Monday, November 20, 2017

About the girls... Lack of cyclical shifts in facial symmetry, and facial and body masculinity preferences—a hormone based study

La donna è mobile? Lack of cyclical shifts in facial symmetry, and facial and body masculinity preferences—a hormone based study. Urszula M. Marcinkowska, Andrzej Galbarczyk, Grazyna Jasienska. Psychoneuroendocrinology,

•    Participants’ fertility was measured with LH-based ovulation tests and multiple oestradiol leve measurements per cycle.
•    Each participants attended three meetings throughout one menstrual cycle.
•    We found no significant differences between women’s preferences for either body or facial masculinity, or for facial symmetry.
•    Differences remained non-significant after controlling for participants’ sexual openness, relationship status, and self-judged attractiveness.

Abstract: Although under investigation for more than two decades, a common agreement on the occurrence of cyclical shifts in women’s masculinity and symmetry preferences is still missing. Such shifts are considered to be an important feature of sexual selection as they supposedly direct women’s attention towards cues for “good genes” (e.g. masculinity and symmetry) during times when probability of conception is the highest. Multiple studies have, however, failed to find these shifts. We attempt to address this lack of agreement analysing a sample of 110 healthy women, using intra-participant design and repeated measurements of oestradiol and LH during the cycle. To ensure the reliable detection of increased conception probability, both LH- based ovulation tests and multiple oestradiol measurements were used. We found no significant differences between women’s preferences during different cycle phases for either body or facial masculinity, or for facial symmetry. Differences remained non-significant after controlling for participants’ sexual openness, relationship status, and self-judged attractiveness. We suggest that putative cyclical shifts in preferences for cues for good genes are either very small (impossible to be tracked even with a relatively large sample) or they are far more complex than previously assumed, and further studies accounting for more confounding variables should be undertaken.

Keywords: Sexual preferences; Facial masculinity; Estradiol; LH Surge; Cyclical Changes

Criminals with higher verbal IQs were more likely to avoid arrest for criminal behavior

The role of verbal intelligence in becoming a successful criminal: Results from a longitudinal sample. Cashen M. Boccio, Kevin M. Beaver, Joseph A. Schwartz. Intelligence,

•    We examined the relationship between verbal IQ and criminal success.
•    Verbal IQ was significantly associated with criminal justice processing.
•    Criminals with higher verbal IQs were more likely to avoid arrest for criminal behavior.

Abstract: Intelligence has been linked with success across a wide array of life domains. To date, however, relatively little research has examined whether intelligence may predict criminal success—that is, engaging in criminal behaviors, but escaping detection and arrest. The current study addresses this gap in the literature by examining the associations among verbal intelligence, criminal involvement, and criminal justice processing (i.e., arrest) using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). Our findings reveal that verbal intelligence is associated with criminal justice processing, wherein individuals with higher verbal intelligence scores are more likely to avoid arrest for criminal behavior when compared with individuals with comparatively lower verbal intelligence scores. We discuss the implications of these findings for future research.

Keywords: Arrest; Criminal behavior; Intelligence

There was no significant difference in health status between former drinkers and lifetime abstainers in study of Koreans aged 40-69

The Association Between Health Changes and Cessation of Alcohol Consumption. Ji-Eun Park, Yeonhee Ryu, Sung-Il Cho. Alcohol and Alcoholism, Volume 52, Issue 3, 1 May 2017, Pages 344–350.


Aims: To assess whether health changes affect cessation of alcohol consumption and to compare the health status of former drinkers and abstainers.

Methods: Cohort data from 9001 Korean participants aged 40–69 years old were analyzed. Alcohol consumption was assessed every 2 years for 10 years. Participant age, sex, marital status, education level, employment status, smoking, chronic disease, perceived health and changes in these variables were analyzed to identify factors associated with quitting alcohol drinking. The number of diseases and perceived health of former drinkers and people who at baseline were lifetime abstainers were compared.

Results: Among 4037 drinkers at baseline, 673 (16.7%) were classed as quitters and 3364 (83.3%) were classed as non-quitters. Sex, age and worsened perception of health were significantly associated with cessation of drinking. Women and individuals >60 years were more likely to cease drinking. There was a significant association between disease onset or treatment and alcohol cessation for cancer cases, but not for cardiovascular disease or chronic disease cases. There was no significant difference in number of diseases or perceived health between former drinkers and people who at baseline were lifetime abstainers.

Conclusions: The effect of disease onset or treatment on alcohol consumption cessation depended on disease type. Former drinkers did not show significantly worse health than people who at baseline were lifetime abstainers. Further studies of alcohol consumption and its effects on health are needed to consider disease occurrence and changes in alcohol consumption.

Short summary: Disease onset or treatment significantly affected alcohol consumption cessation for cancer cases, but not for cardiovascular disease or other chronic disease cases. There was no significant difference in health status between former drinkers and lifetime abstainers.

Perceived Entitlement Causes Discrimination Against Attractive Job Candidates in the Domain of Relatively Less Desirable Jobs

Lee, M., Pitesa, M., Pillutla, M. M., & Thau, S. (2017). Perceived Entitlement Causes Discrimination Against Attractive Job Candidates in the Domain of Relatively Less Desirable Jobs. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,

Abstract: People generally hold positive stereotypes of physically attractive people and because of those stereotypes often treat them more favorably. However, we propose that some beliefs about attractive people, specifically, the perception that attractive individuals have a greater sense of entitlement than less attractive individuals, can result in negative treatment of attractive people. We examine this in the context of job selection and propose that for relatively less desirable jobs, attractive candidates will be discriminated against. We argue that the ascribed sense of entitlement to good outcomes leads to perceptions that attractive individuals are more likely to be dissatisfied working in relatively less desirable jobs. When selecting candidates for relatively less desirable jobs, decision makers try to ascertain whether a candidate would be satisfied in those jobs, and the stereotype of attractive individuals feeling entitled to good outcomes makes decision makers judge attractive candidates as more likely to be dissatisfied in relatively less (but not more) desirable jobs. Consequently, attractive candidates are discriminated against in the selection for relatively less desirable jobs. Four experiments found support for this theory. Our results suggest that different discriminatory processes operate when decision makers select among candidates for relatively less desirable jobs and that attractive people might be systematically discriminated against in a segment of the workforce.

Although “Lehman Sisters” may have acted quite differently from “Lehman Brothers,” the differences in outcomes may often be substantially smaller than the differences observed in the average behavior of males and females

Do Gender Preference Gaps Impact Policy Outcomes? Ranehill, Eva, and Weber, Roberto A. University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, Working Papers in Economics #713.

Abstract: A large body of evidence documents systematic gender differences in a variety of important economic preferences, such as risk-taking, competition and pro-sociality. One potential implication of this literature is that increased female representation in decision-making bodies may significantly affect organizational and policy outcomes. However, research has yet to establish a direct connection from gender differences in simple economic choice tasks, to voting over policy and to the resulting outcomes. We conduct a laboratory experiment to provide a test of such a connection. In small laboratory “societies,” people repeatedly vote for a redistribution policy and engage in a real-effort production task. In this environment, we observe a substantial difference in voting behavior, with women voting for significantly more egalitarian redistribution policies. This gender difference is large relative to other differences based on observable characteristics and is partly explained by gender gaps in economic preferences and in beliefs about relative performance. Gender voting gaps persist with experience and in environments with varying degrees of risk. We also observe policy differences between male- and female-controlled groups, though these are considerably smaller than the mean individual differences—a natural consequence of the aggregation of individual preferences into collective outcomes. Thus, we provide evidence for why substantial and robust gender differences in preferences may often fail to translate into differential policy outcomes with increased female representation in policymaking.

Check also: Individual risk preferences and the demand for redistribution. Manja Gärtner, Johanna Mollerstrom and David Seim. Journal of Public Economics, v 153, September 2017, Pages 49-55.

The Selfish Brain: What Matters Is My Body, not Yours?

The Selfish Brain: What Matters Is My Body, not Yours? Yoshiaki Kikuchi, Madoka Noriuchi. Chp 5 in Emotional Engineering, Vol. 6.

Abstract: Our behavioral response to our own crisis situations activates an automatic neural mechanism for protecting ourselves, while our response to others’ crisis situations is not always toward saving them. That is, this automatic neural mechanism is implemented in our brain essentially for protecting not others, but the self, based on a biological principle. In this regard, it can be said that we have a type of Selfish Brain mechanism, which works primarily for protecting the self. Here, we focused on bodily unstable situations, and investigated whether the Selfish Brain could be observed or not, by viewing these bodily unstable situations of the self and others, and comparing the neural and behavioral responses, based on a third-person perspective paradigm. We found significant brain activity specific to one’s own bodily crisis, but no significant activity in others’ crisis situations. These self-specific regions included the regions that would be activated during genuine unstable bodily states: the right parieto-insular vestibular cortex, inferior frontal junction, posterior insula, and parabrachial nucleus. These right-lateralized cortical and brainstem regions may mediate vestibular information processing for detection of vestibular anomalies, defensive motor responding (in which the necessary motor responses are automatically prepared/simulated to protect one’s own body), and sympathetic activity, as a form of alarm response during whole-body instability. Furthermore, there were no significant differences between the self and others in terms of subjective feelings. These findings suggest that the Selfish Brain mechanism is integral to our brains, and it works unconsciously and automatically to resolve one’s own crisis.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Ability to perceive person identity from other human voices seems prodigious, but limitations emerge... Spontaneous laughter impairs such recognition. seems too monkey-ish.

Impoverished encoding of speaker identity in spontaneous laughter. Nadine Lavan, , Bethanie Short, Amy Wilding, Carolyn McGettigan. Evolution and Human Behavior,

Abstract: Our ability to perceive person identity from other human voices has been described as prodigious. However, emerging evidence points to limitations in this skill. In this study, we investigated the recent and striking finding that identity perception from spontaneous laughter - a frequently occurring and important social signal in human vocal communication - is significantly impaired relative to identity perception from volitional (acted) laughter. We report the findings of an experiment in which listeners made speaker discrimination judgements from pairs of volitional and spontaneous laughter samples. The experimental design employed a range of different conditions, designed to disentangle the effects of laughter production mode versus perceptual features on the extraction of speaker identity. We find that the major driving factor of reduced accuracy for spontaneous laughter is not its perceived emotional quality but rather its distinct production mode, which is phylogenetically homologous with other primates. These results suggest that identity-related information is less successfully encoded in spontaneously produced (laughter) vocalisations. We therefore propose that claims for a limitless human capacity to process identity-related information from voices may be linked to the evolution of volitional vocal control and the emergence of articulate speech.

Keywords: Speaker identity; Voice; Volitional vocalisation; Laughter; Speaker discrimination

The Joint Effects of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Age on the Incarceration and Sentence Length Decisions

The Joint Effects of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Age on the Incarceration and Sentence Length Decisions. Tina Freiburger and Alyssa Sheeran. Race and Justice,

Abstract: The current study adds to the literature examining the effects of race, ethnicity, gender, and age on sentencing decisions. The results indicate that Black and male defendants were more likely to be incarcerated in jail as opposed to receiving a probation sentence than White and female defendants. When race, ethnicity, and gender interactions were considered, it appeared that the race effect was driven by Black males' reduced likelihood to receive probation as opposed to jail. Black females were the least likely to be jailed. Age interactions revealed that being young disadvantaged Black males but advantaged other groups. The decision to incarcerate a defendant in jail versus prison was not significantly influenced by race, ethnicity, or gender. When sentence length was examined, Black males received significantly shorter jail sentences than all groups except Black females. When age was considered, Hispanic defendants 30-39 received longer jail sentences than almost every group.

In China, the “Fall in Love Emotional Education” school teaches how to groom oneself, approach a woman and flirt with contacts -- Gov't as matchmaker

In China, an Education in Dating. By SUI-LEE WEE
The New York Times, Nov 18 2017

JINAN, China — Zhang Zhenxiao is 27 years old. He has never been in a relationship. He has never kissed a woman.

Now, Mr. Zhang is ready for love — but like many men in China, he doesn’t know where to begin.

So Mr. Zhang turned to a dating coach. The “Fall in Love Emotional Education” school, which caters to straight men, has taught him how to groom himself, approach a woman and flirt his way into her smartphone contacts.

“There are many people who lack the ability to have a relationship,” said Mr. Zhang, who enrolled in a three-day course during a weeklong holiday in October. “Many times, it’s not that there’s something wrong with us. It’s that we don’t know what details to pay attention to.”

While dating is hard everywhere, it is arguably worse for Chinese men looking for a woman. China’s now-ended one-child policy, carried out in a country with a strong cultural preference for boys, prompted many couples to abort female fetuses. In 2016, there were about 33.6 million more men than women in China, according to the government.

“They are caught in a very difficult situation, especially for those with no money,” said Li Yinhe, a prominent scholar of sexuality in China.

China worries about its lonely hearts. Newspapers warn that a surplus of unhappy, single men in China could lead to an increase in human trafficking, sex crimes and social instability. So the government is playing matchmaker.

In June, the Communist Youth League, a training ground for many top officials, organized a mass speed dating event for 2,000 young singles in the eastern province of Zhejiang. The same month, the All-China Women’s Federation in northwestern Gansu Province helped organize a similar event for “leftover men and women,” a term used in China to refer to unmarried people in their late 20s or older.

For decades, Chinese marriages were arranged through matchmakers or families. In some places, parents still post the résumés of their single children on trees and lampposts.

Marriage was utilitarian, done so people could start a family. Even when the notion of “freedom to love” became popular after 1950, there were few social venues for people to snuggle and mingle. Until the late 1990s, sex outside marriage was illegal.

Mr. Zhang’s dating coach, Zhang Mindong, said he was once like the men he teaches. A self-professed loser, or “diaosi,” Zhang Mindong said he suffered a painful breakup in 2012. He turned to the internet to find solutions and discovered the term “pick-up artist.”

Zhang Mindong started his school in the eastern city of Jinan in 2014, which he now runs with Cui Yihao, 25, and Fan Long, 29. Their services range from $45 for an online course to about $3,000 for one-on-one coaching. Similar schools have opened in several Chinese cities in recent years.

The number of students who take offline courses at “Fall in Love Emotional Education” has grown from one in 2014, to more than 300 now, according to Zhang Mindong. About 90 percent of graduates end up with girlfriends, he said.

At the October session, there was Yu Ruitong, a 23-year-old software developer who had three previous relationships; Ye Chaoqun, a 27-year-old small business owner who is hoping to make the woman he likes fall in love with him; and James Zhang, a 30-year-old cancer doctor who is looking to expand the circle of women he knows. Both Mr. Ye and James Zhang have returned to polish what they learned earlier — this time free of charge.

To show his students what they were up against, Zhang Mindong held up a profile of an attractive woman on a dating app that had garnered “likes” from 7,000 men. “This is the environment in China,” he said.

In the first hour, Zhang Mindong proclaimed them sartorial disasters. Most of the first day was devoted to improving dress. (“Narrow collars, sleeves should be folded up above the elbow and trousers should be fitted.”) They bought clothes and got haircuts.

“After getting into a relationship with a woman, many Chinese men let themselves go. They don’t wash their hair, change their clothes and become really dirty,” said Zhang Mindong, who was wearing hip glasses and a fitted white shirt.

“But that’s not the case for women, and this is why so many Chinese men can’t have a long-term relationship.”

The makeovers are followed by the students posing for photos — reading Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time,” sipping tea and nibbling canapés presented in a silver bird cage, looking pensively out a window. That culminated in selfies with Wang Zhen, a female friend of Mr. Cui’s.

That’s designed for dating in the digital era. In China, where the mobile internet has revolutionized social life, getting to know a person takes place almost exclusively on WeChat, a popular social media tool that is used by nearly 1 billion people.

Most social interactions in China usually start or end with people scanning each other’s WeChat QR codes — a practice known as saoing — or adding each other’s WeChat IDs. Many women form their impressions of men based on photographs on WeChat’s “Moments,” a Facebook-like tool.

On a Thursday night outside a busy shopping mall in Jinan, the students got their first challenge: approach women and ask for their WeChat contacts.

“You give her two choices: ‘Why don’t you add me or I sao you?’” Zhang Mindong told the students. “So no matter what she picks, you’ll succeed.”

After practicing their moves on Ms. Wang, the students set off. Zhang Zhenxiao rushed up to two women, who paused but continued walking. He chased after them and stopped them again. After a minute, they walked away.

“I didn’t succeed,” a dejected Mr. Zhang said, returning to the group.

“No, the fact that you approached them means you did,” Mr. Cui said, patting him on the back.

By the end of the night, all the students had obtained at least one WeChat contact.

The classes, held in an apartment on the grounds of Shandong University, have an air of brotherly camaraderie — the students, huddled together on a floral couch scribbling in notebooks, practiced real smiles and flirtatious banter with their coaches.

A materials buyer for a renovations company, Zhang Zhenxiao said he had never learned how to talk to a woman. His high school forbade students from mixing with members of the opposite sex. His parents had an arranged marriage.

Now, they are giving him pressure to settle down. He is on a quest for his ideal woman — a bubbly tomboy who likes wearing jeans and not skirts all the time.

“I think there are many single women who are just like me,” he said, “all longing for love.”

Follow Sui-Lee Wee on Twitter: @suilee.

Zhang Tiantian contributed research in Beijing.

A version of this article appears in print on November 19, 2017, on Page BU1 of the New York edition with the headline: In China, Guys Enroll In Dating 101.

Racial Bias in Policing -- Traffic Tickets and Officer Leniency

A Few Bad Apples? Racial Bias in Policing. Felipe Goncalves and Steven Mello. Nov 2017.

Abstract: We estimate the degree to which individual police o cers practice racial discrimination. Traffic police regularly discount the charged speed on drivers’ tickets to avoid a discrete jump in the fine schedule. This behavior leads to an excess mass in the distribution of charged speeds just below the jump. Using a bunching estimation design and data from the Florida Highway Patrol, we show that minorities are less likely to receive this break than white drivers. We disaggregate to the individual police officer level and find significant heterogeneity across o cers in their degree of discrimination, with 40% of officers explaining the entirety of the aggregate discrimination. Our measure of discrimination is easy to calculate and can be used by police departments as part of an early warning system. Using a simple personnel policy that reassigns officers across locations based on their lenience, departments can effectively reduce the aggregate disparity in treatment.

JEL Classification: J71, K42
Keywords: Discrimination, Racial Bias, Police, Traffic Enforcement.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Being a Jew under the Mamluks: Some Coping Strategies

Being a Jew under the Mamluks: Some Coping Strategies. Dotan Arad. In Stephan Conermann (ed.): Muslim-Jewish Relations in the Middle Islamic Period.

The Mamluk rulers imposed a number of restrictions on all their non-Muslim subjects. Some of these are known from the earlier Muslim period, such as the well-known “Pact of ʿUmar.” Others were new restrictions imposed during the Mamluk period. In addition to the laws of Dhimmihood, Jews also frequently had to cope with interreligious hostility, acts of fanaticism, and various forms of harassment. What methods did Jews employ to improve their lot? In this article I want to discuss some of the strategies which the Jews adopted under these circumstances.

And these, the Jewish people of that era, were the dhimmis with better treatment... Other groups, like the Christians, were treated more unfavorably.

You may ask for the PDF.

Association of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder With Objective Indicators of Educational Attainment- A Nationwide Register-Based Sibling Control Study

Association of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder With Objective Indicators of Educational Attainment - A Nationwide Register-Based Sibling Control Study. Ana Perez-Vigil et al. JAMA Psychiatry, doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.3523

Key Points

Question  How is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) associated with objective indicators of educational attainment?

Findings  This population-based cohort study included 2 115 554 individuals, of whom 15 120 were diagnosed with OCD, and found that people with OCD were significantly more likely to fail all courses in compulsory school and less likely to achieve each level of education from primary to postgraduate education. The association was greatest when OCD was first diagnosed before age 18 years.

Meaning  Obsessive-compulsive disorder, particularly when it has an early age at onset, has a pervasive and profound association with decreased achievement across all educational levels.


Importance  To our knowledge, the association of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and academic performance has not been objectively quantified.

Objective  To investigate the association of OCD with objectively measured educational outcomes in a nationwide cohort, adjusting for covariates and unmeasured factors shared between siblings.

Design, Setting, And Participants  This population-based birth cohort study included 2 115 554 individuals who were born in Sweden between January 1, 1976, and December 31, 1998, and followed up through December 31, 2013. Using the Swedish National Patient Register and previously validated International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) codes, we identified persons with OCD; within the cohort, we identified 726 198 families with 2 or more full siblings, and identified 11 482 families with full siblings discordant for OCD. Data analyses were conducted from October 1, 2016, to September 25, 2017.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The study evaluates the following educational milestones: eligibility to access upper secondary school after compulsory education, finishing upper secondary school, starting a university degree, finishing a university degree, and finishing postgraduate education.

Results  Of the 2 115 554 individuals in the cohort, 15 120 were diagnosed with OCD (59% females). Compared with unexposed individuals, those with OCD were significantly less likely to pass all core and additional courses at the end of compulsory school (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] range, 0.35-0.60) and to access a vocational or academic program in upper secondary education (aOR, 0.47; 95% CI, 0.45-0.50 and aOR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.58-0.63, for vocational and academic programs, respectively). People with OCD were also less likely to finish upper secondary education (aOR, 0.43; 95% CI, 0.41-0.44), start a university degree (aOR, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.69-0.75), finish a university degree (aOR, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.56-0.62), and finish postgraduate education (aOR, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.36-0.77). The results were similar in the sibling comparison models. Individuals diagnosed with OCD before age 18 years showed worse educational attainment across all educational levels compared with those diagnosed at or after age 18 years. Exclusion of patients with comorbid neuropsychiatric disorders, psychotic, anxiety, mood, substance use, and other psychiatric disorders resulted in attenuated estimates, but patients with OCD were still impaired across all educational outcomes.

Conclusions and Relevance  Obsessive-compulsive disorder, particularly when it has an early onset, is associated with a pervasive and profound decrease in educational attainment, spanning from compulsory school to postgraduate education.

The Evolutionary Psychology of Extraterrestrial Intelligence: Are There Universal Adaptations in Search, Aversion, and Signaling?

The Evolutionary Psychology of Extraterrestrial Intelligence: Are There Universal Adaptations in Search, Aversion, and Signaling? Peter M. Todd and Geoffrey F. Miller. Biological Theory,

Abstract: To understand the possible forms of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI), we need not only astrobiology theories about how life evolves given habitable planets, but also evolutionary psychology theories about how intelligence emerges given life. Wherever intelligent organisms evolve, they are likely to face similar behavioral challenges in their physical and social worlds. The cognitive mechanisms that arise to meet these challenges may then be copied, repurposed, and shaped by further evolutionary selection to deal with more abstract, higher-level cognitive tasks such as conceptual reasoning, symbolic communication, and technological innovation, while retaining traces of the earlier adaptations for solving physical and social problems. These traces of evolutionary pathways may be leveraged to gain insight into the likely cognitive processes of ETIs. We demonstrate such analysis in the domain of search strategies and show its application in the domains of emotional aversions and social/sexual signaling. Knowing the likely evolutionary pathways to intelligence will help us to better search for and process any alien signals from the search for ETIs (SETI) and to assess the likely benefits, costs, and risks of humans actively messaging ETIs (METI).

Are Women Sexually Fluid? The Nature of Female Same-Sex Attraction and Its Evolutionary Origins

Are Women Sexually Fluid? The Nature of Female Same-Sex Attraction and Its Evolutionary Origins. Menelaos Apostolou. Evolutionary Psychological Science,

Abstract: The notion that female sexuality is fluid, meaning that women can experience attractions for either men or women depending on the circumstances, has been widely accepted by the academic community. Accordingly, scholars have attempted to develop evolutionary models that could explain why selection forces have favored sexual fluidity in women. The present paper reviews longitudinal studies on sexual attraction which indicate that the great majority of women do not have a fluid sexuality, but have instead stable attractions over time. Moreover, the current paper reviews studies on arousal, in order to demonstrate that they indicate a weak correlation between sexual arousal and sexual attraction in women, and not that women are attracted to both sexes. The evolutionary implications of the findings on female sexuality are further explored.

Check also The evolution of female same-sex attraction: The male choice hypothesis. Menelaos Apostolou et al. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 116, 1 October 2017, Pages 372-378,

Suicide in Happy Places: Is There Really a Paradox?

Suicide in Happy Places: Is There Really a Paradox? Philip M. Pendergast, Tim Wadsworth and Charis E. Kubrin. Journal of Happiness Studies,

Abstract: In 2011 researchers published a paper that exposed a puzzling paradox: the happiest states in the U.S. also tend to have the highest suicide rates. In the current study, we re-examine this relationship by combining data from the Multiple Mortality Cause-of-Death Records, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and the American Communities Survey to determine how subjective well-being and suicide are related across 1563 U.S. counties. We extend the original study in important ways: by incorporating both absolute and relative measures of subjective well-being; by examining the happiness-suicide association at a more suitable level of analysis; and by including a more robust set of control variables in the model. Contrary to the previous study, we do not observe any significant relationship, negative or positive, between the absolute and relative well-being of places and suicide rates at the county-level. Implications for the study of suicide rates and relative deprivation are discussed.

It seems wrong to believe that the role of bitter taste is to signal toxicity and alert animals against consuming harmful compounds

Nissim, I., Dagan-Wiener, A. and Niv, M. Y. (2017), The taste of toxicity: A quantitative analysis of bitter and toxic molecules. IUBMB Life. doi:10.1002/iub.1694

Abstract: The role of bitter taste—one of the few basic taste modalities—is commonly assumed to signal toxicity and alert animals against consuming harmful compounds. However, it is known that some toxic compounds are not bitter and that many bitter compounds have negligible toxicity while having important health benefits. Here we apply a quantitative analysis of the chemical space to shed light on the bitterness-toxicity relationship. Using the BitterDB dataset of bitter molecules, The BitterPredict prediction tool, and datasets of toxic compounds, we quantify the identity and similarity between bitter and toxic compounds. About 60% of the bitter compounds have documented toxicity and only 56% of the toxic compounds are known or predicted to be bitter. The LD50 value distributions suggest that most of the bitter compounds are not very toxic, but there is a somewhat higher chance of toxicity for known bitter compounds compared to known nonbitter ones. Flavonoids and alpha acids are more common in the bitter dataset compared with the toxic dataset. In contrast, alkaloids are more common in the toxic datasets compared to the bitter dataset. Interestingly, no trend linking LD50 values with the number of activated bitter taste receptors (TAS2Rs) subtypes is apparent in the currently available data. This is in accord with the newly discovered expression of TAS2Rs in several extra-oral tissues, in which they might be activated by yet unknown endogenous ligands and play non-gustatory physiological roles. These results suggest that bitter taste is not a very reliable marker for toxicity, and is likely to have other physiological roles.

Violent video games: Poorer quality studies, which tended to highlight negative findings, received more citations in scholarly sources, get more news media coverage

Copenhaver Allen, Mitrofan Oana, and Ferguson Christopher J.. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. November 2017, ahead of print.

Abstract: News coverage of video game violence studies has been critiqued for focusing mainly on studies supporting negative effects and failing to report studies that did not find evidence for such effects. These concerns were tested in a sample of 68 published studies using child and adolescent samples. Contrary to our hypotheses, study effect size was not a predictor of either newspaper coverage or publication in journals with a high-impact factor. However, a relationship between poorer study quality and newspaper coverage approached significance. High-impact journals were not found to publish studies with higher quality. Poorer quality studies, which tended to highlight negative findings, also received more citations in scholarly sources. Our findings suggest that negative effects of violent video games exposure in children and adolescents, rather than large effect size or high methodological quality, increase the likelihood of a study being cited in other academic publications and subsequently receiving news media coverage.

While realizing our own faults, we minimize the extent to which bad characteristics reflected what kind of people we are, predict more improvement than would others with the same faults, claim that others do worse things, and indicate that others are more likely to repeat the same bad behaviors in the future than ourselves

My worst faults and misdeeds: Self-criticism and self-enhancement can co-exist. Gregory S. Preuss & Mark D. Alicke.  Self and Identity, Volume 16, 2017 - Issue 6.

Abstract: Three studies explored whether self-enhancement is precluded when people recognize or even exaggerate their worst faults and behaviors. Even when acknowledging their faults, participants minimized the extent to which their bad characteristics reflected what kind of people they were, predicted that they would improve more in the future than would others with the same faults, claimed that others have done worse things to them than they have to others, and indicated that others are more likely to repeat the same bad behaviors in the future than themselves. Observers who read actors’ descriptions of their own misdeeds and those of others also saw the things that were done to actors as worse than the things actors had done.

Keywords: Self-enhancement, self-protection, future self, actor–observer, social comparison

Friday, November 17, 2017

Social Factors in Aesthetics: Social Conformity Pressure and a Sense of Being Watched Affect Aesthetic Judgments

Social Factors in Aesthetics: Social Conformity Pressure and a Sense of Being Watched Affect Aesthetic Judgments. Vera M. Hesslinger, Claus-Christian Carbon, Heiko Hecht. i-Perception,

Abstract: The present study is a first attempt to experimentally test the impact of two specific social factors, namely social conformity pressure and a sense of being watched, on participants’ judgments of the artistic quality of aesthetic objects. We manipulated conformity pressure with a test form in which a photograph of each stimulus was presented together with unanimously low (downward pressure) or high quality ratings (upward pressure) of three would-be previous raters. Participants’ sense of being watched was manipulated by testing each of them in two settings, one of which contained an eyespots stimulus. Both social factors significantly affected the participants’ judgments—unexpectedly, however, with conformity pressure only working in the downward direction and eyespots leading to an overall downward shift in participants’ judgments. Our findings indicate the relevance of including explicit and implicit social factors in aesthetics research, thus also reminding us of the limitations of overly reductionist approaches to investigating aesthetic perception and experience.

Keywords: eyespots, aesthetic judgments, conformity, social factors, empirical aesthetics

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Remembering the Details of Others' Heroism in the Aftermath of a Traumatic Public Event Can Foster Our Own Prosocial Response

Ford, J. H., Gaesser, B., DiBiase, H., Berro, T., Young, L., and Kensinger, E. (2017) Heroic Memory: Remembering the Details of Others' Heroism in the Aftermath of a Traumatic Public Event Can Foster Our Own Prosocial Response. Appl. Cognit. Psychol., doi: 10.1002/acp.3377

Summary: Humans, while not wholly altruistic, will often come together to selflessly support and provide aid to others in need. To date, little attention has been paid to how memory for such positive events in the aftermath of a traumatic event can influence subsequent behavior. The current study examined how the way in which people represent and remember helping events immediately following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing related to their tendency to support Boston-related charities in the following months. People who recalled helping-related events in greater detail reported engaging in more helping behaviors in the following months. The relation between memory narratives and reports of helping behavior six months later has important implications for future work investigating the role of memory-based mechanisms in citizens' decisions to provide aid in times of collective need.

Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery, Volume 164, January 2018, Pages 11-13: Pornography headache

Pornography headache. Wei-Hsi Chen, Kuo YenChen, Hsin-LingYin. Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery, Volume 164, January 2018, Pages 11-13.

•    Pornographic headache results from visuoneural uncoupling.
•    Sexual-arousal-mediated vascular dysregulation causes the pain.
•    Indomethacin is beneficiary for pornographic headache.

Abstract: The headache associated with intercourse or masturbatory activity is a well-recognized clinical entity but pornography headache is barely mentioned. We report a young man who suffered preorgasmic headache pertaining only to pornography of specific erotic contents but not to other sexual or nonsexual act. An antecedent activation of sexual arousal and vasoconstriction during pain were found. Finally, oral indomethacin favorably prevented the pain. Therefore, pornography headache is a distinguished headache disorder distinct from other sexual-related headache disorders. Sexual arousal-mediated cerebrovascular dysregulation consequence to visuoneural uncoupling in response to erotic stimulus is proposed. Pornography headache may be underestimated in population as pain-killer overuse may mask the actual incidence in real world.

Cancer incidence increasing globally: The role of relaxed natural selection

Cancer incidence increasing globally: The role of relaxed natural selection. Wenpeng You and Maciej Henneberg. Evolutionary Applications,

Abstract: Cancer incidence increase has multiple aetiologies. Mutant alleles accumulation in populations may be one of them due to strong heritability of many cancers. The opportunity for the operation of natural selection has decreased in the past ~150 years because of reduction in mortality and fertility. Mutation-selection balance may have been disturbed in this process and genes providing background for some cancers may have been accumulating in human gene pools. Worldwide, based on the WHO statistics for 173 countries the index of the opportunity for selection is strongly inversely correlated with cancer incidence in peoples aged 0–49 years and in people of all ages. This relationship remains significant when gross domestic product per capita (GDP), life expectancy of older people (e50), obesity, physical inactivity, smoking and urbanization are kept statistically constant for fifteen (15) of twenty-seven (27) individual cancers incidence rates. Twelve (12) cancers which are not correlated with relaxed natural selection after considering the six potential confounders are largely attributable to external causes like viruses and toxins. Ratios of the average cancer incidence rates of the 10 countries with lowest opportunities for selection to the average cancer incidence rates of the 10 countries with highest opportunities for selection are 2.3 (all cancers at all ages), 2.4 (all cancers in 0–49 years age group), 5.7 (average ratios of strongly genetically based cancers) and 2.1 (average ratios of cancers with less genetic background).

Risk of Developing Dementia at Older Ages in the US

Risk of Developing Dementia at Older Ages in the United States. Ezra Fishman. Demography, October 2017, Volume 54, Issue 5, pp 1897–1919.

Abstract: Dementia is increasingly recognized as a major source of disease burden in the United States, yet little research has evaluated the lifecycle implications of dementia. To address this research gap, this article uses the Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study (ADAMS) to provide the first nationally representative, longitudinal estimates of the probability that a dementia-free person will develop dementia later in life. For the 1920 birth cohort, the average dementia-free 70-year-old male had an estimated 26.9 % (SE = 3.2 %) probability of developing dementia, and the average dementia-free 70-year-old female had an estimated 34.7 % (SE = 3.7 %) probability. These estimates of risk of dementia are higher for younger, lower-mortality cohorts and are substantially higher than those found in local epidemiological studies in the United States, suggesting a widespread need to prepare for a life stage with dementia.

Counties with longer historical frontier experience exhibit more prevalent individualism and opposition to redistribution and regulation

Frontier Culture: The Roots and Persistence of "Rugged Individualism" in the United States. Samuel Bazzi, Martin Fiszbein, Mesay Gebresilasse. NBER Working Paper No. 23997.

In a classic 1893 essay, Frederick Jackson Turner argued that the American frontier promoted individualism. We revisit the Frontier Thesis and examine its relevance at the subnational level. Using Census data and GIS techniques, we track the frontier throughout the 1790-1890 period and construct a novel, county-level measure of historical frontier experience. We document skewed sex ratios and other distinctive demographics of frontier locations, as well as their greater individualism (proxied by infrequent children names). Many decades after the closing of the frontier, counties with longer historical frontier experience exhibit more prevalent individualism and opposition to redistribution and regulation. We take several steps towards a causal interpretation, including an instrumental variables approach that exploits variation in the speed of westward expansion induced by national immigration inflows. Using linked historical Census data, we identify mechanisms giving rise to a persistent frontier culture. Selective migration contributed to greater individualism, and frontier conditions may have further shaped behavior and values. We provide evidence suggesting that rugged individualism may be rooted in its adaptive advantage on the frontier and the opportunities for upward mobility through effort.

Dominance, phylogenetically ancient, and prestige, unique to humans, are ways to gain or maintain high rank

Dominance and Prestige: A Tale of Two Hierarchies. Jon K. Maner. Current Directions in Psychological Science.

Abstract: Dominance and prestige represent evolved strategies used to navigate social hierarchies. Dominance is a strategy through which people gain and maintain social rank by using coercion, intimidation, and power. Prestige is a strategy through which people gain and maintain social rank by displaying valued knowledge and skills and earning respect. The current article synthesizes recent lines of research documenting differences between dominance- versus prestige-oriented individuals, including personality traits and emotions, strategic behaviors deployed in social interactions, leadership strategies, and physiological correlates of both behaviors. The article also reviews effects that dominance versus prestige have on the functioning and well-being of social groups. The article also presents opportunities for future research and discusses links between dominance and prestige and the social psychological literature on power and status.

Although both dominance and prestige serve as viable routes to high social rank, the propensity to use one strategy over the other varies across individuals. Some work indicates no correlation between people’s use of dominance and prestige (Cheng et al., 2013), suggesting that use of one strategy is not contingent on use of the other. Other work suggests a positive correlation, as both strategies share in common the motivation for high rank (Maner & Mead, 2010).

The two strategies have different implications for groups and the individuals who comprise them. For example, the two strategies are characterized by different personality traits. Whereas people who use dominance are relatively aggressive, disagreeable, manipulative, and high in dark-triad traits (Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy), people who use prestige instead are
high in self-esteem, agreeableness, need for affiliation, social monitoring, fear of negative evaluation, and conscientiousness (Case & Maner, 2017; Cheng, Tracy, & Henrich, 2010; Semenya & Honey, 2015).

Dominance and prestige are also marked by different types of emotion. Dominance is associated with feelings of arrogance, superiority, and conceit (hubristic pride; Cheng et al., 2010), whereas prestige is associated with feelings of achievement, but without a sense of superiority or arrogance (authentic pride; Cheng et al., 2010; see also Liu, Yuan, Chen, & Yu, 2016). Another emotion that distinguishes dominance from prestige is humility (Weidman, Cheng, & Tracy, 2016). Prestige, but not dominance, is associated with appreciative humility, which results from a sense of personal success and leads people to celebrate others. Given these distinct profiles of personality and emotion, it comes as no surprise that people adopting a prestige strategy tend to be more well-liked than people adopting a dominance strategy (Cheng et al., 2013).

Clear evidence for physiological correlates of dominance and prestige is limited. Many findings have linked dominance to high levels of testosterone (Mazur & Booth, 1998), yet studies in humans have tended not to differentiate between dominance and prestige. One study that did so found no correlation between dominance and testosterone; instead, the study documented a negative relation between testosterone and prestige (Johnson, Burk, & Kirkpatrick, 2007), consistent with the hypothesis that prestige is associated with an active downplaying of aggression and competitiveness. Another found that testosterone was linked with use of dominance but not with one’s actual rank in the hierarchy (van der Meij, Schaveling, & Van Vugt, 2016). Dominance (but not prestige) has been linked with wider facial width-to-height ratio (Mileva, Cowan, Cobey, Knowles, & Little, 2014)—a morphological cue associated with greater testosterone, aggressiveness, and unethical behavior (Carré, McCormick, & Mondloch, 2009; Lefevre, Lewis, Perrett, & Penke, 2013; but see Bird et al., 2016). The literature on physiological aspects of dominance and prestige would benefit from further development.