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Monday, December 17, 2018

An evaluation of the effects of lowering blood alcohol concentration limits for drivers on the rates of road traffic accidents and alcohol consumption: a natural experiment in the UK

An evaluation of the effects of lowering blood alcohol concentration limits for drivers on the rates of road traffic accidents and alcohol consumption: a natural experiment. Houra Haghpanahan et al. The Lancet, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32850-2

Summary
Background: Drink driving is an important risk factor for road traffic accidents (RTAs), which cause high levels of morbidity and mortality globally. Lowering the permitted blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for drivers is a common public health intervention that is enacted in countries and jurisdictions across the world. In Scotland, on Dec 5, 2014, the BAC limit for drivers was reduced from 0·08 g/dL to 0·05 g/dL. We therefore aimed to evaluate the effects of this change on RTAs and alcohol consumption.

Methods: In this natural experiment, we used an observational, comparative interrupted time-series design by use of data on RTAs and alcohol consumption in Scotland (the interventional group) and England and Wales (the control group). We obtained weekly counts of RTAs from police accident records and we estimated weekly off-trade (eg, in supermarkets and convenience stores) and 4-weekly on-trade (eg, in bars and restaurants) alcohol consumption from market research data. We also used data from automated traffic counters as denominators to calculate RTA rates. We estimated the effect of the intervention on RTAs by use of negative binomial panel regression and on alcohol consumption outcomes by use of seasonal autoregressive integrated moving average models. Our primary outcome was weekly rates of RTAs in Scotland, England, and Wales. This study is registered with ISRCTN, number ISRCTN38602189.

Findings: We assessed the weekly rate of RTAs and alcohol consumption between Jan 1, 2013, and Dec 31, 2016, before and after the BAC limit came into effect on Dec 5, 2014. After the reduction in BAC limits for drivers in Scotland, we found no significant change in weekly RTA rates after adjustment for seasonality and underlying temporal trend (rate ratio 1·01, 95% CI 0·94–1·08; p=0.77) or after adjustment for seasonality, the underlying temporal trend, and the driver characteristics of age, sex, and socioeconomic deprivation (1·00, 0·96–1·06; p=0·73). Relative to RTAs in England and Wales, where the reduction in BAC limit for drivers did not occur, we found a 7% increase in weekly RTA rates in Scotland after this reduction in BAC limit for drivers (1·07, 1·02–1·13; p=0·007 in the fully-adjusted model). Similar findings were observed for serious or fatal RTAs and single-vehicle night-time RTAs. The change in legislation in Scotland was associated with no change in alcohol consumption, measured by per-capita off-trade sales (−0·3%, −1·7 to 1·1; p = 0·71), but a 0·7% decrease in alcohol consumption measured by per-capita on-trade sales (−0·7%, −0·8 to −0·5; p < 0·0001).

Interpretation: Lowering the driving BAC limit to 0·05 g/dL from 0·08 g/dL in Scotland was not associated with a reduction in RTAs, but this change was associated with a small reduction in per-capita alcohol consumption from on-trade alcohol sales. One plausible explanation is that the legislative change was not suitably enforced—for example with random breath testing measures. Our findings suggest that changing the legal BAC limit for drivers in isolation does not improve RTA outcomes. These findings have significant policy implications internationally as several countries and jurisdictions consider a similar reduction in the BAC limit for drivers.

No evidence that women using oral contraceptives had weaker preferences for male facial masculinity than did women not using them, suggesting that links between reproductive hormones & preferences are quite limited

Jones, Benedict C., Lisa M. DeBruine, and Amanda Hahn. 2018. “No Evidence That Women Using Oral Contraceptives Have Weaker Preferences for Masculine Characteristics in Men’s Faces.” PsyArXiv. December 17. doi:10.31234/osf.io/kne83

Abstract: Previous research has suggested that women using oral contraceptives show weaker preferences for masculine men than do women not using oral contraceptives. Such research would be consistent with the hypothesis that steroid hormones influence women’s preferences for masculine men. Recent large-scale longitudinal studies, however, have found limited evidence linking steroid hormones to masculinity preferences. Given the relatively small samples used in previous studies investigating putative associations between masculinity preferences and oral contraceptive use, we compared the facial masculinity preferences of women using oral contraceptives and women not using oral contraceptives in a large online sample of 6482 heterosexual women. We found no evidence that women using oral contraceptives had weaker preferences for male facial masculinity than did women not using oral contraceptives. These findings add to a growing literature suggesting that links between reproductive hormones and preferences are more limited than previously proposed.

Politicization as an antecedent of polarization and the definition of friends and enemies

Politicization as an antecedent of polarization: Evidence from two different political and national contexts. Bernd Simon et al. British Journal of Social Psychology , https://doi.org/10.1111/bjso.12307

Abstract: Using longitudinal research designs, we examine the role of politicization in the development of polarization. We conducted research in two different political and national contexts. In Study 1, we employ a panel sample of supporters of the Tea Party movement in the United States and examine the relationship between the strength of their politicization and their subsequent feelings towards conservatives versus liberals (affective polarization) as well as their subsequent perceptions of commonalities with conservatives versus liberals (cognitive polarization). In Study 2, we employ a panel sample of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community in Germany and examine the politicization–polarization link with regard to feelings towards, and perceived commonalities with, feminists versus supporters of a populist right‐wing political party. We obtained converging evidence suggesting that politicization promotes both affective and cognitive polarization. There was also some, but very limited evidence pointing to reverse causation. The danger of escalating polarization is discussed.

Check also Grand Old (Tailgate) Party? Partisan Discrimination in Apolitical Settings. Andrew M. Engelhardt, Stephen M. Utych. Political Behavior, https://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2018/12/rolf-degen-summarizing-people-were.html

Outrageous fortune or destiny? The impacts of both the genes and the family environment tended to decline over the life course, resulting in a downward trend in family influences from all sources

Outrageous fortune or destiny? Family influences on status achievement in the early life course. J. Micah Roosa, François Nielsen. Social Science Research, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2018.12.007

Abstract: Psychologists using quantitative studies of the trait intelligence have established with much confidence that the impact of genes on intelligence increases with age, while the environmental effect of the family of origin declines. We examined the conjecture that a similar trend of increasing effect of genes/declining family environmental effect characterizes other status-related outcomes when arranged in typical age-graded sequence over adolescence and early adulthood. We used DeFries-Fulker (1985) (DF) analysis with longitudinal data on 1576 pairs of variously-related young adult siblings (MZ twins; DZ twins; full siblings; half siblings; cousins; and nonrelated siblings; mean age 28) to estimate univariate quantitative genetic decompositions for fifteen status-related outcomes roughly ordered along the early life course: Verbal IQ, High school GPA, College plans, High school graduation, Some college, College graduation, Graduate school, Educational attainment, Occupational education, Occupational wages, Personal earnings, Household income, Household assets, Home ownership, and Subjective social status, with and without covariate controls for Age, Female gender, and Race/ethnicity (black, Hispanic, other; reference white). Results for successive outcomes did not support the conjecture of increasing heritability with maturity. Rather, the impacts of both the genes and the family environment tended to decline over the life course, resulting in a downward trend in family influences from all sources. There was some evidence of a recrudescence in relative influence of the family environment for outcomes related to the household that are often shared with a spouse, such as home ownership, suggesting a role of assortative mating in status reproduction. Other findings and limitations of the study are discussed.

Check also Talent vs Luck: the role of randomness in success and failure. A. Pluchino. A. E. Biondo, A. Rapisarda. arXiv:1802.07068 [physics.soc-ph], Feb 20 2018, https://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2018/02/if-it-is-true-that-some-degree-of.html

New tool that provides a means to measure the psychological and cultural distance between two societies and create a distance scale with any population as the point of comparison

Muthukrishna, Michael and Bell, Adrian and Henrich, Joseph and Curtin, Cameron and Gedranovich, Alexander and McInerney, Jason and Thue, Braden, Beyond WEIRD Psychology: Measuring and Mapping Scales of Cultural and Psychological Distance (October 2, 2018). http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3259613

Abstract: We present a new tool that provides a means to measure the psychological and cultural distance between two societies and create a distance scale with any population as the point of comparison. Since psychological data is dominated by samples drawn from the United States or other WEIRD nations, this tool provides a “WEIRD scale” to assist researchers in systematically extending the existing database of psychological phenomena to more diverse and globally representative samples. As the extreme WEIRDness of the literature begins to dissolve, the tool will become more useful for designing, planning, and justifying a wide range of comparative psychological projects. We have made our code available and developed an online application for creating other scales (including the “Sino scale” also presented in this paper). We discuss regional diversity within nations showing the relative homogeneity of the United States. Finally, we use these scales to predict various psychological outcomes.

Keywords: WEIRD people, cultural psychology, cultural distance, cross-cultural differences, replication crisis

The accurate assessment of sexual fantasy use is important for both research and forensic/clinical practice: An Exploration of the Factor Structure of Gray Et Al.’s Sexual Fantasy Questionnaire

Bartels, Ross, and Craig A. Harper. 2018. “An Exploration of the Factor Structure of Gray Et Al.’s Sexual Fantasy Questionnaire.” PsyArXiv. August 19. doi:10.31234/osf.io/wxj54

Abstract: The accurate assessment of sexual fantasy use is important for both research and forensic/clinical practice. Although a number of sexual fantasy questionnaires exist, they tend to be associated with high financial cost for researchers, outdated or ambiguous terminology, and/or embody ethical problems arising from overtly explicit items. One measure that does not contain these issues is Gray et al.’s (2003) Sexual Fantasy Questionnaire (SFQ). While the SFQ has recently gained some interest from researchers, it has not been thoroughly validated. Thus, in this study, we combined data from three online survey-based samples (N = 594) to examine the factor structure underpinning the SFQ. After conducting parallel and principal components analyses, a six-factor structure was settled upon. The resulting SFQ-revised contained 62-items, with the six factors reflecting the following fantasy themes: (1) masochistic, (2) sadistic, (3) romantic, (4) impersonal, (5) pre/tactile courtship disorder, and (6) bodily function. Data on how the six clusters differ across genders, sexual orientation, and relationship status are also provided. We also developed a short version of the SFQ-revised (37-items) for use when time or space are constrained. The theoretical and methodological significance of the revised SFQs are discussed, as well as recommendations for research and practice.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Biographies remain in our collective communicative memory the longest (20–30 years) and music the shortest (about 5.6 years)

The universal decay of collective memory and attention. Cristian Candia, C. Jara-Figueroa, Carlos Rodriguez-Sickert, Albert-László Barabási & César A. Hidalgo. Nature Human Behaviour (2018), https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-018-0474-5

Abstract: Collective memory and attention are sustained by two channels: oral communication (communicative memory) and the physical recording of information (cultural memory). Here, we use data on the citation of academic articles and patents, and on the online attention received by songs, movies and biographies, to describe the temporal decay of the attention received by cultural products. We show that, once we isolate the temporal dimension of the decay, the attention received by cultural products decays following a universal biexponential function. We explain this universality by proposing a mathematical model based on communicative and cultural memory, which fits the data better than previously proposed log-normal and exponential models. Our results reveal that biographies remain in our communicative memory the longest (20–30 years) and music the shortest (about 5.6 years). These findings show that the average attention received by cultural products decays following a universal biexponential function.

All studies find that income inequality rose after 1979, but common perceptions that all income gain went to the top 10 percent and middle class incomes stagnated (or even declined) are wrong

How Different Studies Measure Income Inequality in the US. Stephen J. Rose
Urban Institute, December 2018, https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/99455/how_different_studies_measure_income_inequality.pdf

The results from at least four studies were compared for three measures of income change: change in median incomes, share of growth captured by the top 10 percent, and the changing income share of  the top 1 percent. In all cases, Piketty and Saez (2003) were the outlier, showing the most increased inequality. And in all three measures of income change , Piketty, Saez, and Zucman (2018) found much less growth in income inequality than Piketty and Saez (2003).

This brief does a meta-analysis of different findings to estimate a “consensus” level of change...I find that instead of stagnating, real median incomes grew by just over 40 percent (1 percent a year) from  1979 to 2014;  the top 10 percent of the income ladder captured 45 percent of income growth from 1979 to  2014; and the share of the top 1 percent grew 3.5 percentage points.

All studies find that income inequality rose after 1979, but common perceptions that all income gain went to the top 10 percent and middle class incomes stagnated (or even declined) are wrong.

Compared to more moderate levels of pornography use, higher levels in emerging adulthood were associated with a lower likelihood of marriage; same for those with no use at all

Does Pornography Use Reduce Marriage Entry During Early Adulthood? Findings from a Panel Study of Young Americans. Samuel L. Perry, Kyle C. Longest. Sexuality & Culture, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12119-018-09581-4

Abstract: A number of recent studies have examined the connection between pornography use and relationship outcomes for Americans already in marriages. The current study takes this research in a different direction by examining (1) whether pornography use may be associated with entrance into marriage during early adulthood and (2) whether this association is moderated by gender and religion, two key factors strongly related to both pornography use and earlier marriage. Longitudinal data were taken from waves 1, 3, and 4 of the National Study of Youth and Religion, a nationally-representative panel study of Americans from their teenage years into early adulthood (N = 1691). It was theorized that frequent pornography use at earlier survey waves may foster more sexually progressive attitudes that may lead to devaluing marriage as an institution, and, for religious men in particular, may disincentivize marriage as a “socially legitimate” means of sexual fulfillment. The association between pornography use and marriage entry was non-linear for men and non-existent among women. Among men, higher frequency pornography viewers were not significantly different from non-viewers in their likelihood of marriage entry. Compared to more moderate levels of pornography use, however, higher levels of pornography use in emerging adulthood were associated with a lower likelihood of marriage by the final survey wave for men. Associations were not moderated by religiosity for either gender. Data limitations and implications for future research are discussed.

Keywords: Pornography Marriage Family Gender Religiosity Panel data

Saturday, December 15, 2018

People with higher global well-being profit less from the joy of a positive event they experience in daily life

Grosse Rueschkamp, J. M., Kuppens, P., Riediger, M., Blanke, E. S., & Brose, A. (2018). Higher well-being is related to reduced affective reactivity to positive events in daily life. Emotion, http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/emo0000557

Abstract: Within the study of emotions, researchers have increasingly stressed the importance of studying individual differences in emotion dynamics and emotional responding and the way these relate to more stable differences in well-being. However, there is no clear picture regarding affective reactivity to positive events and how different emotional reactions relate to differences in well-being, particularly higher levels of well-being. Theoretical work and empirical findings from different lines of research (e.g., clinical studies, aging literature, positive and personality psychology) support either of 2 predictions: Higher well-being is related to an enhanced or reduced affective reactivity to positive events in daily life. Testing these opposing predictions, we examined global well-being and affective reactivity to daily positive events in 6 studies using the experience-sampling or daily diary method (Ns = 70, 66, 95, 200, 76, and 101). Global well-being was measured with various indicators and a well-being composite score. Across the majority of studies, we found that higher global well-being was associated with reduced affective reactivity to positive events in daily life, as shown by smaller decreases in momentary negative affect. In 3 of the 6 studies, higher well-being composite scores were also associated with smaller increases in momentary positive affect. These findings seem to suggest that people with higher global well-being profit less from the joy of a positive event they experience in daily life. Instead, for people with lower well-being, positive events might be a meaningful way to brighten one’s momentary mood.

Are the faithful becoming less fruitful? The decline of conservative protestant fertility and the growing importance of religious practice and belief in childbearing in the US

Are the faithful becoming less fruitful? The decline of conservative protestant fertility and the growing importance of religious practice and belief in childbearing in the US. Samuel L.Perry, Cyrus Schleifer. Social Science Research, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2018.12.013

Abstract: Studies of religion and fertility argue that American childbearing has become less predicated on religious tradition and more on religious commitment and belief. Yet studies have not documented this transition over time or considered whether the growing importance of religious commitment and belief in childbearing applies across Christian traditions equally. Using data from the 1972–2016 General Social Surveys, we analyze childbearing trends across time and birth cohort focusing on the independent and interrelated effects of religious tradition, religious practice, and theological fundamentalism. We also utilize zero-inflated negative binomial regression models to better account for the increasing number of Americans who forego childbearing. Conservative Protestant affiliation is associated with faster than average declines in fertility, while monthly church attendance and biblical literalism are associated with slower than average declines in fertility, ceteris paribus. Examining moderating relationships, monthly worship attendance slightly increases the childbearing of mainline Protestants and Catholics over time, while conservative Protestant childbearing declines regardless of attendance. Unless offset by switching, our findings portend future population declines for conservative Protestants, notably, ones that are not attenuated by greater religious commitment.

Intellectual, narcissistic, or Machiavellian? How Twitter users differ from Facebook-only users, why they use Twitter, & what they tweet about

Marshall, T. C., Ferenczi, N., Lefringhausen, K., Hill, S., & Deng, J. (2018). Intellectual, narcissistic, or Machiavellian? How Twitter users differ from Facebook-only users, why they use Twitter, and what they tweet about. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000209

Abstract: Twitter is one of the world’s most popular social networking sites, yet gaps remain in our knowledge about the psychology of its users. The current studies sought to fill these gaps by examining whether the Big Five and Dark Triad personality traits predicted differences between Twitter users and Facebook-only users, motives for using Twitter, the frequency of tweeting about 4 topics—intellectual pursuits, personal achievements, diet/exercise, and social activities—and how much they liked to read tweets about these topics. Study 1 found that Twitter users (N = 346) were higher in openness (i.e., intellect and creativity) than Facebook-only users (N = 268). In Study 2, a preregistered replication, Twitter users (N = 255) were not only higher in openness than Facebook-only users (N = 248), but they were also more Machiavellian. In both studies, Twitter users who were higher in openness were more strongly motivated to use Twitter for career promotion, and in turn, they tweeted more frequently and most liked to read tweets about intellectual pursuits. Narcissists were more strongly motivated to use Twitter for career promotion, social connection, and attention-seeking, and in turn, they tweeted more frequently and most liked to read tweets about personal achievements and diet/exercise. On average, participants most liked to read tweets about intellectual pursuits and least liked tweets about diet/exercise. We discuss the implications of these findings for tailoring one’s tweets to retain followers and for drawing the boundary conditions when extrapolating from Twitter-based “big data” to larger populations.

The Egocentric Impact Bias: The Self’s Actions Are Believed to Produce Especially Strong Affective Responses

Gonzalez, Fausto and Jung, Minah and Critcher, Clayton, The Egocentric Impact Bias: The Self’s Actions Are Believed to Produce Especially Strong Affective Responses (September 25, 2018). http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3255254

Abstract: We document and investigate the egocentric impact bias — the perception that the social effects of the self’s actions will be affectively stronger than if those same effects were brought about by others. In Study 1, participants thought pleasant or aversive videos would elicit stronger reactions when participants themselves (instead of the random determination of a computer) selected the video for others. In Study 2, participants who considered how to divide (vs. how a computer would randomly split) $10 with another thought the other would react particularly positively or negatively to the self’s particularly generous or stingy allocations, respectively. The two studies found support for one of two possible mechanistic accounts. When the self was responsible for the selection, it experienced the stimuli as more affectively intense, thus explaining the bias. It was not the case that all intentional agents (e.g., another participant) were assumed to have more affective impact.

Keywords: social cognition, affective forecasting, egocentrism, emotional distancing, projection

Scientific misconduct in China: Offending researchers could face restrictions on jobs, loans and business opportunities under a system tied to the controversial social credit policy

China introduces ‘social’ punishments for scientific misconduct. David Cyranoski. Nature, Dec 14 2018. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07740-z

Offending researchers could face restrictions on jobs, loans and business opportunities under a system tied to the controversial social credit policy.

Researchers in China who commit scientific misconduct could soon be prevented from getting a bank loan, running a company or applying for a public-service job. The government has announced an extensive punishment system that could have significant consequences for offenders — far beyond their academic careers.

Under the new policy, dozens of government agencies will have the power to hand out penalties to those caught committing major scientific misconduct, a role previously performed by the science ministry or universities. Errant researchers could also face punishments that have nothing to do with research, such as restrictions on jobs outside academia, as well as existing misconduct penalties, such as losing grants and awards.

[...]

The policy, announced last month, is an extension of the country’s controversial ‘social credit system’, where failure to comply with the rules of one government agency can mean facing restrictions or penalties from other agencies.

The punishment overhaul is the government’s latest measure to crack down on misconduct. But the nature and extent of the policy has surprised many researchers. “I have never seen such a comprehensive list of penalties for research misconduct elsewhere in the world,” says Chien Chou, a scientific integrity education researcher at Chiao Tung University in Taiwan.

Although some penalties for misconduct existed before the new policy — research programmes can be suspended; offenders can be barred from promotions — drawing them together under one framework makes them much more powerful, says Yang Wei, the former head of the National Science Foundation of China who is now a researcher at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou.

“This sends a clear signal that curbing misconduct should go beyond the academic community or individual morality. Legal punishment can be also applied,” says Li Tang, who studies science policy at Fudan University in Shanghai.

Whether the system will reduce misconduct will depend on how it is enforced, say some researchers. Others, including Chen, are certain it will work. “Without doubt, it will be effective,” he says.


Big brother

The social credit system, which was introduced in 2014, has had a large effect on life in the country. Failure to pay debts or fines can be recorded on the system’s website and lead to restrictions when applying for a credit card, insurance, or even train tickets.

As of April, the number of times people were denied airline tickets as a result of the system reached 11 million, and train tickets were denied on 4.2 million occasions. More than two million people have paid debts or fines after facing these restrictions.

President Xi Jinping described the rational for the system at a meeting of the Chinese Communist Party in 2016 as: “Lose trust in one area, face restrictions everywhere.”

The new misconduct policy also refers to “loss of trust”. And those who commit scientific misconduct will now be named and shamed on the social credit system’s website.


Misconduct focus

Chinese leaders have been increasingly focused on scientific misconduct, following ongoing reports of researchers there using fraudulent data, falsifying CVs and faking peer reviews. In May, the government announced sweeping reforms to improve research integrity. One of those was the creation of a national database of misconduct cases. Inclusion on the list could disqualify researchers from future funding or research positions, and might affect their ability to get jobs outside academia.

The punishment system appears to chime with that goal. “It shows that China takes research integrity very seriously,” says Max Lu, a chemical engineer and president of the University of Surrey in Guildford, UK, , who has previously advised the Chinese government on science policy.

Lu thinks the system’s success will depend on how it is enforced. “There is always the risk of lacking the necessary resources and qualified managers for enforcing the very draconian and large number of rules,” he says.

[...]

People significantly mispredict the consequences of honesty: focusing on it (but not kindness or communication-consciousness) is more pleasurable, meaningful, socially connecting, & does less relational harm than expected

Levine, Emma, and Taya R. Cohen. 2018. “You Can Handle the Truth: Mispredicting the Consequences of Honest Communication.” PsyArXiv. December 14. doi:10.1037/xge0000488

Abstract: People highly value the moral principle of honesty, and yet, they frequently avoid being honest with others. In the present research, we explore the actual and predicted consequences of honesty in everyday life. We utilize field and laboratory experiments that feature two types of honesty interventions: 1) instructing individuals to focus on complete honesty across their interactions for a period of time, and 2) instructing individuals to engage in specific honest conversations that they frequently avoid in everyday life. In Studies 1a and 1b, we randomly assigned individuals to either be (or imagine being) honest, kind, or conscious of their communication in every conversation with every person in their life for three days. We find that people significantly mispredict the consequences of honesty: focusing on honesty (but not kindness or communication-consciousness) is more pleasurable, meaningful, socially connecting, and does less relational harm than individuals expect. We extend our investigation by examining the consequences of specific well-controlled honest conversations for both communicators and their relational partners in two preregistered laboratory experiments. In Study 2 we examine the predicted and actual consequences of honestly disclosing personal information, and in Study 3 we examine the predicted and actual consequences of honestly sharing negative feedback. Our results suggest that individuals broadly misunderstand the consequences of increased honesty because they overestimate how negatively others will react to their honesty. Overall, this research contributes to our understanding of affective forecasting processes and uncovers fundamental insights on how communication and moral values shape well-being.

Effects of the mere presence of conspecifics on the motor performance of rats: Higher speed and lower accuracy, as it happens in humans

Effects of the mere presence of conspecifics on the motor performance of rats: Higher speed and lower accuracy. Yayoi Sekiguchi, Toshimichi Hata. Behavioural Processes, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2018.12.012

Highlights
•    The mere presence of a conspecific lowered the performance accuracy of rats.
•    The mere presence of a conspecific accelerated the speed of motor performance.
•    Such changes in motor performance in rats were similar to those seen in humans.

Abstract: Many studies on humans and animals have shown that the mere presence of another individual or individuals accelerates the motor performance speed of the subject individual. However, it has not been well investigated whether the mere presence of another individual affects the accuracy of motor performance in animals. In this study, we developed a novel task (run-and-pull task) to simultaneously investigate both the speed and accuracy of motor performance in rats and examined the effect of the mere presence of another rat on the task performance of the subject rat. Rats were first trained in isolation to run a runway and then pull a lever on the terminal end of the runway. After training, the subject rats were required to perform the task in isolation (Single) or in front of a non-competitive confederate rat without direct interaction (Pair). The results showed that the latency to start running and to pull the lever were shorter and the accuracy of the lever-pull movement was lower in the Pair condition than in the Single condition. These findings suggest that the mere presence of another individual increased the speed and decreased the accuracy of the motor performance of rats.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Affirmative action lowers the performance of high-ability women and increases the performance of low-ability women; possible mechanisms—AA changes incentives differentially for low- and high-ability women, or AA triggers stereotype threat

The heterogeneous effect of affirmative action on performance. Anat Bracha, Alma Cohen, LynnConell-Price. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2018.11.019

Abstract: This paper experimentally investigates the effect of gender-based affirmative action (AA) on performance in the lab, focusing on a tournament environment. The tournament is based on GRE math questions commonly used in graduate school admission, and at which women are known to perform worse on average than men. We find heterogeneous effect of AA on female participants: AA lowers the performance of high-ability women and increases the performance of low-ability women. Our results are consistent with two possible mechanisms—one is that AA changes incentives differentially for low- and high-ability women, and the second is that AA triggers stereotype threat.

Guilt-proneness predicts trustworthiness better than a variety of other personality measure; people high in guilt-proneness are more likely to behave in interpersonally sensitive ways when they are more responsible for others’ outcomes

Levine, Emma, Brad Bitterly, Taya R. Cohen, and Maurice Schweitzer. 2018. “Who Is Trustworthy? Predicting Trustworthy Intentions and Behavior.” PsyArXiv. December 14. doi:10.1037/pspi0000136

Abstract: Existing trust research has disproportionately focused on what makes people more or less trusting, and has largely ignored the question of what makes people more or less trustworthy. In this investigation, we deepen our understanding of trustworthiness. Across six studies using economic games that measure trustworthy behavior and survey items that measure trustworthy intentions, we explore the personality traits that predict trustworthiness. We demonstrate that guilt-proneness predicts trustworthiness better than a variety of other personality measures, and we identify sense of interpersonal responsibility as the underlying mechanism by both measuring it and manipulating it directly. People who are high in guilt-proneness are more likely to be trustworthy than are individuals who are low in guilt-proneness, but they are not universally more generous. We demonstrate that people high in guilt-proneness are more likely to behave in interpersonally sensitive ways when they are more responsible for others’ outcomes. We also explore potential interventions to increase trustworthiness. Our findings fill a significant gap in the trust literature by building a foundation for investigating trustworthiness, by identifying a trait predictor of trustworthy intentions and behavior, and by providing practical advice for deciding in whom we should place our trust.

Neuroscientists uncover sensory switches controlling infanticide and parental behaviour in mice

Multisensory Logic of Infant-Directed Aggression by Males. Yoh Isogai et al. Cell, Volume 175, issue 7, p1827-1841.e17, December 13, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2018.11.032

Highlights
    •    Reconstituted pup shape and chemosignals trigger aggression by virgin males
    •    Repertoire of seven VNO receptors activated by pups is also stimulated by adult cues
    •    Deletion of receptors to salivary protein and hemoglobin shows role in pup attack
    •    Complex recognition involves pup’s shape and chemosignals from infants and parents

Summary: Newborn mice emit signals that promote parenting from mothers and fathers but trigger aggressive responses from virgin males. Although pup-directed attacks by males require vomeronasal function, the specific infant cues that elicit this behavior are unknown. We developed a behavioral paradigm based on reconstituted pup cues and showed that discrete infant morphological features combined with salivary chemosignals elicit robust male aggression. Seven vomeronasal receptors were identified based on infant-mediated activity, and the involvement of two receptors, Vmn2r65 and Vmn2r88, in infant-directed aggression was demonstrated by genetic deletion. Using the activation of these receptors as readouts for biochemical fractionation, we isolated two pheromonal compounds, the submandibular gland protein C and hemoglobins. Unexpectedly, none of the identified vomeronasal receptors and associated cues were specific to pups. Thus, infant-mediated aggression by virgin males relies on the recognition of pup’s physical traits in addition to parental and infant chemical cues.


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Neuroscientists uncover sensory switches controlling infanticide and parental behaviour in mice
https://www.ucl.ac.uk/swc/sainsbury-wt-news-pub/neuroscientists-uncover-sensory-switches-controlling-infanticide-and-parental-behaviour-in-mice

Both conservatives & liberals resist & accept societal changes, depending on the extent to which they approve or disapprove of the status quo on a given issue; we challenge assumptions on general, context‐independent psychological differences underlying ideologies

Liberalism and Conservatism, for a Change! Rethinking the Association Between Political Orientation and Relation to Societal Change. Jutta Proch, Julia Elad‐Strenger, Thomas Kessler. Political Psychology, https://doi.org/10.1111/pops.12559

Abstract: According to common wisdom, which is supported by extant psychological theorizing, a core feature of political conservatism (vs. liberalism) is the resistance to (vs. acceptance of) societal change. We propose that an empirical examination of the actual difference in political liberals’ and conservatives’ attitudes toward change across different sociopolitical issues may call into question this assumed association between political orientation and relation to change. We examined this proposition in four studies conducted in Germany. In Study 1, we assessed lay people's intuitions about liberals’ and conservatives’ attitudes toward change. Results of this study concur with theoretical assumptions that liberals accept and conservatives resist change. In Study 2a, Study 2b, and Study 3, self‐identified liberals and conservatives were asked whether they would resist or accept change on various sociopolitical issues. Results of these studies suggest that both conservatives and liberals resist and accept societal changes, depending on the extent to which they approve or disapprove of the status quo on a given sociopolitical issue. Overall, our findings provide no evidence for a one‐directional association between political orientation and the tendency to accept or resist change. These findings therefore challenge theoretical and lay assumptions regarding general, context‐independent psychological differences underlying political ideologies.

The most comprehensive genomic analysis of the human brain ever undertaken has revealed new insights into the changes it undergoes through development, how it varies among individuals, and the roots of neuropsychiatric illnesses

Integrative functional genomic analysis of human brain development and neuropsychiatric risks. Mingfeng Li and dozens of authors. Science Dec 14 2018:Vol. 362, Issue 6420, eaat7615. DOI: 10.1126/science.aat7615

Abstract
INTRODUCTION: The brain is responsible for cognition, behavior, and much of what makes us uniquely human. The development of the brain is a highly complex process, and this process is reliant on precise regulation of molecular and cellular events grounded in the spatiotemporal regulation of the transcriptome. Disruption of this regulation can lead to neuropsychiatric disorders.

RATIONALE: The regulatory, epigenomic, and transcriptomic features of the human brain have not been comprehensively compiled across time, regions, or cell types. Understanding the etiology of neuropsychiatric disorders requires knowledge not just of endpoint differences between healthy and diseased brains but also of the developmental and cellular contexts in which these differences arise. Moreover, an emerging body of research indicates that many aspects of the development and physiology of the human brain are not well recapitulated in model organisms, and therefore it is necessary that neuropsychiatric disorders be understood in the broader context of the developing and adult human brain.

RESULTS: Here we describe the generation and analysis of a variety of genomic data modalities at the tissue and single-cell levels, including transcriptome, DNA methylation, and histone modifications across multiple brain regions ranging in age from embryonic development through adulthood. We observed a widespread transcriptomic transition beginning during late fetal development and consisting of sharply decreased regional differences. This reduction coincided with increases in the transcriptional signatures of mature neurons and the expression of genes associated with dendrite development, synapse development, and neuronal activity, all of which were temporally synchronous across neocortical areas, as well as myelination and oligodendrocytes, which were asynchronous. Moreover, genes including MEF2C, SATB2, and TCF4, with genetic associations to multiple brain-related traits and disorders, converged in a small number of modules exhibiting spatial or spatiotemporal specificity.

CONCLUSION: We generated and applied our dataset to document transcriptomic and epigenetic changes across human development and then related those changes to major neuropsychiatric disorders. These data allowed us to identify genes, cell types, gene coexpression modules, and spatiotemporal loci where disease risk might converge, demonstrating the utility of the dataset and providing new insights into human development and disease.


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Press release: In the developing brain, scientists find roots of neuropsychiatric diseases. Bill Hathaway. Yale News, Dec 13 2018. https://news.yale.edu/2018/12/13/developing-brain-scientists-find-roots-neuropsychiatric-diseases

Men in egalitarian tribe hide who are the best hunters, who out of modesty also cooperate masking how successful they are; they all get the girls with equal probability

Foraging Performance, Prosociality, and Kin Presence Do Not Predict Lifetime Reproductive Success in Batek Hunter-Gatherers. Thomas S. Kraft et al. Human Nature, https://doi.org/10.1007/s12110-018-9334-2

Abstract: Identifying the determinants of reproductive success in small-scale societies is critical for understanding how natural selection has shaped human evolution and behavior. The available evidence suggests that status-accruing behaviors such as hunting and prosociality are pathways to reproductive success, but social egalitarianism may diminish this pathway. Here we introduce a mixed longitudinal/cross-sectional dataset based on 45 years of research with the Batek, a population of egalitarian rain forest hunter-gatherers in Peninsular Malaysia, and use it to test the effects of four predictors of lifetime reproductive success: (i) foraging return rate, (ii) sharing proclivity, (iii) cooperative foraging tendency, and (iv) kin presence. We found that none of these factors can explain variation in lifetime reproduction among males or females. We suggest that social egalitarianism, combined with strikingly low infant and juvenile mortality rates, can mediate the pathway between foraging, status-accruing behavior, and reproductive success. Our approach advocates for greater theoretical and empirical attention to quantitative social network measures, female foraging, and fitness outcomes.

Keywords: Hunter-gatherers Reproductive success Foraging Prosociality Sharing Cooperation

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Although Batek took quiet satisfaction in their skills and accomplishments, there was a strong social convention against overt bragging or showing off. Modesty was a valued trait. Hunters with gamewould usually enter camp quietly and then hand the carcass to someone else to butcher and distribute. Gatherers with loads of tubers would distribute their surplus to other families without fanfare. Although Batek strongly guarded their personal autonomy, they also felt an obligation to cooperate with other camp and group members. Competition was suppressed, even in games adopted from outsiders, such as cards.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The most common end-of-life reflections: Concern for loved ones, regret, morbidity and mortality, gratitude, spirituality, legacy, & thoughts about acceptance or non-acceptance of impending death

The most common end-of-life reflections: A survey of hospice and palliative nurses. Michael R. Ent & Mary A. Gergis. Death Studies, https://doi.org/10.1080/07481187.2018.1539053

Abstract: To identify the most common end-of-life reflections among terminally ill patients, 124 nurses from the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA) completed an online, open-ended survey. Common themes of these reflections included concern for loved ones, regret, morbidity and mortality, gratitude, spirituality, legacy, and thoughts about acceptance or non-acceptance of impending death. Nurses reported that their patients were more concerned about their loved ones than their own morbidity and mortality. Common end-of-life reflections may serve as cues that hospice and palliative patients are self-initiating therapeutic life review.

Compliments for women: A metaphor's attractiveness was positively correlated with figurativeness, imageability, romance & arousal but negatively associated with familiarity

Factors contributing to the aesthetic attractiveness of metaphors in a complimentary context. Qi Yang, Zhao Gao, Yang Li. Lingua, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2018.10.011

Highlights
•    A metaphor's aesthetic attractiveness is positively correlated with figurativeness, imageability and arousal.
•    Familiarity decreases a metaphor's aesthetic attractiveness.
•    Romance intensified the perception of a metaphor's attractiveness in the context of communication between sexes.

Abstract: Metaphor is widely used in our daily lives to express strong emotions, comprehend abstract concepts and display aesthetic qualities. Women prefer metaphorical language when men pay them compliments in romantic situations; however, in this context, it remains unclear which factors are likely to contribute to the aesthetic attractiveness of metaphor. In the current study, 90 female undergraduates were recruited to rate 477 compliments in terms of language variables (i.e., appropriateness, figurativeness, familiarity, and imageability) and emotional perception (i.e., attractiveness, valence, romance, and arousal) on a 7-point Likert scale. The compliments were generated by 74 men who were required to use language to impress women in a previous independent experiment. A hierarchical regression model was built to explore the potential factors of the aesthetic attractiveness of metaphors. The results showed that a metaphor's attractiveness was positively correlated with figurativeness, imageability, romance and arousal but negatively associated with familiarity, which suggests that metaphors are more attractive when they incorporate high figurativeness, imageability, romance and arousal and low familiarity. Overall, this study indicates that a metaphor's aesthetic attractiveness may be determined by the social context, a communicator's motivation and specific linguistic aspects.

Efficacy of extended clinical management, group CBT, and group plus individual CBT for major depression: Results of a two-year follow-up study

Schaub, Annette & Ulrich, Goldmann & Mueser, Kim & Goerigk, Stephan & Martin, Hautzinger & Elisabeth, Roth & Marketa, Charypar & Rolf, Engel & Hans-Jürgen, Möller. (2018). Efficacy of extended clinical management, group CBT, and group plus individual CBT for major depression: Results of a two-year follow-up study. Journal of Affective Disorders. 238. 10.1016/j.jad.2018.05.081

Objective: Cognitive therapy has gained prominence in the treatment of major depression, however, little is known about its long-term benefits when delivered during inpatient treatment or combined with outpatient treatment with severely ill inpatients (HAM-D > 20).

Method: To evaluate this question, we conducted a randomized controlled trial investigating the efficacy of extended clinical management (E-CM), psychoeducational cognitive behavioural group therapy (PCBT-G) or PCBT-G and 16 outpatient individual treatment sessions (PCBT-G+I). All patients were treated with pharmacotherapy. 177 inpatients with DSM-IV major depression were randomized either to E-CM or PCBT-G or PCBT-G+I. Outcome measures were collected in the hospital at pre- and posttreatment and following discharge into the community every six months for two years. We compared the study groups on symptom changes, psychosocial functioning, knowledge about depression and rehospitalization.

Results: All three treatment interventions are equally effective at reducing depressive symptoms and increasing psychosocial functioning at posttreatment. There was significant group by time interaction for knowledge about depression in favor of PCBT-G and PCBT-G+I over E-CM. We did not find significantly lower rehospitalisation rates at the two-year follow-up for PCBT-G+I compared to E-CM, however, comparing PCBT-G to E-CM.

Conclusions: We conclude that with cognitive psychoeducational group therapy a successful, in the long-term other interventions superior psychological intervention for major depression is available as gains were sustained for two years following discharge from the hospital. More research is needed to evaluate the long-term impact of group treatment starting in inpatient treatment.

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My comment: I do not understand the conclusions...

Sexual selection typically centers on bodily & psychological traits; non-bodily ones (housing, vehicles, art, social media, &c) can, however, influence sexual selection even in absence of the phenotype proper; these are "extended phenotypic traits"

An Updated Theoretical Framework for Human Sexual Selection: from Ecology, Genetics, and Life History to Extended Phenotypes. Severi Luoto. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs40750-018-0103-6

Abstract

Objectives: Sexual selection typically centers on bodily and psychological traits. Non-bodily traits ranging from housing and vehicles through art to social media can, however, influence sexual selection even in absence of the phenotype proper. The theoretical framework of human sexual selection is updated in this article by unifying four theoretical approaches and conceptualizing non-bodily traits as extended phenotypic traits.

Methods: Existing research is synthesized with extended phenotype theory, life history theory, and behavioral ecology. To test population-level hypotheses arising from the review, ecological and demographic data on 122 countries are analyzed with multiple linear regression modelling.

Results: A four-factor model of intelligence, adolescent fertility, population density, and atmospheric cold demands predicts 64% of global variation in economic complexity in 1995 and 72% of the variation in 2016.

Conclusions: The evolutionary pathways of extended phenotypes frequently undergo a categorical broadening from providing functional benefits to carrying signalling value. Extended phenotypes require investments in skills and bioenergetic resources, but they can improve survival in high latitudes, facilitate the extraction of resources from the environment, and substantially influence sexual selection outcomes. Bioenergetic investments in extended phenotypes create individual- and population-level tradeoffs with competing life history processes, exemplified here as a global tradeoff between adolescent fertility and economic complexity. The merits of the present model include a more systematic classification of sexual traits, a clearer articulation of their evolutionary-developmental hierarchy, and an analysis of ecological, genetic, and psychological mechanisms that modulate the flow of energy into extended phenotypes and cultural innovations.

Keywords: Economic complexity Evolutionary-developmental psychology Extended phenotype Human behavioral ecology Innovation Intelligence Life history theory Non-bodily ornament Sexual selection Theory unification

Contrary to expectations, we report benefits experienced by some amphibian populations breeding and dwelling in proximity to roads: Better locomotor performance & higher measures of traits related to fitness

Fitter frogs from polluted ponds: the complex impacts of human‐altered environments. Steven P. Brady et al. Evolutionary Applications, https://doi.org/10.1111/eva.12751

Abstract: Human‐modified habitats rarely yield outcomes that are aligned with conservation ideals. Landscapes that are subdivided by roads are no exception, precipitating negative impacts on populations due to fragmentation, pollution, and road kill. Although many populations in human‐modified habitats show evidence for local adaptation, rarely does environmental change yield outright benefits for populations of conservation interest. Contrary to expectations, we report surprising benefits experienced by amphibian populations breeding and dwelling in proximity to roads. We show that roadside populations of the wood frog, Rana sylvatica, exhibit better locomotor performance and higher measures of traits related to fitness compared with frogs from less disturbed environments located further away from roads. These results contrast previous evidence for maladaptation in roadside populations of wood frogs studied elsewhere. Our results indicate that altered habitats might not be unequivocally detrimental, and at times might contribute to metapopulation success. While the frequency of such beneficial outcomes remains unknown, their occurrence underscores the complexity of inferring consequences of environmental change.

The smartphone is the closest device to us, above classmates, colleagues, flatmates; trust & preoccupation mediate the relationship between closeness to the smartphone & stress and coping

Smartphones as digital companions: Characterizing the relationship between users and their phones. Astrid Carolus et al. New Media & Society, https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444818817074

Abstract: Based on the idea of computers constituting social agents and referring to core characteristics of human–human relationships, this study introduces the concept of a digital companionship between smartphone users and their devices. Constituting characteristics (closeness, trust, preoccupation) and outcomes (stress, coping with stress) of social relationships were adapted to yield a model of human–smartphone relationships for empirical testing. A cross-national sample of participants (n = 1156) completed an online study, which included self-report measures as well as a newly developed instrument (Positioning Others and Devices [POD]) assessing the closeness to technical devices and social actors. Results showed the smartphone to be the closest device. Furthermore, structural equation modeling lent support for the theoretical model indicating that trust and preoccupation mediate the relationship between closeness to the smartphone and stress and coping. Findings support the concept of companionship as a fruitful approach to explain smartphone-related behaviors.

Keywords: Digital companion, human–smartphone relationship, mobile devices, relationship, smartphone