Sunday, December 31, 2017

The “hostile media effect” occurs when opposing partisans perceive identical news coverage of a controversial issue as biased against their own side

The Hostile Media Effect. Lauren Feldman. Chapter in  The Oxford Handbook of Political Communication, edited by Kate Kenski and Kathleen Hall Jamieson. DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199793471.013.011

Abstract: The “hostile media effect” occurs when opposing partisans perceive identical news coverage of a controversial issue as biased against their own side. This is a robust phenomenon, which has been empirically demonstrated in numerous experimental and observational studies across a variety of issue contexts and has been shown to have important consequences for democratic society. This chapter reviews the literature on the hostile media effect with an eye toward the theoretical explanations for it, its relationship to other psychological processes, and its broader implications for perceived public opinion, news consumption patterns, attitudes toward democratic institutions, and political discourse and participation. Particular attention is paid to how the hostile media phenomenon can help explain the public’s eroding trust in the news media and the recent polarization among news audiences. The chapter concludes with several suggestions for future research.

Keywords: active audience, biased assimilation, hostile media phenomenon, hostile media perception, media bias, perceived bias, persuasive press inference, polarization, partisan involvement, selective exposure, selective perception

Can political cookies leave a bad taste in one’s mouth?: Political ideology influences taste

Aner Tal, Yaniv Gvili, Moty Amar, Brian Wansink, (2017) "Can political cookies leave a bad taste in one’s mouth?: Political ideology influences taste", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 51 Issue: 11/12, pp.2175-2191,


Purpose: This study aims to examine whether companies’ donations to political parties can impact product experience, specifically taste.

Design/methodology/approach: Research design consists of four studies; three online, one in person. Participants were shown a cookie (Studies 1-3) or cereal (Study 4) and told that the producing company donated to either the Republican Party or the Democratic Party (Studies 1-3) or an unspecified party (Study 4).

Findings: Participants rated food products as less tasty if told they came from a company that donated to a party they object to. These effects were shown to be mediated by moral disgust (Study 3). Effects were restricted to taste and willingness to buy (Study 4), with no effects on other positive product dimensions.

Research limitations/implications: The studies provide a first piece of evidence that political donations by companies can negatively impact product experience. This can translate to purchase decisions through an emotional, rather than calculated, route.

Practical implications: Companies should be careful about making donations some of their consumers may find objectionable. This might impact both purchase and consumption decisions, as well as post-consumption word-of-mouth.

Originality/value: Companies’ political involvement can negatively impact subjective product experience, even though such information has no bearing on product quality. The current findings demonstrate that alterations in subjective product quality may underlie alterations in consumer decision-making because of ideologically tinged information, and reveals moral disgust as the mechanism underlying these effects. In this, it provides a first demonstration that even mild ideological information that is not globally bad or inherently immoral can generate moral disgust, and that such effects depend on consumers’ own attitudes.

Keywords: Evaluation, Food, Politics, Taste, Moral, Disgust

Frequency of sexual intercourse tends to be lower among Japanese couples compared to couples overseas, or are having more extramarital sex

Proximate Determinants of Fertility in Japan. Shoko Konishi, Emi Tamaki.. Biodemography of Fertility in Japan pp 13-42,

Abstract: Proximate determinants link both social and biological factors to fertility. In this section, we will summarize available data related to proximate determinants of fertility in Japan while referring to some of the related literature targeting populations overseas. In addition to data from published studies, we present our original data collected in the biodemography project, an Internet-based cross-sectional survey on reproductive history conducted in 2014 targeting Japanese women between 20 and 44 years of age. Following Wood’s conceptualization, the specific components of the proximate determinants of fertility referred to in this chapter are lactational infecundability, fecund waiting time to conception, and fetal loss (both spontaneous and induced). Additionally, papers on factors that are expected to significantly affect fecund waiting time to conception, i.e., frequency of sexual intercourse, length and regularity of menstrual cycle, and use of contraception and infertility treatment, will be reviewed.

Recent research suggests that frequency of sexual intercourse tends to be lower among Japanese couples compared to couples overseas (e.g., [1,21]).

The biodemography project revealed an overall low frequency of intercourse (Table 2.4). Additionally, when the participants were further categorized by their pregnancy intention, only 24% of married women who wanted to become pregnant and were not pregnant at the time of the survey were having intercourse 1+ day per week [1]. The proportion of women having intercourse 1+ day per week was even smaller for those who wanted to become pregnant in the future (14%) or who did not want to become pregnant (12%) [1]. The National Survey of Work and Family in Japan conducted in 2007 [21] also reported low coital frequency (Table 2.5); only 23% of women desiring a child had sexual intercourse at least once a week. The same survey showed that 21% of women aged between 20 and 29 years and 37% of women aged between 30 and 39 years were in sexless marriages, which refers to married or cohabitating couples who have not had any sexual intercourse for more than 1 month (Table 2.5, sum of “once in 2 months”, “once in 6 months”, and “not at all”) [21]. In a series of studies conducted by Arakawa and colleagues [16] to examine a possible association between chemical exposure and TTP, more than 70% of the respondents answered that the frequency of intercourse before their latest pregnancy was equal to or less than once a week (Table 2.6). These data suggest that the frequency of intercourse tends to be low among couples in Japan today, even when the sample is limited to couples who eventually achieved pregnancy or were actively trying to conceive.

[...] Although recent studies report relatively low frequency of sexual intercourse among Japanese couples compared to those in Western countries, studies conducted in the past report a higher frequency of intercourse among Japanese couples. For example, in 1955, Tsukamoto [25] reported that more than 80% of married women had sexual intercourse once a week or more (Table 2.7). Infrequent sexual intercourse among Japanese couples in recent years may be the result of sociocultural factors, including prevalent premarital sex [26], higher unemployment rates, and long working hours among those who are employed [27]. It is also possible that a lower frequency of marital sexual intercourse is often accompanied by active sexual activity outside the marital relationship, although we do not have sufficient data to support or reject this supposition.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

People in last place were more than 4 times more likely to renege from queues, altogether giving up on the service for which they were queuing; this behavior is partially explained by the inability to make a downward social comparison

Last Place Aversion in Queues. Ryan W. Buell. Harvard Business School,

Abstract: This paper investigates whether people exhibit last place aversion in queues and its implications for their experiences and behaviors in service environments. An observational analysis of customers queuing at a grocery store, and three online field experiments in which participants waited in virtual queues, revealed that waiting in last place diminishes wait satisfaction while increasing the probabilities of switching and abandoning queues. After controlling for other factors, people in last place were more than twice as likely to switch queues, which increased the duration of their wait and diminished their overall satisfaction. Moreover, people in last place were more than four times more likely to renege from queues, altogether giving up on the service for which they were queuing. The results indicate that this behavior is partially explained by the inability to make a downward social comparison; namely, when no one is behind a queuing individual, that person is less certain that continuing to wait is worthwhile. Furthermore, this paper provides evidence that queue transparency is an effective service design lever that managers can use to reduce the deleterious effects of last place aversion in queues. When people can't see that they're in last place, the behavioral effects of last place aversion are nullified, and when they can see that they're not in last place, the tendency to renege is greatly diminished.

Lack of erotic thoughts, fear & desire to have a baby are the main predictors of the level of sexual desire. Energy-fatigue, depression, premature ejaculation severity, sexual distress, compatibility, subjective sexual response, & sexual conservatism had a weaker effect on sexual desire

Nimbi FM, Tripodi F, Rossi R, Simonelli C. Expanding the Analysis of Psychosocial Factors of Sexual Desire in Men. J Sex Med 2017;XX:XXX–XXX.


Background: The literature lacks studies of the male sex drive. Most existing studies have focused on hypoactive sexual desire disorder in coupled heterosexual men, highlighting some of the main related biological, psychological, and social factors.

Aim: To evaluate the role of selected psychological and social variables affecting male sexual desire such as quality of life, sexual function, distress, satisfaction, psychological symptoms, emotions, alexithymia, couple adjustment, sexism, cognitive schemas activated in a sexual context, sexual dysfunctional beliefs, and different classes of cognitions triggered during sexual activity about failure anticipation, erection concerns, age- and body-related thoughts, erotic fantasies, and negative attitudes toward sexuality.

Methods: A wide self-administered survey used snowball sampling to reach 298 heterosexual Italian men (age = 32.66 ± 11.52 years) from the general population.

Outcomes: 13 questionnaires exploring psychological and social elements involved in sexual response were administrated: International Index of Erectile Function, Short Form 36 for Quality of Life, Beck Depression Inventory–II, Symptom Check List–90–Revised, Toronto Alexithymia Scale, Premature Ejaculation Severity Index, Sexual Distress Scale, Sexual Satisfaction Scale, Dyadic Adjustment Scale, Ambivalent Sexism Inventory, Sexual Modes Questionnaire, Sexual Dysfunctional Belief Questionnaire, and Questionnaire of Cognitive Schema Activation in Sexual Context.

Results: Results showed lack of erotic thoughts (β = −0.328), fear (β = −0.259) and desire to have a baby (β = −0.259) as the main predictors of the level of sexual desire in this group. Energy-fatigue, depression, premature ejaculation severity, sexual distress, compatibility, subjective sexual response, and sexual conservatism had a weaker effect on sexual desire. Sexual functioning (13.80%), emotional response (12.70%), dysfunctional sexual beliefs (12.10%), and negative automatic thoughts (12.00%) had more variable effects on sexual drive.

Clinical Translation: Analyzed variables could represent important factors that should be considered in the assessment of desire concerns and discussed in therapy.

Strengths and Limitations: The strength of this study is the analysis of novel psychological and social factors on male sexual desire. Recruitment and sample size do not allow generalization of the results, but some crucial points for future research and clinical practice are discussed.

Conclusion: Our findings showed that male sexual desire could be affected by many psychological and social elements. Other factors remain to be explored, in their direct and interactive effects, aiming to better explain male sexual desire functioning.

Key Words: Desire, Sexual Behavior, Sexual Response, Sexuality, Sex Drive, Biopsychosocial Approach

As in previous findings, the blind have lower REMs density. However the ability of dream recall in congenitally blind and sighted controls is identical. In both groups visual dream recall is associated with an increase in REM bursts and density

Rapid Eye Movements (REMs) and visual dream recall in both congenitally blind and sighted subjects. Helder Bértolo et al. Proceedings of SPIE, 2017 on 10/9/2017 (

ABSTRACT: Our objective was to evaluate rapid eye movements (REMs) associated with visual dream recall in sighted subjects and congenital blind.

During two consecutive nights polysomnographic recordings were performed at subjects home. REMs were detected by visual inspection on both EOG channels (EOG-H, EOG-V) and further classified as occurring isolated or in bursts. Dream recall was defined by the existence of a dream report. The two groups were compared using t-test and also the two-way ANOVA and a post-hoc Fisher test (for the features diagnosis (blind vs. sighted) and dream recall (yes or no) as a function of time).

The average of REM awakenings per subject and the recall ability were identical in both groups. CB had a lower REM density than CS; the same applied to REM bursts and isolated eye movements. In the two-way ANOVA, REM bursts and REM density were significantly different for positive dream recall, mainly for the CB group and for diagnosis; furthermore for both features significant results were obtained for the interaction of time, recall and diagnosis; the interaction of recall and time was however, stronger.

In line with previous findings the data show that blind have lower REMs density. However the ability of dream recall in congenitally blind and sighted controls is identical. In both groups visual dream recall is associated with an increase in REM bursts and density. REM bursts also show differences in the temporal profile. REM visual dream recall is associated with increased REMs activity.

Keywords: Visual imagery, Visual Perception, Blindness, Dreams, Dream Recall, REMs, EEG

Friday, December 29, 2017

Impact of resources on ratings of physical attractiveness by males and females: Higher economic status can offset lower physical attractiveness in men much more easily than in women

Different impacts of resources on opposite sex ratings of physical attractiveness by males and females. Guanlin Wang et al. Evolution and Human Behavior,

Abstract: Parental investment hypotheses regarding mate selection suggest that human males should seek partners featured by youth and high fertility. However, females should be more sensitive to resources that can be invested on themselves and their offspring. Previous studies indicate that economic status is indeed important in male attractiveness. However, no previous study has quantified and compared the impact of equivalent resources on male and female attractiveness. Annual salary is a direct way to evaluate economic status. Here, we combined images of male and female body shape with information on annual salary to elucidate the influence of economic status on the attractiveness ratings by opposite sex raters in American, Chinese and European populations. We found that ratings of attractiveness were around 4 times more sensitive to salary for females rating males, compared to males rating females. These results indicate that higher economic status can offset lower physical attractiveness in men much more easily than in women. Neither raters' BMI nor age influenced this effect for females rating male attractiveness. This difference explains many features of human mating behavior and may pose a barrier for male engagement in low-consumption lifestyles.

Keywords:Physical attractiveness; Economic status; Parental investment theory

Children's feelings about spending and saving can be measured from an early age and relate to their behavior with money when adults

Smith, C. E., Echelbarger, M., Gelman, S. A., and Rick, S. I. (2017) Spendthrifts and Tightwads in Childhood: Feelings about Spending Predict Children's Financial Decision Making. J. Behav. Dec. Making, doi: 10.1002/bdm.2071

Abstract: Adults differ in the extent to which they find spending money to be distressing; “tightwads” find spending money painful, and “spendthrifts” do not find spending painful enough. This affective dimension has been reliably measured in adults and predicts a variety of important financial behaviors and outcomes (e.g., saving behavior and credit scores). Although children's financial behavior has also received attention, feelings about spending have not been studied in children, as they have in adults. We measured the spendthrift–tightwad (ST–TW) construct in children for the first time, with a sample of 5- to 10-year-old children (N = 225). Children across the entire age range were able to reliably report on their affective responses to spending and saving, and children's ST–TW scores were related to parent reports of children's temperament and financial behavior. Further, children's ST–TW scores were predictive of whether they chose to save or spend money in the lab, even after controlling for age and how much they liked the offered items. Our novel findings—that children's feelings about spending and saving can be measured from an early age and relate to their behavior with money—are discussed with regard to theoretical and practical implications.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Women perceived a deontological man as more interested in long-term bonds, of more long-term mating quality, and less prone to infidelity, relative to a utilitarian man

Is pulling the lever sexy? Deontology as a downstream cue to long-term mate quality. Mitch Brown, Donald F. Sacco. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships,

Abstract: Deontological and utilitarian moral decisions have unique communicative functions within the context of group living. Deontology more strongly communicates prosocial intentions, fostering greater perceptions of trust and desirability in general affiliative contexts. This general trustworthiness may extend to perceptions of fidelity in romantic relationships, leading to perceptions of deontological persons as better long-term mates, relative to utilitarians. In two studies, participants indicated desirability of both deontologists and utilitarians in long-term mating (LTM) and short-term mating contexts. In Study 1 (n = 102), women perceived a deontological man as more interested in long-term bonds, more desirable for LTM, and less prone to infidelity, relative to a utilitarian man. However, utilitarian men were undesirable as short-term mates. Study 2 (n = 112) had both men and women rate opposite-sex targets’ desirability after learning of their moral decisions in a trolley problem. We replicated women’s preference for deontological men as long-term mates. Interestingly, both men and women reporting personal deontological motives were particularly sensitive to deontology communicating long-term desirability and fidelity, which could be a product of the general affiliative signal from deontology. Thus, one’s moral basis for decision-making, particularly deontologically motivated moral decisions, may communicate traits valuable in LTM contexts.

Keywords: Evolutionary psychology, infidelity, mating, morality

Chimpanzees greet emphatically but show no leave-taking behaviour — Do they see a future? Seems not...

“Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow”, But Only For Humans? William C. McGrew & Lucy Baehren. Human Ethology Bulletin, Volume 31, No 4, 5-14, published December 30, 2016.

ABSTRACT: Homo sapiens show greeting rituals when they meet and leave-taking rituals when they part. Presumably this reflects the species’ fission-fusion social organisation, and such displays show notably symmetrical form and content. But what about non-humans? Here we seek in our nearest living relations (Pan troglodytes) these behavioural complexes in two ways: We report frequencies of meeting and parting in daily life and solicit data on greeting and leave-taking from field sites of long-term study of these apes. Chimpanzees greet emphatically but show no leave-taking behaviour. This lack of symmetry in our nearest living relations (as well as in other animals) suggests that human greeting and leave-taking may be unique.

Keywords: Chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes, greeting, parting, fission-fusion social system, human uniqueness

Self-enhancement, righteous anger, and moral grandiosity — The findings illustrate tactical self-enhancement: the instrumental use of one’s negative emotions for self-enhancement purposes.

Self-enhancement, righteous anger, and moral grandiosity. Jeffrey D. Green, Constantine Sedikides, Daryl R. Van Tongeren, Anna M. C. Behler & Jessica M. Barber. Self and Identity,

Abstract: Do people self-enhance by dwelling in righteous anger in an effort to preserve their self-views as pillars of morality? We addressed this question in two experiments. Participants read a story about an injustice (experiencing righteous anger) or grocery shopping (experiencing neutral emotion), indicated their interest in reading injustice-relevant or happiness-relevant newspaper articles, and rated themselves on moral and agentic traits. Participants who experienced righteous anger (vs. neutral emotion) maintained their anger (i.e., exhibited stronger interest in reading injustice- than happiness-relevant articles) and rated themselves more positively on moral, but not on agentic, traits. Furthermore, anger maintenance mediated the effect of righteous anger on moral grandiosity. The findings illustrate tactical self-enhancement: the instrumental use of one’s negative emotions for self-enhancement purposes.

Keywords: Self-enhancement, anger, moral grandiosity, self-views, emotion regulation

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Cumulative culture in nonhumans: overlooked findings from Japanese monkeys? Food-washing behaviors (e.g., of sweet potato tubers and wheat grains) seem to have increased in complexity and efficiency over time

Cumulative culture in nonhumans: overlooked findings from Japanese monkeys? Daniel P. Schofield et al. Primates,

Abstract: Cumulative culture, generally known as the increasing complexity or efficiency of cultural behaviors additively transmitted over successive generations, has been emphasized as a hallmark of human evolution. Recently, reviews of candidates for cumulative culture in nonhuman species have claimed that only humans have cumulative culture. Here, we aim to scrutinize this claim, using current criteria for cumulative culture to re-evaluate overlooked qualitative but longitudinal data from a nonhuman primate, the Japanese monkey (Macaca fuscata). We review over 60 years of Japanese ethnography of Koshima monkeys, which indicate that food-washing behaviors (e.g., of sweet potato tubers and wheat grains) seem to have increased in complexity and efficiency over time. Our reassessment of the Koshima ethnography is preliminary and nonquantitative, but it raises the possibility that cumulative culture, at least in a simple form, occurs spontaneously and adaptively in other primates and nonhumans in nature.

Anti-vaccination movement on Facebook: Present-day discourses centre around moral outrage and structural oppression by institutional government & the media, suggesting a strong logic of ‘conspiracy-style’ beliefs and thinking. Furthermore, the vast majority of participants are women

Mapping the anti-vaccination movement on Facebook. Naomi Smith & Tim Graham. Information, Communication & Society,

ABSTRACT: Over the past decade, anti-vaccination rhetoric has become part of the mainstream discourse regarding the public health practice of childhood vaccination. These utilise social media to foster online spaces that strengthen and popularise anti-vaccination discourses. In this paper, we examine the characteristics of and the discourses present within six popular anti-vaccination Facebook pages. We examine these large-scale datasets using a range of methods, including social network analysis, gender prediction using historical census data, and generative statistical models for topic analysis (Latent Dirichlet allocation). We find that present-day discourses centre around moral outrage and structural oppression by institutional government and the media, suggesting a strong logic of ‘conspiracy-style’ beliefs and thinking. Furthermore, anti-vaccination pages on Facebook reflect a highly ‘feminised’ movement ‒ the vast majority of participants are women. Although anti-vaccination networks on Facebook are large and global in scope, the comment activity sub-networks appear to be ‘small world’. This suggests that social media may have a role in spreading anti-vaccination ideas and making the movement durable on a global scale.

KEYWORDS: Anti-vaccination, social network analysis, topic modelling, social network sites, social media

My comment: could this be related? Sex Differences in Disgust: Why Are Women More Easily Disgusted Than Men? Laith Al-Shawaf, David M.G. Lewis, David M. Buss. Emotion Review,

Using a foreign language reduces mental imagery; this partially explains why using foreign languages changes moral choices

Using a foreign language reduces mental imagery. Sayuri Hayakawa, Boaz Keysar. Cognition, Volume 173, April 2018, Pages 8–15.


•    Using a foreign language reduces vividness of mental imagery.
•    This reduction in vividness affects both subjective experience and objective performance on mental imagery tasks.
•    The effect of language may vary across different modalities.
•    The reduction in mental imagery partially explains why using foreign languages changes moral choices.

Abstract: Mental imagery plays a significant role in guiding how we feel, think, and even behave. These mental simulations are often guided by language, making it important to understand what aspects of language contribute to imagery vividness and consequently to the way we think. Here, we focus on the native-ness of language and present evidence that using a foreign language leads to less vivid mental imagery than using a native tongue. In Experiment 1, participants using a foreign language reported less vivid imagery of sensory experiences such as sight and touch than those using their native tongue. Experiment 2 provided an objective behavioral measure, showing that muted imagery reduced accuracy when judging the similarity of shapes of imagined objects. Lastly, Experiment 3 demonstrated that this reduction in mental imagery partly accounted for the previously observed foreign language effects in moral choice. Together, the findings suggest that our mental images change when using a foreign tongue, leading to downstream consequences for how we make decisions.

Keywords: Bilingualism; Mental imagery; Foreign language; Morality; Decision making

Check also Are jokes funnier in one’s native language? Ayşe Ayçiçeği-Dinn, Simge Şişman-Bal, Catherine L Caldwell-Harris. International Journal of Humor Research,

Also: Thinking More or Feeling Less? Explaining the Foreign-Language Effect on Moral Judgment. Sayuri Hayakawa et al. Psychological Science,

The neuroendocrinology of sexual attraction: Olfactory stimuli are necessary but not sufficient for sexual attraction in rodents; visual stimuli, like the sexual skin, are crucial in primates; and the responsiveness to sexual attractants depends on gonadal hormones

The neuroendocrinology of sexual attraction. Olivia Le Moëne, Anders Ågmo. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology,


•    Sexual attraction is expressed as approach behaviors.
•    Olfactory stimuli are necessary but not sufficient for sexual attraction in rodents.
•    Visual stimuli, like the sexual skin, are crucial in primates.
•    The responsiveness to sexual attractants depends on gonadal hormones.
•    Several brain sites and neurotransmitters are involved in the response to sexual attractants.

Abstract: Sexual attraction has two components: Emission of sexually attractive stimuli and responsiveness to these stimuli. In rodents, olfactory stimuli are necessary but not sufficient for attraction. We argue that body odors are far superior to odors from excreta (urine, feces) as sexual attractants. Body odors are produced by sebaceous glands all over the body surface and in specialized glands. In primates, visual stimuli, for example the sexual skin, are more important than olfactory. The role of gonadal hormones for the production of and responsiveness to odorants is well established. Both the androgen and the estrogen receptor α are important in male as well as in female rodents. Also in primates, gonadal hormones are necessary for the responsiveness to sexual attractants. In males, the androgen receptor is sufficient for sustaining responsiveness. In female non-human primates, estrogens are needed, whereas androgens seem to contribute to responsiveness in women.

Keywords: androgens; estrogens; estrogen receptors; olfaction; audition; vision; preputial glands; urine; feces

Is envy harmful to a Society's psychological health and wellbeing? A longitudinal study of 18,000 adults

Is envy harmful to a Society's psychological health and wellbeing? A longitudinal study of 18,000 adults. Redzo Mujcic, Andrew J. Oswald. Social Science & Medicine,

•    The institutions of modern society may act to foster widespread envy.
•    This paper reports the first analysis of longitudinal links between envy and mental health.
•    Our findings are consistent with the idea that envy may be psychologically dangerous for society.

Abstract: Nearly 100 years ago, the philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell warned of the social dangers of widespread envy. One view of modern society is that it is systematically developing a set of institutions -- such as social media and new forms of advertising -- that make people feel inadequate and envious of others. If so, how might that be influencing the psychological health of our citizens? This paper reports the first large-scale longitudinal research into envy and its possible repercussions. The paper studies 18,000 randomly selected individuals over the years 2005, 2009, and 2013. Using measures of SF-36 mental health and psychological well-being, four main conclusions emerge. First, the young are especially susceptible. Levels of envy fall as people grow older. This longitudinal finding is consistent with a cross-sectional pattern noted recently by Nicole E. Henniger and Christine R. Harris, and with the theory of socioemotional regulation suggested by scholars such as Laura L. Carstensen. Second, using fixed-effects equations and prospective analysis, the analysis reveals that envy today is a powerful predictor of worse SF-36 mental health and well-being in the future. A change from the lowest to the highest level of envy, for example, is associated with a worsening of SF-36 mental health by approximately half a standard deviation (p < .001). Third, no evidence is found for the idea that envy acts as a useful motivator. Greater envy is associated with slower -- not higher -- growth of psychological well-being in the future. Nor is envy a predictor of later economic success. Fourth, the longitudinal decline of envy leaves unaltered a U-shaped age pattern of well-being from age 20 to age 70. These results are consistent with the idea that society should be concerned about institutions that stimulate large-scale envy.

Keywords: Envy; Age; SF-36; Mental health; Well-being; Longitudinal data

Pathogen Avoidance: We drink significantly less water when we believe it came from pathogen-prevalent environments (e.g., restrooms) and rated the water from pathogen-prevalent environments as lower in cleanliness, crispness, quality, and other characteristics when compared

Belief Influences Gustation: Evidence of a Psychophysical Pathogen Avoidance Mechanism. Carey J. Fitzgerald etal. Evolutionary Psychological Science,

Abstract: Individuals often avoid pathogens by refraining from ingesting things that are associated with pathogen-prevalent stimuli. The present study examined whether individuals would be less likely to ingest water that is associated with pathogen-prevalent environments and whether individuals’ perceptions of water quality would decrease when they believed the water originated from a pathogen-prevalent environment, (even though the water actually did not originate from the indicated source). Across two experiments, undergraduates were asked to taste-test water they believed came from a variety of sources on their college campus. For each cup of water presented to participants, an image of its supposed water source (e.g., kitchen sink, drinking fountain, or bathroom sink) was also presented. Participants drank significantly less water when they believed it came from pathogen-prevalent environments (e.g., restrooms) and rated the water from pathogen-prevalent environments as lower in cleanliness, crispness, quality, and other characteristics when compared to water from environments not associated with pathogens (study 1). Similar results were also found after controlling for perceived cleanliness of the images of water sources (study 2). Ultimately, the results from both studies provide evidence that individuals’ beliefs can influence perception and behavior in a manner consistent with pathogen avoidance.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

While a great deal is known about how people respond to influence tactics that are used on them, almost nothing is known about whether people understand these tactics and strategically use them to influence others

Default neglect in attempts at social influence. Julian J. Zlatev et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 114 no. 52, pp 13643–13648, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1712757114

Significance: While a great deal is known about how people respond to influence tactics that are used on them, almost nothing is known about whether people understand these tactics and strategically use them to influence others. We examine whether people are successful at using the default effect, a widely studied bias with special policy relevance, to influence others’ choices. Overall, we find that managers, law/business/medical students, and US adults often fail to understand and/or use defaults, with some interesting exceptions. These findings suggest that the scope for improving social welfare via behavioral policy interventions is vast.

Abstract: Current theories suggest that people understand how to exploit common biases to influence others. However, these predictions have received little empirical attention. We consider a widely studied bias with special policy relevance: the default effect, which is the tendency to choose whichever option is the status quo. We asked participants (including managers, law/business/medical students, and US adults) to nudge others toward selecting a target option by choosing whether to present that target option as the default. In contrast to theoretical predictions, we find that people often fail to understand and/or use defaults to influence others, i.e., they show “default neglect.” First, in one-shot default-setting games, we find that only 50.8% of participants set the target option as the default across 11 samples (n = 2,844), consistent with people not systematically using defaults at all. Second, when participants have multiple opportunities for experience and feedback, they still do not systematically use defaults. Third, we investigate beliefs related to the default effect. People seem to anticipate some mechanisms that drive default effects, yet most people do not believe in the default effect on average, even in cases where they do use defaults. We discuss implications of default neglect for decision making, social influence, and evidence-based policy.

Check also Szaszi, B., Palinkas, A., Palfi, B., Szollosi, A., and Aczel, B. (2017) A Systematic Scoping Review of the Choice Architecture Movement: Toward Understanding When and Why Nudges Work. J. Behav. Dec. Making,

Seven myths of memory

Seven myths of memory. Nicola S. Clayton, , Clive Wilkins. Behavioural Processes,

•    Episodic memories are not accurate objective reflections of what happened, nor are they a permanent record of the past.
•    We don’t remember the scenes we actually saw, nor do we make a series of one-off snap shots of what happened.
•    Although we travel backwards in the mind’s eye to relive the past we do not reverse time mentally. We jump back to a specific point in time and then play the memory forwards again.
•    Memory is only used to recall the past for it evolved to anticipate and imagine future scenarios. In thinking about the future, however, we make a fundamental mistake, namely that we think the future will be more like the past and the present than it will ever really be. This is because we overvalue the self in the here and now.

Abstract: In this paper we highlight seven myths about memory, which centre around the fact that memories, as we experience them, are not only about the past, they are also prospective. Although episodic memory provides the template for future scenarios, it can be reassessed each time it is recalled, and in part is dependent on the sequence in which events unfold. We explore seven myths about memory, and the relationship between memory and experience. We refer to ‘The Moustachio Quartet’, a series of novels, which highlight themes and ideas relevant to our argument, and ‘The Creatures in the Night’, a picture book of paintings that explore the passage of time. We integrate evidence from science and the arts to explore the subjective nature of memory and mental time travel, arguing that our capacity to juggle multiple perspectives evolved for the act of prospection, as an aid to move time forward to the advantage of our species by imagining future scenarios.

Keywords: Episodic memory; Mental time travel; Future planning; ‘The Captured Thought’; ‘The Moustachio Quartet’

Monday, December 25, 2017

Disadvantageous inequity-aversion (“envy”) is stronger under time pressure

Exploring the Role of Deliberation Time in Non-Selfish Behavior: the Double Response Method. Michał Krawczyk, , Marta Sylwestrzak. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics,

•    We develop and apply a novel method for eliciting laboratory subjects’ preference
•    The method incentivizes providing a quick, intuitive response and a more thought-out response
•    We apply the method to the Charness & Rabin's choices measuring social preference
•    We find that disadvantageous inequity-aversion (“envy”) is stronger under time pressure

Abstract: In this paper, we explore the Double Response research method, in which, in each decision task, subjects supply one quick choice and one additional choice after a longer deliberation time. Assuming a simple dual-process framework, with the two modes of judgment running parallel to each other providing the decision-maker with their final estimates of the utility difference between the options, this method incentivizes the decision-maker to indicate which option they prefer in System 1 and which option is preferred in System 2. We apply the method to a series of simple decision tasks aimed at eliciting subjects’ social preferences (as in Charness and Rabin, 2002). We observe that time pressure leads to a negative attitude towards the earnings of other participants when they are higher than those of the decision-maker. In other words, deliberation decisions are typically updated towards those corresponding with lower aversion to disadvantageous inequality (“envy”).

Keywords: Response time; Design of laboratory experiments; Other-regarding preference; Inequality aversion

The second contribution of the present study lies in the novel findings in the specific area of other-regarding behavior. As far as we know, the observation that a disadvantageous inequality aversion (as opposed to other motives to lower the payoff of another subject) is strengthened under time pressure is novel. Generally speaking, it contradicts the Social Heuristics Hypothesis of Rand and colleagues. One plausible explanation for this phenomenon is that the subject's own payoff initially appears to be low when compared to the high payoff the other subject is enjoying. With more deliberation time, subjects tend to find that, in fact, there is no reason not to let the other person earn a bit more money. This effect provides an alternative explanation to the findings of higher rejection rates in the Ultimatum Game played under time pressure, often understood in terms of emotion-driven revenge. Additionally, intuitive disadvantageous inequality aversion allows explaining ―hot-headed‖ behavior in situations in which no evil intentions can be attributed to the other party. For example, many drivers seem to change lanes much too often in heavy traffic. By doing so, they generally diminish their average driving speed and increase the risk of causing a collision without receiving any substantial benefit in terms of time saved. This is particularly puzzling in view of laboratory findings, such as a reluctance to exchange lottery tickets (Bar-Hillel et al., 1996), suggesting a strong status-quo bias. It could be that such drivers‘ behavior may be explained in view of its timing – typically one has to decide very quickly whether or not to change to another lane that temporarily seems to allow a quicker ride. If this time pressure puts drivers in a mode in which they find it hard to accept that somebody else is making more progress, it is likely to result in excessive lane switching.

The cyclic sexual & reproductive behavior of human populations is mostly driven by culture & this interest in sex is associated with specific emotions, characteristic of major cultural & religious celebrations

Human Sexual Cycles are Driven by Culture and Match Collective Moods. Ian B. Wood, Pedro L. Varela, Johan Bollen, Luis M. Rocha & Joana Gonçalves-Sá. Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 17973 (2017). doi:10.1038/s41598-017-18262-5

Abstract: Human reproduction does not happen uniformly throughout the year and what drives human sexual cycles is a long-standing question. The literature is mixed with respect to whether biological or cultural factors best explain these cycles. The biological hypothesis proposes that human reproductive cycles are an adaptation to the seasonal (hemisphere-dependent) cycles, while the cultural hypothesis proposes that conception dates vary mostly due to cultural factors, such as holidays. However, for many countries, common records used to investigate these hypotheses are incomplete or unavailable, biasing existing analysis towards Northern Hemisphere Christian countries. Here we show that interest in sex peaks sharply online during major cultural and religious celebrations, regardless of hemisphere location. This online interest, when shifted by nine months, corresponds to documented human births, even after adjusting for numerous factors such as language and amount of free time due to holidays. We further show that mood, measured independently on Twitter, contains distinct collective emotions associated with those cultural celebrations. Our results provide converging evidence that the cyclic sexual and reproductive behavior of human populations is mostly driven by culture and that this interest in sex is associated with specific emotions, characteristic of major cultural and religious celebrations.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

China Bullies Mr. Moon. Beijing wants South Korea to remove its missile defenses without helping with North Korea

China Bullies Mr. Moon.  By The Editorial Board
Beijing wants South Korea to remove its missile defenses.
The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 22, 2017 6:10 p.m. ET

South Korean President Moon Jae-in is learning that appeasement is a dangerous game. After he bowed last month to Beijing’s strong-arming and limited deployment of a U.S.-built missile-defense system, relations between the two countries seemed to be back on track. But China has now resumed its pressure tactics.

Mr. Moon’s predecessor began to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense in March to defend against North Korean missile attack. Beijing objected that the Thaad radar can peer into its airspace and demanded it be dismantled. China stopped its citizens from visiting the country on package tours and harassed South Korean companies. Those unofficial sanctions trimmed almost $7 billion from the Korean economy this year.

After his election in May, Mr. Moon suspended the Thaad deployment, officially for an environmental review. That angered Washington, which had paid for the system. The new President eventually agreed to deploy the launchers that were already imported.

But the delay showed Beijing it could intimidate Mr. Moon, and it pressed him harder. On Oct. 31 Mr. Moon again bowed to China, pledging not to deploy more Thaad units, join a larger U.S. missile-defense network or form a defense alliance with Japan. That compromised South Korea’s security, since the Thaad units deployed so far cover only part of the country and could be overwhelmed by North Korean short-range missiles.

Yet China still wasn’t satisfied, and the reconciliation started to unravel when Mr. Moon visited Beijing last week. He was met by low-level officials at the airport, a clear snub. Then security guards beat journalists traveling with him, one of whom was hospitalized. The two sides failed to issue a joint statement.

This week China raised tensions again by sending three fighter jets and two bombers into South Korea’s air defense identification zone, causing its military to scramble jets to intercept them. Chinese fishing boats, which double as a maritime militia, charged South Korean coast guard vessels, forcing them to fire warning shots. The flow of Chinese tourist groups to South Korea has again dried up.

Beijing wants to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul on the Thaad deployment, and it is pressing the issue. China wants Mr. Moon to remove Thaad entirely and support its proposed deal on North Korea’s nuclear program. The “freeze for a freeze” plan would have U.S. and South Korean forces suspend their joint exercises in return for the North halting its nuclear testing.

That would cripple the U.S.-South Korea alliance, which is Beijing’s goal. Without regular exercises, the two countries’ ability to deter provocations by the North would wither. And Pyongyang could continue its weapons development in secret.

Mr. Moon’s attempts to appease Beijing have only led to fresh demands. He can restore his credibility by deploying more Thaad radars and launchers that South Korea badly needs. If China doesn’t like Thaad, it can help eliminate the threat from North Korea.

Higher social class consistently related to lower levels of wise reasoning across different levels of analysis, including regional and individual differences

Social class and wise reasoning about interpersonal conflicts across regions, persons and situations. Justin P. Brienza, Igor Grossmann. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.1870

Abstract: We propose that class is inversely related to a propensity for using wise reasoning (recognizing limits of their knowledge, consider world in flux and change, acknowledges and integrate different perspectives) in interpersonal situations, contrary to established class advantage in abstract cognition. Two studies—an online survey from regions differing in economic affluence (n = 2 145) and a representative in-lab study with stratified sampling of adults from working and middle-class backgrounds (n = 299)—tested this proposition, indicating that higher social class consistently related to lower levels of wise reasoning across different levels of analysis, including regional and individual differences, and subjective construal of specific situations. The results held across personal and standardized hypothetical situations, across self-reported and observed wise reasoning, and when controlling for fluid and crystallized cognitive abilities. Consistent with an ecological framework, class differences in wise reasoning were specific to interpersonal (versus societal) conflicts. These findings suggest that higher social class weighs individuals down by providing the ecological constraints that undermine wise reasoning about interpersonal affairs.

Correlation between gut microbiota and personality in adults: a cross-sectional study

Correlation between gut microbiota and personality in adults: a cross-sectional study. Han-Na Kim et al. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity,

•    Personality traits were correlated with gut microbiota composition.
•    Gammaproteobacteria was increased in high neuroticism group.
•    Low conscientiousness group showed increased abundance of Proteobacteria.
•    The low conscientiousness group showed decreased abundance of Lachnospiraceae.

Abstract: Personality affects fundamental behavior patterns and has been related with health outcomes and mental disorders. Recent evidence has emerged supporting a relationship between the microbiota and behavior, referred to as brain-gut relationships. Here, we first report correlations between personality traits and gut microbiota. This research was performed using the Revised NEO Personality Inventory and the sequencing data of the 16S rRNA gene in 672 adults. The diversity and the composition of the human gut microbiota exhibited significant difference when stratified by personality traits. We found that personality traits were significantly correlated with diversity of gut microbiota, while their differences were extremely subtle. High neuroticism and low conscientiousness groups were correlated with high abundance of Gammaproteobacteria and Proteobacteria, respectively when covariates, including age, sex, BMI and nutrient intake, were controlled. Additionally, high conscientiousness group also showed increased abundance of some universal butyrate-producing bacteria including Lachnospiraceae. This study was of observational and cross-sectional design and our findings must be further validated through metagenomic or metatranscriptomic methodologies, or metabolomics-based analyses. Our findings will contribute to elucidating potential links between the gut microbiota and personality, and provide useful insights toward developing and testing personality- and microbiota-based interventions for promoting health.

Keywords: Personality; Gut microbiota; Brain gut axis; Neuroticism; Conscientiousness

Political attitudes display interspousal correlations that are among the strongest of all social and biometric traits

The Politics of Mate Choice. John R. Alford et al. The Journal of Politics, Vol. 73, No. 2, April 2011, Pp. 362–379, doi:10.1017/S0022381611000016

Abstract: Recent research has found a surprising degree of homogeneity in the personal political communication network of individuals  but  this  work  has  focused  largely  on  the  tendency  to  sort  into  likeminded  social,  workplace,  and residential political contexts. We extend this line of research into one of the most fundamental and consequential of political interactions—that between sexual mates. Using data on thousands of spouse pairs in the United States, we investigate  the  degree  of  concordance  among  mates  on  a  variety  of  traits.  Our  findings  show  that  physical and personality traits display only weakly positive and frequently insignificant correlations across spouses. Conversely, political attitudes display interspousal correlations that are among the strongest of all social and biometric traits. Further, it appears the political similarity of spouses derives in part from initial mate choice rather than persuasion and accommodation over the life of the relationship.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Quantitative historical analysis uncovers a single dimension of complexity that structures global variation in human social organization

Quantitative historical analysis uncovers a single dimension of complexity that structures global variation in human social organization. Peter Turchin et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1708800115

Significance: Do human societies from around the world exhibit similarities in the way that they are structured and show commonalities in the ways that they have evolved? To address these long-standing questions, we constructed a database of historical and archaeological information from 30 regions around the world over the last 10,000 years. Our analyses revealed that characteristics, such as social scale, economy, features of governance, and information systems, show strong evolutionary relationships with each other and that complexity of a society across different world regions can be meaningfully measured using a single principal component of variation. Our findings highlight the power of the sciences and humanities working together to rigorously test hypotheses about general rules that may have shaped human history.

Abstract: Do human societies from around the world exhibit similarities in the way that they are structured, and show commonalities in the ways that they have evolved? These are long-standing questions that have proven difficult to answer. To test between competing hypotheses, we constructed a massive repository of historical and archaeological information known as “Seshat: Global History Databank.” We systematically coded data on 414 societies from 30 regions around the world spanning the last 10,000 years. We were able to capture information on 51 variables reflecting nine characteristics of human societies, such as social scale, economy, features of governance, and information systems. Our analyses revealed that these different characteristics show strong relationships with each other and that a single principal component captures around three-quarters of the observed variation. Furthermore, we found that different characteristics of social complexity are highly predictable across different world regions. These results suggest that key aspects of social organization are functionally related and do indeed coevolve in predictable ways. Our findings highlight the power of the sciences and humanities working together to rigorously test hypotheses about general rules that may have shaped human history.

Regional ambient temperature is associated with human personality

Regional ambient temperature is associated with human personality. Wenqi Wei, et al. Nature Human Behaviour 1, 890–895 (2017). doi:10.1038/s41562-017-0240-0

Abstract: Human personality traits differ across geographical regions1,2,3,4,5. However, it remains unclear what generates these geographical personality differences. Because humans constantly experience and react to ambient temperature, we propose that temperature is a crucial environmental factor that is associated with individuals’ habitual behavioural patterns and, therefore, with fundamental dimensions of personality. To test the relationship between ambient temperature and personality, we conducted two large-scale studies in two geographically large yet culturally distinct countries: China and the United States. Using data from 59 Chinese cities (N = 5,587), multilevel analyses and machine learning analyses revealed that compared with individuals who grew up in regions with less clement temperatures, individuals who grew up in regions with more clement temperatures (that is, closer to 22 °C) scored higher on personality factors related to socialization and stability (agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability) and personal growth and plasticity (extraversion and openness to experience). These relationships between temperature clemency and personality factors were replicated in a larger dataset of 12,499 ZIP-code level locations (the lowest geographical level feasible) in the United States (N = 1,660,638). Taken together, our findings provide a perspective on how and why personalities vary across geographical regions beyond past theories (subsistence style theory, selective migration theory and pathogen prevalence theory). As climate change continues across the world, we may also observe concomitant changes in human personality.

Parents and Children Who Are Estranged in Adulthood: A Review and Discussion of the Literature + NYTimes article about this

Blake, L. (2017), Parents and Children Who Are Estranged in Adulthood: A Review and Discussion of the Literature. J Fam Theory Rev, 9: 521–536. doi:10.1111/jftr.12216

Abstract: This review article examines what is known about estrangement between parents and adult children in terms of definition, prevalence, causes, and consequences. Estrangement has been defined and conceptualized in different ways, although most definitions have focused on the negative quality of the relationship and the voluntarily or intentional decision of at least one family member to initiate and maintain distance. A diverse range of factors that are often interlinked has been found to contribute to estrangement. The consequences of estrangement from a parent or child include experiencing reduced levels of psychological well-being, feelings of loss, and experiences and/or perceptions of stigma. The estrangement literature has the potential to reveal variation in the quality of parent–child relationships in adulthood so that family scholars can move beyond our assumptions and understand family relationships as they are, rather than how they could or should be.

Debunking Myths About Estrangement. By CATHERINE SAINT LOUIS.
New research challenges the deeply held notion that family relationships can’t be dissolved and suggests that estrangement is not all that uncommon.

The New York Times, Dec 20, 2017

photos ommited

It’s the classic image of the holidays: Parents, siblings and their children gather around the family table to feast and catch up on one another’s lives. But it doesn’t always work that way.

After years of discontent, some adults choose to stop talking to their parents or returning home for family gatherings, and parents may disapprove of a child so intensely that he or she is no longer welcome home.

In the past five years, a clearer picture of estrangement has been emerging as more researchers have turned their attention to this kind of family rupture. Their findings challenge the deeply held notion that family relationships can’t be dissolved and suggest that estrangement is not all that uncommon.

Broadly speaking, estrangement is defined as one or more relatives intentionally choosing to end contact because of an ongoing negative relationship. (Relatives who go long stretches without a phone call because of external circumstances like a military deployment or incarceration don’t fit the bill.)

“To the extent you are actively trying to distance yourself and maintain that distance, that makes you estranged,” said Kristina Scharp, an assistant professor of communication studies at Utah State University in Logan.

Last month, Lucy Blake, a lecturer at Edge Hill University in England, published a systematic review of 51 articles about estrangement in the Journal of Family Theory & Review. This body of literature, Dr. Blake wrote, gives family scholars an opportunity to “understand family relationships as they are, rather than how they could or should be.”

Estrangement is widely misunderstood, but as more and more people share their experiences publicly, some misconceptions are being overturned. Assuming that every relationship between a parent and child will last a lifetime is as simplistic as assuming every couple will never split up.

Myth: Estrangement Happens Suddenly

It’s usually a long, drawn-out process rather than a single blowout. A parent and child’s relationship erodes over time, not overnight.

Kylie Agllias, a social worker in Australia who wrote a 2016 book called “Family Estrangement,” has found that estrangement “occurs across years and decades. All the hurt and betrayals, all the things that accumulate, undermine a person’s sense of trust.”

For a study published in June, Dr. Scharp spoke to 52 adult children and found they distanced themselves from their parents in various ways over time.

Some adult children, for example, moved away. Others no longer made an effort to fulfill expectations of the daughter-son role, such as a 48-year-old woman who, after 33 years with no contact with her father, declined to visit him in the hospital or to attend his funeral.

Still others chose to limit conversations with a family member to superficial small talk or reduce the amount of contact. One 21-year-old man described how he called and texted his mother, but not his father, after leaving for college. “They still live together so obviously he noticed and that bothered him,” he said.

Estrangement is a “continual process,” Dr. Scharp said. “In our culture, there’s a ton of guilt around not forgiving your family,” she explained. So “achieving distance is hard, but maintaining distance is harder.”

A complete rupture can be years in the making. It’s been three years since Nikolaus Maack, 47, has had contact with most of his family. But he started distancing himself from his parents and siblings a decade before. “I was staying away,” said Mr. Maack, a civil servant in Ottawa. His father’s temper had always kept him on edge, he said, and he felt that holiday meals were particularly uncomfortable and demeaning. Eventually, Mr. Maack stopped attending Christmas festivities altogether.

Reached by email, Mr. Maack’s father declined to be interviewed but insulted Mr. Maack and said he no longer considered him a son.

Myth: Estrangement Is Rare

In 2014, 8 percent of roughly 2,000 British adults said that they had cut off a family member, which translates to more than five million people, according to a nationally representative survey commissioned by Stand Alone, a charity that supports estranged people.

And 19 percent of respondents reported that another relative or they themselves were no longer in contact with family.

Myth: There’s a Clear Reason People Become Estranged

Multiple factors appear to come into play. In a 2015 study, Dr. Agllias interviewed 25 Australian parents, each of whom had been cut off by at least one child. The reasons for the rupture fell into three main categories. In some cases, the son or daughter chose between the parent and someone or something else, such as a partner. In others, the adult child was punishing the parent for “perceived wrongdoing” or a difference in values. Most parents also flagged additional ongoing stressors like domestic violence, divorce and failing health.

A woman once insisted to Dr. Agllias that she had not spoken to her son and his wife in seven years because she asked her daughter-in-law to bring a specific dessert to a family gathering, and the daughter-in-law had deliberately brought the same one she had baked. The mother-in-law saw it as “a symbol of total disrespect,” Dr. Agllias said, yet she revealed other factors that had undermined their relationship, including that she felt her son’s wife sometimes kept the grandchildren from her and didn’t properly take care of her son. The dessert, Dr. Agllias said, became a symbol of the “cumulative disrespect” she felt.

Myth: Estrangement Happens on a Whim

In a study published in the journal Australian Social Work, 26 adults reported being estranged from parents for three main reasons: abuse (everything from belittling to physical or sexual abuse), betrayal (keeping secrets or sabotaging them) and poor parenting (being overly critical, shaming children or making them scapegoats). The three were not mutually exclusive, and often overlapped, said Dr. Agllias, a lecturer at the University of Newcastle in Australia.

Most of the participants said that their estrangements followed childhoods in which they had already had poor connections with parents who were physically or emotionally unavailable.

For instance, Mr. Maack resented that he was routinely left in charge of his two younger siblings, so much so that he decided never to have children of his own.

After years of growing apart, the final straw was his wedding day.

In 2014, he and his longtime girlfriend decided to marry at City Hall for practical reasons: They realized she wouldn’t be able to inherit his pension, otherwise. He didn’t invite his family, in part because it was an informal gathering. But also because a brother had recently married in a traditional ceremony, during which his father had backed out of giving his speech. He worried that his father might do something similarly disruptive. He did not want to invite him and said he didn’t think anyone else would come without him.

“I agonized over inviting them or not, for a long time,” he said, “but in the end, decided, ‘I can’t have them there.’”

His family found out he was married through Facebook. One brother told him he was hurt he wasn’t even told. And his sister and father made it clear they would no longer talk to him, according to Mr. Maack and his wife. Two other relatives confirmed their account.

These days, one brother still talks to Mr. Maack, mostly through Facebook messenger, but they don’t talk about the others.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Distinguishing Polemic From Commentary in Science: Some Guidelines Illustrated With the Case of Sage and Burgio (2017)

Grimes, D. R. and Bishop, D. V. M. (2017), Distinguishing Polemic From Commentary in Science: Some Guidelines Illustrated With the Case of Sage and Burgio (2017). Child Dev. doi:10.1111/cdev.13013

Abstract: Exposure to nonionizing radiation used in wireless communication remains a contentious topic in the public mind—while the overwhelming scientific evidence to date suggests that microwave and radio frequencies used in modern communications are safe, public apprehension remains considerable. A recent article in Child Development has caused concern by alleging a causative connection between nonionizing radiation and a host of conditions, including autism and cancer. This commentary outlines why these claims are devoid of merit, and why they should not have been given a scientific veneer of legitimacy. The commentary also outlines some hallmarks of potentially dubious science, with the hope that authors, reviewers, and editors might be better able to avoid suspect scientific claims.

Watching Without Seeing: Determinants and Mechanisms of Inattentional Blindnes

Watching Without Seeing: Determinants and Mechanisms of Inattentional Blindness / Ich sehe was, was du nicht siehst: Determinanten und Mechanismen von Inattentional Blindness. Carina Kreitz. Zeitschrift für Sportpsychologie (2017), 24, pp. 120-127.

Abstract: We sometimes fail to consciously notice stimuli right in front of our eyes if those stimuli occur unexpectedly and our attention is diverted by another task. This phenomenon has been termed inattentional blindness and can have fatal consequences in daily-life situations as well as a severe impact on sports performance. In accordance with previous research, my findings indicate that a multitude of situational factors, including features of the unexpected object and characteristics of the context, influence the probability of inattentional blindness. By contrast, individual differences in personality and cognition do not seem to further differentiate the probability of inattentional blindness beyond situational aspects (or at least not reliably or substantially). That is, while there is a fixed probability for all observers to notice an unexpected object in a specific situation (deterministic aspect of inattentional blindness), we cannot predict who exactly will belong to the group of noticers (stochastic aspect).

Keywords: attention, inattentional blindness, failures of awareness

The Economist On Sexual Harassment, Nov 2017

In The Economist, Friday November 17th 2017:

Sexual harassment: Changing patterns
A plethora of recent examples, from Hollywood and elsewhere, have demonstrated the pervasive nature of sexual harassment towards women. A new survey shows that the range of views on what constitutes harassment is vast, diverging by age, sex and nationality. But in general, younger respondents are more likely than their older peers to think that certain types of behaviour crossed the line, writes our data team