Sunday, March 7, 2021

The findings suggest that people are more likely to engage in immoral behavior when placed in a group setting as opposed to when acting independently

Lying for Bonuses. Junda Chang. International Journal of Psychological Studies Archives Vol. 13, No. 1 (2021). DOI:10.5539/ijps.v13n1p20

Abstract: This study aims to determine whether being in a group setting makes lying easier through the diffusion of responsibility. Participants in three separate conditions, two paired and one isolated control, were asked to roll dice and report results. Participants also had the incentive of earning extra money if the reported number was a four, regardless of the truthfulness of the response. The results showed that participants overwhelmingly reported rolling a four, statistically indicating that many chose to lie. Additionally, one of the two group conditions proved to have significantly higher rates of reported lying than the individual condition (with the other group condition directionally higher but not significantly). The findings suggest that people are more likely to engage in immoral behavior when placed in a group setting as opposed to when acting independently.

Obesity did not interfere with the number of sexual partners, the frequency of intercourse, or with sexual satisfaction

Sexual Satisfaction in Obese People. Monika Parchomiuk & Janusz Kirenko. Sexuality & Culture, Mar 5 2021.

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: Obesity has numerous consequences for the psychosocial and physical functioning of the individual which most often include comorbidities, disorders, and negative social attitudes influencing self-image. These factors indirectly associate obesity with problems in the sphere of sex life. Empirical evidence on this issue is relatively unambiguous but studies that focus on the positive dimensions of sex life do not provide clear-cut conclusions. Previous studies have often been carried out in specific groups and various socio-cultural conditions. The current study analyzed the relationship between sexual satisfaction and a variable describing preferences, expectations, and needs of obese people and non-obese people. Satisfaction was analyzed taking into account two components. One reflected the degree of discrepancy/convergence between the desired and actual frequency of sexual behavior. The other reflected the degree of pleasure felt in connection with actual sexual behavior. The sample consisted of 148 obese people and 128 non-obese people. Three measures were used: the Sexual Activity Questionnaire, Sexual Stimulus Scale, and Sexual Needs and Reaction Scale. The groups did not differ significantly in terms of sexual satisfaction in either dimension. The results of the regression analysis showed a more complex structure of correlations between satisfaction, preferences, expectations, and needs in obese people compared to non-obese people. Also, the activity of the partner, including experiences during full penetration, was found to be most important for pleasure (as one of the dimensions of satisfaction) in the test group.


The conducted cross-sectional analyses showed that obese people (BMI ≥ 30) do not differ significantly in terms of sexual satisfaction from non-obese people (BMI < 25). This applies to both of its indices: the D index showing the degree of convergence/discrepancy between the desired and actual frequency of sexual behavior and the ipsative index S reflecting the degree of satisfaction (pleasure) felt in connection with the actual sexual behavior. It is difficult to make comparisons to the results of other studies, due to different ways of conceptualizing the variable of satisfaction. Generally, though, other findings confirm the direction of the trend observed here. Younis et al. (2013) claim that obese women express a significantly lower level of sexual satisfaction than non-obese women. Bajos et al. (2010), on the other hand, suggest there are no differences in either of the sexes (compared to the control group) resulting from the BMI index. In both studies, satisfaction was assessed using questions with a ready set of answers describing different levels of satisfaction. A similar tendency, but only in women, indicating the lack of differences in sexual satisfaction (FSFI) related to BMI, was established in Polish studies (Jarząbek-Bielecka et al. 2015).

Positive trends informing about a higher level of physical and emotional satisfaction were found in obese men, compared to men in other weight categories. Obese women were also found to have sexual pleasure more frequently (Shao et al. 2015). Analysis of the results of women collected in a PISQ-12 study (assessment of sexual functioning) showed significant differences in terms of satisfaction with sexual activity to the disadvantage of obese respondents but no differences in sexual desire or the ability to achieve orgasm (Melin et al. 2008). In general, the results of present analyses are closer to the more frequent trend informing about the lack of significant differences between obese people and non-obese people or related to the BMI index analyzed as an independent variable, in terms of broadly understood sexual satisfaction.

In the first dimension of sexual satisfaction (D), there was a trend towards divergence over convergence, which in both groups can be interpreted as a feeling of partner’s insufficient (compared to the needs) sexual activity. Still, this activity provided satisfaction, as evidenced by the S index reflecting the sense of pleasure derived from various forms of sexual activity. These are two different dimensions of sexual functioning: (1) quantitative, showing the intensity of the sexual needs of the respondents in relation to the forms of partner’s sexual activity proposed in the questionnaire, (2) and qualitative expressing the personal experience derived from this activity. We did not analyze the similarities or differences in the intensity of the needs of obese people and non-obese people, but only a subjective sense of satisfaction with their implementation. The needs were assessed in the context of heterosexual partner activity. Referring to its other aspects, such as the number of intercourses or the number of sexual partners, the obtained results suggest they are convergent in both groups. These quantitative aspects of sexual functioning were also analyzed by other researchers. Various trends were observed, such as: more frequent occurrence of sexual intercourse in the group of obese women (Younis et al. 2013); significantly less frequent sexual intercourse and anorgasmia in non-obese women compared to overweight women (Morotti et al. 2013); obese women less often had a recent sexual partner, while there were no differences here between obese and non-obese men; no differences in the frequency of sexual intercourse related to BMI (Bajos et al. 2010); and no significance of BMI for the number of sexual partners in both sexes (Nagelkerke et al. 2006). In analyses involving pre-menopausal women, no differences were found related to BMI in experiencing arousal, sexual desire, or orgasm (Jarząbek-Bielecka et al. 2015).

In the current research, obese people were found to significantly differ from the control group in terms of the overall subjective assessment of partner relationships and the assessment of these relationships’ emotional component. This difference was visible not so much in the positive–negative assessment but in the varying degree of the positive assessment. In both groups, therefore, the relationships were successful and provided the respondents with positive feelings but in the case of non-obese people, the assessment reached the highest scores indicating a very high value of partner relations. Boyes and Latner (2009) established a negative relationship between BMI and the quality of marriage relationships. Respondents' assessment of their relationships was unfavorable, they reported they expected the relationship to end and they felt they did not match their ideal partner. In the present study, more people from the control group were in informal relationships, which may have affected their assessment. Formal relationships carry certain obligations resulting from living together, running a home, and having children. Their implementation, expected from the partner and undertaken by him/her, may be important for the subjective assessment of the relationship.

In addition to engaging in partner activity, most respondents from both groups, who were relatively young (compared to the average), reported to masturbate, and this was more often the case for obese people. This form of sexual need was realized at a rate comparable to that established for the general population (Bancroft, 2011).

Analyzing the sexual preferences, expectations, and needs of respondents from both groups, significant differences were noted for two factors: striving for mutual activity, and various sexual positions and fantasies, in both cases with greater intensity in the control group. Presumably, non-obese people show stronger preferences for forms of intercourse where both partners are active, they look for different ways of achieving sexual pleasure through non-classical positions and more often fantasize during intercourse. Younis et al. (2013) in a study with obese women and non-obese women found no significant differences in preferred sexual positions.

None of the factors differentiating both groups were found to be significant in the regression model for achieving sexual satisfaction, both in terms of convergence-divergence (D) and pleasure (S) in the control group. In both groups, the factor of the partner's activity during intercourse turned out to be significant in the context of satisfaction results analyzed in the D dimension. Thus, a trend was observed where the demand for specific forms of partner activity (discrepancies between the actual and desired frequency of partner’s sexual behavior) co-occurs with weaker preferences of the activity of the male partner leading to penetration and achieving orgasm this way (by both partners). This factor also proved to be important for the results of the sexual satisfaction in obese people determined by how much they experience pleasure (S). Stronger preferences of the described nature, constituting the factor analyzed here, remained in a positive relationship with the pleasure felt during sexual activity with a partner. The satisfaction of people from this group in terms of D and S indices was in a significant relationship with the factor describing the preference for foreplay activities, preceding or not leading to the sexual act. However, this factor created different patterns of connections for both satisfaction indices, because, with increased demand for partner’s sexual activity, which is not satisfied (D), there is a greater preference for staying at the stage of foreplay (kisses and hugs). In turn, greater pleasure derived from partner sex (S) was found to be associated with a lower preference for this type of activity. To sum up, the structure of the relationship between the two aspects of sexual satisfaction and preferences, expectations, and needs is richer in the group of obese people, but only the factor of the male partner activity, including experiences gained during full penetration, has a positive contribution to their sexual pleasure. In both groups, on the other hand, weaker preferences of the male partner activity, and in the case of obese people, increased preferences for foreplay, have the greatest contribution in explaining the discrepancy between the actual and desired frequency of partner’s sexual behavior. The established trends seem logical and consistent. Presumably greater sexual activity with more advanced forms is conducive to strengthening preferences of this nature, especially if the relationship with the partner provides pleasure.

In the current research, sexual satisfaction was analyzed in two ways, taking into account two dimensions: (1) quantitative—the intensity of the need to undertake certain forms of partner activity, and (2) qualitative—determining the degree of pleasure derived from this activity. Such an approach limits reductionism that is visible in the application of a single approach. The frequency of sexual intercourse, orgasms, the number of partners or even the variety of forms of sexual activity should not be essential criteria for assessing the quality of human sex life, however important they are for it (Kvalem et al. 2018). The essence of sex life is the ability to meet one’s own needs (individually differentiated) and preferences, which are shaped by many factors, both personal and social (including socio-cultural conditions). Obesity may have a more indirect impact in this respect, as stated in the introduction. The undertaken analyses do not yield unequivocal conclusions regarding the importance of obesity for sexual experiences, in their positive quantitative dimension, though. Such conclusions would be possible in longitudinal studies or retrospective analyses. Here, we can only talk about common and divergent trends in relation to the control group, which in this case were non-obese people, both in terms of individual aspects of sexual functioning and the analyzed relationships between them. Obesity occurs at different ages affecting some of the already shaped styles of psychosexual functioning, needs, preferences, and ways of implementing them in relationships or non-partner forms, or the process of their crystallization. Depending on the phase of life, it can be important for seeking and choosing a partner, building a relationship or maintaining it. The present research focused on a specific moment in the respondents’ sex life, on its current quantitative and qualitative aspects. The group of obese people studied here was selected from the population, but it was not determined how representative they were of this category. Given this limitation, it is useful to compare it with the results of non-obese people, selected on the basis of certain variables with potential significance (such as age or gender), which gives the possibility to infer about the specifics or similarities in the analyzed areas.

The limitation of the current research may be the use of self-reports but it is justified here because the needs, preferences, and expectations of the respondents were analyzed. The adopted method of data collection, used in the vast majority of studies on sexuality, may impact the accuracy of the results illustrating the quantitative dimension of the sexual functioning of the respondents, such as the number of sexual partners, the frequency of relationships or the extent of masturbation. The snowball method used for recruiting the studied group does not ensure the group’s representativeness, however, taking into account the fact that the presented study concerned intimate issues, it was a useful method for recruiting the group. Population studies are difficult here, and recruiting obese people through specialist clinics could also have disadvantages, such as attracting people who for some reason (e.g. health, image) use their services.

Patterns of Genital Sexual Arousal in Transgender Men

Patterns of Genital Sexual Arousal in Transgender Men. Jamie Raines et al. Psychological Science, February 26, 2021.

Abstract: Most men show genital sexual arousal to one preferred gender. Most women show genital arousal to both genders, regardless of their sexual preferences. There is limited knowledge of whether this difference is driven by biological sex or gender identity. Transgender individuals, whose birth sex and gender identity are incongruent, provide a unique opportunity to address this question. We tested whether the genital responses of 25 (female-to-male) transgender men followed their female birth sex or male gender identity. Depending on their surgical status, arousal was assessed with penile gauges or vaginal plethysmographs. Transgender men’s sexual arousal showed both male-typical and female-typical patterns. Across measures, they responded more strongly to their preferred gender than to the other gender, similar to (but not entirely like) 145 cisgender (nontransgender) men. However, they still responded to both genders, similar to 178 cisgender women. In birth-assigned women, both gender identity and biological sex may influence sexual-arousal patterns.

Keywords sexual arousal, gender identity, transgender, sexual orientation

Check also Sexual Arousal Patterns of Identical Twins with Discordant Sexual Orientations. Tuesday M. Watts, Luke Holmes, Jamie Raines, Sheina Orbell & Gerulf Rieger. Scientific Reportsvolume 8, Article number: 14970 (2018).

And Transgenders’ sociosexuality is largely influenced by their sexual genotype despite their incongruent gender self-perception; the relationships between behavior, attitude, & sociosexual desire are different from those of cisgenders:

Influence of Sexual Genotype and Gender Self-Perception on Sociosexuality and Self-Esteem among Transgender People. Rodrigo de Menezes Gomes, Fívia de Araújo Lopes & Felipe Nalon Castro. Human Nature, volume 31, pages483–496. Jan 21 2021.

The present findings suggest the existence of both male-typical and female-typical sexual-arousal patterns in transgender men because they showed some gender-specific sexual arousal, similar to cisgender men, but also showed bisexual arousal, similar to cisgender women.

Because of the small population of transgender men (Zucker, 2017), our sample of transgender men was small and was reduced further by the intrusive nature of the experiment. Thus, we consider it notable that we were able to recruit 25 transgender men. However, this small sample is a limitation of this work, and our following interpretations are tentative.

The present findings differed from the results of a previous study that focused on genital sexual arousal in transgender women and who showed patterns typical for their male birth sex and atypical for their female gender identity (Chivers et al., 2004). In our sample of transgender men, arousal patterns were at least partially in line with their male gender identity. This included the finding that transgender men who reported attraction to women were indeed sexually aroused by women, and those attracted to men were indeed aroused by men. This makes these two groups of transgender men distinct from each other, in addition to each group being distinct from cisgender women of different sexual attractions. Hence, transgender men should not be dismissed as being “lesbians in denial” (Kiss, 2018), nor should those who report attraction to men be dismissed as not having a male gender.

Another component of the present study was the use of different arousal measures for transgender men. Penile gauges appeared to capture arousal in postoperative transgender men and did not lead to different patterns of sexual responses compared with transgender men who used the vaginal probe. We stress that the number of transgender men who used a penile gauge was small, and no firm conclusions can be made. Still, some speculation is useful. If one assumes that these findings were valid, it would suggest that the arousal functions of a penis created through metoidioplasty are similar to those of cisgender penises. This interpretation, too, would verify the male typicality of transgender men. Furthermore, because transgender men who used the vaginal probe and those who used the penile gauge had similar arousal patterns, it suggests that different measurement devices do not inherently result in different responses. Different measurement devices are often used for cisgender men and women, and they repeatedly show different arousal patterns (Chivers, 2017). The present findings indicate that the vaginal probe can pick up gender-specific arousal patterns in birth-sex women, which suggests that it is not a matter of the device that leads to gender-nonspecific arousal patterns in cisgender women. This conclusion is in line with emerging work using alternative measures of sexual arousal that confirm that sexes differ in the gender specificity of their sexual responses, such as genital thermography (Huberman & Chivers, 2015) or clitoral responses (Suschinsky et al., 2020).

Future research should test a larger sample of transgender men with a more equal distribution of sexual attraction, measurement type, and transition stage. In the present sample, 20 participants used testosterone supplements, whereas five did not. We could not detect reliable differences in effect depending on the use of testosterone (results not discussed above), but because the latter group was so small, this null finding may not be reliable. In future work, researchers should also consider other factors that could affect transgender men’s sexual-arousal patterns, including the types of sexual stimuli used or their history of male and female romantic and sexual partners.

In conclusion, transgender men appear to show a combination of male-typical and female-typical patterns of genital sexual arousal. These results indicate that for birth-assigned women, differences in sexual arousal may not be solely based on their natal sex but may also be influenced by their gender identity. In other words, for transgender men, their physiological sexual arousal is at least in part reflective of their gender identity.

Found no differences in cyberbullying rates for boys and girls; also, there were more bully-victims among the boys, but no differences were found in the pure victims or pure perpetrators

Feijóo, S. S., O’Higgins-Norman, J., Foody, M., Pichel, R., Braña, T., Varela, J., and Rial, A. (2021). Sex Differences in Adolescent Bullying Behaviours. Psychosocial Intervention, accepted Jan 12 2021.

Abstract: In recent decades there has been a progressive increase in concern and research into the problems of peer aggression, both in the educational setting and more recently, online. The present study sought to explore sex differences in traditional bullying and cyberbullying, since current literature has not reached a consensus in how bullying involvement could be moderated by sex. The sample consisted of 3,174 adolescents aged 12-17 years old who completed a paper survey which included the European Bullying Intervention Project Questionnaire and the European Cyberbullying Intervention Project Questionnaire. The main results found no differences in cyberbullying rates for boys and girls. In the case of bullying, there were more bully-victims among the boys, but no differences were found in the pure victims or pure perpetrators. When analysing the specific bullying behaviours suffered or perpetrated, several differences were found. However, said differences were discrete and it seems that there are not distinctly differentiated bullying patterns, which discourages the use of clearly differentiated preventive strategies for boys and girls.

Keywords: Bullying, Adolescence, Sex differences


The current study sought to determine if the rates of bullying are different between boys and girls by engaging with a large sample of adolescents from Galicia (Spain). The main results show that traditional bullying seemed to be more common than cyberbullying, with a total involvement in any role of 34.4%, while cyberbullying summed up to a total involvement of 14%. This rate is disaggregated into 16.4% victims, 5.9% perpetrators, and 12.1% who were both at the same time (bully-victims) for traditional bullying; and into 5.2% victims, 4.5% perpetrators, and 4.3% bully-victims for cyberbullying. The only differences between boys and girls found in traditional bullying were in the rates of bully-victims (13.9% vs. 10.3%). The cyberbullying rates showed no difference in terms of sex, in line with previous research concluding that neither sex nor gender seem to be associated with cyberbullying (Garaigordobil & Aliri, 2013Hinduja & Patchin, 2008; Larrañaga at al., 2018; Smith et al., 2008), at least in terms of overall rates.

The traditional bullying victimization behaviours that were most common across the entire sample seemed verbal and subtler forms of bullying like being called names, having nasty things about themselves said to other people, or suffering the spread of rumours about themselves. Except for the spreading of rumours, these were the most common perpetration behaviours as well. Behaviours related to relational or psychological abuse have been found to not be taken sufficiently seriously by school staff in other research (Bauman & Del Rio, 2006), so the fact that these are the most common means awareness must be raised in schools to efficiently tackle bullying. Though there were only differences between boys and girls in the role of bully-victim, several differences in specific behaviours were found. There were differences in all the victimization behaviours, with boys experiencing more physical violence, being insulted or called names and being threatened, while girls were subjected to more relational behaviours, like the spread of rumours or being excluded or ignored by others. In the case of perpetration, boys showed higher rates than girls in almost all the differences found: executing more physical violence, insulting, and threatening others. These findings are coherent with previous literature pointing to different bullying behaviours between boys and girls (Carrera-Fernández et al., 2016Marcum et al., 2012Rosen & Nofzige, 2019Ryoo et al., 2014). However, the logistic regression showed that the differences are not remarkable enough to propose preventive strategies focused on girls and others focused on boys. Although there were certain differences in specific behaviours suffered and perpetrated, it seemed that there is not a clearly defined pattern of bullying for girls and another one distinctly differentiated among boys.

Similarly to traditional bullying but with lower rates, the most common cyberbullying victimization and perpetration behaviours appeared to represent subtler forms of bullying like saying nasty things to others, spreading rumours or excluding someone in social networking sites, chat rooms, or messenger apps. It is worth mentioning that some differences were found between boys and girls regarding the cyberbullying acts they committed, but not in the ones they suffered. Boys presented higher rates in hacking accounts, threatening, creating false accounts or posting embarrassing content of others, while the only behaviour that was more prevalent for girls was saying nasty things about someone to other people. Even if the cyberbullying rates were similar for boys and girls, there seemed to be slight differences in the way boys or girls do it. Girls seem to avoid physical confrontations but resort to emotional and psychological abuse (Marcum et al., 2012), which seems to transfer to their online behaviours by avoiding direct online acts such as hacking accounts or threatening others and favouring subtler ways to bully others instead. It must still be noted that the differences found in present study are discrete. Moreover, in the case of cyberbullying, differences are even lower than in the traditional context, which might imply that the digital environment is a medium where sex differences are blurred to some extent. A greater disparity in the results on differences between girls and boys in the case of cyberbullying compared to traditional bullying has been pointed out by the literature (Garaigordobil & Aliri, 2013Smith et al., 2019Wright, 2020), with some authors theorizing that the explanation resides in the fact that cyberbullying involves more forms of indirect behaviours (Marcum et al., 2012).

The differences between boys and girls could be explained by taking into account gender socialization and normative expectation of different behaviour from boys or girls (Smith et al., 2019Wright, 2020), as well as understanding bullying as a behaviour where the sexes perform in accordance with the gender expected of them (Carrera-Fernández et al., 2016Rosen & Nofzige, 2019). As stated by previous research, bullying prevention programs should incorporate explanations of gender and promote acceptance of gender diversity (Rosen & Nofzige, 2019). This will allow encouraging positive personal characteristics regardless of the gender to which they are attributed, and at the same time should help to reduce the bullying suffered by people with diverse gender identities and sexual orientation. It may also facilitate for boys to be more open about their experience, as they seem to underreport bullying as to not show weakness (Lai & Kao, 2018) and avoid coping strategies that include help-seeking behaviour (Sittichai & Smith, 2018). However, conducting differential intervention efforts between girls and boys does not seem adequate to prevent bullying, as they do not have clearly divergent patterns to suffer nor to perpetrate bullying. Nevertheless, it should also be noted that it has been stated that prevention programs seem to be more effective among boys by being more effective in bullying behaviours that are most prevalent among them (Chocarro & Garaigordobil, 2019Kennedy, 2020aKennedy, 2020bSmith et al., 2019). From this and the fact that relational or psychological abuse is considered less serious by school staff (Bauman & Del Rio, 2006), it can be inferred that more subtle or indirect behaviours may not be sufficiently addressed in current prevention and intervention programmes and may require further development in the future.

Finally, this study has three main limitations that should be mentioned. The first is the non-probability sampling used. Although it has allowed us to analyse a large sample (a total of 3,174 adolescents), the results are less generalizable to the wider population. Second, the small sample size of those involved in cyberbullying hinders the exploration of sex differences, as sometimes the rates of one group doubled the other but were not statistically significant. Thirdly, using sex instead of gender can be a superficial analysis and requires further research from a gender perspective. Despite these limitations, the results presented here add to the growing literature investigating sex differences in bullying and inform about the current situation in Galicia for adolescents in this regard. Mainly, this study shows that in the assessment of bullying from a gender perspective it may be key to focus on behaviours that females and males engage in, even if the overall rates seem similar. Future research should look into cultural and social constructions that may be mediating different behaviours expressed by boys and girls. This will in turn favour the development of more effective intervention and preventive strategies for traditional bullying and cyberbullying (Espelage et al., 2004Smith et al., 2019).

Saturday, March 6, 2021

While physical attractiveness was less important to blind men, blind women considered physical attractiveness as important as sighted women

The Role of Vision in the Emergence of Mate Preferences. Meike Scheller, Francine Matorres, Anthony Little, Lucy Tompkins, Alexandra de Sousa. Archives of Sexual Behavior, accepted Mar 2 2021.

Open version: Scheller, Meike, Francine Matorres, Lucy Tompkins, Anthony C. Little, and Alexandra A. de Sousa. 2019. “Beauty Is Not Always in the Eye of the Beholder: The Role of Vision in the Emergence of Mate Preferences.” PsyArXiv. May 29. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Cross-cultural research has repeatedly demonstrated sex differences in the importance of partner characteristics when choosing a mate. Men typically report higher preferences for younger, more physically attractive women, while women typically place more importance on a partner’s status and wealth. As the assessment of such partner characteristics often relies on visual cues, this raises the question whether visual experience is necessary for sex-specific mate preferences to develop. To shed more light onto the emergence of sex differences in mate choice, the current study assessed how preferences for attractiveness, resources, and personality factors differ between sighted and blind individuals using an online questionnaire. We further investigate the role of social factors and sensory cue selection in these sex differences. Our sample consisted of 94 sighted and blind participants with different ages of blindness-onset: 19 blind/28 sighted males and 19 blind/28 sighted females. Results replicated well-documented findings in the sighted, with men placing more importance on physical attractiveness and women placing more importance on status and resources. However, while physical attractiveness was less important to blind men, blind women considered physical attractiveness as important as sighted women. The importance of a high status and likeable personality was not influenced by sightedness. Blind individuals considered auditory cues more important than visual cues, while sighted males showed the opposite pattern. Further, relationship status and indirect, social influences were related to preferences. Overall, our findings shed light on the availability of visual information for the emergence of sex differences in mate preference.

Animals in Dreams of Children, Adolescents, and Adults: The UK Library Study

Animals in Dreams of Children, Adolescents, and Adults: The UK Library Study. Michael Schredl, Mark Blagrove. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, March 5, 2021.

Abstract: Animal dreams have fascinated mankind for ages. Empirical research indicated that children dream more often about animals than adults and dogs, cats, and horses are the most frequent animals that appear within dreams. Moreover, most dreamer-animal interactions are negative. The present study included 4849 participants (6 to 90 yrs. old) reporting 2716 most recent dreams. Overall, 18.30% of these dreams included animals with children reporting more animal dreams that adolescents and adults. The most frequent animals were again dogs, horses, and cats; about 20% of the dream animals were in fact pets of the dreamers. About 30% of the dream animals showed bizarre features, e.g., metamorphosing into humans or other animals, bigger than in real life, or can talk. Taken together, the findings support the continuity hypothesis of dreaming but also the idea that dreams reflect waking-life emotions in a metaphorical and dramatized way. Future studies should focus on eliciting waking-life experiences with animals, e.g., having a pet, animal-related media consumption, and relating these to experiences with animals in dreams.

Keywords: animal dreams, continuity hypothesis, dreams as metaphors, dream bizarreness

In men, adults and older adults spent almost twice as long on the Internet for sexual purposes than early adolescents and adolescents

Problematic and non-problematic engagement in Online Sexual Activities across the lifespan. Rafael Ballester-Arnal et al. Computers in Human Behavior, March 6 2021, 106774.

Rolf Degen's take:


• Few studies have explored differences in the use of the Internet for sexual purposes across the lifespan.

• We analyse the Online Sexual activity (OSA) of 8,040 individuals between 12-85 years old distributed into five age groups.

• OSA was highly prevalent across all the developmental stages (including people older than 60 years old).

• Differences according to the age in the use of the Internet for sexual purposes were small-to-moderate (i.e., smaller than expected).

• Gender was important when it came to understanding these minor age differences.

Abstract: During the last decade, the number of people using the Internet for sexual purposes has increased exponentially. However, most studies conducted so far have analyzed Online Sexual Activity (OSA) of adolescents and young people, meaning that we have few information on how this phenomenon is expressed across the lifespan. The aim of this study was to analyse three aspects of OSA (prevalence of different OSAs, motives to engage in OSA, and excessive and problematic engagement in OSA) in a large sample of individuals in different developmental stages. A self-selected sample of 8,040 individuals between 12-85 years old were recruited and completed an online survey. Participants were distributed into five age groups and compared (<18 years old, between 18-25, between 26-40, between 41-60, and >60). OSA was highly prevalent across all the developmental stages, including people older than 60 years old. Differences according to the age in the use of the Internet for sexual purposes were small-to-moderate, but we identified some age-related trends in different aspects of OSA. Finally, gender was important when it came to understanding these minor age differences. This study provides a preliminary foundation for identifying the unique characteristics of OSA across the lifespan.

Keywords: Online Sexual Activities (OSAs)PrevalenceMotivesProblematic engagementLifespan

Having more money makes people feel more proud, contented, and confident & less sad, afraid, and ashamed, but does not affect whether they feel grateful, caring, & angry

Tong, E. M. W., Reddish, P., Oh, V. Y. S., Ng, W., Sasaki, E., Chin, E. D. A., & Diener, E. (2021). Income robustly predicts self-regard emotions. Emotion, Mar 2021.

Abstract: There is robust evidence that higher income makes people evaluate their lives more favorably, but there is no consistent evidence on whether it makes people feel better. Analyzing data from five large surveys spanning 162 countries, we predicted and found the most comprehensive evidence to date that income reliably predicted greater positive self-regard emotions (e.g., pride) and lower negative self-regard emotions (e.g., anxiety). In contrast, its relationships with other-regard emotions (e.g., gratitude, anger) and global emotions (e.g., happiness) were weaker in magnitude and difficult to replicate. In addition, income predicted higher (lower) levels of positive (negative) self-regard emotions about 10 years later, controlling for the same self-regard emotions at baseline. Sense of control mediated the relationships between income and both positive and negative self-regard emotions. Income predicted self-regard emotions as strongly as it has been known to predict life evaluation. Hence, having more money makes people feel more proud, contented, and confident and less sad, afraid, and ashamed, but does not affect whether they feel grateful, caring, and angry.

Friday, March 5, 2021

UK self-selected sample: A significant proportion of individuals reported drinking more frequently in lockdown, drinking more units per drinking occasion and more frequent heavy episodic drinking

Characterising the patterns of and factors associated with increased alcohol consumption since COVID‐19 in a UK sample. Melissa Oldham et al. Drug and Alcohol Review, March 3 2021.


Introduction: To examine changes in drinking patterns and to assess factors associated with reported increases in frequency of drinking, units consumed and frequency of heavy episodic drinking (HED) during the UK lockdown.

Methods: Online cross‐sectional survey of 2777 self‐selected UK adults.

Results: Thirty percent of participants reported drinking more frequently in lockdown, 16% reported drinking more units per drinking occasion and 14% reported more frequent HED. For men and women, increased frequency of drinking was associated with being less likely to believe alcohol drinking would lead to greater chance of catching COVID‐19 (men: OR = 0.99, 95% CI = 0.98, 1.00; women: OR = 0.99, 95% CI = 0.99, 1.00) and deterioration in psychological wellbeing (OR = 1.27, 95% CI = 1.04, 1.54; OR = 1.29, 95% CI = 1.11, 1.51); increased unit consumption was associated with deterioration in financial situation (OR = 1.50, 95% CI = 1.21, 1.86; OR = 1.31, 95% CI = 1.05, 1.64) and physical health (OR = 1.31, 95% CI = 1.03, 1.67; OR = 1.66, 95% CI = 1.31, 2.10). Finally, increases in the frequency of HED were associated with deterioration in psychological wellbeing (OR = 1.65, 95% CI = 1.25, 2.18; OR = 1.46, 95% CI = 1.17, 1.82) and being furloughed (OR = 3.25, 95% CI = 1.80, 5.86; OR = 2.06, 95% CI = 1.19, 3.56). Other gender differences were detected, for example, living with children was associated with an increase in units consumed (OR = 1.72, 95% CI = 1.09, 2.73) and the frequency of HED (OR = 2.40, 95% CI = 1.44, 3.99) for men, but not women.

Discussion and Conclusions: In this self‐selected UK sample, a significant proportion of individuals reported drinking more frequently in lockdown, drinking more units per drinking occasion and more frequent HED. There were consistent predictors of increased consumption across men and women, but other gender differences were detected. This study identifies groups that may require targeted support in future lockdowns.


About a one‐third of our self‐selected sample, surveyed between 30 April and 14 June 2020, reported drinking more frequently in the first UK lockdown. These rates were roughly equivalent between men and women though the correlates of increased frequency of alcohol consumption differed somewhat by gender. Deterioration in psychological wellbeing and believing that alcohol was unlikely to put them at greater risk of getting or not recovering from COVID‐19 were correlated with increased frequency of drinking for both men and women. Amongst women, increases in the frequency of drinking occasions were also associated with last‐year alcohol reduction attempts and deterioration in physical health. Whereas amongst men, increases in the frequency of drinking were associated with being younger, having a lower baseline AUDIT‐C score, being furloughed, deterioration in living conditions, deterioration in financial circumstances, improvements in social relationships and having fewer pre‐existing health conditions.

In terms of changes in the units consumed per drinking occasion, women were more likely than men to drink the same number of units as pre COVID‐19 (66% vs. 56% of men). Men were more likely than women to drink both more units (19% vs. 14%) and less units (25% vs. 20%). Deterioration in financial circumstances and physical health were associated with increased unit consumption for both men and women. Amongst women, increases in units consumed per drinking occasion were associated with having more alcohol reduction attempts in the last year. Whereas, amongst men, increases in units consumed per drinking occasion were associated with living with children, deterioration in psychological wellbeing and believing that alcohol was unlikely to put them at greater risk of getting or not recovering from COVID‐19.

Finally, the majority (61%) reported no change in the frequency of HED occasions pre‐ and post‐COVID‐19. For both women and men, being furloughed and deterioration in psychological wellbeing were associated with increases in the frequency of HED. Amongst women, increases in the frequency of HED were also associated with being younger, last‐year alcohol reduction attempts and living alone. Amongst men, increases in the frequency of HED were associated with living with children, having a more negative experience of social distancing, deterioration in financial circumstances, improvements in social relationships and being a current smoker.


This study has important implications in terms of highlighting groups that may need targeted support for alcohol reduction to counteract an increase in drinking during future COVID‐19‐related lockdowns in the UK. There were some consistencies in correlates of increased drinking amongst men and women. Deterioration in psychological wellbeing was one of the most consistent predictors of increases in the frequency of drinking and HED for both men and women. Being furloughed was also a consistent predictor of increases in HED across men and women. This is in line with other literature showing that alcohol consumption increases in economic downturns where unemployment is higher, partly due to increases in leisure time, amongst those who are unemployed [36]. These findings suggest that in future iterations of lockdown, those on furlough or similar schemes may require additional alcohol‐related support. Communications from either the government or employers around the furlough scheme could contain links to resources to help individuals manage their wellbeing and their drinking.

In line with other studies [3], there is also some evidence of gender differences in drinking patterns; units consumed per drinking occasion have polarised more amongst men in that men are more likely than women to be drinking both more and less. Furthermore, the correlates of increases in each drinking pattern are different for men and women. Living with children was associated with an increase in units consumed and the frequency of heavy episodic drinking for men, but not women. Increases in the amount of alcohol consumed on drinking occasions amongst male parents are concerning as HED in particular is likely to impair performance of caring responsibilities. This is in line with some research showing that women disproportionately carry the burdens of increased child care [2324], which could explain greater declines in wellbeing amongst women [2526].

Deterioration in financial circumstances was consistently associated with increases in all of the drinking measures for men, but only with units consumed for women. Previous research examining the relationships between economic downturns and alcohol consumption also found men were more likely to drink heavily in response to recessions and increased unemployment [36]. This may be due to increased stress in response to traditional gender roles in which men may be more likely to be considered the breadwinner.

Strengths and limitations

A key strength of this study was the variety of measures collected, permitting a detailed analysis of a broad range of potential factors predicting drinking patterns during the start of COVID‐19‐related lockdown in the UK. Furthermore, this survey allowed participants to select the date that they felt COVID‐19 started to affect them, this offers a strength over other studies that rely on using the date lockdown began to signal ‘before’ and ‘after’, in a period of ongoing change. Although the full lockdown began on 24 March, there was advice and knowledge of the virus and its effects in the months before this which may have affected drinking behaviour. For example, pubs in England were closed on 20 March and people were encouraged to work from home or socially distance from 16 March. Furthermore, the collection of data while lockdown was ongoing limits the potential for recall bias, which might be present in retrospective studies. However, this study was not without limitations. As pre‐COVID‐19 drinking is only measured post‐COVID‐19, it may be susceptible to recall bias. The sample was self rather than randomly selected, which reduces the generalisability of these results. Specifically, the results may be more reflective of people who complete online surveys about health than the general population in the UK. Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people in particular were underrepresented in the study sample, this means that ethnicity was treated as white versus minority ethnic groups. Grouping all Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic participants together in this way does not allow examination of differences between different ethnicities and cultures, which limits the generalisability of these conclusions further. Finally, here we use a non‐validated measure of self‐assessed changes in psychological wellbeing, which may have been interpreted differently by participants.

Implicit transgender attitudes predicted multiple outcomes, including gender essentialism, contact with transgender people, and support for transgender-related policies, over and above explicit attitudes

Implicit Transgender Attitudes Independently Predict Beliefs About Gender and Transgender People. Jordan R. Axt et al. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, July 1, 2020.

Abstract: Surprisingly little is known about transgender attitudes, partly due to a need for improved measures of beliefs about transgender people. Four studies introduce a novel Implicit Association Test (IAT) assessing implicit attitudes toward transgender people. Study 1 (N = 294) found significant implicit and explicit preferences for cisgender over transgender people, both of which correlated with transphobia and transgender-related policy support. Study 2 (N = 1,094) found that implicit transgender attitudes predicted similar outcomes among participants reporting no explicit preference for cisgender versus transgender people. Across Study 3a (N = 5,647) and Study 3b (N = 2,276), implicit transgender attitudes predicted multiple outcomes, including gender essentialism, contact with transgender people, and support for transgender-related policies, over and above explicit attitudes. This work introduces a reliable means of measuring implicit transgender attitudes and illustrates how these attitudes independently predict meaningful beliefs and experiences.

Keywords: implicit attitudes, IAT, explicit attitudes, transgender, transphobia, policy

Transgenders’ sociosexuality is largely influenced by their sexual genotype despite their incongruent gender self-perception; the relationships between behavior, attitude, & sociosexual desire are different from those of cisgenders

Influence of Sexual Genotype and Gender Self-Perception on Sociosexuality and Self-Esteem among Transgender People. Rodrigo de Menezes Gomes, Fívia de Araújo Lopes & Felipe Nalon Castro. Human Nature, volume 31, pages483–496. Jan 21 2021.

Abstract: Empirical data from studies with both heterosexual and homosexual individuals have consistently indicated different tendencies in mating behavior. However, transgenders’ data are often overlooked. This exploratory study compared levels of sociosexuality and self-esteem between transgenders and non-transgender (cisgender) individuals. The aim was to verify whether either sexual genotype or gender self-perception had more influence on the examined variables in transgenders. Correlations between self-esteem and sociosexuality levels were also investigated. The sample consisted of 120 Brazilian individuals (51 transgenders) from both sexes. Sociosexuality scores indicated mostly sex-typical patterns for transgenders of both sexes across the construct’s three dimensions (behavior, attitude, and desire), except for female-to-male transgenders’ behavioral sociosexuality. Unique associations between the dimensions of sociosexuality were found for transgender participants. No differences in self-esteem were observed and no correlations between self-esteem and sociosexuality were found. The results suggest that transgenders’ sociosexuality is largely influenced by their sexual genotype despite their incongruent gender self-perception and that the relationships between behavior, attitude, and sociosexual desire are different from those observed in cisgenders.

Finance employees in India: The relationship between dark triad traits and job performance is positive at the lower end of dark triad traits but flattens out as the dark triad traits intensify

Uppal, N. (2021), "Does it pay to be bad? An investigation of dark triad traits and job performance in India", Personnel Review, Feb 2021.


Purpose: The current paper proposes a curvilinear relationship between the dark triad traits (Machiavellianism, psychopathy and narcissism) and job performance. In addition, it examines the moderation effect of traitedness on the dark triad–job performance relationship.

Design/methodology/approach: Drawing on data from 382 participants in a financial services firm in India, the authors conducted a two-phase study to examine the curvilinear and moderation effects.

Findings: Results confirmed that the relationship between dark triad traits and job performance is positive at the lower end of dark triad traits but flattens out as the dark triad traits intensify.

Originality/value: The authors discuss theoretical and practical implications and offer suggestions for future research.

Of key predictors of religious disbelief, witnessing fewer credible cultural cues of religious commitment was the most potent, followed distantly by reflective cognitive style, & less advanced mentalizing

The Origins of Religious Disbelief: A Dual Inheritance Approach. Will M. Gervais, Maxine B. Najle, Nava Caluori. Social Psychological and Personality Science, March 5, 2021.

Abstract: Widespread religious disbelief represents a key testing ground for theories of religion. We evaluated the predictions of three prominent theoretical approaches—secularization, cognitive byproduct, and dual inheritance—in a nationally representative (United States, N = 1,417) data set with preregistered analyses and found considerable support for the dual inheritance perspective. Of key predictors of religious disbelief, witnessing fewer credible cultural cues of religious commitment was the most potent, β = .28, followed distantly by reflective cognitive style, β = .13, and less advanced mentalizing, β = .05. Low cultural exposure predicted about 90% higher odds of atheism than did peak cognitive reflection, and cognitive reflection only predicted disbelief among those relatively low in cultural exposure to religion. This highlights the utility of considering both evolved intuitions and transmitted culture and emphasizes the dual roles of content- and context-biased social learning in the cultural transmission of disbelief (preprint

Keywords: atheism, religion, culture, evolution, dual inheritance theory


Overall, this study is one of the most comprehensive available analyses of the cognitive, cultural, and motivational factors that predict individual differences in religious belief and disbelief (see also Willard & Cingl, 2017). Consistent patterns emerged, suggesting that lack of exposure to CREDs of religious faith is a key predictor of atheism. Once this context-biased cultural learning mechanism is accounted for, reflective cognitive style predicts some people being slightly more prone to religious disbelief than their cultural upbringing might otherwise suggest. That said, this relationship was relatively modest. Advanced mentalizing was a robust but weak predictor of religious belief, and existential security did not meaningfully predict disbelief. This overall pattern of results closely matched predictions of a dual inheritance approach but is difficult to reconcile with other prominent theoretical approaches (see Table 1 and Figure 2). These results speak directly to competing for theoretical perspectives on the origins of religious disbelief culled from sociology, social psychology, evolutionary psychology, cognitive science of religion, cultural evolution, and gene–culture coevolution.

Alternatives and Limitations

Of the four primary atheism predictors that we used to test prominent theories, religious CREDs emerged as a clear empirical winner. In some ways, however, our tests may have been methodologically stacked in this variable’s favor. Like the self-reports of religious disbelief, this measure includes self-report items about religious upbringing. Thus, there is shared method variance associated with this predictor that is less evident for others. Also, although the CREDs–atheism relationship is consistent with a cultural transmission framework, heritability of religiosity may also contribute to atheists coming from families who aren’t visibly religious. The measure we used is unable to resolve this. Further, our various key predictors varied in both reliability and demonstrated validity. We chose these measures simply because they have been used in previous research; that said, previous use does not necessarily imply that the measures were sufficient.

As with measurement quality, sample diversity is a recurrent concern in psychological research (Henrich et al., 2010Rad et al., 2018Saab et al., 2020). Most psychology research nowadays emerges from convenience samples of undergraduates and Mechanical Turk workers. These samples are fine for some purposes, quite limited for others (Gaither, 2019), and are known to depart from representativeness (Callegaro et al., 2014MacInnis et al., 2018). While our nationally representative sampling allows us to generalize beyond samples, we can access for free (in lab) or cheap (MTurk), even a large nationally representative sample barely scratches the surface of human diversity (Henrich et al., 2010Rad et al., 2018Saab et al., 2020). As such, we encourage similar analyses across different cultures (Willard & Cingl, 2017). Diversifying the samples that make up the empirical portfolio of evolutionary approaches to religion is especially necessary because cultural cues themselves emerged as the strongest predictor of disbelief in this and related work (Gervais & Najle, 2015Gervais et al., 2018Maij et al., 2017Willard & Cingl, 2017). Without diverse samples, including and especially extending well beyond nationally representative samples in the United States, researchers can only aspire to ever more precisely answer a mere outlier of an outlier of our most important scientific questions about human nature.

We measured and tested predictors of religious belief and disbelief. This outcome measure is quite narrow in scope, in terms of the broader construct of religiosity. Further, our Supernatural Belief Scale—while it has been used across cultures—is fairly Judeo-Christian-centric. We suspect that a broader consideration of religiosity in diverse societies may yield different patterns. The Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic (WEIRD) people problem isn’t just a sampling issue; it also reflects an overreliance on the theories, constructs, and instruments developed by WEIRD researchers to test their weird hunches.

Although it is not featured in any of the core theoretical perspectives we evaluated, social liberalism was consistently the strongest covariate of religious disbelief. The intersection of religious and political ideology is an interesting topic in its own right and merits further consideration. Interestingly, disbelief if anything was associated with fiscal conservatism in this sample. This suggests that simple “believers are conservative” tropes are oversimplifications. Ideology and religiosity are multifaceted and dissociable, but certainly of interest given rampant political polarization in the United States and elsewhere. That said, religion–ideology associations, whatever they may be, are largely orthogonal to existing cultural and evolutionary theories of religious belief and disbelief.

Theoretical Implications

We simultaneously evaluated predictions about the origins of disbelief from three prominent theoretical perspectives: secularization, cognitive byproduct, and dual inheritance. Comparing the predictions in Table 1 with the results of Figure 2, results were most consistent with the dual inheritance perspective, the only theoretical perspective that predicted prominent roles for both inCREDulous atheism and analytic atheism. Given the primacy of cultural learning in our data, any model that does not rely heavily on context-biased cultural learning is likely a poor fit for explaining the origins of religious disbelief. By extension, such theoretical models are necessarily incomplete or faulty evolutionary accounts of religion. Simply growing up in a home with relatively fewer credible displays of faith predicted disbelief, contra prior assertions from the cognitive science of religion that disbelief results from “special cultural conditions” and “a good degree of cultural scaffolding” (Barrett, 2010).

Analytic atheism is probably the most discussed avenue to disbelief in the literature (Pennycook et al., 2016Shenhav et al., 2012) and broader culture (Dawkins, 2006). Although in this sample, there was consistent evidence of analytic atheism, the overall trend was modest, the trend itself varied considerably across exposure to CREDs, and sufficient religious CREDs buffered believers against the putatively corrosive influence of reflective cognition on faith. Despite claims that atheism generally requires cognitive effort or reflection (Barrett, 2010Boyer, 2008), cognitive reflection was only modestly related to atheism in these data. These results, taken alongside other evidence accumulating from similar studies (Farias et al., 2017Gervais et al., 2018Willard & Cingl, 2017), may suggest that early claims surrounding the primacy of effortful cognitive reflection as a necessary predictor of atheism may have been overenthusiastic. Analytic thinking predicts atheism in some contexts but is far from primary.

It is initially puzzling that existential security proved largely impotent in our analyses, as it appears to be an important factor in explaining cross-cultural differences in religiosity (Barber, 2013Inglehart & Norris, 2004Solt et al., 2011). It is possible that our analyses were at the wrong level of analysis to capture the influence of existential security, which may act as a precursor to other cultural forces. There may actually be a two-stage generational process whereby existential security demotivates religious behavior in one generation, leading the subsequent generation to atheism as they do not witness CREDs of faith. This longitudinal societal prediction merits future investigation.

Finally, this work has implications beyond religion. Presumably, many beliefs arise from an interaction between core cognitive faculties, motivation, cultural exposure, and cognitive style. The general dual inheritance framework adopted here may prove fruitful for other sorts of beliefs elsewhere. Indeed, a thorough exploration of the degree to which different beliefs are predicted by cultural exposure relative to other cognitive factors may be useful for exploring content- versus context-biased cultural learning and the contributions of transmitted and evoked culture. As this is a prominent point of contention between different schools of human evolutionary thought (Laland & Brown, 2011), such as evolutionary psychology and cultural evolution, further targeted investigation may be productive.


The importance of transmitted culture and context-biased cultural learning as a predictor of belief and disbelief cannot be overstated. Combined, this work suggests that if you are guessing whether or not individuals are believers or atheists, you are better-off knowing how their parents behaved—Did they tithe? Pray regularly? Attend synagogue?—than how they themselves process information. Further, our interaction analyses suggest that sufficiently strong cultural exposure yields sustained religious commitment even in the face of the putatively corrosive influence of cognitive reflection. Theoretically, these results fit well within a dual inheritance approach, as evolved cognitive capacities for cultural learning prove to be the most potent predictor of individual differences in the cross-culturally canalized expression of religious belief. Atheists are becoming increasingly common in the world, not because human psychology is fundamentally changing but rather because evolved cognition remains fairly stable in the face of a rapidly changing cultural context that is itself the product of a coevolutionary process. Faith emerges in some cultural contexts, and atheism is the natural result in others.

Authors’ Note