Thursday, November 30, 2017

Safety First: Perceived Risk of Street Harassment and Educational Choices of Women in India

Safety First: Perceived Risk of Street Harassment and Educational Choices of Women. Girija Borker.

Abstract: This paper examines the impact of perceived risk of street harassment on women's human capital attainment. I assemble a unique dataset that combines information on 4,000 students at the University of Delhi from a survey that I designed and conducted, a mapping of the potential travel routes to all colleges in the students' choice set using an algorithm I developed in Google Maps, and crowd-sourced mobile application safety data. Using a random utility framework, I estimate that women are willing to choose a college in the bottom half of the quality distribution over a college in the top quintile for a route that is perceived to be one standard deviation (SD) safer. Alternatively, women are willing to spend an additional INR 18,800 (USD 290) per year, relative to men, for a route that is one SD safer - an amount equal to double the average annual college tuition. These findings have implications for other economic decisions made by women. For example, it could help explain the puzzle of low female labor force participation in India.

Anti-natalist philosophers contend life is so painful that humans should not reproduce

The Case for Not Being Born: The anti-natalist philosopher David Benatar argues that it would be better if no one had children ever again. By Joshua Rothman. New Yorker, November 27, 2017.

Anti-natalist philosophers contend life is so painful that humans should not reproduce.

David Benatar may be the world’s most pessimistic philosopher. An “anti-natalist,” he believes that life is so bad, so painful, that human beings should stop having children for reasons of compassion. “While good people go to great lengths to spare their children from suffering, few of them seem to notice that the one (and only) guaranteed way to prevent all the suffering of their children is not to bring those children into existence in the first place,” he writes, in a 2006 book called “Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence.” In Benatar’s view, reproducing is intrinsically cruel and irresponsible—not just because a horrible fate can befall anyone, but because life itself is “permeated by badness.” In part for this reason, he thinks that the world would be a better place if sentient life disappeared altogether.

For a work of academic philosophy, “Better Never to Have Been” has found an unusually wide audience. It has 3.9 stars on GoodReads, where one reviewer calls it “required reading for folks who believe that procreation is justified.” A few years ago, Nic Pizzolatto, the screenwriter behind “True Detective,” read the book and made Rust Cohle, Matthew McConaughey’s character, a nihilistic anti-natalist. (“I think human consciousness is a tragic misstep in evolution,” Cohle says.) When Pizzolatto mentioned the book to the press, Benatar, who sees his own views as more thoughtful and humane than Cohle’s, emerged from an otherwise reclusive life to clarify them in interviews. Now he has published “The Human Predicament: A Candid Guide to Life’s Biggest Questions,” a refinement, expansion, and contextualization of his anti-natalist thinking. The book begins with an epigraph from T. S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets”—“Humankind cannot bear very much reality”—and promises to provide “grim” answers to questions such as “Do our lives have meaning?,” and “Would it be better if we could live forever?”

Benatar was born in South Africa in 1966. He is the head of the philosophy department at the University of Cape Town, where he also directs the university’s Bioethics Centre, which was founded by his father, Solomon Benatar, a global-health expert. (Benatar dedicated “Better Never to Have Been” “to my parents, even though they brought me into existence.”) Beyond these bare facts, little information about him is available online. There are no pictures of Benatar on the Internet; YouTube videos of his lectures consist only of PowerPoint slides. One video, titled “What Does David Benatar Look Like?,” zooms in on a grainy photograph taken from the back of a lecture hall until an arrow labelled “David Benatar” appears, indicating the abstract, pixellated head of a man in a baseball cap.

After finishing “The Human Predicament,” I wrote to Benatar to ask if we could meet. He readily agreed, then, after reading a few of my other pieces, followed up with a note. “I see that you aim to portray the person you interview, in addition to his or her work,” he wrote:
One pertinent fact about me is that I am a very private person who would be mortified to be written about in the kind of detail I’ve seen in the other interviews. I would thus decline to answer questions I would find too personal. (I would be similarly uncomfortable with a photograph of me being used.) I understand entirely if you would rather not proceed with the interview under these circumstances. If, however, you would be happy to conduct an interview that recognized this aspect of me, I would be delighted.

Undoubtedly, Benatar is a private person by nature. But his anonymity also serves a purpose: it prevents readers from psychologizing him and attributing his views to depression, trauma, or some other aspect of his personality. He wants his arguments to be confronted in themselves. “Sometimes people ask, ‘Do you have children?’ ” he told me later. (He speaks calmly and evenly, in a South African accent.) “And I say, ‘I don’t see why that’s relevant. If I do, I’m a hypocrite—but my arguments could still be right.’ ” When he told me that he’s had anti-natalist views since he was “very young,” I asked how young. “A child,” he said, after a pause. He smiled uncomfortably. This was exactly the kind of personal question he preferred not to answer.

Benatar and I met at the World Trade Center, where The New Yorker has its offices. He is small and trim, with an elfin face, and he was neatly dressed in trousers and a lavender sweater; I recognized him by his baseball cap. On the building’s sixty-fourth floor, we settled into a pair of plush chairs arranged near windows with panoramic views of Manhattan: the Hudson on the left, the East River on the right, the skyscrapers of midtown in the distance.

Social scientists often ask people about their levels of happiness. A typical survey asks respondents to rate their lives on a scale of one (“the worst possible life for you”) to ten (“the best possible life for you”); according to the 2017 World Happiness Report, Americans surveyed between 2014 and 2016 rated their lives, on average, 6.99—less happy than the lives of Canadians (7.32) and happier than those of citizens of Sudan (4.14). Another survey reads, “Taking all things together, would you say you are (i) Very happy, (ii) Rather happy, (iii) Not very happy or (iv) Not at all happy?” In recent years, in countries such as India, Russia, and Zimbabwe, responses to this question have been trending upward. In 1998, ninety-three per cent of Americans claimed to be very or rather happy. By 2014, after the Great Recession, the number had fallen, but only slightly, to ninety-one per cent.

People, in short, say that life is good. Benatar believes that they are mistaken. “The quality of human life is, contrary to what many people think, actually quite appalling,” he writes, in “The Human Predicament.” He provides an escalating list of woes, designed to prove that even the lives of happy people are worse than they think. We’re almost always hungry or thirsty, he writes; when we’re not, we must go to the bathroom. We often experience “thermal discomfort”—we are too hot or too cold—or are tired and unable to nap. We suffer from itches, allergies, and colds, menstrual pains or hot flashes. Life is a procession of “frustrations and irritations”—waiting in traffic, standing in line, filling out forms. Forced to work, we often find our jobs exhausting; even “those who enjoy their work may have professional aspirations that remain unfulfilled.” Many lonely people remain single, while those who marry fight and divorce. “People want to be, look, and feel younger, and yet they age relentlessly”:
They have high hopes for their children and these are often thwarted when, for example, the children prove to be a disappointment in some way or other. When those close to us suffer, we suffer at the sight of it. When they die, we are bereft.

The knee-jerk response to observations like these is, “If life is so bad, why don’t you just kill yourself?” Benatar devotes a forty-three-page chapter to proving that death only exacerbates our problems. “Life is bad, but so is death,” he concludes. “Of course, life is not bad in every way. Neither is death bad in every way. However, both life and death are, in crucial respects, awful. Together, they constitute an existential vise—the wretched grip that enforces our predicament.” It’s better, he argues, not to enter into the predicament in the first place. People sometimes ask themselves whether life is worth living. Benatar thinks that it’s better to ask sub-questions: Is life worth continuing? (Yes, because death is bad.) Is life worth starting? (No.)

Benatar is far from the only anti-natalist. Books such as Sarah Perry’s “Every Cradle Is a Grave” and Thomas Ligotti’s “The Conspiracy Against the Human Race” have also found audiences. There are many “misanthropic anti-natalists”: the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, for example, has thousands of members who believe that, for environmental reasons, human beings should cease to exist. For misanthropic anti-natalists, the problem isn’t life—it’s us. Benatar, by contrast, is a “compassionate anti-natalist.” His thinking parallels that of the philosopher Thomas Metzinger, who studies consciousness and artificial intelligence; Metzinger espouses digital anti-natalism, arguing that it would be wrong to create artificially conscious computer programs because doing so would increase the amount of suffering in the world. The same argument could apply to human beings.

Like a boxer who has practiced his counters, Benatar has anticipated a range of objections. Many people suggest that the best experiences in life—love, beauty, discovery, and so on—make up for the bad ones. To this, Benatar replies that pain is worse than pleasure is good. Pain lasts longer: “There’s such a thing as chronic pain, but there’s no such thing as chronic pleasure,” he said. It’s also more powerful: would you trade five minutes of the worst pain imaginable for five minutes of the greatest pleasure? Moreover, there’s an abstract sense in which missing out on good experiences isn’t as bad as having bad ones. “For an existing person, the presence of bad things is bad and the presence of good things is good,” Benatar explained. “But compare that with a scenario in which that person never existed—then, the absence of the bad would be good, but the absence of the good wouldn’t be bad, because there’d be nobody to be deprived of those good things.” This asymmetry “completely stacks the deck against existence,” he continued, because it suggests that “all the unpleasantness and all the misery and all the suffering could be over, without any real cost.”

Some people argue that talk of pain and pleasure misses the point: even if life isn’t good, it’s meaningful. Benatar replies that, in fact, human life is cosmically meaningless: we exist in an indifferent universe, perhaps even a “multiverse,” and are subject to blind and purposeless natural forces. In the absence of cosmic meaning, only “terrestrial” meaning remains—and, he writes, there’s “something circular about arguing that the purpose of humanity’s existence is that individual humans should help one another.” Benatar also rejects the argument that struggle and suffering, in themselves, can lend meaning to existence. “I don’t believe that suffering gives meaning,” Benatar said. “I think that people try to find meaning in suffering because the suffering is otherwise so gratuitous and unbearable.” It’s true, he said, that “Nelson Mandela generated meaning through the way he responded to suffering—but that’s not to defend the conditions in which he lived.”

I asked Benatar why the proper response to his arguments wasn’t to strive to make the world a better place. The possible creation of a better world in the future, he told me, hardly justifies the suffering of people in the present; at any rate, a dramatically improved world is impossible. “It’ll never happen. The lessons never seem to get learnt. They never seem to get learnt. Maybe the odd individual will learn them, but you still see this madness around you,” he said. “You can say, ‘For goodness’ sake! Can’t you see how you’re making the same mistakes humans have made before? Can’t we do this differently?’ But it doesn’t happen.” Ultimately, he said, “unpleasantness and suffering are too deeply written into the structure of sentient life to be eliminated.” His voice grew more urgent; his eyes teared up. “We’re asked to accept what is unacceptable. It’s unacceptable that people, and other beings, have to go through what they go through, and there’s almost nothing that they can do about it.” In an ordinary conversation, I would’ve murmured something reassuring. In this case, I didn’t know what to say.

Benatar had selected a vegan restaurant for lunch, and we set out to walk there, along the Hudson. At the end of Vesey Street, we passed the Irish Hunger Memorial—a quarter acre of soil transplanted from Ireland, in 2001, to commemorate the millions who had died during the country’s Great Famine. At Benatar’s suggestion, we spent a few minutes exploring and reading the historical quotes displayed in the entryway. The famine lasted seven years; recalling it, one man wrote, “It dwells in my memory as one long night of sorrow.”

It was a warm day. In Battery Park, mothers picnicked with their small children on the grass. A group of co-workers played table tennis. Down by the water, couples strolled hand in hand. There were runners on the path—shirtless men with muscular chests, women in stylish workout gear.

“Do you ever feel a dissonance between your beliefs and your environment?” I asked.

“I’m not opposed to people having fun, or in denial that life contains good things,” Benatar said, laughing. I glanced over to see that he had removed his sweater and was now in shirtsleeves. His cap appeared not to have moved. We reached the spot where, eight weeks later, a twenty-nine-year-old man in a van would kill eight people and injure eleven others.

Like everyone else, Benatar finds his views disturbing; he has, therefore, ambivalent feelings about sharing them. He wouldn’t walk into a church, stride to the pulpit, and declare that God doesn’t exist. Similarly, he doesn’t relish the idea of becoming an ambassador for anti-natalism. Life, he says, is already unpleasant enough. He reassures himself that, because his books are philosophical and academic, they will be read only by those who seek them out. He hears from readers who are grateful to find their own secret thoughts expressed. One man with several children read “Better Never to Have Been,” then told Benatar that he believed having them had been a terrible mistake; people suffering from terrible mental and physical afflictions write to say they wish that they had never existed. He also hears from people who share his views and are disabled by them. “I’m just filled with sadness for people like that,” he said, in a soft voice. “They have an accurate view of reality, and they’re paying the price for it.” I asked Benatar whether he ever found his own thoughts overwhelming. He smiled uncomfortably—another personal question—and said, “Writing helps.”

He doesn’t imagine that anti-natalism could ever be widely adopted: “It runs counter to too many biological drives.” Still, for him, it’s a source of hope. “The madness of the world as a whole—what can you or I do about that?” he said, while we walked. “But every couple, or every person, can decide not to have a child. That’s an immense amount of suffering that’s avoided, which is all to the good.” When friends have children, he must watch his words. “I’m torn,” he said. Having a child is “pretty horrible, given the predicament in which it will find itself”; on the other hand, “optimism makes life more bearable.” Some years ago, when a fellow-philosopher told him that she was pregnant, his response was muted. Come on, she insisted—you have to be happy for me. Benatar consulted his conscience, then said, “I am happy—for you.”

At lunch, we sat next to a little girl and her mother. The girl was around eight years old, wearing a dress and holding a book. “Do you want to take these home?” her mother asked, pointing to some French fries.

“Yes!” the girl said.

My conversation with Benatar continued, but I found it hard to talk about anti-natalism while sitting next to the mother and daughter. We spent much of our lunch amiably discussing our work habits. On the street, we shook hands. “I’m just going to walk around a bit,” Benatar said. He planned to wander the West Village before heading to the airport. I walked south and, near the World Trade Center, descended into the Oculus, the vast, sepulchral mall and train station that has replaced the one destroyed in the 9/11 attacks. With its towering, spine-like roof and white-marble ribs, it is part skeleton, part cathedral. Standing on the escalator, I watched as a woman with one arm in her jacket struggled to insert the other. An overweight businessman, his ears plugged with earbuds, brushed past me, jostling me with his briefcase. As he reached the bottom, he held the woman’s coat, and she slipped into it.

Joshua Rothman is The New Yorker’s archive editor. He is also a frequent contributor to, where he writes about books and ideas

Psychometric and Faciometric Support for Observable Facial Feminization in Gay Men: Both Men And Women Find Them More Attractive

Psychometric and Faciometric Support for Observable Facial Feminization in Gay Men. Julia M. Robertson, Barbara E Kingsley & Gina C. Ford. Journal of Homosexuality,

ABSTRACT: Though male homosexuality appears to be evolutionarily paradoxical, phenotypic feminization has been offered as a route for three current models positing a genetic basis for male homosexuality. We tested whether facial feminization is observable in gay men in two studies. In Study 1, using two composite images of gay and of heterosexual men, naive participants (N = 308) rated the ‘gay’ face more highly on stereotypically feminine traits and actual femininity and the ‘heterosexual’ face more highly on stereotypically masculine traits and actual masculinity. In Study 2, faciometrics of 428 internet images of gay (N = 219) and heterosexual men were analyzed along six, sexually dimorphic ratios. The faciometrics of gay men were more feminine, both in gestalt terms, and for five of the six individual traits. The studies offer objective support for a more feminized facial phenotype in gay males that is difficult to explain through cultural or behavioral cues.

KEYWORDS: Feminization, faciometric, facial metrics, sexual dimorphism, homosexual men, sexually antagonistic selection, cheekbone prominence, eye mouth eye angle, lip depth

Effects of Domestication on the Vocal Communication of Dogs: Able to Target Barks at Humans, Leaving Aside Othe Dogs

Modeling Evolutionary Changes in Information Transfer: Effects of Domestication on the Vocal Communication of Dogs (Canis familiaris). Peter Pongracz. European Psychologist (2017), 22, pp. 219-232.

Abstract. Interspecific communication provides good opportunity for studying signal evolution. In this theoretical paper, we hypothesized that vocal signaling in dogs may show specific changes that made it more suitable for interspecific communication in the anthropogenic niche. We assumed that (1) some dog vocalizations will diverge from the corresponding exemplars of wolves; (2) they provide comprehendible affective, indexical, and contextual information for humans; (3) some aspects of dog vocalizations are more typical for the interspecific than for the intraspecific domain. We found that the most unique type of vocalization in the dog is barking. We proved that human listeners can contextually categorize dog barks, as well as attribute distinct inner states of dogs based on the barks. We found that dogs are sensitive to both contextual and individual-specific features of other dogs’ barks. However, dogs showed almost no response to the bark emitted in isolation, which is one of the easiest to recognize by humans, indicating the possibility of a specific, new communicative role for barks, not present in its original function. Our conclusion is that the qualitative and quantitative proliferation of barks can be explained by mechanisms of evolution such as ritualization and adaptive radiation. Barks became suitable for conveying a more various set of information than the original barks of wolves did. Barks also became typical in such contexts where originally they were not used – such as the contact seeking calls of isolated specimens, apparently targeted at the human, and not at a canine audience.

Keywords: dog, vocalizations, evolution, adaptive radiation

Does Religious Attendance Moderate the Connection between Pornography Consumption and Attitudes toward Women?

Does Religious Attendance Moderate the Connection between Pornography Consumption and Attitudes toward Women? Kyler R Rasmussen & Taylor Kohut. The Journal of Sex Research,

Abstract: Feminist theory and religious doctrines alike often suggest that pornography alters the attitudes of those who consume it, particularly with respect to how consumers view women. Many would assume that pornography would universally encourage sexism and female objectification, but recent evidence has linked pornography use with more gender egalitarian views. Using data from a large-scale, nationally representative survey, we argue that cognitive dissonance among pornography consumers could alter egalitarian attitudes. We found that those who reported consuming pornography had more egalitarian attitudes than those who did not, but this difference was stronger among those who attended religious services more regularly—those who would be likely to experience dissonance when consuming pornography. This pattern was consistent across the three egalitarian attitudes we examined: attitudes toward women in power, women in the workplace, and abortion. Our results suggest that pornography might foster progressive attitudes among those most likely to hold conservative beliefs.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Real-life schadenfreude events: No correlation with personality traits

The Relationship Between Personality and Schadenfreude in Hypothetical Versus Live Situations. Keegan D. Greenier. Psychological Reports,

Abstract: This study sought to investigate how individual differences are related to schadenfreude (pleasure derived from another’s misfortune) by replicating past findings and extending them to additional personality traits. Because most past research on schadenfreude has relied heavily on the use of reactions to hypothetical scenarios, an attempt was made to demonstrate external validity by also including a reaction to a live event (confederate misfortune). For the scenarios, schadenfreude was positively correlated with the Dark Triad and just world beliefs; negatively correlated with empathy and agreeableness; and uncorrelated with dispositional envy, self-esteem, or the remaining Big Five traits. For the live event, no personality traits were correlated with schadenfreude, suggesting responses to hypothetical situations may not be representative of real-life schadenfreude events.

Keywords Schadenfreude, empathy, Dark Triad, agreeableness, just world beliefs, envy, self-esteem, five-factor model

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Sex differences in children's toy preferences

Todd BK, Fischer RA, Di Costa S, et al. Sex differences in children's toy preferences: A systematic review, meta-regression, and meta-analysis. Inf Child Dev. 2017;e2064.

.    Gender differences in toy choice exist and appear to be the product of both innate and social forces.
.    Despite methodological variation in the choice and number of toys offered, context of testing, and age of child, the consistency in finding sex differences in children's preferences for toys typed to their own gender indicates the strength of this phenomenon and the likelihood that has a biological origin.
.    The time playing with male-typed toys increased as boys got older, but the same pattern was not found in girls; this indicates that stereotypical social effects may persist longer for boys or that there is a stronger biological predisposition for certain play styles in boys.

Abstract: From an early age, most children choose to play with toys typed to their own gender. In order to identify variables that predict toy preference, we conducted a meta-analysis of observational studies of the free selection of toys by boys and girls aged between 1 and 8 years. From an initial pool of 1788 papers, 16 studies (787 boys and 813 girls) met our inclusion criteria. We found that boys played with male-typed toys more than girls did (Cohen's d = 1.03, p < .0001) and girls played with female-typed toys more than boys did (Cohen's d = −0.91, p < .0001). Meta-regression showed no significant effect of presence of an adult, study context, geographical location of the study, publication date, child's age, or the inclusion of gender-neutral toys. However, further analysis of data for boys and girls separately revealed that older boys played more with male-typed toys relative to female-typed toys than did younger boys (β = .68, p < .0001). Additionally, an effect of the length of time since study publication was found: girls played more with female-typed toys in earlier studies than in later studies (β = .70, p < .0001), whereas boys played more with male-typed toys (β = .46, p < .05) in earlier studies than in more recent studies. Boys also played with male-typed toys less when observed in the home than in a laboratory (β = −.46, p < .05). Findings are discussed in terms of possible contributions of environmental influences and age-related changes in boys' and girls' toy preferences.

Sex differences in jealousy: the (lack of) influence of researcher theoretical perspective

Sex differences in jealousy: the (lack of) influence of researcher theoretical perspective. John Edlund, Jeremy D Heider, Austin Lee Nichols, Randy J. McCarthy, Sarah E. Wood, Cory R. Scherer, Jessica L. Hartnett & Richard Walker. The Journal of Social Psychology,

ABSTRACT: The sex difference in jealousy is an effect that has generated significant controversy in the academic literature (resulting in two meta-analyses that reached different conclusions on the presence or absence of the effect). In this study, we had a team of researchers from different theoretical perspectives use identical protocols to test whether the sex difference in jealousy would occur across many different samples (while testing whether mate value would moderate the effect). In our samples, we found the sex difference in jealousy to occur using both forced choice and continuous measures, this effect appeared in several different settings, and, we found that mate value moderated participant responses. The results are discussed in light of the controversy surrounding the presence of the effect.

KEYWORDS: Jealousy, sex differences, mate value

Check also The Evolutionary Psychology of Envy and Jealousy. Vilayanur S. Ramachandran and Baland Jalal. Front. Psychol., September 19 2017.

“You Little Creep”: Evidence of Blatant Dehumanization of Short Groups

“You Little Creep”: Evidence of Blatant Dehumanization of Short Groups. Jonas R. Kunst, , Nour Kteily, Lotte Thomsen. Social Psychological and Personality Science,

Abstract: Physical cues influence social judgments of others. For example, shorter individuals are evaluated less positively than taller individuals. Here, we demonstrate that height also impacts one of the most consequential intergroup judgments—attributions of humanity—and explore whether this effect is modulated by the tendency to value hierarchy maintenance. In Study 1, the shorter participants perceived a range of out-groups to be, the more they dehumanized them, and this tended to be particularly pronounced among those scoring high on social dominance orientation (SDO). In Study 2, participants dehumanized an out-group more when they were led to believe that it was relatively short. Finally, Study 3 applied a reverse correlation approach, demonstrating that participants in general, and especially those scoring high on SDO, represented shorter groups in ways less consistent with full humanity than they represented taller groups. Together, this research demonstrates that basic physical height cues shape the perceived humanity of out-groups.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Is Support of Censoring Controversial Media Content for the Good of Others? Sexual Strategies and Support of Censoring Pro-Alcohol Advertising

Is Support of Censoring Controversial Media Content for the Good of Others? Sexual Strategies and Support of Censoring Pro-Alcohol Advertising. Jinguang Zhang. Evolutionary Psychology, volume: 15 issue: 4.

Abstract: At least in the United States, there are widespread concerns with advertising that encourages alcohol consumption, and previous research explains those concerns as aiming to protect others from the harm of excessive alcohol use.1 Drawing on sexual strategies theory, we hypothesized that support of censoring pro-alcohol advertising is ultimately self-benefiting regardless of its altruistic effect at a proximate level. Excessive drinking positively correlates with having casual sex, and casual sex threatens monogamy, one of the major means with which people adopting a long-term sexual strategy increase their inclusive fitness. Then, one way for long-term strategists to protect monogamy, and thus their reproductive interest is to support censoring pro-alcohol advertising, thereby preventing others from becoming excessive drinkers (and consequently having casual sex) under media influence. Supporting this hypothesis, three studies consistently showed that restricted sociosexuality positively correlated with support of censoring pro-alcohol advertising before and after various value-, ideological-, and moral-foundation variables were controlled for. Also as predicted, Study 3 revealed a significant indirect effect of sociosexuality on censorship support through perceived media influence on others but not through perceived media influence on self. These findings further supported a self-interest analysis of issue opinions, extended third-person-effect research on support of censoring pro-alcohol advertising, and suggested a novel approach to analyzing media censorship support.

Keywords: sexual strategies, reproductive self-interest, sociosexuality, alcohol consumption, media censorship support, third-person effect

Beauty, Effort, and Misrepresentation: How Beauty Work Affects Judgments of Moral Character and Consumer Preferences

Beauty, Effort, and Misrepresentation: How Beauty Work Affects Judgments of Moral Character and Consumer Preferences. Adriana Samper Linyun W Yang Michelle E Daniels. Journal of Consumer Research, ucx116,

Abstract: Women engage in a variety of beauty practices, or “beauty work,” to enhance their physical appearance, such as applying cosmetics, tanning, or exercising. Although the rewards of physical attractiveness are well documented, perceptions of both the women who engage in efforts to enhance their appearance and the high-effort beauty products marketed to them are not well understood. Across seven studies, we demonstrate that consumers judge women who engage in certain types of extensive beauty work as possessing poorer moral character. These judgments occur only for effortful beauty work perceived as transformative (significantly altering appearance) and transient (lasting a relatively short time), such that they emerge within cosmetics and tanning, yet not skincare or exercise. This effect is mediated by the perception that putting high effort into one’s appearance signals a willingness misrepresent one’s true self, and translates into lower purchase intentions for higher-effort cosmetics. We identify several boundary conditions, including the attractiveness of the woman performing the beauty work and whether the effort is attributed to external norms or causes. In examining how beauty work elicits moral judgments, we also shed light on why effortful cosmetic use is viewed negatively, yet effortful products continue to be commercially successful.

Check also The Causes and Consequences of Women’s Competitive Beautification. Danielle J. DelPriore, Marjorie L. Prokosch, and Sarah E. Hill. The Oxford Handbook of Women and Competition, edited by Maryanne L. Fisher.

Resolving China's Zombies: Tackling Debt and Raising Productivity

Resolving China's Zombies: Tackling Debt and Raising Productivity. W. Raphael Lam ; Alfred Schipke ; Yuyan Tan ; Zhibo Tan. IMF Working Paper No. 17/266.

Abstract: Nonviable “zombie” firms have become a key concern in China. Using novel firm-level industrial survey data, this paper illustrates the central role of zombies and their strong linkages with stateowned enterprises (SOEs) in contributing to debt vulnerabilities and low productivity. As a group, zombie firms and SOEs account for an outsized share of corporate debt, contribute to much of the rise in debt, and face weak fundamentals. Empirical results also show that resolving these weak firms can generate significant gains of 0.7–1.2 percentage points in long-term growth per year. These results also shed light on the ongoing government strategy to tackle these issues by evaluating the effects of different restructuring options. In particular, deleveraging, reducing government subsidies, as well as operational restructuring through divestment and reducing redundancy have significant benefits in restoring corporate performance for zombie firms.

Is It Time for a New Medical Specialty? The Medical Virtualist

Is It Time for a New Medical Specialty? The Medical Virtualist. Michael Nochomovitz; Rahul Sharma. Journal of the American Medical Association, published online November 27, 2017. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2017.17094


Drivers of Specialty Expansion

Specialty development has been driven by advances in technology and expansion of knowledge in care delivery. Physician-led teams leverage technology and new knowledge into a structured approach for a medical discipline, which gains a momentum of its own with adoption. For instance, critical care was not a unique specialty until 30 years ago. The refinement in ventilator techniques, cardiac monitoring and intervention, anesthesia, and surgical advancements drove the development of the specialty and certification, with subsequent subspecialization (eg, neurological intensive care). The development of laparoscopic and robotic surgical equipment, with advanced imaging, spawned new specialty and subspecialty categories including colon and rectal surgery, general surgical oncology, interventional radiology, and electrophysiology.

In nonprocedural areas, unique certification was established for geriatrics and palliative care. Additional new specialties include hospitalists, laborists, and extensivists, to name a few. These clinical areas do not yet have formal training programs or certification but are specific disciplines with core competencies and measures of performance that might be likely recognized in the future.

Telemedicine and Medical Care

Telemedicine is the delivery of health care services remotely by the use of various telecommunications modalities. The expansion of web-based services, use of videoconferencing in daily communication, and social media coupled with the demand for convenience by consumers of health care are all factors driving exponential growth in telehealth.2

According to one estimate, the global telehealth market is projected to increase at an annual compounded rate of 30% between 2017 and 2022, achieving an estimated value of $12.1 billion.2 Some recent market surveys show that more than 70% of consumers would consider a virtual health care service.3 A preponderance of higher income and privately insured consumers indicate a preference for telehealth, particularly when reassured of the quality of the care and the appropriate scope of the virtual visit.3 Telemedicine is being used to provide health care to some traditionally underserved and rural areas across the United States and increased shortages of primary care and specialty physicians are anticipated in those areas.4

A New Specialty

Digital advances within health care and patients acting more like consumers have resulted in more physicians and other clinicians delivering virtual care in almost every medical discipline. Second-opinion services, emergency department express care, virtual intensive care units (ICUs), telestroke with mobile stroke units, telepsychiatry, and remote services for postacute care are some examples.

In the traditional physician office, answering services and web-based portals focused on telephone and email communication. The advent of telehealth has resulted in incremental growth of video face-to-face communication with patients by mobile phone, tablet, or other computer devices.2,3,5 In larger enterprises or commercial ventures, the scale is sufficient to “make or buy” centralized telehealth command centers to service functions across broad geographic areas including international.

Early telehealth focused on minor ailments such as coughs, colds, and rashes, but now telehealth is being used in broader applications, such as communicating imaging and laboratory results, changing medication, and most significantly managing more complex chronic disease.

The coordination of virtual care with home visits, remote monitoring, and simultaneous family engagement is changing the perception and reality of virtual health care. Commercialization is well under way with numerous start-ups and more established companies. These services are provided by the companies alone or in collaboration with physician groups.

The Medical Virtualist

We propose the concept of a new specialty representing the medical virtualist. This term could be used to describe physicians who will spend the majority or all of their time caring for patients using a virtual medium. A professional consensus will be needed on a set of core competencies to be further developed over time.

Physicians now spend variable amounts of time delivering care through a virtual medium without formal training. Training should include techniques in achieving good webside manner.5 Some components of a physical examination can be conducted virtually via patient or caregiver. Some commercial insurance carriers and institutional groups have developed training courses.5 These are neither associated with a medical specialty board or society consensus or oversight nor with an associated certification.

Contemporary care is multidisciplinary, including nurses, medical students, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, social workers, nutritionists, counselors, and educators. All require formal training in virtual encounters to ensure a similar quality outcome as is expected for in-person care.

It is possible that there could be a need for physicians across multiple disciplines to become full-time medical virtualists with subspecialty differentiation. Examples could be urgent care virtualists, intensive care virtualists, neurological virtualists, and psychiatric or behavioral virtualists. This shift would not preclude virtual visits from becoming a totally integrated component of all practices to varying extents.

Based on early experience in primary care, one estimate suggests that 30% to 50% of visits could possibly be eligible for a virtual encounter.4 This could be amplified when coupled with home care and remote monitoring devices. There are varying data on the influence of telehealth on total health care services utilization and that will be determined with greater adoption. In addition, as the number of emergency department visits continues to increase nationally, health care systems must develop innovative ways to maximize efficiency and maintain high-quality standards.6

However, complete replacement of the traditional clinical encounter will not occur. “Bricks and clicks” will prevail for patients’ convenience and value. Physicians will lead teams with both in-office and remote monitoring resources at their disposal to deliver care. This model could be enhanced in the future with digital assistants or avatars.

In the surgical specialties, remote surgery has been more focused on telementoring and guiding surgeons in remote locations. There have been examples of true virtual surgeons who have operated robotically on patients hundreds of miles away.7 This approach can be expected to develop further in the coming years.

Critical Success Factors

The success of technology-based services is not determined by hardware and software alone but by ease of use, perceived value, and workflow optimization.

Medical virtualists will need specific core competencies and curricula that are beginning to develop at some institutions. In addition to the medical training for a specific discipline, the curriculum for certification should include knowledge of legal and clinical limitations of virtual care, competencies in virtual examination using the patient or families, “virtual visit presence training,” inclusion of on-site clinical measurements, as well as continuing education.

It will be necessary for early adopters, thought leaders, medical specialty societies, and medical trade associations to work with the certifying organizations to formalize curriculum, training, and certification for medical virtualists. If advances in technology continue and if rigorous evidence demonstrates that this technology improves care and outcomes and reduces cost, medical virtualists could be involved in a substantial proportion of health care delivery for the next generation.

Additional Contributions, references, etc., in the full article at the link above

They present a computable algorithm that assigns probabilities to every logical statement in a given formal language, and refines those probabilities over time

Logical Induction. Scott Garrabrant, Tsvi Benson-Tilsen, Andrew Critch, Nate Soares, and
Jessica Taylor. Machine Intelligence Research Institute. Full paper: arXiv:1609.03543

Abstract: We present a computable algorithm that assigns probabilities to every logical statement in a given formal language, and refines those probabilities over time. For instance, if the language is Peano arithmetic, it assigns probabilities to all arithmetical statements, including claims about the twin prime conjecture, the outputs of long-running computations, and its own probabilities. We show that our algorithm, an instance of what we call a logical inductor, satisfies a number of intuitive desiderata, including: (1) it learns to predict patterns of truth and falsehood in logical statements, often long before having the resources to evaluate the statements, so long as the patterns can be written down in polynomial time; (2) it learns to use appropriate statistical summaries to predict sequences of statements whose truth values appear pseudorandom; and (3) it learns to have accurate beliefs about its own current beliefs, in a manner that avoids the standard paradoxes of self-reference. For example, if a given computer program only ever produces outputs in a certain range, a logical inductor learns this fact in a timely manner; and if late digits in the decimal expansion of π are difficult to predict, then a logical inductor learns to assign ≈ 10% probability to “the n th digit of π is a 7” for large n. Logical inductors also learn to trust their future beliefs more than their current beliefs, and their beliefs are coherent in the limit (whenever φ → ψ, P∞ (φ) ≤ P∞ (ψ), and so on);  and logical inductors strictly dominate the universal semimeasure in the limit.

These properties and many others all follow from a single logical induction criterion, which is motivated by a series of stock trading analogies. Roughly speaking, each logical sentence φ is associated with a stock that is worth $1 per share if φ is true and nothing otherwise, and we interpret the belief-state of a logically uncertain reasoner as a set of market prices, where Pn (φ) = 50% means that on day n, shares of φ may be bought or sold from the reasoner for 50¢. The logical induction criterion says (very roughly) that there should not be any polynomial-time computable trading strategy with finite risk tolerance that earns unbounded profits in that market over time. This criterion bears strong resemblance to the “no Dutch book” criteria that support both expected utility theory (von Neumann and Morgenstern 1944) and Bayesian probability theory (Ramsey 1931; de Finetti 1937).

Patient outcome's variability is weakly or not related to competence, training nor adherence of therapists

Common versus specific factors in psychotherapy: opening the black box. RogerMulder, Greg Murray, Julia Rucklidge. The Lancet Psychiatry, Volume 4, Issue 12, December 2017, Pages 953-962.

Summary: Do psychotherapies work primarily through the specific factors described in treatment manuals, or do they work through common factors? In attempting to unpack this ongoing debate between specific and common factors, we highlight limitations in the existing evidence base and the power battles and competing paradigms that influence the literature. The dichotomy is much less than it might first appear. Most specific factor theorists now concede that common factors have importance, whereas the common factor theorists produce increasingly tight definitions of bona fide therapy. Although specific factors might have been overplayed in psychotherapy research, some are effective for particular conditions. We argue that continuing to espouse common factors with little evidence or endless head-to-head comparative studies of different psychotherapies will not move the field forward. Rather than continuing the debate, research needs to encompass new psychotherapies such as e-therapies, transdiagnostic treatments, psychotherapy component studies, and findings from neurobiology to elucidate the effective process components of psychotherapy.

Additionally, the dissemination of findings leads to further bias. Negative trials are less likely to be reported, thereby inflating effect sizes. Low-quality studies often result in larger effect sizes. Trial registration is poor, so we cannot know whether outcomes are selectively reported, particularly by groups with a strong allegiance to the treatments. Findings from a 2017 systematic review showed that only 12% of psychotherapy trials were prospectively registered with clearly defined primary outcome measures.

One obvious approach to the dodo bird problem is to test whether different therapies do lead to different outcomes. Head-to-head comparisons generally suggest small differential effects, which are smaller and non-significant after researcher allegiance is controlled for. However, this literature has substantial limitations. Most studies have investigated cognitive therapy or CBT as one of the treatment groups, so specific strengths of other approaches are poorly understood. Only a narrow range of treatment outcome measures have been systematically examined, most typically acute symptom reduction; longer-term effects, including relapse prevention measures for common chronic conditions, might differentiate some therapies for some problems. Differences might be revealed if a wider range of treatment outcome measures were used, including functioning, quality of life, and individualised measures of treatment outcome. However, such trials are expensive and rarely undertaken. Differences might also be larger if moderating factors such as individual differences between patients were accounted for in outcome modelling.

Another way to test the specific factor model is through therapist adherence. Improved adherence to theory-specified factors in evidence-supported therapies should improve patient outcomes, if these specific factors are important to the success of the therapy. However, the evidence has not generally supported this hypothesis, with findings from a meta-analysis showing that neither variability in competence nor adherence was related to patient outcome, suggesting that these variables are relatively inert therapeutic agents. The broader literature is split on this question, with some investigators finding no effect of treatment integrity on outcomes, some a positive effect, and some a negative effect (potentially due to an overly rigid application of technique, which could be detrimental to the therapeutic alliance for some clients). Extent of training might also not be relevant to outcome, as suggested by the work of Stanley and colleagues. Indeed, therapeutic alliance, a common factor, might be a more important variable to instigate change than therapeutic adherence, although even these effect sizes are modest (mean alliance–outcome correlation 0·26).

Regardless, common factor researchers argue that outcome studies do not answer the most important outstanding question in psychotherapy—namely, what are the mechanisms of change? Although the importance of specific factors has been estimated from effect sizes of targeted therapies compared with plausible controls, the importance of common factors has been estimated correlationally through the association between therapy outcomes and patient reports of rapport and engagement. Although the effect sizes of targeted therapies compared with controls permit causal correlations, correlation between therapy outcomes and patient engagement does not, and will be confounded by an overlap between the success of therapy and the client’s satisfaction with the therapist. Therapeutic alliance is fundamentally dyadic (ie, a reciprocal working relationship), which sits uncomfortably with the more medical notion of patient as recipient of the therapist’s activities.

Finally, psychotherapy research is difficult and expensive to conduct, and—without the commercial investment that occurs in pharmacotherapy research—deficits of the existing evidence base are attributable simply to the low power and small number of studies. For example, although the effectiveness of behavioural therapy for obsessive compulsive disorder is similar to that of pharmacological treatment, investigators of a meta-analysis of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy for obsessive compulsive disorder found 15 psychotherapy trials with a total 705 patients, by contrast with 32 pharmacotherapy trials with a total of 3588 patients.

Artificial Intelligence With Undo Mechanism

Leave no Trace: Learning to Reset for Safe and Autonomous Reinforcement Learning. Benjamin Eysenbach, Shixiang Gu, Julian Ibarz, Sergey Levine.,

Abstract: Deep reinforcement learning algorithms can learn complex behavioral skills, but real-world application of these methods requires a large amount of experience to be collected by the agent. In practical settings, such as robotics, this involves repeatedly attempting a task, resetting the environment between each attempt. However, not all tasks are easily or automatically reversible. In practice, this learning process requires extensive human intervention. In this work, we propose an autonomous method for safe and efficient reinforcement learning that simultaneously learns a forward and reset policy, with the reset policy resetting the environment for a subsequent attempt. By learning a value function for the reset policy, we can automatically determine when the forward policy is about to enter a non-reversible state, providing for uncertainty-aware safety aborts. Our experiments illustrate that proper use of the reset policy can greatly reduce the number of manual resets required to learn a task, can reduce the number of unsafe actions that lead to non-reversible states, and can automatically induce a curriculum.

Covered nude photographs inferential sexual cognition –– covered models were indeed perceived as nude models

Do Covered Nude Photographs in the Internet Induce Sexual Cognition –– A Study of Event-related Potential. Lei Hanet al. Computers in Human Behavior,

Abstract: A number indecent photos depicting models whose genital areas have been censored or covered have been widely disseminated on the Internet and proved to be extremely popular. The question is whether these “incomplete nudes” on the Internet can induce sexual cognition. To answer this question, this study presented 25 male college students with 4 types of images. Results found that pictures of females induced larger positive potential (P2) amplitudes and shorter latencies than did pictures of males, and that pictures of nude females induced larger negative potential (N2) amplitudes than did pictures of nude males. Moreover, pictures of covered or nude females evoked larger P300 waves than did pictures of fully-dressed or underwear-wearing females. Pictures of nude models also evoked larger PSW than did other types of pictures. These results suggested that P2 and N2 reflect early gender processing and early sexual cognition, respectively, while P300 reflect inferential sexual cognition which meant that covered models were indeed perceived as nude models. This study revealed that censored (covered) sexual information disseminated through the Internet could still evoke inferential sexual cognition.

Keywords: gender processing; sexual cognition; inferential sexual cognition; event-related potentials

Jokes are more interesting and surprising when repetition at the beginning creates a pattern, which is broken in a contrasting end

Loewenstein, J. and Heath, C. (2009), The Repetition-Break Plot Structure: A Cognitive Influence on Selection in the Marketplace of Ideas. Cognitive Science, 33: 1–19. doi:10.1111/j.1551-6709.2008.01001.x

Abstract: Using research into learning from sequences of examples, we generate predictions about what cultural products become widely distributed in the social marketplace of ideas. We investigate what we term the Repetition-Break plot structure: the use of repetition among obviously similar items to establish a pattern, and then a final contrasting item that breaks with the pattern to generate surprise. Two corpus studies show that this structure arises in about a third of folktales and story jokes. An experiment shows that jokes with this structure are more interesting than those without the initial repetition. Thus, we document evidence for how a cognitive factor influences the cultural products that are selected in the marketplace of ideas.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Consumers told their organic food experience would be shared with others had more pleasantness ratings, felt more joyful and hopeful. Favoring organic foods can be viewed as a costly signaling trait, leading to flaunting about one's prosocial tendencies.

Sweet taste of prosocial status signaling: When eating organic foods makes you happy and hopeful. Petteri Puska et al. Appetite,

Abstract: As the current research suggests that there are links between prosocial acts and status signaling (including sustainable consumer choices), we empirically study (with three experiments) whether food consumers go green to be seen. First, we examine how activating a motive for status influences prosocial organic food preferences. Then, we examine how the social visibility of the choice (private vs. public) affects these preferences. We found that when consumers' desire for status was elicited, they preferred organic food products significantly over their nonorganic counterparts; making the choice situation visible created the same effect. Finally, we go beyond consumers' evaluative and behavioral domains that have typically been addressed to investigate whether this (nonconscious) “going green to be seen” effect is also evident at the level of more physiologically-driven food responses. Indeed, status motives and reputational concerns created an improved senso-emotional experience of organic food. Specifically, when consumers were led to believe that they have to share their organic food taste experiences with others, an elevation could be detected not only in the pleasantness ratings but also in how joyful and hopeful they felt after eating a food sample. We claim that the reason for this is that a tendency to favor organic foods can be viewed as a costly signaling trait, leading to flaunting about one's prosocial tendencies. According to these findings, highlighting socially disapproved consumption motives, such as reputation management, may be an effective way to increase the relatively low sales of organic foods and thereby promote sustainable consumer behavior.

Keywords: Organic food; Prosocial signaling; Status; Motivational priming; Senso-emotional experience; Nonconscious behavior

Saturday, November 25, 2017

This study finds that with the increase of agreeableness, women tend to be Republicans, but men tend to be Democrats

Gender Differences in the Effects of Personality Traits on Party Identification in the US. Ching-Hsing Wang.  Journal of Women, Politics & Policy. Volume 38, 2017 - Issue 3, Pages 335-362.

ABSTRACT: This study examines whether the Big Five personality traits have different effects on male and female party identification in the United States. Research has found associations between personality traits and partisanship in the United States. However, there is solid evidence of gender differences in personality traits, and past studies have not yet considered whether personality-partisanship relationship might be gender-differentiated. This study finds that with the increase of agreeableness, women tend to be Republicans, but men tend to be Democrats. Furthermore, as openness to experience increases, women are more likely to be strong partisans, but men are more likely to be independents or leaning partisans. To sum up, this study provides evidence that the effects of the Big Five personality traits on party identification vary by gender and suggests that it is wrong to assume that the Big Five personality traits have the same impacts on male and female party identification.

KEYWORDS: Personality, gender differences, party identification, Big Five

Predicting Personality from Book Preferences with User-Generated Content Labels

Predicting Personality from Book Preferences with User-Generated Content Labels. Ng Annalyn, Maarten W. Bos, Leonid Sigal, and Boyang Li. IEEE Transactions On Affective Computing, 2017.

Abstract—Psychological studies have shown that personality traits are associated with book preferences. However, past findings are based on questionnaires focusing on conventional book genres and are unrepresentative of niche content. For a more comprehensive measure of book content, this study harnesses a massive archive of content labels, also known as ‘tags’, created by users of an online book catalogue, Combined with data on preferences and personality scores collected from Facebook users, the tag labels achieve high accuracy in personality prediction by psychological standards. We also group tags into broader genres, to check their validity against past findings. Our results are robust across both tag and genre levels of analyses, and consistent with existing literature. Moreover, user-generated tag labels reveal unexpected insights, such as cultural differences, book reading behaviors, and other non-content factors affecting preferences. To our knowledge, this is currently the largest study that explores the relationship between personality and book content preferences.

Index Terms—Personality Profiling, Narrative Preferences, Social Media, Behavioural Footprints

The Political Economy of Famine: the Ukrainian Famine of 1933

The Political Economy of Famine: the Ukrainian Famine of 1933. Natalya Naumenko. Job Market Paper, 2017.

Abstract: The famine of 1932–1933 in Ukraine killed as many as 2.6 million people out of the population of approximately 30 million. Three main explanations have been offered: negative weather shock, poor economic policies, and genocide. This paper uses variation in exposure to poor government policies and in ethnic composition within Ukraine to study the impact of policies on mortality, and the relationship between ethnic composition and mortality. It documents that (1) bad government policies (collectivization and the lack of favored industries) significantly increased mortality; (2) collectivization increased mortality due to drop in production on collective farms and not due to overextraction from collectives (although the evidence is indirect); (3) back-of-the-envelope calculations show that collectivization raised total 1933 death toll by at least 19%; (4) controlling for exposure to poor Soviet economic policies, Ukrainians seem more likely to die (although this result is underpowered); (5) Ukrainians were more exposed to policies that later led to mortality (collectivization and the lack of favored industries); (6) conditional on being exposed to the same bad economic policy, Ukrainians are not more likely to die (e.g., there is no evidence that collectivization was enforced more harshly on Ukrainians). These results provide several important takeaways. Most importantly, the evidence is consistent with both sides of the debate. (1) – (3) support those who argue that mortality was due to bad policy. (4) is consistent with those who argue that ethnic Ukrainians were targeted. For (5) and (6) to support genocide, it has to be the case that Stalin had the foresight that his policies would fail and lead to famine mortality years after they were introduced (and therefore disproportionately exposed Ukrainians to them).

A change in woman's behavior: Demand of male escorts for women, couples grows

Male escorts for women, couples demand grows: global survey. Queensland University Press Release., Nov 22 2017.

A quarter of Australia's 516 male escorts cater to women and couples, a global survey of the 61 countries which host online male escort websites has found.

But Australia is well behind the United Kingdom in sites catering for women or couples where more than 50 per cent of the 5487 male escorts cater to women and couples, the survey, conducted by by Professor John Scott and Adjunct Professor Victor Minichiello from QUT's Crime and Justice Research Centre and researchers from The Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales, found.

"Uganda and Argentina are the only other countries that have more male escorts seeking females and couples than solely male clients," Professor Scott, from QUT School of Justice, said.

"It's assumed that men are the primary market for male escorts, and while it is true that most escorts target male clients, our survey suggests a significant emerging market for women who pay for sexual services from men.

"While more than 57 per cent of identified websites catered to male customers only, 11 per cent were specifically for female clients and a similar number of sites were for couples, most of the opposite sex.

"As expected, we found twice as many male escorts had male clients only (72,106) as against the 32,948 escorts for women or couples."

The results of the survey are contained in the blog About Male Escorts [] and will be published as a book chapter in Male Sex Work and Society (Volume II), to be released in 2018. The survey found a total of 324,852 profiles of male escorts online but after eliminating duplications (many male sex workers list on multiple sites) there were 105,009 male escorts.

Professor Scott said Mexico's nine websites led the table in this emerging aspect of the sex industry.

"Mexico had 14,531 male escorts prepared to cater to women and couples; Brazil (6892) the United States (3481), the United Kingdom (2926), Spain (2357), Germany (359), and Japan (327) followed.

"Other countries with a high percentage of escorts for women and couples include Chile (41 per cent), Germany (42 per cent), Hungary (45 per cent) and Malaysia (46.5 per cent)."

Professor Scott said even traditional, socially conservative societies hosted male escort websites with escorts who advertised online as catering for women and couples.

"Malaysia has 88 escorts on its nine sites and 41 of them provide for women and couples, and the United Arab Emirates has 124 escorts for women or couples out of 337 male escorts," he said.

"In jurisdictions where sex work or same-sex relations are heavily penalised, it is possible that escort sites are known only to participants within relatively closed social networks. They may also be listed on the 'dark web' - these sites were not included in the survey.

"If you are a woman or a couple seeking a male escort using online male escort services, you are out of luck in Costa Rica, Finland, Israel, Panama and Taiwan where the male escorts have male clients only.

"There are slim pickings in Bulgaria, China, Estonia, Uruguay and Paraguay where each country has just one male escort who has found a niche in the market and offers this service."

"The average price worldwide seems to be $200 an hour but it can be thousands of dollars for a weekend, especially among the international male escorts who list on websites around the world.

"It's important to note that websites such as Rentmen and Hourboy included escort profiles from around the world and were often hosted in countries where sex work was legal. These websites were among the largest overall and mostly cater for male clients."

Professor Scott said the survey counted only male sex workers operating online, not those in brothels or massage parlours or outdoor settings.

"The figures fluctuate over time with sex workers and websites entering and leaving the market. The fluidity makes the online marketplace appealing for many."

To check for the validity and emerging trends over time, a similar survey will be conducted annually.

Contrary to our predictions, our sample of serial murderers did not demonstrate strong evidence of psychopathy

Serial Homicide Perpetrators’ Self-Reported Psychopathy and Criminal Thinking. Scott E. Culhane, Stephannie Walker, Meagen M. Hildebrand. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology,

Abstract: The current research reports 61 male serial murderers’ responses to self-report questionnaires designed to assess levels of psychopathy and criminal thinking. Three separate measures of psychopathy were included. Contrary to our predictions, results indicated that our sample of serial murderers did not demonstrate strong evidence of psychopathy. Rather, the percentage of inmates who could be classified as having psychopathic tendencies is on par with the general population of prisoners. Only half of the participants had an interpretable criminal thinking style scale. Temperament and power issues were the two factors of greatest significance for understanding the serial homicide perpetrators’ criminal cognition. In line with expectations, multiple significant correlations were observed for the measures. Implications and limitations of the research are discussed.

My commentary: May they be more intelligent and be able to lie better when writing the questionnaires? They may purposefully alter things to appear as the other inmates...

Some brain lesions make improvements...

Neural correlates of improvements in personality and behavior following a neurological event. Marcie L. King, Kenneth Manzel, Joel Bruss, Daniel Tranel. Neuropsychologia,

•    Evidence for improvement in personality and behavior following a neurological event.
•    Improvement related to frontal polar and anterior dorsolateral prefrontal damage.
•    Both lesion location and premorbid functioning contribute to improvements.

Abstract: Research on changes in personality and behavior following brain damage has focused largely on negative outcomes, such as increased irritability, moodiness, and social inappropriateness. However, clinical observations suggest that some patients may actually show positive personality and behavioral changes following a neurological event. In the current work, we investigated neuroanatomical correlates of positive personality and behavioral changes following a discrete neurological event (e.g., stroke, benign tumor resection). Patients (N=97) were rated by a well-known family member or friend on five domains of personality and behavior: social behavior, irascibility, hypo-emotionality, distress, and executive functioning. Ratings were acquired during the chronic epoch of recovery, when psychological status was stabilized. We identified patients who showed positive changes in personality and behavior in one or more domains of functioning. Lesion analyses indicated that positive changes in personality and behavior were most consistently related to damage to the bilateral frontal polar regions and the right anterior dorsolateral prefrontal region. These findings support the conclusion that improvements in personality and behavior can occur after a neurological event, and that such changes have systematic neuroanatomical correlates. Patients who showed positive changes in personality and behavior following a neurological event were rated as having more disturbed functioning prior to the event. Our study may be taken as preliminary evidence that improvements in personality and behavior following a neurological event may involve dampening of (premorbidly) more extreme expressions of emotion.

Keywords: personality; behavior; lesion; neurological event

Friday, November 24, 2017

We report a novel illusion––curvature blindness illusion: a wavy line is perceived as a zigzag line

Curvature Blindness Illusion. Kohske Takahashi. i-Perception, Volume 8, issue 6,

Abstract: We report a novel illusion––curvature blindness illusion: a wavy line is perceived as a zigzag line. The following are required for this illusion to occur. First, the luminance contrast polarity of the wavy line against the background is reversed at the turning points. Second, the curvature of the wavy line is somewhat low; the right angle is too steep to be perceived as an illusion. This illusion implies that, in order to perceive a gentle curve, it is necessary to satisfy more conditions––constant contrast polarity––than perceiving an obtuse corner. It is notable that observers exactly “see” an illusory zigzag line against a physically wavy line, rather than have an impaired perception. We propose that the underlying mechanisms for the gentle curve perception and those of obtuse corner perception are competing with each other in an imbalanced way and the percepts of corner might be dominant in the visual system.

Keywords: contours or surfaces, curvature perception, illusion, perception