Thursday, July 4, 2999

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Sunday, August 19, 2018

Enhancing CCTV: Pixel averages improve face identification from poor‐quality images

Enhancing CCTV: Averages improve face identification from poor‐quality images. Kay L. Ritchie et al. Applied Cognitive Psychology, https://doi.org/10.1002/acp.3449

Summary: Low‐quality images are problematic for face identification, for example, when the police identify faces from CCTV images. Here, we test whether face averages, comprising multiple poor‐quality images, can improve both human and computer recognition. We created averages from multiple pixelated or nonpixelated images and compared accuracy using these images and exemplars. To provide a broad assessment of the potential benefits of this method, we tested human observers (n = 88; Experiment 1), and also computer recognition, using a smartphone application (Experiment 2) and a commercial one‐to‐many face recognition system used in forensic settings (Experiment 3). The third experiment used large image databases of 900 ambient images and 7,980 passport images. In all three experiments, we found a substantial increase in performance by averaging multiple pixelated images of a person's face. These results have implications for forensic settings in which faces are identified from poor‐quality images, such as CCTV.

Human testes are relatively small for body size: Copulatory and Postcopulatory Sexual Selection in Primates

Copulatory and Postcopulatory Sexual Selection in Primates. A F Dixson. Folia Primatologica 2018;89:258–286. https://doi.org/10.1159/000488105

Abstract: Many aspects of primate reproductive anatomy and physiology have been influenced by copulatory and postcopulatory sexual selection, especially so in taxa where multiple-partner matings by females result in the sperm of rival males competing for access to a given set of ova (sperm competition). However, the female reproductive system also exerts profound effects upon sperm survival, storage and transport, raising the possibility that female traits influence male reproductive success (via cryptic female choice). Current knowledge of sperm competition and cryptic choice in primates and other mammals is reviewed here. The relevance of these comparative studies to our understanding of human reproduction and evolution is discussed.

White-collar offenders, including those holding high-trust organizational positions, engaged in regulatory income tax violations and regulatory traffic violations at significantly higher levels than did controls

Rule-violating behaviour in white-collar offenders: A control group comparison. Joost HR van Onna, Victor R van der Geest, Adriaan JM Denkers. European Journal of Criminology, https://doi.org/10.1177/1477370818794114

Abstract: This study aims at enhancing our understanding of criminogenic individual-level factors in white-collar crime, that is, fraudulent acts carried out in an occupational capacity or setting. We do so by examining consistency of rule-violating behaviour across different settings outside the occupational context in a sample of white-collar offenders (n = 637) and comparing it with a matched control group (n = 1809), controlling for socio-demographic, crime and organizational characteristics. Results show that white-collar offenders, including those holding high-trust organizational positions, engaged in regulatory income tax violations and regulatory traffic violations at significantly higher levels than did controls. This study concludes that individual characteristics are likely to underlie the identified cross-contextual consistency in rule-violating behaviour and debates the relevance of the findings for white-collar crime in organizations.

Keywords: control group, high-trust position, individual differences, rule violation, white-collar offenders

Antisocial personality constructs: Tactical and strategic image cultivation and defense behavior

Profiles and profile comparisons between Dark Triad constructs on self‐presentation tactic usage and tactic beliefs. William Hart, Gregory K. Tortoriello, Kyle Richardson, Christopher J. Breeden. Journal of Personality, https://doi.org/10.1111/jopy.12411

Abstract

Objective: The present research profiled antisocial personality constructs in relation to tactical self‐presentation behaviors and various beliefs associated with such tactical behavior.

Method: An MTurk sample (N = 524; Mage = 37.89; 61% female) completed indices of the Dark Triad (DT; narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy) and self‐reported their use of various self‐presentation tactics, their beliefs about the subjective logic for executing the tactics (which encompassed ratings of the tactics’ utility, ease of execution, and normativity), and the potential for each tactic to arouse self‐recrimination.

Results: Results revealed high convergence between the DT constructs on a relatively malignant approach to self‐presentation. DT constructs related to enhanced usage, enhanced subjective logic, and reduced self‐recrimination ratings for all the tactics, except pro‐social ones (exemplification and apologizing). Nonetheless, results also revealed some notable anticipated instances of nonconvergences between the DT constructs and tactic usage.

Conclusions: The findings highlight that DT constructs function rather similarly at the level of self‐presentation and suggest value in considering the DT constructs as indicative of strategic, subjectively logical image cultivation and defense behavior.

Memory for everyday driving: Large number of “false alarm” answers suggested recall was coloured by what usually happens on familiar roads

Memory for everyday driving. Samuel G. Charlton, Nicola J. Starkey. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, Volume 57, August 2018, Pages 129-138. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trf.2017.06.007

Highlights
•    Drivers completed 14 km circuit of familiar roads on road or in video-based simulator.
•    Participants’ free recall of drive frequently included bad behaviour of other drivers.
•    No observed differences between on-road and simulated drives in accuracy of cued recall.
•    Large number of “false alarm” answers suggested recall was coloured by what usually happens on familiar roads.

Abstract: As drivers, we often have the sense that we can recall very little about our everyday trips, particularly on familiar roads when nothing untoward occurs. The failure to recall incidental events from a routine drive is not surprising if these drives are performed at a fairly automatic or preconscious level of engagement. Some researchers have suggested that danger, difficulty, and consequentiality are what make events and actions memorable for drivers. To investigate what drivers remember from a routine trip, we asked participants (n = 75) to drive familiar local roads on a 15 km urban route either on-road in an instrumented car, or in the University of Waikato driving simulator (with and without a passenger). At ten predetermined locations on the drive participants were asked to provide ratings of perceived risk, difficulty and anxiety. At the end of the drive, participants were asked a free recall question about what they remembered from the drive, followed by cued recall questions about six of the locations from the drive prompted by photographs. In general, participants recalled very similar things from the drive, notably what they saw as the poor behaviour of other drivers. The participants’ recall accuracy was rather poor, with memory for whether they had stopped at a particular location having the highest accuracy. Memory of whether there were vehicles ahead and whether they had stopped had a high number of recall false alarms, adding to the suggestion that participants remembered the locations and what usually happens there rather than detailed recollections of a particular occasion. There were no observed relationships between recall accuracy and perceptions of driving risk, difficulty, or anxiety. The results indicated that memories of everyday driving are combinations of examples of bad behaviour of other road users and our recollections of what typically happens at familiar locations.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Astonishing numbers of people remain blissfully unaware of fundamental truths about their own bodies

Where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise. Chris Potter, ENT & Audiology News, Vol 27, no 3, July/Aug 2018.
https://www.entandaudiologynews.com/media/11976/entja18-potterssoapbox.pdf

I’m not sure about you, but I seem to exist in a sea of incompetence and ignorance, constantly surrounded by amateurish chumps and feckless underachievers. Now, a lesser man may be daunted by this outlook, but I see it as my purpose in life to personally confront these issues and tirelessly educate sufferers as to their areas of deficiency. Despite my selfless dedication, a surprising number of colleagues fail to appreciate my efforts. Indeed, some even appear rather agitated by my forensic dissection of their personal inadequacies and bold exhortations to self-improvement. Rather than being discouraged by this attitude, I stand firm in the knowledge that the weight of scientific evidence lies (for once in my clinical life) firmly behind me.

[...]

However, astonishing numbers of people remain blissfully unaware of fundamental truths about their own bodies. Around 60% of men with a fracture injury of the hand or foot will have completely forgotten about it to the extent of complete denial within 15 years [1]. Somewhat surprisingly, 36% of circumcised men attending an STD clinic were quite certain they were uncircumcised [2]. Just read that sentence again and remember those 36% are free to vote and bear arms.

Spoilers Affect the Enjoyment of Television Episodes but Not Short Stories

Spoilers Affect the Enjoyment of Television Episodes but Not Short Stories. Thomas A. Daniel, Jeffrey S. Katz. Psychological Reports, https://doi.org/10.1177/0033294118793971

Abstract: While spoilers are culturally regarded as something that detracts enjoyment from a narrative, research has presented a complicated picture. When Leavitt and Christenfeld presented participants plot-crucial information to individuals before reading a short story, the story was subsequently enjoyed as much as, or more than, unspoiled stories. Other research shows that these findings may be driven by an interaction of individual differences, such as need for cognition, rather than a broad spoiling effect. In Experiment 1, we tested if reported enjoyment of a narrative decreased even when participants were alerted to the presence of a plot spoiler, to extend previous findings for short stories while adding a condition informing participants beforehand that their short stories was being spoiled. Experiment 2 extended this methodology to full-length episodes of television. Our results were different from previously reported positive effects of spoilers and show that spoilers, under certain circumstances, have a negative effect on enjoyment for television but not short stories.

Keywords: Creativity, decision-making, thinking styles, fan behavior, language proficiency

Friday, August 17, 2018

Native speakers of Hebrew, Korean, Spanish, and English inflate their earnings less when they use a foreign language; it's due to a dual system account that suggests that self‐serving dishonesty is an automatic tendency, supported by a fast and intuitive system

Honesty Speaks a Second Language. Yoella Bereby‐Meyer et al. Topics in Cognitive Science, Jul 2018, https://doi.org/10.1111/tops.12360

Abstract: Theories of dishonest behavior implicitly assume language independence. Here, we investigated this assumption by comparing lying by people using a foreign language versus their native tongue. Participants rolled a die and were paid according to the outcome they reported. Because the outcome was private, they could lie to inflate their profit without risk of repercussions. Participants performed the task either in their native language or in a foreign language. With native speakers of Hebrew, Korean, Spanish, and English, we discovered that, on average, people inflate their earnings less when they use a foreign language. The outcome is explained by a dual system account that suggests that self‐serving dishonesty is an automatic tendency, which is supported by a fast and intuitive system. Because using a foreign language is less intuitive and automatic, it might engage more deliberation and reduce the temptation to lie. These findings challenge theories of ethical behavior to account for the role of the language in shaping ethical behavior.

Memory distortion may not always be maladaptive: in some cases, distortion can result from a memory system that optimally combines information in the service of the broader goals of the person

The adaptive nature of false memories is revealed by gist-based distortion of true memories. Timothy Brady, Daniel Schacter, George Alvarez. August 17, 2018. https://psyarxiv.com/zeg95/

Abstract: Human memory systems are subject to many imperfections, including memory distortions and the creation of false memories. Here, we demonstrate a case where memory distortion is adaptive, increasing the overall accuracy of memories. Participants viewed multiple real-world objects from a given category (10 airplanes, 10 backpacks…), and later recalled the color of each object. Participants were generally accurate, but even when they remembered having seen an item and remembered its color, they nevertheless reported the color as closer to the average color of its category than it really was. Although participants’ memories were systematically distorted, they were distorted in a way that is consistent with minimizing their average error according to a simple Bayesian analysis. In addition, and consistent with the Bayesian analysis, the bias toward the category center was larger when participant’s had greater uncertainty about the color of an item, but was present in all circumstances -- even when participants remembered an item, remembered its color, and reported high confidence in their color memory. Thus, memory distortion may not always be maladaptive: in some cases, distortion can result from a memory system that optimally combines information in the service of the broader goals of the person. Furthermore, this framework for thinking about memory distortion suggests that false memory can be thought of on a continuum with true memory: the greater uncertainty participants have about an individual item memory, the more they weight their gist memory; with no item information, they weight only their gist memory.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Evidence from the Berlin Wall: Positive relationship between urban density & productivity in a virtuous circle of ‘cumulative causation’

The Economics of Density: Evidence From the Berlin Wall. Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt, Stephen J. Redding, Daniel M. Sturm, Nikolaus Wolf. Econometrica, 2015. https://doi.org/10.3982/ECTA10876

Abstract: This paper develops a quantitative model of internal city structure that features agglomeration and dispersion forces and an arbitrary number of heterogeneous city blocks. The model remains tractable and amenable to empirical analysis because of stochastic shocks to commuting decisions, which yield a gravity equation for commuting flows. To structurally estimate agglomeration and dispersion forces, we use data on thousands of city blocks in Berlin for 1936, 1986, and 2006 and exogenous variation from the city's division and reunification. We estimate substantial and highly localized production and residential externalities. We show that the model with the estimated agglomeration parameters can account both qualitatively and quantitatively for the observed changes in city structure. We show how our quantitative framework can be used to undertake counterfactuals for changes in the organization of economic activity within cities in response, for example, to changes in the transport network.

Prenatal and postnatal cortisol and testosterone are related to parental caregiving quality in fathers, but not in mothers

Prenatal and postnatal cortisol and testosterone are related to parental caregiving quality in fathers, but not in mothers. Peter A. Bos et al. Psychoneuroendocrinology, Volume 97, November 2018, Pages 94-103. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2018.07.013

Highlights
•    Prenatal quality of caregiving interacted with T and CORT in fathers.
•    Postnatal quality of caregiving interacted with T and CORT in fathers.
•    Postnatal quality of paternal caregiving was negatively associated with prenatal CORT.
•    No associations were observed between T or CORT and maternal quality of caregiving.
•    These data show the value of a crying simulator for studying human parenting.

Abstract: Testosterone and cortisol have both been implicated in human parenting behavior. We investigated the relations between observed quality of caregiving during parent-child interactions and pre- and postnatal testosterone and cortisol levels, in both mothers (N = 88) and fathers (N = 57). Testosterone and cortisol were measured before and after interaction with an infant simulator (prenatal) and with their own child (postnatal) to index basal levels as well as steroid reactivity to the interaction. Our findings are that in fathers, interactions between cortisol and testosterone are related to quality of caregiving both pre- and postnatally. Prenatally there was a stronger negative relation between T and quality of caregiving in fathers with lower cortisol levels, and postnatally there was a stronger negative relation between cortisol and quality of caregiving in fathers high in testosterone levels. Furthermore, prenatal cortisol levels were related to paternal quality of caregiving during interaction with their own child. In mothers, no associations between quality of caregiving and our endocrine measures were observed. We interpret our findings in the context of hyperreactive physiological responses observed in parents at risk for insensitive caregiving, and in light of the dual-hormone hypothesis. The current findings contribute to the growing literature on the endocrine antecedents of human caregiving behavior.

Small to moderate effect sizes suggest that working together with a friend and simply having a friend were related significantly and positively both to cognitive and academic performance outcome

Do Friendships Afford Academic Benefits? A Meta-analytic Study. Kathryn R. Wentzel, Sophie Jablansky, Nicole R. Scalise. Educational Psychology Review, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10648-018-9447-5

Abstract: Using meta-analytic techniques, we examined systematically the evidence linking friendship to academically related outcomes, asking: To what extent is friendship related to academic performance and to academically related cognitive skills? Based on 22 studies that yielded 81 effect sizes and 28 independent samples, we examined relations between friendship and academically related cognitive skills (e.g., scientific reasoning, linguistic skills, spatial memory) and performance (e.g., academic grades, test scores). The role of friendship was defined in one of two ways: working with mutual friends on academic tasks and the experience of having friendships (as indicated by having at least one reciprocated friend or a number of friends). Small to moderate effect sizes suggest that working together with a friend and simply having a friend were related significantly and positively both to cognitive and performance outcomes. Student (sex, age, country of origin) and methodological (measurement, design) characteristics were not significant moderators of relations between friendship and academically related outcomes.

The Psychology of Euthanasia: Why There Are No Easy Answers

The Psychology of Euthanasia: Why There Are No Easy Answers. Miguel Ricou & Tony Wainwright. European Psychologist. https://doi.org/10.1027/1016-9040/a000331

Abstract. Voluntary euthanasia has been legalized in several countries and associated with this development there has been much discussion concerning the relationship between the ethical principle of autonomy and the respect for human life. Psychological science should make a significant contribution to understanding how polarizing positions may be taken in such debates. However, little has been written concerning the implications of this research for the euthanasia debate and about the contributions of psychology. In the same way, very little is written about the psychologist’s role in countries where voluntary euthanasia or assisted suicide is legalized. We take as a starting assumption that there are no solutions that will meet everyone’s wishes or needs, but that an understanding of psychological ideas, can assist in developing strategies that may help people with opposing views come to some agreement. In our view, it is fundamental to a fruitful analysis, to leave aside a polarized approach and to understand that an eventual answer to the question of how we approach voluntary euthanasia will only be achieved after the hard process of carefully considering the consequences of having either legalized voluntary euthanasia or its prohibition, in the context of a psychological understanding.

Keywords: euthanasia, suffering, psychology, ethics, decision-making

Placebo and nocebo effects constitute a major part of treatment success in medical interventions; there is interest in optimizing placebo effects to improve existing treatments and in examining ways to minimize nocebo effects to improve clinical outcome

Psychobiological Mechanisms of Placebo and Nocebo Effects: Pathways to Improve Treatments and Reduce Side Effects. Keith J. Petrie and Winfried Rief, Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 70:- (Volume publication date January 2019). https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-010418-102907

Abstract: Placebo effects constitute a major part of treatment success in medical interventions. The nocebo effect also has a major impact, as it accounts for a significant proportion of the reported side effects for many treatments. Historically, clinical trials have aimed to reduce placebo effects; however, currently, there is interest in optimizing placebo effects to improve existing treatments and in examining ways to minimize nocebo effects to improve clinical outcome. To achieve these aims, a better understanding of the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms of the placebo and nocebo response is required. This review discusses the impact of the placebo and nocebo response in health care. We also examine the mechanisms involved in the placebo and nocebo effects, including the central mechanism of expectations. Finally, we examine ways to enhance placebo effects and reduce the impact of the nocebo response in clinical practice and suggest areas for future research.

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Open-Label Placebos

There has been recent interest in the use of open-label placebos, i.e., placebos that patients take knowing that they do not contain active medicine. Open-label placebos avoid the ethical issues involved in the deceptive prescription of placebos, which violates informed consent and may compromise the clinician–patient relationship. In the studies that have used open-label placebos, positive expectations are typically established by describing the power of the placebo effect as being established through conditioning and expectations and working through mind–body processes to improve health. The patient is informed that, even though they are not taking any active medicine, a placebo may still help improve health.

An initial RCT of 80 patients with IBS assigned patients to open-label placebo pills described as being “made of an inert substance, like sugar pills, that have been shown in clinical studies to produce significant improvements in IBS symptoms through mind-body self-healing processes” (Kaptchuk et al. 2010, p. 1) or to a no-treatment control group with the same amount ofprovider contact. Findings revealed significant improvements in symptoms at the 3-week follow-up.

The study demonstrated that open-label placebos delivered with a convincing rationale can improve subjective symptom reports in IBS. This prompted other researchers to investigate whether open-label placebos could improve outcomes in other conditions. Positive effects from open-label placebos have now been demonstrated in low-back pain (Carvalho et al. 2016), allergic rhinitis (Schaefer et al. 2016), and cancer-related fatigue (Hoenemeyer et al. 2018). A review of five open-label placebo studies found a positive medium effect size on subjective symptoms (Charlesworth et al. 2017).

While the initial results of studies of open-label placebos have been positive, there are some reasons to be cautious about the findings. A recent study evaluated the effect of open-label placebos on an objective, measurable physiological outcome, wound healing, and found no effect (Mathur et al. 2018), suggesting that the main benefit from open-label placebos could be restricted to subjective symptoms. The participants recruited into the initial studies for a mind–body treatment are also more likely to be receptive to open-label placebos than individuals with a preference for more traditional medical treatments. A further question at this stage is whether open-label placebo treatment will be acceptable to doctors and therefore more widely adopted.

To summarize, initial attempts to make use of placebo mechanisms to improve treatment outcomes indicate that this strategy could have enormous potential to improve clinical care. A number of the factors that have been found to improve placebo response could be easily incorporated into current treatments to maximize outcomes. These include optimizing patient’s expectations prior to treatment, using a positive role model to demonstrate treatment effectiveness, and inducing positive pretreatment experiences with similar drug treatments. Improving aspects of the clinical interaction, such empathy, shared decision making, and patient perceptions of physician competence, is also likely to lead to improved outcomes, although future research in this area is needed. It is likely that open-label placebos will also play a role in treatment in the future as an adjunct to standard therapies, either to reduce side effects or to maximize response to treatment, but the exact niche of open-label placebos has yet to be established.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Thrifty targets are perceived as more intelligent, higher in self-control, more likable, emotionally closer to participants, lower in perceived vanity, lower in valuation of wealth in other, cheaper, and lower in short-term mating effort

Thrifty Spending as a (Paradoxically) Costly Signal: Perceptions of Others' Traits and Mating Patterns as a Function Of Their Spending Style. Lynzee J.Murray, Masters Thesis, 2018, http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=bgsu1525457591695131 

Abstract: According to the bargain hunting hypothesis, thriftiness requires a host of personality characteristics and psychological traits, namely contentiousness, intelligence, and self-control. Another part of the bargain hunting hypothesis attempts to explain why people, especially women, are often excited by the great deals they get and are motivated to tell others about them. According to this hypothesis, signaling thriftiness may signal to others a host of desirable traits, including the aforementioned traits as well as a good moral character, a long-term mating orientation, and a disinclination toward infidelity. In the current study, participants were asked to think of someone they know whose is thrifty or who engages in conspicuous consumption and to evaluate this person on a variety of personality and mating-related dimensions. We predicted that in comparison to conspicuous-consumption targets, thrifty targets would be perceived as more intelligent (including creativity and problem solving), conscientious, higher in self-control, more likeable, emotionally closer with participants, more agreeable, higher in moral character/virtue, lower in their degree of perceived vanity and in their valuation of wealth in others, and cheaper. We also predicted that thrifty targets would be perceived/rated as lower in short-term mating effort and infidelity probability, and higher in parenting effort and desirability as a long-term mate. The finding of our study supported the predictions that thrifty targets would be perceived as more intelligent, higher in self-control, more likable, emotionally closer to participants, lower in perceived vanity, lower in valuation of wealth in other, cheaper, and lower in short-term mating effort. Our findings also provided partial support for our predictions that thrifty targets would be perceived as more agreeable, higher in moral character, lower in infidelity probability, and higher in parenting effort and desirability as a long-term mate.

Subjects/Keywords: Psychology; Spending; Evolutionary Psychology; Thriftiness; Consumer Psychology; Conspicuous Consumption; Costly Signaling Theory

False memories can be caused by sleep deprivation, mindfulness meditation, and exposure to fake news, & no one is immune – not even people who can remember nearly every detail of their own lives

Current Directions in False Memory Research. Cara Laney, Elizabeth F. Loftus. Chapter 18 of Diversity in Harmony – Insights from Psychology: Proceedings of the 31st International Congress of Psychology. Aug 10 2018. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119362081.ch18

Summary: False memory is an active and dynamic research area. This chapter discusses some of the most recent advances in theory, methodology, and application, as well as recent findings. Recent work has reinterpreted false memory through lenses of evolutionary psychology, pre‐ and postgoal emotions, and persuasion. New findings include false memories caused by sleep deprivation, mindfulness meditation, and exposure to fake news. Various procedures for differentiating between true and false memories are discussed; new research suggests that although some people may be especially susceptible to some kinds of false memories, no one is immune – not even people who can remember nearly every detail of their own lives. Some recent critiques of false memory research are summarized and disputed (as are some false memory findings). The critiques have come from parts of the therapeutic community working to minimize the impact of false memory research, but the impact – especially in the legal domain – remains clear.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Duping delight is the pleasure or satisfaction derived from successfully deceiving another person; may at first seem pathological behavior engaged by only a minority of the most deviant, but looked at more broadly, can be widely observed

Measuring Deception: A Look at Antecedents to Deceptive Intent. Randall J. Boyle, Jeffrey A. Clements and Jeffrey Gainer Proudfoot. The American Journal of Psychology, Vol. 131, No. 3 (Fall 2018), pp. 347-367. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/amerjpsyc.131.3.0347

Abstract: A Deceptive Belief Inventory scale is developed and validated using 10 first-order factors to represent 3 second-order constructs (deception confidence, duping delight, and guiltless deception). A new theoretical model describing how deception confidence, duping delight, and guiltless deception may influence a person's intent to deceive others is also tested. Traditional deceptive communication research has focused on situation-specific factors surrounding deception. This study focuses on understanding and assessing a person's propensity to deceive others. The findings of this study can be used to better understand the factors that may influence a person's reported propensity to deceive and ultimately be used to improve security procedures designed to protect critical information systems.

We find that at least 31.2% of the citations to retracted articles happen a year after the article has been retracted, that 91.4% of these post-retraction citations are approving, & that problematic research continues to be approvingly cited long after the problems have been publicized

Propagation of Error: Approving Citations to Problematic Research. Ken Cor and Gaurav Sood. https://github.com/recite/propagation_of_error

Abstract: Reports of serious errors in published research are increasingly common. Once the issues have been made public, we expect approving citations to the problematic articles—citations noting no concerns with the cited article—to stop. Using a novel database of over 3,000 retracted articles and nearly 74,000 citations to the retracted articles as well as data from a prominent article that highlights a statistical error in a set of articles published in prominent journals, we estimate citation rates and rates of approving citations pre- and postnotification. We find that at least 31.2% of the citations to retracted articles happen a year after the article has been retracted. And that 91.4% of these post-retraction citations are approving. We also find that problematic research continues to be approvingly cited long after the problems have been publicized. Our results have implications for the design of scholarship discovery systems and scientific practice more generally.

People often have food leftovers, which may impact their eating behavior; given equal actual consumption, larger (vs. smaller) food leftovers made people feel they ate less; as a result, larger (vs. smaller) food leftovers led people to eat more and exercise less later

Out of proportion? The role of leftovers in eating-related affect and behavior. Aradhna Krishna, Linda Hagen. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2018.08.005

Highlights
•    People often have food leftovers, which may impact their eating behavior.
•    Given equal actual consumption, larger (vs. smaller) food leftovers made people feel they ate less.
•    As a result, larger (vs. smaller) food leftovers led people to eat more and exercise less later.
•    These findings have implications for the success of “Just Eat Half” interventions.
•    The findings also underscore the importance of portion-size oriented policy interventions.

Abstract: It is well known that growing portion sizes increase consumption, but grossly enlarged portions also cause consumers to face more and more food leftovers. Despite the relevance of food leftovers, downstream effects of having more food leftovers on consumers' affect and behavior are unknown. In five studies, the authors test the idea that consumers may judge their actual consumption by looking at their leftovers. As such, larger leftovers may reduce perceived consumption and also impact other eating-related behaviors. Using both real and imagined food consumption and leftovers, the authors find that, holding the absolute amount of food consumption equal, larger (vs. smaller) food leftovers lead to reduced perceived consumption. This difference in perceived consumption has consequences for people's motivation to compensate for their eating. Larger (vs. smaller) food leftovers cause them to eat more in a subsequent unrelated food consumption task, and also to exercise less in an explicit calorie compensation task. The psychological drivers of this phenomenon are twofold: larger leftovers reduce perceived consumption, which leads people to feel better about themselves; and feeling better about themselves, in turn, reduces people's motivation to compensate. This research reveals a previously unknown negative consequence of grossly enlarged portion sizes and informs research on perceived consumption.

An experimental investigation into pornography’s effect on men’s perceptions of the likelihood of women engaging in porn-like sex

An experimental investigation into pornography’s effect on men’s perceptions of the likelihood of women engaging in porn-like sex. Dan Miller, Kerry Anne McBain, Peter Raggatt. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, Aug 13 , 2018. http://psycnet.apa.org/buy/2018-38814-001

Abstract: This experimental study investigates whether exposure to pornography affects men’s perceptions of the likelihood of women engaging in, and enjoying, “porn-like” sex. Participants (N = 418) were either exposed to nonpornographic control videos or pornographic videos in which a male taxi driver has sex with a female passenger. Participants’ perceptions of the likelihood of women engaging in various sexual practices commonly depicted in pornography (e.g., unprotected sex with a stranger and rough sex) were then assessed across 2 vignettes. In the first vignette, a male taxi driver propositions a female passenger. In the second, a male boss propositions a female employee. The study was administered online to maximize ecological validity. No effect was found for experimental exposure. However, an effect was detected for past exposure. Men who had viewed taxi-themed pornography in the past 6 months rated the female taxi vignette character as being more likely to engage in porn-like sex with a male taxi driver. Similarly, those who had viewed workplace-themed pornography in the past 6 months judged the female workplace vignette character as being more likely to engage in porn-like sex with a male boss. The implications of these findings for theoretical models of sexual media socialization are discussed.

Liberals prefer the following in their narrative TV programs: innovative structure & style, ambiguous/nuanced depictions of moral issues, storylines that extend beyond individual episodes, diverse casts, & explicit depictions of sexuality & gore

Split screens: A content analysis of American liberals’ and conservatives’ respective television favorites. Nick Rogers. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, Aug 13 , 2018. http://psycnet.apa.org/buy/2018-38804-001

Abstract: This project uses a quantitative content analysis to the realm of scripted narrative TV, to examine how “motivated social cognition” may drive ideological partisans to sort themselves within cultural realms that have no obvious political content. The analysis reveals that the substance of the TV programs disproportionately preferred by either liberals or conservatives differs significantly. Specifically, liberals prefer the following in their narrative TV programs: (a) innovative structure and style, (b) ambiguous/nuanced depictions of moral issues, (c) storylines that extend beyond individual episodes, (d) diverse casts, and (e) explicit depictions of sexuality and gore. Conservatives, by contrast, favor the following: (a) conventional style and predictable storytelling, (b) clear depictions of “good” and “bad,” (c) storylines that are resolved within an individual episode, (d) homogenous casts, and (e) “wholesome” (or absent) depictions of sexuality and gore.

Construing minds as different from bodies entails the intuition that mental well-being has little material substrate which in turn attenuates health-sustaining behaviors

Mind-Body Dualism and Health Revisited. How Belief in Dualism Shapes Health Behavior. Pascal Burgmer, Matthias Forstmann. Social Psychology (2018), 49, pp. 219-230. https://doi.org/10.1027/1864-9335/a000344

Abstract: Does a sound mind require a sound body? Whether or not lay people subscribe to this notion depends on their belief in mind-body dualism and critically shapes their health-related behaviors. Six studies (N = 1,710) revisit the relation between dualism and health. We replicate the negative correlation between belief in dualism and health behavior (Study 1) and extend it to behavior in the field (Study 2). Studies 3a and 3b investigate how belief in dualism shapes intuitions about the material origin of psychological well-being, while Studies 4a and 4b examine how these intuitions determine health-related outcomes. In sum, construing minds as different from bodies entails the intuition that mental well-being has little material substrate which in turn attenuates health-sustaining behaviors.

Keywords: health attitudes, health behavior, mind-body dualism, implicit theories, experimental philosophy

Sexual coercion perpetrators were more accurate than other violent men in the recognition of female facial disgust; female facial expressions of disgust could be subtle cues to their sexual infidelity that motivate sexual coercion in some men

Facial emotion recognition in violent men. Domagoj Švegar, Karolina Horvat, Igor Kardum. International Journal of Psychology, https://doi.org/10.1002/ijop.12522

Abstract: The goal of this study was to explore the ability of violent men to recognise facial affect. In contrast to traditional approaches to this research question, we took the effects of the models' sex and different types of violent behaviour into consideration. Data obtained from 71 violent men revealed that they recognised facial expressions of fear (p = .019) and disgust (p = .013) more accurately when displayed by female than male models. The opposite was found for angry faces (p = .006), while the models' sex did not affect the recognition of sad, happy and surprised facial expressions or neutral faces. Furthermore, sexual coercion perpetrators were more accurate than other violent men in the recognition of female facial disgust (p = .006). These results are discussed in the context of social learning theory, and the hypothesis that female facial expressions of disgust could be subtle cues to their sexual infidelity that motivate sexual coercion in some men.

The value of odorants in selecting a romantic partner seems to reflect two different underlying attitudes: One values all aspects of the smell of a lover, while the other only finds it important that the lover does not smell badly

Olfactory Awareness and the Self-Reported Importance of Olfactory Information in Romantic Interest. Michelle VanHatten, Caitlin Cunningham, Theresa L. White. Chemosensory Perception, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12078-018-9248-8

Abstract

Introduction: Many people seem to be looking for similar attributes when searching for a potential romantic partner. Olfactory social cues can be important parts of the process, though there are individual differences as to their value. Gay men, for example, value scent less in selecting a romantic partner than do heterosexual men (White and Cunningham, Chemosens Percept 10:31–41, 2017). Is it possible that the relative importance of olfaction in mate selection is simply a natural consequence of being generally aware of odorants?

Method: The present study examined the relationship between odor awareness and odor importance in mating in two studies. Participants in each of the studies completed both the Romantic Interests Survey (Herz and Inzlich, Evol Hum Behav 23:359–364, 2002) and the Odor Awareness Survey (Smeets et al., Chem Senses 33:725–734, 2008). In the first study, 455 college-aged heterosexual individuals were surveyed, while in the second study, 453 individuals varying in sexual preference (142 heterosexual women, 161 heterosexual men, and 150 gay men) completed the questionnaires.

Results: Principle components analyses from both studies revealed two different components underlying scores on the RIS; one component best accounted for OAS scores. Regression analysis for both studies indicated that OAS scores predicted the first RIS principle component, but not the second one.

Conclusions: The value of odorants in selecting a romantic partner seems to reflect two different underlying attitudes. The first attitude values all aspects of the smell of a lover, while the second only finds it important that the lover does not smell badly. Odor awareness is related only to the first of these attitudes.

Implications: These findings suggest that odor awareness accounts for some of the attitudes concerning the value of odors in mate selection, but not all of them. Other factors, such as the need to avoid aversive stimuli, may also contribute to the relative importance of olfaction in selecting a partner.

Older age was correlated to better scores on each of the four financial decision‐making measures, and has more experience‐based knowledge, & less negative emotions about financial decisions (both of which are particularly helpful for better financial decision-making)

Age differences in financial decision making: The benefits of more experience and less negative emotions. Wiebke Eberhardt, Wändi Bruine de Bruin, JoNell Strough. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, https://doi.org/10.1002/bdm.2097

Abstract: The emerging literature on aging and decision making posits that decision‐making competence changes with age, as a result of age differences in various cognitive and noncognitive individual‐differences characteristics. In a national life‐span sample from the United Kingdom (N = 926), we examined age differences in financial decisions, including performance measures of sunk cost and credit card repayment decisions, and self‐report measures of money management and financial decision outcomes. Participants also completed four individual‐differences characteristics that have been proposed as relevant to financial decision making, including two cognitive ones (numeracy and experience‐based knowledge) and two noncognitive ones (negative emotions about financial decisions). First, we examined how age was related to the four financial decision‐making measures and the four individual‐differences characteristics. Older age was correlated to better scores on each of the four financial decision‐making measures, more experience‐based knowledge, less negative emotions about financial decisions, whereas numeracy and motivation were not significantly correlated with age. Second, we found that considering both the two cognitive and the two noncognitive individual‐differences characteristics increased predictions of financial decision making, as compared with considering either alone. Third, we examined how these four individual‐differences characteristics contributed to age differences in financial decision making. Older adults' higher levels of experience‐based knowledge and lower levels of negative emotions seemed to especially benefit their financial decision making. We discuss implications for theories on aging and decision making, as well as for interventions targeting financial decisions.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Early life deprivation promotes the development of strategies that minimize the downside costs of uncertainty across domains, which results in greater risk-aversion, present-orientation, & prosociality; these effects need not be dependent on salient cues to mortality

An uncertainty management perspective on long-run impacts of adversity: The influence of childhood socioeconomic status on risk, time, and social preferences. Dorsa Amir, Matthew R. Jordan, David G. Rand. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 79, November 2018, Pages 217-226. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2018.07.014

Abstract: While there has been a recent increase in focus on the role of early life socioeconomic status (SES) on preferences and decision-making, there is still debate surrounding the proper theoretical framework for understanding such effects. Some have argued that early life SES can fundamentally shift time preferences per se, such that those from low SES backgrounds favor current rewards over future rewards. Others have argued that, while early life SES has lasting effects on behavior, such effects are only observable in the presence of salient cues to mortality. Here, we propose an alternative framework that centers on environmental uncertainty. In this uncertainty management framework, early life deprivation promotes the development of strategies that minimize the downside costs of uncertainty across domains. We argue that this focus on managing uncertainty results in greater risk-aversion, present-orientation, and prosociality. Furthermore, these effects need not be dependent on salient cues to mortality. Across four large samples of participants (total N = 4714), we find that childhood deprivation uniquely predicts greater risk-aversion (both incentivized and hypothetical) and greater prosociality in economic games. Childhood deprivation also predicts greater present-orientation, but not above-and beyond current SES. We further find that mortality cues are not necessary to elicit these differences. Our results support an uncertainty management perspective on the effects of childhood SES on risk, time, and social preferences.

Women are attracted to men who display heroism and altruism, this preference is higher when the male is attractive compared to unattractive, and preferences for prosocial traits were higher when seeking a long-term compared to a short-term partner

Margana, Lacey, Manpal S. Bhogal, James E. Bartlett, and Daniel Farrelly. 2018. “Exploring Altruism and Heroism: The Effects of Physical Attraction in Female Mate Choice.” PsyArXiv. August 13. doi:10.31234/osf.io/kgpv

Abstract: The role of prosocial behaviour in female mate choice has been extensively explored, focusing on the desirability of altruism in potential mates, as well as altruism being a mating signal. However, little research has focused on the desirability of heroism and altruism in potential partners. Furthermore, the synergistic effect of attractiveness on the desirability of prosocial traits has only recently been explored, and to our knowledge, has not explored in relation to the desirability of heroism in a romantic partner. We explored the effect of prosociality and attractiveness on female desirability ratings (n=198), and whether desirability was influenced by whether women were seeking a short-term or long-term relationship. We find that women are attracted to men who display heroism and altruism, and this preference is higher when the male is attractive compared to unattractive. Furthermore, preferences for prosocial traits were higher when seeking a long-term compared to a short-term partner. Our findings add to the literature on prosocial behaviour and mate choice.

Phaesants: Apparently ‘poor’ cognitive performance (slow reversal speed suggesting low behavioural flexibility) correlates with fitness benefits in at least some circumstances, implying a novel mechanism by which continued exaggeration of cognitive abilities may be constrained

The quick are the dead: pheasants that are slow to reverse a learned association survive for longer in the wild. Joah R. Madden, Ellis J. G. Langley, Mark A. Whiteside, Christine E. Beardsworth, Jayden O. van Horik. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, September 26 2018, Volume 373, issue 1756. http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/373/1756/20170297

Abstract: Cognitive abilities probably evolve through natural selection if they provide individuals with fitness benefits. A growing number of studies demonstrate a positive relationship between performance in psychometric tasks and (proxy) measures of fitness. We assayed the performance of 154 common pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) chicks on tests of acquisition and reversal learning, using a different set of chicks and different set of cue types (spatial location and colour) in each of two years and then followed their fates after release into the wild. Across all birds, individuals that were slow to reverse previously learned associations were more likely to survive to four months old. For heavy birds, individuals that rapidly acquired an association had improved survival to four months, whereas for light birds, slow acquirers were more likely to be alive. Slow reversers also exhibited less exploratory behaviour in assays when five weeks old. Fast acquirers visited more artificial feeders after release. In contrast to most other studies, we showed that apparently ‘poor’ cognitive performance (slow reversal speed suggesting low behavioural flexibility) correlates with fitness benefits in at least some circumstances. This correlation suggests a novel mechanism by which continued exaggeration of cognitive abilities may be constrained.

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1. Introduction

One powerful approach to understand how natural selection may act on cognition is to measure the performance of individuals in a particular cognitive domain, and then explore how their performance correlates with a (proxy) fitness measure [1,2]. This is achieved by deploying explicit psychometric tasks targeting specific, defined cognitive processes [3,4]. Because fitness itself is hard to measure [5], researchers tend to use proxies that are presumed to correspond to reproductive success and/or survival. This correlational approach has predominantly revealed a positive relationship between an individual's performance in the psychometric task and a (proxy) measure of their fitness. Ants Lasius niger that exhibited faster route learning had greater colony-level foraging success [6]. Male African striped mice (Rhabdomys pumilio) that escaped quickly from mazes also had increased probability of surviving to the breeding season [7]. Male guppies (Poecilia reticulata) that learned mazes quickly were preferred by females [8]. Male bitterling (Rhodeus ocellatus) (practising a ‘sneaker’ strategy) that exhibited better maze learning subsequently had higher reproductive success [9]. Male song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) that demonstrated better control in a detour-reaching task had a larger song repertoire [10]. Male starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) with better spatial learning exhibited longer song bouts [11]. One study of female Australian magpies (Cracticus tibicen dorsalis) reported a link between their reproductive success and a general factor summarizing their performance in a battery of four tasks [12]. By contrast, a study of spotted bowerbirds (Ptilonorhynchus maculatus) found no relationship between a male's mating success and his performance in a battery of six tasks, either individually or when his performance was summarized by a single component [13]. Only one study has reported a negative relationship: male song sparrows that were fast at spatial learning also had smaller song repertoires [14]. This implies that natural selection generally leads to more exaggerated cognitive performance and associated abilities.

Interpretation of these previous studies is complicated by three factors. First, in all cases except one [12], a single assay has been used for each cognitive process being investigated. Reliance on a single assay risks a misattribution of the mechanisms driving individual performance. For example, learning to discriminate between two colour cues may indicate the specific ability or inherent motivation to prefer one colour over another [3], rather than the more general ability to learn associatively. A more robust method would be to use two (or more) tests that assay the same putative cognitive mechanism but differ in format or cue uses and hence triangulate on the outcome (Volter et al. [15]). We considered two ubiquitous cognitive processes and tested each using two different test variants. Associative learning involves learning to associate a stimulus with a reward and may be tested using a binary discrimination. Reversal learning may be measured by the speed at which such a previously learned association can be reversed. Reversal learning is considered to indicate an individual's ability to exert executive, inhibitory control and thus be behaviourally flexible ([16,17] corvids (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus, Nucifraga columbiana, Aphelocoma californica); but see also [18] humans). The processes have been linked to specific behaviours and fitness consequences. Associative learning performance determines adult foraging strategies ([19] sparrow, Passer domesticus) and rapid learning speeds enhance individual's foraging or reproductive success ([20,21] grasshopper, Schistocerca americana; wasp, Biosteres arisanus). Flexibility permits rapid switching between different optimal decisions in changeable environments [22] so that more behaviourally flexible individuals have improved invasion success ([23] Birds) or a better ability to track fluctuating social groups ([24] Primates). The two processes (associative learning and reversal learning) may be closely related to one another. In several other species, speeds of associative learning and reversal learning are negatively related ([25–27] myna, chickadee, scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), red junglefowl (Gallus gallus)). However, this negative relationship is not inevitable ([13,28] bowerbird, robin (Petroica longipes)) and indeed may be positive [29] or moderated by another factor e.g. testosterone [25].

Second, previous studies have not attempted to explicitly test how performance in abstract cognitive tasks relates to specific behaviours upon which selection may act. For example, it is not clear how improved inhibitory control as revealed by performance in a detour task may relate to song-learning processes [10], or how the ability to navigate a maze manifests in improved mating success [9]. One possibility is that cognitive performances and natural behaviours are linked by an overarching personality, such that an individual's behaviour in one context (a cognitive task) is linked to their behaviour in another context [30,31]. Alternatively, a cognitive ability has an immediate link to a natural behaviour, independent of personality. For example, performance in maze learning may correspond to the methods by which an individual learns to navigate their environment and recall feeding and refuge locations. By explicitly testing how cognitive abilities relate to broader personality assays, or more specific behaviours likely to relate to fitness outcomes, we can better understand how selection may act on these abilities.

Finally, studies have either had to test wild individuals for whom prior experience, social ranking and/or age is unknown, or they have relied on laboratory systems where the putative fitness consequences are hard to relate to the natural world. Administering controlled psychometric tests to wild animals, in which a large, random and reasonably complete sample of individuals participate over a large number of repeated presentations is problematic [1–4]. One solution is to capture animals from the wild and take them into captivity where they can be tested before release back into the wild. This approach encounters two problems. First, capture may not be random [32], so that the sample tested is not representative of the wild population. Second, individuals may have undergone different prior experiences that could lead to biases or preferences (e.g. for a particular colour) developed in other contexts that skew their performance in tests [3]. Such problems may be overcome by testing captive-reared individuals where prior experiences can be controlled and participation ensured. However, captive animals are not subject to natural selective pressures because predators are excluded and resources are provided in excess, and hence robust and relevant fitness measures are difficult to collect. This may explain why previous studies have used proxy measures of fitness.

We made use of a unique study system, the common pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) (hereafter pheasants). In the UK, these birds can be reared in captivity from hatching and subsequently released into the wild (for hunting). This ensures that individuals all experience identical developmental trajectories and prior experiences, all can be tested under controlled conditions and, critically, after release can be subject to natural selective pressures in the wild, where their fates can be monitored. We reared pheasant chicks from hatching to 10 weeks under controlled conditions in 2014 and 2015, and during this time we could subject them to psychometric tests of acquisition and reversal learning [33]. We used two sets of tests of particular processes, specifically the acquisition and reversal of associations between cues and rewards, using two different task paradigms (one discriminating colours and the other discriminating spatial positions on the test apparatus), with one task paradigm used in each year, to improve our confidence that it was the cognitive process that we were measuring rather than simply response to one particular set of cues. Critically, we then released birds into the wild and followed their fates, using survival as an unambiguous indicator of their fitness. Pheasant survival may be affected by year [34,35], sex ([36,37], but see also [38]), mass ([39], but see also [40]) and interactions between them (e.g. [41]). Therefore, we considered these in conjunction with performances in the cognitive tests. Pheasant mortality is typically high, especially in early life when birds are first independent, due to both terrestrial and avian predators [41,42]. This mortality occurs when pheasants disperse from their open-topped release pens and hence encounter novel predators and move away from artificial food provision. Pheasants that leave such safe release sites and fail to learn new foraging locations or refuges from predators are likely to be highly susceptible. We asked whether survival was predicted by a pheasant's early life performance in psychometric tests of learning and reversal, controlling for other non-cognitive factors such as sex and mass. Given the ambiguous relationship previously reported between an individual's speed of acquisition and reversal [13,25–29], we tested how performances in these two tasks were related to each other in pheasants. We then explored two mechanisms by which any such relationships between cognition and fitness may be mediated by their movement and exploration. As pheasants moved further away from their point of release (in a protected and provisioned pen—see below), they would encounter higher densities of predators and lower densities of artificial food supplies, and hence face an increased risk of predation or starvation. First, we tested how an individual's exploratory behaviour in a series of assays under controlled conditions when five weeks old correlated with their cognitive ability. Second, we tested how early life cognitive performance related to adult ranging behaviour after release.
The quick are the dead: pheasants that are slow to reverse a learned association survive for longer in the wild. Joah R. Madden, Ellis J. G. Langley, Mark A. Whiteside, Christine E. Beardsworth, Jayden O. van Horik. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, September 26 2018, Volume 373, issue 1756. http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/373/1756/20170297

Abstract: Cognitive abilities probably evolve through natural selection if they provide individuals with fitness benefits. A growing number of studies demonstrate a positive relationship between performance in psychometric tasks and (proxy) measures of fitness. We assayed the performance of 154 common pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) chicks on tests of acquisition and reversal learning, using a different set of chicks and different set of cue types (spatial location and colour) in each of two years and then followed their fates after release into the wild. Across all birds, individuals that were slow to reverse previously learned associations were more likely to survive to four months old. For heavy birds, individuals that rapidly acquired an association had improved survival to four months, whereas for light birds, slow acquirers were more likely to be alive. Slow reversers also exhibited less exploratory behaviour in assays when five weeks old. Fast acquirers visited more artificial feeders after release. In contrast to most other studies, we showed that apparently ‘poor’ cognitive performance (slow reversal speed suggesting low behavioural flexibility) correlates with fitness benefits in at least some circumstances. This correlation suggests a novel mechanism by which continued exaggeration of cognitive abilities may be constrained.

---
1. Introduction

One powerful approach to understand how natural selection may act on cognition is to measure the performance of individuals in a particular cognitive domain, and then explore how their performance correlates with a (proxy) fitness measure [1,2]. This is achieved by deploying explicit psychometric tasks targeting specific, defined cognitive processes [3,4]. Because fitness itself is hard to measure [5], researchers tend to use proxies that are presumed to correspond to reproductive success and/or survival. This correlational approach has predominantly revealed a positive relationship between an individual's performance in the psychometric task and a (proxy) measure of their fitness. Ants Lasius niger that exhibited faster route learning had greater colony-level foraging success [6]. Male African striped mice (Rhabdomys pumilio) that escaped quickly from mazes also had increased probability of surviving to the breeding season [7]. Male guppies (Poecilia reticulata) that learned mazes quickly were preferred by females [8]. Male bitterling (Rhodeus ocellatus) (practising a ‘sneaker’ strategy) that exhibited better maze learning subsequently had higher reproductive success [9]. Male song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) that demonstrated better control in a detour-reaching task had a larger song repertoire [10]. Male starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) with better spatial learning exhibited longer song bouts [11]. One study of female Australian magpies (Cracticus tibicen dorsalis) reported a link between their reproductive success and a general factor summarizing their performance in a battery of four tasks [12]. By contrast, a study of spotted bowerbirds (Ptilonorhynchus maculatus) found no relationship between a male's mating success and his performance in a battery of six tasks, either individually or when his performance was summarized by a single component [13]. Only one study has reported a negative relationship: male song sparrows that were fast at spatial learning also had smaller song repertoires [14]. This implies that natural selection generally leads to more exaggerated cognitive performance and associated abilities.

Interpretation of these previous studies is complicated by three factors. First, in all cases except one [12], a single assay has been used for each cognitive process being investigated. Reliance on a single assay risks a misattribution of the mechanisms driving individual performance. For example, learning to discriminate between two colour cues may indicate the specific ability or inherent motivation to prefer one colour over another [3], rather than the more general ability to learn associatively. A more robust method would be to use two (or more) tests that assay the same putative cognitive mechanism but differ in format or cue uses and hence triangulate on the outcome (Volter et al. [15]). We considered two ubiquitous cognitive processes and tested each using two different test variants. Associative learning involves learning to associate a stimulus with a reward and may be tested using a binary discrimination. Reversal learning may be measured by the speed at which such a previously learned association can be reversed. Reversal learning is considered to indicate an individual's ability to exert executive, inhibitory control and thus be behaviourally flexible ([16,17] corvids (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus, Nucifraga columbiana, Aphelocoma californica); but see also [18] humans). The processes have been linked to specific behaviours and fitness consequences. Associative learning performance determines adult foraging strategies ([19] sparrow, Passer domesticus) and rapid learning speeds enhance individual's foraging or reproductive success ([20,21] grasshopper, Schistocerca americana; wasp, Biosteres arisanus). Flexibility permits rapid switching between different optimal decisions in changeable environments [22] so that more behaviourally flexible individuals have improved invasion success ([23] Birds) or a better ability to track fluctuating social groups ([24] Primates). The two processes (associative learning and reversal learning) may be closely related to one another. In several other species, speeds of associative learning and reversal learning are negatively related ([25–27] myna, chickadee, scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), red junglefowl (Gallus gallus)). However, this negative relationship is not inevitable ([13,28] bowerbird, robin (Petroica longipes)) and indeed may be positive [29] or moderated by another factor e.g. testosterone [25].

Second, previous studies have not attempted to explicitly test how performance in abstract cognitive tasks relates to specific behaviours upon which selection may act. For example, it is not clear how improved inhibitory control as revealed by performance in a detour task may relate to song-learning processes [10], or how the ability to navigate a maze manifests in improved mating success [9]. One possibility is that cognitive performances and natural behaviours are linked by an overarching personality, such that an individual's behaviour in one context (a cognitive task) is linked to their behaviour in another context [30,31]. Alternatively, a cognitive ability has an immediate link to a natural behaviour, independent of personality. For example, performance in maze learning may correspond to the methods by which an individual learns to navigate their environment and recall feeding and refuge locations. By explicitly testing how cognitive abilities relate to broader personality assays, or more specific behaviours likely to relate to fitness outcomes, we can better understand how selection may act on these abilities.

Finally, studies have either had to test wild individuals for whom prior experience, social ranking and/or age is unknown, or they have relied on laboratory systems where the putative fitness consequences are hard to relate to the natural world. Administering controlled psychometric tests to wild animals, in which a large, random and reasonably complete sample of individuals participate over a large number of repeated presentations is problematic [1–4]. One solution is to capture animals from the wild and take them into captivity where they can be tested before release back into the wild. This approach encounters two problems. First, capture may not be random [32], so that the sample tested is not representative of the wild population. Second, individuals may have undergone different prior experiences that could lead to biases or preferences (e.g. for a particular colour) developed in other contexts that skew their performance in tests [3]. Such problems may be overcome by testing captive-reared individuals where prior experiences can be controlled and participation ensured. However, captive animals are not subject to natural selective pressures because predators are excluded and resources are provided in excess, and hence robust and relevant fitness measures are difficult to collect. This may explain why previous studies have used proxy measures of fitness.

We made use of a unique study system, the common pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) (hereafter pheasants). In the UK, these birds can be reared in captivity from hatching and subsequently released into the wild (for hunting). This ensures that individuals all experience identical developmental trajectories and prior experiences, all can be tested under controlled conditions and, critically, after release can be subject to natural selective pressures in the wild, where their fates can be monitored. We reared pheasant chicks from hatching to 10 weeks under controlled conditions in 2014 and 2015, and during this time we could subject them to psychometric tests of acquisition and reversal learning [33]. We used two sets of tests of particular processes, specifically the acquisition and reversal of associations between cues and rewards, using two different task paradigms (one discriminating colours and the other discriminating spatial positions on the test apparatus), with one task paradigm used in each year, to improve our confidence that it was the cognitive process that we were measuring rather than simply response to one particular set of cues. Critically, we then released birds into the wild and followed their fates, using survival as an unambiguous indicator of their fitness. Pheasant survival may be affected by year [34,35], sex ([36,37], but see also [38]), mass ([39], but see also [40]) and interactions between them (e.g. [41]). Therefore, we considered these in conjunction with performances in the cognitive tests. Pheasant mortality is typically high, especially in early life when birds are first independent, due to both terrestrial and avian predators [41,42]. This mortality occurs when pheasants disperse from their open-topped release pens and hence encounter novel predators and move away from artificial food provision. Pheasants that leave such safe release sites and fail to learn new foraging locations or refuges from predators are likely to be highly susceptible. We asked whether survival was predicted by a pheasant's early life performance in psychometric tests of learning and reversal, controlling for other non-cognitive factors such as sex and mass. Given the ambiguous relationship previously reported between an individual's speed of acquisition and reversal [13,25–29], we tested how performances in these two tasks were related to each other in pheasants. We then explored two mechanisms by which any such relationships between cognition and fitness may be mediated by their movement and exploration. As pheasants moved further away from their point of release (in a protected and provisioned pen—see below), they would encounter higher densities of predators and lower densities of artificial food supplies, and hence face an increased risk of predation or starvation. First, we tested how an individual's exploratory behaviour in a series of assays under controlled conditions when five weeks old correlated with their cognitive ability. Second, we tested how early life cognitive performance related to adult ranging behaviour after release.

Women: Exposure to thin models deteriorated body image while increasing body dissatisfaction and anxiety; conversely, exposure to overweight models improved body image and decreased body dissatisfaction but it did not affect anxiety

Images of Thin and Plus-Size Models Produce Opposite Effects on Women’s Body Image, Body Dissatisfaction, and Anxiety. Silvia Moreno-Domínguez et al. Sex Roles, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11199-018-0951-3

Abstract: Mainstream media’s promotion of dangerously thin female images likely lowers self-image satisfaction and contributes to pathological body concerns and disordered eating among women. We tested upward and downward social-comparison effects on self-evaluations by exposing 145 Spanish women to images of thin (upward) or overweight (downward) models. We also tested whether explicitly asking or not asking participants to compare themselves with the models would moderate social comparison effects. Exposure to thin models deteriorated body image while increasing body dissatisfaction and anxiety. Conversely, exposure to overweight models improved body image and decreased body dissatisfaction but it did not affect anxiety. Whether participants were asked to compare themselves to the models explicitly or implicitly had no effect on the participants’ responses. Furthermore, pre-existing body image concerns were not associated with the pre-to-post exposure effects. We propose that increasing the representation of normal weight and overweight women in media advertisements could help to neutralize or at least reduce the negative impact of media’s practice to idealize thin and overly thin women as symbols of female beauty.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Grooming helps animals remove dirt, parasites and other contaminants from skin and hair & may positively influence the animals’ affective state; cows spend about fivefold more time grooming compared with when brushes are not available

Emilie McConnachie, Anne Marieke C. Smid, Alexander J. Thompson, Daniel M. Weary, Marek A. Gaworski, Marina A. G. von Keyserlingk: Cows are highly motivated to access a grooming substrate, Biology Letters (2018). DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2018.0303

Abstract: In natural environments, cattle use trees and other abrasive surfaces to scratch and groom themselves. Modern indoor dairy cattle housing systems often lack appropriate grooming substrates, restricting the animals' ability to groom. We assessed the motivation of dairy cows to access an automated mechanical brush, a grooming resource that can be implemented in indoor cattle housing systems. Cows were trained to push a weighted gate to access either fresh feed (positive control), a mechanical brush or the same space without a brush (negative control). Weight on the gate was gradually increased until all cows failed to open it. The weight each cow was willing to push to access each resource was assessed using the Kaplan–Meier survival analysis. Despite differences in methodology used to obtain data on motivation to access feed and the brush, the outcomes were very similar; cows worked as hard for access to fresh feed and the brush (p = 0.94) and less hard for access to the empty space (compared with fresh feed: p < 0.01; brush: p < 0.02). These results indicate that cows are highly motivated to access a mechanical brush and that it is an important resource for cows.

Social behavior in mouse models of autism spectrum disorder normalized when investigators triggered the release of a specific signaling substance, serotonin, in a single part of the animals' brains

5-HT release in nucleus accumbens rescues social deficits in mouse autism model. Jessica J. Walsh, Daniel J. Christoffel, Boris D. Heifets, Gabriel A. Ben-Dor, Aslihan Selimbeyoglu, Lin W. Hung, Karl Deisseroth & Robert C. Malenka. Nature (2018), https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0416-4

Abstract: Dysfunction in prosocial interactions is a core symptom of autism spectrum disorder. However, the neural mechanisms that underlie sociability are poorly understood, limiting the rational development of therapies to treat social deficits. Here we show in mice that bidirectional modulation of the release of serotonin (5-HT) from dorsal raphe neurons in the nucleus accumbens bidirectionally modifies sociability. In a mouse model of a common genetic cause of autism spectrum disorder—a copy number variation on chromosome 16p11.2—genetic deletion of the syntenic region from 5-HT neurons induces deficits in social behaviour and decreases dorsal raphe 5-HT neuronal activity. These sociability deficits can be rescued by optogenetic activation of dorsal raphe 5-HT neurons, an effect requiring and mimicked by activation of 5-HT1b receptors in the nucleus accumbens. These results demonstrate an unexpected role for 5-HT action in the nucleus accumbens in social behaviours, and suggest that targeting this mechanism may prove therapeutically beneficial.

Gossip Drives Vicarious Learning and Facilitates Robust Social Connections

Jolly, Eshin, and Luke J. Chang. 2018. “Gossip Drives Vicarious Learning and Facilitates Robust Social Connections.” PsyArXiv. August 11. doi:10.31234/osf.io/qau5s

Abstract: Exchanging gossip is a ubiquitous and complex human behavior, yet its precise social function remains poorly understood. Prior work has focused on characterizing its role in increasing cooperation through social sanctioning. However, gossip has been theorized to have a more fundamental role in social life. Here we provide empirical evidence that gossip plays a critical role in vicarious learning and social bonding. First, we establish the conditions under which individuals spontaneously engage in gossip, and demonstrate that gossip promotes the rapid spread of information about others’ unobserved actions, which causally influences future behavior. Second, we demonstrate that gossip facilitates the formation of social connections between individuals. Conversants feel more positively towards each other relative to other individuals, influence each other’s future behavior, and align social impressions. These results directly contradict the commonly held view that gossip is primarily defamatory in nature, and instead demonstrate that gossip can provide a rich source of information to aid in navigating the social world that ultimately leads to more cooperative interactions by providing a mechanism to quickly forge social connections.

Check also: Individual differences in talking enjoyment: The roles of life history strategy and mate value. Shelia M. Kennison et al. Cogent Psychology, https://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2017/10/women-enjoy-talking-more-than-men.html

And: Gossip as an Intrasexual Competition Strategy: Sex Differences in Gossip Frequency, Content, and Attitudes. Adam C. Davis. Evolutionary Psychological Science, http://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2017/10/gossip-as-intrasexual-competition.html

And: What Shall We Talk about in Farsi? Content of Everyday Conversations in Iran. Mahdi Dahmardeh, R. I. M. Dunbar. Human Nature, http://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2017/08/content-of-everyday-conversations-in.html. Pay attention to the table there.

We designed a mobile video game to test spatial ability & tested more than 2.5 million people from every country; spatial ability of the population is correlated with country economic wealth, & gender inequality of a country is predictive of gender differences in navigation ability

Global Determinants of Navigation Ability. Antoine Coutrot et al. Current Biology, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2018.06.009

Highlights
•    We designed a mobile video game to test spatial ability in humans
•    We tested more than 2.5 million people from every country in the world
•    Spatial ability of the population of a country is correlated with economic wealth
•    Gender inequality of a country is predictive of gender differences in navigation ability

Summary: Human spatial ability is modulated by a number of factors, including age [1, 2, 3] and gender [4, 5]. Although a few studies showed that culture influences cognitive strategies [6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13], the interaction between these factors has never been globally assessed as this requires testing millions of people of all ages across many different countries in the world. Since countries vary in their geographical and cultural properties, we predicted that these variations give rise to an organized spatial distribution of cognition at a planetary-wide scale. To test this hypothesis, we developed a mobile-app-based cognitive task, measuring non-verbal spatial navigation ability in more than 2.5 million people and sampling populations in every nation state. We focused on spatial navigation due to its universal requirement across cultures. Using a clustering approach, we find that navigation ability is clustered into five distinct, yet geographically related, groups of countries. Specifically, the economic wealth of a nation was predictive of the average navigation ability of its inhabitants, and gender inequality was predictive of the size of performance difference between males and females. Thus, cognitive abilities, at least for spatial navigation, are clustered according to economic wealth and gender inequalities globally, which has significant implications for cross-cultural studies and multi-center clinical trials using cognitive testing.

People are averse to machines making morally-relevant driving, legal, medical, and military decisions, and that this aversion is mediated by the perception that machines can neither fully think nor feel

People are averse to machines making moral decisions. Yochanan E. Bigman, Kurt Gray. Cognition, Volume 181, December 2018, Pages 21-34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.08.003

Abstract: Do people want autonomous machines making moral decisions? Nine studies suggest that that the answer is ‘no’—in part because machines lack a complete mind. Studies 1–6 find that people are averse to machines making morally-relevant driving, legal, medical, and military decisions, and that this aversion is mediated by the perception that machines can neither fully think nor feel. Studies 5–6 find that this aversion exists even when moral decisions have positive outcomes. Studies 7–9 briefly investigate three potential routes to increasing the acceptability of machine moral decision-making: limiting the machine to an advisory role (Study 7), increasing machines’ perceived experience (Study 8), and increasing machines’ perceived expertise (Study 9). Although some of these routes show promise, the aversion to machine moral decision-making is difficult to eliminate. This aversion may prove challenging for the integration of autonomous technology in moral domains including medicine, the law, the military, and self-driving vehicles.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Women preferred stoic men who worked even though they were experiencing health problems as long-term mates, disregarding the male's facial symmetry and physique; in short-term mate choice, disregarded stoicism

Female Choice and Male Stoicism. Susan G. Brown, Susan Shirachi, and Danielle Zandbergen. Journal of Evolutionary Medicine, https://www.ashdin.com/abstract/female-choice-and-male-stoicism-3240.html

Abstract: Men consistently report that they are healthier than women but have higher mortality rates. We hypothesized that men were sexually selected to present themselves as healthy to possible mates, according to predictions from health selection theory. The present study tested this theory by contrasting known influences of female mate choice with male's reactions to a health problem (flu symptoms, reaction to vog (air pollution associated with volcanic emissions in the Hawaiian islands) or a headache). Participants viewed three sets of slides contrasting male facial symmetry, physique, and status with stoicism (defined as ignoring a health problem) and were asked to choose which male they preferred as a long-term or a short-term mate. Participants preferred stoic men who worked even though they were experiencing health problems as long-term mates, disregarding the male's facial symmetry and physique. Status also significantly affected long-term mate choice. In short-term mate choice, participants shifted their preferences to symmetrical faces and mesomorphic bodies, signals of attractiveness, disregarding stoicism. In conclusion, our data provide support for health selection theory. Additionally, preventive health measures directed at men should recognize their reluctance to recognize minor health problems and focus on techniques that enhance men's perception of their health symptoms.


Masturbation with a Tool by an Infant Male Chimpanzee

Masturbation with a Tool by an Infant Male Chimpanzee. Michio Nakamura. Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Japan. http://mahale.main.jp/PAN/2018/001.html

INTRODUCTION

Here I report a case of “masturbation” with a tool by a wild infant chimpanzee. More accurately, the infant male inserted his erect penis into a wadge discarded by an adult male and performed several thrusts, as if he was copulating with the wadge. The observed “masturbation” did not involve ejaculation, because infant chimpanzees are unable to ejaculate. A similar behavior, i.e., rubbing the penis against a piece of fruit (e.g., orange peel), was reported for infant male orangutans in captivity (Harrison 1962). There are also some reported cases of captive or rehabilitant orangutans and chimpanzees stimulating their own genitals with tools (Dixson 2012).

Masturbation, or self-stimulation of one’s own sexual organs, is common among humans and nowadays is regarded as useful for healthy sexual development (Kaestle & Allen 2011). Various nonhuman primates are also known to masturbate (Thomsen et al. 2003; Dixson 2012; Thomsen & Sommer 2015); therefore, it may be a phylogenetically ancient behavior. However, there are relatively few studies that focus on masturbation among nonhuman primates in the wild (Thomsen & Soltis 2004). Male chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are known to stimulate their own penises. Although Goodall (1989) noted that captive chimpanzees sometimes ejaculate by stimulating their own penises, it had not been observed to result in ejaculation in the wild conspecifics at Gombe. Similarly, at Mahale, it is common for males to “fumble with penis,” but without it culminating in ejaculation (Nishida et al. 1999). Such fumbling of penis is done usually by hand (and sometimes by foot), but, thus far, I have found no reports of such penile-stimulating behaviors with tools, at least in wild chimpanzee populations.

Sex and age preferences: Why is age so important in human mating?

Conroy-Beam, D., & Buss, D. M. (2018). Why is age so important in human mating? Evolved age preferences and their influences on multiple mating behaviors. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ebs0000127

Abstract: Evolutionary theorizing suggests that chronological age, because it is so strongly linked with key reproductive qualities like fertility, should be an exceptionally consequential variable in mate selection. We review voluminous evidence for mate preferences for age and the substantial and varied behavioral sequelae of those preferences. These include (a) in actual marriage decisions, men choose younger wives, and women choose older husbands, on average in all of the dozens of cultures studied; (b) in personal advertisements, men and women seek partners consistent with their expressed age preferences; (c) chronological age determines number of “hits” received in online dating services; (d) the age of potential bride influences the amount of money spent on premarriage customs; (e) men’s mate retention effort, including commitment manipulation, resource provisioning, and intrasexual threats, is significantly predicted by the wife’s age; and (f) chronological age is an important sex-linked cause of divorce. The far-reaching ramifications of age also extend to (g) tactics of intrasexual competition, (h) predictors of mate value discrepancies, (i) victims of sex crimes, and (j) prostitution patterns. Finally, chronological age predicts (k) probability of remarriage, and (l) the age gap between grooms and brides upon remarriage. We synthesize evidence from diverse methods, across different cultures, and over time spans of centuries. Massive converging evidence provides a powerful, yet complex, understanding of the evolutionary importance of age in multiple mating outcomes over the human life span.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Pakistan's pivot to coal: Plan to spend $35bn loan from China on new power stations looks set to continue under Khan

Pakistan’s pivot to coal to boost energy gets critics fired up. Kiran Stacey in Lahore July 31, 2018. Financial Times.
https://www.ft.com/content/5cd07544-7960-11e8-af48-190d103e32a4
Plan to spend $35bn loan from China on new power stations looks set to continue under Khan

Pakistan believes it may have found a way out of its long-term energy supply crisis, thanks largely to more than $35bn worth of loans provided by China under the $60bn China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The country has experienced years of rolling blackouts that have left residents in the dark and stifled the country’s manufacturing industries.

But now it is investing in an energy technology that is fast going out of fashion in other parts of the region — coal.

Under the CPEC, Beijing is planning to spend at least $35bn building new power stations, which will be mainly coal-fired, using resources from coalfields at Thar, about 400km east of Karachi. The plans will mean building 9.5 gigawatts of new coal-fired capacity — a third of the total capacity the country has already built.

This is in stark contrast with India, which recently said it would not approve any more new coal power plants — not least because the unit price of solar power has dropped below that of coal.

The previous government has defended its energy policies. Shehbaz Sharif, head of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party, which lost power in last week’s election, told the Financial Times before the vote: “We have built 11,000 megawatts of additional capacity in the space of five years, compared with 18,000 over the previous 66 years.”

And the strategy looks set to continue under the new prime minister Imran Khan, head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party. Again speaking before the election, Mr Khan told the FT he backed using Thar coal to boost the country’s electricity supplies. “Thar coal is in a desert, it’s near the coast, and there are new technologies which now make it possible that you don’t damage the environment,” he said.

Defenders of Pakistan’s build-up of coal point out that the fuel currently accounts for a very small fraction of the country’s installed electricity capacity. In India, that figure is around 75 per cent.

They also say that with tariffs higher in Pakistan than in neighbouring countries, encouraging cheap electricity supply is essential to help develop exporting manufacturers. The average electricity tariff for industry is around $0.13 per kilowatt-hour, compared with $0.12 in India and $0.09 in Bangladesh.

Pakistan exported goods worth 8.2 per cent of its gross domestic product last year, according to the World Bank, compared with 15 per cent by Bangladesh and nearly 19 per cent by India.

“Manufacturers in India and Bangladesh get cheaper electricity than those in Pakistan do,” says Ehsan Malik, chief executive of the Pakistan Business Council. “This is particularly problematic for the garment industry, especially since all three countries make clothes at the lower end of the sector, where energy prices account for a higher proportion of costs.”

Others, however, warn that while solar prices are falling, Pakistan is building a series of large power stations that will not only pollute the environment but could also saddle the country with high debts and could even become stranded assets in the long run.

Fiza Farhan, an independent development consultant and a former director of Buksh Energy, a solar power company, says: “I have banged my head against walls for years trying to get the government to launch solar projects on mega scales.

“But it was impossible to get projects into the final stage — every time we would get to the financing stage, the government would revise the tariffs.”

Economists warn, meanwhile, that the stress in the electricity sector is likely to become worse in the near term.

With the country’s stocks of foreign currency reserves rapidly declining, experts expect the new government to approach the International Monetary Fund for a bailout within months. The terms of that bailout, they warn, could include renegotiating or cancelling some of the projects backed by China and raising electricity tariffs.

Mohammed Sohail, chief executive of Topline Securities, a Karachi-based investment advisory company, says: “This government will also have to reduce expenditure in a major way through unpopular measures.”

Association between physical exercise and mental health in 1·2 million individuals in the USA between 2011 and 2015: More exercise was not always better

Association between physical exercise and mental health in 1·2 million individuals in the USA between 2011 and 2015: a cross-sectional study. Sammi R Chekroud et al. The Lancet Psychiatry, August 08, 2018. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(18)30227-X

Summary

Background: Exercise is known to be associated with reduced risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes, but its association with mental health remains unclear. We aimed to examine the association between exercise and mental health burden in a large sample, and to better understand the influence of exercise type, frequency, duration, and intensity.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we analysed data from 1 237 194 people aged 18 years or older in the USA from the 2011, 2013, and 2015 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System survey. We compared the number of days of bad self-reported mental health between individuals who exercised and those who did not, using an exact non-parametric matching procedure to balance the two groups in terms of age, race, gender, marital status, income, education level, body-mass index category, self-reported physical health, and previous diagnosis of depression. We examined the effects of exercise type, duration, frequency, and intensity using regression methods adjusted for potential confounders, and did multiple sensitivity analyses.

Findings: in the comments section

Interpretation: In a large US sample, physical exercise was significantly and meaningfully associated with self-reported mental health burden in the past month. More exercise was not always better. Differences as a function of exercise were large relative to other demographic variables such as education and income. Specific types, durations, and frequencies of exercise might be more effective clinical targets than others for reducing mental health burden, and merit interventional study.

By 2050, stringent climate mitigation policy, if implemented evenly across all sectors & regions, would have a greater negative impact on global hunger & food consumption than the direct impacts of climate change due to indirect impacts on prices/supplies of agri commodities

Risk of increased food insecurity under stringent global climate change mitigation policy. Tomoko Hasegawa, Shinichiro Fujimori, Petr Havlík, Hugo Valin, Benjamin Leon Bodirsky, Jonathan C. Doelman, Thomas Fellmann, Page Kyle, Jason F. L. Koopman, Hermann Lotze-Campen, Daniel Mason-D’Croz, Yuki Ochi, Ignacio Pérez Domínguez, Elke Stehfest, Timothy B. Sulser, Andrzej Tabeau, Kiyoshi Takahashi, Jun’ya Takakura, Hans van Meijl, Willem-Jan van Zeist, Keith Wiebe & Peter Witzke . Nature Climate Change, volume 8, pages699–703 (2018), https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-018-0230-x

Abstract: Food insecurity can be directly exacerbated by climate change due to crop-production-related impacts of warmer and drier conditions that are expected in important agricultural regions1,2,3. However, efforts to mitigate climate change through comprehensive, economy-wide GHG emissions reductions may also negatively affect food security, due to indirect impacts on prices and supplies of key agricultural commodities4,5,6. Here we conduct a multiple model assessment on the combined effects of climate change and climate mitigation efforts on agricultural commodity prices, dietary energy availability and the population at risk of hunger. A robust finding is that by 2050, stringent climate mitigation policy, if implemented evenly across all sectors and regions, would have a greater negative impact on global hunger and food consumption than the direct impacts of climate change. The negative impacts would be most prevalent in vulnerable, low-income regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where food security problems are already acute.

Testosterone & self-perceived mate value increased following a manipulated “victory” in a sporting competition & were associated with heightened sociosexuality, & increased expectations toward approaching attractive women

Tandem Androgenic and Psychological Shifts in Male Reproductive Effort Following a Manipulated “Win” or “Loss” in a Sporting Competition. Daniel P. Longman et al. Human Nature, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12110-018-9323-5

Abstract: Male-male competition is involved in inter- and intrasexual selection, with both endocrine and psychological factors presumably contributing to reproductive success in human males. We examined relationships among men’s naturally occurring testosterone, their self-perceived mate value (SPMV), self-esteem, sociosexuality, and expected likelihood of approaching attractive women versus situations leading to child involvement. We then monitored changes in these measures in male rowers (N = 38) from Cambridge, UK, following a manipulated “win” or “loss” as a result of an indoor rowing contest. Baseline results revealed that men with heightened testosterone and SPMV values typically had greater inclinations toward engaging in casual sexual relationships and a higher likelihood of approaching attractive women in a hypothetical social situation. As anticipated, both testosterone and SPMV increased following a manipulated “victory” and were associated with heightened sociosexuality, and increased expectations toward approaching attractive women versus individuals who would involve them in interacting with children after the race. SPMV and self-esteem appeared to mediate some of the effects of testosterone on post-race values. These findings are considered in the broader context of individual trade-offs between mating and parental effort and a model of the concurrent and dynamic androgenic and psychological influences contributing to male reproductive effort and success.

Strong negative effects are attributed to sex dolls both in public & academic debates; sparse research points to strong positive outcomes as well: sex dolls can provide a lot of sexual & emotional satisfaction, create feelings of comfort, peace & even love

Sex toys, sex dolls, sex robots: Our under-researched bed-fellows. N. Döring, S. Pöschl. Sexologies, Volume 27, Issue 3, July–September 2018, Pages e51-e55. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sexol.2018.05.009

Summary: In the 21st century, sexual products such as sex toys, sex dolls and sex robots are openly marketed on the Internet. The online retailer Amazon alone provides literally thousands of sexual wellness products. The Internet has done with sexual products what it has already achieved with pornography: it has expanded and diversified the market, made sexual products more accessible and affordable, and thus normalized their use. Research, though, is lagging behind: in comparison to the large body of pornography studies, research on sexual products, their users, uses and outcomes is scarce. The present paper therefore reviews both the state of technological development and the state of research regarding sex toys, sex dolls and sex robots marketed on the Internet. For each of these three groups of sexual product, we first present the range of products available and then provide data on their users and use. Finally, outcomes of sexual product use are discussed based on theoretical assumptions, available data and selected user experiences. Operating within a Positive Sexuality Framework (Williams et al., 2015) and a Positive Technology Framework (Riva et al., 2012), both rooted in the Positive Psychology Approach (Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, 2000), the paper argues that sexual products have the potential to improve sexual well-being in various populations. Health professionals working in the field of sexuality need to be well-informed about the ever-evolving market of more and more technologically advanced sexual products. It is their call to foster both, the health-related use of existing sexual products and health-related development of future sexual products.

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Strong negative effects are attributed to sex dolls both in public and academic debates: men who buy and use female or even child-like sex dolls could be led to objectify and abuse real women and children just as they do their dolls (Ray, 2016; Valverde, 2012). Men who accept their dolls as social companions could harm themselves by no longer seek-ing for a human partner. Even innocuous sex doll use could lead to problems for the owner due to stigmatization by fam-ily and friends, leading to embarrassment, social withdrawal and guilt (Knox et al., 2017; Ray, 2016). However, the sparse research points to strong positive outcomes as well: sex dolls can provide a lot of sexual and emotional satisfaction, cre-ate feelings of comfort, peace and even love, as doll-owners report in surveys and interviews (Ferguson, 2010; Valverde, 2012).

In doll-owner forums, there are a lot of nuanced dis-cussions about the pros and cons of sex dolls. While some owners confirm the problem of social stigmatization, others tell success stories about coming out as a doll-owner to their friends and family and finding acceptance. While some feel anxious about falling in love or becoming over-attached to a doll at the cost of real human contact, others describe the doll as a therapeutic tool that helps them to overcome a traumatic breakup or to cope with seemingly inevitable social and sexual deprivation due to physical and/or mental impairment.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count Markers of Narcissism

Holtzman, Nicholas S., Allison M. Tackman, Albrecht Kuefner, Fenne große Deters, Mitja Back, Brent Donnellan, James W. Pennebaker, et al. 2018. “LIWC Markers of Narcissism: An Exploratory LIWC Analysis of 15 Samples.” PsyArXiv. August 8. doi:10.31234/osf.io/yvna6

Abstract: Narcissism is virtually unrelated to using first-person singular pronouns (Carey et al., [2015] Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109). The degree to which narcissism is linked to other aspects of language use, however, remains unclear. We conducted a multi-site, multi-measure, and dual-language project to identify potential linguistic markers of narcissism. We applied the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) program to a large number of written and spoken texts across 15 samples (total N = 4,941). The strongest positive correlates of narcissism were: using words related to sports, second-person pronouns, and swear words. The strongest negative correlates of narcissism were: using anxiety/fear words, tentative words, and words related to sensory/perceptual processes. All effects were small (each |r| less than .10).