Thursday, January 18, 2018

Government-Sponsored Mass Killing and Civil War Reoccurrence

Gary Uzonyi, Richard Hanania; Government-Sponsored Mass Killing and Civil War Reoccurrence, International Studies Quarterly, Volume 61, Issue 3, September 1 2017, Pages 677–689, https://doi.org/10.1093/isq/sqx050

Abstract: Why do civil wars reoccur? Some scholars emphasize the role of post-war factors, while others locate the causes of civil war recurrence in the dynamics of the conflicts themselves. We build a theory that bridges these arguments by focusing on mass killing. We argue that government mass killing during war reduces opportunities for the opposition to return to military conflict in the future. This allows for longer periods of post-conflict peace. However, government atrocities that begin after the end of a civil war create new grievances without diminishing the ability of opponents to fight. This makes a faster return to conflict more likely. Statistical analysis of all civil wars between 1946 and 2006 strongly supports our arguments, even when we account for selection effects regarding when governments are more likely to engage in mass killing. These results reveal that both during-war and post-war tactics influence civil war recurrence, but that the same tactic can produce different effects depending on the timing of its use.

Compassionate Love for a Romantic Partner Across the Adult Life Span: Believers experienced greater compassionate love than nonbelievers, and individuals in love presented greater compassionate love than those who were not in love

Compassionate Love for a Romantic Partner Across the Adult Life Span. Félix Neto, Daniela C. Wilks. European Journal of Psychology, Vol 13, No 4 (2017), https://doi.org/10.5964/ejop.v13i4.1373

Abstract: Compassionate love has received research attention over the last decade, but it is as yet unclear how it is experienced over a lifetime. The purpose of this study was to investigate compassionate love for a romantic partner throughout the adult life span, exploring individual differences in the propensity to experience compassionate love in regard to age, gender, religion, love status, love styles, and subjective well-being. The results showed that religion and love status display significant effects on compassionate love. Believers experienced greater compassionate love than nonbelievers, and individuals in love presented greater compassionate love than those who were not in love. Love styles and subjective well-being were found to be related to compassionate love. These findings corroborate studies that indicate that individuals who experience higher compassionate love for a romantic partner are more likely to report Eros, Agape, and subjective well-being.

Keywords: aging; compassionate love; love styles; subjective well-being

Scientific Uncertainty in the Press: How Newspapers Describe Initial Biomedical Findings — the public is increasingly poorly informed about the uncertainty inherent in initial biomedical findings

Scientific Uncertainty in the Press: How Newspapers Describe Initial Biomedical Findings. Estelle Dumas-Mallet et al. Science Communication, https://doi.org/10.1177/1075547017752166

Abstract: Newspapers preferentially cover initial biomedical findings although they are often disconfirmed by subsequent studies. We analyzed 426 newspaper articles covering 40 initial biomedical studies associating a risk factor with 12 pathologies and published between 1988 and 2009. Most articles presented the study as initial but only 21% mentioned that it must be confirmed by replication. Headlines of articles with a replication statement were hyped less often than those without. Replication statements have tended to disappear after 2000, whereas hyped headlines have become more frequent. Thus, the public is increasingly poorly informed about the uncertainty inherent in initial biomedical findings.

Keywords: uncertainty, initial biomedical studies, hype, health communication, newspapers


Divisive discussion topics are associated with both a greater level of self-reported threat and a greater tendency to perceive neutral faces as threatening

Divisive Topics as Social Threats. Joseph J. P. Simons, Melanie C. Green. Communication Research, http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0093650216644025?journalCode=crxa

Abstract: The current work provides evidence for a psychological obstacle to the resolution of divisive social issues (e.g., affirmative action, drug legalization); specifically, people approach discussions of these issues with a threatened mind-set. Across three studies, it is shown that the prospect of discussing topics which divide social opinion is associated with threatened responding (the dissensus effect). Divisive discussion topics are associated with both a greater level of self-reported threat (Studies 1 and 3) and a greater tendency to perceive neutral faces as threatening (Study 2). Furthermore, the effect is shown to be robust across manipulations of social opinion (ratings of multiple social issues in Studies 1 and 2; fictional polling data in Study 3), and was not reducible to individual attitude extremity (Studies 1 and 3) or a valence effect (Study 2).

Keywords: social cognition, attitudes, threat, social opinion, inconsistency

Expected Sanctions for Expressing Minority Opinions in Offline and Online Communication

What Do We Fear? Expected Sanctions for Expressing Minority Opinions in Offline and Online Communication. German Neubaum, Nicole C. Krämer. Communication Research, http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0093650215623837

Abstract: This work proposes the expectation of sanctions as a promising construct to advance spiral of silence research in face-to-face and computer-mediated contexts. We argue that situational factors influence people’s expectations about how their social environment would punish them should they express their viewpoint in a hostile opinion climate. These expected sanctions are suggested to explain the variance in people’s willingness to express a minority opinion across different social situations. An experiment showed that the expectation of being personally attacked can explain why people are more willing to voice a deviant opinion in offline rather than online environments. Findings also revealed that in contemporary social networking websites, wherein users commonly face a personally relevant audience, people are prone to hold back their opinion as they expect losing control over the reactions of their audience. This research extends previous knowledge by presenting a more differentiated theoretical view of the fear of isolation and specifying its role in different situations of public deliberation.

Keywords: spiral of silence, expected sanctions, minority opinion, computer-mediated communication

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We don't share political opinions with co-workers to avoid potential conflict, giving the impression of greater homogeneity and, paradoxically, more polarization. Check also “It could turn ugly”: Selective disclosure of attitudes in political discussion networks. Sarah K.Cowan and Delia Baldassarri. Social Networks, Volume 52, January 2018, Pages 1-17. http://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2017/11/we-dont-share-political-opinions-with.html

Humans show a significant rightward bias during embracing. Additionally, we showed that this general motor preference is strongly modulated by emotional contexts

Embracing your emotions: affective state impacts lateralisation of human embraces. Julian Packheiser et al. Psychological Research, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00426-018-0985-8

Abstract: Humans are highly social animals that show a wide variety of verbal and non-verbal behaviours to communicate social intent. One of the most frequently used non-verbal social behaviours is embracing, commonly used as an expression of love and affection. However, it can also occur in a large variety of social situations entailing negative (fear or sadness) or neutral emotionality (formal greetings). Embracing is also experienced from birth onwards in mother–infant interactions and is thus accompanying human social interaction across the whole lifespan. Despite the importance of embraces for human social interactions, their underlying neurophysiology is unknown. Here, we demonstrated in a well-powered sample of more than 2500 adults that humans show a significant rightward bias during embracing. Additionally, we showed that this general motor preference is strongly modulated by emotional contexts: the induction of positive or negative affect shifted the rightward bias significantly to the left, indicating a stronger involvement of right-hemispheric neural networks during emotional embraces. In a second laboratory study, we were able to replicate both of these findings and furthermore demonstrated that the motor preferences during embracing correlate with handedness. Our studies therefore not only show that embracing is controlled by an interaction of motor and affective networks, they also demonstrate that emotional factors seem to activate right-hemispheric systems in valence-invariant ways.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

People who went on to develop Parkinson disease tended to have jobs with higher socioeconomic status, those with lower socioeconomic status had a lower PD incidence

Himmelberg, M. M., West, R. J.H., Wade, A. R. and Elliott, C. J.H. (2018), A perceptive plus in Parkinson's disease. Mov Disord.. doi:10.1002/mds.27240

Comment on Beard JD, Steege AL, Ju J, Lu J, Luckhaupt SE, Schubauer-Berigan MK. Mortality from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease among different occupation groups—United States, 1985–2011. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep
2017;66(27):718-722.

The puzzle of Parkinson’s disease (PD) is particularly elusive, but the next part of the picture is appearing, and it is a curious one: a tale of men, mice, and flies. Recently, Beard and colleagues1 reported that people who went on to develop PD tended to have jobs with higher socioeconomic status.Their study of > 12 million Americans highlighted more than 110,000 deaths from PD, with excess numbers of workers incommunity services (48%), educational (46%), legal (40%) and the sciences (33%). Such jobs may be demanding of deeper thought, good discrimination, and quick judgments. In a second study of > 4.5 million people from the Swedish census, those with lower socioeconomic status had a lower PD incidence.2

Although  this  may  appear  (at  first  sight)  far-fetched, advantages in cognition in people at risk of PD are predicted from our studies of young PD-mimic flies. These have faster, stronger visual responses3,4 when the flies are young; however, in old age they show a loss of response and neurodegeneration. This model is noteworthy because ever since the time of Cajal, the homology of vertebrate and fly visual systems has been recognized, with many similarities at the neural circuit, computational, and developmental levels. Crucially, both flies and vertebrates use dopamine for retinal gain control. Furthermore, it is widely accepted that the extra demand for energy is a major cause of neurodegeneration in PD, so that the loss of visual gain control in young flies will lead to increased visual responses, requiring more Adenosine Triphosphate to pump ions and maintain synaptic transmission.

Increased visual processing, and possibly faster neural signaling, as a result of deficits in retinal dopamine signaling may provide people at risk of PD with advantages in younger life, which impact before the later neurodegeneration. They may be more suited to jobs with higher socioeconomic status, both at interview and in the daily routine. This would explain  the  new  observations.1,2

Furthermore,  PD-linked mutations have been around since prehistoric times5 and may therefore have had a selective advantage for young people encountering situations demanding rapid responses, for example, escape or hunting activities.


References in the full article, that you may request.

The personality disorder profile of professional actors

Davison, M., & Furnham, A. (2018). The personality disorder profile of professional actors. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 7(1), 33-46. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000101

Abstract: The personality disorder trait profiles of 214 professional actors were compared with a general population American sample. Both male and female actors scored significantly higher than nonactors on Antisocial, Narcissism, Histrionic, Borderline, and Obsessive–Compulsive personality disorder scales of the Coolidge Axis-II inventory (Coolidge, 2001). Male actors scored significantly higher than the male comparison group on Schizotypal, Avoidant, and Dependent personality disorder scales. Relationships between personality disorder traits in actors and their self-reported acting abilities, preferences, and success were examined. The results are discussed with reference to how heightened subclinical levels of personality disorders traits are potentially unhelpful to acting performance and managing the demands of the profession. Limitations of the study are noted.

Preferences for discussion partners &groups that are similar to (same party &same opinion) or different from us (different party &different opinion) or that represent a combination: Complete similarity is not always preferred &partisan similarity is preferred over opinion similarity

Political Talk Preferences: Selection of Similar and Different Discussion Partners and Groups. Alyssa C. Morey, Steven B. Kleinman, Mark Boukes. International Journal of Communication, http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/7381

Abstract: Focusing on two distinct dimensions of similarity and difference (political identity, political opinions), this study uses a within-subjects experimental design implemented in an online survey to examine preferences for discussion partners and groups that are similar to (same party and same opinion) or different from (different party and different opinion) or that represent a combination of similarity and difference (same party and different opinion, or different party and same opinion) relative to oneself. Participants comprising a diverse national sample (N = 820) completed eight political discussion selection tasks (four discussion partner tasks, four discussion group tasks) by ranking four political discussion options from most to least preferred. Results indicate that complete similarity is not always preferred (in analyses of all ranked discussion groups) and that partisan similarity is preferred over opinion similarity (in analyses of first-ranked discussion partners). More generally, findings reveal that preferences for political discussion depend on the context of the discussion, including whether the discussion involves a single discussion partner or a discussion group and whether preference focuses on individuals’ most preferred option only or relative rankings across a range of options.

Keywords: political discussion, similarity/difference, agreement/disagreement, selective exposure

Feast for the Eyes: Effects of Food Perceptions and Computer Vision Features on Food Photo Popularity

Feast for the Eyes: Effects of Food Perceptions and Computer Vision Features on Food Photo Popularity. Yilang Peng, John B. Jemmott III. International Journal of Communication, http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/6678

Abstract: The widely circulated food photos online have become an important part of our visual culture. Combining human ratings of food characteristics and computational analysis of visual aesthetics, we examined what contributed to the aesthetic appeal of a diversity of food photographs (N = 300) and likes and comments they received in an artificial newsfeed from participants (N = 399). The results revealed that people tended to like and share images containing tasty foods. Both healthy and unhealthy foods were able to gain likes. Aesthetic appeal and specific visual features, such as the use of arousing colors and different components of visual complexity, also influenced the popularity of food images. This work demonstrates the potential of applying computer vision methods in visual analysis, offers insights into image virality, and provides practical guidelines for communicating healthy eating.

Keywords: food, virality, computer vision, visual aesthetics, health communication

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Investigating the Relationship Between Self-Perceived Moral Superiority and Moral Behavior Using Economic Games

Investigating the Relationship Between Self-Perceived Moral Superiority and Moral Behavior Using Economic Games. Ben M. Tappin, Ryan T. McKay. Social Psychological and Personality Science,  https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550617750736

Abstract: Most people report that they are superior to the average person on various moral traits. The psychological causes and social consequences of this phenomenon have received considerable empirical attention. The behavioral correlates of self-perceived moral superiority (SPMS), however, remain unknown. We present the results of two preregistered studies (Study 1, N = 827; Study 2, N = 825), in which we indirectly assessed participants’ SPMS and used two incentivized economic games to measure their engagement in moral behavior. Across studies, SPMS was unrelated to trust in others and to trustworthiness, as measured by the trust game, and unrelated to fairness, as measured by the dictator game. This pattern of findings was robust to a range of analyses, and, in both studies, Bayesian analyses indicated moderate support for the null over the alternative hypotheses. We interpret and discuss these findings and highlight interesting avenues for future research on this topic.

Keywords: moral superiority, self-perception, traits, behavior, economic games

Men are presented with higher facial prominence than women in the media (this is called face-ism) -- In lab, as expected, men cropped their photos with higher facial prominence than women did

Self-presentation in Online Professional Networks: Men's Higher and Women's Lower Facial Prominence in Self-created Profile Images. Sabine Sczesny and Michèle C. Kaufmann. Front. Psychol., January 17 2018 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02295

Men are presented with higher facial prominence than women in the media, a phenomenon that is called face-ism. In naturalistic settings, face-ism effects could be driven by gender biases of photographers and/or by gender differences in self-presentation. The present research is the first to investigate whether women and men themselves create this different facial prominence. In a controlled laboratory study, 61 participants prepared a picture of themselves from a half-body photograph, allegedly to be uploaded to their profile for an online professional network. As expected, men cropped their photos with higher facial prominence than women did. However, women and men did not differ in the self-presentational motivations, goals, strategies, and personality variables under investigation, so that the observed face-ism effect could not be explained with these variables. Generally, the higher participants' physical appearance self-esteem, the higher was their self-created facial prominence.

The Elusive Backfire Effect: Mass Attitudes’ Steadfast Factual Adherence

The Elusive Backfire Effect: Mass Attitudes’ Steadfast Factual Adherence. Thomas Wood,  Ethan Porter. Political Behavior, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11109-018-9443-y

Abstract: Can citizens heed factual information, even when such information challenges their partisan and ideological attachments? The “backfire effect,” described by Nyhan and Reifler (Polit Behav 32(2):303–330.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-010-9112-2, 2010), says no: rather than simply ignoring factual information, presenting respondents with facts can compound their ignorance. In their study, conservatives presented with factual information about the absence of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq became more convinced that such weapons had been found. The present paper presents results from five experiments in which we enrolled more than 10,100 subjects and tested 52 issues of potential backfire. Across all experiments, we found no corrections capable of triggering backfire, despite testing precisely the kinds of polarized issues where backfire should be expected. Evidence of factual backfire is far more tenuous than prior research suggests. By and large, citizens heed factual information, even when such information challenges their ideological commitments.

Artificial Intelligence And the Challenges of Detecting Rude Conversational Behaviour

On the Challenges of Detecting Rude Conversational Behaviour. Karan Grewal, Khai N. Truong. arXiv.org Computer Science > Human-Computer Interaction, arXiv:1712.09929 [cs.HC], https://arxiv.org/abs/1712.09929

Abstract: In this study, we aim to identify moments of rudeness between two individuals. In particular, we segment all occurrences of rudeness in conversations into three broad, distinct categories and try to identify each. We show how machine learning algorithms can be used to identify rudeness based on acoustic and semantic signals extracted from conversations. Furthermore, we make note of our shortcomings in identifying rudeness in conversations.

Introduction

One-on-one interactions are important in everyday social settings. For instance, in order to attract a potential partner, it is imperative that an individual behave in an appropriate manner. Unfortunately, one-on-one interactions can often result in one party exhibiting rude or inappropriate conversational behaviour. In many cases, the offending party is not aware of the severity of their actions and does not intend to offend the other party. For example, certain individuals may be socially unaware of how others perceive their behaviour. Individuals with learning disabilities, such as autism, may follow this trend. Likewise, young children often lack awareness of their behaviour { a possible explanation for the presence of bullying in elementary schools and why children are generally regarded as immature. In both cases, monitoring a user's conversational behaviour and making them aware of it via active feedback while they are engaged in a one-on-one interaction would be helpful towards correcting their behaviour in such scenarios.

In the last century, there has been a lot of work in the linguistics and psychology domains which attempt to define politeness and acceptable behaviour pertaining to two-person interactions. The most popular of these is Penelope Brown and Steven Levinson's Politeness theory [2]. This theory states that all individuals have two faces: a positive self-image which is the desire to be approved by others, and a negative self-image which is the desire of actions to be unimpeded by others. According to Politeness theory, any external actions which threaten one or more of an individual's faces, such disrespectful gestures, constitute impoliteness. Also, Geoffrey Leech's principle of politeness states that if two individuals are interacting, then there will be some form of disagreement or tension if both individuals are pursuing mutually-incompatible goals -- likening the chance of rude behaviour [8]. Here, goals refers to a psychological state of being. In contrast, Bruce Fraser argues against the theories formulated by Leech, Brown, and Levinson by pointing out that each culture has its own set of social norms which define acceptable behaviour [6]. Therefore, as Fraser argues, the question of whether an individual is behaving in an inappropriate manner is entirely dependent on the context of his/her actions. This view aligns with Robin Lako's notable example of the speaking style in New York [7].  As she states, New Yorkers often use profanity in a casual sense without any intent to offend or be impolite.  However, their conversational behaviour is likely to be interpreted as rude in other cultures.

Is there a grounded definition of rudeness with respect to speech which can be derived from classical theories of politeness? In this study, we define define the notion of rude conversational behaviour and explore methods to identify this type of behaviour in two-person interactions. We do this by extracting acoustic and semantic information from an individual's speech and develop methods which attempt to pinpoint exact instances of rude conversational behaviour. Also, we highlight some existing problems which make the task at hand dicult through our findings. Note that we only focus on signals extracted speech data.

Do the media unintentionally make mass killers into celebrities? An assessment of free advertising and earned media value

Do the media unintentionally make mass killers into celebrities? An assessment of free advertising and earned media value. Adam Lankford. Celebrity Studies, https://doi.org/10.1080/19392397.2017.1422984

ABSTRACT: In recent years, some critics have suggested that the media make mass killers into celebrities by giving them too much attention. However, whether the media coverage these offenders receive actually approaches the amounts given to celebrities has never been tested. This study compared perpetrators of seven mass killings during 2013–2017 with more than 600 celebrities over the same time period. Findings indicate that the mass killers received approximately $75 million in media coverage value, and that for extended periods following their attacks they received more coverage than professional athletes and only slightly less than television and film stars. In addition, during their attack months, some mass killers received more highly valued coverage than some of the most famous American celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, and Jennifer Aniston. Finally, most mass killers received more coverage from newspapers and broadcast/cable news than the public interest they generated through online searches and Twitter seems to warrant. Unfortunately, this media attention constitutes free advertising for mass killers that may increase the likelihood of copycats.

KEYWORDS: Mass shooters, media coverage, celebrity culture, fame, advertising

Dreaming of a Brighter Future: Anticipating Happiness Instills Meaning in Life

Dreaming of a Brighter Future: Anticipating Happiness Instills Meaning in Life. Wijnand A. P. van Tilburg and Eric R. Igou. Journal of Happiness Studies, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10902-018-9960-8

Abstract: We theorized and tested that people’s predictions of their future as brighter than the present fulfill an important purpose: they give a sense of meaning to life. We systematically tested this existentialist hypothesis by adopting a self-regulatory approach. Study 1 indicates that envisioning a happier future helps people to find meaning in everyday life behaviors, provided that these are perceived to be instrumental for the pursuit of happiness. Consistently, Study 2 shows that envisioning such increases in future happiness is particularly employed by those who are prone to seek meaning in life. Finally, Study 3 reveals that after people envision a brighter future their perceived meaning in life increases, and it does so especially for those prone to search for meaning in life. Together, these studies suggest that imagining future happiness in part serves the function of perceiving life as meaningful. This research is novel, and builds on and contributes to the literature on meaning making, happiness, well-being, and affective forecasting.

Check also Rolf Degen: The joy of things to come: Anticipatory pleasure confers an euphoric bliss that can go far beyond the enjoyment of wish fulfillment, Oct 8, 2014, https://plus.google.com/101046916407340625977/posts/7XyDuM6k5fF

Monday, January 15, 2018

Male Qualities and Likelihood of Orgasm

Male Qualities and Likelihood of Orgasm. James M. Sherlock, Morgan J Sidari. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322036644_Male_Qualities_and_Likelihood_of_Orgasm. In T.K. Shackelford, V.A. Weekes-Shackelford (eds.), Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_278-1

Introduction

In contrast to male orgasm, the female orgasm is enormously variable in frequency during penetrative sex. While men almost always ejaculate during penile-vaginal intercourse, women orgasm far less frequently from penetrative sex alone and experience significant variation in orgasm frequency with different partners (Lloyd 2005).

While variation in women’s orgasm frequency is poorly understood, evolutionary psychology tends to view variation in behavior as adaptive and responsive to environmental conditions.

Current evolutionary theories regarding the female orgasm can be broadly divided into two positions: those that focus on selection on male sexual function and those that focus on selection on female sexual function. The by-product hypothesis concerns the former and posits that the capacity of women to experience orgasm is a consequence of strong selection pressure on males’ capacity to reach orgasm. This position is based on similarities between male and female orgasm as well as the observation that the male glans penis and female clitoris arise from homologous tissue during development. In contrast, the mate choice hypothesis argues that variation in female orgasm frequency during sexual intercourse is reflective of varying quality of their male partners. Increased orgasm frequency with men possessing desirable traits ought to promote repeated copulations, thus increasing the likelihood of impregnation. This position can be further distinguished by predictions regarding which male traits are likely to influence orgasm frequency.

Synonyms: Attractiveness; Cryptic Female Choice; Facial Attractiveness; Female Copulatory Orgasm; Female Mate Choice; Mate selection; Orgasm; Pair-bonding; The Evolution of Genitalia

Mean global ocean temperatures during the last glacial transition

Mean global ocean temperatures during the last glacial transition. Bernhard Bereiter et al. Nature 553, 39–44, doi:10.1038/nature25152

Abstract: Little is known about the ocean temperature’s long-term response to climate perturbations owing to limited observations and a lack of robust reconstructions. Although most of the anthropogenic heat added to the climate system has been taken up by the ocean up until now, its role in a century and beyond is uncertain. Here, using noble gases trapped in ice cores, we show that the mean global ocean temperature increased by 2.57 ± 0.24 degrees Celsius over the last glacial transition (20,000 to 10,000 years ago). Our reconstruction provides unprecedented precision and temporal resolution for the integrated global ocean, in contrast to the depth-, region-, organism- and season-specific estimates provided by other methods. We find that the mean global ocean temperature is closely correlated with Antarctic temperature and has no lead or lag with atmospheric CO2, thereby confirming the important role of Southern Hemisphere climate in global climate trends. We also reveal an enigmatic 700-year warming during the early Younger Dryas period (about 12,000 years ago) that surpasses estimates of modern ocean heat uptake.

Is Legal Pot Crippling Mexican Drug Trafficking Organisations? The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on US Crime

I abhor marijuana and the other drugs, but I am not blind to information that seems to confirm what libertarians keep saying for decades:

Gavrilova, E., Kamada, T. and Zoutman, F. (2017), Is Legal Pot Crippling Mexican Drug Trafficking Organisations? The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on US Crime. Econ J. doi:10.1111/ecoj.12521

Abstract: We show that the introduction of medical marijuana laws (MMLs) leads to a decrease in violent crime in states that border Mexico. The reduction in crime is strongest for counties close to the border (less than 350 kilometres) and for crimes that relate to drug trafficking. In addition, we find that MMLs in inland states lead to a reduction in crime in the nearest border state. Our results are consistent with the theory that decriminalisation of the production and distribution of marijuana leads to a reduction in violent crime in markets that are traditionally controlled by Mexican drug trafficking organisations.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Brooks on Deneen's Why Liberalism Failed -- Unreliable classical virtue vs steady selfishness and instant gratification

How Democracies Perish. David Brooks. The New York Times, January 12, 2018, on Page A23 of the New York edition
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/11/opinion/how-democracies-perish.html

Everybody agrees society is in a bad way, but what exactly is the main cause of the badness? Some people emphasize economic issues: The simultaneous concentration of wealth at the top and the stagnation in the middle has delegitimized the system. People like me emphasize cultural issues. If you have 60 years of radical individualism and ruthless meritocracy, you’re going to end up with a society that is atomized, distrustful and divided.

But some emphasize the intellectual. The people who designed our liberal democratic system made fundamental errors, which are now coming home to roost. Notre Dame political scientist Patrick Deneen falls into this camp. His new book, “Why Liberalism Failed,” is a challenge to those of us who want to revive the liberal democratic order. It will attract a cult following among those who are losing faith in the whole project.

Deneen argues that liberal democracy has betrayed its promises. It was supposed to foster equality, but it has led to great inequality and a new aristocracy. It was supposed to give average people control over government, but average people feel alienated from government. It was supposed to foster liberty, but it creates a degraded popular culture in which consumers become slave to their appetites.

Many young people feel trapped in a system they have no faith in. Deneen quotes one of his students: “Because we view humanity — and thus its institutions — as corrupt and selfish, the only person we can rely upon is our self. The only way we can avoid failure, being let down, and ultimately succumbing to the chaotic world around us, therefore, is to have the means (financial security) to rely only upon ourselves.”

The problem, Deneen argues, started at the beginning. Greek and medieval philosophies valued liberty, but they understood that before a person could help govern society, he had to be able to govern himself. People had to be habituated in virtue by institutions they didn’t choose — family, religion, community, social norms.

But under the influence of Machiavelli and Locke, the men who founded our system made two fateful errors. First, they came to reject the classical and religious idea that people are political and relational creatures. Instead, they placed the autonomous, choosing individual at the center of their view of human nature.

Furthermore, they decided you couldn’t base a system of government on something as unreliable as virtue. But you could base it on something low and steady like selfishness. You could pit interest against interest and create a stable machine. You didn’t have to worry about creating noble citizens; you could get by with rationally self-interested ones.

When communism and fascism failed in the 20th century, this version of liberalism seemed triumphant. But it was a Pyrrhic victory, Deneen argues.

Liberalism claims to be neutral but it’s really anti-culture. It detaches people from nature, community, tradition and place. It detaches people from time. “Gratitude to the past and obligations to the future are replaced by a nearly universal pursuit of immediate gratification.”

Once family and local community erode and social norms dissolve, individuals are left naked and unprotected. They seek solace in the state. They toggle between impersonal systems: globalized capitalism and the distant state. As the social order decays, people grasp for the security of authoritarianism. “A signal feature of modern totalitarianism was that it arose and came to power through the discontents of people’s isolation and loneliness,” he observes. He urges people to dedicate themselves instead to local community — a sort of Wendell Berry agrarianism.

Deneen’s book is valuable because it focuses on today’s central issue. The important debates now are not about policy. They are about the basic values and structures of our social order. Nonetheless, he is wrong. Liberal democracy has had a pretty good run for 300 years. If the problem were really in the roots, wouldn’t it have shown up before now?

The difficulties stem not from anything inherent in liberalism but from the fact that we have neglected the moral order and the vision of human dignity embedded within liberalism itself. As anybody who’s read John Stuart Mill, Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln, Vaclav Havel, Michael Novak and Meir Soloveichik knows, liberal democracy contains a rich and soul-filling version of human flourishing and solidarity, which Deneen airbrushes from history.

Every time Deneen writes about virtue it tastes like castor oil — self-denial and joylessness. But the liberal democratic moral order stands for the idea that souls are formed in freedom and not in servility, in expansiveness, not in stagnation. It stands for the idea that our covenantal institutions — like family, faith, tradition and community — orient us toward higher loves and common dreams that we then pursue in the great gymnasium of liberty.

Yes, liberalism sometimes sits in tension with faith, tradition, family and community, which Deneen rightly cherishes. But liberalism is not their murderer. Right now, there are community healers in towns and cities concretely living out the liberal democratic vision of the good life — deeply embedded in their communities, surrendered to their ideals, reaching out to other communities, growing in their freedom.

We don’t have to settle for smallness.

Pre-industrial societies which base their subsistence on agro-pastoralism have higher rates of internal and external violent conflict, & stronger male-male competition, than hunting+gathering societies

Implications of the Neolithic Revolution for Male-Male Competition and Violent Conflict. Menelaos Apostolou. Mankind Quarterly, Volume 58, No. 2, http://www.mankindquarterly.org/archive/issue/58-2/2

Abstract: Ecological differences between societies that base their subsistence on hunting and gathering, as opposed to agriculture and animal husbandry, result in different rates of violent conflict. The aim of the present study is to test the hypothesis that pre-industrial societies which base their subsistence on agro-pastoralism have higher rates of internal and external violent conflict, and consequently experience stronger male-male competition, than societies which base their subsistence on hunting and gathering. Analysis of 19 variables from the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample provides strong support for this hypothesis. Based on these findings, it is argued that the agropastoral revolution has resulted in the strengthening of male-male competition. The consequences on mate choice due to the mismatch between ancestral conditions, where violent male-male competition had been generally strong, and contemporary conditions where it is extremely weak, are also explored.

Both sexes demonstrated significant increases in sexual arousal with explicit videos, regardless of film orientation

Assessing differences in physiologic subjective response toward male and female orientated sexually explicit videos in heterosexual individuals. Samantha Landry, Melissa K. Goncalves, Tuuli M. Kukkonen. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, Vol. 25, No. 3, https://doi.org/10.3138/cjhs.253-A4

Abstract: The goal of the present study was to examine sexual response to male- and female- oriented sexually explicit films in heterosexual men and women. Forty participants (20 men and 20 women; mean age=29.42 years) attended three separate lab sessions. One 15 minute sexually explicit video was shown per session. For session one, all participants viewed a female-oriented film selected by the experimenters. The films used for subsequent sessions were counterbalanced male-oriented or female-oriented clips that had been previously studied. A thermographic camera measured temperature on the penile shaft for men and labia for women. Continuous and discrete self-reported sexual arousal was also obtained. Genital temperature was averaged into 15 one-minute bins and a repeated-measures ANOVA was conducted. Men demonstrated significantly greater increases in temperature over time than women, F (14, 980)=19.27, p=.000, however there were no significant differences between films or sex × film interaction. Women reported significantly higher subjective sexual arousal to the films than men, F (1, 69) range=3.89 to 9.67, p range=.01 to .05, but there were no significant differences between films or a sex × film interaction. Results suggest that film orientation has minimal impact on physiologic sexual responsiveness in men or women. Although both sexes demonstrated significant increases in sexual arousal for these pre-selected films, future laboratory research would benefit from examining whether participant-selected stimuli produces a greater response than experimenter-selected films.

KEY WORDS: thermography, non-preferred and preferred stimuli, sexual arousal, and sexual response, sexually explicit videos

High Heritability of Adolescent Sleep-Wake Behavior on Free, but not School Days: A Long-Term Twin Study

High Heritability of Adolescent Sleep-Wake Behavior on Free, but not School Days: A Long-Term Twin Study. A P Inderkum and L Tarokh. Sleep, zsy004, https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsy004

Abstract: Adolescence development is characterized by significant changes in sleep biology. Despite an overall decline in sleep duration and a delay in bedtime, significant inter-individual variation in sleep has been reported. The aim of the current study was to examine genetic and environmental influences on sleep in adolescence using long-term (6-month) actigraphy measurements, differentiating between school and free days. Sixteen monozygotic (MZ; n = 32) and 10 dizygotic (DZ; n = 20) twin pairs (mean age 12.8 ± 1.0 years; 25 female) participated in the study. Structural equation modeling was used to compute genetic, shared environmental and unique environmental contributors to sleep behavior. We found significantly more genetic influence on sleep timing (sleep midpoint; school: 14%, free: 90%) and duration (school: 15%; free: 68%) on free as compared to school days. On the other hand, the genetic influence on measures of sleep quality (sleep efficiency and sleep onset latency) was high (> 60%) and less dependent on the day of measurement. Only wake after sleep onset (WASO) exhibited a strong shared environmental influence (> 52%) on both school and free days, suggesting that behavioral/environmental interventions may help reduce WASO. In addition, self-reported chronotype was also highly genetically influenced (75%). Disrupted, ill-timed and insufficient sleep in adolescence is associated with poor mental and physical health outcomes. Our findings of a strong genetic contribution to sleep in adolescence suggest that sleep may mark a genetic vulnerability to poor outcomes.

Keywords: actigraphy, adolescents, twin, genetic, heritability, sleep

Check also Sleep Duration, Mortality, and Heredity—A Prospective Twin Study. Torbjörn Åkerstedt, Jurgita Narusyte, Kristina Alexanderson, Pia Svedberg. Sleep, Volume 40, Issue 10, October 01 2017, zsx135, http://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2017/10/sleep-duration-mortality-and-hereditya.html

Saturday, January 13, 2018

To someone who said that with Islam there cannot be economic development

I replied to Agha H Amin (Pakistani Army officer, retired) Jan 13 2018:

Dear sir, I do not believe you need to abandon any religion (Islam in this case) to reach economic success. Just two things are needed to get on a fast track to developmenet: no marriage among cousins (http://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2018/01/the-churches-bans-on-consanguineous.html) and marriage delays (http://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2018/01/late-marriage-as-contributor-to.html).

For the record, I am an Atheist... But I do support religious people.

Check also: Some Root Causes of the Arab Revolution: Rising Literacy and a Shrinking Birth Rate (due to the first) http://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2011/11/look-at-root-causes-of-arab-revolution.html



Late marriage as a contributor to the industrial revolution in England

Late marriage as a contributor to the industrial revolution in England. James Foreman-Peck and Peng Zhou. The Economic History Review. DOI: 10.1111/ehr.12651

Abstract: Was the European marriage pattern an important contributor to England's precocious economic development? This article examines this question by embedding the possibility in a historically substantiated demographic-economic model, supported by both cross-section and long time series evidence. Persistent high mortality and powerful mortality shocks in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries lowered life expectations. Subsequently increased life expectancy reduced the number of births necessary to achieve a given family size. Fewer births were achieved by a higher age at first marriage of females. Later marriage not only constrained population growth but also provided greater opportunities for female informal learning, especially through ‘service’. In a period when the family was the principal institution for socializing future workers, such learning was a significant contributor to the intergenerational transmission and accumulation of human capital. This article shows how, over the centuries, the gradual induced rise of human capital raised productivity and eventually brought about the industrial revolution. Without the contribution of late marriage to human capital accumulation broadly interpreted, real wages in England would not have increased strongly in the early nineteenth century and would have been much lower than actually achieved for several centuries.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Does Work Make Mothers Happy? Contrary to our expectations, homemaking was positively associated with happiness particularly among mothers who left higher quality employment for childcare

Does Work Make Mothers Happy? Dana Hamplova. Journal of Happiness Studies, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10902-018-9958-2

Abstract: The paper explores the link between employment and subjective well-being among mothers with children under 3 years of age. It uses a pooled sample from the ESS 2004–2014 data from 30 European countries. Analyzing multiple measures of subjective well-being, the paper shows that homemakers are generally happier than full-time workers. No significant differences between homemakers and part-time workers were found. Contrary to our expectations, homemaking was positively associated with happiness particularly among mothers who left higher quality employment for childcare. Though some variation across countries exists, it is not linked to the provision of formal childcare, duration of parental leave, or tax system.

Do psychopathic individuals possess a misaligned moral compass? A meta-analytic examination of psychopathy’s relations with moral judgment

Marshall, J., Watts, A. L., & Lilienfeld, S. O. (2018). Do psychopathic individuals possess a misaligned moral compass? A meta-analytic examination of psychopathy’s relations with moral judgment. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 9(1), 40-50.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/per0000226

Abstract: Psychopathic individuals are often characterized as lacking a moral sense. Although this hypothesis has received ample experimental attention over the past decade, findings have been inconsistent. To elucidate the relationship between psychopathy and abnormal moral judgment, we conducted a meta-analysis of the research on psychopathy and morality-related variables (k = 23, N = 4376). A random effects model indicated a small but statistically significant relation between psychopathy and moral decision-making (rw = .16) and moral reasoning (rw = .10) tasks. These results reveal at best modest support for the common perception that psychopathic individuals fail to understand moral principles. A secondary meta-analysis (k = 9, N = 4294) of the growing body of literature on the relationship between psychopathy and moral reasoning on moral foundations measures provides preliminary evidence that psychopathic individuals may possess a differential set of “moral taste buds” than less psychopathic individuals. We discuss the implications of the results from both meta-analyses for models of the etiology of psychopathy and the criminal responsibility of psychopathic individuals.

The Churches' Bans on Consanguineous Marriages, Kin-Networks and Democracy

Schulz, Jonathan F., The Churches' Bans on Consanguineous Marriages, Kin-Networks and Democracy (January 19, 2017).  http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2877828

Abstract: This paper tests the hypothesis that extended kin-groups, as characterized by a high level of cousin marriages, impact the proper functioning of formal institutions. Consistent with this hypothesis I find that countries with high cousin marriage rates exhibit a weak rule of law and are more likely autocratic. Further evidence comes from a quasi-natural experiment. In the early medieval ages the Church started to prohibit kin-marriages. Using the variation in the duration and extent of the Eastern and Western Churches’ bans on consanguineous marriages as instrumental variables, reveals highly significant point estimates of the percentage of cousin marriage on an index of democracy. An additional novel instrument, cousin-terms, strengthens this point: the estimates are very similar and do not rest on the European experience alone. Exploiting within country variation support these results. These findings point to the importance of marriage patterns for the proper functioning of formal institutions and democracy.

Keywords: Democracy, Family, Kin-groups, Church, Cousin-Marriage, Institutions

Our results challenge current theories that focus on deficits in emotional responsiveness as leading to the development of psychopathy

Facial responsiveness of psychopaths to the emotional expressions of others. Janina Künecke, Andreas Mokros, Sally Olderbak, Oliver Wilhelm. PLoS One, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0190714

Abstract: Psychopathic individuals show selfish, manipulative, and antisocial behavior in addition to emotional detachment and reduced empathy. Their empathic deficits are thought to be associated with a reduced responsiveness to emotional stimuli. Immediate facial muscle responses to the emotional expressions of others reflect the expressive part of emotional responsiveness and are positively related to trait empathy. Empirical evidence for reduced facial muscle responses in adult psychopathic individuals to the emotional expressions of others is rare. In the present study, 261 male criminal offenders and non-offenders categorized dynamically presented facial emotion expressions (angry, happy, sad, and neutral) during facial electromyography recording of their corrugator muscle activity. We replicated a measurement model of facial muscle activity, which controls for general facial responsiveness to face stimuli, and modeled three correlated emotion-specific factors (i.e., anger, happiness, and sadness) representing emotion specific activity. In a multi-group confirmatory factor analysis, we compared the means of the anger, happiness, and sadness latent factors between three groups: 1) non-offenders, 2) low, and 3) high psychopathic offenders. There were no significant mean differences between groups. Our results challenge current theories that focus on deficits in emotional responsiveness as leading to the development of psychopathy and encourage further theoretical development on deviant emotional processes in psychopathic individuals.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The economics of corporate lobbying: Lobbying does not appear to bring significant tangible benefits in terms of award of government contracts or the success in getting bills passed by the US Congress

The economics of corporate lobbying. lZhiyan Cao et al. Journal of Corporate Finance, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcorpfin.2017.12.012

Highlights
•    Corporate lobbying is negatively associated with firm performance in an average firm.
•    Performance effects of corporate lobbying vary by firm characteristics
•    Firms with complex operations appear to lose when spend more on lobbying
•    Firms with high growth opportunities are likely to benefit from lobbying
•    Lobbying does not appear to bring significant tangible benefits in terms of award of government contracts or the success in getting bills passed by the US Congress.
•    Political alignment between a firm and the party in government appear to bring some benefits to the firm contributing to PACs associated with the party in power.
•    Primary results are robust to various econometric methods that are used to mitigate potential endogeneity concerns, sensitivity analyses and sample selection concerns.

Abstract: Prior literature examines motivations and impact of corporate lobbying and presents inconclusive evidence. We examine the association of corporate lobbying with firm performance by focusing on how this relationship varies by firm characteristics. Addressing various endogeneity concerns, our analysis shows that corporate lobbying has a negative association with firm performance. We find that the negative association of corporate lobbying on firm performance is largely driven by operationally complex firms. On the other hand, firms with high growth opportunities benefit more from lobbying than low-growth firms. Lobbying seems to provide limited tangible benefits in terms of government contracts obtained or the success of congressional bills passed. These results suggest that agency costs dominate the strategic benefits of lobbying activities. However, there is some evidence that firms benefit when there is political alignment between the firm and the party in power.

The robot is designed to induce lengthening of tubular organs (esophagus, intestines) by traction forces. Testing in swine shows cell proliferation and lengthening of the organ without a reduction in diameter, while the animal is awake, mobile, and able to eat normally

In vivo tissue regeneration with robotic implants. Dana D. Damian et al. Science Robotics, Vol. 3, Issue 14, eaaq0018. DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aaq0018

Abstract: Robots that reside inside the body to restore or enhance biological function have long been a staple of science fiction. Creating such robotic implants poses challenges both in signaling between the implant and the biological host, as well as in implant design. To investigate these challenges, we created a robotic implant to perform in vivo tissue regeneration via mechanostimulation. The robot is designed to induce lengthening of tubular organs, such as the esophagus and intestines, by computer-controlled application of traction forces. Esophageal testing in swine demonstrates that the applied forces can induce cell proliferation and lengthening of the organ without a reduction in diameter, while the animal is awake, mobile, and able to eat normally. Such robots can serve as research tools for studying mechanotransduction-based signaling and can also be used clinically for conditions such as long-gap esophageal atresia and short bowel syndrome.

No Evidence That Women’s Facial Attractiveness, Femininity, or Averageness Are Valid Health Cues

Cai, Ziyi, Amanda Hahn, Weiqing Zhang, Iris J Holzleitner, Anthony J Lee, Lisa M DeBruine, and Benedict C Jones. 2018. “No Evidence That Women’s Facial Attractiveness, Femininity, or Averageness Are Valid Health Cues.” Open Science Framework. January 11. https://osf.io/f9tu2/

Description: Previous reports that women with attractive faces are healthier have been widely cited as evidence that sexual selection has shaped human mate preferences. However, evidence for correlations between women’s physical health and facial attractiveness is equivocal. Moreover, positive results on this issue have generally come from studies of self-reported health in small samples. The current study took standardized face photographs of women who completed three different health questionnaires (Ns=582, 583, 572). Of these women, 221 also provided a saliva sample that was assayed for immunoglobulin A (a marker of immune function). Analyses showed no significant correlations between rated facial attractiveness and either scores on any of the health questionnaires or salivary immunoglobulin A. Furthermore, there was no compelling evidence that objective measures of sexual dimorphism or averageness of face shape were correlated with health. These null results do not support the prominent and influential assumption that women’s facial attractiveness is a health cue.

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Ronald Fisher's Sexy Son Hypothesis https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexy_son_hypothesis

Respondents who are given an antinuclear climate of opinion are more likely to support the reduction of nuclear power plants when their answer is known to interviewers and respondents are prone to project “socially desirable” answers

The Spiral of Silence and the Crescendo of Voices -- Opinion Expression after Fukushima Nuclear Crisis. Ryosuke Imai, Airo Hino and Masahisa Endo. http://rubenson.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/hino.pdf

Abstract: This paper examines the seminal spiral of silence hypothesis through a survey experiment  conducted in Japan. While the existing studies either rely on hypothetical questions in surveys or  experiments with selected samples, we tested the hypothesis with a real ongoing issue in Japan regarding the future of nuclear power plants after the Fukushima crisis based on nationwide random samples. In our experiment, different stimuli of climates of opinion and survey modes were randomly assigned to respondents based on a computer assisted survey program. We hypothesized that respondents who are given an antinuclear climate of opinion are more likely to support the reduction of nuclear power plants and that this only holds in the CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interview) mode where their answer is known to interviewers and respondents are prone to project “socially desirable” answers. We expected that this also applies to respondents who are not given a climate of opinion and have to rely on their “quasi-statistical sense” in the midst of anti-nuclear atmosphere. Our results demonstrate the spiral of silence (and the crescendo of voicing a majority view) phenomenon for above groups of respondents and this was only confirmed in the CAPI mode while not in the CASI (Computer Assisted Self-administered Interview) mode where respondents complete the questionnaire in privacy by themselves.

The Amount and Source of Millionaires’ Wealth (Moderately) Predict Their Happiness

The Amount and Source of Millionaires’ Wealth (Moderately) Predict Their Happiness. Grant E. Donnell et al. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167217744766

Abstract: Two samples of more than 4,000 millionaires reveal two primary findings: First, only at high levels of wealth—in excess of US$8 million (Study 1) and US$10 million (Study 2)—are wealthier millionaires happier than millionaires with lower levels of wealth, though these differences are modest in magnitude. Second, controlling for total wealth, millionaires who have earned their wealth are moderately happier than those who inherited it. Taken together, these results suggest that, among millionaires, wealth may be likely to pay off in greater happiness only at very high levels of wealth, and when that wealth was earned rather than inherited.

Keywords: happiness, income, money, wealth, well-being

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Are Free Will Believers Nicer People? (four Studies Suggest Not)

Crone, Damien, and Neil L Levy. 2018. “Are Free Will Believers Nicer People? (four Studies Suggest Not)”. PsyArXiv. January 10. psyarxiv.com/zpj5x

Abstract: Free will is widely considered a foundational component of Western moral and legal codes, and yet current conceptions of free will are widely thought to fit uncomfortably with much research in psychology and neuroscience. Recent research investigating the consequences of laypeople’s free will beliefs (FWBs) for everyday moral behavior suggest that stronger FWBs are associated with various desirable moral characteristics (e.g., greater helpfulness, less dishonesty). These findings have sparked concern regarding the potential for moral degeneration throughout society as science promotes a view of human behavior that is widely perceived to undermine the notion of free will. We report four studies (combined N = 921) originally concerned with possible mediators and/or moderators of the abovementioned associations. Unexpectedly, we found no association between FWBs and moral behavior. Our findings suggest that the FWB – moral behavior association (and accompanying concerns regarding decreases in FWBs causing moral degeneration) may be overstated.

Face perception sources of constraint: the evolved structure of the brain; the need to optimise responses to different everyday tasks; and the statistical structure of faces in the perceiver’s environment

Faces, people and the brain: The 45th Sir Frederic Bartlett Lecture. Andrew W Young.
Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, https://doi.org/10.1177/1747021817740275

Abstract: The fact that the face is a source of diverse social signals allows us to use face and person perception as a model system for asking important psychological questions about how our brains are organised. A key issue concerns whether we rely primarily on some form of generic representation of the common physical source of these social signals (the face) to interpret them, or instead create multiple representations by assigning different aspects of the task to different specialist components. Variants of the specialist components hypothesis have formed the dominant theoretical perspective on face perception for more than three decades, but despite this dominance of formally and informally expressed theories, the underlying principles and extent of any division of labour remain uncertain. Here, I discuss three important sources of constraint: first, the evolved structure of the brain; second, the need to optimise responses to different everyday tasks; and third, the statistical structure of faces in the perceiver’s environment. I show how these constraints interact to determine the underlying functional organisation of face and person perception.

Keywords: Face perception, person perception, face recognition, facial expressions, first impressions

Bayesian analysis of multimethod ego-depletion studies favours the null hypothesis

Etherton, J. L., Osborne, R., Stephenson, K., Grace, M., Jones, C. and De Nadai, A. (2018), Bayesian analysis of multimethod ego-depletion studies favours the null hypothesis. Br. J. Soc. Psychol.. doi:10.1111/bjso.12236

Abstract: Ego-depletion refers to the purported decrease in performance on a task requiring self-control after engaging in a previous task involving self-control, with self-control proposed to be a limited resource. Despite many published studies consistent with this hypothesis, recurrent null findings within our laboratory and indications of publication bias have called into question the validity of the depletion effect. This project used three depletion protocols involved three different depleting initial tasks followed by three different self-control tasks as dependent measures (total n = 840). For each method, effect sizes were not significantly different from zero When data were aggregated across the three different methods and examined meta-analytically, the pooled effect size was not significantly different from zero (for all priors evaluated, Hedges’ g = 0.10 with 95% credibility interval of [−0.05, 0.24]) and Bayes factors reflected strong support for the null hypothesis (Bayes factor > 25 for all priors evaluated).

Messages about brilliance undermine women's interest in educational and professional opportunities

Messages about brilliance undermine women's interest in educational and professional opportunities. Lin Bian. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2017.11.006

Abstract: Pervasive cultural stereotypes associate brilliance with men, not women. Given these stereotypes, messages suggesting that a career requires brilliance may undermine women's interest. Consistent with this hypothesis, linking success to brilliance lowered women's (but not men's) interest in a range of educational and professional opportunities introduced via hypothetical scenarios (Experiments 1–4). It also led women more than men to expect that they would feel anxious and would not belong (Experiments 2–5). These gender differences were explained in part by women's perception that they are different from the typical person in these contexts (Experiments 5 and 6). In sum, the present research reveals that certain messages—in particular, those suggesting that brilliance is essential to success—may contribute to the gender gaps that are present in many fields.

Keywords: Gender stereotypes; Anxiety; Belonging; Prototype matching; Stereotype threat; Self-efficacy

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A comparison of self-reported sexual effects of alcohol, marijuana, and ecstasy in a sample of young adult nightlife attendees

A comparison of self-reported sexual effects of alcohol, marijuana, and ecstasy in a sample of young adult nightlife attendees. Joseph J. Palamar, Marybec Griffin-Tomas, Patricia Acosta, Danielle C. Ompad & Charles M. Cleland.  Psychology & Sexuality, https://doi.org/10.1080/19419899.2018.1425220

ABSTRACT: Alcohol, marijuana, and ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine [MDMA], ‘Molly’) are among the most prevalent substances used by young adults; however, few studies have focused on the specific sexual effects associated with use. Examining subjective sexual effects (e.g. increased libido) associated with use can inform prevention efforts. Data were analysed from 679 nightclub and dance festival attendees in New York City (ages 18–25) to examine and compare self-reported sexual effects associated with use of alcohol, marijuana, and ecstasy. Results suggest that compared to marijuana, alcohol and ecstasy were more strongly associated with heightened perceived sexual effects (i.e. perceived sexual attractiveness of self and others, sexual desire, length of intercourse, and sexual outgoingness). Increased body and sex organ sensitivity and increased sexual intensity were most commonly associated with ecstasy use. Sexual dysfunction was most common while using alcohol or ecstasy, especially among males, and females were more likely to report sexual dysfunction after using marijuana. Post-sex regret was most common with alcohol use. Alcohol, marijuana, and ecstasy each have different sexual effects; therefore, each is associated with different risks and benefits for users. Findings can inform prevention and harm reduction as young adults are prone to use these substances.

KEYWORDS: Sexual behaviour, alcohol, marijuana, MDMA

How Burying Beetles Spread their Seed: The Coolidge Effect in Real Life

How Burying Beetles Spread their Seed: The Coolidge Effect in Real Life. Petra Schedwill, Anne-Katrin Eggert, Josef K. Müller. Zoologischer Anzeiger, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcz.2018.01.002

Abstract: The Coolidge effect is a well-known phenomenon in the behavioral sciences. It was first observed in several different mammals and refers to the decline in the sexual interest of males over the course of repeated encounters with the same female, coupled with renewed interest in a novel female introduced when the male no longer shows any desire to mate with the original female. Among a handful of other invertebrates, this effect has also been described for burying beetles (Nicrophorus vespilloides Herbst) based on lab observations of males and females in small containers without access to carrion. In the field, the only repeat encounters between males and females occur on carcasses, which can be utilized as food or buried for reproduction. In the present study, we placed dead mice in the field to investigate how often natural breeding groups include males and several females. We found that many breeding groups in the field satisfy this condition necessary for a Coolidge effect. In addition, we used direct observations of undisturbed breeding assemblages in the lab to assess whether males really exhibit the Coolidge effect in a more natural context, when they are engaged in burying and preparing a carcass. Since males encounter dominant and subordinate females at different rates, we compared how often successive encounters and matings occurred with the same female, which revealed that males in these undisturbed breeding groups actively avoid mating with the same female twice in succession. This shows that the Coolidge effect is not a laboratory artefact, but is part of the natural repertoire of behaviors in male burying beetles.

Keywords: Nicrophorus; burying beetle; mating; Coolidge effect; novelty; sexual interest; sperm allocation; strategic reproduction; individual recognition

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Check also: When sex goes stale through repetition: On the futile revolt against the Coolidge effect. By Rolf Degen. Oct 12, 2014. https://plus.google.com/101046916407340625977/posts/YqmDFX693No

Monday, January 8, 2018

Increasing online opportunities to work, learn, bank, shop, and perform administrative tasks from home freed up time that likely contributed to increased sleep duration

Sleep Duration in the United States 2003-2016:First Signs of Success in the Fight Against Sleep Deficiency? Mathias Basner, David F Dinges. Sleep, zsy012, https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsy012

Abstract

Study Objectives: The high prevalence of chronic insufficient sleep in the population has been a concern due to the associated health and safety risks. We evaluated secular trends in sleep duration over the most recent 14-year period.

Methods: The American Time Use Survey (ATUS), representative of US residents ≥ 15 years, was used to investigate trends in self-reported sleep duration and waking activities for the period 2003-2016 (N=181,335 respondents).

Results: Sleep duration increased across survey years both on weekdays (+1.40 min/year) and weekends (+0.83 min/year, both p < 0.0001, adjusted models). This trend was observed in students, employed respondents, and retirees, but not in those unemployed or not in the labor force. On workdays, the prevalence of short ( ≤ 7h), average ( > 7-9h), and long ( > 9h) sleep changed by -0.44%/year (p < 0.0001), -0.03%/year (p=0.5515), and +0.48%/year (p < 0.0001), respectively. The change in sleep duration was predominantly explained by respondents retiring earlier in the evening. The percentage of respondents who watched TV or read before bed – two prominent waking activities competing with sleep – decreased over the same time period, suggesting that portions of the population are increasingly willing to trade time in leisure activities for more sleep. The results also suggest that increasing online opportunities to work, learn, bank, shop, and perform administrative tasks from home freed up time that likely contributed to increased sleep duration.

Conclusions: The findings indicate first successes in the fight against sleep deficiency. Public health consequences of the observed increase in the prevalence of long sleep remain unclear and warrant further investigation.

Keywords: sleep duration, short sleep, long sleep, secular trend, health, time use

Negative correlation between salivary testosterone concentration and preference for sophisticated music in males

Negative correlation between salivary testosterone concentration and preference for sophisticated music in males. Hirokazu Doi et al. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 125, 15 April 2018, Pages 106–111. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2017.11.041

Highlights
•    We investigated the association between salivary testosterone level and music preference.
•    The analysis revealed a negative correlation between testosterone level and the preference for sophisticated music.
•    The association between testosterone level and music preference was not mediated by big-five personality.

Abstract: Music constitutes an integral part of everyday life. There is great variation in preference patterns for music. However, the cause of such individual differences has not been fully elucidated to date. Many behavioral traits, including personality, are known to be influenced by steroid-hormone testosterone. On this basis, we conjectured that testosterone partly determines individual differences in music preference. To examine this hypothesis, in the present study, we investigated the association between salivary testosterone concentration and strength of preference for five different music types in young males and females. The results revealed a significant negative correlation between salivary testosterone concentration and preference for sophisticated music, such as classical and jazz in males. This relationship was not mediated by the big-five personality traits. These findings indicate the possibility that neuroendocrinological function can exert influences on music preference patterns.

Keywords: Music; Preference; Testosterone; Personality

Women Interact More Comfortably and Intimately With Gay Men—But Not Straight Men—After Learning Their Sexual Orientation

Women Interact More Comfortably and Intimately With Gay Men—But Not Straight Men—After Learning Their Sexual Orientation. Eric M. Russell, William Ickes, Vivian P. Ta, Psychological Science, https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797617733803

Abstract: Research suggests that the development of close, opposite-sex friendships is frequently impeded by men’s often one-sided sexual attraction to women. But what if this element were removed? The current research tested the hypothesis that women engage in more comfortable and intimate interactions with a gay (but not a straight) man immediately after discovering his sexual orientation. In two studies, female participants engaged in imagined or actual initial interactions with either a straight man or a gay man. After the man’s sexual orientation was revealed, women (particularly attractive ones) who were paired with a gay man reported greater anticipated comfort, which was mediated by their reduced worry about his sexual intentions (Study 1). Further, once women discovered that they were interacting with a gay man, they displayed more intimate engagement behaviors with him (Study 2). These findings reveal how, and why, close relationships often form quickly between women and gay men.

Keywords: initial interactions, heterosexual women, homosexual men, sexual orientation, opposite-sex friendship, sexual attraction, open data, open materials

Tennet TSO spent almost a billion euros last year on emergency interventions to stabilize the electric grid due to the increasing number of solar and wind turbines in Germany

Kosten für Energiewende explodieren. Alex Reichmuth. Beisler Zeitung, Jan 01 2018. https://bazonline.ch/ausland/europa/Kosten-fuer-Energiewende-explodieren/story/13230493

Google Translation: German utility company Tennet TSO spent almost a billion euros last year on emergency interventions to stabilize the grid. That's what the company announced earlier this week. The costs were thus about half higher than in 2016 (660 million euros) and around forty percent higher than in 2015 (710 million). Tennet is responsible for the electricity supply in an area that extends from Schleswig-Holstein in the north to southern Bavaria and accounts for around forty percent of Germany's area. In particular, Tennet is responsible for important north-south routes.

The reason for the increase in emergency interventions is the increasing number of solar and wind turbines in Germany. The share of renewable energy increased from 29 to 33 percent of the electricity supply last year.

Recent genome-wide association studies have successfully identified inherited genome sequence differences that account for 20% of the 50% heritability of intelligence

The new genetics of intelligence. Robert Plomin & Sophie von Stumm. Nature Reviews Genetics, doi:10.1038/nrg.2017.104

Abstract: Intelligence — the ability to learn, reason and solve problems — is at the forefront of behavioural genetic research. Intelligence is highly heritable and predicts important educational, occupational and health outcomes better than any other trait. Recent genome-wide association studies have successfully identified inherited genome sequence differences that account for 20% of the 50% heritability of intelligence. These findings open new avenues for research into the causes and consequences of intelligence using genome-wide polygenic scores that aggregate the effects of thousands of genetic variants.

We present positive correlations between speciesism and prejudicial attitudes such as racism, sexism, homophobia, along with ideological constructs associated with prejudice such as social dominance orientation, system justification, and right-wing authoritarianism

Caviola, Lucius, Jim A C Everett, and Nadira S Faber. 2018. “The Moral Standing of Animals: Towards a Psychology of Speciesism”. PsyArXiv. January 8. doi:10.1037/pspp0000182

Abstract: We introduce and investigate the philosophical concept of ‘speciesism’ — the assignment of different moral worth based on species membership — as a psychological construct. In five studies, using both general population samples online and student samples, we show that speciesism is a measurable, stable construct with high interpersonal differences, that goes along with a cluster of other forms of prejudice, and is able to predict real-world decision-making and behavior. In Study 1 we present the development and empirical validation of a theoretically driven Speciesism Scale, which captures individual differences in speciesist attitudes. In Study 2, we show high test-retest reliability of the scale over a period of four weeks, suggesting that speciesism is stable over time. In Study 3, we present positive correlations between speciesism and prejudicial attitudes such as racism, sexism, homophobia, along with ideological constructs associated with prejudice such as social dominance orientation, system justification, and right-wing authoritarianism. These results suggest that similar mechanisms might underlie both speciesism and other well-researched forms of prejudice. Finally, in Studies 4 and 5, we demonstrate that speciesism is able to predict prosociality towards animals (both in the context of charitable donations and time investment) and behavioral food choices above and beyond existing related constructs. Importantly, our studies show that people morally value individuals of certain species less than others even when beliefs about intelligence and sentience are accounted for. We conclude by discussing the implications of a psychological study of speciesism for the psychology of human-animal relationships.


Check also: Conway, L. G., Houck, S. C., Gornick, L. J. and Repke, M. A. (2017), Finding the Loch Ness Monster: Left-Wing Authoritarianism in the United States. Political Psychology. http://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2017/12/left-wing-authoritarianism-in-united.html

Children who had a sibling were more likely to cheat than children without one; with a younger sibling were more likely to lie as the age difference increased; with a younger sibling were better able to maintain their lie

The relation between having siblings and children’s cheating and lie-telling behaviors. Alison M. O'Connor, Angela D. Evans. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Volume 168, April 2018, Pages 49–60. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2017.12.006

Highlights
•    Time impact of having siblings on children’s dishonesty was examined.
•    Children who had a sibling were more likely to cheat than children without a sibling.
•    Children with a younger sibling were more likely to lie as the age difference increased.
•    Children with a younger sibling were better able to maintain their lie.

Abstract: The current study investigated how having at least one child sibling influenced children’s dishonest behaviors. Furthermore, for those children with a sibling, we examined whether having a younger or older sibling and the age difference between siblings influenced deceptive acts. Children between 3 and 8 years of age (N = 130) completed the temptation resistance paradigm, where they played a guessing game and were asked not to peek at a toy in the experimenter’s absence. Children’s peeking behavior was used as a measure of cheating, and children’s responses when asked whether they had peeked were used as measures of lie-telling. Results demonstrate that siblings do indeed influence children’s deceptive behaviors. First, children with a sibling were significantly more likely to cheat compared with children without any siblings. Next, for those with a sibling, children with a larger age difference with their younger sibling(s) were significantly more likely to lie compared with children closer in age, and children with a younger sibling were significantly more likely to maintain their lie during follow-up questioning compared with children with an older sibling.

Keywords: Children; Siblings; Cheating; Lie-telling; Honesty; Deception

Fifty psychological and psychiatric terms to avoid: a list of inaccurate, misleading, misused, ambiguous, and logically confused words and phrases

Fifty psychological and psychiatric terms to avoid: a list of inaccurate, misleading, misused, ambiguous, and logically confused words and phrases. Scott O. Lilienfeld et al. Front Psychol. 2015; 6: 1100. (published Aug 3 2015), doi 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01100

Abstract: The goal of this article is to promote clear thinking and clear writing among students and teachers of psychological science by curbing terminological misinformation and confusion. To this end, we present a provisional list of 50 commonly used terms in psychology, psychiatry, and allied fields that should be avoided, or at most used sparingly and with explicit caveats. We provide corrective information for students, instructors, and researchers regarding these terms, which we organize for expository purposes into five categories: inaccurate or misleading terms, frequently misused terms, ambiguous terms, oxymorons, and pleonasms. For each term, we (a) explain why it is problematic, (b) delineate one or more examples of its misuse, and (c) when pertinent, offer recommendations for preferable terms. By being more judicious in their use of terminology, psychologists and psychiatrists can foster clearer thinking in their students and the field at large regarding mental phenomena.

Keywords: scientific thinking, misconceptions, misunderstandings, terminology, jingle and jangle fallacies

We found that in countries with greater wealth and equality, better health care and education, and longer life expentancy are characterized by a higher lifetime prevalence of post traumatic stress disorder (PSTD)

Dückers, M. L.A. and Olff, M. (2017), Does the Vulnerability Paradox in PTSD Apply to Women and Men? An Exploratory Study. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 30: 200–204. doi:10.1002/jts.22173

Abstract: Recent research suggests that greater country vulnerability is associated with a decreased, rather than increased, risk of mental health problems. Because societal parameters may have gender-specific implications, our objective was to explore whether the “vulnerability paradox” equally applies to women and men. Lifetime posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) prevalence data for women and men were retrieved from 11 population studies (N = 57,031): conducted in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Lebanon, Mexico, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. We tested statistical models with vulnerability, gender, and their interaction as predictors. The average lifetime PTSD prevalence in women was at least twice as high as it was in men and the vulnerability paradox existed in the prevalence data for women and men (R2 = .70). We could not confirm the possibility that gender effects are modified by socioeconomic and cultural country characteristics. Issues of methodology, language, and cultural validity complicate international comparisons. Nevertheless, this international sample points at a parallel paradox: The vulnerability paradox was confirmed for both women and men. The absence of a significant interaction between gender and country vulnerability implies that possible explanations for the paradox at the country-level do not necessarily require gender-driven distinction.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Monozygotic twins: Standard OLS method may over-estimate the relation between personality and income; neuroticism is related to lower permanent income; and a facet of extraversion (activity) is related to higher permanent income

Is personality related to permanent earnings? Evidence using a twin design. Terhi Maczulskij, Jutta Viinikainen. Journal of Economic Psychology, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joep.2018.01.001

Highlights
•    We study the relation between personality and permanent income using twin data.
•    Twin desing allows us to control for shared genetic and family effects.
•    Standard OLS method may over-estimate the relation between personality and income.
•    Within-MZ estimates show that neuroticism is related to lower permanent income.
•    A facet of extraversion (activity) is related to higher permanent income.

Abstract: Using twin survey combined with register-based panel data on labor market outcomes, the authors examine the association between personality characteristics and long-term earnings among prime working-age individuals. The long-term earnings were measured over the 1990-2008 period. The sample contains 4,642 twin pairs, of which 53% are females. In contrast to previous studies, this paper uses the within-twin dimension of the data to control for shared family background and confounding genetic factors. The results suggest that unobserved genetic differences may introduce omitted variable bias in standard ordinary least square results. After controlling for shared environment and genetic background, the authors find that a facet of extraversion (activity) is related to higher (β = 0.046), and neuroticism is related to lower (β = -0.060) permanent earnings in the labor market. The lower earnings of more neurotic individuals are likely explained by the weaker attachment in the labor market.

Keywords: personality; earnings; labor market outcomes; unobserved heterogeneity; twin studies

Soccer penalty kicking: Professionals do not perform worse when they experience unfair advantages

Coping with advantageous inequity–Field evidence from professional penalty kicking. Mario Lackner, Hendrik Sonnabend. Johannes Kepler University of Linz, Department of Economics Working Paper No. 1721, December 2017, http://www.econ.jku.at/papers/2017/wp1721.pdf

Abstract: This contribution examines the effect of advantageous inequity on performance using data from top-level penalty kicking in soccer. Results indicate that, on average, professionals do not perform worse when they experience unfair advantages. However, we find a negative effect of advantageous inequity in situations where success is less important.

JEL-Code: C93, D91, Z29
Keywords: advantageous inequity;  guilt;  self-serving bias;  fairness;  performance

The Minimum Wage, EITC, and Criminal Recidivism: The wage effect, drawing at least some ex-offenders into the legal labor market, dominates any reduced employment in this population due to the minimum wage

The Minimum Wage, EITC, and Criminal Recidivism. Amanda Y. Agan and Michael D. Makowsky (January 5, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3097203

Abstract: For recently released prisoners, the minimum wage and the availability of state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs) can influence both their ability to find employment and their potential legal wages relative to illegal sources of income, in turn affecting the probability they return to prison. Using administrative prison release records from nearly six million offenders released between 2000 and 2014, we use a difference-in-differences strategy to identify the effect of over two hundred state and federal minimum wage increases, as well as 21 state EITC programs, on recidivism. We find that the average minimum wage increase of 8% reduces the probability that men and women return to prison within 1 year by 2%. This implies that on average the wage effect, drawing at least some ex-offenders into the legal labor market, dominates any reduced employment in this population due to the minimum wage. These reductions in re-convictions are observed for the potentially revenue generating crime categories of property and drug crimes; prison reentry for violent crimes are unchanged, supporting our framing that minimum wages affect crime that serves as a source of income. The availability of state EITCs also reduces recidivism, but only for women. Given that state EITCs are predominantly available to custodial parents of minor children, this asymmetry is not surprising. Framed within a simple model where earnings from criminal endeavors serve as a reservation wage for ex-offenders, our results suggest that the wages of crime are on average higher than comparable opportunities for low-skilled labor in the legal labor market.

Keywords: criminal recidivism, minimum wage, earned income tax credit

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Many information structures generate correlated rather than mutually independent signals, like the news media. We provide experimental evidence that many people neglect the resulting double-counting problem in the updating process, so beliefs are too sensitive to the ubiquitous "telling and re-telling of stories"

Correlation Neglect in Belief Formation. Benjamin Enke, Florian Zimmermann. The Review of Economic Studies, rdx081, https://doi.org/10.1093/restud/rdx081

Abstract: Many information structures generate correlated rather than mutually independent signals, the news media being a prime example. This paper provides experimental evidence that many people neglect the resulting double-counting problem in the updating process. In consequence, beliefs are too sensitive to the ubiquitous "telling and re-telling of stories" and exhibit excessive swings. We identify substantial and systematic heterogeneity in the presence of the bias and investigate the underlying mechanisms. The evidence points to the paramount importance of complexity in combination with people's problems in identifying and thinking through the correlation. Even though most participants in principle have the computational skills that are necessary to develop rational beliefs, many approach the problem in a wrong way when the environment is moderately complex. Thus, experimentally nudging people's focus towards the correlation and the underlying independent signals has large effects on beliefs.

This man is superhuman, and very rarely lets his feelings color his economic judgement. In fact, it seems that this happened to him just once, and quickly retracted. Besides, he is so old-fashioned that he tries to admit and learn from his mistakes

This man is superhuman, and very rarely lets his feelings color his economic judgement. In fact, it seems that this happened to him just once, and quickly retracted. Besides, he is so old-fashioned that he tries to admit and learn from his mistakes:

Can the Economy Keep Calm and Carry On? Paul Krugman. The New York Times, Jan 01 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/01/opinion/can-the-economy-keep-calm-and-carry-on.html

On election night 2016, I gave in temporarily to a temptation I warn others about: I let my political feelings distort my economic judgment. A very bad man had just won the Electoral College; and my first thought was that this would translate quickly into a bad economy. I quickly retracted the claim, and issued a mea culpa. (Being an old-fashioned guy, I try to admit and learn from my mistakes.)

What I should have clung to, despite my dismay, was the well-known proposition that in normal times the president has very little influence on macroeconomic developments — far less influence than the chair of the Federal Reserve.

[...]

Investigation of brain structure in the 1-month infant – Girls and boys are different by then...

Investigation of brain structure in the 1-month infant. Douglas C. Dean III. Brain Structure and Function, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00429-017-1600-2

Abstract: The developing brain undergoes systematic changes that occur at successive stages of maturation. Deviations from the typical neurodevelopmental trajectory are hypothesized to underlie many early childhood disorders; thus, characterizing the earliest patterns of normative brain development is essential. Recent neuroimaging research provides insight into brain structure during late childhood and adolescence; however, few studies have examined the infant brain, particularly in infants under 3 months of age. Using high-resolution structural MRI, we measured subcortical gray and white matter brain volumes in a cohort (N = 143) of 1-month infants and examined characteristics of these volumetric measures throughout this early period of neurodevelopment. We show that brain volumes undergo age-related changes during the first month of life, with the corresponding patterns of regional asymmetry and sexual dimorphism. Specifically, males have larger total brain volume and volumes differ by sex in regionally specific brain regions, after correcting for total brain volume. Consistent with findings from studies of later childhood and adolescence, subcortical regions appear more rightward asymmetric. Neither sex differences nor regional asymmetries changed with gestation-corrected age. Our results complement a growing body of work investigating the earliest neurobiological changes associated with development and suggest that asymmetry and sexual dimorphism are present at birth.

How Hot Are They? Neural Correlates of Genital Arousal: An Infrared Thermographic and Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of Sexual Arousal in Men and Women

Parada M, Gérard M, Larcher K, et al. How Hot Are They? Neural Correlates of Genital Arousal: An Infrared Thermographic and Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of Sexual Arousal in Men and Women. J Sex Med 2017;xx:xxx–xxx. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2017.12.006

Abstract

Background: The few studies that have examined the neural correlates of genital arousal have focused on men and are methodologically hard to compare.

Aim: To investigate the neural correlates of peripheral physiologic sexual arousal using identical methodology for men and women.

Methods: 2 groups (20 men, 20 women) viewed movie clips (erotic, humor) while genital temperature was continuously measured using infrared thermal imaging. Participants also continuously evaluated changes in their subjective arousal and answered discrete questions about liking the movies and wanting sexual stimulation. Brain activity, indicated by blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) response, was measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Outcomes: BOLD responses, genital temperature, and subjective sexual arousal.

Results: BOLD activity in a number of brain regions was correlated with changes in genital temperature in men and women; however, activation in women appeared to be more extensive than in men, including the anterior and posterior cingulate cortex, right cerebellum, insula, frontal operculum, and paracingulate gyrus. Examination of the strength of the correlation between BOLD response and genital temperature showed that women had a stronger brain-genital relation compared with men in a number of regions. There were no brain regions in men with stronger brain-genital correlations than in women.

Clinical Translation: Our findings shed light on the neurophysiologic processes involved in genital arousal for men and women. Further research examining the specific brain regions that mediate our findings is necessary to pave the way for clinical application.

Strengths and Limitations: A strength of the study is the use of thermography, which allows for a direct comparison of the neural correlates of genital arousal in men and women. This study has the common limitations of most laboratory-based sexual arousal research, including sampling bias, lack of ecologic validity, and equipment limitations, and those common to neuroimaging research, including BOLD signal interpretation and neuroimaging analysis issues.

Conclusions: Our findings provide direct sex comparisons of the neural correlates of genital arousal in men and women and suggest that brain-genital correlations could be stronger in women.

Key Words: Genital Arousal; Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Sexual Arousal; Gender Differences; Thermography

Sam Rosenfeld's The Polarizers: Modern political polarization was a deliberate project carried out by Democratic and Republican activists

The Polarizers: Postwar Architects of Our Partisan Era Hardcover. Sam Rosenfeld. December 28, 2017, https://www.amazon.com/Polarizers-Postwar-Architects-Our-Partisan/dp/022640725X

Even in this most partisan and dysfunctional of eras, we can all agree on one thing: Washington is broken. Politicians take increasingly inflexible and extreme positions, leading to gridlock, partisan warfare, and the sense that our seats of government are nothing but cesspools of hypocrisy, childishness, and waste. The shocking reality, though, is that modern polarization was a deliberate project carried out by Democratic and Republican activists.

In The Polarizers, Sam Rosenfeld details why bipartisanship was seen as a problem in the postwar period and how polarization was then cast as the solution. Republicans and Democrats feared that they were becoming too similar, and that a mushy consensus imperiled their agendas and even American democracy itself. Thus began a deliberate move to match ideology with party label—with the toxic results we now endure. Rosenfeld reveals the specific politicians, intellectuals, and operatives who worked together to heighten partisan discord, showing that our system today is not (solely) a product of gradual structural shifts but of deliberate actions motivated by specific agendas. Rosenfeld reveals that the story of Washington’s transformation is both significantly institutional and driven by grassroots influences on both the left and the right.

The Polarizers brilliantly challenges and overturns our conventional narrative about partisanship, but perhaps most importantly, it points us toward a new consensus: if we deliberately created today’s dysfunctional environment, we can deliberately change it.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Intentional Fire-Spreading by “Firehawk” Raptors in Northern Australia

Intentional Fire-Spreading by “Firehawk” Raptors in Northern Australia. Mark Bonta et al. Journal of Ethnobiology 37(4):700-718. 2017, https://doi.org/10.2993/0278-0771-37.4.700

Abstract: We document Indigenous Ecological Knowledge and non-Indigenous observations of intentional fire-spreading by the fire-foraging raptors Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus), and Brown Falcon (Falco berigora) in tropical Australian savannas. Observers report both solo and cooperative attempts, often successful, to spread wildfires intentionally via single-occasion or repeated transport of burning sticks in talons or beaks. This behavior, often represented in sacred ceremonies, is widely known to local people in the Northern Territory, where we carried out ethno-ornithological research from 2011 to 2017; it was also reported to us from Western Australia and Queensland. Though Aboriginal rangers and others who deal with bushfires take into account the risks posed by raptors that cause controlled burns to jump across firebreaks, official skepticism about the reality of avian fire-spreading hampers effective planning for landscape management and restoration. Via ethno-ornithological workshops and controlled field experiments with land managers, our collaborative research aims to situate fire-spreading as an important factor in fire management and fire ecology. In a broader sense, better understanding of avian fire-spreading, both in Australia and, potentially, elsewhere, can contribute to theories about the evolution of tropical savannas and the origins of human fire use.

Keywords: avian fire-foraging, avian fire-spreading, Black Kite, Brown Falcon, Whistling Kite

New framework for the psychological origins of human cooperation that harnesses evolutionary theories about the two major problems posed by cooperation: generating and distributing benefits

How Children Solve the Two Challenges of Cooperation. Felix Warneken. Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 69:205-229 (January 2018), https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-122216-011813

Abstract: In this review, I propose a new framework for the psychological origins of human cooperation that harnesses evolutionary theories about the two major problems posed by cooperation: generating and distributing benefits. Children develop skills foundational for identifying and creating opportunities for cooperation with others early: Infants and toddlers already possess basic skills to help others and share resources. Yet mechanisms that solve the free-rider problem—critical for sustaining cooperation as a viable strategy—emerge later in development and are more sensitive to the influence of social norms. I review empirical studies with children showing a dissociation in the origins of and developmental change seen in these two sets of processes. In addition, comparative studies of nonhuman apes also highlight important differences between these skills: The ability to generate benefits has evolutionary roots that are shared between humans and nonhuman apes, whereas there is little evidence that other apes exhibit comparable capacities for distributing benefits. I conclude by proposing ways in which this framework can motivate new developmental, comparative, and cross-cultural research about human cooperation.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

No evidence that more physically attractive women have higher estradiol or progesterone

No evidence that more physically attractive women have higher estradiol or progesterone. Benedict C. Jones et al. bioRxiv, doi https://doi.org/10.1101/136515

Abstract: Putative associations between sex hormones and attractive physical characteristics in women are central to many theories of human physical attractiveness and mate choice. Although such theories have become very influential, evidence that physically attractive and unattractive women have different hormonal profiles is equivocal. Consequently, we investigated hypothesized relationships between salivary estradiol and progesterone and two aspects of women's physical attractiveness that are commonly assumed to be correlated with levels of these hormones: facial attractiveness (N=249) and waist-to-hip ratio (N=247). Our analyses revealed no evidence that women with more attractive faces or lower (i.e., more attractive) waist-to-hip ratios had higher levels of estradiol or progesterone. These results do not support the influential hypothesis that between-woman differences in physical attractiveness are related to estradiol and/or progesterone.