Friday, March 14, 9919

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Monday, April 6, 2020

COVID-19 risk perception and trust in science both independently predict compliance with COVID-19 prevention guidelines

Plohl, Nejc, and Bojan Musil. 2020. “Modeling Compliance with COVID-19 Prevention Guidelines: The Critical Role of Trust in Science.” PsyArXiv. April 6. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is one of the biggest health crises of our time. In response to this global problem, various institutions around the world had soon issued evidence-based prevention guidelines. However, these guidelines, which were designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 and contribute to public well-being, are deliberately disregarded or ignored by some individuals. In the present study, we aimed to develop and test a multivariate model that could help us identify individual characteristics that make a person more/less likely to comply with COVID-19 prevention guidelines. A total of 617 participants took part in the online survey and answered several questions related to socio-demographic variables, political conservatism, religious orthodoxy, conspiracy ideation, intellectual curiosity, trust in science, COVID-19 risk perception and compliance with COVID-19 prevention guidelines. The results of structural equation modeling (SEM) show that COVID-19 risk perception and trust in science both independently predict compliance with COVID-19 prevention guidelines, while the remaining variables in the model (political conservatism, religious orthodoxy, conspiracy ideation and intellectual curiosity) do so via the mediating role of trust in science. The described model exhibited an acceptable fit (χ2(1611) = 2485.84, p < .001, CFI = .91, RMSEA = .032, SMR = .055). These findings thus provide empirical support for the proposed multivariate model and underline the importance of trust in science in explaining the different levels of compliance with COVID-19 prevention guidelines.

Although sometimes debated, our results imply that false memories for repeated events can be implanted and are perhaps even easier to induce than false memories for single events

Calado, Bruna, Timothy J. Luke, Deb Connolly, Sara Landström, and Henry Otgaar. 2020. “Implanting False Autobiographical Memories for Repeated Events.” PsyArXiv. April 6. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: People who falsely remember to be sexually abused as a child sometimes report memories of repeated abuse. Research to date, however, has exclusively focused on the implantation of false memories for single events. We investigated false memory formation for repeated autobiographical experiences using an adapted false memory implantation paradigm. We predicted that false memories for repeated events would be harder to implant compared to false memories for single events. We assigned students to one of three implantation conditions: two focused on the implantation of repeated events and another focused on the implantation of single events. Participants underwent three interview sessions with a 1-week interval. Surprisingly, false memories for repeated events were more easily implanted than false memories for single events. Although sometimes debated, our results imply that false memories for repeated events can be implanted and are perhaps even easier to induce than false memories for single events

Meta-analytic evidence, overall, suggests a small negative association between social media use and mental health

Meier, Adrian, and Leonard Reinecke. 2020. “Computer-mediated Communication, Social Media, and Mental Health: A Conceptual and Empirical Meta-review.” PsyArXiv. April 6. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Computer-mediated communication (CMC), and specifically social media, may affect the mental health (MH) and well-being of its users, for good or bad. Research on this topic has accumulated rapidly, accompanied by controversial public debate and numerous systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Yet, a higher-level integration of the various disparate conceptual and operational approaches to CMC and MH and individual review findings is desperately needed. To this end, we first develop two organizing frameworks that systematize conceptual and operational approaches to CMC and MH. Based on these frameworks, we integrate the literature through a meta-review of 34 reviews and a content analysis of 594 publications. Meta-analytic evidence, overall, suggests a small negative association between social media use and MH. However, effects are complex and depend on the CMC and MH indicators investigated. Based on our conceptual review and the evidence synthesis, we devise an agenda for future research in this interdisciplinary field.

Triage Protocol Design for Ventilator Rationing in a Pandemic: A Proposal to Integrate Multiple Ethical Values through Reserves

Triage Protocol Design for Ventilator Rationing in a Pandemic: A Proposal to Integrate Multiple Ethical Values through Reserves. Parag A. Pathak Tayfun Sonmez M. Utku Unver M. Bumin Yenmez. MIT Economics Papers, April 2020.

Abstract: In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the rationing of medical resources has become a critical issue. Nearly all existing triage protocols are based on a priority point system, in which an explicit formula specifies the order in which the total supply of a particular resource, such as a ventilator, is to be rationed for eligible patients. A priority point system generates the same priority ranking to ration all the units. Triage protocols in some states (e.g. Michigan) prioritize frontline health workers giving heavier weight to the ethical principle of instrumental valuation. Others (e.g. New York) do not, reasoning that if medical workers obtain high enough priority, there is a risk that they obtain all units and none remain for the general community. This debate is particularly pressing given substantial Covid-19 related health risks for frontline medical workers. In this paper, we propose that medical resources be rationed through a reserve system. In a reserve system, ventilators are placed into multiple categories. Priorities guiding allocation of units can reflect different ethical values between these categories. For example, while a reserve category for essential personnel can emphasize the reciprocity and instrumental value, a reserve category for general community can give higher weight to the values of utility and distributive justice. A reserve system provides additional flexibility over a priority point system because it does not dictate a single priority order for the allocation of all units. It offers a middle-ground approach that balances competing objectives. However, this flexibility requires careful attention to implementation, most notably the processing order of reserve categories, given that transparency is essential for triage protocol design. In this paper, we describe our mathematical model of a reserve system, characterize its potential outcomes, and examine distributional implications of particular reserve systems. We also discuss several practical considerations with triage protocol design.

Letters To A Spanish Youngster III

Letters To A Spanish Youngster III

Your Honor gift of the gods, the most gentle and amiable being, who teaches the stars new paths to travel through,

I write to You overpowered by the sound of Your voice and the visions of the beautiful and the just that can be found in You*.

Thinking of Your virtuous behaviour helps in the (small) mitigation of the unimportant and unsignificant misery Your humble servant lives in when You are far from him. There are, at the same time, a thousand melancolies and manifold magnificences having You so distant...

But I do not live with troubled thoughts, and anguish, and doubts, and fear, and sorrow, and pain** all the time, like others do... I am happy knowing Your Honor is well and content... I just live perplexed (borrowing from Milton in 'Paradise Lost') thinking of Your smile and good-natured attitude.

I found recently a list of apologies in the Net... I deeply regret that I didn't ask appropriately for forgiveness at the beginning, in my very first letter:

*    I know my actions...    Looking back, I realise that...    Please don't be angry     I accept full responsibility     I am so ashamed     I can understand how you feel     I do apologize     I don't know what to say     I really am most terribly sorry    I regret...     I take all the blame     Pardon me!     Please accept my apologies     Please excuse my thoughtlessness

*    I now realise that I shouldn't have done that     I'm sure you must be very disappointed in me    Please don't be mad at me/don't kill me     I accept that I am to blame/that it's my fault    I am such an idiot     I am sorry to have disappointed you     I apologize wholeheartedly/unreservedly    I cannot say/express how sorry I am     I have reflected on my actions and...    I know it was wrong of me to...     If I could turn back the clock,...    It was insensitive of me  Please accept my sincerest apologies    There is absolutely no excuse for my actions/behaviour/inaction/laziness    You are right to blame me     You must forgive me

*    I know I have let myself/you down     I know it was thoughtless of me     I can see how you might be annoyed      I can't believe I...     I don't know what came over me     I don't know what got into me     I just want the ground to swallow me up     I take full responsibility     I think I went too far    I was in the wrong     I messed up    I would like to express my regret     I'm happy to take the blame     If I could take it all back, I would     It was inexcusable    It's unforgivable, I know     Don't hold this against me

(I read them all and made a few changes >>> all mistakes are mine, as always.)

Madam, to speak of You is to take not only a noble theme, but one of the noblest ones†:

         [The shape of your face is in my mind.                                     [Las formas de Vuestro rostro están en mi mente.
         ­It is to you I have been speaking all this time,                         Sois Vos de quien he estado hablando todo
                                                                                                                                                             [este tiempo,
         Slowly, but driven by an intense delight.                                  con calma, pero empujado por el intenso deleite.
         And you will sense my soul purged of all vileness                 Y Vos sentiréis mi alma purgada de toda vileza
         Speaking as it does here, in this high form;                            hablando como aquí hace, de esta forma elevada;
         And this, after having locked away so many years,                 y aquella, tras haber estado encerrada tantos
                                                                                                                                                          [años, con la
         This purity remaining, should do my love some credit.]         pureza que aun le queda, debería dar a mi amor
                                                                                                                                                [algún crédito.]

But I am conscious of how much lacking of talent are these writings I send You. It is my hope that You will pardon me for my poor letters, my lack of knowledge and imagination, and those boring texts I copied to offer to You, to honor You, dear lady.

On account of my lack of skill (writing, or while near You, or when my path crosses Yours) I would sometimes like to disappear, but getting to know about You keeps me here on Earth, gentil espíritu†:

[Quisiera huir; pero los amorosos rayos relucen tanto que me encandilan mucho más que el primer día].

In English, same verses:

         [I want to flee: but those loving beams
         shine so that [...]
         they daze me more than on the first day:]

I wish these verses† could make that Your Grace had mercy upon me and allowed me to keep sending You, señora mía, letters like these:

        [Id, cálidos suspiros, hacia el frío corazón;
        romped el hielo que cierra el paso a la piedad,
        y si ruego mortal el cielo escucha,
        muerte o merced pongan fin a mi dolor.
        Id, dulces pensamientos, hablando claramente
        de aquello a lo cual no llega la bella mirada:]

And last of all, an invocation to be inspired‡:

         "Ye learnèd sisters, [...]
         Bring with you all the Nymphes that you can hear
         Both of the rivers and the forests green,
         And let them also with them bring in hand
         Another gay garland
         For my fair love, of lillies and of roses,".

My dear master, please allow me to end the letter de forma elevada†:

        [La obra es tan noble, tan agraciada y extraordinaria,
        que mirada mortal con ella no se atreve;
        tanto, en los ojos fuera de medida bellos,
        parece que Amor derrame gracia y dulzura.]

And in the wonderful and blessed Italian language†:

        "Felice l'alma che per voi sospira,
        Lumi del ciel;".

Es mi ilusión que estas cosas tan bonitas le complazcan a Su Señoría.

Very sad for my shyness and unpolished behavior when meeting You (always unexpectedly, since I try not to bother You with my presence), I wish You that "All happiness attend you!,"* my lady.

"Your affectionate" servant*,

                 a. r. ante Su Señoría


*  Adapted from Percy B Shelley's 'Dedication to Leigh Hunt, Esq.,' in the dedication of The Cenci, 1819.

**  Adapted from J Milton's Paradise Lost, 1674 edition, i.558.

†  Adapted from Francesco Petrarca, Petrarch Songs and Sonnets, A Bilingual Selection, translated by Richard Kilmer (London: Anvil Press Poetry, 2011), Petrarch: The Canzoniere, or Rerum Vulgarium Fragmenta, translated by Mark Musa (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996), and Atilio Pentimalli's translation (Barcelona: Ediciones Orbis, 1998): LXXI, 7-15; CVII, 5-8; CLIII, 1-6; CLIV, 5-8; LXXI, 67-8.

‡  Edmund Spenser's Epithalamion. The learned sisters should be the Muses. In the old spelling:

         "Ye learnèd sisters, [...]
         Bring with you all the Nymphes that you can heare
         Both of the riuers and the forrests greene,
         And let them also with them bring in hand
         Another gay girland
         For my fayre loue, of lillyes and of roses,".


People cheat to the degree that their actions match their deception goals and they can still be seen as a good person

It’s the Situation and Your Disposition: A Test of Two Honesty Hypotheses. David M. Markowitz, Timothy R. Levine. Social Psychological and Personality Science, April 6, 2020.

Abstract: Research has documented substantial individual differences in the proclivity for honesty or dishonesty and that personality traits meaningfully account for variations in honesty–dishonesty. Research also shows important situational variation related to deception, as situations can motivate or discourage dishonest behaviors. The current experiment examines personality and situational influences on honesty–dishonesty in tandem, arguing that their effects may not be additive. Participants (N = 114) engaged in an experimental task providing the opportunity to cheat for tangible gain. The situation varied to encourage or discourage cheating. Participants completed the HEXACO-100 and the Dark Triad of Personality scales. Both situational variation and personality dimensions predicted honesty–dishonesty, but the effects of personality were not uniform across situations. These results were also supported using public data from an independent, multilab sample (N = 5,757). We outline how these results inform our understanding of deception, situational influences, and the role of disposition in honesty.

Keywords: deception, situation, disposition, HEXACO, cheating

People cheat to the degree that their actions match their deception goals and they can still be seen as a good person.

The Development of a Scarcity Bias: Although a scarcity bias is not present in infancy, it emerges at 5 yo, prior to comprehension of market forces

The Development of a Scarcity Bias. Matar Ferera  Avi Benozio  Gil Diesendruck. Child Development, April 5 2020.

Abstract: Adults’ attraction to rare objects has been variously attributed to fundamental biases related to resource availability, self‐related needs, or beliefs about social and market forces. The current three studies investigated the scarcity bias in 11‐ and 14‐month‐old infants, and 3‐ to 6‐year‐old children (N = 129). With slight methodological modifications, participants had to choose between one of 10 same‐kind‐items (abundant resource), or the only one of a different kind (scarce resource). It was found that a robust preference for the scarce resource appeared only at age 5 years. Thus, although a scarcity bias is not present in infancy, it emerges prior to comprehension of market forces. Possible accounts of this developmental finding are discussed.

Open practice: The raw data of the studies reported in this paper will be made available on Gil Diesendruck’s laboratory website, at:

American and Korean Perceptions of Sex Differences in Deception: Women from both cultures and American men perceived that men tell a greater number of serious (i.e., nonwhite or high-stakes) lies

American and Korean Perceptions of Sex Differences in Deception. Eric T. Steiner, Young-Jae Cha, Sojung Baek. Evolutionary Psychology, April 3, 2020.

Abstract: Beliefs about which sex lies more or is better at lying can have subtle but widespread effects on human interactions, yet little is known about such beliefs. In Study 1, an American sample of participants (N = 407, ages 18–64) completed a 12-item survey on perceptions of sex differences in deception. In Study 2, a Korean sample (N = 197, ages 19–58) completed the same survey. Men from both cultures and Korean women perceived no difference regarding which sex tells more white (i.e., relatively harmless or low-stakes) lies. American women perceived that women tell more white lies. Women from both cultures and American men perceived that men tell a greater number of serious (i.e., nonwhite or high-stakes) lies. Korean men perceived no difference regarding which sex tells a greater number of serious lies. Both sexes from both countries reported a perception that (1) men are more likely to lie about height, income, and sexual infidelity, (2) women are more likely to lie about weight and age, and (3) women are better at lying. The findings were mixed regarding perceptions about emotional infidelity. Results are interpreted in light of sex-different challenges to mating and parenting.

Keywords: deception, ethnicity, evolutionary psychology, person perception, sex differences

This study aimed to present theoretically significant findings about perceptions of sex differences in deception. American men reported no sex difference in terms of their perception of which sex tells more white lies, whereas American women perceived women as telling more white lies. Korean men and women both perceived no sex difference in terms of who tells more white lies. The common denominator may be that neither sex from neither country reported a belief that men tell more white lies. This is not contrary to our hypothesis that women would be perceived to tell more white lies, but it also does not confirm our hypothesis. Moreover, men are more likely to tell altruistic white lies, but there is no clear sex difference in terms of who tells more Pareto white lies (Capraro, 2018). The current study may not reveal consistent perceptions of sex differences because of this heterogeneous nature of white lies.
Regarding serious lies, American men and women and Korean women perceived men to tell more serious lies. Korean men reported no sex difference. The common denominator may be that neither sex from neither country reported a belief that women tell more serious lies. Thus, our hypothesis that men would be perceived to tell more serious lies was partially confirmed. Given that men tell more black lies (Capraro, 2018), the current study may suggest that people might accurately perceive which sex engages in more serious black lies.
Our hypotheses that men would be perceived to be more likely to lie about height, income, and sexual infidelity were confirmed by both sexes in both countries. Our hypotheses that women would be perceived to be more likely to lie about weight and age were also confirmed by both sexes in both countries. American men and women both reported that women would be more likely to lie about emotional infidelity. To speculate, perhaps Americans interpreted this item as a juxtaposition to the sexual infidelity item and responded to them in opposite ways. Korean women reported that men would be more likely to lie about emotional infidelity, whereas Korean men reported no sex difference. Perhaps Koreans, who also perceive men as more likely to commit sexual infidelity, perceive greater overlap in the constructs of sexual and emotional infidelity. A review of causes of infidelity in Korea proposed that the culture’s conceptual overlap between sexual and emotional infidelity may stem from immature (undeveloped) social discourse on the concept of infidelity (Y. Choi & Park, 2015). Overall, there is less agreement on what constitutes emotional infidelity versus sexual infidelity (Guitar at al., 2017), and this may explain some of the inconsistent findings regarding emotional infidelity.
Regarding which sex is perceived to be better at lying, both sexes from both countries perceived that women are better at lying, thus confirming our hypothesis. To our knowledge, this study is the first of its kind to make this observation and is consistent with the British survey discussed in the introduction. Given this consistency, and given that deception comes in nonverbal forms, more interpretation is demanded beyond the idea that people have a folk psychology understanding of women’s better verbal ability. It is possible that there may be, or may have been during the ancestral past, greater benefits for successful lies or greater costs for unsuccessful lies for women versus men in some contexts. For example, lying about infanticide may be one such context. Infanticide has been practiced in every culture (Williamson, 1978) and is more often performed by women than men (e.g., Kaye et al., 1990). Polygynous mating, which characterizes many current and past societies (Low, 2007), means that a husband is more likely to have a son than any one of his wives (because he has multiple mates), and this coupled with patrilineal inheritance may motivate a mother to commit infanticide of her daughter or a rival wife’s son (e.g., Strassmann, 1997). Lying about sexual infidelity may be another such context, given that women are more likely than men to be killed for sexual infidelity by romantic partners (e.g., Chimbos, 1978Gartner et al., 1998). Lying about paternity may be yet another context. If the median nonpaternity rates are approximately 2%–3% (Anderson, 2006), that means there are hundreds of thousands of men in the United States who are unaware that they are raising another man’s child, and about an equal number of mothers who are aware of their child’s paternity uncertainty.
If women are indeed better at lying, then the perception of both sexes that women are more skilled at deception reflects an accurate appraisal. If women are not better at lying, then this perception reflects a cognitive bias. This bias may be of the kind predicted by error management theory: Cognitive errors that had asymmetrical consequences to reproductive fitness during the ancestral past would have placed adaptive pressure for a bias in favor of the less costly error (Haselton & Buss, 2000Haselton & Nettle, 2006). That is, it may have been less costly for men to overestimate rather than underestimate women’s skill in lying in order to, for example, avoid being cuckolded. Likewise, it may have been less costly for women to overestimate women’s skill in lying in order to, for example, defend against intrasexual threats such as the spreading of false rumors about a woman’s sexual reputation.
A limitation of the study is that the survey was short. Although this was purposeful, it meant that potentially interesting areas of perceptions of sex differences in deception were unexplored. Mating and parenting are the two broad domains of human reproduction but only the former was examined here. A future study could examine perceptions that pertain to parenting. For example, do people believe mothers or fathers are more likely to tell lies that are meant to nurture, encourage, and protect their children? Another opportunity is to examine which sex actually engages in more such lies toward children using different methods such as diaries (e.g., DePaulo et al., 1996) or experimental designs (e.g., Capraro, 2018).
Another limitation is that we do not know whether participants had prior knowledge about actual sex differences in deception about mating factors, for example, that men do indeed lie more about height. If so, then participants may have simply applied that knowledge when responding to the mating items. If participants did not have such knowledge, and given that their responses for the most part accurately reflected what men and women do in fact lie about, then this suggests that each sex is attuned to what the other sex is seeking in terms of mating factors and that each sex is motivated to lie accordingly. This would be consistent with the idea that the sexes’ mating efforts have coevolved in a mutually antagonistic manner (Buss, 2017). A future study could attempt to statistically control for prior knowledge about sex differences in deception about certain mating factors by asking, for example, how frequently participants engage in online dating or use dating apps.
In sum, the importance of contexts that are directly or indirectly relevant to reproduction is emphasized as a guide for future research on sex differences in deception. Differences between men and women in the quantity or quality of lies may be absent in contexts that are irrelevant to reproduction, for example, lying about the playing cards one is holding, and for good reason—there is no theoretical grounding for why the sexes should be different in such an example. Conversely, contexts that in one form or another relate to the sex-different challenges to mating and parenting faced during the ancestral past have the potential to reveal a great deal about men’s versus women’s deception.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

PhD Thesis from 2018: The Human Fallibility of Scientists - Dealing with Error and Bias in Academic Research

Veldkamp, Coosje L. S. 2017. “Doctoral Thesis: The Human Fallibility of Scientists - Dealing with Error and Bias in Academic Research.” PsyArXiv. October 19. doi:10.31234/

Recent studies have highlighted that not all published findings in the scientific literature are trustworthy, suggesting that currently implemented control mechanisms such as high standards for the reporting of research methods and results, peer review, and replication, are not sufficient. In psychology in particular, solutions are sought to deal with poor reproducibility and replicability of research results. In this dissertation project I considered these problems from the perspective that the scien¬tific enterprise must better recognize the human fallibility of scientists, and I examined potential solutions aimed at dealing with human error and bias in psychological science.

First, I studied whether the human fallibility of scientists is actually recognized (Chapter 2). I examined the degree to which scientists and lay people believe in the storybook image of the scientist: the image that scientists are more objective, rational, open-minded, intelligent, honest and communal than other human beings. The results suggested that belief in this storybook image is strong, particularly among scientists themselves. In addition, I found indications that scientists believe that scientists like themselves fit the storybook image better than other scientists. I consider scientist’s lack of acknowledgement of their own fallibility problematic, because I believe that critical self-reflection is the first line of defense against potential human error aggravated by confirmation bias, hindsight bias, motivated reasoning, and other human cognitive biases that could affect any professional in their work.

Then I zoomed in on psychological science and focused on human error in the use of null the most widely used statistical framework in psychology: hypothesis significance testing (NHST). In Chapters 3 and 4, I examined the prevalence of errors in the reporting of statistical results in published articles, and evaluated a potential best practice to reduce such errors: the so called ‘co-pilot model of statistical analysis’. This model entails a simple code of conduct prescribing that statistical analyses are always conducted independently by at least two persons (typically co-authors). Using statcheck, a software package that is able to quickly retrieve and check statistical results in large sets of published articles, I replicated the alarmingly high error rates found in earlier studies. Although I did not find support for the effectiveness of the co-pilot model in reducing these errors, I proposed several ways to deal with human error in (psychological) research and suggested how the effectiveness of the proposed practices might be studied in future research.

Finally, I turned to the risk of bias in psychological science. Psychological data can often be analyzed in many different ways. The often arbitrary choices that researchers face in analyzing their data are called researcher degrees of freedom. Researchers might be tempted to use these researcher degrees of freedom in an opportunistic manner in their pursuit of statistical significance (often called p-hacking). This is problematic because it renders research results unreliable. In Chapter 5 I presented a list of researcher degrees of freedom in psychological studies, focusing on the use of NHST. This list can be used to assess the potential for bias in psychological studies, it can be used in research methods education, and it can be used to examine the effectiveness of a potential solution to restrict oppor¬tunistic use of RDFs: study pre-registration.

Pre-registration requires researchers to stipulate in advance the research hypothesis, data collection plan, data analyses, and what will be reported in the paper. Different forms of pre-registration are currently emerging in psychology, mainly varying in terms of the level of detail with respect to the research plan they require researchers to provide. In Chapter 6, I assessed the extent to which current pre-registrations restricted opportunistic use of the researcher degrees of freedom on the list presented in Chapter 5. We found that most pre-registrations were not sufficiently restrictive, but that those that were written following better guidelines and requirements restricted opportunistic use of researcher degrees of freedom considerably better than basic pre-registrations that were written following a limited set of guidelines and requirements. We concluded that better instructions, specific questions, and stricter requirements are necessary in order for pre-registrations to do what they are supposed to do: to protect researchers from their own biases.

Letters To A Spanish Youngster II

Letters To A Spanish Youngster II

Su Señoría reina de los jardines*, Who sets the city on fire**, while causing a little !  in Her subjects' hearts,

At first I thought to dispense with naming the many beautiful things that compound un facetado diamantino tan bonito como el Suyo, my lady and master, since I have not the necessary talent to write lists of pretty things like those lists of, just to name one, Walt Whitman†:

         [Por las salinas, por los naranjales o las sombras de los pinares,
         Complacido con la gente del país y con los extranjeros, contento con lo nuevo y lo viejo,
         Contento con la mujer envejecida y contento con la que es linda,
         Caminando esa misma tarde con la cabeza alzada hacia las nubes por una callejuela o 
                                                                                                                        [por la playa,
         Paseando del brazo de dos amigos y yo en el medio,
         Lejos del campamento, estudiando las huellas de los animales o de los mocasines,
         Junto a la cama en el hospital, sirviendo limonada al que tiene fiebre,]

(Dios mío, qué bonito es el último verso.)

Pero no puedo evitarlo, voy a enumerar igualmente.     "¿Me contradigo? Muy bien, me contradigo."†


y, muy deficientemente, nombro como elementos de la gran composición visible que es un ángel como Vd. los primeros que me vienen a la mente, en el orden en que se me aparecen (si bien no es que ninguno tenga más mérito que otro elemento por el hecho de aparecer antes):

         *  una   ҉  sonrisa  ҉   que hechiza
         *  Sus   ҉  ojos  ҉   luminosos y despiertos, ante cuyos rayos tengo que retirar la mirada, confundido
         *  una   ҉  forma tan elegante y cuidada de vestir  ҉  que me hace temer que los demás presentes me amonesten por no poder dejarla de contemplar
         *  Su suave   ҉  acento  ҉
         *  los   ҉  cabellos  ҉  , y color y forma de los mismos, arrebatadores, como sin duda Vd misma sabe
         *  la   ҉  garganta  ҉   de una Afrodita o Diana o Apollo de las que esculpieron aquellos grandes artistas
         *  el   ҉  conjunto de Su cuerpo  ҉  , unas formas sublimes que mueven a la piedad y el temor a Sus servidores
         *  lo que se adivina como preciosas   ҉  manos  ҉  , aunque desde la distancia no podía verlas
         *  la cálida nieve del   ҉  rostro  ҉   ‡
         *  una   ҉  gracia del movimiento  ҉   comparable (y al comparar, superior) a la de la Victoria que esculpieron tras Samotracia, o del David de Miguel Ángel y cuyas fotos incorporo para contraponerlas con Su Señoría:


, and above all,   ҉  a demeanor, and general attitude  ҉   so charming as to cause such a great effect as it is already falling upon me.

Milton spoke֍ of greatness (although unrelated to this I am talking about), which I think is applicable to Your Honor, Queen of Gardens:

         "[...] Not Babylon,
         Nor great Alcairo such magnificence
         Equall'd in all their glories"

, and that is what I feel seeing You with those great looks of You, and hearing You talking to others. Oh, that voice of Your Honor...

And then...

I also see Your smile and the other visible corporeal, physical attributes (those   ҉  eyes  ҉   of Yours, the free hair, Your face, everything I mentioned above), as impressive as the incorporeal ones, and I wonder at the mystery of Your mind working, interacting with we mere mortals, in awe hearing the waves of Your voice, one of the physical media with which Your spirit communicates with us.

I already know that it is impossible to get closer to Your Honor as much as I would, and it is true that that makes me a bit sad. Petrarca wrote that Cupid says, about the effect on those who are deeply moved by persons like You‡:

         [write down in golden letters what you've seen          [escribe en letras de oro lo que viste;
         how I change those who follow me in color                cómo a mis seguidores hago palidecer
         and in an instant make them live and die.]                 y en un mismo instante los vuelvo muertos y

OK, it is a bit of an exaggeration that part about the dead, isn't it. But that about the change in color and feeling bad when meeting Your Grace it is something that surely happens, at least to this follower of Yours. Despite the fear that I feel, I cannot agree with Love when he says‡ [yo me nutro de lágrimas]; on the contrary, those who adore You, my governor, must be happy for getting to know about You and met You and for this we are bound to devote to You beautiful thoughts, like this one‡:

        [Flowers joyful and glad, fortunate grass                      [Alegres y felices flores, afortunadas hierbas
        on which my lady used to walk in thought,                   que, pensativa, mi señora pisar suele;
        shore that would listen to her words of sweetness      prado que escuchas sus dulces palabras,
        conserving traces of her lovely foot,].                           y del bello pie algún vestigio guardas;].

We may always object that the visible part, Your beauty, dominates us... But a Persian mystic replied to this (or so they say J Rūmī wrote)¶:
[The body moves by means of the spirit, but you do not see the spirit: Know the spirit through the body's movement!]

Some day I will dare to ask Your Honor for a hearing in which to make some offerings, madonna, like a beautiful book of the arts (there are true jewels, things so impressive!), or a ticket for some museum, exhibition, movie, ballet or anything You may like. Until now, I didn't gather enough strength   :-(     , since there is the risk that this could happen to me‡‡:


, deservedly, of course.

With envy of the little insect that overpasses Your Honor while reading this letter, and great interest in Your health and that of Your friends and family, and wishing that Your days are devoid of sorrow, Your

                 devout admirer


*  Cantar de los Cantares, 8.13, Biblia de Jerusalén. Barcelona: Desclée De Brouwer, 2009.

** Anonymous epigram, in 'The Greek Anthology' translated by W R Paton, 1916, book V, 2, 1.

†  Adapted from W Whitman's 'Leaves of Grass' and José Martí & Jorge Luis Borges's translations.

‡  Adapted from Francesco Petrarca, Petrarch Songs and Sonnets, A Bilingual Selection, translated by Richard Kilmer (London: Anvil Press Poetry, 2011), Petrarch: The Canzoniere, or Rerum Vulgarium Fragmenta, translated by Mark Musa (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996), and Atilio Pentimalli's translation (Barcelona: Ediciones Orbis, 1998): CLVII, 9; XCIII, 2-4; XCIII, 14; CLXII, 1-4.

֍  John Milton's Paradise Lost, 1674 edition, i. 717-9

¶  Jalāl Rūmī's Masnavi IV, 155, apud William C Chittick's The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1983. Page 28.

‡‡  [...]


Letters To A Spanish Youngster I

Letters To A Spanish Youngster I

Your Honour the little good wizard-magician / Meritíssima, a pequena maga-bruxa / Su Señoría maga y brujita buena,

I finally dare, for the reason I explain later▼, to write to Your Grace after many months since the moment in which I had the privilege of breathing for the first time in the same room that You were in, blessed person.

(Although [tanto tengo para decirle que no me atrevo a empezar.]*    :-)    )

This cannot be done in any other way than speaking to You in an extremely respectful manner, so that it is made explicit the enormous distance between such a special person as Your Honor and Your devout admirer, who waits for the day to contemplate You in a so elevated position from the pedestal of that altar** in which You are*:

        "I' benedico il loco e 'l tempo et l'ora                    [I bless the place, the time and hour of the day
        che sì alto miraron gli occhi mei,                          that my eyes aimed their sights at such a height,
        et dico: Anima, assai ringraziar dei                      and say: 'My soul, you must be very grateful
        che fosti a tanto onor degnata allora."                 that you were found worthy of such great honour.]

Maybe I misspoke saying "admirer," mi persona especial. A passionate poet, if any other class is possible, is, actually, ADORADOR. In imitation of the true poets, even knowing I have no talent to be of their numbers, I consider myself an idolater of Your complex person – the combination of the visible person and the essence, we could say spiritual essence, that we envision there is beyond what is visible (la intuición me la ha dado verla sonreír cuando habla con compañeros Suyos).

These prodigies of Your character, hidden from us at first because they were not immediately apparent, comprise the enigmatic and mysterious component of a Grace we all were waiting for.

Those unfortunate artists of past centuries didn't paint or carve a fourth Grace because Your sacred steps had not marked their imprint on this sad planet and there was no certainty, until recently, that there were more than three ones.

Pero nosotros, Sus súbditos de hoy, no tenemos dudas: somos más afortunados, hemos coincidido en el tiempo con Su presencia y sabemos que el cuarto regalo que nos hacen los dioses a los hombres es Su Señoría, de nombre ignoto.


It is difficult to take the decision to write down some words, and much harder to deliver them. Many good poets and musicians regret to leave extant their poor works, always defective, insufficient ... and I'm just a troubadour. Although these texts are not worthy of Your Honor's attention, I finally found the courage and audacity to communicate with You.

Le hago llegar estas líneas con motivo del Primer Día Internacional de Glorificación de la Persona Mágica, que se celebra hoy y que acabo de instituir ayer mismo tras pensar en Vd.

(No se preocupe Su Señoría, no es que deje de pensar en Su persona por muchos minutos... Simplemente se me ocurrió ayer tras una de las veces en que me acordé de lo agradable que resulta ver y escuchar Su parte física cuando tengo la oportunidad.)

On the occasion of this solemn day I dare to steal some of Your time to read some thoughts† that I believe are very beautiful and appropriate for this day, even risking that they are just funny to You:
[Woman is certainly within her rights, and she even performs a kind of duty when she endeavors to appear magical and supernatural; she should dazzle men and charm them; she is an idol who should be covered with gold in order to be worshipped.
She should therefore borrow from all the arts the means of arising above nature in order better to subjugate all hearts and impress all minds. 
It is of no consequence that her ruse and artifice be known by all, if their success is certain and their effects always irresistible.]

(Of course I do not necessarily agree with all the texts I print here, nor do I endorse the authors' inclinations, politics, life, etc.)

I am fully conscious that if the writings that I make mention of in this and following (!) letters are of Your liking, it is applicable to me what Sir John Suckling said‡:

        "But the spite on ’t is, no praise                              [Pero a pesar de esto, ningún encomio
        Is due at all to me:";                                                me es debido];

is Your Grace, mi señora mística, the one that inspire to uncover beautiful things to be able to send them to You.

Yo quiero que pueda Vd. disfrutar de lo que es bello y agradable. Por eso, además de lo que otros escriben de forma admirable, adjunto una imagen y su calco. No tengo dote ninguna para pintar, así que, para Vd., reduzco a líneas básicas cosas hermosas que veo y se las muestro. Sé que es de muy poco valor, pero en ausencia de capacidad artística, pongo mi esfuerzo, aunque sea una pobre compensación     :-(    .

I've got several letters like this in preparation. May Your Honor authorize me to share them with You? You may authorize me writing to my e-mail֍. There is no need for me to see Your name, mia senhor, I may send them to the name of a good friend of Yours in the same office and then she will pass the letters to You. This way, Your identity will be safe. Simplemente recibe cartas bonitas y sonríe mientras las lee     :-)        .

Of course it is advisable, for Your peace of mind, to write me from an e-mail not connected to You.


Soy consciente de que no debería decir a nadie que le estoy escribiendo, mi señora, pero no puedo hacerle llegar estas notas si no lo comento al menos una vez. Tomando palabras de una poetisa rusa¶,

        [Ya me es indiferente en qué lenguaje no seré comprendida por el hombre.].

Seguiré escribiéndole si Su compasión me lo permite. ¿Sería correcto una carta por semana? Intentaré que no sean más largas que esta.

With deep respect and a kiss in one of the prints, already erased, that Your delicate soles left the day before on the sand of a beach imagined by the poets (con profundo respeto y un beso en  una  de las huellas, ya borradas, que en la arena de una playa imaginada por los poetas dejaron el día anterior Sus delicadas plantas), se despide, sinceramente Suyo,

                 admirador rendido‡‡  ante Su Señoría

‡‡ (I cannot think of printing my name in the same paper than Your Honor's unless it is done in non-capital letters.)


*  Adapted from Petrarch Songs and Sonnets, A Bilingual Selection, translated by Richard Kilmer (London: Anvil Press Poetry, 2011), Petrarch: The Canzoniere, or Rerum Vulgarium Fragmenta, translated by Mark Musa (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996), and Atilio Pentimalli's translation (Barcelona: Ediciones Orbis, 1998),  CLXIX, 14; XIII, 5-8.

Spanish version:

[Y bendigo el lugar y el tiempo y la hora
en que mis ojos tan alto miraron,
y digo: Alma, mucho has de agradecer,
que de tanto honor entonces fuiste honrada.]

I take all the blame for any translation faults.

This is valid for any of my writings. "Traduttore, traditore".

**  Plato's Phaedrus, 254b. Available at

"And now they are at the spot and behold the flashing beauty of the beloved; which when the charioteer sees, his memory is carried to the true beauty, whom he beholds in company with Modesty like an image placed upon a holy pedestal."

Bad translation, it substitutes a girl for a boy ("the beloved" of the "flashing beauty")...        :-)        .

†  Charles Baudelaire translated by Wallace Fowlie. New York: Bantam Books, 1964. Eloge du maquillage.

La femme est bien dans son droit, et même elle accomplit une espèce de devoir en s’appliquant à paraître magique et surnaturelle ; il faut qu’elle étonne, qu’elle charme ; idole, elle doit se dorer pour être adorée. Elle doit donc emprunter à tous les arts les moyens de s’élever au-dessus de la nature pour mieux subjuguer les cœurs et frapper les esprits. Il importe fort peu que la ruse et l’artifice soient connus de tous, si le succès en est certain et l’effet toujours irrésistible.

‡  Sir John Suckling's 'The Constant Lover', ca. 1630. Available at

֍  [...]

¶  Marina Tsvetaeva's Antología poética. Madrid: Hiperión, 2014. Translated by Lola Díaz, version by Severo Sarduy, p. 163.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

People Judge Others to Have More Control over Beliefs Than They Themselves Do

Cusimano, Corey, and Geoffrey Goodwin. 2020. “People Judge Others to Have More Control over Beliefs Than They Themselves Do.” PsyArXiv. April 3. doi:10.1037/pspa0000198

Abstract: People attribute considerable control to others over what those individuals believe. However, no work to date has investigated how people judge their own belief control, nor whether such judgments diverge from their judgments of others. We addressed this gap in seven studies and found that people judge others to be more able to voluntarily change what they believe than they themselves are. This occurs when people judge others who disagree with them (Study 1) as well as others agree with them (Studies 2-5, 7), and it occurs when people judge strangers (Studies 1-2, 4-5) as well as close others (Studies 3, 7). It appears not to be explained by impression management or self-enhancement motives (Study 3). Rather, there is a discrepancy between the evidentiary constraints on belief change that people access via introspection, and their default assumptions about the ease of voluntary belief revision. That is, people spontaneously tend to think about the evidence that supports their beliefs, which leads them to judge their beliefs as outside their control. But they apparently fail to generalize this feeling of constraint to others, and similarly fail to incorporate it into their generic model of beliefs (Studies 4-7). We discuss the implications of our findings for theories of ideology-based conflict, actor-observer biases, naïve realism, and on-going debates regarding people’s actual capacity to voluntarily change what they believe.

The unique social sense of puerperium: Increased empathy and Schadenfreude in parents of newborns

The unique social sense of puerperium: Increased empathy and Schadenfreude in parents of newborns. Ana-María Gómez-Carvajal, Hernando Santamaría-García, Adolfo M. García, Mario Valderrama, Jhony Mejia, Jose Santamaría-García, Mateo Bernal, Jaime Silva, Agustín Ibáñez & Sandra Baez. Scientific Reports volume 10, Article number: 5760. April 2020.

Abstract: Pregnancy and puerperium are typified by marked biobehavioral changes. These changes, which are traceable in both mothers and fathers, play an important role in parenthood and may modulate social cognition abilities. However, the latter effects remain notably unexplored in parents of newborns (PNs). To bridge this gap, we assessed empathy and social emotions (envy and Schadenfreude) in 55 PNs and 60 controls (childless healthy participants without a romantic relationship or sexual intercourse in the previous 48 hours). We used facial electromyography to detect physiological signatures of social emotion processing. Results revealed higher levels of affective empathy and Schadenfreude in PNs, the latter pattern being accompanied by increased activity of the corrugator suppercilii region. These effects were not explained by potential confounding variables (educational level, executive functioning, depression, stress levels, hours of sleep). Our novel findings suggest that PNs might show social cognition changes crucial for parental bonding and newborn care.


This is the first study investigating social cognition abilities in PNs. We found that, compared to controls, PNs exhibited higher levels of affective empathy and Schadenfreude, the latter pattern being accompanied by increased EMG modulations of the corrugator supercilii. These results further our understanding of social cognition changes during the puerperal period.

As expected, PNs showed higher scores than controls in both affective empathy subscales (i.e., empathic concern and personal distress), even after adjusting for executive functioning, educational levels, perceived stress levels and hours of sleep. Conversely, non-significant differences were observed between groups in cognitive empathy. Our results are consistent with previous suggestions7 that empathy is a key aspect of parenting, especially because babies’ needs are expressed non-verbally. Specifically, empathic concern and personal distress levels are highly related with the social cognition abilities required to recognize and care for others people’s feelings, and even turn to their aid45. In line with our findings, in the first stage of bonding, affective empathy is more important and essential than cognitive empathy58. Higher affective empathy levels are involved in better emotional communication, social attachment, and motivation to cooperate58. Increased parental empathy7 facilitates emotional communication, social attachment, parental caring58, and motivation to protect and care for the newborn1. Notably, given the nature of our empathy measure, our results suggest that higher affective empathy levels observed in PNs are not limited to parent-baby interactions, but are also present in scenarios involving other individuals.

Regarding social emotions, our results showed increased Schadenfreude levels in PNs, which were not explained by executive functioning, educational levels, stress levels or hours of sleep. By contrast, envy levels were similar between groups. This pattern may be associated with the multiple hormonal, emotional, and biological changes that take place during pregnancy and puerperium. However, as endocrine, physiological or other biological measures were not included in this study, interpretations about the relevance of these factors should be cautions. A possible explanation for the selective differences in Schadenfreude observed in PNs might be the pleasurable nature of this emotion33,59 and its strong relationship to reward mechanisms40, indexed by increased engagement of the ventral striatum33. In fact, this brain region, along with others (e.g., thalamus, hippocampus and amygdala), is crucially involved in oxytocinergic dynamics33,60. Previous studies suggest that the neurohor mone OXY may partly account for variations in parent-infant interactions7. Higher OXY levels may be associated a wide range of emotions and social behaviors, such as raising children, trusting others, attacking potential outsiders and competing with rivals, which can lead to trust and generosity, but at the same time to increased Schadenfreude61. Null differences in envy might be explained by the fact that, unlike Schadenfreude, this is a non-gratifying emotion that implies feelings of dissatisfaction with another person’s good fortune40. In fact, envy implies greater neuronal activity in pain circuits rather than in the reward and pleasure systems62. Promisingly, this new hypothesis, derived from our behavioral results, paves the way for new cross-methodological studies. Future studies should include neuroimaging measures as well as OXY and other hormones levels in order to test this interpretation.

Additionally, our social emotion task comprised a group of justice-related scenarios. Accordingly, the higher Schadenfreude scores in PNs could reflect an enhanced sensitivity to track unfair situations and respond to scenarios in which those situations are punished. In fact, Schadenfreude might play a positive role when unfair social situations are sanctioned63, which aligns with a widespread human trend to punish unfair or social inappropriate situations –namely, altruistic punishment64, a behavior that is likely underpinned by negative emotions towards defectors. Note, in this sense, that higher OXY levels seem to increase altruistic punishment behavior, by rendering cooperation and promoting cohesion in social groups65. Arguably, PNs exhibited higher Schadenfreude for unfair or threatening scenarios as an expression of an increased sensitivity to track social threats. Conversely, although the envy situations described unfair and inappropriate social situations, the lack of differences between PNs and controls might reflect the role of control mechanisms in the former, favoring proactive punishment over mere unpleasantness in the face of unfair social scenarios.

These interpretations are further supported by our EMG results. In line with previous EMG studies41,42, we found that activity of the zygomaticus major activity was higher for Schadenfreude than envy responses. Consistent with previous research41, this finding suggests that participants seem to exhibit a subtle contortions similar to those involved in the act of smiling when a misfortune happens to another person. In addition, we found that in control participants the depressor muscle activity was higher for envy than Schadenfreude. Depressor supercilii activity show increased activity in response to negative facial stimuli (i.e., angry faces)66. Increased activity of this muscle may be explained by the fact the envy stimuli employed here involve situations related to negative feelings of deservingness (e.g., a young man got a better test score for being the son of a professor) or morality/legality (e.g., a politician takes a vacation using taxpayers’ money). Furthermore, EMG results revealed that implicit muscular correlates of Schadenfreude involve higher activity in the corrugator supercilii for PNs than controls. Note that modulation of the corrugator supercilii indexes the disapproval of an action54, a process noticeably involved in Schadenfreude responses. Considering that linguistic properties of stimuli may affect the zygomaticus major and corrugator supercilii activities67, sentences for envy and Schadenfreude conditions were controlled in terms of length, complexity, and grammatical structure. Thus, our behavioral and EMG results can hardly be attributed to differences in the linguistic properties of both conditions stimuli.

Taken together, our results suggest that affective empathy and emotional reactivity to unfair or threating social situations (Schadenfreude) are increased in PNs. Accordingly, social cognition changes seem present in mothers and fathers of newborns, irrespective of type of delivery. In general, PNs seem more sensitive to the influence of others and to salient social cues, which are crucial for parental bonding. These patterns align with previous studies showing that the neural circuits underlying emotions in response to socially valued scenarios are partly targeted by the oxytocinergic system65. In fact, exogenous OXY levels correlate positively with levels of empathy68,69 and Schadenfreude61. Note, in this sense, that elevated OXY levels in PNs13,17 may selectively facilitate social cognition in certain conditions68,69 and increase the salience of social cues61. Consistent with previous suggestions70,71, it has been proposed that OXY has a dual effect on parental behavior, insofar as it inhibits aggression towards the offspring while promoting territoriality as well as aggressive and defensive behaviors against outsiders. As biological measures were not included in the present study, future research should correlate serum or salivary levels of OXY and other hormones levels (e.g., prolactin, OXY, progesterone, estrogen, and cortisol) of pregnant/puerperium women and their partners with performance in social cognition tasks. Furthermore, given that the relatively small sample size for EMG data is a limitation of this study, further studies should investigative social cognition domains, their associated muscle responses, and their peripheral and neural correlates in larger samples of PNs.

We have found a particular pattern of results as we observed at the same time increased affective empathy and Schadenfreude levels in PNs. Although it has been theoretically suggested that Schadenfreude is a counter-empathic emotion35,72, there is no direct evidence supporting such an association. Indeed, our results showed that empathy and Schadenfreude are not correlated. Thus, our results suggest that empathy and social emotions changes observed in PNs seem to be dissociable.

Besides, in our study we assessed the role of negative mood factors and cognitive factors in modulating Schadenfreude and empathy effects in PNs. In particular, we conducted covariation analyses to assess the extent in which depression and stress modulate the experience of Schadenfreude. These covariation analyses did not reach significant effects suggesting that increased Schadenfreude in PNs is not directly explained by the mediation of other emotional or cognitive changes occurred at afterbirth stages. In addition, puerperium is considered as a particular intense emotional milestone in PNs’ life, usually associated with emotional changes and stress73,74. However, this milestone could be also accompanied by happy mood and the experience of positive emotions such as joy, contempt or happiness. A potential limitation in our study was that we did not measure the role of positive emotions and happy mood in the experience of Schadenfreude. To date, the state-of-art of studies assessing Schadenfreude has shown dissociable neurocognitive and behavioral mechanisms underlying Schadenfreude and positive emotions33,34,63,75. Furthermore, note that this is arguably one of the reasons why previous studies on Schadenfreude have not controlled for the effects of joy or happy mood33,36,42,43,59,76. However, previous studies have revealed the complexity of positive emotions and its influences on secondary emotions77. Those influences could also impact on the experience of social emotions, including Schadenfreude. New studies should assess the extent to which dispositional emotions or instant and evoked emotional states could affect the intensity and experience of social emotions and social cognition in particular biological states as puerperium or pregnancy. Besides, the group of effects on social emotions and empathy observed in PNs could also be affected by general changes on emotional reactions including fear, anger, and happiness among other emotional manifestations. Future studies also should control the effects of primary emotions on the social emotions and empathy. Finally, the difference in the experimental testing contexts between PNs and controls represents a limitation of our study. However, the results of the complementary analyses (with a control group evaluated in the same setting as the experimental groups) suggest that our pattern of results is not explained by differences in testing sites. Future studies should use specific designs to evaluate the potential impact of different contextual variables on performance.

In sum, this report offers unprecedented evidence that PNs exhibit increased emotional reactivity, characterized by an exacerbation of affective empathy and Schadenfreude. These results open a new agenda to examine changes in social cognition and their relationship with neuroendocrine phenomena.