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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

More Empathic Responses for Pain in Facial Muscles Are Modulated by Actor’s Disattractiveness and Being Female, & Perspective Taken by Observer

Empathic Responses for Pain in Facial Muscles Are Modulated by Actor’s Attractiveness and Gender, and Perspective Taken by Observer. Kamila Jankowiak-Siuda, Anna Duszyk, Aleksandra Dopierała, Krzysztof Bujwid, Krystyna Rymarczyk and Anna Grabowska. Front. Psychol., March 21 2019.

Subject: Although empathy for pain is an often studied phenomenon, only few studies employing electromyography (EMG) have investigated either emotional responses to the pain of others or factors that modulate these responses. The present study investigated whether the sex and attractiveness of persons experiencing pain affected muscle activity associated with empathy for pain, the corrugator supercili (CS) and orbicularis oculi (OO) muscles, in male and female participants in two conditions: adopting a perspective of “the other” or “the self.” Fifty one participants (27 females) watched movies showing situations that included the expression of pain, with female and male and more and less attractive actors under both conditions, while the CS and OO EMG were recorded. Perspective did not affect CS muscle activity, but OO muscle activity tended to be higher in women than men under the imagine-self condition. CS muscle activity, but not OO muscle activity, was modulated by the actors’ gender and attractiveness. CS muscle activity was stronger in response to the pain of less attractive than more attractive actors, and to the pain of female actors compared to male actors. Moreover, a positive correlation was found between empathic concern, as a trait, and CS muscle activity, but only in the imagine-self condition.


One hundred and fifteen years ago, having described empathy as Einfühlung (“feeling into”), Theodor Lipps suggested that the perception of emotions of other persons triggers analogous emotions in the observer (Montag et al., 2008). The phenomenon assumes the existence of autonomic and somatic reactions in the observer leading to similar emotions, so-called “inner imitation.” Emotional mimicry can be considered an expression of imitation. This phenomenon is also an aspect of contemporary concepts of empathy, such as the perception-action model (PAM) of empathy (Preston and de Waal, 2002). PAM posits that the perception of the emotional state of others leads to the automatic activation of a representation of the same emotion in the observer, including autonomic and somatic reactions. Thus, PAM points to emotional mimicry as the most primal component of empathy (Hatfield et al., 1992; Preston and de Waal, 2002). This idea has received support from findings showing that the prevention of motor imitation of facial expressions makes recognizing emotions and affective sharing difficult (Sonnby-Borgström, 2002; Oberman et al., 2007; Dimberg et al., 2011). However, recent studies have revealed that facial mimicry is a more dynamic process than initially assumed (Sato et al., 2008; Rymarczyk et al., 2016a). Some studies indicate that facial mimicry depends on a number of modulating factors (Hess and Fischer, 2014; Seibt et al., 2015). The reaction of facial muscles to basic emotions depends on the sex or other characteristics of the observer. For example, the facial muscles have a noticeably greater reaction to basic emotions in highly empathic people (Dimberg et al., 2011; Balconi and Canavesio, 2016; Rymarczyk et al., 2016b). In addition, the reaction of the facial muscles is altered by levels of oxytocin (Korb et al., 2016). The type of the stimulus (dynamic vs. static) (Weyers et al., 2006; Sato et al., 2008; Rymarczyk et al., 2016a,b, 2018) also affects the reaction of the facial muscles to basic emotions.

Only a few studies using electromyography (EMG) have investigated emotional responses to the pain of others and the factors that modulate these reactions. Sun et al. (2015) showed that the activity of the corrugator supercili (CS) muscle increased in a group of research subjects who watched a short movie clip in which a person experienced pain (needle sticking), in comparison with a group who watched only part of the same movie (needle sticking the finger). Lamm et al. (2008) showed that the activity of the orbicularis oculi (OO) muscle was higher in study participants who watched a movie showing reactions to pain and who were instructed to imagine that they had experienced the pain (the “imagine-self” perspective), as compared to the “imagine-others” perspective (imagine what the person in the movie feels). In addition, Lepron et al. (2015) showed how a sense of responsibility for the suffering of another person affects emotional mimicry. Greater activity was observed in the OO and CS muscles and greater discomfort was reported by subjects who felt greater responsibility for other people’s pain, compared to subjects in the lesser responsibility condition.

In essence, two muscles (the CS and OO) may have special significance for the processing of empathy with pain. It should be noted that Lamm et al. (2008) and Sun et al. (2015) found positive correlations between the activity of the CS and OO muscles with scales measuring empathy, i.e., empathic concern (feeling compassion for others) and perspective taking (tendency to take another person’s perspective), from the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) (Davis, 1980).

Attractiveness is considered an important factor in social cognition for perceiving and empathizing with the pain of others (Jankowiak-Siuda et al., 2015). Research has shown that attractiveness has a particularly strong relationship with the reactions of the facial muscles of observers. For example, the attractiveness of a person’s face was found to be negatively correlated with the activation of the CS and the legator labii superioris (LLS) while viewing photographs of attractive and unattractive people (Principe and Langlois, 2011). Less attractive faces activated the LLS and CS more strongly. Neither the gender of the observer nor the gender of the person in the photograph were related to the activity of these facial muscles (Principe and Langlois, 2011). To date no relationship has been found between the reactions of the facial muscles of observers empathizing with a suffering person and the gender or attractiveness of the person suffering from pain. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to examine whether the gender or attractiveness of a person experiencing pain affects the activity of muscles associated with empathy for pain (the CS and OO) in male and female participants. In addition, the study measured the correlations of the electrical activity of the CS and OO facial muscles with the three empathy dimensions of the IRI (Davis, 1980): empathic concern, personal distress (feelings directed toward oneself), and perspective taking.

The perception of pain and empathy depends on adopting perspectives – whether we imagine how another person feels (“imagine-others”) or how we would feel (“imagine-self”) (Batson et al., 1997; Lamm et al., 2008). Imagining others evokes empathic concern, whereas imagining the self produces both empathic concern and personal distress; however, the latter is more in the way of egoistic negative emotions (Batson et al., 2003; Lamm et al., 2007). Thus, it is interesting to test whether perspective taking affects the activity of the CS and OO muscles when the attractiveness of the target varies. Based on available research findings we predict CS activity to be higher when observing unattractive women, no matter what perspective was adopted. However, we also predict OO activity to be higher for the imagine-self perspective than for the imagine-others perspective. Finally, we expect positive correlations between CS activity and empathic concern and between OO activity and perspective-taking.

The participants in the present study were shown dynamic pain stimuli in movies showing natural, everyday situations, in which they saw the whole body and the facial expressions of pain of actors (the targets) and the location of the injury. These stimuli were used because they have higher ecological validity than movies showing only the injured body part or expressions that mimic pain (Sun et al., 2015). Moreover, Sun et al. (2015) suggest that such situations are more likely to elicit empathy for pain. The present research measured relative changes in the activity of the CS and OO muscles during consecutive scenes. This enabled us to determine how the activity of the muscles changed in different scenes (showing the target’s neutral facial expression, the action leading to the pain, the actual pain stimulus, and the target’s facial expression of pain) depending on the sex and attractiveness of the target and the perspective taken by the observer.

Female economists are at some notable points less convinced of market solutions and have more trust in the government in serving the public interest

Values of Economists Matter in the Art and Science of Economics. Hendrik P. van Dalen. Kyklos, March 15 2019.

Summary: What role do personal values play in the practice of economists? By means of a survey among economists working inside and outside academia in the Netherlands, we present novel insights on their personal values, how these differ from the average citizen, and how values impact their economic views and their methodological choices. Three overarching values summarize the value structure of economists: achievement, serving the public interest, and conformity to rules. Subsequent tests are performed to see whether these values affect (1) their opinion on economic propositions and (2) their attitudes towards methodological principles in economics. For the majority of economic propositions, personal values matter. Especially the value of serving the public interest has a strong effect on their economic view. Furthermore, it seems that economists who value achievement are the ones who are more likely to embrace mainstream methodological principles: thinking predominantly in terms of efficiency, rationality, and competition, believing that economic knowledge is objective and transparently produced and in agreement with Milton Friedman's view on positive economics. Female economists are at some notable points less convinced of market solutions and have more trust in the government in serving the public interest.

1 Introduction

    “All scientific work has to be based on value premises. There is no view without a viewpoint.” Gunnar Myrdal (1972)

Economists have been trained to think that their science should be Wertfrei, free of value judgements. Economics is concerned with ‘what is’ rather than ‘what ought to be’ (Coats 1964; Heilbroner 1973; Colander 2001). In large part, this stance may be derived from reading Lionel Robbins’ classic book An Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science (1932). Still, economists do make policy recommendations involving value judgements or at least tacitly invoke ethical principles in making policy statements (Heilbroner 1973; Wight 2017) and some judgements of economists may unwittingly be affected by their personal values. Because of its tacit nature, it is hard to see or detect whether values actually matter, i.e. how do economists weight their values in making judgements. To the best of my knowledge, this article is the first to make the personal value structure of economists explicit (along the lines set out by social psychologist Schwartz (1994)). And subsequently, we examine how these values affect statements and attitudes on methodological principles in economics.

The intermingling of facts, theory and values is practiced by most economists when they judge a situation or try to give policy advice. It is essentially the art of political economy, as John Neville Keynes (1891) once described this grey area between positive and normative economics. And in this area values play a prominent role (Colander and Su 2015). However, these insights do not seem to be shared by most economists. Some ascribe these blind spots to the fact that modern economists lack a firm historical education (Blaug 2001; Colander 2011) or they look down upon economic methodology (Lawson 1994). Or perhaps because the professionals that are most well adapted to studying this aspect – economic methodologists ‐ stick to only criticizing economists. Indeed the lament of Hausman (1989) on the state of economic methodology is directly related to this point and captures the intentions of the current paper: “Although methodologists may find much to criticize, they had better begin by understanding as thoroughly as they can how economists go about their business and why they do what they do.”

Most economists would claim that their judgement or advice is based on Science, without invoking any value judgements. In other words, values do not enter the equation because it would make economists appear less ‘scientific’ and it would suggest that economic policy is ‘just a matter of taste’. This paper tries to uncover the role that values play in making positive and normative claims about the economy as well as explaining attitudes with respect to methodological principles and scientific norms, and hence it is written in exactly the spirit of Hausman's lament (1989). When economics is what economists do, one can learn a lot from the flourishing industry of the economics of economics or the sociology of knowledge literature. Numerous authors over time have added insights into how the economics profession functions, ranging from the sociology and institutional structure of the economics profession (Frey and Eichenberger 1993; Coats 1997; Coats 2005; Fourcade 2006; Fourcade 2009) to the registration of the consensus among economists (Frey et al. 1984; Gordon and Dahl 2013), a focus on elite economists and their education (Klamer and Colander 1990; Colander 2005), or discovering how an economic education changes behavior (Frey and Meier 2003). However, none of these studies have faced the issue of measuring the values of economists directly. 1
In modern tracts on economic methodology (Boumans and Davis 2015) the issue of value‐laden economics is an important issue, but empirical proof of how the economics profession is affected by this issue is conspicuously absent. In short, this paper focuses on a lacuna in the economics literature that might improve our understanding of “how economists go about their business”.

The method of analysis is a survey among economists, working inside and outside academia in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is a country that has achieved a top position within the economics hierarchy in Europe (Kalaitzidakis et al. 2003; Lubrano et al. 2003) and it could function as an appropriate case study for other countries as well because most universities outside the Ivy League have similar ambitions in moving up the various rankings. Furthermore, one should that note of the fact that economics at Dutch universities is certainly no longer a Dutch affair: 43 percent of the Dutch economics faculty consists of foreign born members (Rathenau Institute 2018) and most classes are taught in English.

The traditional null hypothesis to put to the test would be the one that is tacitly taught in economics namely that economic science is free of value judgements. The absence of value judgements will be operationalized by us as the thesis that personal values of economists do not affect their views or attitudes. We will test this hypothesis by focusing on two sets of variables: (1) the positive or normative statements made by economists as they are often used in studies on the consensus of dissensus among economists (Frey et al. 1983; Alston et al. 1992; Fuller and Geide‐Stevenson 2007); and (2) their attitude towards methodological principles in economics. The measurement of personal values relies on the value characterization of Schwartz (2012); a method that is often applied to European or worldwide surveys of individual countries. Because these general population data are available the current survey among economists also offers the possibility of comparing the differences between economists and the average citizen. It is sometimes claimed that economists have estranged themselves from the general public or laypeople. Economists tend to stress efficiency whereas in every day practice people value equity or fairness, as Rees (1993) once noted. Some research focuses on and shows differences of opinion between laypeople and economists but no research on differences in values. Research by Sapienza and Zingales (2013) shows that the opinion of the general public differs quite markedly from economists on technical issues and the reason for this divergence is that laypeople do not trust every link in the economist's logic because actors like governments or market participants are distrusted. And Johnston and Ballard (2016) show in a different setup how economists in the US are met with distrust when it concerns highly salient and polarized issues.

This paper makes three novel contributions. The first contribution is that personal values of the economists differ distinctly from the average citizen: economists in general care less about traditions or rules, they care less about the environment and they are more set on serving the public interest. This applies to both the academic and applied economists. However, at some points the academic economist differs from the applied economist. In particular creativity or innovation and being successful are valued far more by the academic economist. In other words, the academic economist is more oriented towards individual self‐enhancement than the applied economist.

The second contribution is the observation that values matter when it comes to making economic statements, although the influence of values is virtually absent when it concerns statements on monetary issues. And the third contribution is a demonstration that personal values also affect the attitude of academic economists towards methodological principals, and the importance attached to certain assumptions in economic theory. Self‐centered economists who prize ‘achievement’ are more likely to have ‘mainstream’ ideas about economics as a science: thinking solely in terms of efficiency, believing that economic knowledge is objective and transparently produced and in agreement with Friedman's (1953) view on positive economics. Furthermore, they also attach greater importance to the assumption of rationality and perfect competition.

The setup of this paper is as follows. In the next section we discuss how values of economists may impinge on their world view and their attitudes towards scientific principles applied in economics. In the subsequent section we will present the method and data used to test the relationship between values and economic and methodological statements, to be followed by the results of these tests. The final section concludes with a short summary and discussion.

2 The Values of Economists

Values in general express what people believe to be good or bad or what they believe that should or should not be done. In social psychology it is well established how important values are. They not only guide us to select actions and interpret events, values also affect people's focus of attention, the way they interpret information and values can explain their attitudes, decisions and behavior (Verplanken and Holland 2002; Schwartz 2012). If this insight is true, values may also help to interpret how economists make judgements and why their attitudes and decisions in their profession differ. Differences of opinion among economists can exist with respect to how they think about the functioning of markets, governments, families and its agents. These evaluations may to some extent be based on personal valuations about what an economist feels is good or bad. For instance, some may see the freedom to choose and the pursuit of enlightened self‐interest as the cornerstone of making capitalism work. Other economists may see self‐interest as the cause of market failures in the ordinary business of life and value the public interest more highly.

Modern economists may perceive values as the use of an extra‐scientific source in economic discourse. Something that should not belong in economics as a science. Samuelson (1947) is quite clear in his classic Foundations of Economic Analysis why values do not belong in the ‘science department’: “Wishful thinking is a powerful deterrent of good analysis and description, and ethical conclusions cannot be derived in the same way that scientific hypotheses are inferred or verified.” (p. 220). However, the use of values is, of course, not a novel element. Political economists of the past, like Mill and Senior, made a distinction between the art and science of political economy. They acknowledged that the science of economics does not give you sufficient guidance in giving policy advice. As Senior (1836) expressed this stance: “the business of the Political Economist is neither to recommend nor to dissuade, but to state general principles, which it is fatal to neglect, but neither advisable, nor perhaps practicable, to use as the sole, or even the principle guides to the actual conduct of affairs.” (Senior 1836, p. 2‐3) In moving from the science to the art of economics extra‐scientific elements creep in, such as ethical premises. Later, John Neville Keynes (1891) made a more refined distinction in three sections: (1) a “positive science” with the object of establishing uniformities; (2) a “normative or regulative science” with the object of determining ideals; and (3) the “art” of economics, a system of rules for the attainment of given ends and the economists who preoccupied with this art tried to formulate “precepts” or, in modern‐day terms, policy advice. However, with the appearance of Robbins’ (1932) Essay it became more or less an article of faith to refrain from value judgements and the proper economist dedicated to the cause of science, high theory, should focus on the task to understand choice and behavior as reflection of scarce means in search of given ends. What most economists forgot (see, e.g., Ng 1972) was that Robbins was preoccupied in his Essay with ‘high theory’ and economics as a pure science and not with the art of economics (cf. Colander 2009).

Paying attention to the fact that economists have values is done in a strand within economic methodology that has called into question economics’ scientific character. Values permeate in every aspect of economic science (Wilber 1994). This literature deals with the impact of values and ethical judgements on economics as a science and that value neutrality is an unlikely state of affairs. According to Wilber (1994, 2004) the value neutrality argument hinges on two tenets. The first tenet is the one taught to most students and is based on the belief that one cannot derive a normative statement from a positive statement (better known as Hume's guillotine, cf. Blaug 1992), fact and value, descriptive and prescriptive statements need to be separated, cut by the ‘blade of the guillotine’. In the world of John Stuart Mill this separation was quite evident as political economy was understood to be a separate but inexact science. To derive policy recommendations based on this narrow view would be a sign of negating the complexity of society. The second tenet supports the first tenet by claiming that economists have objective access to the empirical world through their sense experience, and because of this access economists “as scientists need not concern themselves with ‘what ought to be’.” (Wilber 1994). This second tenet is the weak spot. This objectivity argument has been rejected by Kuhn (1970). He argued that the empirical world can only be known through the filter of a theory; facts about the real world are thus always theory laden. Worldviews influence the paradigm with which one works and value judgements are closely associated with one's own worldview. Theories must remain coherent with this world view and this world view shapes the questions asked, models used, methods chosen, facts presented, etc. In short, this is exactly what Myrdal (1972) was arguing about when he said that values permeate in every corner of economic science:

    “… valuations enter into research from the start to the finish: determining the approach, the definition of the concepts, used and thus the facts observed, the way of drawing inferences, and even the manner of presenting conclusions reached.” (1972, p. 162)

In that respect one can understand why Myrdal (1973) was very supportive of studying the sociological and psychological mechanisms at work within the economics profession and to see how economists go about in their daily activities to uncover, what McCloskey (1983) calls, the rhetoric of economics. A view similar to that of Myrdal can be found in Boulding (1969) who argues that “knowledge of the social sciences is an essential part of the social system itself, hence objectivity in the sense of investigating a world which is unchanged by the investigation of it is an absurdity.” And he goes on to claim why values matter: “as science moves from pure knowledge towards control, that is, toward creating what it knows, what it creates becomes a problem of ethical choice, and will depend on the common values of the societies in which the scientific subculture is embedded.” (p.3) In short, values permeate every aspect of the way economists work.

We will first focus on a domain– views or judgements on economic topics ‐ by the following (null) hypothesis to reflect the tacit belief among modern economists (cf. Colander and Su 2015) that values do not matter when they express their positive or their normative views:

    Hypothesis on the values‐views nexus: The personal values of economists do not affect either their positive or normative economic views.

A second domain in which values permeate economics concerns the attitudes towards methodological principles and the norms of science. The reason for including this domain is simply related to the argument made by Myrdal (1972) that values permeate in every corner of practicing economics and not just economic judgements as in the first hypothesis. He suggests that ascribing to a particular way of practicing economics – one's methodological principles ‐ is also influenced by one's values. For instance, embracing self‐centered values may be traded off against the value of serving the public interest of science. This trade‐off process could be pushed in the direction of self‐centeredness as most universities use an up‐or‐out system to grant tenure or prizes in general. The key factor in this system are publications and citations generating a publish‐or‐perish culture (van Dalen et al. 2012; Stephan 2012a; Stephan 2012b; Seeber et al. 2019). Success in science is solely defined in terms individual academic success and may set in motion a drive towards self‐centeredness or an inward turn in which economics is the queen of the social sciences, academic economists no longer have an ambition to function as gatekeepers of a public debate or who do not engage in organizational citizenship behavior. Some note that this internal directedness (Colander 2015; Fourcade et al. 2015) may well be the Achilles’ heel of economics. A case in point may well be the recent Great Recession. In the midst of the crisis Krugman (2009) challenged (mainly) economists with a Chicago background on sowing the seeds for the crisis by making economics a beautiful but irrelevant science. Economists had mistaken mathematical beauty for truth and have lost sight of reality in assessing the state of economies. The criticism of Krugman and the ensuing debate (Cochrane 2011; Colander 2011) suggests that methodological principles on the application of theory to policy lay at heart in the answer to how economists got it wrong. Especially the way economists have come to practice ‘positive economics’ in macroeconomics and in finance has blinded economists, according to Krugman. Although, he does not mention it explicitly, the essay on The Methodology of Positive Economics by Friedman (1953) has played a pivotal role in developing economics as an exact science and it certainly is not restricted to economists with a Chicago background. To stay away from value judgements Friedman downplayed the role of values very early on in his essay: “differences about economics policy among disinterested citizens derive predominantly from different predictions about the economic consequences of taking action [..] rather than from fundamental differences in basic values.” (p. 5). Instead he focused on developing positive economics: theories should be judged by their predictions not by the realism of their assumptions.

Friedman's economic methodology has ever since its publication been fiercely debated. To name two criticisms that are relevant in this regard is, first, the objection made by Hausman (1994). He argues that the instrumentalist approach of Friedman precludes serious research in examining the realism of assumptions. ‘Why look under the hood?’ is the implicit message of Friedman. A second and different critique is expressed by Coase (1994) who remarks that the essay of Friedman is not so much a positive theory but a normative theory: “What we are given is not a theory of how economists, in fact, choose between competing theories, but [..] how they ought to choose.” Economists ‐ according to Coase ‐ do not use “valid and meaningful predictions about phenomena not yet observed” as their sole criterion. Many economists do not test theories in their papers at all. Most of the work of pure theory economists consists of “logical constructions based on assumptions about human nature”. And their scientific efforts can best be described as “measurements of an effect, the nature of which was already well established but of which the magnitude was unknown” (Coase 1994). Economists and many other social scientists are unsophisticated positivists (Colander and Su 2015).

The second part of this paper aims first to discover (1) the attitudes economists share with respect to scientific working principles, as they are sometimes summed up in the Mertonian norms of science (Merton 1979); and (2) their assessment of key theoretical assumptions in understanding today's society. We will subsequently test to see whether personal values affect these two elements of scientific practice. The second null hypothesis that we will use as our guide is the following:

    Hypothesis on the values‐principles nexus: The personal values of economists do not affect scientific working principles and their assessment of assumptions in understanding modern‐day society.

6 Conclusions and Discussion

    “Valuations enter into research from the start to the finish” (Myrdal 1972, p. 162).

Economists are often seen by laypeople as a quarrelsome lot who agree to disagree. To know the world of economists and the forces that impinge on the choices they make is of some importance for anyone trying to understand developments in economics and economic policy. This paper has taken the novel and exploratory route by assessing the effects of (personal) values of economists on their view on methodology and the state of the economy. Three general findings stand out.

First, the personal values of economists differ from the man in the street. In particular, economists attach more importance to serving the public interest than the average citizen and the economist is less attached to the status quo, or to put it differently, the economist does not value rules or traditions and the academic economist is someone who values creativity more than the average citizen or the applied economist.

Second, for the majority of economic positive and normative propositions about economic issues personal values matter. Indirectly, these findings affirm what Gunnar Myrdal always claimed: “There is no view without a viewpoint”. Especially the value to serve the public interest has a strong effect on the perception of how the world works, or how it should be changed. It is only in monetary policy matters that values do not seem to matter a lot.

And third, with respect to methodological issues, it seems that economists who value achievement are the ones who are more likely to embrace mainstream methodological principles in economics: thinking predominantly in terms of efficiency, rationality and competition, believing that economic knowledge is objective and transparently produced and agreement with Friedman's view on positive economics.

6.1 Discussion

These findings are not without limitations and should be interpreted with some care. In particular, the personal values as measured in this paper are assumed to be exogenous. Given the extensive experience with research that has been carried out with the Schwartz approach to values this seem like a reasonable assumption, but the question of value formation should not be neglected. For instance, we have noted that economists differ in their values at some crucial points with the average citizen, but the intriguing question is how have economists come to adopt or acquired their values? Is it socialization or is it a question of self‐selection? Gandal et al. (2005) provide some evidence of values for students that suggests that self‐selection is present into the study of economics, where self enhancement is valued more than serving the interests of others by economics students. However, they do not focus on or examine the issue of socialization to dominant group values or education experience. There is a large of body of experimental literature focused on the minds of students that seem to suggest both forces – selection and socialization ‐ are at work (Carter and Irons 1991; Frey and Meier 2003).

Although the picture presented in this paper of economists is limited to one moment in time, the findings are intriguing and warrant some further discussion. The findings may shed light, doubt and may reinforce preconceptions of how the world of economists works. In closing I want to make two remarks on the possible implications of these findings.

First of all, the divergence in values between academic economists and the average citizen helps one to understand why economists with the best of intentions have a hard time convincing the general public. For instance, Barr and Diamond (2009) once discussed the skills that are needed to make a credible pension reform. Such reforms are too often top‐down technical design issues, whereas communication and implementation of a reform is an equally important part of effective reform. The fact that the average citizen likes stability and traditions, whereas the average economist is always on the lookout for improving and changing the status quo is a revealing fact. It helps one understand why economists are perceived as arrogant number‐crunchers, just like in the days of Charles Dickens when political economists were seen as dismal scientists.

Second, ‘achievement’ values are positively associated with economists embracing mainstream principles or having mainstream opinions. This is a novel and important finding as it suggests how ‘normal economic science’ is connected with a particular type of economist, who is focused on his or her own achievements. It is important because it might shed some light on the concerns of insiders (Colander 2011; Osterloh and Frey 2015; Heckman and Moktan 2018) on how the character of economics has changed and has become more focused on internal questions. A likely force seems to be the publish‐or‐perish culture that many sciences have implemented as their selection mechanism. And economics has (more than other disciplines) a tendency to focus on publications and citations as indicators of the quality of ideas. Osterloh and Frey (2015) urge universities to back away from such ranking games as these games end up substituting a ‘taste for science’ by a ‘taste for publication’. ‘Taste’ is here an appropriate phrase as it suggests that values are key in making a science work. Science has this unique mixture where public goods are produced by individuals who are triggered to produce knowledge by means of a non‐market reward system that appeals to their intrinsic motivation (Dasgupta and David 1994). Naturally, economists are influenced by a mix of values. But by making publications and citations the only coin worth having in science, a non‐market reward system is being replaced by a market‐reward system. And under those circumstances one should not be surprised to see the unintended consequence of such a publish‐or‐perish culture materialize. Mimicry could be the result as young and aspiring economists try to adapt to their environment and follow the rules and customs that make the likelihood of publication in top‐tier journals greater or of obtaining grants. Economists who favor and strive for individual success are perhaps also the ones who dislike acting in the public interest, because doing jobs or tasks that have a public good nature generally do not earn the credits deans playing the ‘ranking game’ would like to see. One of the consequences may be that the value structure of economists may change, as one is almost forced to act as an ‘achiever’ and the group may become more homogenous. The basic dangers of a drive towards a homogenous group of economists is uniformity in approach, outlook and advice. Fourcade et al. (2015) and Heckman and Moktan (2018) have registered these tendencies and as Heckman and Moktan note: “The current system of publication and reward does not encourage creativity. It delays the publication and dissemination of new ideas. It centralizes power in the hands of a small group of editors, prevents open discussion and stifles dissent and debate.” It is perhaps the old insight and warning of Kerr (1975) that surfaces in academia: whoever wants to attain A (read: creativity) by rewarding B (read: publication), will not attain A, but will end up with B.

We humans are so defective that even a collective effort like wikipedia outperforms us: "Our findings are the first to demonstrate Wikipedia’s superiority over individuals when it comes to hindsight bias"

Wikipedia outperforms individuals when it comes to hindsight bias. Aileen Oeberst, Ina von der Beck, Ulrike Cress, Steffen Nestler. Psychological Research,

Abstract: Hindsight bias—the tendency to overestimate in hindsight what one knew in foresight—is a robust and pervasive human error. A recent study with Wikipedia articles, however, found evidence for a hindsight bias only for disasters but not for any other event category (e.g., elections). Although this might suggest Wikipedia articles to be less biased than individuals, alternative explanations had not been ruled out. The present study set out to answer this question by comparing individuals’ and Wikipedia’s representation of the very same event in foresight and hindsight. In particular, we made use of a state election and surveyed one part of participants before and after the outcome and had other participants rate the corresponding Wikipedia article versions with regard to the extent to which the article was suggestive of a particular outcome and presented it as foreseeable and inevitable. In line with prior research and our hypotheses, we found a hindsight bias at the individual level but not in Wikipedia articles. Applying Bayesian statistics, there was substantial support for the null hypothesis (i.e., no hindsight bias) in Wikipedia. By controlling for the potential impact of participants’ own hindsight bias on their article ratings we can rule out alternative explanations of our findings. Therefore, our findings are the first to demonstrate Wikipedia’s superiority over individuals when it comes to hindsight bias.

In a variety of mammalian species, mothers & others care for and/or carry deceased newborns, & sometimes other conspecifics. The rationale for such behavior remains elusive; here, the author tries to give an evolutionary explanation

A comparative perspective on the evolution of mammalian reactions to dead conspecifics. Fred B. Bercovitch. Primates,

Abstract: In a variety of mammalian species, mothers and others care for and/or carry deceased newborns, and sometimes other conspecifics. The rationale for such behavior remains elusive. Based upon field observations of olive baboon (Papio anubis), African elephant (Loxodonta africana), and Thornicroft’s giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) responses to recently dead conspecifics, combined with reports in the literature, a hypothesis is proposed to account for this activity. Among female mammals, lifetime reproductive success is more dependent upon rearing, than production, of offspring. The successful nurturing of progeny is associated with a strong maternal–offspring bond. One of the most important chemicals involved in both lactation and mother–infant bonding is oxytocin, a tiny molecule that has a lengthy evolutionary history and is implicated in the formation of social bonds across mammals. Evolution has extended the impact of oxytocin by adopting it beyond the original mother–infant bond to the establishment of social bonds that are required among group-living animals. Hence, sociality is a consequence of the same fundamental biological mediator of mother–offspring bonding, and this intricate connection between physiology and behavior has produced a situation where sometimes animals will care for or carry dead companions. Ways to test this hypothesis, as well as a potential way to refute it, are proposed.

Keywords: Olive baboon African elephant Giraffe Sociality Maternal–offspring bond Oxytocin Thanatology

The moral behavior of ethics professors: A replication-extension in German-speaking countries -- there is no positive influence of ethical reflection on moral action

The moral behavior of ethics professors: A replication-extension in German-speaking countries. Philipp Schönegger & Johannes Wagner. Philosophical Psychology, Mar 19 2019.

ABSTRACT: What is the relation between ethical reflection and moral behavior? Does professional reflection on ethical issues positively impact moral behaviors? To address these questions, Schwitzgebel and Rust empirically investigated if philosophy professors engaged with ethics on a professional basis behave any morally better or, at least, more consistently with their expressed values than do non-ethicist professors. Findings from their original US-based sample indicated that neither is the case, suggesting that there is no positive influence of ethical reflection on moral action. In the study at hand, we attempted to cross-validate this pattern of results in the German-speaking countries and surveyed 417 professors using a replication-extension research design. Our results indicate a successful replication of the original effect that ethicists do not behave any morally better compared to other academics across the vast majority of normative issues. Yet, unlike the original study, we found mixed results on normative attitudes generally. On some issues, ethicists and philosophers even expressed more lenient attitudes. However, one issue on which ethicists not only held stronger normative attitudes but also reported better corresponding moral behaviors was vegetarianism.

KEYWORDS: Experimental philosophy, replication-extension, moral attitudes, moral behavior

The longer something is thought to exist, the better it is evaluated; happens even with aesthetic judgments of art & nature, that were also positively affected by time in existence

Longer is better. Scott Eidelman, Jennifer Pattershall, Christian S. Crandall. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 46, Issue 6, November 2010, Pages 993-998.

Abstract: The longer something is thought to exist, the better it is evaluated. In Study 1, participants preferred an existing university requirement over an alternative; this pattern was more pronounced when the existing requirement was said to be in place for a longer period of time. In Study 2, participants rated acupuncture more favorably as a function of how old the practice was described. Aesthetic judgments of art (Study 3) and nature (Study 4) were also positively affected by time in existence, as were gustatory evaluations of an edible consumer good (Study 5). Features of the research designs argue against mere exposure, loss aversion, and rational inference as explanations for these findings. Instead, time in existence seems to operate as a heuristic; longer means better.

Check also Chapter Two - The Intuitive Traditionalist: How Biases for Existence and Longevity Promote the Status Quo. Scott Eidelman, Christian S. Crandall. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 50, 2014, Pages 53-104.
Abstract: People tend to like things the way they are. All other things being equal, there is a widespread bias in favor of the status quo. We describe two forms this bias may take: people assume that (1) mere existence makes things good and right (the existence bias) and (2) the longer something is thought to exist, the better and more right it is judged to be (the longevity bias). We take care to distinguish existence and longevity biases from other forms of status quo preference. Our research emphasizes people's automatic, heuristic tendency to ascribe existence and longevity to inherent features. We describe how existence and longevity biases contribute to status quo maintenance and political ideology; we also show how these biases provide novel explanatory power for incumbency effects, social norms, and the legitimization of inequality. We conclude with a consideration of exceptions to what appears to be a general rule: people assume that the status quo is good, right, and the way things ought to be.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Women have a clear preference for multitasking, show higher self-rated multitasking abilities, & consider multitasking to be more important in everyday life than men

Gender Differences in Polychronicity. André J. Szameitat and Moska Hayati, Front. Psychol., March 20 2019.

Abstract: Polychronicity refers to a personal preference to engage in multitasking. In the current study, we investigated whether male and female participants differed in polychronicity. For this, 167 participants filled out an online questionnaire assessing polychronicity in a variety of ways, including the Multitasking Preference Inventory (MPI). Results showed that women were consistently more polychronic than men. We also found that women showed higher self-rated multitasking abilities, reported to spend more time multitasking, and considered multitasking to be more important in everyday life than men. We conclude that in our sample, which mainly consisted of University students in the United Kingdom, polychronicity shows a significant gender difference.


Polychronicity refers to the preference for multitasking, i.e., to perform one or more tasks concurrently, in contrast to performing only one single task at a time (Poposki and Oswald, 2010). We employ an individualistic definition focussed solely on the individual preference of a person for multitasking, while explicitly leaving out cultural aspects, such as more general time-management, punctuality, or expectations about others’ preferences for multitasking. It is important to note that polychronicity refers to a personal preference, and not to actual multitasking behavior such as multitasking abilities or the amount of time spent multitasking per day (König and Waller, 2010).

Several reasons led to a considerable interest in understanding polychronicity in more detail. For instance, polychronicity is often considered to be a trait, and thus can be seen as a rather stable characteristic to describe personality (Slocombe and Bluedorn, 1999). Furthermore, it has been proposed that virtually every job nowadays requires some form of multitasking, leading to an interest in polychronicity from organizational and managerial perspectives (Bühner et al., 2006; Szameitat et al., 2015). For instance, it has been shown that polychronicity has a unique contribution in explaining job performance (Kantrowitz et al., 2012) and that it modulates the relationship between actual multitasking abilities and job performance (Sanderson et al., 2013).

Due to this relevance of polychronicity, a proper understanding of its determinants is beneficial. A number of studies aimed at identifying variables which may affect polychronicity, such as culture (Adams and van Eerde, 2010; König and Waller, 2010), personality traits (Bhattacharyya et al., 2015), or work-family interface (Korabik et al., 2016). However, we are not aware of any study which has focussed on testing for gender as a factor, i.e., the question whether men and women differ in polychronicity. While gender is occasionally reported as a variable, we are not aware of a study which actually found gender differences with respect to polychronicity.

This finding is somewhat surprising, because there is a strong and widespread belief in the general public that women are better than men at multitasking (Strobach and Woszidlo, 2015; Szameitat et al., 2015). In a previous study of us (Szameitat et al., 2015), we observed some initial evidence (unpublished data) that women might show higher polychronicity than men. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to follow up this initial observation and to test whether there is a gender difference in polychronicity, i.e., the preference to multitask.

The variety of previous studies which did not observe gender effects in polychronicity in terms of participant samples and methodology lets it seem futile to engage in a discussion for potential reasons why no gender effects were observed so far. Thus, we decided to base the current online questionnaire study on one of the most recent developments in assessing polychronicity, the Multitasking Preference Inventory (MPI). The MPI is most suited to assess individual-level polychronicity, while previous measures often also assessed cultural-level polychronicity. The MPI focusses rather strongly on a work environment, e.g., by using terms such as “tasks”, “work on projects,” and “assignments.”

To broaden the focus beyond the work environment, we complemented the MPI by a number of self-developed questions targeting everyday activities (termed “Everyday Multitasking Scenarios”; EMS). We would like to point out that we did not intend to develop a new measure for polychronicity. We merely intended to follow up the incidental observation in our previous data that the nature of the items (work focussed vs everyday activity focussed) might affect whether gender difference can be observed. For this, we generated a questionnaire with a similar structure to the MPI but which takes examples not from the work context but more from everyday life, in particular also from the life as a university student (our main sample). When formulating the questions, we made sure that it is about a preference for multitasking and not about the activity itself (e.g., by using the phrase “I like to…”).

Furthermore, we added a question which aimed at providing more in-depth information about what drives peoples’ preference for multitasking. Often, people assume (rightly or not) that multitasking saves time, i.e., one would be finished earlier or would get more work done in the same amount of time. Thus, it might be that people score high on polychronicity because they think that multitasking is more efficient although they actually may dislike multitasking. Alternatively, people may actually just enjoy multitasking while being oblivious to whether it is more efficient – or a combination of both. To our knowledge, previous definitions of polychronicity as the preference for multitasking did not define what exactly drives this preference. For instance, the MPI uses both wordings in its items, i.e., whether one prefers or likes multitasking. To control for this interpretation, we firstly included a question which asks for polychronicity by explicitly instructing participants that multitasking would not save any time. In addition, we included a direct and explicit question, i.e., “How much do you like multitasking?” These two questions should provide a good insight into the preference for multitasking in terms of liking or enjoyment.

In addition to these questions aiming to assess polychronicity, we assessed further aspects of peoples’ views on multitasking which might be useful in understanding the polychronicity data. In more detail, to test whether there is an explicit stereotype that women would prefer multitasking, we asked “How much do you think women prefer multitasking more than men?” Because polychronicity is often discussed in relation to actual multitasking behavior, we presented two questions about participants’ self-rated multitasking abilities and time spent on it (“How good do you think you are at multitasking?” and “How many hours per day do you think you spend on multitasking?”). Finally, to assess the perceived relevance of multitasking we asked “How important do you think multitasking is in everyday life?”

Taken together, the aim of the current study was to test whether gender effects in polychronicity can be observed.

The Lost Ones: the Opportunities and Outcomes of Non-College Educated Americans Born in the 1960s

The Lost Ones: the Opportunities and Outcomes of Non-College Educated Americans Born in the 1960s. Margherita Borella, Mariacristina De Nardi, Fang Yang. NBER Working Paper No. 25661. March 2019.

Abstract: White, non-college-educated Americans born in the 1960s face shorter life expectancies, higher medical expenses, and lower wages per unit of human capital compared with those born in the 1940s, and men's wages declined more than women's. After documenting these changes, we use a life-cycle model of couples and singles to evaluate their effects. The drop in wages depressed the labor supply of men and increased that of women, especially in married couples. Their shorter life expectancy reduced their retirement savings but the increase in out-of-pocket medical expenses increased them by more. Welfare losses, measured a one-time asset compensation are 12.5%, 8%, and 7.2% of the present discounted value of earnings for single men, couples, and single women, respectively. Lower wages explain 47-58% of these losses, shorter life expectancies 25-34%, and higher medical expenses account for the rest.

Even if it depressed average labor productivity growth, continued growth in female employment since the early 1990s would have significantly improved economic performance in the US

Changing Business Cycles: The Role of Women's Employment. Stefania Albanesi. NBER Working Paper No. 25655. March 2019.

Abstract: This paper studies the impact of changing trends in female labor supply on productivity, TFP growth and aggregate business cycles. We find that the growth in women’s labor supply and relative productivity added substantially to TFP growth from the early 1980s, even if it depressed average labor productivity growth, contributing to the 1970s productivity slowdown. We also show that the lower cyclicality of female hours and their growing share can account for a large fraction of the reduced cyclicality of aggregate hours during the great moderation, as well as the decline in the correlation between average labor productivity and hours. Finally, we show that the discontinued growth in female labor supply starting in the 1990s played a substantial role in the jobless recoveries following the 1990-1991, 2001 and 2007-2009 recessions. Moreover, it depressed aggregate hours, output growth and male wages during the late 1990s and mid 2000s expansions. These results suggest that continued growth in female employment since the early 1990s would have significantly improved economic performance in the United States.

It may be that males conform to certain gender & social norms in greater degree that females do to avoid being represented or perceived as female and/or a lower-power member of society

The gender conformity conundrum: The effects of irrelevant gender norms on public conformity. Matthew F. Carter, Timothy M. Franz, Jordan L. Gruschow & Alyssa M. VanRyne. The Journal of Social Psychology, Mar 18 2019.

ABSTRACT: The purpose of this experiment was to examine influences of gender norms on gender-role conformity. This series of two studies tests whether females or males are more likely to conform to public norms. To test this, we attached men’s and women’s bathroom-type signs to exit doors from a café at a private academic institution in upstate New York. We then unobtrusively observed whether individuals chose to exit through the door matching their gender. We found that, in both studies, males conformed more to their gender-role sign than did females. This suggests that conformity to certain gender and social norms has greater influence on males, and that these norms have a substantial power over decisions in social settings. In addition, it may be that some males conform to these norms to avoid being represented or perceived as female and/or a lower-power member of society.

KEYWORDS: Bathroom signs, conformity, gender norms, social norms

As expected, we found a positive association between childhood musical enrichment & musical achievement in adulthood; the relative importance of genetic influences increased with more musical enrichment

Wesseldijk, L. W., Mosing, M. A., & Ullén, F. (2019). Gene–environment interaction in expertise: The importance of childhood environment for musical achievement. Developmental Psychology. Mar 2019.

Abstract: Both genes and the environment are important for individual differences in expertise, but little is known about gene–environment interactions underlying domain-specific achievement. Here we explored this issue in a large Swedish twin cohort (N = 6,610), using moderator modeling with musical expertise as a model domain. Specifically, we tested whether musical enrichment of the childhood environment moderates adult musical achievement, as well as the magnitude of genetic and nongenetic influences on individual differences in achievement. Musical achievement was measured using the Creative Achievement Questionnaire and enrichment of the childhood environment was indexed with a principal component derived from the number of music records in the family home, number of individuals in the family environment playing an instrument, frequency of concert visits, and music education before the age of 12. As expected, we found a positive association between childhood musical enrichment and musical achievement in adulthood. Interestingly, however, the total variance in musical achievement as well as the relative importance of genetic influences increased with a higher level of musical enrichment. Estimates of genetic and environmental influences as well as the magnitude of the environmental moderation differed for men and women. These findings suggest that, in line with recent multifactorial models of expert performance, a musically enriched childhood environment amplifies individual differences, an effect which is largely driven by an increase in the importance of genetic factors.

A household moving from one US city to another tends to pay a rent level that is closer to the city of origin, relative to comparable locals; this is due to the interaction between memory and attention

Memory and Reference Prices: an Application to Rental Choice. Pedro Bordalo, Nicola Gennaioli, Andrei Shleifer. NBER Working Paper No. 25650, March 2019.

Abstract: Simonsohn and Loewenstein (SL 2006) present evidence that a household moving from one US city to another tends to pay a rent level that is closer to the city of origin, relative to comparable locals. Building on “Memory, Attention, and Choice” (BGS 2019), we show that these effects emerge from the interaction between memory and attention. In our model, memory is a database of experiences such as rents. The current rent cues recall of past rents, giving rise to a rental norm. A large discrepancy between the current rent and the memory-based norm surprises and attracts the mover’s attention, distorting choice. Thus, when rents in Pittsburgh cue recall of rent experiences in San Francisco, they look surprisingly cheap by comparison, leading the household to spend more. We revisit the SL evidence in light of the model. Besides generating the basic SL findings, our model yields two new predictions, which we test and confirm using 20 additional years of data.

The female and male offspring of lesbian parents were significantly more to likely to report same-sex attraction, sexual minority identity, and same-sex experience

Sexual Attraction, Sexual Identity, and Same-Sex Sexual Experiences of Adult Offspring in the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study. Nanette Gartrell, Henny Bos, Audrey Koh. Archives of Sexual Behavior, March 19 2019,

Abstract: The U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study has followed offspring with sexual minority parents from conception into adulthood. It was initiated in 1986, and it has a 92% retention rate to date. In the current investigation, the 25-year-old offspring answered questions about sexual attraction, sexual identity, and sexual experiences; their responses were compared with those of same-age adults from a population-based survey. The analytic samples consisted of 76 offspring of lesbian parents and 76 demographically matched participants from the National Survey of Family Growth. All 152 respondents were 25 years old, 48.7% were female, 90.8% identified as White, 9.2% were people of color, and all had attended at least some college. Although most respondents in each sample identified as “heterosexual or straight,” compared to their matched counterparts in the population-based survey, the female and male offspring of lesbian parents were significantly more to likely to report same-sex attraction, sexual minority identity, and same-sex experience. These findings suggest that adult offspring from planned lesbian families may be more likely than their peers to demonstrate diversity in sexual attraction, identity, and expression.

Keywords: U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study Adult offspring Sexual attraction Sexual orientation identity Same-sex sexual experiences Sexual minorities

Approximately six million children and adults in the U.S. have a lesbian, gay, bisexual (LGB), or transgender parent (Gates & The Williams Institute UCLA School of Law, 2013). Although research has shown that the psychological health of adults is unrelated to the sexual identity of their parents (Gartrell, Bos, & Koh, 2018; Golombok & Badger, 2010; Golombok & Tasker, 1996; Tasker & Golombok, 1995), data on the sexual attractions, orientations, and experiences of adults who were born into sexual minority parent families are limited (Golombok & Badger, 2010). The U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS)—the largest, longest-running, prospective study of planned lesbian families—provides a unique opportunity to assess the sexuality of these adult offspring (Gartrell et al., 2018; Gartrell, Bos, & Goldberg, 2011, 2012). In the 1970s, lesbian mothers who came out in the context of heterosexual relationships began to seek legal custody of their children during divorce proceedings (Hunter & Polikoff, 1976). Custody was often denied based on the assumption that lesbian mothers could influence the gender or sexual identity of their children (Golombok, 2015). The ensuing half century brought increased public acceptance and legal recognition of LGB people and parentage. Research revealed that the children of sexual minority parents were comparable in gender development to those raised by heterosexual parents, at the same time that non-traditional gender role behavior became more widely embraced (Golombok, 2015). Studies have also found that female and male sexual minorities have some notable differences: Females are more likely to identify as bisexual than exclusively lesbian, whereas males are more likely identify as exclusively gay (Savin-Williams & Vrangalova, 2013). In addition, females are more likely to fluctuate in their identities, attractions, and behavior over time (Diamond, 2007a, 2008; Diamond, Dickenson, & Blair, 2017; Johns, Zimmerman, & Bauermeister, 2013). Theories on the origins of sexual attraction, orientation, and behavior are that a variety of factors—hormonal, genetic, nonsocial environmental (e.g., in utero influences), and social environmental (e.g., social learning and cognitive behavioral)— may play a role (cf. Bailey et al., 2016, for a review). Among possible hormonal influences, prenatal androgen levels have been shown to be linked with adult gender and sexual identity (Hines, 2010, 2011). For example, adult females with congenital adrenal hyperplasia who were exposed to unusually high levels of androgens in utero are more likely to identify as male, and less likely to identify as heterosexual, than females without overexposure to fetal androgen (Hines 2010). Also, there is evidence that prenatal androgens affect the ratio of index to ring finger length, and that gynephilic women demonstrate ratios more frequently found in males (Grimbos, Dawood, Burriss, Zucker, & Puts, 2010). Whether females who later identify as lesbian were exposed to high levels of androgens in utero is unknown; likewise, there is no information about the in utero exposures of their biological children. Other research suggests that genetic factors may be influential. In a population-based Swedish study, Långström, Rahman, Carlström, and Lichtenstein (2010) found that genetically identical monozygotic twins showed more concordance in samesex sexual behavior than did dizygotic twins or other siblings. Based on these and similar findings, it has been suggested that sexual minority parents may be more likely to produce sexual minority offspring because of shared genetics (Goldberg, 2010). The strongest evidence in support of nonsocial environmental theory is that gay men tend to have more biological older brothers than heterosexual or lesbian individuals (Blanchard & VanderLaan, 2015; Bogaert et al., 2018). This fraternal birthorder effect has been found cross-culturally. It is hypothesized to be associated with the development of maternal antibodies to the Y chromosome, and exposure of the male fetus to these antibodies in utero. However, there are no data associating a fraternal birth-order effect with the offspring of sexual minority parents. Finally, social environmental theory posits that social learning or cognitive behavior may influence the sexual identity of offspring. According to social learning theory, adults who grow up with sexual minority parents might have more expansive perspectives on gender and sexuality than those raised in heterosexual-parent families, because parents of the former are less likely to discourage them from exploring nonbinary gender identities or non-heterosexual relationships (Bos & Sandfort, 2010; Gartrell et al., 1999; Goldberg, 2007, 2010; Golombok, 2015). Sexual minority parents may also model gender nonconforming interests, dress, and behavior, thereby encouraging more fluidity in gendered role behavior (Goldberg, 2007, 2010; Golombok, 2015) Cognitive behavior theorists focus on the prevailing attitudes in the culture at large, noting the potential impact of growing up in environments that are accepting or rejecting of diversity in gender and sexuality (Golombok, 2015). Evidence against social environmental theories in males is the finding that genetic male infants who were surgically changed into girls at birth, and then strongly socialized as girls, continue to be gynephilic (Bailey et al., 2016). Despite a body of research on sexual minority parent families (Bos & Sandfort, 2010; Gartrell et al., 2011; Goldberg & Gartrell, 2014; Golombok, 2015; Green, Mandel, Hotvedt, Gray, & Smith, 1986), relatively few investigations have focused specifically on the sexuality of adult offspring who were raised in these family forms. In 1991–1992, Tasker and Golombok (1995) and Golombok and Tasker (1996) carried out the second phase of a longitudinal convenience sample study on post-divorce lesbian mother families in the UK that began when the children—conceived in heterosexual relationships—were, on average, 9.5 years old. When the average age of these offspring was 23.5 years, the researchers interviewed 25 with lesbian mothers and 21 with single heterosexual mothers. Psychological well-being was not associated with family type. There were also no differences by family type in the proportions of offspring who reported same-sex attraction, identified as lesbian/gay/bisexual, or indicated on the Kinsey scale that they were not exclusively heterosexual. The only sexual minorities among the offspring were two lesbian daughters of lesbian mothers. None of those who reported sexual attraction to both females and males identified as bisexual. The offspring of lesbian mothers were significantly more likely to have to have had same-sex sexual contact, and to have considered the possibility of same-sex attraction or a same-sex sexual relationship. Using the Wave I dataset (1994–1995; students in grades 7 through 12) of the U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), Wainright, Russell, and Patterson (2004) compared psychosocial adjustment, school outcomes, and romantic relationships in 44 adolescents from same-sex parent households with a demographically matched sample of 44 adolescents from different-sex parent households. Analyses revealed no differences in the personal, family, or school adjustment of the 12- to 18-yearolds based on family type. Additionally, no significant differences in the two samples were found in the percentages of adolescents who had engaged in sexual intercourse or had a recent romantic relationship. The Add Health data use stipulations did not permit a comparison of same-sex attractions or same-sex romantic relationships because too few adolescents reported such experiences. In addition, no information was available about the parents’ sexual identity, their methods of child conception, or the duration of time that the adolescents lived in a same-sex parent household. In 2005, Goldberg (2007) surveyed a convenience sample of adults with lesbian/gay/bisexual parents, most of whom lived in the U.S. This qualitative study involved semi-structured telephone interviews with 46 adults—36 women and 10 men—ranging in age from 19 to 50 (M = 30). Most participants grew up with lesbian or bisexual mothers, though their paths to motherhood (biological, adoption, or fostering) were not specified. Nearly all of those with gay fathers had never lived with them, but saw them regularly. Almost a third of participants viewed sexuality as fluid and dynamic—existing on a continuum—rather than as a binary construct. They also felt that their parents helped them to have more flexible ideas about sexuality and gender. Some participants indicated that having a sexual minority parent led them to question their own sexuality, to think deeply about binary constructs, and to view the process of sexual exploration as normative. Bos and Sandfort (2010) examined psychosocial adjustment, gender identity, and anticipated future heterosexual romantic involvement in 8- to 12-year-old offspring of lesbian and heterosexual parents. This investigation was the second phase of a Dutch longitudinal study in which planned lesbian families were recruited through community outreach and a fertility clinic. Comparing the 63 offspring of lesbian parents with 68 offspring of heterosexual parents revealed no differences in psychosocial adjustment. However, the offspring of lesbian parents felt less compelled to conform to gender stereotypes, were less likely to view their own gender as superior, and were more uncertain about the prospect of future heterosexual romance. Golombok and Badger (2010) conducted the only comparative study of young adults from planned lesbian families that contained questions on sexuality. A volunteer sample of 18 offspring from lesbian mother families was compared with 20 from single heterosexual mother families and 32 from two-parent heterosexual families. This was the third phase in a longitudinal study of fatherless, female-headed UK families that began when the offspring were, on average, 6 years old. At Phase III, the average ages of the offspring in the three family types ranged from 18 to 19.5 years. Reported differences were that the offspring in female-headed homes had more positive family relationships, demonstrated greater psychological well-being, and were more likely to have begun dating than those from heterosexual-parent families. Only one female with lesbian parents identified as bisexual, and all remaining offspring identified as heterosexual. The U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS) began in 1986 with a goal of prospectively following a cohort of planned lesbian families in which the offspring were among the first generation conceived through donor insemination by lesbian-identified women (Gartrell et al., 1996). When compared with peers in representative samples, the NLLFS offspring fared as well, or better, in psychological adjustment and quality of life (Gartrell & Bos, 2010; Gartrell et al., 2018; van Gelderen, Bos, Gartrell, Hermanns, & Perrin, 2012). Data on the sexuality of the NLLFS offspring were first collected during the fifth wave, when they were 17 years old. The offspring reported on sexual identity, and same- and different-sex sexual contact. On the Kinsey scale, 48.6% of the adolescent girls and 21.6% of the adolescent boys indicated that they were not exclusively heterosexual (Gartrell et al., 2011). Of the girls, 15.4% acknowledged same-sex sexual experiences, as did 5.6% of the boys. However, when compared with an age- and gender-matched sample from the 2006–2008 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), the NLLFS adolescents were no more likely than the NSFG adolescents to have had these experiences (Gartrell et al., 2012). The first generation of offspring who were conceived by lesbian mothers through donor insemination has now entered adulthood in substantial numbers (Goldberg, Conron, & The Williams Institute UCLA School of Law, 2018; Golombok, 2015). Genetic and social environmental theories predict that these offspring might be more likely than their peers to identify as sexual minorities and to report same-sex attractions, yet no comparative study to date, including the fifth wave of the NLLFS, found this to be the case. The sixth wave of the NLLFS provides a unique opportunity to assess the sexuality of these offspring as adults (Gartrell et al., 2011, 2012, 2018). At 25 years of age, the NLLFS offspring were older than participants in the two prior comparative studies of sexuality in offspring from planned lesbian families (Gartrell et al., 2011; Golombok & Badger, 2010). Also, there is evidence that sexual identity stabilizes at a later age among mostly heterosexual individuals (Calzo, Masyn, Austin, Jun, & Corliss, 2017). Moreover, the NLLFS has the largest sample size of any ongoing longitudinal study on planned sexual minority parent families. The NSFG is an ongoing population-based study focusing on the health and family life of noninstitutionalized adolescents and adults in the U.S. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). In assessing the well-being and sexuality of the NLLFS offspring (Gartrell & Bos, 2010; Gartrell et al., 2011, 2012, 2018), nationally representative databases such as the NSFG have been used because the recruitment criteria for these surveys are unrelated to parental sexual identity, thus minimizing potential sampling bias. The 2013–2015 NSFG was chosen for the present investigation because a subset of participants was the same age as the NLLFS adult offspring at the time of data collection. In addition, the NSFG survey contained questions pertaining to sexual attraction, identity, and behavior that could be selected and administered to the 25-year-old NLLFS offspring. The aim of the current study was to compare the responses of NLLFS adult offspring with those of NSFG participants on sexual attraction, sexual identity, and same-sex sexual experience.

Our results provide no evidence that minimum wage increases reduce crime, but increases property crime arrests among those ages 16-24; a $15 wage could generate criminal externalities of $2.4 bn

Do Minimum Wage Increases Reduce Crime? Zachary S. Fone, Joseph J. Sabia, Resul Cesur. NBER Working Paper No. 25647, March 2019.

Abstract: An April 2016 Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) report advocated raising the minimum wage to deter crime. This recommendation rests on the assumption that minimum wage hikes increase the returns to legitimate labor market work while generating minimal adverse employment effects. This study comprehensively assesses the impact of minimum wages on crime using data from the 1998-2016 Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), and National Longitudinal Study of Youth (NLSY). Our results provide no evidence that minimum wage increases reduce crime. Instead, we find that raising the minimum wage increases property crime arrests among those ages 16-to-24, with an estimated elasticity of 0.2. This result is strongest in counties with over 100,000 residents and persists when we use longitudinal data to isolate workers for whom minimum wages bind. Our estimates suggest that a $15 Federal minimum wage could generate criminal externality costs of nearly $2.4 billion.

New gender bias, gamma bias, simultaneously magnifies & minimises gender differences; example: domestic violence, where violence against men tends to be overlooked & against women is often highlighted

Seager M., Barry J.A. (2019) Cognitive Distortion in Thinking About Gender Issues: Gamma Bias and the Gender Distortion Matrix. In: Barry J., Kingerlee R., Seager M., Sullivan L. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Male Psychology and Mental Health. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. Mar 2 2019.

Abstract: Psychology has identified many examples of cognitive biases and errors. In relation to gender, there are alpha bias (magnifying gender differences) and beta bias (minimising gender differences). In this chapter we identify another gender bias, gamma bias, which simultaneously magnifies and minimises gender differences. An example is domestic violence, where violence against men tends to be overlooked whereas violence against women is often highlighted. It is argued in this chapter that although we live in times where we now rightly talk a lot about conscious and unconscious bias against women, we are not yet conscious of our biases against men. The gender distortion matrix is proposed as a framework for identifying cognitive bias regarding men and boys.

Keywords: Gender Cognitive distortion Minimisation Maximisation Empathy gap


The seed that grew into my (JB) interest in Male Psychology was planted at a seminar on clinical psychology during my undergraduate degree at a respected English university in the mid-1990s. The group had spent a lot of time exploring possible theory-based reasons for female depression (e.g. the female gender role leading to learned helplessness), but then swiftly glossed over the subject of high male suicide rates with a “humorous” remark: “men construct more lethal methods because they are better at DIY”. This raised a few giggles at the sem-inar, and the group quickly moved on to the next topic. However it struck me as odd that my educators—and psychologists in general—appeared to have little serious curiosity about the causes of a fatal issue like suicide. I pre-sumed that this would change, but I heard the same DIY explanation in 2016 at a public talk on gender at LSE, also greeted with giggles from the audience. Clearly this phenomenon—a cognitive distortion involving the minimisation of the importance of male suicide to the point of near-invisibility—was diffi-cult for people to overcome.

Cognitive distortions can be defined as “the result of processing information in ways that predictably result in identifiable errors in thinking” (Yurica etal. 2005). Since the 1960s, a growing number of distortions have been identified. Aaron T. Beck (1967) originally identified cognitive distortions in his work with depressed patients. The six errors he identified were: arbitrary inference; selective abstraction; overgeneralization; magnification and min-imization; personalization; and absolutistic, dichotomous thinking. Since that time others have extended Beck’s list. In this chapter we are postulating a newly identified cognitive distortion, gamma bias.Gamma Bias andthe Gender Distortion MatrixA range of examples of gamma bias are described in the gender distortion matrix, and they fall primarily under two categories: magnification and min-imization. Magnification is defined as “the tendency to exaggerate or magnify either the positive or negative importance or consequence of some personal trait, event, or circumstance” (Yurica etal. 2005). Minimization is defined as “the process of minimizing or discounting the importance of some event, trait, or circumstance” (Yurica etal. 2005).Table 1 describes the gender distortion matrix. It is a 2 × 2 matrix, and in each of the four cells, the experiences, behaviours or characteristics of men and women are either magnified or minimised. The matrix describes how it can be good or harmful to do certain things or receive certain experiences. Unlike either alpha bias (magnification) or beta bias (minimisation), each cell demonstrates that certain gender issues are both magnified and mini-mised. Whether an aspect of the gender issue is magnified or minimised depends upon whether the issue is related to men or women.In this paper we argue that there is much evidence in everyday experience, and some in research, which supports the existence of gamma bias. Note that we do not suggest that gamma bias is eternal and unchangeable. To the degree that it is changeable, we suggest that it is very important that we Table1The gender distortion matrix, describing examples of gamma bias i.e. situ-ations in which aspects of our perceptions of men and women are magnified (upper case/italics) or minimised (lower case)GOODHARMDO (active mode)FEMALE male (celebration)MALE female (perpetration)RECEIVE (passive mode)MALE female (privilege)FEMALE male (victimhood)
Cognitive Distortion in Thinking About Gender Issues ... 89rectify, or at least recognise, these distortions. When discussions of gender are distorted, this misshapes the narrative and warps our public attitudes, policies and conversations about gender. For example, as a result of wide-spread gamma bias we tend to believe that:•men are more harmful than helpful•women are more helpful than harmful•men are more privileged than disadvantaged•women are more disadvantaged than privileged.Examples ofEach Type ofDistortionWe list below some preliminary examples of the very public ways that these distorted attitudes to gender are reinforced continually in the English-speaking or Western world. Examples will at this stage be brief and sche-matic, but hopefully sufficient to demonstrate the face validity of this new hypothesis, which will be subjected to rigorous empirical testing in research over the coming years.Doing Good (Active Mode) (Celebration/Appreciation)Female Magnification•We celebrate women publicly—for their gender alone—in the archetypal realms of beauty, fashion, sexuality and motherhood.•The UN has got four days dedicated to women: International Day of Women and Girls in Science, International Women’s Day, International Day of Rural Women and International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.•The Royal Society in the UK and other institutions worldwide have at various times held “Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon” days, when people are encouraged to add the names and achievements of women to Wikipedia, in order to make women in science more visible (Huffington Post 2012).•Suffragettes—female suffrage has been selectively celebrated in writings, films and the media as a gender issue, minimising the lack of suffrage for half of the male population in the same historical period.
90M. •The careers and achievements of women in science, politics, business and education are actively promoted and celebrated as a gender issue.•Women in the military and emergency services are celebrated for their gender and not just their actions.Male Minimisation•We do not celebrate men collectively for their gender alone, only the par-ticular achievements of individual men.•The UN has no special day to celebrate men. In many countries International Men’s Day has been celebrated on November 19th since around 2010, but this is not recognised by the UN.•The heroism within the military and the emergency services is often remarked upon in the news. However, the almost exclusively male gender of the heroes is not marked. In ceremonies to pay tribute to war heroes we acknowledge their brave deeds but not their masculine gender. We also include women when celebrating war sacrifice so that celebrations become gender-neutral rather than gender-specific. Recently, the rescue of a group of boys by male cave divers in Thailand was celebrated, but not marked as a gender issue or as an example of positive masculinity. In the Titanic disaster in 1912 most men were drowned (80%) but most women (75%) were saved. Men were clearly acting heroically to protect the women and children, but this, though a famous story, has not been celebrated as a story of positive masculinity.•Working class sacrifice—the complete physical infrastructure and security of the UK and other nations has been built and maintained almost exclu-sively by working class men. This is reflected in the fact that to this day in the UK men account for 96% of deaths at work. The same picture is found across the world. Clearly men continue to do the heavy, dirty and dangerous jobs in all societies. However, males who are builders, miners, firefighters, quarrymen, road workers, deep sea fishermen, scaffolders, steeplejacks, navvies and who occupy many other dangerous professions are not celebrated for their gender in a positive way. The image of male builders, for example, still tends to be more “wolf whistler” than “DIY SOS” hero.•Male suffrage—the vote for men has never been celebrated as a gender issue even though 44% men also only got the vote for the first time in 1918 and at a time when men had been sacrificed in large numbers in World War One for the protection of society.
Cognitive Distortion in Thinking About Gender Issues ... 91•We do not celebrate fatherhood or male childcare. Indeed in many ways public attitudes towards men as caregivers of children are negative, ambivalent and even suspicious, even amongst politicians (Dench 1996).•Male sexuality is typically viewed in public life and policy as a source of harm, threat, abuse and power. The joy and positivity of male sexuality is rarely celebrated today, except indirectly through the arts.Doing Harm (Active Mode) (Perpetration/Toxicity)Male Magnification•Negative attitudes towards masculinity have become widely accepted in mainstream public discourse in recent years. In contrast to the “women are wonderful” effect (Eagly etal. 1991), contemporary men are subject to a “men are toxic” effect. The notion of “toxic masculinity” has emerged and has even gained widespread credence despite the lack of any empirical testing (see chapter on masculinity by Seager and Barry). In general terms it appears as if attitudes to men have been based on generalisations made from the most damaged and extreme individual males. An example of this is the case from 2016, when a young woman called India Chipchase was raped and murdered. There were two men in her story: the rapist/mur-derer, and her grieving father who movingly stated “I will never get to walk my daughter down the aisle”. However, the media attention follow-ing this tragic event focussed almost exclusively on a sense of urgent need to teach boys and men in general to respect women. This suggests that in terms of public attitudes, the rapist/murderer was being viewed as more representative of masculinity than the victim’s father.•The concept of ‘rape culture’ has also developed and gained credibility, originating in the USA in the 1970s. However, in 2012 figures for the USA as a whole show that 0.6% of adult males had been registered for sexual offences (including rape), meaning that 99.4% were not. Even allowing for some inevitable under-representation, and whilst recognising that one rape is one too many, the evidence suggests that the vast major-ity of adult males are not sexually violent or dangerous. The public per-ception, however, is very different, especially in an age of “#MeToo” and “Enough is enough”.
92M. •In the UK and elsewhere the image of domestic violence and intimate partner violence (IPV) is almost exclusively one of male perpetrators and female victims. This is reflected in “treatment” approaches to IPV such as the “Duluth model” which is aimed exclusively at males (see chap-ter by Powney and Graham-Kevan). It is also reflected in the provision of places in refuges for victims of IPV. In 2010 in the UK, for example, whilst male victims accounted for at least 33% of IPV victims, less than 1% of a total of 7650 refuge places were available for men. Research evidence of equal levels of IPV by females (e.g. Archer 2000) is still not being reflected in public attitudes in this area (Seager 2019, in this vol-ume Chapter 12).Female Minimisation•We have already seen (above) that evidence of equivalent levels of domes-tic and IPV by females (e.g. Archer 2000) is not reflected in public atti-tudes or policies.•There is evidence that women receive less severe sentences for the same crimes (e.g. Starr 2012; Mustard 2001).•The high level of online emotional abuse by women (cyber-bullying) (e.g. Marcum etal. 2012) is not reflected in public attitudes or policies.•52% of men in a sample of high-security prisoners who had committed serious offences against women and had been sexually abused in child-hood were found to have been abused by female abusers acting inde-pendently ofmen (Murphy 2018). However, the picture of sexual abuse portrayed in the media does not reflect this complex gender picture of sexual abuse. Those who propose a social transmission theory of “toxic masculinity” would have to take account of the fact that male children spend significantly more of the developing years in the company of adult females than adult males.•Parental alienation, a diagnosis newly added to the ICD-11, is a form of child abuse involving one parent alienating their child from the other. Evidence has long shown that the father is more often the victim and the mother the perpetrator (e.g. Bala etal. 2010). Briggs, in another chap-ter in this volume, also shows examples of clinical cases in which moth-ers have alienated children from fathers prior to psychotherapeutic intervention.
Cognitive Distortion in Thinking About Gender Issues ... 93Receive Good (Passive Mode) (or Privilege)Male Magnification•The whole sociological concept of “patriarchy” (see also chapter on mas-culinity by Barry and Seager) is predicated on the idea that it is a “man’s world”. Specifically, society is viewed as inherently privileging and advan-tageous for men and organised in ways that empower men and disem-power and exclude women. This bold and sweeping hypothesis has received widespread acceptance despite being subject to relatively lit-tle academic evaluation, let alone being subject to empirical testing as a scientific hypothesis. This uncritical acceptance of a radical theory by mainstream society in itself indicates that gender distortions may be in operation on a large scale. The concept of patriarchy focuses on an elite group of more powerful and wealthy males, whilst minimising the vast majority of men who are working class men, homeless men, parentally alienated men, suicidal men and other relatively disadvantaged male groups. It also minimises the benefits and protections involved in moth-erhood, family and domestic life for many women including the poten-tial joys and rewards of raising children. Also the concept of patriarchy minimises the hardships of the traditional male role, such as fighting in wars, lower life expectancy, higher risk-taking and working in dangerous occupations.•Young women in the UK are now in fact earning more on average than their male counterparts (see below), yet the gender pay gap is misun-derstood and presented as an example of women’s oppression, primarily because of dubious and selective methods of measuring and comparing pay. Even when men are earning more, there are other “trade-offs” and risks that men choose to take on that confer counterbalancing disadvan-tages (Farrell 2005). However, the public perception and emotional out-rage on gender pay are out of proportion to the actual differences that emerge if the matter is analysed more scientifically.Female Minimisation•As we saw above, there is evidence that women receive less severe sen-tences for the same crimes (e.g. Starr 2012; Mustard 2001). Women also enjoy better health and living conditions than men (Carcedo etal. 2008).
94M. Mothers who are prisoners also enjoy better access to their children than fathers who are prisoners (Collins etal. 2011). And yet in terms of public perception there is an image of women being “oppressed in a male-centric prison system” (e.g. Baroness Corston in The Guardian2018).•In OECD countries at the present time significantly more young women than young men graduate from school and college. According to fig-ures supplied by the Guardian newspaper (2017), for every 13 girls who entered university, only 10 boys did so. The education gap has seen boys fall behind girls in the UK since the 1980s, and 30 years later it has become usual for women in their 20s to be earning more than their male peers, and has been for some years (Guardian 2015). There are still more male senior academics and professors than female in academia, but apart from this 0.3% of jobs at the top of the educational hierarchy, the rest of the hierarchy—from primary school onwards—favours females (Brown 2016).•Parental privilege—it is a widespread practice in many countries that in legal cases of parental dispute over child custody, sole custody is awarded to mothers rather than fathers almost by default.•Maternity privilege—when children are born, antenatal, perinatal and postnatal services are highly female-centric and the role of the father is generally not thought about or included. The assumption is that fathers are not as important to children as mothers.•Protection—we have seen (above) that both in times of war and peace women enjoy the protection of men at times of great threat.•Elsewhere in this volume (Chapter 10) Belinda Brown presents evidence indicating that females enjoy power and privileges within the domestic and household domain.Receive Bad (Passive Mode) (or Victimhood)Male Minimisation•Men across the globe have a significantly lower average life expectancy than women. As we have also seen (above) men account for almost all deaths at work both in the UK and other nations. However, in terms of public attitudes and beliefs, these facts are relatively invisible. Certainly, no concept of a “gender death gap” has been proposed.
Cognitive Distortion in Thinking About Gender Issues ... 95•Although there are signs of this changing, for years there has been less investment in prostate cancer than breast cancer, even though the rates of death caused by each are similar (around 10,000 per year for each in the UK).•The vast majority of rough sleepers (85% in the UK) are male but there are no gender policies to address this.•Boys have been falling behind girls in education since the 1980s. Boys are now in the UK around a third less likely to attend university than girls. This however has met with no political action and has never been referred to as the “gender education gap”.•In almost every country across the world men kill themselves at a higher rate than women do. This is now starting to be recognised, but research into suicide and services for those at risk have remained relatively “gender-blind” (Seager, in this volume Chapter 12).•When in distress, women tend to want to talk about their feel-ings whereas men tend to want to fix whatever is causing the distress (Holloway etal. 2018). However our mental health services are delivered in a “gender blind” way, so that treatment options that might suit men better are rarely considered (Liddon etal. 2017).•Issues that impact males more than females such as colour blindness (in 8% of boys and 0.5% girls), tend to be overlooked, despite the signifi-cant impact on QoL (Barry etal. 2017). For example, although coloured graphs are difficult for colour blind students to read, a large educational board in the UK recently declined to make graphs in exam papers more colour blind friendly. •Bedi etal. (2016) found that there are significantly more psychology papers dedicated to women and women’s issues compared to men and men’s issues.•Field experiments of domestic violence show that bystanders intervene if the victim is a woman, but keep walking—or even laugh—when the vic-tim is male and the perpetrator female (e.g. ABC News 2010).•In Nigeria in 2014, 300 female students were kidnapped by the terror group Boko Haram, prompting an international outcry. At the same time, however, and in the same country, as many as 10,000 boys were abducted and many even murdered. However, this even greater outrage went almost completely unnoticed in the media.•Whilst female genital mutilation (FGM) has rightly received widespread condemnation, male genital mutilation (MGM) has been relatively ignored, despite evidence of harm caused to those who are circumcised.
Female Magnification•We have already seen (above) that in the field of domestic violence and IPV, the emphasis is largely on female victims and treatments for male perpetrators, when the reality is that both genders are equally capable of such abuses (Archer 2000; Fiebert 2010).•We have also seen (above) that the concept of “rape culture” exaggerates the perception of men as potential rapists and creates a climate of fear for women. Campaigns such as “#MeToo” can also play into a sense of fear that is based on distorted generalisations from small samples of damaged men to the whole male population.•The Boko Haram example (above) provides strong evidence that there are much greater empathy levels for females than for males. Correspondingly, our sense of female victimhood is magnified and our sense of outrage is increased by virtue of the gender of the victim rather than the crime.Why Do These Gender Distortions Exist?It is challenging to think about the possible adaptive function of biases and errors, but an adaptive value helps us to understand their existence, as well as absolving people of blame for holding them. Haselton etal. (2015) high-light some of the adaptive functions of cognitive biases, and suggest that our evolved adaptive responses can sometimes act against our self-interest when faced with novel modern rules.Why We Favour WomenThe “women are wonderful” effect (Eagly etal. 1991) predicts a type of “halo effect” for women. This effect means that we magnify women in the Do/Good cell. This might involve a certain amount of what Beck (1979) call emotional reasoning, where one’s emotional state guides conclusions about self and others. Such views would be expected if the effect is the result of positive views about women being created from positive early experiences with mothers and other female caregivers.It also makes sense that women are more valuable than men, because of their importance in reproduction. A very basic way of understanding this is to think about the question of which hypothetical village would have the better chance of survival: the one with 100 women and one man or the
Cognitive Distortion in Thinking About Gender Issues ... 97village with 100 men and one woman? The answer to the question demon-strates the unquestionable value of women to human survival.Why We Disfavour MenOn an evolutionary level, males can be seen as the providers of protec-tion, not the recipients of protection (Seager etal. 2016). It makes sense that someone should have the role of protecting offspring, and also pro-tect those who give birth to and nurture the offspring. Thus social attitudes would have been calibrated accordingly over many thousands of years to associate femininity with nurturing and vulnerability and masculinity with protection and strength. Because of this, it would be more difficult—both unconsciously and consciously—to feel the same level of emotional sympa-thy for a male than a female. For the man, it might also therefore be diffi-cult to deviate from the script of the protector and seek help. By the same token, it might also be difficult for society to see men as victims rather than protectors.Another explanation, which is probably an extension to the previ-ous rather than an alternative explanation, is derived from research in social psychology. The phenomenon of ingroup favouritism and outgroup bias is a cornerstone of social psychology. The strength of such biases vary by group e.g. it is well-established that higher-status groups invoke more ingroup bias (e.g. Nosek etal. 2002). Men in general (historically and cross- culturally) have had higher status than women in the public realm (politics, finance etc.), so one might expect that male identity invokes a high level of ingroup bias. However research shows that—uniquely in social identity theory—male identity, unlike female identity, invokes no significant ingroup bias (e.g. Richeson and Ambady 2001).Men support each other effectively when the identity is based on some-thing other than being male (e.g. football teams), but how do we explain the incohesive effect of male identity? There are several possibilities. For exam-ple, it could be that because infant attachment mostly happens with moth-ers, this programmes for greater bias towards women in later life (Rudman 2004). Similarly, it could be that men are stereotypically more associated with violence and aggression and thus invoke less sympathy even from each other (Rudman and Goodwin 2004).It is likely that seeing men as protectors rather than receivers of protection leads to a lack of sympathetic bias in their favour, and leads to male gender blindness (Seager etal. 2014), the phenomenon where men’s problems go
98M. Seager and J. A. Barryrelatively unseen. This in turn facilitates the gender empathy gap, the phe-nomenon where males receive less empathy than females, even when in a similar predicament (Barry 2016).Intersectionality asMale Gender BlindnessAccording to a much-cited paper by Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies, Stephanie Shields, “Intersectionality, the mutually constitutive rela-tions amongst social identities, is a central tenet of feminist thinking and has transformed how gender is conceptualised in research” (Shields 2008, p. 301). According to this view, men are historically privileged and therefore don’t generally deserve help or attention unless they are also members of another historically oppressed, disempowered and marginalised group (e.g. gay, BAME or disabled men). Intersectionality is therefore sometimes used as a way of criticising or devaluing efforts to understand issues facing men in gen-eral by deflecting attention exclusively onto specific marginalised sub-groups of men, and so minimising the importance of universal issues facing men.On one level, the idea of intersectionality has merit in the same way that interactions in ANOVA help identify interesting differences between sub-groups of the main variable. But there is one major flaw with the intersec-tional level of analysis when it comes to understanding male psychology: there is a main effect of being male that runs through all levels of the varia-ble. For example, when it comes to suicide, not only do men in general kill themselves more frequently than women, but BAME men kill themselves more frequently than BAME women (Oquendo etal. 2001), and gay men attempt to kill themselves more frequently than gay women (Bagley and Tremblay 2000). Similarly, the academic underperformance of boys cuts across all social strata and geographies (Curnock-Cook 2016). We should note that firm statistics are not always available related to demographic groups, but what evidence there is tends to support the idea that men in general, not just specific demographics of men, need our help. “Drilling down” into data can be enlightening, but focusing on a single tree might not tell us much about the forest. Focusing on specific issues facing subgroups is of value to the individuals in these groups, but should not be used to distract attention when we are trying to understand wider issues in male psychology.There are various ways in which male gender blindness is both a cause and effect of the ways we study gender. For example, it can be argued that the concept of “masculinities” is largely based on subjective judgements by
Cognitive Distortion in Thinking About Gender Issues ... 99theorists trying to make the case for alternatives ‘hegemonic’ masculinity. Interestingly, at the same time as magnifying different varieties of masculin-ity, these theorists tend to minimize difference between men and women, an approach which is a type of gamma bias (see chapter on gamma bias by Seager and Barry). Moreover, in attempting to identify multiple versions of masculinity, theorists run the risk of obscuring masculinity as a unitary phe-nomenon. This means that focusing only on a plurality of “masculinities” doesn’t help us address more general issues related to masculinity and may even distract us from doing so.By looking at men only in terms of the other sub-groups that their gen-der intersects with, there is in truth the great danger that we will miss the wider gender issues altogether. By defining men only in terms of their sub-group identities (e.g. by race or sexuality) without honouring their collective group identity as a gender, the needs of men of all kinds are likely to be overlooked. If men across various demographic groups, for example, appear to respond in a similar way to therapy (as suggested by Groth in his chapter on existential therapy), then it is likely that the concept of intersectionality is of much less practical or clinical value than the underlying concept of gen-der itself.Like the blind man who touches the elephant’s tail and then thinks an elephant is like a snake, those who dismiss the idea that men in general need help are committing the cognitive bias of selective abstraction: instead of appreciating the whole picture, they focus on just one part of it. If science is to understand the problems facing men, scientific investigation needs to examine how some discussions about gender tend to distort the issues, mak-ing some parts of the picture invisible and magnifying others as if they were the whole picture.Unconscious Bias RevisitedSome or all of the phenomena described in the cells of the matrix can be considered types of unconscious bias. Distorted narratives that put men perpetually in the role of toxic abuser, risk alienating men from themselves and others, leading to what might be called a state of gender alienation. As pointed out by Damien Ridge in his chapter in this book: “the disconnec-tion between theoretical discussions and the daily reality of men promotes a poverty of understanding of male subjectivity... Masculinity has essentially become what different theorists and their followers say it is”, and something that probably means little to the average man.
100M. Seager and J. A. BarryThe Patriarchy RevisitedEssentially, patriarchy theory (Walby 1990) is a distorted and untested way of explaining the differences we observe in the reproduction-based division of labour. For example, women are seen as oppressed by the role of “housewife”, and men are seen as liberated in the role of “breadwinner”. However this is not the only way of viewing traditional gender roles. For example, Dench (1996) suggests that women can have a much more rewarding role in the private realm, and men can have a much harder time in the dangerous, dirty and soulless world of the workplace. Dench also suggests that the idea of the traditional male role as desirable rather than a burden was a way to encourage men to accept a supporting role in society, one that is ultimately of lesser value. Similarly, Van Creveld in his book The Privileged Sex (van Creveld 2013) hypothesises that women have always had privileges (e.g. ‘women and children first’, less dangerous jobs) and that this is something that most people unquestioningly accept as a good thing.Nobody’s life is without suffering, but the suggestion that women have been oppressed by the patriarchy is at best an untested theory and at worst a damaging distortion. At best, it is like looking at the famous rabbit/duck illusion and claiming that there is only a rabbit and no duck, or that the rab-bit is being oppressed by the duck. Once evolutionary biology is honoured rather than dismissed, it can be seen that the traditional family structure is based primarily on reciprocal and evolved reproductive roles. Thus the great-est influence on the balance of gender relations, is perhaps none other than the great matriarch herself, “mother nature”.Criticism ofthe Preliminary Evidence ofGamma BiasThe evidence that we have presented above might be criticised on the grounds of confirmatory bias i.e. the tendency to select only infor-mation that supports your view. At the time of writing (August 2018), gamma bias is being presented as a hypothesis that promises to explain broad patterns of data in relation to how issues of gender are perceived, expressed and responded to both in academia and elsewhere in life. The examples we have provided are incomplete and inevitably selective, but we are confident that they offer preliminary support for the existence of gamma bias.
Cognitive Distortion in Thinking About Gender Issues ... 101Future ResearchThe gender distortion matrix offers many examples of how the gamma bias hypothesis can be tested. As we write, a new research programme is being organised by the Male Psychology Network, and no doubt our hypothesis will be modified in light of the findings. To enhance ecological validity, real-world examples might be found in newspapers (e.g. the Boka Haram com-parison) or the cinema, and assessed. The same principle might be expanded to academic writing and work. It might even be possible to quantify the degree of distortion within a given news article or academic paper. These are just some very basic ideas which we are happy to see others elaborate upon.ConclusionsIn academia, beta-bias and the gender similarities hypothesis are encouraged to such a degree that the term “sex differences” now has an air of contro-versy, and to point out differences between men and women is considered somewhat distasteful. Perhaps a more acceptable term than “sex differences” is “gender distinctions” (Lemkey etal. 2016) with its connotations that both genders have attributes that are unique and positive.There is a serious risk arising from using terms such as “toxic masculin-ity”. Unlike “male depression”, which helps identify a set of symptoms that can be alleviated with therapy, the term “toxic masculinity” has no clinical value. In fact it is an example of another cognitive distortion called labelling(Yurica etal. 2005). Negative labelling and terminology usually have a nega-tive impact, including self-fulfilling prophecies and alienation of the groups who are being labelled. We wouldn’t use the term “toxic” to describe any other human demographic. Such a term would be unthinkable with refer-ence to age, disability, ethnicity or religion. The same principle of respect must surely apply to the male gender. It is likely therefore that developing a more realistic and positive narrative about masculinity in our culture will be a good thing for everyone.