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Friday, July 3, 2020

From 2010... A combination of imperfectly competitive markets, family ownership of firms, regulations restricting management practices, & informational barriers allow bad management to persist

From 2010... Bloom, Nicholas, and John Van Reenen. 2010. "Why Do Management Practices Differ across Firms and Countries?" Journal of Economic Perspectives, 24 (1): 203-24. DOI: 10.1257/jep.24.1.203

Abstract: Economists have long puzzled over the astounding differences in productivity between firms and countries. In this paper, we present evidence on a possible explanation for persistent differences in productivity at the firm and the national level -- namely, that such differences largely reflect variations in management practices. We have, over the last decade, undertaken a large survey research program to systematically measure management practices across firms, industries, and countries. Our survey approach focuses on aspects of management like systematic performance monitoring, setting appropriate targets, and providing incentives for good performance. We explain how we measure management; identify some basic patterns in our data; then turn to the question of why management practices vary so much across firms and nations. What we find is a combination of imperfectly competitive markets, family ownership of firms, regulations restricting management practices, and informational barriers allow bad management to persist.



Can Short Psychological Interventions Affect Educational Performance? Less than one quarter yielded significant interaction effects & less than 3% showed significant improvements among women

Can Short Psychological Interventions Affect Educational Performance? Revisiting the Effect of Self-Affirmation Interventions. Marta Serra-Garcia, Karsten T. Hansen, Uri Gneezy. Psychological Science, July 1, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797620923587

Abstract: Large amounts of resources are spent annually to improve educational achievement and to close the gender gap in sciences with typically very modest effects. In 2010, a 15-min self-affirmation intervention showed a dramatic reduction in this gender gap. We reanalyzed the original data and found several critical problems. First, the self-affirmation hypothesis stated that women’s performance would improve. However, the data showed no improvement for women. There was an interaction effect between self-affirmation and gender caused by a negative effect on men’s performance. Second, the findings were based on covariate-adjusted interaction effects, which imply that self-affirmation reduced the gender gap only for the small sample of men and women who did not differ in the covariates. Third, specification-curve analyses with more than 1,500 possible specifications showed that less than one quarter yielded significant interaction effects and less than 3% showed significant improvements among women.

Keywords: self-affirmation, gender gap, education, open data


Are Couples More Satisfied When They Match in Sexual Desire? Higher desire rather than matching in desire between partners predicted relationship and sexual satisfaction

Are Couples More Satisfied When They Match in Sexual Desire?: New Insights From Response Surface Analyses. James J. Kim et al. Social Psychological and Personality Science, July 2, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550620926770

Abstract: While sexual frequency and satisfaction are strong contributors to the quality and longevity of romantic relationships and overall well-being, mismatches in sexual desire between partners are common and have been linked with poorer satisfaction. Previous findings linking mismatches in desire with poorer relationship and sexual outcomes have typically been derived using difference scores, an approach that does not account for partners’ overall levels of desire. In a sample of 366 couples, we investigated whether partners who match in desire are more satisfied than desire-discrepant couples. Results of dyadic response surface analyses provided no support for a unique matching effect. Higher desire rather than matching in desire between partners predicted relationship and sexual satisfaction. These findings shed new light on whether the correspondence between partners’ levels of sexual desire is associated with satisfaction and suggest the need to focus on sustaining desire and successfully navigating differences rather than promoting matching in desire.

Keywords: close relationships, sexual desire, satisfaction


Brief History of Risk: Despite increasing life expectancy and high levels of welfare, health care, and public safety in most post-industrial countries, the public discourse often revolves around perceived threats

A brief history of risk. Ying Li, Thomas Hills, Ralph Hertwig. Cognition, Volume 203, October 2020, 104344. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2020.104344

Abstract: Despite increasing life expectancy and high levels of welfare, health care, and public safety in most post-industrial countries, the public discourse often revolves around perceived threats. Terrorism, global pandemics, and environmental catastrophes are just a few of the risks that dominate media coverage. Is this public discourse on risk disconnected from reality? To examine this issue, we analyzed the dynamics of the risk discourse in two natural language text corpora. Specifically, we tracked latent semantic patterns over a period of 150 years to address four questions: First, we examined how the frequency of the word risk has changed over historical time. Is the construct of risk playing an ever-increasing role in the public discourse, as the sociological notion of a ‘risk society’ suggests? Second, we investigated how the sentiments for the words co-occurring with risk have changed. Are the connotations of risk becoming increasingly ominous? Third, how has the meaning of risk changed relative to close associates such as danger and hazard? Is risk more subject to semantic change? Finally, we decompose the construct of risk into the specific topics with which it has been associated and track those topics over historical time. This brief history of the semantics of risk reveals new and surprising insights—a fourfold increase in frequency, increasingly negative sentiment, a semantic drift toward forecasting and prevention, and a shift away from war toward chronic disease—reflecting the conceptual evolution of risk in the archeological records of public discourse.

Keywords: RiskDangerPublic discourseContent analysisTopic modelNgram Corpus

5. Discussion

Risk is a complex multidimensional construct. It takes a variety of forms in public discourse and has, accordingly, been investigated in various ways. Each approach focuses on some aspects of the discourse at the expense of others. One common approach has been to analyze media coverage of risk as a leading source of information for the general public and experts alike (see, e.g., Combs & Slovic, 1979, and various references in Young et al., 2008). Our approach consisted in a large-scale analysis of historical text corpora. Such corpora are attractive because they collate a vast array of perspectives on an extensive historical time window: in the case of the Google Book Ngrams Corpus, over 8 million books and 150 years. What did we learn about the risk-related discourse in English-speaking countries?
First, we found—consistent with Beck's (1992) diagnosis of post-industrialist Western societies as risk societies facing a wide variety of unique and human-made risks and with Giddens's (2013) idea that society is increasingly preoccupied with the future and its safety—that the word risk has become much more prevalent (Fig. 1A). There is evidence of an approximately fourfold increase in its usage since the 1950s. Beck also stressed that risks in the post-modern world are increasingly unknowable and unpredictable due to scientific and technological innovations having unanticipated consequences. It is possible that this process has contributed to our second major observation, namely, that the sentiments associated with risk have become much more negative, starting around 1900 and confirming Pinker's (2011) observation that humans have become increasingly preoccupied with the negative aspects of risk. Interestingly, the same does not apply to its close semantic relatives (Fig. 1C). What is also puzzling is that this change in sentiments is happening at a time when the semantics of risk have become increasingly associated with notions of quantification, reduction, and prevention—findings that also challenge the idea that the increase in negative sentiments has been caused by the unknowability of risks. In addition, we found that the risk categories to some extent reflect real-world changes in the prevalence and magnitude of the respective risks (see Fig. 4 and our analyses of nuclear proliferation and AIDS-related deaths). Finally, we also found a shift from macro-risks, such as war and battle, to more individual-specific, chronic risks such as disease (Holzmann & Jørgenson, 2000) as well as shift toward more variability in risk topics. The strong focus on modern diseases suggests that the public discourse is generally oriented toward the most prevalent causes of death and harm. This is noteworthy, as several authors have argued that people tend to be afraid of the wrong things (see Glassner, 2018Renn, 2014Schröder, 2018).
Many of these patterns observed are remarkable in part because they are monotonic: the notable increase in the frequency and negativity of the risk construct, and the increase in number of topics it encompasses. These changes are perhaps related to one another. One potential underlying mechanism is the social amplification of risk (Jagiello & Hills, 2018Kasperson et al., 1988Moussaïd, Brighton, & Gaissmaier, 2015): as information is transferred from one individual to another, people tend to share the more negative aspects of a risk at the expense of potential gains. In Jagiello and Hills (2018), an individual exposed to a balanced argument on nuclear power shared that information with another individual. As information was communicated from one individual to the next, the focus shifted increasingly to the downsides of nuclear power and away from its benefits. This pattern is consistent with the substantial evidence that negative information has more influence on decision making than positive information (Baumeister, Bratslavsky, Finkenauer, & Vohs, 2001Ito, Larsen, Smith, & Cacioppo, 1998Rozin & Royzman, 2001). A second, related factor is that this effect may be further amplified by increasing communication over the period of our analysis. As Herbert Simon (1971) noted, “a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention” (pp. 40–41). With the unprecedented amounts of information now available, all other things being equal, the absolute amount of negative information has increased. In this environment, information that is better at being received, remembered, and reproduced has a selective advantage (Hills, 2019). This mechanism may apply particularly to information on prominent risks, which may self-reinforce more rapidly via intensified social communication (Jagiello & Hills, 2018).
What can be concluded from our results about the state of the public discourse on risk? First and foremost, our analysis can offer only a glimpse of this complex and multi-dimensional construct. Yet, we found results that were both disconcerting and reassuring. Primarily, the increasing prevalence of the word risk is an indicator of its growing significance, which is in itself a double-edged sword. Classifying something as a potential risk is likely to burden it with negative sentiments. Yet, branding something a risk also appears to imply the chance of changing our fortune in relation to it. Importantly, the text corpus analyses suggest that risk categories track real threats over the 20th and 21st century, shifting from violent death to chronic disease and major risks for morbidity and mortality in the modern day. In this sense, the risk discourse reflects changes in threats as well as changes in the potential to mitigate them.

Degree of attitude moralization moderates the consistency of attitude reports over time with more moralized attitudes being more stable; that stability varies by topic

The Stability of Moralized Attitudes Over Time. Andrew Luttrell, LaCount J. Togans. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, July 2, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167220935737

Abstract: When people perceive a moral basis for an attitude, that attitude tends to remain durable when directly challenged. But are moral concerns only influential in the moment or does moralization also signal an attitude that endures over time? Five longitudinal studies considering attitudes toward 19 different topics tested whether attitudes are more stable over time when people report that they are more morally based. Across studies, we find support for the hypothesis that degree of attitude moralization moderates the consistency of attitude reports over time with more moralized attitudes being more stable. These effects of moralization also hold when controlling for other metacognitive predictors of attitude strength, including certainty, ambivalence, importance, knowledge, ease of retrieval, and self-definition. An analysis of all studies together supports the reliability of the hypothesized effect but also suggests that it varies by topic. Implications for models of attitude moralization and attitude strength are discussed.

Keywords: attitude stability, moralization, attitude strength, longitudinal studies



Thursday, July 2, 2020

Washington journalists may be operating in even smaller, more insular microbubbles than previously thought, raising additional concerns about vulnerability to groupthink and blind spots

Sharing Knowledge and “Microbubbles”: Epistemic Communities and Insularity in US Political Journalism. Nikki Usher, Yee Man Margaret Ng. Social Media + Society, June 30, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305120926639

Abstract: This article examines the peer-to-peer dynamics of Washington political journalists as Communities of Practice (CoPs) to better understand how journalists connect to and learn from each other and establish conventional knowledge. We employ inductive computational analysis that combines social network analysis of journalists’ Twitter interactions with a qualitative, thematic analysis of journalists’ work histories, organizational affiliations, and self-descriptions to identify nine major clusters of Beltway journalists. Among these are an elite/legacy community, a television producer community inclusive of Fox producers, and CNN, as its own self-referential community. Findings suggest Washington journalists may be operating in even smaller, more insular microbubbles than previously thought, raising additional concerns about vulnerability to groupthink and blind spots.

Keywords: media elites, political journalism, Communities of Practice, epistemic communities, Twitter, social network analysis

This project offers two interventions to augment our understanding about the news production processes of elite political journalists. First, it introduces the productive potential of a CoP approach, which can illuminate not just how peer-to-peer dynamics influence social learning, consensus, and shared practices, but also provides an entry-point for critical inquiry into the consequences of powerful actors inhabiting insular epistemic communities. Second, the article suggests a way to use big (or biggish) data from social media platforms in ways that can be conducive to more qualitative, humanistic questions of the kind we have asked here. Indeed, research questions approached from this perspective do not have to have definitive answers resolved by the case.
Our approach shows how loosely distributed networks of powerful political journalists self-organize in different CoPs (RQ1) and then explores the different logics for these CoPs (RQ2) to consider what kinds of knowledge-generation and shared practices might emerge (RQ3). Our findings suggest even smaller, more insular communities of journalism that function as silos or even “microbubbles” with their own sets of concerns. We know from existing research that these journalists are engaging in story ideas, joking around, and burnishing their own careers (Kreiss, 2016Mourão, 2015). They are doing so, however, within even smaller communities of like-minded journalists that have been previously considered. If journalists are talking to even smaller groups of journalists who share similar orientations, there is a real concern about the limitations of these epistemic communities in generating knowledge and information for the public. In these insular epistemic communities, newness is controlled and incorporated within these power domains (Barnes, 2005), and critique that veers outside the norm of general banter or the emerging consensus may be disregarded. Indeed, these microbubbles risk folding in on themselves, as Knorr Cetina (1999) suggests. In particular, it is concerning that CNN journalists are tweeting mostly to other CNN journalists about CNN. Even if this is an organizational mandate, it nonetheless serves as a powerful echo chamber that leaves CNN’s internal sense about what news matters unchecked and reconfirmed by those who work there. On Twitter, a platform absolutely integral to the political journalism news production process, CNN journalists have limited engagement with other Beltway journalists.
Previous research has suggested that journalists care more about their own branding than their organization’s; this self-branding tactic is a hedge against the precarity of the news industry (Molyneux, 2015Usher, 2014). However, across all clusters, we find that top mentions are often referential to the top media organizations represented in each cluster, which suggests Beltway journalists prioritize branding the organization they work for. Organizational affiliation is not a sufficient enough explanation for the heterogeneity of the communities, but these organizational ties provide an important counterpoint for previous presumptions about self-branding practices among journalists.
Would these communities look different given a different temporal slicing of the data? Perhaps. While the specific concentrations of the makeup of journalists might change, the underlying rationale for each epistemic community’s practice orientation around specific knowledge production would likely be consistent, given what we have observed based on the biographical details of Twitter bios, the range of organizations represented, and thematic consistencies among hashtags and mentions. Here, we focused on a single network in isolation, but the triangulation of several network structures (e.g., of follower networks) might illuminate other insights. We acknowledge our normativity in suggesting that media diversity in Washington should be desirable. However, these patterns on Twitter may be suggestive of an even more self-reinforcing journalistic experience than research has previously acknowledged.
Normativity aside, this research reveals that Washington journalism is far more nuanced than it might seem. In addition to the sub-communities of journalists, the epistemic foundations for their clusters suggest the importance of remembering there are multiple audiences and multiple stakeholders outside the generally accepted waterfall schematic of press–politics–audiences (Entman, 2004). These sub-clusters within Washington may be less immediately visible but they are not necessarily less important, and their potential influence on political actors and other journalists, not to the public, deserves our attention.
This research calls for more detailed analyses of media elitism in the United States and elsewhere. The dangers of journalists having limited perspectives are real. While this study does not purport to show possible worsening over time, it does provide support that shows siloed communities of journalists and thus offers an important, empirically grounded caveat about their vulnerability to groupthink and blind spots. While political journalists have been traditionally explored as part of the source-journalist “tango” (Gans, 1979) and examined within a broader political communication structure (cf., Entman, 2004), to stretch a metaphor, we argue it is important to consider what happens when journalists are dancing with other journalists, who they pick as partners, and the songs they dance to.

Assessment of a form of sexual victimization that often goes undiscussed: Being forced to penetrate another person (i.e., forced penetration)

Anderson, RaeAnn E., Erica L. Goodman, and Sidney S. Thimm. 2020. “The Assessment of Forced Penetration: A Necessary and Further Step Toward Understanding Men’s Sexual Victimization and Women’s Perpetration.” OSF Preprints. June 30. doi:10.1177/2F1043986220936108

Abstract: A unique form of sexual victimization that often goes undiscussed and, therefore, underassessed is that of being forced to penetrate another person (i.e., forced penetration). Due to forced penetration being a relatively novel addition to the definition of rape, there is a lack of assessment tools that identify forced penetration cases. Thus, the goal of this study was to assess the utility and validity of new items designed to assess forced penetration. More than 1,000 participants were recruited across three different studies to assess forced penetration victimization and perpetration. The rate of forced penetration victimization ranged from 4.51% to 10.62%. Among men who reported victimization of any type, 33.8% to 58.7% of victimized men reported experiencing forced penetration across the samples, suggesting this experience is common. All new and unique cases of sexual victimization identified by the forced penetration items were those of heterosexual men. These findings suggest that assessing for forced penetration would increase the reported prevalence rates of sexual victimization, particularly in heterosexual men (and correspondingly, rates of perpetration in women).

An Assessment of Hitmen and Contracted Violence Providers Operating Online

An Assessment of Hitmen and Contracted Violence Providers Operating Online. Ariel L. Roddy  &Thomas J. Holt. Deviant Behavior, Jul 1 2020. https://doi.org/10.1080/01639625.2020.1787763

ABSTRACT: Past research has considered the ways in which vendors and consumers of illicit goods adapt to various formal and informal threats and manage risk in online environments. However, this topic is virtually unexplored in the context of contract-based violence. Using a sample of 24 advertisements posted on the Open and Dark web, this study utilizes a qualitative case study design to analyze the ways in which vendors attempt to signal legitimacy through the language and images used in their posts. Further, this work outlines the advertised payment structures and prices based on the skill level of contract hitmen, the weapons used, the method of violence, and the status of potential victims. The analysis reveals several ways in which vendors emphasize the privacy and anonymity of their services and highlight their ties to well-recognized organizations (e.g., the military, the mafia) in an attempt to mitigate risk and uncertainty for consumers. In addition, results reveal that online list prices for basic services are higher than previous estimates for similar services offered off-line, suggesting a premium associated with legitimacy and anonymity. These findings contribute to the literature surrounding the market for contract violence, as well as online illicit market processes generally.

Brain implants to alleviate an ailment or to provide optimal human level performance are approved of, but are not accepted to gain superhuman performance (unless you are a science fiction fan)

Koverola, Mika, Anton Kunnari, Marianna Drosinou, Jussi Palomäki, Ivar Hannikainen, Jukka Sundvall, and Michael Laakasuo. 2020. “Non-Human Superhumans - Moral Psychology of Brain Implants: Exploring the Role of Situational Factors, Science Fiction Exposure, Individual Differences and Perceived Norms.” PsyArXiv. June 30. doi:10.31234/osf.io/qgz9c

Abstract: Through five experimental studies we measured moral reactions to brain implants. We used three different measurements: 1) moral approval, or the general acceptance of brain-enhancing implants and people getting such implants, 2) perceived unfairness of the enhancement and 3) dehumanization of persons using brain implants. In our vignettes, the enhancement was on one of three levels: a) it alleviated an ailment, b) it gave optimal human level performance or c) it gave superhuman performance. Studies 1 to 4 were about memory enhancement, Study 5A about enhancing general intelligence and Study 5B about enhancing emotional stability.
We successfully showed that moral approval, sense of fairness and dehumanization are relevant in contexts where moral implications of new technologies are being evaluated and that while people generally approve of curing ailments, they are more cautious of unfamiliar levels of enhancement. Furthermore, we linked the tendency to condemn transhumanist technologies to factors associated with disgust sensitivity (the binding orientation of the Moral Foundations Theory and sexual disgust) and found that science fiction hobbyism is linked to approval of brain implants. We also successfully ruled out possible idiosyncrasies associated with our stimulus materials and eliminated multiple alternative explanations common in the study of moral cognition.



Overall, the results suggest that age is not reliably associated with individual differences in intertemporal choice tasks in adult samples; i.e., old age doesn't make for more patience

Seaman, Kendra L., Sade J. Abiodun, Zöe Fenn, Gregory R. Samanez-Larkin, and Rui Mata. 2020. “Temporal Discounting Across Adulthood: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” PsyArXiv. June 30. doi:10.31234/osf.io/7ysxa

Abstract: A number of developmental theories have been proposed that make differential predictions about the links between age and temporal discounting; that is, the valuation of rewards at different points in time. Most empirical studies that examined adult age differences in temporal discounting have relied on economic intertemporal choice tasks, which pit choosing a smaller, sooner monetary reward against choosing a larger, later one. The picture obtained from such studies is largely inconclusive due to a heterogeneity of results. We contribute to clarifying the current status of various theories of age differences in temporal discounting by conducting a systematic literature search and meta-analysis of adult age differences in intertemporal choice tasks. Across 37 studies (Total N = 104,736), we found no reliable relation between age and temporal discounting (r = -0.081, 95% CI [-0.185, 0.025]). Exploratory analyses of moderators found no effect of experimental design (e.g., extreme-group vs. continuous age), incentives (hypothetical vs. rewards), amount of delay (e.g., days, weeks, months, or years), or quantification of discounting behavior (e.g., proportion of immediate choices vs. parameters from computational modeling). Additional analyses of 12 cross-sectional data sets with participant-level data found little support for a nonlinear relation between age and temporal discounting across adulthood. Overall, the results suggest that age is not reliably associated with individual differences in intertemporal choice tasks in adult samples. We provide recommendations for future empirical work on temporal discounting across the adult life span.


Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Altogether, our work suggests that creativity and unethicality are positively related as predicted by theory

Storme, M., Celik, P., & Myszkowski, N. (2020). Creativity and unethicality: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, Jun 2020. https://doi.org/10.1037/aca0000332

Abstract: A growing line of research suggests that creativity and unethicality are intrinsically related to one another. However, the idea has been challenged both by theoretical arguments and by heterogeneous empirical findings. In the present work, we review the literature to reconcile seemingly opposed theoretical views on the relationship between creativity and unethicality. We then conduct a meta-analysis to clear up confusion about heterogeneous empirical findings in the literature (k = 36, N = 6783). We find a weak positive correlation between the 2 constructs (r = .09, 95% confidence interval [.01, .17], t = 2.24, p < .05). Consistent with social desirability response bias theory (Randall & Fernandes, 1991), we find that the correlation is significant in studies that rely upon objective measures of unethicality—that is, behavioral measures or other-reports—but not in studies that rely upon self-reports of unethicality. Altogether, our work suggests that creativity and unethicality are positively related as predicted by theory, and that some studies have failed at finding it because they used self-reports to assess unethicality rather than objective measures. Theoretical, methodological, and practical implications are discussed.


What causes technological panics to repeatedly reincarnate?

The Sisyphean Cycle of Technology Panics. Amy Orben. Perspectives on Psychological Science, June 30, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691620919372

Abstract: Widespread concerns about new technologies—whether they be novels, radios, or smartphones—are repeatedly found throughout history. Although tales of past panics are often met with amusement today, current concerns routinely engender large research investments and policy debate. What we learn from studying past technological panics, however, is that these investments are often inefficient and ineffective. What causes technological panics to repeatedly reincarnate? And why does research routinely fail to address them? To answer such questions, I examined the network of political, population, and academic factors driving the Sisyphean cycle of technology panics. In this cycle, psychologists are encouraged to spend time investigating new technologies, and how they affect children and young people, to calm a worried population. Their endeavor, however, is rendered ineffective because of the lack of a theoretical baseline; researchers cannot build on what has been learned researching past technologies of concern. Thus, academic study seemingly restarts for each new technology of interest, which slows down the policy interventions necessary to ensure technologies are benefiting society. In this article, I highlight how the Sisyphean cycle of technology panics stymies psychology’s positive role in steering technological change and the pervasive need for improved research and policy approaches to new technologies.

Keywords digital-technology use, social media, screen time, well-being, adolescents


The waxing and waning of concern about new technologies, driven by the want to comprehend and explain their influence on society, is an age-old component of societal debate. Especially those concerns focused on the youngest generations have been present for centuries. In Ancient Greece, philosophers opined about the damage writing might do to society and noted youths’ increasing lack of respect (Blakemore, 2019Wartella & Reeves, 1985). Novels became increasingly popular in the 18th century, and soon there were concerns about reading addiction and reading mania being associated with excessive risk-taking and immoral behavior (Furedi, 2015). I have already described similar fears about radio addiction in the 1940s. Concerns about new technologies and young people are therefore very common and have a cyclical nature, something that has been noted for decades. I am not the first to observe such a pattern: In 1935, Gruenberg wrote,
Looking backward, radio appears as but the latest of cultural emergents to invade the putative privacy of the home. Each such invasion finds the parents unprepared, frightened, resentful, and helpless. Within comparatively short member, the “movie,” the automobile, the telephone, the sensational newspaper or magazine, the “funnies,” and the cheap paper-back book have had similar effects upon the apprehensions and solicitudes of parents.
Although technology panics have existed for centuries, some researchers have highlighted the 19th and 20th centuries as the beginning of a new era for technology panics (Wartella & Robb, 2008): an era in which concerns are magnified and academic impact is heightened. The modern expansion of technological concerns was driven by a variety of trends (Wartella & Robb, 2008). First, the idea that adolescence is a distinct part of childhood emerged between the 18th and 19th centuries, and state involvement and general concern about this age group increased (France, 2007). Concerns specifically about adolescent and child leisure time began to appear in the 19th and 20th centuries (France, 2007). Leisure time was not previously available to a large proportion of the population but started becoming more common in society. It therefore began to be considered as a distinct entity in children’s days that could affect their health and well-being (Wartella & Robb, 2008). In addition, media time was increasingly a substantial part of children’s lives. In 1934, children reported about 10 hr a week using media; 50 years later, children spent 14 hr and 40 min a week watching television alone (Wartella & Robb, 2008). This has now increased further; British children spend 20.5 hr a week online (Ofcom, 2019). In America, nearly half of teenagers report they are now online “almost constantly” through their use of many different devices (M. Anderson & Jiang, 2018). A burgeoning interest in adolescence as a separate life stage, an understanding of leisure time as important for health outcomes, and increasing amounts of time spent on media therefore provided a more nourishing basis for the cycles of panics about technologies to take root.
Another important aspect that changed the nature of technology panics at the turn of the 20th century was the inclusion of science and scientists as actors trying to address societal concerns. Scientists increasingly studied children, mirroring the rising interest by policymakers to understand and address children and their needs. Academic fields such as communication science developed in the United States in the early to mid-1900s focused specifically on new media and mediums for communication, information, and entertainment. This further increased the amount of research done in the area and the amount of public discussion informed by research outputs (Neuman & Guggenheim, 2011). Previously, scientific commentators played a small role in the technology panics about radio or comic books (Preston, 1941Wertham, 1954) because most of the debate was held outside of scientific arenas. Yet in the modern era of technological panics, conversation became increasingly influenced by scientific findings derived from studies of leisure time and child health. This surge in importance of scientific evidence induced a massive shift, and academic research about new technologies such as social media began taking up a significant proportion of space in psychology’s top journals and academic conferences.
It is often assumed that this increasing influence of academic research and expanded role of researchers in technology panics will help steer and improve debate, but such a process is often marred by prominent shortcomings. These barriers are highlighted in the examination of the interplay of politicians, researchers, and parents during the panic about television’s effects in the mid-20th century (Dennis, 1998). Television was a key point of concern at a time in which relatively high levels of violence in adolescence were considered a problem in the United States. A contemporaneous rise in the amount of time young people spent watching television therefore became of such political interest that a U.S. Media Task Force was set up to examine the scientific evidence behind these effects. The Task Force concluded that television violence was “one major contributory factor which must be considered in attempts to explain the many forms of violent behavior that mark American society today” (Lowery & DeFleur, 1988, p. 309). Yet high-quality evidence was lacking in this decision-making process because important studies had previously shown that television did not increase aggression levels and that children’s lives were not dominated by the home TV (Himmelweit, Oppenheim, & Vince, 1961). During times of panic, however, this evidence did little to alleviate the worries of critics and the pressure to implement policy change. An editorial in Pediatrics, for example, noted that professionals need to “avoid the intellectual trap of minimizing the importance of television’s effect on child and adolescent behaviour simply because the literature does not contain straightforward, statistically validated research” (Strasburger, 1989, p. 446). Thus, policy and public had started interacting to make a volatile mix that enlists academic scientists to collect scientific evidence on the effects of technologies yet selectively engages with the evidence that such efforts provide.
The trend of increasing scientific work done on technology panics did not stop at the concerns about television; the quantity of science done to inform technology panics is still increasing. This development is unsurprising given that scientists are operating in an increasingly industrialized scientific space in which they are expected to solve practical problems in society (Ravetz, 1971). In other words, it is now an expectation that science can provide answers to those issues that are most prominent in the public or political eye (Sanbonmatsu & Johnston, 2019Wartella & Reeves, 1985). There are also fewer areas of life in which previously inherited commonsense wisdom is valued more than the evidence provided by so-called scientific experts, and the assumption is growing “that every problem, personal and social as well as natural and technical, should be amenable to solution by the application of the appropriate science” (Ravetz, 1971, p. 12). This shift can be seen as a positive, promoting increased scientific evidence in diverse areas of life. However, it can also be seen as a negative influence, detracting attention from population intuition and putting increased pressure on a slow scientific process to provide simple and rapid answers to very complex problems.
This shift alters the stakeholders central to technology panics. For better or for worse, psychology—the science most closely related to child development and parenting—now plays an integral role in the Sisyphean cycle of technology panics. In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was condemned by the gods to roll a boulder up a steep hill in the underworld for eternity: Every time he reaches the top, the rock rolls back down to the bottom, forcing him to start the cycle all over again. Likewise, psychological research on technology effects is in an intricate cycle of addressing societal worries about technologies. With every new technology treated as completely separate from any technology that came before (Wartella & Reeves, 1985), psychological researchers routinely address the same questions; they roll their boulder up the hill, investing effort, time, and money to understand their technology’s implications, only for it to roll down again when a novel technology is introduced. Psychology is trapped in this cycle because the fabric of moral panics has become inherently interwoven with the needs of politics, society, and our own scientific discipline (Grimes, Anderson, & Bergen, 2008). I outline the nature of this involvement at different stages of the Sisyphean cycle of technology panics below (see also Fig. 1).

[full text, references, etc., at https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691620919372]

Power posing yielded only very small changes in self-reported feelings of power; it is not a beneficial technique for reducing paranoia

Power posing for paranoia: A double-blind randomised controlled experimental test using virtual reality. Poppy Brown et al. Behaviour Research and Therapy, June 30 2020, 103691. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2020.103691

Highlights
• Power posing yielded only very small changes in self-reported feelings of power.
• Increases in feelings of power had no subsequent effect on reducing paranoia.
• Power posing was not a beneficial technique for reducing paranoia.

Abstract: Paranoia is theorised to build upon feelings of inferior social rank. Power posing has been shown to increase feelings of power, and hence could reduce paranoia. One hundred participants with current paranoia and 50 individuals without paranoia were recruited. Using a double-blind randomised controlled experimental design, participants twice held powerful or neutral postures before entering neutral virtual reality social environments. In the paranoid sample, those who held a powerful pose did not significantly increase in feelings of power by the end of testing in comparison to controls (group difference = 0.67, C.I. = -1.12; 1.46; p = 0.098), or decrease in paranoia (group difference = 0.23, C.I. = -1.17; 0.72; p = 0.634). In the non-paranoid sample, there was a small significant increase in powerful feelings by the end of testing in the powerful group (group difference = 1.13, C.I. = 0.23; 2.02; p = 0.013), but no significant decrease in paranoia (group difference = 0.71, C.I. = -2.16; 0.74; p = 0.338). Paranoia status was not a modifier on the relationship between condition and feelings of power. We conclude that power posing results in only very small changes in self-reported feelings of power and has no subsequent effect on paranoia.

Keywords: Power posingParanoiaDelusionsVirtual reality


Fans of horror films exhibited greater resilience during the pandemic and that fans of “prepper” genres (alien-invasion, apocalyptic, and zombie films) exhibited both greater resilience and preparedness

Scrivner, Coltan, John A. Johnson, Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, and Mathias Clasen. 2020. “Pandemic Practice: Horror Fans and Morbidly Curious Individuals Are More Psychologically Resilient During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” PsyArXiv. June 30. doi:10.31234/osf.io/4c7af

Abstract: Conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, this study (n = 310) tested whether past and current engagement with thematically relevant media fictions, including horror and pandemic films, was associated with greater preparedness for and psychological resilience toward the pandemic. Since morbid curiosity has previously been associated with horror media use during the COVID-19 pandemic, we also tested whether trait morbid curiosity was associated with pandemic preparedness and psychological resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. We found that fans of horror films exhibited greater resilience during the pandemic and that fans of “prepper” genres (alien-invasion, apocalyptic, and zombie films) exhibited both greater resilience and preparedness. We also found that trait morbid curiosity was associated with positive resilience and interest in pandemic films during the pandemic. Taken together, these results are consistent with the hypothesis that exposure to frightening fictions allow audiences to practice effective coping strategies that can be beneficial in real-world situations.



Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Less Sex, but More Sexual Diversity: Changes in Sexual Behavior during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Less Sex, but More Sexual Diversity: Changes in Sexual Behavior during the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic. Justin J. Lehmiller et al. Leisure Sciences, Jun 26 2020. https://doi.org/10.1080/01490400.2020.1774016

Abstract: Recreational sex is a popular form of leisure that has been redefined by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. “Social distancing” rules have imposed limits on sex for leisure while also creating new opportunities. We discuss results from an online survey of 1,559 adults who were asked about the pandemic’s impact on their intimate lives. While nearly half of the sample reported a decline in their sex life, one in five participants reported expanding their sexual repertoire by incorporating new activities. Common additions included sexting, trying new sexual positions, and sharing sexual fantasies. Being younger, living alone, and feeling stressed and lonely were linked to trying new things. Participants making new additions were three times more likely to report improvements in their sex life. Even in the face of drastic changes to daily life, many adults are adapting their sexual lives in creative ways.

Keywords: coronavirus, COVID-19, sexual behavior, sexual novelty, social distancing


Reasons for females to feign death, inter alia: To ward off unwanted suitors & to select a persistent, strong male that fights best risks (like predators or drowning under too many males at mating)

Reproductive behaviour of the European Common Frog (Rana temporaria). Carolin Dittrich. Humbold University at Berlin, Dissertations, Jun 26 2020. DOI: 10.18452/21476

Abstract: In my thesis, I examine the mating and reproductive behaviour of the European Common Frog (Rana temporaria) in an evolutionary context. I aim to understand which mechanisms lead to the formation of pairs, if mate choice shapes the patterns of mating that we can observe and if there are benefits derived from pairing with a specific mate. The search and competition for mating partners lead to the evolution of various mating systems, strategies and tactics to increase lifetime reproductive success. The mating behaviour is influenced by natural and sexual selection, whereby both could act in different directions. For most individuals, survival is essential in order to reproduce as often as possible to increase lifetime reproductive fitness. On the other hand, reproduction could increase predation risk due to conspicuous behaviour and risks associated with mating itself. Sexual selection could favour specific secondary sexual traits, either due to advantages in intrasexual competition, or by specific preferences of the choosy sex (intersexual selection). For mate choice to evolve, there need to be benefits associated with the chosen mating partner, because choosiness involves costs in terms of energy and time constraints during mating. As an explosive breeder, the European Common Frog has to deal with time constraints during the short breeding season. The males are competing for the access to females and it is assumed that females are passive during breeding due to a high male-biased operational sex ratio. However, from an evolutionary perspective females should be the choosy sex and should decide with whom to mate, as they invest more energy into the production of eggs.


We find that participants self-report higher disgust and have stronger physiological responses to pictures of out-party leaders compared to in-party leaders

Yikes! Are we disgusted by politicians? Bert N. Bakker, Gijs Schumacher, and Maaike D. Homan. Jun 2020. https://osf.io/cp3tb/

Abstract: In the political domain disgust is primarily portrayed as an emotion that explains individual differences in pathogen avoidance.1We hypothesized that political rhetoric that accuses opponents of moral transgressions also elicits disgust responses. In this registered report, we present results from a laboratory experiment. We find that participants self-report higher disgust and have stronger physiological responses to pictures of out-party leaders compared to in-party leaders. Participants reported higher disgust in response to moral violations of in-party leaders. There is more suggestive evidence that in-party leaders evoke more labii activity when they commit moral violations than when out-party leaders do. The impact of individual differences in moral disgust and partisanship strength is very limited to absent. Intriguingly, on average the physiological and self-reported disgust responses to the treatment are similar, but individuals differ in whether their response is physiological or cognitive. This motivates further theorizing regarding the concordance of emotional responses.

Keywords:Moral violation; disgust; physiology; self-report, registered


Happy Planet, Happy People? No Impact of Pro-Environmental Behaviour on Psychological Well-Being

Happy Planet, Happy People? The Impact of Pro-Environmental Behaviour on Psychological Well-Being . Samuel Elliott van Ginkel. Carleton University Master's Thesis. Jun 2020. https://doi.org/10.22215/etd/2020-14079

Abstract: The present study was the first (to our knowledge) to experimentally manipulate pro-environmental behaviour in order to assess its causal effects on affect and meaning in life. Participants (N = 343) were randomly assigned to either 1) a group who chose and engaged in a pro-environmental behaviour from a provided list of options; or 2) a control group who found and photographed public art from a provided list of options. The analyses found that there were no significant differences between the pro-environmental group and the control group, and all pre-registered hypotheses were unsupported. Exploratory analyses revealed a within-participants effect, whereby both conditions produced a significant effect on positive and negative affect, as well as meaning in life when compared to participants' average over the last four weeks. However, given that all findings were exploratory, the results should be considered speculative and can serve as direction for future research.


Monday, June 29, 2020

Those asked to report their experiences at romance noticed this increase in admirers, and approximately half reported being more attracted to a person who recently entered a new relationship

Burch, R. L., Moran, J. B., & Wade, T. J. (2020). The reproductive priming effect revisited: Mate poaching, mate copying, or both? Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, jun 2020. https://doi.org/10.1037/ebs0000232

Abstract: According to the reproductive priming effect, an individual who enters into a romantic relationship tends to see an increase in admirers. To further understand the mechanisms underlying this effect and its relationship with mate poaching and copying, 560 undergraduates were asked to report their experiences of being a romantic target (i.e., experiencing more admirers when in a new relationship) or an admirer (having greater attraction for someone in a relationship). Over two thirds of respondents noticed this increase in admirers, and approximately half reported being more attracted to a person who recently entered a new relationship. Many of the responses indicated that this increased interest was a result of “jealousy” and reported that they wanted what they couldn't have. Behavioral changes were varied and correlated only weakly with the effect (both as admirer and target), which suggests that the attraction is mainly due to the target’s relationship status. Men were found to be seeking out other opportunities when in a new relationship, indicating a unique mating strategy.



The Wall: Construction reduces migration by up to 35% from non-border municipalities; disproportionately deters low-skilled migrants, & reduces the number of undocumented Mexicans in the US

Fenced Out: The Impact of Border Construction on US-Mexico Migration. Benjamin Feigenberg. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 2020, 12(3): 106–139. https://doi.org/10.1257/app.20170231

Abstract: This paper estimates the impact of the US-Mexico border fence on US-Mexico migration by exploiting variation in the timing and location of US government investment in fence construction. Using Mexican survey data and data I collected on fence construction, I find that construction in a municipality reduces migration by 27 percent for municipality residents and 15 percent for residents of adjacent municipalities. In addition, construction reduces migration by up to 35 percent from non-border municipalities. I also find that construction induces migrants to substitute toward alternative crossing locations, disproportionately deters low-skilled migrants, and reduces the number of undocumented Mexicans in the United States. (JEL J15, J24, J61, K37, O15)

VI. Conclusion
My analysis demonstrates that fence construction significantly reduces migration from Mexico to the United States. I find that there are spillover effects of construction, as border municipality residents are deterred by construction in both their home municipalities and in adjacent ones, and as migrants from the interior of Mexico adjust the crossing locations chosen based on fence construction patterns. Non-border municipality residents, especially those who historically relied on particularly low-cost crossing locations, are significantly less likely to migrate to the United States after the start of fence construction. I argue that these findings are not consistent with a model in which fence construction simply increases mean migration costs by increasing the expected distance that each migrant must travel to cross the border. I do not find that the stock of potentially undocumented Mexicans residing in the United States immediately responds to fence construction, but I do identify a significant decline in the stock of potentially undocumented Mexicans over a longer (six-year) horizon. Lastly, I show that border fence construction reduces the extent of negative selection of migrants based on both pre-migration earnings and educational attainment.  Evidence on dynamic selection patterns has important welfare implications for both sending and receiving communities and implies that lower-skilled prospective migrants experienced the largest increase in crossing costs in response to fence construction.

This paper raises several policy-relevant avenues for future research. I have shown that the deterrent effect of the fence is driven by its impact on those with lower earnings and lower educational attainment, and this compositional change may have implications for local economic activity. In ongoing research, I find that fence construction significantly reduces earnings of border municipality residents, seemingly due to the contraction of local migration-related economic activity. This negative impact on local economies may increase instability in a region that already represents a significant security threat to communities on both sides of the border.  In an era when international migration flows have motivated destination country governments to enact policies aimed at deterring migration by raising its cost, a greater research emphasis on the mechanisms and subpopulations driving estimated impacts (and the costs imposed on non-migrants) can help shed light on the efficacy of such efforts.

Scarring Body and Mind: The Long-Term Belief-Scarring Effects of COVID-19

Scarring Body and Mind: The Long-Term Belief-Scarring Effects of COVID-19. Julian Kozlowski, Laura Veldkamp, Venky Venkateswaran. NBER Working Paper No. 27439, June 2020. https://www.nber.org/papers/w27439

Abstract: The largest economic cost of the COVID-19 pandemic could arise from changes in behavior long after the immediate health crisis is resolved. A potential source of such a long-lived change is scarring of beliefs, a persistent change in the perceived probability of an extreme, negative shock in the future. We show how to quantify the extent of such belief changes and determine their impact on future economic outcomes. We find that the long-run costs for the U.S. economy from this channel is many times higher than the estimates of the short-run losses in output. This suggests that, even if a vaccine cures everyone in a year, the Covid-19 crisis will leave its mark on the US economy for many years to come.


Sunday, June 28, 2020

Distorted perceptual face maps: Face width is substantially overestimated, whereas face height is not

Distorted perceptual face maps. Matthew R.Longo, Marie Holmes. Acta Psychologica, Volume 208, July 2020, 103128. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2020.103128

Highlights
• Studies have found highly distorted perceptual maps of the hand.
• Here, we report similarly distorted perceptual maps of the face.
• Face width is substantially overestimated, whereas face height is not.
• These results show that distortions of perceptual maps are not specific to hands.

Abstract: Recent research has shown that proprioception relies on distorted representations of body size and shape. By asking participants to localise multiple landmarks in space, perceptual body maps can be constructed. Such maps of the hand and forearm is highly distorted, with large overestimation of limb width compared to length. Here, we investigated perceptual maps of the face, a body part central to our sense of self and personal identity. Participants localised 19 facial landmarks by pointing on a board covering their face. By comparing the relative location of judgments, we constructed perceptual face maps and compared them to actual face structure. These maps were massively distorted, with large overestimation of face width, but not length. This shows that distortions in perceptual body maps are not unique to the hand, but widespread on the body, including parts like the face at the core of our personal identity.

Keywords: Body imageProprioceptionFaceBody representationSelf

Why does DARPA work?

Why does DARPA work? Ben Reinhardt. June 2020. https://benjaminreinhardt.com/wddw


How can we enable more science fiction to become reality?

If you want to do something, it usually pays to study those who have done that thing successfully in the past. Asking ‘what is this outlier’s production function?’ can provide a starting point.

DARPA is an outlier organization in the world of turning science fiction into reality. Since 1958, it has been a driving force in the creation of weather satellites, GPS, personal computers, modern robotics, the Internet, autonomous cars, and voice interfaces, to name a few. However, it is primarily limited to the domain of defense technology – there are DARPA-style ideas that are out of its scope.  Which emulatable attributes contributed to DARPA’s outlier results? What does a domain-independent “ARPA Model” look like? Is it possible to build other organizations that generate equally huge results in other domains by riffing on that model?

Gallons of ink have been spilled describing how DARPA works1, but in a nutshell here is how DARPA works. Around 100 program managers (PMs) with ~5 year appointments create and run programs to pursue high-level visions like “actualize the idea of man-computer symbiosis.” In these programs they fund researchers at universities and both big and small companies to do research projects of different sizes. Collectively, groups working on projects are called performers. Top-level authority lies with a Director who ultimately reports to the Secretary of Defense.

DARPA has an incredibly powerful model for innovation in defense research, and I believe an abstract ‘ARPA Model’ could yield similar results in other domains. In this piece I’ll explain in detail why DARPA works. I’ll use that description to feel out and describe to the best of my ability a platonic ARPA Model.  I’ll also distill some of the model’s implications for potential riffs on the model. Incidentally, I’m working on just such an imitator, and in future essays, I’ll explain why this model could be incredibly powerful when executed in a privately-funded context.

How to use this document
This document acts more like a collection of atomic notes than a tight essay – a DARPA-themed tapas if you will. The order of the sections is more of a guideline than a law so feel free to skip around. Throughout you will come across internal links that look like this. These links are an attempt to illustrate the interconnectedness of the ARPA Model.

There are two stand-alone pieces to accomodate your time and interest: a distillation, and the full work. The distillation is meant to capture and compress the main points of the full work. Each section of the distillation internally links to the corresponding section one level deeper so if you want more info and nuance you can get it.

I would rather this be read by a few people motivated to take action than by a broad audience who will find it merely interesting. In that vein, if you find yourself wanting to share this on Twitter or Hacker News, consider instead sharing it with one or two friends who will take action on it. Thank you for indulging me!

Distillation
Program Managers
At the end of the day the ARPA Model depends on badass program managers. Why is this the case? PMs need to think for themselves and go up and down the ladder of abstraction in an unstructured environment. On top of that they need to be effective communicators and coordinators because so much of their jobs is building networks. There’s a pattern that the abstract qualities that make “great talent” in different high-variance industries boils down to the ability to successfully make things happen under a lot of uncertainty. Given that pattern, the people who would make good DARPA PMs would also make good hedge fund analysts, first employees at startups, etc. so digging into people’s motivations for becoming a PM is important. More precise details about what makes a PM good prevent you from going after the exact same people as every other high-variance industry. When ‘talent’ isn’t code for ‘specialized training’ it means the role or industry has not been systematized. Therefore, despite all the talk here and elsewhere about ‘the ARPA Model’ we must keep in mind that we may be attributing more structure to the process than actually exists.

DARPA program managers pull control and risk away from both researchers and directors. PMs pull control away from directors by having only one official checkpoint before launching programs and pull control away from performers through their ability to move money around quickly. PMs design programs to be high-risk aggregations of lower-risk projects. Only 5–10 out of every 100 programs successfully produce transformative research, while only 10% of projects are terminated early. Shifting the risk from the performers to the program managers enables DARPA to tackle systemic problems where other models cannot.

The best program managers notice systemic biases and attack them. For example, noticing that all of the finite element modeling literature assumes a locally static situation and asking ‘what if it was dynamic?’ “The best program managers can get into the trees and still see the forest.” Obviously, this quality is rather fuzzy but leads to two precise questions:

How do you find people who can uncover systemic biases in a discipline?
How could you systematize finding systemic biases in a discipline?
The first question suggests that you should seek out heretics and people with expertise who are not experts. The second question suggests building structured frameworks for mapping a discipline and its assumptions.

A large part of a DARPA program manager’s job is focused network building. DARPA PMs network in the literal sense of creating networks, not just plugging into them. PMs meet disparate people working on ideas adjacent to the area in which they want to have an impact and bring them together in small workshops to dig into which possibilities are not impossible and what it would take to make them possible. The PMs host performer days — small private conferences for all the people working on different pieces of the program where performers can exchange ideas on what is working, what isn’t working, and build connections that don’t depend on the PM. J.C.R. Licklider2 is a paragon here. He brought together all the crazy people interested in human-focused computing. On top of that,  he also helped create the first computer science lab groups. PMs also build networks of people in different classes of organizations – government, academia, startups, and large companies. These connections smooth the path for technologies to go from the lab to the shelf.

DARPA PMs need to think for themselves, be curious, and have low ego. Why does this matter? When you are surrounded by smart, opinionated people the easy option is to either 100% accept what they’re saying because it’s eloquent and well-thought through or reject it outright because it sounds crazy or goes against your priors. Thinking for yourself allows you to avoid these traps. PMs need to be curious because building a complete picture of a discipline requires genuine curiosity to ask questions nobody else is asking. A large ego would lead to a program manager imposing their will on every piece of the program, killing curiosity and the benefits of top down problems and bottom up solutions.

DARPA is incredibly flexible with who it hires to be program managers. There are legal provisions in place that let DARPA bypass normal government hiring rules and procedures. Hiring flexibility is important because PMs are the sort of people who are in high demand, so they may be unwilling to jump through hoops. Bureaucracies ensure consistency through rules – minimal bureaucracy means there are no safeguards against hiring a terrible program manager so the principle that ‘A players hire A players and B players hire C players’ is incredibly important. 

DARPA Program managers have a tenure of four to five years. This transience is important for many reasons. Transience can inculcate PMs against the temptation to play it safe or play power games because there’s only one clear objective – make the program work. You’re out regardless of success or failure. Explicitly temporary roles can incentivize people with many options to join because they can have a huge impact, and then do something else. There’s no implicit tension between the knowledge that most people will leave eventually and the uncertainty about when that will be. Regular program manager turnover means that there is also turnover in ideas.

Why do people become DARPA Program managers? From a career and money standpoint, being a program manager seems pretty rough. There are unique benefits though. It offers an outlet for people frustrated with the conservative nature of academia. The prospect of getting to control a lot of money without a ton of oversight appeals to some people. Patriotism is definitely a factor, and hard to replicate outside of a government. Being a PM can gain you the respect of a small, elite group of peers who will know what you did. Finally, there may be a particular technological vision they want to see out in the world and DARPA gives them the agency to make it happen in unique ways.

[complete text, lots of links, at the URL above]

Those who had brushed were more verbally confident (spoke louder, over-talked more), showed less nonverbal nervousness (fidgeted less), & were more often perceived as being “someone similar to me” in speed dating

Oral hygiene effects verbal and nonverbal displays of confidence. Paul Taylor et al. The Journal of Social Psychology, Jun 27 2020. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224545.2020.1784825

ABSTRACT: Although oral hygiene is known to impact self-confidence and self-esteem, little is known about how it influences our interpersonal behavior. Using a wearable, multi-sensor device, we examined differences in consumers’ individual and interpersonal confidence after they had or had not brushed their teeth. Students (N = 140) completed nine one-to-one, 3-minute “speed dating” interactions while wearing a device that records verbal, nonverbal, and mimicry behavior. Half of the participants brushed their teeth using Close-Up toothpaste (Unilever) prior to the interactions, whilst the other half abstained from brushing that morning. Compared to those who had not brushed their teeth, participants who had brushed were more verbally confident (i.e., spoke louder, over-talked more), showed less nonverbal nervousness (i.e., fidgeted less), and were more often perceived as being “someone similar to me.” These effects were moderated by attractiveness but not by self-esteem or self-monitoring.

KEYWORDS: consumer behavior, confidence, priming


Lack of the effects of ideology on vaccines in European context is related to the fact that vaccines have not become a strongly politicized issue as in the US.

Czarnek, Gabriela, Paulina Szwed, and Małgorzata Kossowska. 2020. “Political Ideology and Attitudes Toward Vaccination: Study Report.” PsyArXiv. June 27. doi:10.31234/osf.io/uwehk

Abstract: As the relationship between ideology and attitudes towards vaccinations is usually analysed on data coming from the US context, in our analysis we analysed European data with special focus on Poland. The current findings show that the effects of ideology on vaccine are insignificant, when European context is considered. Even if there is an interactive impact of ideology and political interest, the effects are not very strong and, furthermore, they do not provide support for the “liberal bias” against vaccination. We suggest that it lack of the effects of ideology on vaccines in European context is related to the fact that vaccines have not become a strongly politicized issue as in the US.


Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Dietary Behaviors of Participants in UK-Based meat reduction and vegan campaigns – Planned abstainers (i.e. vegans and vegetarians) were more likely to meet dietary goals than were meat reducers

The Dietary Behaviors of Participants in UK-Based meat reduction and vegan campaigns – A longitudinal, mixed-methods study. Trent Grassian. Appetite, June 26 2020, 104788. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2020.104788

Highlights
• Examination of dietary changes revealed reduction and abstention hierarchies that prioritize reducing/eliminating red meat consumption.
• Findings supports tendency toward gradual dietary changes.
• Planned abstainers (i.e. vegans and vegetarians) were more likely to meet dietary goals than were meat reducers.
• Increased consumption most commonly reported for seafood or eggs, least commonly for red meat.

Abstract: Meat reduction, vegetarianism, and veganism have greatly increased in popularity during the 21st century, particularly in the United Kingdom. Yet, little is known about the process of reducing or abstaining. Through the use of focus groups and a longitudinal, web-based survey delivered over a twelve-month period, this project provides insights into the reported dietary habits and trends of participants in UK-based meat reduction and vegan campaigns (n = 1539). Drawing on Michie, Atkins, et al. (2014) and Michie, West, et al. (2014)'s Behavior Change Wheel to better understand the process of dietary transition, findings reveal key opportunities for policymakers and non-profit organizations to better understand and support the process of dietary change. Reported planned dietary changes suggest a tendency for gradual transitions, with planned and achieved transitions generally reflecting proposed reduction and abstention hierarchies. Planned reductions were most likely to include red meat and least likely to include seafood or eggs, while seafood abstention was more common than that of dairy or eggs. Those seeking to abstain from the consumption of some or all animal-derived foods were the most likely to report meeting their anticipated dietary changes, while meat reducers were generally unlikely to indicate that they were achieving planned reductions.

Keywords: VeganismVegetarianismMeat reductionMeat eatingFood choice

Iceland: There is a difference between men and women when it comes to masturbation habits. Men masturbate much more frequently than women

Differences in masturbation habits among men and women in Iceland. Katrín Ragnarsdóttir. Reykjavík Univ., Psychology Dept, Jun 23 2020. http://hdl.handle.net/1946/36441

Abstract: This study examined differences in masturbation habits, including the frequency of masturbation and pornography use, amongst men and women in Iceland. Participants in the study were university students, 18 years of age and older, who answered an anonymous online questionnaire sent to their university email address. A total of 245 students participated; 126 males and 119 females. Most of the participants were married or in a relationship (N = 145) and 91.4% of the participants were heterosexual. For statistical analysis, a t-test, independent samples t-test and a chi-square test was used. The results of this study revealed that there is a difference between men and women when it comes to masturbation habits. Men masturbate much more frequently than women. However, majority of the participants had masturbated at some point in their lives.

Keywords: Masturbation, masturbation habits, gender differences, pornography, and sexual pleasure



Investigating whether some people desire a psychologically rich life more so than two well-established ideal lives: a happy life and a meaningful life

Happiness, Meaning, and Psychological Richness. Shigehiro Oishi, Hyewon Choi, Minkyung Koo, Iolanda Galinha, Keiko Ishii, Asuka Komiya, Maike Luhmann, Christie Scollon, Ji-eun Shin, Hwaryung Lee, Eunkook M. Suh, Joar Vittersø, Samantha J. Heintzelman, Kostadin Kushlev, Erin C. Westgate, Nicholas Buttrick, Jane Tucker, Charles R. Ebersole, Jordan Axt, Elizabeth Gilbert, Brandon W. Ng, Jaime Kurtz & Lorraine L. Besser . Affective Science volume 1, pages107–115, Jun 23 2020. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s42761-020-00011-z

Abstract: What kind of life do people want? In psychology, a good life has typically been conceptualized in terms of either hedonic or eudaimonic well-being. We propose that psychological richness is another neglected aspect of what people consider a good life. In study 1 (9-nation cross-cultural study), we asked participants whether they ideally wanted a happy, a meaningful, or a psychologically rich life. Roughly 7 to 17% of participants chose the psychologically rich life. In study 2, we asked 1611 Americans and 680 Koreans what they regret most in their lives; then, if they could undo or reverse the regretful event, whether their lives would have been happier, more meaningful, or psychologically richer as a result. Roughly 28% of Americans and 35% of Koreans reported their lives would have been psychologically richer. Together, this work provides a foundation for the study of psychological richness as another dimension of a good life.



General Discussion

Recent research has found that a psychologically rich life is distinct from a happy or meaningful life in terms of personality predictors (Oishi et al., 2019), life experiences (Oishi, Choi, Heintzelman, et al., 2020), and political orientations Oishi, Westgate, Heintzelman, et al., 2020). We conducted the current research with the goal of investigating whether some people desire a psychologically rich life more so than two well-established ideal lives: a happy life and a meaningful life.
In study 1 (a 9-nation study), we found that most people’s self-described ideal lives were psychologically rich. When forced to choose, however, the majority favored a happy life (49.7 to 69.9%) or a meaningful life (14.2 to 38.5%). Even so, a substantial minority of participants still favored a psychologically rich life, even at the expense of a happy life or a meaningful life, ranging from 6.7% (Singapore) to 16.8% of participants (Germany). In studies 2a and 2b, we found that these numbers were even higher when desire for a psychologically rich life was measured indirectly. Roughly 28% of Americans and 35% of Koreans reported that their lives would have been psychologically richer, if they could undo the most regretted event of their lives. These data suggest that most people’s ideal lives are not just happy or meaningful but also psychologically rich, and that when forced to pick one, a non-trivial number of people desire a rich life more than a happy or a meaningful life. When measured indirectly, just as many people wish their lives were richer as do wish their lives were happier or more meaningful.
As discussed above, well-being research has been dominated by two concepts: hedonic and eudaimonic well-being (Diener et al., 1999; Vittersø, 2016). Our present research suggests a broader view. Namely, that a psychologically rich life is another type of a good life that some individuals lead and desire, and one that is not captured by current empirical conceptions of a good life. Importantly, unlike happiness or meaning, our conception of richness includes moments of discomfort and unpleasant emotion. Understanding that a good life may not always be pleasant or sacrificial—that there is value to individuals in leading lives that investigate truth, knowledge, and deep encounters with the world around them—may help us understand why people sometimes seek out such experiences (e.g., studying abroad, reading James Joyce’s Ulysses) at the expense of their own comfort and security. The ability to make sense of such behaviors is a benefit of conceptualizing a psychologically rich life as another type of a good life that people value and seek out.
Indeed, people with psychologically rich lives experience both positive and negative emotions more intensely, whereas those leading happy or meaningful lives experience positive emotions more intensely but negative emotions less intensely (Oishi, Westgate, Heintzelman, et al., 2020). It will be fruitful to explore how a psychologically rich life is associated with other important dimensions of emotional experiences such as the diversity of emotional experiences (Quoidbach et al., 2014), affect valuation (Tsai, 2007), and emotion differentiation and regulation (Barrett, Gross, Christensen, & Benvenuto, 2001).
Importantly, although we tested the relative importance of three types of the ideal life, we do not claim there cannot be others. Based on Schwartz’s (1992) value theory, Tamir and colleagues (Tamir et al., 2016; Tamir, Schwartz, Oishi, & Kim, 2017) recently examined four types of desired and experienced emotions: self-transcendence (e.g., love), self-enhancement (e.g., pride), openness (e.g., interest), and conservation (e.g., contentment). A psychologically rich life corresponds well to openness-related emotions, whereas a happy life corresponds well to conservation and self-enhancement emotions; a meaningful life appears to match well with self-transcendent emotions. Given that the literature suggests that there are at least 11 universal human values (Schwartz, 1992), and that values are guiding principles in life, there may be many more than the three ideal lives presented here.
We also acknowledge the limitations of the current research. Most critically, we did not examine the potential consequences of leading a psychologically rich life. It is crucial to test whether the consequences of a psychologically rich life are indeed different from a happy or meaningful life—and whether these consequences are a good thing. Second, while study 1 included diverse cross-cultural samples, study 2 was limited to the USA and Korea. It is important to explore what it means to live a psychologically rich life (and whether doing so is desirable) in other non-Western, non-democratic, relatively poor societies.