Saturday, February 24, 2018

Extremely or very preterm children born in the antenatal corticosteroids and surfactant era show large deficits in intelligence. No improvement in cognitive outcome was observed between 1990 and 2008

Cognitive Outcomes of Children Born Extremely or Very Preterm Since the 1990s and Associated Risk Factors: A Meta-analysis and Meta-regression. E. Sabrina Twilhaar et al. JAMA Pediatr. February 19, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.5323

Key Points

Question:  What are the cognitive outcomes of children born extremely or very preterm since 1990, and what perinatal and demographic factors predict outcome?

Findings:  This meta-analysis of 71 studies (7752 extremely or very preterm and 5155 full-term children) showed a large (0.86 standard deviation) difference in intelligence between extremely or very preterm children and controls, which was stable in children born between 1990 and 2008. Bronchopulmonary dysplasia explained 65% of the variance in intelligence across studies.

Meaning:  Despite advancing perinatal care, cognitive outcomes of children born extremely or very preterm did not improve between 1990 and 2008; preventive strategies to reduce the incidence of bronchopulmonary dysplasia may be crucial to improve outcomes after extremely or very preterm birth.


Importance:  Despite apparent progress in perinatal care, children born extremely or very preterm (EP/VP) remain at high risk for cognitive deficits. Insight into factors contributing to cognitive outcome is key to improve outcomes after EP/VP birth.

Objective:  To examine the cognitive abilities of children of EP/VP birth (EP/VP children) and the role of perinatal and demographic risk factors.

Data Sources:  PubMed, Web of Science, and PsycINFO were searched without language restriction (last search March 2, 2017). Key search terms included preterm, low birth weight, and intelligence.

Study Selection:  Peer-reviewed studies reporting intelligence scores of EP/VP children ( < 32 weeks of gestation) and full-term controls at age 5 years or older, born in the antenatal corticosteroids and surfactant era, were included. A total of 268 studies met selection criteria, of which 71 covered unique cohorts.

Data Extraction and Synthesis:  MOOSE guidelines were followed. Data were independently extracted by 2 researchers. Standardized mean differences in intelligence per study were pooled using random-effects meta-analysis. Heterogeneity in effect size across studies was studied using multivariate, random-effects meta-regression analysis.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Primary outcome was intelligence. Covariates included gestational age, birth weight, birth year, age at assessment, sex, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, small for gestational age, intraventricular hemorrhage, periventricular leukomalacia, bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), necrotizing enterocolitis, sepsis, and postnatal corticosteroid use.

Results:  due to HTML formatting issues, in first comment to this post.

Conclusions and Relevance:  Extremely or very preterm children born in the antenatal corticosteroids and surfactant era show large deficits in intelligence. No improvement in cognitive outcome was observed between 1990 and 2008. These findings emphasize that improving outcomes after EP/VP birth remains a major challenge. Bronchopulmonary dysplasia was found to be a crucial factor for cognitive outcome. Lowering the high incidence of BPD may be key to improving long-term outcomes after EP/VP birth.

There is a teaching instinct; the capacity to teach may precede to even have a mature metacognition; and a teacher will benefit from the interaction, improving understanding on both contents of knowledge

The Teaching Instinct. Cecia I. Calero, A. P. Goldin, M. Sigman. Review of Philosophy and Psychology,

Abstract: Teaching allows human culture to exist and to develop. Despite its significance, it has not been studied in depth by the cognitive neurosciences. Here we propose two hypotheses to boost the claim that teaching is a human instinct, and to expand our understanding of how teaching occurs as a dynamic bi-directional relation within the teacher-learner dyad. First, we explore how children naturally use ostensive communication when teaching; allowing them to be set in the emitter side of natural pedagogy. Then, we hypothesize that the capacity to teach may precede to even have a mature metacognition and, we argue that a teacher will benefit from the interaction with her student, improving her understanding on both contents of knowledge: her own and her student’s. Thus, we propose that teaching may be the driving force of metacognitive development and may be occurring as an instinct from very early ages.

Both Gender and Cohort Affect Perceptions of Forenames: Perceived age, attractiveness, and intellectual competence

Both Gender and Cohort Affect Perceptions of Forenames, but Are 25-Year-Old Standards Still Valid? Claire Etaugh, Colleen Geraghty. Sex Roles,

Abstract: Forenames signify considerable information, not only about a person’s gender, but also about that person’s age, social class, and ethnicity, as well as characteristics such as attractiveness and intellectual competence. Kasof (1993) found that research (almost all done in the U.S.) often used gender-typed forenames to identify individuals’ sex or gender in studies of potential gender bias. However, because these forenames signified other traits unrelated to gender, results were confounded in ways often favoring male stimulus persons. To remedy this situation, Kasof identified pairs of female and male forenames that were matched on key variables such as perceived age, attractiveness, and intellectual competence. We found that since 1995, approximately one-third of researchers who manipulated the sex or gender of hypothetical women and men used Kasof’s matched female and male forenames to control for extraneous variables. However, our research with college students revealed that Kasof’s matched forename pairs are now outdated. College students rated Kasof’s forenames (which are characteristic of popular forenames of their parents’ cohort) as less attractive than their own cohort’s popular forenames. Consistent with Kasof’s results, however, popular male forenames continued to be rated as connoting greater intellectual competence than popular female forenames. Implications of these findings are discussed.

If it is true that some degree of talent is necessary to be successful in life, almost never the most talented people reach the highest peaks of success, being overtaken by mediocre but sensibly luckier individuals

Talent vs Luck: the role of randomness in success and failure. A. Pluchino. A. E. Biondo, A. Rapisarda. arXiv:1802.07068 [physics.soc-ph], Feb 20 2018,

The largely dominant meritocratic paradigm of highly competitive Western cultures is rooted on the belief that success is due mainly, if not exclusively, to personal qualities such as talent, intelligence, skills, efforts or risk taking. Sometimes, we are willing to admit that a certain degree of luck could also play a role in achieving significant material success. But, as a matter of fact, it is rather common to underestimate the importance of external forces in individual successful stories. It is very well known that intelligence or talent exhibit a Gaussian distribution among the population, whereas the distribution of wealth - considered a proxy of success - follows typically a power law (Pareto law). Such a discrepancy between a Normal distribution of inputs, with a typical scale, and the scale invariant distribution of outputs, suggests that some hidden ingredient is at work behind the scenes. In this paper, with the help of a very simple agent-based model, we suggest that such an ingredient is just randomness. In particular, we show that, if it is true that some degree of talent is necessary to be successful in life, almost never the most talented people reach the highest peaks of success, being overtaken by mediocre but sensibly luckier individuals. As to our knowledge, this counterintuitive result - although implicitly suggested between the lines in a vast literature - is quantified here for the first time. It sheds new light on the effectiveness of assessing merit on the basis of the reached level of success and underlines the risks of distributing excessive honors or resources to people who, at the end of the day, could have been simply luckier than others. With the help of this model, several policy hypotheses are also addressed and compared to show the most efficient strategies for public funding of research in order to improve meritocracy, diversity and innovation.

When listening to rain sounds boosts arithmetic ability

When listening to rain sounds boosts arithmetic ability. Alice Mado Proverbio et al. PLOS One,

Abstract: Studies in the literature have provided conflicting evidence about the effects of background noise or music on concurrent cognitive tasks. Some studies have shown a detrimental effect, while others have shown a beneficial effect of background auditory stimuli. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of agitating, happy or touching music, as opposed to environmental sounds or silence, on the ability of non-musician subjects to perform arithmetic operations. Fifty university students (25 women and 25 men, 25 introverts and 25 extroverts) volunteered for the study. The participants were administered 180 easy or difficult arithmetic operations (division, multiplication, subtraction and addition) while listening to heavy rain sounds, silence or classical music. Silence was detrimental when participants were faced with difficult arithmetic operations, as it was associated with significantly worse accuracy and slower RTs than music or rain sound conditions. This finding suggests that the benefit of background stimulation was not music-specific but possibly due to an enhanced cerebral alertness level induced by the auditory stimulation. Introverts were always faster than extroverts in solving mathematical problems, except when the latter performed calculations accompanied by the sound of heavy rain, a condition that made them as fast as introverts. While the background auditory stimuli had no effect on the arithmetic ability of either group in the easy condition, it strongly affected extroverts in the difficult condition, with RTs being faster during agitating or joyful music as well as rain sounds, compared to the silent condition. For introverts, agitating music was associated with faster response times than the silent condition. This group difference may be explained on the basis of the notion that introverts have a generally higher arousal level compared to extroverts and would therefore benefit less from the background auditory stimuli.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Human conventions, such as driving on the left or right, can be seen as equilibria within a game. We consider possible nonhuman conventions, including traditional group locations, dominance, territoriality, and conventional signaling

Modeling nonhuman conventions: the behavioral ecology of arbitrary action. David W Stephens Virginia K Heinen. Behavioral Ecology, ary011,

Abstract: This paper considers the relevance of so-called “Lewisian conventions” to the study of nonhuman animals. Conventions arise in coordination games with multiple equilibria, and the apparent arbitrariness of conventions occurs when processes outside the game itself determine which of several equilibria is ultimately chosen. Well-understood human conventions, such as driving on the left or right, can be seen as equilibria within a game. We consider possible nonhuman conventions, including traditional group locations, dominance, territoriality, and conventional signaling, that can be similarly described. We argue that conventions have been ignored in the study of animal behavior because they have been misunderstood. Yet, students of animal behavior are well prepared to understand and analyze conventions because the basic tools of game theory are already well established in our field. In addition, we argue that a research program exploring nonhuman conventions could greatly enrich the study of animal behavior.

Considering the context: social factors in responses to drugs in humans

Considering the context: social factors in responses to drugs in humans. Harriet de Wit, Michael Sayette. Psychopharmacology,


Background: Drugs are typically used in social settings. Here, we consider two factors that may contribute to this observation: (i) the presence of other people may enhance the positive mood effects of a drug, and conversely, (ii) drugs may enhance the value of social stimuli.

Methods: We review evidence from controlled laboratory studies with human volunteers, which investigated either of these interactions between social factors and responses to drugs. We examine the bidirectional effects of social stimuli and single doses of alcohol, stimulants, opioids, and cannabis.

Results: All four classes of drugs interact with social contexts, but the nature of these interactions varies across drugs, and depends on whether the context is positive or negative.

Conclusions: Alcohol and stimulant drugs enhance the attractiveness of social stimuli and the desire to socialize, and social contexts, in turn, enhance these drugs’ effects. In contrast, opioids and cannabis have subtler effects on social interactions and their effects are less influenced by the presence of others. Overall, there is stronger evidence that drugs enhance positive social contexts than that they dampen the negativity of unpleasant social settings. Controlled research is needed to understand the interactions between drugs of abuse and social contexts, to model and understand the determinants of drug use outside the laboratory.

Keywords: Social Context, Alcohol, Stimulant, Opioid, Cannabis, Human

Bad is Stronger Than Good for Stigmatized, but Not Admired Outgroups: Meta-Analytical Tests of Intergroup Valence Asymmetry in Individual-to-Group Generalization Experiments

Bad is Stronger Than Good for Stigmatized, but Not Admired Outgroups: Meta-Analytical Tests of Intergroup Valence Asymmetry in Individual-to-Group Generalization Experiments. Stefania Paolini, Kylie McIntyre. Personality and Social Psychology Review,

Abstract: Theories of risk aversion, epistemic defense, and ingroup enhancement converge in predicting greater impact of negative (vs. positive) experiences with outgroup members on generalized evaluations of stigmatized outgroups. However, they diverge in predictions for admired outgroups. Past tests have focused on negative outgroups using correlational designs without a control group. Consequently, they have not distinguished between alternative explanations or ascertained the direction of causality/generalization, and they have suffered from self-selection biases. These limitations were redressed by a meta-analysis of experimental research on individual-to-group generalization with positive and negative outgroups (59 tests; 3,012 participants). Controlling for modest confounds, the meta-analysis found a generalization advantage of negative experiences for stigmatized outgroups and a generalization advantage of positive experiences for admired outgroups. These results highlight the centrality of valenced expectations about outgroups, consistent with epistemic defense and ingroup enhancement and inconsistent with risk aversion. Implications for positive changes in intergroup dynamics are discussed.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Persistent light to moderate alcohol intake and lung function: A longitudinal study

Persistent light to moderate alcohol intake and lung function: A longitudinal study. Monica M.Vasquez et al. Alcohol, Volume 67, March 2018, Pages 65-71,

•    Effects of persistent alcohol intake on trajectories of lung function are unknown.
•    Persistent light-to-moderate drinkers had a slower decline of FVC with age.
•    Effects persisted after adjustment for confounders, including smoking.

Abstract: Alcohol intake has been inconsistently associated with lung function levels in cross-sectional studies. The goal of our study was to determine whether longitudinally assessed light-to-moderate alcohol intake is associated with levels and decline of lung function. We examined data from 1333 adult participants in the population-based Tucson Epidemiological Study of Airway Obstructive Disease. Alcohol intake was assessed with four surveys between 1972 and 1992. Subjects who completed at least two surveys were classified into longitudinal drinking categories (“never”, “inconsistent”, or “persistent drinker”). Spirometric lung function was measured in up to 11 surveys between 1972 and 1992. Random coefficient models were used to test for differences in lung function by drinking categories. After adjustment for sex, age, height, education, BMI categories, smoking status, and pack-years, as compared to never-drinkers, persistent drinkers had higher FVC (coefficient: 157 mL, p < 0.001), but lower FEV1/FVC ratio (−2.3%, p < 0.001). Differences were due to a slower decline of FVC among persistent than among never-drinkers (p = 0.003), and these trends were present independent of smoking status. Inconsistent drinking showed similar, but weaker associations. After adjustment for potential confounders, light-to-moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a significantly decreased rate of FVC decline over adult life.

Future thinking in animals: Capacities and limits

Future thinking in animals: Capacities and limits. Jonathan Redshaw, Adam Bulley. In book: The psychology of thinking about the future. Editors: Gabriele Oettingen, Timur Sevincer, Peter Gollwitzer. Guilford Publishing, November 2018.

Abstract: The previous two decades have seen much theoretical and empirical research into the future thinking capacities of non-human animals. Here we critically review the evidence across six domains: (1) navigation and route planning, (2) intertemporal choice and delayed gratification, (3) preparing for future threats, (4) acquiring and constructing tools to solve future problems, (5) acquiring, saving and exchanging tokens for future rewards, and (6) acting with future desires in mind. In each domain we show that animals are capable of considerably more sophisticated future-oriented behavior than was once thought possible. Explanations for these behaviors remain contentious, yet in some cases it may be most parsimonious to attribute animals with mental representations that go beyond the here-and-now. Nevertheless, we also make the case that animals may not be able to represent future representations as future representations – an overarching capacity that allows humans to reflect on their own natural future thinking limits and act to compensate for these limits. Throughout our analysis we make specific suggestions for how future research can continue to make progress on this and other important questions in the field.

Participants were able to distinguish between truthful and deceptive communications of university students, but not of people accused of real-world serious crimes, against the notion that high-stakes deception can be identified through nonverbal cues

Individual Differences in Deception Judgments, Personality Judgments, and Meta-Accuracy. Joshua Braverman, Marley Morrow, & R. Weylin Sternglanz.

• We found that participants were able to distinguish between truthful and deceptive communications of university students, but not of people accused of real-world serious crimes; this contradicts the notion that high-stakes deception can be reliably identified through nonverbal cues.

• Participants’ personality traits did not predict their ability to detect deception; however, participants who were prone to truth bias were more likely to consider themselves introverted, agreeable, and conscientious, and they felt more anger towards hypothetical cheaters.

• Men, but not women, were overconfident in their deception detection judgments.

Our results show the relative risks of mortality for adoptive parents are always lower than those of parents with biological children

Parity and Mortality: An Examination of Different Explanatory Mechanisms Using Data on Biological and Adoptive Parents. Kieron Barclay, Martin Kolk. European Journal of Population,

Abstract: A growing literature has demonstrated a relationship between parity and mortality, but the explanation for that relationship remains unclear. This study aims to pick apart physiological and social explanations for the parity–mortality relationship by examining the mortality of parents who adopt children, but who have no biological children, in comparison with the mortality of parents with biological children. Using Swedish register data, we study post-reproductive mortality amongst women and men from cohorts born between 1915 and 1960, over ages 45–97. Our results show the relative risks of mortality for adoptive parents are always lower than those of parents with biological children. Mortality amongst adoptive parents is lower for those who adopt more than one child, while for parents with biological children we observe a U-shaped relationship, where parity-two parents have the lowest mortality. Our discussion considers the relative importance of physiological and social depletion effects, and selection processes.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Thirty years of great ape gestures: Even when informative gestures would be extremely helpful to them—helping their partner in a mutualistic collaborative context—apes do not produce declarative or informative signs

Thirty years of great ape gestures. Michael Tomasello, Josep Call. Animal Cognition,

Abstract: We and our colleagues have been doing studies of great ape gestural communication for more than 30 years. Here we attempt to spell out what we have learned. Some aspects of the process have been reliably established by multiple researchers, for example, its intentional structure and its sensitivity to the attentional state of the recipient. Other aspects are more controversial. We argue here that it is a mistake to assimilate great ape gestures to the species-typical displays of other mammals by claiming that they are fixed action patterns, as there are many differences, including the use of attention-getters. It is also a mistake, we argue, to assimilate great ape gestures to human gestures by claiming that they are used referentially and declaratively in a human-like manner, as apes’ “pointing” gesture has many limitations and they do not gesture iconically. Great ape gestures constitute a unique form of primate communication with their own unique qualities.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Monkeys form preferences for brand logos repeatedly paired with images of macaque genitals and high status monkeys, even though choosing them provided no tangible rewards (a decision mechanism not operating solely on material outcomes)

Acikalin MY, Watson KK, Fitzsimons GJ, Platt ML (2018) Rhesus macaques form preferences for brand logos through sex and social status based advertising. PLoS ONE 13(2): e0193055.

Abstract: Like humans, monkeys value information about sex and status, inviting the hypothesis that our susceptibility to these factors in advertising arises from shared, ancestral biological mechanisms that prioritize social information. To test this idea, we asked whether rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) show choice behavior that is similar to humans in response to sex and social status in advertising. Our results show that monkeys form preferences for brand logos repeatedly paired with images of macaque genitals and high status monkeys. Moreover, monkeys sustain preferences for these brand logos even though choosing them provided no tangible rewards, a finding that cannot be explained by a decision mechanism operating solely on material outcomes. Together, our results endorse the hypothesis that the power of sex and status in advertising emerges from the spontaneous engagement of shared, ancestral neural circuits that prioritize information useful for navigating the social environment. Finally, our results show that simple associative conditioning is sufficient to explain the formation of preferences for brand logos paired with sexual or status-based images.

Prior studies [15] demonstrated that monkeys will forego fruit juice rewards to view socially-relevant images such as photos of the genitals of males and females and the faces of high status males, suggesting these images have intrinsic value for the animals. An analogous study [24] found that American college students will forego monetary rewards for a glimpse of attractive members of the opposite sex, will wait longer to view attractive individuals than unattractive ones, and will work harder to view more attractive individuals, without being aware they are doing so. These findings suggest that people and monkeys spontaneously, and perhaps subconsciously, value socially-relevant information about others. Endorsing this idea, neurons in reward-related brain areas respond to photos of attractive conspecifics in both people and monkeys [25–27].

Together, these observations invite the hypothesis that receptivity to sex and status in advertising arises from spontaneous activation of neural circuits that prioritize social information in association with neural circuits that process brand information. Associations between a product, a social reward, and the cognitive and physiological state this reward induces in the consumer alone may be sufficient to bias preferences toward the product [28]. Through repeated pairings, brand information, including logos, would eventually become prioritized just as social stimuli are, through the process of conditioning [29]. This simple hypothesis remains to be tested directly in the context of responses to sex and status in advertising. This is an important question, as we do not know whether simple conditioning with socially salient stimuli is sufficient to induce preferences for otherwise neutral logos in the context of sex- and status-based advertising, or whether a more complex, culturally-bound decision process found only in humans is necessary to produce this behavior. In other words, can simple conditioning alone lead to preferences for brands with sexual or social-status based associations? Or, are culturally rooted, complex, and uniquely human mechanisms such as effects of sexual or status-based images on self-concept or selective perception necessary for the formation of such preferences [30, 31]? Because Old World monkeys and humans diverged twenty-five million years ago, the presence of this behavior in both species would suggest evolutionarily ancient origins. Shared brain circuits mediating social perception and valuation in rhesus macaques and humans provide a mechanism by which increased valuation of stimuli associated with social information may be translated into preferences for brands associated with sex and status in advertising [22, 32, 33].

The tribal nature of the human mind leads people to value party dogma over truth; those with political sophistication, science literacy, numeracy abilities, and cognitive reflection are more affected

The Partisan Brain: An Identity-Based Model of Political Belief. Jay J. Van Bavel, Andrea Pereira. Trends in Cognitive Sciences,


Over 2 billion people use social media every day, and many use it to read and discuss politics. Social media also facilitate the spread of fake news and hyper-partisan content.

Online discussions of politicized topics, including political events and issues (e.g., same-sex marriage, climate change, gun control), resemble an echo chamber. That is, posts on these topics are shared primarily by people with similar ideological preferences.

Political polarization is most likely when users employ moral/emotional language. This may reflect ideological differences between people on the left versus right or partisanship.

Online partisan criticism that derogates political opponents increases political polarization.

Liberals are somewhat more likely to share cross-ideological content on social media (i.e., information posted by people with different ideological beliefs).

Democracies assume accurate knowledge by the populace, but the human attraction to fake and untrustworthy news poses a serious problem for healthy democratic functioning. We articulate why and how identification with political parties – known as partisanship – can bias information processing in the human brain. There is extensive evidence that people engage in motivated political reasoning, but recent research suggests that partisanship can alter memory, implicit evaluation, and even perceptual judgments. We propose an identity-based model of belief for understanding the influence of partisanship on these cognitive processes. This framework helps to explain why people place party loyalty over policy, and even over truth. Finally, we discuss strategies for de-biasing information processing to help to create a shared reality across partisan divides.

In the current paper we describe how the tribal nature of the human mind leads people to value party dogma over truth.


In this vein, one study examined the relationship between math skills and political problem-solving [58. In the control condition, people who were strong at math were able to effectively solve an analytical problem. However, when political content was added to the same analytical problem – comparing crime data in cities that banned handguns against cities that did not – math skills no longer predicted how well people solved the problem. Instead, liberals were good at solving the problem when it proved that gun control reduced crime, and conservatives were good at solving the problem when it proved the opposite. In short, people with high numeracy skills were unable to reason analytically when the correct answer collided with their political beliefs. This is consistent with research showing that people who score high on various indicators of information processing, such as political sophistication ([59; although see [48), science literacy [60, numeracy abilities [58, and cognitive reflection [61, are the most likely to express beliefs congruent with those of their party.

Partisan identity has been shown to affect memory. People are more likely to incorrectly remember falsehoods that support their partisan identity: Democrats were more likely than Republicans to incorrectly remember G.W. Bush on vacation during the Katrina hurricane, and Republicans were more likely than Democrats to falsely remember seeing Barack Obama shaking hands with the President of Iran.


Going one step further, there is evidence that political affiliations may even shape the way we see the world. In line with work demonstrating that social identities alter visual processing [65, a study showed that party affiliation shaped people’s perceptions after watching the video of a political protest, in other words an identity-relevant event [66. When participants thought that the video depicted liberally minded protesters (i.e., opposing military recruitment on campus), Republicans were more in favor of police intervention than Democrats, whereas the opposite emerged when participants thought the video showed a conservative protest (i.e., opposing an abortion clinic). Faced with the same visual information, people seem to have seen different things and drawn different conclusions depending on their political affiliations.
The Parties in our Heads: Misperceptions About Party Composition and Their Consequences. Douglas J. Ahler, Gaurav Sood. Aug 2017,

The echo chamber is overstated: the moderating effect of political interest and diverse media. Elizabeth Dubois & Grant Blank. Information, Communication & Society,

Check also Processing political misinformation: comprehending the Trump phenomenon. Briony Swire, Adam J. Berinsky, Stephan Lewandowsky, Ullrich K. H. Ecker. Royal Society Open Science, published on-line March 01 2017. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.160802,
Competing cues: Older adults rely on knowledge in the face of fluency. By Brashier, Nadia M.; Umanath, Sharda; Cabeza, Roberto; Marsh, Elizabeth J. Psychology and Aging, Vol 32(4), Jun 2017, 331-337.

Stanley, M. L., Dougherty, A. M., Yang, B. W., Henne, P., & De Brigard, F. (2017). Reasons Probably Won’t Change Your Mind: The Role of Reasons in Revising Moral Decisions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

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

Biased Policy Professionals. Sheheryar Banuri, Stefan Dercon, and Varun Gauri. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 8113.

Dispelling the Myth: Training in Education or Neuroscience Decreases but Does Not Eliminate Beliefs in Neuromyths. Kelly Macdonald et al. Frontiers in Psychology, Aug 10 2017.

Individuals with greater science literacy and education have more polarized beliefs on controversial science topics. Caitlin Drummond and Baruch Fischhoff. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 114 no. 36, pp 9587–9592, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1704882114,

Expert ability can actually impair the accuracy of expert perception when judging others' performance: Adaptation and fallibility in experts' judgments of novice performers. By Larson, J. S., & Billeter, D. M. (2017). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43(2), 271–288.

Public Perceptions of Partisan Selective Exposure. Perryman, Mallory R. The University of Wisconsin - Madison, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2017. 10607943.

The Myth of Partisan Selective Exposure: A Portrait of the Online Political News Audience. Jacob L. Nelson, and James G. Webster. Social Media + Society,

Echo Chamber? What Echo Chamber? Reviewing the Evidence. Axel Bruns. Future of Journalism 2017 Conference.

Fake news and post-truth pronouncements in general and in early human development. Victor Grech. Early Human Development,

Consumption of fake news is a consequence, not a cause of their readers’ voting preferences. Kahan, Dan M., Misinformation and Identity-Protective Cognition (October 2, 2017). Social Science Research Network,

Re-experiencing one’s own life-events is a phenomenon with well-defined characteristics. Maybe a representation of life-events as a continuum exists in the cognitive system, and may be further expressed in extreme conditions of psychological and physiological stress.

The life review experience: Qualitative and quantitative characteristics. Judith Katz, Noam Saadon-Grosman, Shahar Arzy. Consciousness and Cognition, Volume 48, February 2017, Pages 76-86.

•    Life review experience (LRE) is the vivid experience of one’s life-long autobiographical memories.
•    Abundant in patients in extremes situations, the LRE is yet to be thoroughly explored.
•    Phenomenological investigations in patients enable to qualitatively characterize LRE.
•    Quantitative investigation (LRE-scale) was composed as based on these phenomenological elements and run on 264 healthy people.
•    Results hint on a potential role of the neurocognitive mechanism underlying LRE in human cognition.


Background: The life-review experience (LRE) is a most intriguing mental phenomenon that fascinated humans from time immemorial. In LRE one sees vividly a succession of one’s own life-events. While reports of LRE are abundant in the medical, psychological and popular literature, not much is known about LRE’s cognitive and psychological basis. Moreover, while LRE is known as part of the phenomenology of near-death experience, its manifestation in the general population and in other circumstances is still to be investigated.

Methods: In a first step we studied the phenomenology of LRE by means of in-depth qualitative interview of 7 people who underwent full LRE. In a second step we extracted the main characters of LRE, to develop a questionnaire and an LRE-score that best reflects LRE phenomenology. This questionnaire was then run on 264 participants of diverse ages and backgrounds, and the resulted score was further subjected to statistical analyses.

Results: Qualitative analysis showed the LRE to manifest several subtypes of characteristics in terms of order, continuity, the covered period, extension to the future, valence, emotions, and perspective taking. Quantitative results in the normal population showed normal distribution of the LRE-score over participants.

Conclusion: Re-experiencing one’s own life-events, so-called LRE, is a phenomenon with well-defined characteristics, and its subcomponents may be also evident in healthy people. This suggests that a representation of life-events as a continuum exists in the cognitive system, and maybe further expressed in extreme conditions of psychological and physiological stress.

Sleep timing is linked to sociosexuality: Evidence from German, Polish, Slovak, and Spanish Females / Those with later sleep timing were less sociosexually restricted

Sleep timing is linked to sociosexuality: Evidence from German, Polish, Slovak, and Spanish females. Juan F Díaz-Morales et al. Time & Society,

Abstract: Given the known relationship between eveningness and sociosexuality among females, the aims of this study were: (a) to analyze this relationship in four countries using midsleep time on free days and morning affect measures of morningness–eveningness and (b) to test the role of dark personality and other relevant control variables in this relationship. Data from 1483 females were collected from Poland, Spain, Germany, and Slovakia. Adjusting for age, relationship status, country, age at first intercourse, and Dark Triad traits, the most universal findings were that females with later sleep timing were less sociosexually restricted (3% shared variance with sociosexuality). Sleep timing played a greater role in sociosexuality compared to morning affect. This finding showed that Dark Triad personality is not involved in association between morningness–eveningness and sociosexuality and it added a value to the importance of sleep–wake habits in mating preferences.

Keywords: Morningness–eveningness, sociosexuality, Dark Triad, females, cross-cultural

Social capital and online hate production: A four country survey

Social capital and online hate production: A four country survey. Markus Kaakinen et al. Crime, Law and Social Change, February 2018, Volume 69, Issue 1, pp 25–39,

Abstract: Hateful, threatening or degrading content has become a common part of today’s online interactions. However, little is known about the people who produce such content. This study analyzes online hate content production and its associations with cognitive indicators of social capital in both offline and online social networks. The data are derived from American, Finnish, German and British Internet users aged 15–30 (N = 3,565). Measures included questions concerning online hate, social capital and contextual control variables. The results indicate that hate content production is rare overall, despite its high visibility, and is related to social capital in two key ways. First, respondents with high social capital in offline social networks were less likely to produce hate content, and second, high social capital in online networks was associated with a higher probability of production.

Legalization of the cannabis market effects: Significant reduction in rapes and property crimes, increased consumption of marijuana & reduced consumption of other drugs and both ordinary & binge alcohol

Crime and the legalization of recreational marijuana. Davide Dragone, Giovanni Prarolo, Paolo Vanin, Giulio Zanella. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization,

Abstract: First-pass evidence is provided that the legalization of the cannabis market across US states is inducing a crime drop. We exploit the staggered legalization of recreational marijuana enacted by the adjacent states of Washington (end of 2012) and Oregon (end of 2014). Combining county-level difference-in-differences and spatial regression discontinuity designs, we find that the policy caused a significant reduction in rapes and property crimes on the Washington side of the border in 2013-2014 relative to the Oregon side and relative to the pre-legalization years 2010-2012. The legalization also increased consumption of marijuana and reduced consumption of other drugs and both ordinary and binge alcohol. Four possible mechanisms are discussed: the direct psychotropic effects of cannabis; substitution away from violence-inducing substances; reallocation of police effort; reduced role of criminals in the marijuana business.

Keywords: Cannabis; Recreational marijuana; Crime

Check also 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.

Impact of Protestant Evangelism on Economic Outcomes: Significant increases in religiosity & income, no changes in total labor supply, assets, consumption, food security, or life satisfaction, & a clear decrease in perceived relative economic status

Randomizing Religion: The Impact of Protestant Evangelism on Economic Outcomes. Gharad T. Bryan, James J. Choi, Dean Karlan. NBER Working Paper No. 24278,

To test the causal impact of religiosity, we conducted a randomized evaluation of an evangelical Protestant Christian values and theology education program that consisted of 15 weekly half-hour sessions. We analyze outcomes for 6,276 ultra-poor Filipino households six months after the program ended. We find significant increases in religiosity and income, no significant changes in total labor supply, assets, consumption, food security, or life satisfaction, and a significant decrease in perceived relative economic status. Exploratory analysis suggests the program may have improved hygienic practices and increased household discord, and that the income treatment effect may operate through increasing grit.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Men exhibit greater intergroup bias than do women, but in dating, women more strongly prefer to date men of their own racial group. Manipulating women via nationality to control for racial stereotypes, ameliorating or exacerbating the perceived threat, prevents intergroup bias.

An evolutionary perspective on intergroup dating bias. Samantha Brindley, Melissa M. McDonald, Lisa L. M. Welling & Virgil Zeigler-Hill. Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology,

ABSTRACT: Across a diversity of contexts, men tend to exhibit greater intergroup bias than do women. However, in the domain of dating, this trend is reversed, such that women more strongly prefer to date men of their own racial group. Researchers employing an evolutionary perspective suggest that this sex difference can be explained by an evolutionary history in which men and women faced distinct adaptive challenges in their interactions with outgroup men. For women, outgroup men posed a recurrent threat of sexual coercion. Given the importance of reproductive choice in female mating strategies, this may have exerted selection pressure for psychological mechanisms that promote avoidance of outgroup men. Here we pre-registered a two-study design to examine whether women’s intergroup dating bias, manipulated via nationality to control for racial stereotypes, could be altered by manipulating the formidability of outgroup dating targets, thereby ameliorating or exacerbating their perceived threat. The design did not produce the predicted pattern of intergroup bias, suggesting that the manipulation of group status may need to be stronger. Implications and future directions are discussed.

KEYWORDS: Intergroup bias, mate choice, dating, threat-management, female preferences

Psychological research has documented a tendency for women, relative to men, to exhibit greater intergroup bias in the context of dating (Hitsch, Hortaçsu, & Ariely, 2010; Hwang, 2013). Furthermore, this bias may not be offset by other person characteristics, such as income, that are typically evaluated positively in male romantic partners (Hitsch, Hortascsu, & Ariely, 2006). This finding may be surprising given that much of the research on intergroup bias suggests that men tend to express greater intergroup bias than women in a variety of other contexts (reviewed in McDonald, Navarrete, & Van Vugt, 2012). Previous research attempting to explain this discrepancy has suggested that women’s greater intergroup bias in romantic and intimate contexts might be the result of an evolutionary history in which women were often the victims of sexual coercion, committed by outgroup men during intergroup conflict (McDonald, Donnellan, Cesario, & Navarrete, 2015). From this perspective, women’s intergroup bias in dating contexts may function to protect women’s reproductive choice by avoiding men more prone to reliance on the use of sexually coercive mating tactics.

Parents of high economic status invest more heavily in sons whereas parents of low economic status invest more heavily in daughters, as predicted by the Trivers-Willard hypothesis

Spending Patterns of Chinese Parents on Children’s Backpacks Support the Trivers-Willard Hypothesis: Results Based on Transaction Data from China’s Largest Online Retailer. Shige Song. Evolution and Human Behavior,

Abstract: Using the 2015 student backpack transaction data from the largest e-commerce business in China, this study takes a novel “big data” approach to test the patterns of parental sex preference by comparing the difference in cost between blue and pink backpacks at different quantiles of the backpack cost distribution. Unconditional quantile regression results show that, depending on the quantile of choice, the blue-pink difference in backpack cost can be positive, negative, or zero. This indicates the presence of son preference, daughter preference, and gender indifference in the same population. Treating backpack cost as a proxy measure of parental economic status, such results indicate that parents of high economic status invest more heavily in sons whereas parents of low economic status invest more heavily in daughters, as predicted by the Trivers-Willard hypothesis. The discovery of a third group, between the high- and low-status parents, who invest equally in sons and daughters further strengthens the argument.


Review of Rupert Darwall's Green Tyranny, by Matt Ridley – Russian Spies’ Role In The Great Green Hoax

Matt Ridley: Russian Spies’ Role In The Great Green Hoax. The Times, February 19 2018.

A new book argues that nuclear winter, one of the great environmental scares of the 1980s, was fabricated by Moscow
So, Russia does appear to interfere in western politics. The FBI has charged 13 Russians with trying to influence the last American presidential election, including the whimsical detail that one of them was to build a cage to hold an actor in prison clothes pretending to be Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, it emerges that the Czech secret service, under KGB direction, near the end of the Cold War had a codename (“COB”) for a Labour MP they had met and hoped to influence — presumably under the bizarre delusion that he might one day be in reach of power.

There is no evidence that Jeremy Corbyn was a spy, or of collusion by Trump campaign operatives with the Russians who are charged. Yet the alleged Russian operation in America was anti-Clinton and pro-Trump. It was also pro-Bernie Sanders and pro-Jill Stein, the Green candidate — who shares with Vladimir Putin a strong dislike of fracking.

The Keystone Cops aspects of these stories should not reassure. The interference by Russian agents in western politics during the Cold War was real and dangerous. A startling example from the history of science has recently been discussed in an important book about the origins of the environmental movement, Green Tyranny by Rupert Darwall.

In June 1982, the same month as demonstrations against the Nato build-up of cruise and Pershing missiles reached fever pitch in the West, a paper appeared in AMBIO, a journal of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, authored by the Dutchman Paul Crutzen and the American John Birks. Crutzen would later share a Nobel prize for work on the ozone layer. The 1982 paper, entitled The Atmosphere after a Nuclear War: Twilight at Noon, argued that, should there be an exchange of nuclear weapons between Nato and the Soviet Union, forests and oil fields would ignite and the smoke of vast fires would cause bitter cold and mass famine: “The screening of sunlight by the fire-produced aerosol over extended periods during the growing season would eliminate much of the food production in the Northern Hemisphere.”

Carl Sagan, astronomer turned television star, then convened a conference on the “nuclear winter” hypothesis in October 1983, supported by leading environmental and anti-war pressure groups from Friends of the Earth to the Audubon Society, Planned Parenthood to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Curiously, three Soviet officials joined the conference’s board and a satellite link from the Kremlin was provided.

In December 1983, two papers appeared in the prestigious journal Science, one on the physics that became known as TTAPS after the surnames of its authors, S being for Sagan; the other on the biology, whose authors included the famous biologists Paul Ehrlich and Stephen Jay Gould as well as Sagan. The conclusion of the second paper was extreme: “Global environmental changes sufficient to cause the extinction of a major fraction of the plant and animal species on Earth are likely. In that event, the possibility of the extinction of Homo sapiens cannot be excluded.”

Who started the scare and why? One possibility is that it was fake news from the beginning. When the high-ranking Russian spy Sergei Tretyakov defected in 2000, he said that the KGB was especially proud of the fact “it created the myth of nuclear winter”. He based this on what colleagues told him and on research he did at the Red Banner Institute, the Russian spy school.

The Kremlin was certainly spooked by Nato’s threat to deploy medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe if the Warsaw Pact refused to limit its deployment of such missiles. In Darwall’s version, based on Tretyakov, Yuri Andropov, head of the KGB, “ordered the Soviet Academy of Sciences to produce a doomsday report to incite more demonstrations in West Germany”. They applied some older work by a scientist named Kirill Kondratyev on the cooling effect of dust storms in the Karakum Desert to the impact of a nuclear exchange in Germany.

Tretyakov said: “I was told the Soviet scientists knew this theory was completely ridiculous. There were no legitimate facts to support it. But it was exactly what Andropov needed to cause terror in the West.” Andropov then supposedly ordered it to be fed to contacts in the western peace and green movement.

It certainly helped Soviet propaganda. From the Pope to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament to the non-aligned nations, calls for Nato’s nuclear strategy to be rethought because of the nuclear winter theory came thick and fast. A Russian newspaper used the nuclear winter to inveigh against “inhuman aspirations of the US imperialists, who are pushing the world towards nuclear catastrophe”. The award of the Nobel peace prize in 1985 to the prominent Russian doctor Evgeny Chazov specifically mentioned his support for the nuclear winter theory.

“Propagators of the nuclear winter thus acted as dupes in a disinformation exercise scripted by the KGB”, concludes Darwall. We can never be entirely certain of this because Tretyakov’s KGB colleagues may have been exaggerating their role and he is now dead. But that the KGB did its best to fan the flames is not in doubt.

It soon became apparent that the nuclear winter hypothesis was plain wrong. As the geophysicist Russell Seitz pointed out, “soot in the TTAPS simulation is not up there as an observed consequence of nuclear explosions but because the authors told a programmer to put it there”. He added: “The model dealt with such complications as geography, winds, sunrise, sunset and patchy clouds in a stunningly elegant manner — they were ignored.” The physicist Steven Schneider concluded that “the global apocalyptic conclusions of the initial nuclear winter hypothesis can now be relegated to a vanishingly low level of probability”.

The physicists Freeman Dyson and Fred Singer, who would end up on the opposite side of the global-warming debate from Schneider and Seitz, calculated that any effects would be patchy and short-lived, and that while dry soot could generate cooling, any kind of dampness risked turning a nuclear smog into a warming factor and a short-lived one at that.

By 1986 the theory was effectively dead, and so it has remained. A nuclear war would have devastating consequences, but the impact on the climate would be the least of our worries.

The stakes were higher in the Cold War than today. The Soviet peace offensive secured the support of many western intellectuals and much of the media, and very nearly prevailed.

Weak Intervention Backfire and Criminal Hormesis: Why Some Otherwise Effective Crime Prevention Interventions Can Fail at Low Doses

Shannon J Linning, John E Eck; Weak Intervention Backfire and Criminal Hormesis: Why Some Otherwise Effective Crime Prevention Interventions Can Fail at Low Doses, The British Journal of Criminology, Volume 58, Issue 2, 15 February 2018, Pages 309–331,

Abstract: Although crime prevention tactics are designed to reduce offending, some studies have revealed instances where reported crime actually increases after introducing lower intensity interventions. An analogous trend—characterized by low-dose stimulation and high-dose inhibition—called hormesis has already been observed in the natural sciences. We argue that this phenomenon is theoretically applicable to crime prevention. Findings suggest that researchers should test varying intensities of interventions to avoid rejecting ones that would be otherwise effective at higher levels. Research using dose–response techniques and simulation models should be explored to determine whether a weak intervention backfire effect occurred or is possible. Knowledge of such information could lead to more effective crime prevention strategies and better specified analytic models for evaluation.

Considerable numbers of individuals are first-time convicted for offenses committed at age 25 or later; adult-onset offending is relatively more prevalent among females than among males

Adulthood-limited offending: How much is there to explain? Fredrik Sivertsson. Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 55, March–April 2018, Pages 58–70.

•    The current study uses prospective population-based longitudinal conviction data.
•    Considerable numbers of individuals are first-time convicted for offenses committed at age 25 or later.
•    Adult-onset offending is relatively more prevalent among females than among males.
•    Adult-onset females account for a substantial share of all female adulthood convictions.


Purpose: The current study explores male and female adult-onset offending careers in a Swedish population-based longitudinal dataset comprising five successive birth cohorts which are followed prospectively on the basis of detailed conviction data to age 50.

Methods: Adult-onset offenders are compared to juvenile-onset offenders on a number of criminal career measures. Growth curve analysis is employed to visualize average trajectories for convictions during adulthood.

Results: The study found that 22% of convicted males and 38% of convicted females were convicted for the first time for offenses committed between ages 25 and 50. The adult-onset males contributed 19% of all male adulthood convictions and 16% of male violent convictions in adulthood. The adult-onset females contributed 47% of all female adulthood convictions and 48% of female violent convictions in adulthood. While the adolescent-onset trajectories displayed generally decreasing trends for offending in adulthood, adult-onset females displayed increasing trends in relation to trajectories of violence and drug/alcohol-related offending as they approached middle adulthood.

Conclusions: There is a need for developmental and life-course theories of crime to be explicit in explaining adult-onset offending, particularly in relation to gender disparities.

Keywords: Criminal career; Developmental and life-course criminology; Adult-onset offending; Gender; Population studies; Growth curve

Gender identity is a multifactorial complex trait with a heritable polygenic component

The Biological Contributions to Gender Identity and Gender Diversity: Bringing Data to the Table. Tinca J. C. Polderman et al. Behavior Genetics,

Abstract: The American Psychological Association defines gender identity as, “A person’s deeply-felt, inherent sense of being a boy, a man, or a male; a girl, a woman, or a female; or an alternative gender (e.g., genderqueer, gender nonconforming, gender neutral) that may or may not correspond to a person’s sex assigned at birth or to a person’s primary or secondary sex characteristics” (American Psychological Association, Am Psychol 70(9):832–864, 2015). Here we review the evidence that gender identity and related socially defined gender constructs are influenced in part by innate factors including genes. Based on the data reviewed, we hypothesize that gender identity is a multifactorial complex trait with a heritable polygenic component. We argue that increasing the awareness of the biological diversity underlying gender identity development is relevant to all domains of social, medical, and neuroscience research and foundational for reducing health disparities and promoting human-rights protections for gender minorities.

Male brown widow spiders invest much energy in courtship, and risk cannibalism; by mating with subadult females, males save energy and avoid cannibalism, but instead, choose older adult females, despite not gaining any benefit

Male mate choice in a sexually cannibalistic widow spider. Shevy Waner, Uzi Motro, Yael Lubin, Ally R. Harari. Animal Behaviour, Volume 137, March 2018, Pages 189–196,

•    Male brown widow spiders invest much energy in courtship, and risk cannibalism.
•    By mating with subadult females, males save energy and avoid cannibalism.
•    If mated, subadult females are fertile, but males avoided mating with subadults.
•    Instead, males chose older adult females, despite not gaining any benefit.

Abstract: Males of the brown widow spider, Latrodectus geometricus (Theridiidae), invest energy in courtship displays and are often cannibalized after mating; accordingly, partial sex role reversal is expected. In this species, subadult females are able to mate and produce viable offspring. In contrast to mature females, these subadult females do not cannibalize their mates after copulation. Nevertheless, when given a choice, males preferred mature over subadult females and older over young mature females. We found no benefit for males in mating with the females of their choice. Older females were significantly less fecund than young mature females, and were not more fecund than subadult females. We tested possible advantages in mating with cannibalistic (mature) females, such as an increased probability of plugging the female's genital duct or longer copulations, or disadvantages in mating with subadult females, such as higher remating risk. None of these explanations was supported. Thus, we lack an adaptive explanation for male preference for mature older females. We suggest that older females produce more pheromone to attract males and that males are thus misled into mating with older, more aggressive and less fecund females.

Keywords: brown widow spider; courtship; Latrodectus geometricus; mate choice; sexual cannibalism

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Merely Watching Others Perform Can Foster an Illusion of Skill Acquisition

Easier Seen Than Done: Merely Watching Others Perform Can Foster an Illusion of Skill Acquisition. Michael Kardas, Ed O’Brien. Psychological Science,

Abstract: Modern technologies such as YouTube afford unprecedented access to the skilled performances of other people. Six experiments (N = 2,225) reveal that repeatedly watching others can foster an illusion of skill acquisition. The more people merely watch others perform (without actually practicing themselves), the more they nonetheless believe they could perform the skill, too (Experiment 1). However, people’s actual abilities—from throwing darts and doing the moonwalk to playing an online game—do not improve after merely watching others, despite predictions to the contrary (Experiments 2–4). What do viewers see that makes them think they are learning? We found that extensive viewing allows people to track what steps to take (Experiment 5) but not how those steps feel when taking them. Accordingly, experiencing a “taste” of performing attenuates the illusion: Watching others juggle but then holding the pins oneself tempers perceived change in one’s own ability (Experiment 6). These findings highlight unforeseen problems for self-assessment when watching other people.

Keywords: self-assessment, empathy gap, repeated exposure, open data, open materials, preregistered

Cues of woman’s fertility predict prices for sex with prostitutes

Cues of woman’s fertility predict prices for sex with prostitutes. Pavol Prokop et al. Current Psychology,

Abstract: Prostitution is an exchange of sexual services for economic profit which predominantly reflects men’s desire for sexually attractive women. These preferences could be shaped by sexual selection, as a woman’s sexual attractiveness is believed to be a cue of fertility. Using data from Polish prostitutes, we investigated whether cues of fertility are associated with the price for sex. In line with evolutionary predictions, prostitute’s age and body mass index (BMI) were negatively correlated with the price for sex, while breast size (except for very large breasts) and number of sexual offerings were positively associated with the price for sex. This suggests that young, slim prostitutes with moderate breasts are more expensive than older, stockier, and those with very large breasts. We suggest that commercial sex exploits men’s evolved preferences for sexually attractive women who have high reproductive potential.

Kids becoming less alike: A behavioral genetic analysis of developmental increases in personality variance from childhood to adolescence

Kids becoming less alike: A behavioral genetic analysis of developmental increases in personality variance from childhood to adolescence. René Mõttus et al. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology , February 2018.

Lay summary: Children and adolescents tend to grow less alike in personality. It is largely their genetic differences that make them increasingly different. This may be because genetic influences predispose children to particular experiences that then amplify these influences.

Abstract: Recent work in personality development has indicated that the magnitude of individual differences in personality increases over child development. Do such patterns reflect the differentiation of individuals by genotype, an increasing influence of environmental factors, or some (interactive) combination of the two? Using a population-based sample of over 2,500 twins and multiples from the Texas Twin Project, we estimated age trends in the variances in self- and parent-reported measures of the Big Five personality traits between ages eight and eighteen years. We then estimated age trends in the genetic and environmental components of variance in each measure. Individual differences in personality increased in magnitude from childhood through mid-adolescence. This pattern emerged using both children's self-reports and ratings provided by their parents, and was primarily attributable to increases in the magnitude of genetic influences. Most of the increasing genetic variance appeared non-additive, pointing to the possibility that developmental processes tend to make genetically similar individuals disproportionately more alike in their personality traits over time. These findings could reflect increasing or accumulating effects of trait-by-trait interactions; person-by-environment transactions whereby genetically similar people are disproportionally likely to experience similar environments; the activation of dominant genes across developmental transitions (e.g., puberty); or some combination of these three processes, among other factors. Theories of personality development will need to accommodate these descriptive findings, and longitudinal, genetically informed designs are needed to test some of the specific hypotheses springing from this study.

Keywords: Development; Personality; Variance; Behavioral Genetics; Non-additive

'Terrorist' or 'mentally ill': Motivated Biases Rooted in Partisanship Shape Attributions About Violent Actors

Noor, Masi, Nour Kteily, Birte Siem, and Agostino Mazziotta 2018. “'Terrorist' or 'mentally ill': Motivated Biases Rooted in Partisanship Shape Attributions About Violent Actors”. PsyArXiv. February 16.

Abstract: We investigated whether motivated reasoning rooted in partisanship affects the attributions individuals make about violent attackers’ underlying motives and group memberships. Study 1 demonstrated that on the day of the Brexit referendum pro–leavers (vs. pro–remainers) attributed an exculpatory (i.e., mental health) versus condemnatory (i.e., terrorism) motive to the killing of a pro-remain politician. Study 2 demonstrated that pro– (vs. anti–) immigration perceivers in Germany ascribed a mental health (vs. terrorism) motive to a suicide attack by a Syrian refugee, predicting lower endorsement of punitiveness against his group (i.e., refugees) as a whole. Study 3 experimentally manipulated target motives, showing that Americans distanced a politically-motivated (vs. mentally ill) violent individual from their ingroup and assigned him harsher punishment— patterns most pronounced amongst high group identifiers.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Do Red Objects Enhance Sexual Attractiveness? No Evidence from Two Large Replications and an Extension

Pollet, Thomas V., Joanne Costello, Lotte Groeneboom, Leonard S Peperkoorn, and Junhui Wu 2018. “Do Red Objects Enhance Sexual Attractiveness? No Evidence from Two Large Replications and an Extension”. PsyArXiv. February 16.

Abstract: Color has been argued to exert a powerful effect on motivation and behavior. This has led researchers, most notably in social psychology, to examine the effects of color on perceptions of (sexual) attractiveness. Building on a body of work on the ‘romantic red effect’, Lin (2014) found evidence that the color of a laptop influenced ratings of a woman’s sexual attractiveness. If this holds true, then color effects could have profound importance for the marketing of consumer products such as laptops. Here we present two replications, one in the Netherlands and one in China, investigating whether red products increase perceptions of attractiveness. In addition, we also present an extension where we use a different object (a watch) and evaluate male attractiveness, rather than female attractiveness. Across three studies, totaling over 600 participants, we found no support for the claim that red products enhance sexual attractiveness. We discuss the implications for research on color and attractiveness and its implications for consumer research.

Magical thinking decreases across adulthood

Brashier, N. M., & Multhaup, K. S. (2017). Magical thinking decreases across adulthood. Psychology and Aging, 32(8), 681-688.

Abstract: Magical thinking, or illogical causal reasoning such as superstitions, decreases across childhood, but almost no data speak to whether this developmental trajectory continues across the life span. In four experiments, magical thinking decreased across adulthood. This pattern replicated across two judgment domains and could not be explained by age-related differences in tolerance of ambiguity, domain-specific knowledge, or search for meaning. These data complement and extend findings that experience, accumulated over decades, guides older adults’ judgments so that they match, or even exceed, young adults’ performance. They also counter participants’ expectations, and cultural sayings (e.g., “old wives’ tales”), that suggest that older adults are especially superstitious.

Born criminal? Differences in structural, functional and behavioural lateralization between criminals and noncriminals

Born criminal? Differences in structural, functional and behavioural lateralization between criminals and noncriminals. Priscilla Savopoulos & Annukka K. Lindell. Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition,

ABSTRACT: Over 100 years ago Lombroso [(1876/2006). Criminal man. Durham: Duke University Press] proposed a biological basis for criminality. Based on inspection of criminals’ skulls he theorized that an imbalance of the cerebral hemispheres was amongst 18 distinguishing features of the criminal brain. Specifically, criminals were less lateralized than noncriminals. As the advent of neuroscientific techniques makes more fine-grained inspection of differences in brain structure and function possible, we review criminals’ and noncriminals’ structural, functional, and behavioural lateralization to evaluate the merits of Lombroso’s thesis and investigate the evidence for the biological underpinning of criminal behaviour. Although the body of research is presently small, it appears consistent with Lombroso’s proposal: criminal psychopaths’ brains show atypical structural asymmetries, with reduced right hemisphere grey and white matter volumes, and abnormal interhemispheric connectivity. Functional asymmetries are also atypical, with criminal psychopaths showing a less lateralized cortical response than noncriminals across verbal, visuo-spatial, and emotional tasks. Finally, the incidence of non-right-handedness is higher in criminal than non-criminal populations, consistent with reduced cortical lateralization. Thus despite Lombroso’s comparatively primitive and inferential research methods, his conclusion that criminals’ lateralization differs from that of noncriminals is borne out by the neuroscientific research. How atypical cortical asymmetries predispose criminal behaviour remains to be determined.

KEYWORDS: Lateralization, criminal, brain, handedness, psychopathy

Check also: A population-specific HTR2B stop codon predisposes to severe impulsivity. L Bevilacqua et al. Nature. 2010 Dec 23;468(7327):1061-6. doi: 10.1038/nature09629. Erratum in Nature, 2011 Feb 17;470(7334):424.
Abstract: Impulsivity, describing action without foresight, is an important feature of several psychiatric diseases, suicidality and violent behaviour. The complex origins of impulsivity hinder identification of the genes influencing it and the diseases with which it is associated. Here we perform exon-focused sequencing of impulsive individuals in a founder population, targeting fourteen genes belonging to the serotonin and dopamine domain. A stop codon in HTR2B was identified that is common (minor allele frequency > 1%) but exclusive to Finnish people. Expression of the gene in the human brain was assessed, as well as the molecular functionality of the stop codon, which was associated with psychiatric diseases marked by impulsivity in both population and family-based analyses. Knockout of Htr2b increased impulsive behaviours in mice, indicative of predictive validity. Our study shows the potential for identifying and tracing effects of rare alleles in complex behavioural phenotypes using founder populations, and indicates a role for HTR2B in impulsivity.

An anticipated reality becoming current triggers an observable boost in people’s rationalizations

Inaugurating Rationalization: Three Field Studies Find Increased Rationalization When Anticipated Realities Become Current. Kristin Laurin,

Abstract: People will often rationalize the status quo, reconstruing it in an exaggeratedly positive light. They will even rationalize the status quo they anticipate, emphasizing the upsides and minimizing the downsides of sociopolitical realities they expect to take effect. Drawing on recent findings on the psychological triggers of rationalization, I present results from three field studies, one of which was preregistered, testing the hypothesis that an anticipated reality becoming current triggers an observable boost in people’s rationalizations. San Franciscans rationalized a ban on plastic water bottles, Ontarians rationalized a targeted smoking ban, and Americans rationalized the presidency of Donald Trump, more in the days immediately after these realities became current compared with the days immediately before. Additional findings show evidence for a mechanism underlying these behaviors and rule out alternative accounts. These findings carry implications for scholarship on rationalization, for understanding protest behavior, and for policymakers.

Keywords: rationalization, system justification, anticipatory rationalization, political psychology, motivated cognition, open data, open materials, and preregistered

Toward a multifactorial model of expertise: beyond born versus made

Hambrick, D. Z., Burgoyne, A. P., Macnamara, B. N. and Ullén, F. (2018), Toward a multifactorial model of expertise: beyond born versus made. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci.. doi:10.1111/nyas.13586

Abstract: The debate over the origins of individual differences in expertise has raged for over a century in psychology. The “nature” view holds that expertise reflects “innate talent”—that is, genetically determined abilities. The “nurture” view counters that, if talent even exists, its effects on ultimate performance are negligible. While no scientist takes seriously a strict nature-only view of expertise, the nurture view has gained tremendous popularity over the past several decades. This environmentalist view holds that individual differences in expertise reflect training history, with no important contribution to ultimate performance by innate ability (“talent”). Here, we argue that, despite its popularity, this view is inadequate to account for the evidence concerning the origins of expertise that has accumulated since the view was first proposed. More generally, we argue that the nature versus nurture debate in research on expertise is over—or certainly should be, as it has been in other areas of psychological research for decades. We describe a multifactorial model for research on the nature and nurture of expertise, which we believe will provide a progressive direction for future research on expertise.

When a schadenfreude eliciting misfortune happens to an envied person, this reduces subsequent envy

van de Ven, Niels, 2018. “A Schadenfreude Inducing Misfortune Reduces Envy”. Open Science Framework. February 15.

Abstract: Three studies find that when a schadenfreude eliciting misfortune happens to an envied person, this reduces subsequent envy. The results are consistent with the idea that schadenfreude serves as a signal that the prior imbalance in how one would like the world to see (caused by the other being better off than we would like him/her to be) is restored again.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Psychotherapy was a marvellous invention, but initial enthusiasm regarding its efficacy has now been obfuscated due to scientific biases that systematically inflate estimates

Raising awareness for the replication crisis in clinical psychology by focusing on inconsistencies in psychotherapy research: how much can we rely on published findings from efficacy trials? Michael P. Hengartner. Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00256

Summary and conclusions: As in other psychological specialties (see Bakker et al., 2012), effect sizes published in the clinical psychological literature are often heterogeneous and inflated due to various scientific biases including allegiance bias (Luborsky et al., 1999), publication bias (Driessen et al., 2015), unblinded outcome assessors (Khan et al., 2012), sponsorship bias (Cristea et al., 2017b), or small sample sizes (Cuijpers et al., 2010b). After adjustment for systematic biases, efficacy estimates for various psychotherapy modalities tend to be disappointingly small (Cristea et al., 2017a; Cuijpers et al., 2010b). Some evidence suggests that when efficacy is estimated based exclusively on unbiased high-quality trials, effects of psychotherapy could fall below the threshold for clinical relevance (Cuijpers et al., 2014a). Recently, some psychotherapy researchers hence raised the controversial point that effects of both psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy for depression may entirely reflect a placebo effect (Cuijpers & Cristea, 2015). Of further concern is the gap between treatment efficacy in controlled laboratory trials and treatment effectiveness in naturalistic real-world settings (Hallfors & Cho, 2007; Westen et al., 2004). The literature reviewed in this commentary was restricted to the efficacy of clinical psychological interventions, as that topic is highly relevant for clinical psychology. Nevertheless, conflicting and irreproducible findings have been detected and discussed in various other hot topics within clinical psychology, including the effect of menopause on the occurrence of depression (Hengartner, 2017; Rössler et al., 2016), the putative consequences of violent video games (Calvert et al., 2017; Ferguson and Kilburn, 2010), or inconsistent associations between psychopathology and stress physiology (Chida and Hamer, 2008; Rosmalen and Oldehinkel, 2011). Even though the replication crisis was mostly addressed within social psychology, I conclude that it is no less pernicious and prevalent in clinical psychology. Psychotherapy was a marvellous invention, but initial enthusiasm regarding its efficacy has now been obfuscated due to scientific biases that systematically inflate estimates. Being aware of these issues may certainly improve our scientific and clinical endeavours.

While women no longer tend to marry up in education, they still do in terms of earnings

The Reversal of the Gender Gap in Education and its Consequences for Family Life. Jan Van Bavel, Christine Schwartz, Albert Esteve. Forthcoming in Annual Review of Sociology, vol. 44, 2018.

Abstract: While men tended to receive more education than women in the past, the gender gap in education has reversed in recent decades in most Western and many non-Western countries. We review the literature about the implications for union formation, assortative mating, the division of paid and unpaid work, and union stability in Western countries. The bulk of the evidence points to a narrowing of gender differences in mate preferences and declining aversion to female status-dominant relationships. Couples in which wives have more education than their husbands now outnumber those in which husbands have more. While such marriages were more unstable in the past, existing studies indicate that this is no longer true. In addition, recent studies show less evidence of gender display in housework when wives have higher status than their husbands. Despite these shifts, other research documents the continuing influence of the breadwinner-homemaker model of marriage.

Significant liberal/conservative differences in self-reported emotional expressivity, in facial emotional expressivity measured physiologically, in the perceived emotional expressivity and ideology of political elites

In your face: Emotional expressivity as a predictor of ideology. Johnathan Caleb Peterson et al. Politics and the Life Sciences,

Abstract: Research suggests that people can accurately predict the political affiliations of others using only information extracted from the face. It is less clear from this research, however, what particular facial physiological processes or features communicate such information. Using a model of emotion developed in psychology that treats emotional expressivity as an individual-level trait, this article provides a theoretical account of why emotional expressivity may provide reliable signals of political orientation, and it tests the theory in four empirical studies. We find statistically significant liberal/conservative differences in self-reported emotional expressivity, in facial emotional expressivity measured physiologically, in the perceived emotional expressivity and ideology of political elites, and in an experiment that finds that more emotionally expressive faces are perceived as more liberal.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Paradoxically!!!, the sex differences in the magnitude of relative academic strengths and pursuit of STEM degrees rose with increases in national gender equality

The Gender-Equality Paradox in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education. Gijsbert Stoet, David C. Geary. Psychological Science,

Abstract: The underrepresentation of girls and women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields is a continual concern for social scientists and policymakers. Using an international database on adolescent achievement in science, mathematics, and reading (N = 472,242), we showed that girls performed similarly to or better than boys in science in two of every three countries, and in nearly all countries, more girls appeared capable of college-level STEM study than had enrolled. Paradoxically, the sex differences in the magnitude of relative academic strengths and pursuit of STEM degrees rose with increases in national gender equality. The gap between boys’ science achievement and girls’ reading achievement relative to their mean academic performance was near universal. These sex differences in academic strengths and attitudes toward science correlated with the STEM graduation gap. A mediation analysis suggested that life-quality pressures in less gender-equal countries promote girls’ and women’s engagement with STEM subjects.

Keywords: cognitive ability, cross-cultural differences, educational psychology, science education, sex differences, open materials

Attentional and evaluative biases help people maintain relationships by avoiding infidelity

Attentional and evaluative biases help people maintain relationships by avoiding infidelity. McNulty, James K., Meltzer, Andrea L., Makhanova, Anastasia, Maner, Jon K. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Feb 12 , 2018,

Abstract: Two longitudinal studies of 233 newlywed couples suggest that automatic attentional and evaluative biases regarding attractive relationship alternatives can help people maintain relationships by avoiding infidelity. Both studies assessed participants’ tendency to automatically disengage attention from photos of attractive, opposite sex individuals; one study assessed participants’ tendency to devalue those individuals by comparing their attractiveness evaluations to evaluations made by single people, and both studies assessed infidelity and relationship status multiple times for approximately three years. Several sources of devaluation emerged, but only participants’ history of short-term sex predicted both biases; having more short-term sexual partners was associated with being slower to disengage attention from attractive alternatives, and, among men, evaluating such individuals more positively. In turn, both processes exerted indirect effects on relationship dissolution by predicting infidelity; being 100 ms faster to disengage attention from attractive alternatives or rating them 2 scale points lower in attractiveness was associated with a decrease in the odds of infidelity of approximately 50%; the effect of devaluation on infidelity was stronger among participants who evidenced steeper declines in marital satisfaction. These associations emerged because unfaithful individuals took longer to disengage attention from attractive alternatives compared with other social targets and did not differ from singles in their evaluations of those alternatives. Among several other predictors of infidelity, partner attractiveness was associated with a decrease in the odds of infidelity among men but not women. These findings suggest a role for basic psychological processes in predicting infidelity, highlight the critical role of automatic processes in relationship functioning, and suggest novel ways to promote relationship success.

Episodic memory is geared to supply human beings with unexpected events worth telling. In our species, producing unexpectedness is crucial to have a chance of attracting friends

Remembered events are unexpected (Commentary on Mahr & Csibra: Why do we remember? The communicative function of episodic memory). Jean-Louis Dessalles. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 2018, 41, p. 22.

Abstract: We remember a small proportion of our experiences as events. Are these events selected
because they are useful and can be proven true, or rather because they are unexpected? 

Episodic memory is geared to supply human beings with unexpected events worth telling.
In our species, producing unexpectedness is crucial to have a chance of attracting friends
(Dessalles 2014). The question of reliability is subordinate to the criterion of unexpectedness.
We select a tiny proportion of our experiences and we remember them, not because they are
true, but because they are unexpected.

Many people believe in immortality. Seven studies reveal that good- and evil-doers are perceived to possess more immortality—albeit different kinds

To Be Immortal, Do Good or Evil. Kurt Gray et al. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,

Abstract: Many people believe in immortality, but who is perceived to live on and how exactly do they live on? Seven studies reveal that good- and evil-doers are perceived to possess more immortality—albeit different kinds. Good-doers have “transcendent” immortality, with their souls persisting beyond space and time; evil-doers have “trapped” immortality, with their souls persisting on Earth, bound to a physical location. Studies 1 to 4 reveal bidirectional links between perceptions of morality and type of immortality. Studies 5 to 7 reveal how these links explain paranormal perceptions. People generally tie paranormal events to evil spirits (Study 5), but this depends upon location: Evil spirits are perceived to haunt houses and dense forests, whereas good spirits are perceived in expansive locations such as mountaintops (Study 6). However, even good spirits may be seen as trapped on Earth given extenuating circumstances (Study 7). Materials include a scale for measuring trapped and transcendent immorality.

Keywords: immortality, morality, death, supernatural, paranormal

Partisan animus began to rise in the 1980s, & it has grown dramatically over the past two decades. As partisan affect has intensified, it is also more structured; ingroup favoritism is increasingly associated with outgroup animus

Iyengar, S. and Krupenkin, M. (2018), The Strengthening of Partisan Affect. Political Psychology, 39: 201–218. doi:10.1111/pops.12487

Abstract: Partisanship continues to divide Americans. Using data from the American National Election Studies (ANES), we find that partisans not only feel more negatively about the opposing party, but also that this negativity has become more consistent and has a greater impact on their political participation. We find that while partisan animus began to rise in the 1980s, it has grown dramatically over the past two decades. As partisan affect has intensified, it is also more structured; ingroup favoritism is increasingly associated with outgroup animus. Finally, hostility toward the opposing party has eclipsed positive affect for ones' own party as a motive for political participation.

Killing experiment subjects: “If we could reduce particulate matter to levels that are healthy we would have an identical impact to finding a cure for cancer"

Enstrom’s Expose of Air Pollution Epidemiology Problems. John Dale Dunn. Dose-Response, Volume: 16 issue: 1,


Dr James Enstrom’s article in the January-March 2017 issue of Dose Response titled “Fine Particulate Matter and Total Mortality in Cancer Prevention Study Cohort Reanalysis” exposes United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-sponsored air pollution epidemiological research misconduct, characterized by a history of using small associations observational epidemiology to project grand claims of hundreds of thousands of deaths from fine particle air pollution. For more than 2 decades, the EPA and its sponsored epidemiologists have used this deplorable method and ignored the rule that dominates the Bradford Hill Rules of proof of causation—the importance of a robust effect as expressed in relative risks (RR) that are at least 2.0 (100% effect) or more. Enstrom exposes the perfidy.

The rules on strength of association (relative risk) are discussed in depth in the chapter on epidemiology of the Federal Judicial Center’s Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, (National Academy of Sciences Press, 3rd Edition, 2011). The authors of the epidemiology chapter include Leon Gordis, MD, MPH, DrPH, an iconic figure in epidemiology and long-time Chair of Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.1

Dr Robert Devlin, senior scientist for the EPA human experiments project of the past 3 decades, admitted in a sworn affidavit filed in a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Virginia that the EPA sponsored human exposure air pollution experiments because the epidemiological research claiming deaths from air pollution sponsored by the EPA was not proof of causation.2


But wait, in September, 2011 US EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson testified to congress that fine particles kill hundreds of thousands of people in America every year, a claim based on EPA epidemiology.3 She said in colloquy with then Representative Markey (D Mass) “If we could reduce particulate matter to levels that are healthy we would have an identical impact to finding a cure for cancer. (pp.H6380)”4 How can the EPA sponsor human experiments ethically and in good faith when they assert publically that fine particle air pollution is acutely lethal, toxic, and carcinogenic?

Dr. Enstrom says:
…the null CPS II PM2.5 mortality findings in this article directly challenge the original positive Pope 1995 findings, and they raise serious doubts about the CPS II epidemiologic evidence supporting the PM2.5 NAAQS. These findings demonstrate the importance of independent and transparent analysis of underlying data. Finally, these findings provide strong justification for further independent analysis of CPS II cohort data.

If big government money was taken out of this toxic mix producing bad research, there would be no small association results used to project hundreds of thousands of deaths in America. Epidemiological researchers on environmental issues and their institutions are providing many United States federal agencies — with what agencies pay for and desire from paid researchers, scientific arguments to justify agency regulatory actions and impress on the country their preferences and ambitious agendas.


Follow the money and influence. Science is for sale. Mencken said the goal of practical politics is “…keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”


[References in the original link]

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Sexual Identity, Same-Same Relationships, and Health Dynamics: New Evidence from Australia

Sexual Identity, Same-Same Relationships, and Health Dynamics: New Evidence from Australia. Joseph J. Sabia, Mark Wooden, Thanh Tam Nguyen. Economics & Human Biology,

•    This study is the first to estimate dynamic health effects of same-sex relationships.
•    We exploit newly available population-based data from Australia.
•    We use the dynamic panel model pioneered by Kohn and Averett (2014).
•    Health benefits of same-sex partnering are smaller than for opposite-sex coupling.

Abstract: Prior research has found that opposite-sex marital and cohabiting relationships are associated with improvements in health. However, studies examining the health dynamics of same-sex relationships are sparser because few nationally representative longitudinal datasets collect information on adults’ sexual identity. Using newly available data on sexual minorities from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, we estimate the effects of Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual (LGB) identification and same-sex relationships on health dynamics. We document two key findings. First, sexual minorities in Australia are more likely to engage in risky health behaviors and report worse health than their heterosexual counterparts. Second, after exploiting the longitudinal nature of the HILDA and accounting for selection into relationships using the dynamic panel approach of Kohn and Averett (2014), we find that while opposite-sex partnerships are associated with a 3 to 7 percentage-point decline in risky health behaviors and improved physical and mental health, the health benefits of same-sex relationships are weaker, particularly for men.

Keywords: sexual identity; same-sex relationships; health dynamics

Subjective Well-Being and Academic Achievement: A Meta-Analysis

Subjective Well-Being and Academic Achievement: A Meta-Analysis. Susanne Bücker et al. Journal of Research in Personality,

•    A meta-analysis on the association of SWB and academic achievement was conducted.
•    The correlation between academic achievement and SWB was statistically significant.
•    Low-achieving students do not necessarily report low well-being.
•    High-achieving students do not automatically have high well-being.

Abstract: Is the subjective well-being (SWB) of high achieving students generally higher compared to low achieving students? In this meta-analysis, we investigated the association between SWB and academic achievement by synthesizing 151 effect sizes from 47 studies with a total of 38,946 participants. The correlation between academic achievement and SWB was small to medium in magnitude and statistically significant at r = .164, 95% CI [0.113, 0.216]. The correlation was stable across various levels of demographic variables, different domains of SWB, and was stable across alternative measures of academic achievement or SWB. Overall, the results suggest that low-achieving students do not necessarily report low well-being, and that high-achieving students do not automatically have high well-being.

Keywords: academic achievement; subjective well-being; life satisfaction; academic satisfaction; meta-analysis

All studies gave support for the extremity hypothesis, which states that people use can-statements to describe the topmost values in a distribution of outcomes, regardless of their actual probabilities

It can become 5 °C warmer: The extremity effect in climate forecasts. Teigen, Karl Halvor, Filkuková, Petra, and Hohle, Sigrid Møyner. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, Feb 12 , 2018,

Abstract: Climate projections and other predictions are often described as outcomes that can happen, indicating possibilities that are imaginable, but uncertain. Whereas the meanings of other uncertainty terms have been extensively studied, the uses of modal verbs like can and will have rarely been examined. Participants in five experiments were shown graphs and verbal statements showing projections of future global warming, sea level rise, and other climate-related issues. All studies gave support for the extremity hypothesis, which states that people use can-statements to describe the topmost values in a distribution of outcomes, regardless of their actual probabilities. Despite their extremity, outcomes that can happen are believed to have a substantial likelihood of occurrence. The extremity effect was replicated in 2 languages (Norwegian and English), and with several related terms (can, possible, could, and may). The combination of extremity and exaggerated likelihood conveyed by such statements could lead to serious miscommunications.

How to spot hype in the field of psychotherapy: A 19-item checklist

How to spot hype in the field of psychotherapy: A 19-item checklist. Meichenbaum, Donald, and Lilienfeld, Scott O. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, Vol 49(1), Feb 2018, 22-30.

Abstract: How can consumers of psychotherapies, including practitioners, students, and clients, best appraise the merits of therapies, especially those that are largely or entirely untested? We propose that clinicians, patients, and other consumers should be especially skeptical of interventions that have been substantially overhyped and overpromoted. To that end, we offer a provisional “Psychotherapy Hype Checklist,” which consists of 19 warning signs suggesting that an intervention’s efficacy and effectiveness have been substantially exaggerated. We hope that this checklist will foster a sense of healthy self-doubt in practitioners and assist them to become more discerning consumers of the bewildering psychotherapy marketplace. This checklist should also be useful in identifying the overhyping of well-established treatments.

The list as PDF file:

h/t: Rolf Degen,

Peer Pressure: Experimental Evidence from Restroom Behavior

Cardinale Lagomarsino, B., Gutman, M., Freira, L., Lanzalot, M. L., Lauletta, M., Malchik, L. E., Montano Campos, F., Pacini, B., Rossi, M. A. and Valencia, C. (2017), Peer Pressure: Experimental Evidence from Restroom Behavior. Econ Inq, 55: 1579–1584. doi:10.1111/ecin.12437

Abstract: We provide experimental evidence on the effect of peer pressure on individual behavior. Specifically, we study the effect of being exposed to an observer in a public restroom on handwashing and urinal flushing behavior. Our estimates show that being exposed to an observer increases the probability of handwashing by 13 percentage points and the probability of urinal flushing by 15 percentage points. Given that handwashing and urinal flushing have social benefits that exceed individual benefits, our findings provide support for peer pressure as an additional way of addressing the social suboptimality arising from externalities.

JEL: C91, C93

Deceptive Affectionate Messages as Mate Retention Behaviors

Affection, Deception, and Evolution: Deceptive Affectionate Messages as Mate Retention Behaviors. Madeleine H. Redlick, Anita L. Vangelisti. Evolutionary Psychology,

Abstract: This study explored how partner mate value (PMV) and factors indicative of the relational climate (i.e., commitment and satisfaction) might affect individuals’ tendency to use deceptive affectionate messages (DAMs). Participants (N = 203) responded to a survey including measures regarding these variables. Contrary to predictions, PMV and the tendency to engage in DAMs were significantly and negatively associated with one another. Analyses further indicated that commitment significantly moderated the negative association between PMV and DAMs. The present study also provided evidence that when commitment to the relationship is low, satisfaction mediates the negative association between PMV and DAMs.

Keywords: communication, deception, affection, commitment, satisfaction