolutionary adaptations aimed at promoting individual fitness by means of reproduction with the best possible partners. Given this critical role, mating strategies influence numerous aspects of human life. In particular, between-sex divergence in the intensity of intrasexual competition could account for robust cross-cultural sex differences in psychology and behavior (e.g., personality, psychiatric disorders, social behavior, violence). Several other factors (including individual differences, relationship type and environment) affect—in an evolutionarily consistent manner—variation in mating strategy that individuals pursue (as one example, awareness of one's own attractiveness impinges on mating standards). Here we provide an overview of relevant theoretical frameworks and empirical evidence on variation in mating strategies. Given its multifaceted nature and intense research interest over several decades, this is a challenging task, and we highlight areas where further investigation is warranted in order to achieve a clearer picture and resolve apparent inconsistencies. However, we suggest that addressing outstanding questions using a variety of different methodological approaches, a deeper understanding of the cognitive representations involved in mating strategies is within reach.

The long-term decline in Greenland Ice Sheet reflectivity between 2000 and 2012 might be more significant than previously thought

How robust are in situ observations for validating satellite-derived albedo over the dark zone of the Greenland Ice Sheet? J. C. Ryan et al. Ryan, J. C., A. Hubbard, T. D. Irvine-Fynn, S. H. Doyle, J. M. Cook, M. Stibal, and J. E. Box (2017), How robust are in situ observations for validating satellite-derived albedo over the dark zone of the Greenland Ice Sheet?, Geophys. Res. Lett., 44, 6218–6225, doi:10.1002/2017GL073661.

Abstract: Calibration and validation of satellite-derived ice sheet albedo data require high-quality, in situ measurements commonly acquired by up and down facing pyranometers mounted on automated weather stations (AWS). However, direct comparison between ground and satellite-derived albedo can only be justified when the measured surface is homogeneous at the length-scale of both satellite pixel and in situ footprint. Here we use digital imagery acquired by an unmanned aerial vehicle to evaluate point-to-pixel albedo comparisons across the western, ablating margin of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Our results reveal that in situ measurements overestimate albedo by up to 0.10 at the end of the melt season because the ground footprints of AWS-mounted pyranometers are insufficient to capture the spatial heterogeneity of the ice surface as it progressively ablates and darkens. Statistical analysis of 21 AWS across the entire Greenland Ice Sheet reveals that almost half suffer from this bias, including some AWS located within the wet snow zone.

Plain Language Summary

Ground measurements of reflectivity, such as those made by automated weather stations, are often used to determine the accuracy of satellite measurements. But the footprints of the instruments mounted on automated weather stations are usually much smaller than the pixel of the satellite image, meaning that comparison between the two is only justified when the surface is relatively uniform. We use high resolution imagery collected by a UAV to demonstrate that the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet is often not uniform at the scale of both the weather station and satellite pixel due to the presence of impurities, surface water and crevasses. This means that a point measurement of reflectivity might not capture the full variability of the surface, resulting in discrepancies when compared to satellite image pixels. Furthermore, weather stations are usually located on safe areas of flat, bare ice or snow, so they usually overestimate reflectivity in comparison to the satellite pixel. We argue that if unrepresentative ground measurements are removed from satellite comparison exercises then the uncertainty in satellite products could be reduced. Hence, the long-term decline in Greenland Ice Sheet reflectivity between 2000 and 2012 might be more significant than previously thought.

Ability to rapidly and accurately compare quantities genetically linked to mathematical & general cognitive skills

Approximate number sense shares etiological overlap with mathematics and general cognitive ability. Sarah L. Lukowski et al. Intelligence, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2017.08.005

•    Approximate number sense (ANS) has genetic overlap with mathematics
•    Findings show generalist genetic overlap among ANS, math, and general cognitive ability
•    The pattern of results suggest etiology of ANS acuity functions similar to math, g

Abstract: Approximate number sense (ANS), the ability to rapidly and accurately compare quantities presented non-symbolically, has been proposed as a precursor to mathematics skills. Earlier work reported low heritability of approximate number sense, which was interpreted as evidence that approximate number sense acts as a fitness trait. However, viewing ANS as a fitness trait is discordant with findings suggesting that individual differences in approximate number sense acuity correlate with mathematical performance, a trait with moderate genetic effects. Importantly, the shared etiology of approximate number sense, mathematics, and general cognitive ability has remained unexamined. Thus, the etiology of approximate number sense and its overlap with math and general cognitive ability was assessed in the current study with two independent twin samples (N = 451 pairs). Results suggested that ANS acuity had moderate but significant additive genetic influences. ANS also had overlap with generalist genetic mechanisms accounting for variance and covariance in mathematics and general cognitive ability. Furthermore, ANS may have genetic factors unique to covariance with mathematics beyond overlap with general cognitive ability. Evidence across both samples was consistent with the proposal that the etiology of approximate number sense functions similar to that of mathematics and general cognitive skills.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Political Institutions, Economic Liberty, and the Great Divergence

Political Institutions, Economic Liberty, and the Great Divergence. Gary Cox. Journal of Economic History, September 2017, Pages 724-755, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022050717000729

Abstract: I argue that Europe's political fragmentation interacted with her political innovations — self-governing cities and national parliaments — to facilitate “economic liberty,” which in turn unleashed faster and more inter-connected urban growth. Examining urban growth over the period 600–1800 ce throughout Eurasia, I show that inter-city growth correlations were positive and significant only in Western Europe after 1200 ce. Within Western Europe, I show that growth correlations were greatest in the most fragmented and parliamentary areas, individual cities became significantly more tied to urban growth when their realms became parliamentary, and spillover effects (due to competition between rulers) were significant.

Why Did Drug Cartels Go to War in Mexico? Subnational Party Alternation, the Breakdown of Criminal Protection, and the Onset of Large-Scale Violence

Why Did Drug Cartels Go to War in Mexico? Subnational Party Alternation, the Breakdown of Criminal Protection, and the Onset of Large-Scale Violence. Guillermo Trejo and Sandra Ley. Comparative Political Studies, https://doi.org/10.1177/0010414017720703

Abstract: This article explains why Mexican drug cartels went to war in the 1990s, when the federal government was not pursuing a major antidrug campaign. We argue that political alternation and the rotation of parties in state gubernatorial power undermined the informal networks of protection that had facilitated the cartels’ operations under one-party rule. Without protection, cartels created their own private militias to defend themselves from rival groups and from incoming opposition authorities. After securing their turf, they used these militias to conquer rival territory. Drawing on an original database of intercartel murders, 1995 to 2006, we show that the spread of opposition gubernatorial victories was strongly associated with intercartel violence. Based on in-depth interviews with opposition governors, we show that by simply removing top- and midlevel officials from the state attorney’s office and the judicial police — the institutions where protection was forged — incoming governors unwittingly triggered the outbreak of intercartel wars.

High sex ratios in rural China: declining well-being with age in never-married men

High sex ratios in rural China: declining well-being with age in never-married men. Zhou X, and Hesketh T. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2017 Sep 19;372(1729). pii: 20160324. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2016.0324.

Abstract: In parts of rural China male-biased sex ratios at birth, combined with out-migration of women, have led to highly male-biased adult sex ratios, resulting in large numbers of men being unable to marry, in a culture where marriage and reproduction are an expectation. The aim of this study was to test the hypotheses that older unmarried men are more predisposed to depression, low self-esteem and aggression than both those who are married, and those who are younger and unmarried. Self-completion questionnaires were administered among men aged 20-40 in 48 villages in rural Guizhou province, southwestern China. Tools used included the Beck Depression Inventory, the Rosenberg's Self-esteem Scale and the Bryant-Smith Aggression Questionnaire. Regression models assessed psychological wellbeing while adjusting for socio-demographic variables. Completed questionnaires were obtained from 957 never-married men, 535 married men aged 30-40, 394 partnered men and 382 unpartnered men aged 20-29. After adjusting for socio-demographic variables, never-married men were more predisposed to depression (p < 0.05), aggression (p < 0.01), low self-esteem (p < 0.05) and suicidal tendencies (p < 0.001). All the psychological measures deteriorated with age in never-married men. In contrast, married men remained stable on these dimensions with age. Never-married men are a psychologically highly vulnerable group in a society where marriage is an expectation. Since the highest birth sex-ratio cohorts have not yet reached reproductive age, the social tragedy of these men will last for at least another generation.

Modern Clinical Research on LSD

Modern Clinical Research on LSD. Matthias E Liechti. Neuropsychopharmacology (2017) 42, 2114–2127; doi:10.1038/npp.2017.86

Abstract: All modern clinical studies using the classic hallucinogen lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in healthy subjects or patients in the last 25 years are reviewed herein. There were five recent studies in healthy participants and one in patients. In a controlled setting, LSD acutely induced bliss, audiovisual synesthesia, altered meaning of perceptions, derealization, depersonalization, and mystical experiences. These subjective effects of LSD were mediated by the 5-HT2A receptor. LSD increased feelings of closeness to others, openness, trust, and suggestibility. LSD impaired the recognition of sad and fearful faces, reduced left amygdala reactivity to fearful faces, and enhanced emotional empathy. LSD increased the emotional response to music and the meaning of music. LSD acutely produced deficits in sensorimotor gating, similar to observations in schizophrenia. LSD had weak autonomic stimulant effects and elevated plasma cortisol, prolactin, and oxytocin levels. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance studies showed that LSD acutely reduced the integrity of functional brain networks and increased connectivity between networks that normally are more dissociated. LSD increased functional thalamocortical connectivity and functional connectivity of the primary visual cortex with other brain areas. The latter effect was correlated with subjective hallucinations. LSD acutely induced global increases in brain entropy that were associated with greater trait openness 14 days later. In patients with anxiety associated with life-threatening disease, anxiety was reduced for 2 months after two doses of LSD. In medical settings, no complications of LSD administration were observed. These data should contribute to further investigations of the therapeutic potential of LSD in psychiatry.

Self-Consciousness or Misattribution Effect in the Induced Hypocrisy Paradigm?

Self-Consciousness or Misattribution Effect in the Induced Hypocrisy Paradigm? Mirror, Mirror on the Wall… Audrey Pelt, and Valérie Fointiat. Psychological Reports, https://doi.org/10.1177/0033294117730845

Abstract: In a forced compliance situation, Scheier and Carver have shown that making high private self-consciousness salient through exposure to a mirror inhibits the arousal of dissonance and the subsequent attitude change. Based on these results, the aim of our study is to examine an alternate theoretical interpretation of the absence of attitude change. From our point of view, the mirror could have the status of a misattribution cue, thus maintaining the arousal. To test this hypothesis within the induced hypocrisy paradigm, participants first completed the private self-consciousness scale. Then they took part in one of the following conditions: (1) no mirror/no hypocrisy, (2) no mirror/hypocrisy, and (3) mirror/hypocrisy. Behavioral change and psychological discomfort were measured. Results indicated that participants in the mirror/hypocrisy condition were the most inclined to change and reported the greatest psychological discomfort. These results revealed that participants experienced dissonance when exposed to the mirror and support the hypothesis of misattribution.

Misattribution of musical arousal increases sexual attraction towards opposite-sex faces in females

Misattribution of musical arousal increases sexual attraction towards opposite-sex faces in females. Manuela M. Marin et al. PLOS One, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0183531

Abstract: Several theories about the origins of music have emphasized its biological and social functions, including in courtship. Music may act as a courtship display due to its capacity to vary in complexity and emotional content. Support for music’s reproductive function comes from the recent finding that only women in the fertile phase of the reproductive cycle prefer composers of complex melodies to composers of simple ones as short-term sexual partners, which is also in line with the ovulatory shift hypothesis. However, the precise mechanisms by which music may influence sexual attraction are unknown, specifically how music may interact with visual attractiveness cues and affect perception and behaviour in both genders. Using a crossmodal priming paradigm, we examined whether listening to music influences ratings of facial attractiveness and dating desirability of opposite-sex faces. We also tested whether misattribution of arousal or pleasantness underlies these effects, and explored whether sex differences and menstrual cycle phase may be moderators. Our sample comprised 64 women in the fertile or infertile phase (no hormonal contraception use) and 32 men, carefully matched for mood, relationship status, and musical preferences. Musical primes (25 s) varied in arousal and pleasantness, and targets were photos of faces with neutral expressions (2 s). Group-wise analyses indicated that women, but not men, gave significantly higher ratings of facial attractiveness and dating desirability after having listened to music than in the silent control condition. High-arousing, complex music yielded the largest effects, suggesting that music may affect human courtship behaviour through induced arousal, which calls for further studies on the mechanisms by which music affects sexual attraction in real-life social contexts.

Overhearing the suggestion that the sheriff had caught the guy significantly increased false identifications

Eisen, M. L., Skerrit-Perta, A., Jones, J. M., Owen, J., and Cedré, G. C. (2017) Pre-admonition Suggestion in Live Showups: When Witnesses Learn that the Cops Caught ‘the’ Guy. Appl. Cognit. Psychol., doi: 10.1002/acp.3349

Abstract: Participants (N = 189) witnessed the theft of a computer and were immersed into what they were led to believe was an actual police investigation that culminated in a live showup. After the crime, an officer responded to the scene to take witness statements. Minutes after his arrival, the officer received a radio dispatch that could be heard clearly by the witnesses. The dispatch either stated that the Sherriff had ‘…caught the guy…’ or ‘…detained a suspect who matched the thief's description…’ and instructed the officer to bring the witnesses to identify the suspect. The witnesses then met with two deputies who conducted a live showup with an innocent suspect or the actual culprit. Choosers were more confident than rejecters across all conditions. Also, overhearing the suggestion that the sheriff had caught the guy significantly increased false identifications, and boosted witness confidence in these errors, but did not affect accurate suspect identifications.

A female Viking warrior confirmed by genomics

Hedenstierna-Jonson C, Kjellström A, Zachrisson T, et al. A female Viking warrior confirmed by genomics. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2017;00:1–8. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.23308


Objectives: The objective of this study has been to confirm the sex and the affinity of an individual buried in a well-furnished warrior grave (Bj 581) in the Viking Age town of Birka, Sweden. Previously, based on the material and historical records, the male sex has been associated with the gender of the warrior and such was the case with Bj 581. An earlier osteological classification of the individual as female was considered controversial in a historical and archaeological context. A genomic confirmation of the biological sex of the individual was considered necessary to solve the issue.

Materials and methods: Genome-wide sequence data was generated in order to confirm the biological sex, to support skeletal integrity, and to investigate the genetic relationship of the individual to ancient individuals as well as modern-day groups. Additionally, a strontium isotope analysis was conducted to highlight the mobility of the individual.

Results: The genomic results revealed the lack of a Y-chromosome and thus a female biological sex, and the mtDNA analyses support a single-individual origin of sampled elements. The genetic affinity is close to present-day North Europeans, and within Sweden to the southern and south-central region. Nevertheless, the Sr values are not conclusive as to whether she was of local or nonlocal origin.

Discussion: The identification of a female Viking warrior provides a unique insight into the Viking society, social constructions, and exceptions to the norm in the Viking time-period. The results call for caution against generalizations regarding social orders in past societies.

My comment: This is a first... Until now, female warriors were, we think, archers mounting horses.

Enjoying the Quiet Life: Corporate Decision-Making by Entrenched Managers

Enjoying the Quiet Life: Corporate Decision-Making by Entrenched Managers. Naoshi Ikeda, Kotaro Inoue, and Sho Watanabe. NBER Working Paper No. 23804, doi 10.3386/w23804

Abstract: In this study, we empirically test “quiet life hypothesis,” which predicts that managers who are subject to weak monitoring from the shareholders avoid making difficult decisions such as risky investment and business restructuring with Japanese firm data. We employ cross-shareholder and stable shareholder ownership as the proxy variables of the strength of a manager’s defense against market disciplinary power. We examine the effect of the proxy variables on manager-enacted corporate behaviors and the results indicate that entrenched managers who are insulated from disciplinary power of stock market avoid making difficult decisions such as large investments and business restructures. However, when managers are closely monitored by institutional investors and independent directors, they tend to be active in making difficult decisions. Taken together, our results are consistent with managerial quiet life hypothesis.

My comment: We all try to work less, and we all are risk-averse...

Using Tax Data to Measure Long-Term Trends in U.S. Income Inequality

Using Tax Data to Measure Long-Term Trends in U.S. Income Inequality. Gerald Auten and David Splinter. Draft Paper, Annual Conference, ASSA Annual Meeting, 2017. https://www.aeaweb.org/conference/2017/preliminary/paper/NkfkQ2a

Abstract: Previous studies using U.S. tax return data conclude that the top one percent income share
increased substantially since 1960. This study re-estimates the long-term trend in inequality after
accounting for changes in the tax base, income sources missing from individual tax returns and
changes in marriage rates. This more consistent estimate suggests that top one percent income
shares increased by only about a quarter as much as unadjusted shares. Further, accounting for
government transfers suggests that top one percent shares increased a tenth as much. These
results show that unadjusted tax return based measures present a distorted view of inequality
trends, as incomes reported on tax returns are sensitive to changes in tax laws and ignore income
sources outside the individual tax system.

Land-Use Restrictions -- deregulating to 1980 levels would raise labor productivity by about 10 pct, & consumption by about 9 pct

Tarnishing the Golden and Empire States: Land-Use Restrictions and the U.S. Economic Slowdown. Kyle F. Herkenhoff, Lee E. Ohanian, Edward C. Prescott. NBER Working Paper No. 23790, http://www.nber.org/papers/w23790

This paper studies the impact of state-level land-use restrictions on U.S. economic activity, focusing on how these restrictions have depressed macroeconomic activity since 2000. We use a variety of state-level data sources, together with a general equilibrium spatial model of the United States to systematically construct a panel dataset of state-level land-use restrictions between 1950 and 2014. We show that these restrictions have generally tightened over time, particularly in California and New York. We use the model to analyze how these restrictions affect economic activity and the allocation of workers and capital across states. Counterfactual experiments show that deregulating existing urban land from 2014 regulation levels back to 1980 levels would have increased US GDP and productivity roughly to their current trend levels. California, New York, and the Mid-Atlantic region expand the most in these counterfactuals, drawing population out of the South and the Rustbelt. General equilibrium effects, particularly the reallocation of capital across states, accounts for much of these gains.

Knowing this:

"...deregulating [land use in] all of the regions to 1980 levels would raise labor productivity by about 10 percent, and consumption by about 9 percent in the neoclassical economy, and would raise labor productivity by about 16 percent, and consumption by about 11 percent in the economy with the externality."

, we keep shooting ourselves in the foot.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Love Death—A Retrospective and Prospective Follow-Up Mortality Study Over 45 Years

Lange L, Zedler B, Verhoff MA, Parzeller M. Love Death—A Retrospective and Prospective Follow-Up Mortality Study Over 45 Years. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2017.08.007


Background: Although sexual activity can cause moderate stress, it can cause natural death in individuals with pre-existing illness. The aim of this study was to identify additional pre-existing health problems, sexual practices, and potential circumstances that may trigger fatal events.

Methods: This medicolegal postmortem, retrospective, and prospective study is based on data of autopsies performed at the Institute of Legal Medicine of the University hospital, Goethe-University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany.

Outcomes: Identification of pre-existing health problems, sexual practices, and potential circumstances than could trigger fatal events.

Results: From 1972 to 2016 (45 years) approximately 38,000 medicolegal autopsies were performed, of which 99 cases of natural death were connected to sexual activities (0.26%). Except for eight women, men represented most cases. The women’s mean age was 45 years (median = 45) and the men’s mean age was 57.2 years (median = 57). Causes of death were coronary heart disease (n = 28), myocardial infarction (n = 21) and reinfarction (n = 17), cerebral hemorrhage (n = 12), rupture of aortic aneurysms (n = 8), cardiomyopathy (n = 8), acute heart failure (n = 2), sudden cardiac arrest (n = 1), myocarditis (n = 1), and a combination of post myocardial infarction and cocaine intoxication (n = 1). Most cases showed increased heart weights and body mass indices. Death occurred mainly during the summer and spring and in the home of the deceased. If sexual partners were identified, 34 men died during or after sexual contact with a female prostitute, two cases at least two female prostitutes. Nine men died during or after sexual intercourse with their wife, in seven cases the sexual partner was a mistress, and in four cases the life partner. Five men died during homosexual contacts. Based on the situation 30 men were found in, death occurred during masturbation. Of the women, five died during intercourse with the life partner, two died during intercourse with a lover or friend, and in one case no information was provided.

Clinical Translation: Natural deaths connected with sexual activity appear to be associated with male sex and pre-existing cardiovascular disorders. Most cases recorded occurred with mistresses, prostitutes, or during masturbation. If death occurs, the spouse or life partner might need psychological support.

Strength and Limitations: To our knowledge, the present study contains the largest collection of postmortem data on natural deaths connected with sexual activities. However, the cases presented were of forensic interest; a larger number of undetected cases especially in the marital or stable relationship sector must be assumed.

Conclusion: Patients should be informed about the circumstances that could trigger the “love death.”

Key Words: Sudden Natural Death; Sexual Activity; Autopsy; Myocardial Infarction; Cerebral Hemorrhage; Circumstances of Death

Are Ideas Getting Harder to Find?

Are Ideas Getting Harder to Find? Nicholas Bloom, Charles I. Jones, John Van Reenen, and Michael Webb. NBER Working Paper No. 23782. www.nber.org/papers/w23782

In many growth models, economic growth arises from people creating ideas, and the long-run growth rate is the product of two terms: the effective number of researchers and their research productivity. We present a wide range of evidence from various industries, products, and firms showing that research effort is rising substantially while research productivity is declining sharply. A good example is Moore's Law. The number of researchers required today to achieve the famous doubling every two years of the density of computer chips is more than 18 times larger than the number required in the early 1970s. Across a broad range of case studies at various levels of (dis)aggregation, we find that ideas — and in particular the exponential growth they imply — are getting harder and harder to find. Exponential growth results from the large increases in research effort that offset its declining productivity.

When Will Negotiation Agents Be Able to Represent Us? The Challenges and Opportunities for Autonomous Negotiators

When Will Negotiation Agents Be Able to Represent Us? The Challenges and Opportunities for Autonomous Negotiators. Tim Baarslag, Michael Kaisers, Enrico H. Gerding, Catholijn M. Jonker, and Jonathan Gratch. Proceedings of the Twenty-Sixth International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence. AI and autonomy track. Pages 4684-4690. https://doi.org/10.24963/ijcai.2017/653

Abstract: Computers that negotiate on our behalf hold great promise for the future and will even become indispensable in emerging application domains such as the smart grid and the Internet of Things. Much research has thus been expended to create agents that are able to negotiate in an abundance of circumstances. However, up until now, truly autonomous negotiators have rarely been deployed in real-world applications. This paper sizes up current negotiating agents and explores a number of technological, societal and ethical challenges that autonomous negotiation systems have brought about. The questions we address are: in what sense are these systems autonomous, what has been holding back their further proliferation, and is their spread something we should encourage? We relate the automated negotiation research agenda to dimensions of autonomy and distill three major themes that we believe will propel autonomous negotiation forward: accurate representation, long-term perspective, and user trust. We argue these orthogonal research directions need to be aligned and advanced in unison to sustain tangible progress in the field.

The Role of a "Common Is Moral" Heuristic in the Stability and Change of Moral Norms

The Role of a "Common Is Moral" Heuristic in the Stability and Change of Moral Norms. Lindström B, Jangard S, Selbing I, and Olsson A. J Exp Psychol Gen. 2017, Sep 11, https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0000365

Abstract: Moral norms are fundamental for virtually all social interactions, including cooperation. Moral norms develop and change, but the mechanisms underlying when, and how, such changes occur are not well-described by theories of moral psychology. We tested, and confirmed, the hypothesis that the commonness of an observed behavior consistently influences its moral status, which we refer to as the common is moral (CIM) heuristic. In 9 experiments, we used an experimental model of dynamic social interaction that manipulated the commonness of altruistic and selfish behaviors to examine the change of peoples' moral judgments. We found that both altruistic and selfish behaviors were judged as more moral, and less deserving of punishment, when common than when rare, which could be explained by a classical formal model (social impact theory) of behavioral conformity. Furthermore, judgments of common versus rare behaviors were faster, indicating that they were computationally more efficient. Finally, we used agent-based computer simulations to investigate the endogenous population dynamics predicted to emerge if individuals use the CIM heuristic, and found that the CIM heuristic is sufficient for producing 2 hallmarks of real moral norms; stability and sudden changes. Our results demonstrate that commonness shapes our moral psychology through mechanisms similar to behavioral conformity with wide implications for understanding the stability and change of moral norms.

Our moral balance sheet: Compensating our bad and good deeds

An experimental analysis of moral self-regulation. Erdem Seçilmiş.  Applied Economics Letters, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13504851.2017.1374530

ABSTRACT: This article examines the validity of the moral self-regulation hypothesis in a laboratory setting. The experiment is comprised of a public good game preceded or followed by a matrix task. The data show that the recall of an immoral action (cheating in the matrix task) motivates the individual to do morally right thing (contributing to group account) and the recall of a moral action (contributing to group account) motivates the individual to act out self-interest (cheating in the matrix task). Both moral licensing and moral cleansing hypotheses are confirmed by the results of the experiment. Additionally, the findings indicate that the subjects who had been given a chance to cheat ‘at first’ allocated more funds to the group account; and the subjects who had been given a chance to voluntarily contribute ‘at first’ cheated more in the matrix task.

KEYWORDS: Moral self-regulation, moral cleansing, moral licensing, public good game, matrix task

Homosexual acts may help impair reproduction by rivals --- for example, a male imitating a female

Male reproductive suppression: not a social affair- Z. Valentina Zizzari, Andrea Jessen, and Joris M. Koene. Current Zoology, Volume 63, Issue 5, 1 October 2017, Pages 573–579, https://doi.org/10.1093/cz/zow089

Abstract: In the animal kingdom there are countless strategies via which males optimize their reproductive success when faced with male–male competition. These male strategies typically fall into two main categories: pre- and post-copulatory competition. Within these 2 categories, a set of behaviors, referred to as reproductive suppression, is known to cause inhibition of reproductive physiology and/or reproductive behavior in an otherwise fertile individual. What becomes evident when considering examples of reproductive suppression is that these strategies conventionally encompass reproductive interference strategies that occur between members of a hierarchical social group. However, mechanisms aimed at impairing a competitor’s reproductive output are also present in non-social animals. Yet, current thinking emphasizes the importance of sociality as the primary driving force of reproductive suppression. Therefore, the question arises as to whether there is an actual difference between reproductive suppression strategies in social animals and equivalent pre-copulatory competition strategies in non-social animals. In this perspective paper we explore a broad taxonomic range of species whose individuals do not repeatedly interact with the same individuals in networks and yet, depress the fitness of rivals. Examples like alteration of male reproductive physiology, female mimicry, rival spermatophore destruction, and cementing the rival’s genital region in non-social animals, highlight that male pre-copulatory reproductive suppression and male pre-copulatory competition overlap. Finally, we highlight that a distinction between male reproductive interference in animals with and without a social hierarchy might obscure important similarities and does not help to elucidate why different proximate mechanisms evolved. We therefore emphasize that male reproductive suppression need not be restricted to social animals.

Keywords: indirect sperm transfer, offensive strategies, male pre-copulatory competition, male reproductive suppression, reproductive strategies

The examples of reproductive interference in Table 1 show that males of non-social animals are able to depress the fitness of a rival, though some behaviors are more harmful than others. For instance, nematodes of the genus Steinernema remove a rival from the reproductive population by killing him (Zenner et al. 2014). Less extreme examples are provided by males of acanthocephalans and some nematodes, whose males have been observed to perform a homosexual rape or place a cement plug on the rivals’ reproductive organ making them incapable of reproducing at least temporarily (Hassanine and Al-Jahdali 2008; Gems and Riddle 2000; Coomans et al. 1988). Although several instances of same-sex sexual behaviour are suspected of being related to male dominance in vertebrates, such behaviours are often attributed to cases of mistaken identity in invertebrates (see review by Bailey and Zuk 2009). Yet, Preston-Mafham (2006) excluded that the homosexual mounting behaviour he observed in the scatophagid fly Hydromyza livens occurred through mistaken identity. Male-male sexual behaviour is a widespread phenomenon that needs certainly a more accurate analysis because there might be species where this represents a strategy to increase male reproductive success, as suggested in the hemipteran Xylocoris maculipennis (Carayon 1974) and in the flour beetle Tribolium castaneum (Levan et al. 2009). Males of X. maculipennis have been reported to traumatically inseminate other males and it has been hypothesized that the injected ejaculate (i.e., seminal fluid plus sperm) mixes up with the ejaculate of the inseminated male (Carayon 1974), although this remains to be demonstrated. So, while it remains unknown whether sperm from both males actually inseminate the female in the latter case, the transferred seminal fluid proteins could also act on the reproductive physiology of the inseminated male, similarly to what was discovered in L. stagnalis (Nakadera et al. 2014). More information is available for T. castaneum. Levan et al. (2009) showed that male homosexual copulatory behaviour may lead to indirect sperm transfer to females through a male intermediary. Although the male’s homosexual partner contributed only 0.5% to each female’s total progeny (Levan et al. 2009), the transfer of a small quantity of non-self sperm might decrease a males’ reproductive success. Alternatively, albeit speculatively, a male might be induced to perform a same-sex encounter by female mimicry of a rival to make the mounting male temporary unable to inseminate a female, which has been described in salamanders (Arnold 1976). In this case the indirect sperm translocation would represent a male counter-adaption. However, this line of thought has not been taken into account and the homosexual copulation was explained by Levan et al. 2009 as a way to discard older sperm, indicating that more work is required to understand this in full.