Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Review of Attractiveness Preferences in Infancy: From Faces to Objects

A Review of Attractiveness Preferences in Infancy: From Faces to Objects. Fabrice Damon et al. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology.

Abstract: Despite some interpersonal variability, judgments of facial attractiveness are largely shared by most individuals, both within and between cultures. ***Infants are also sensitive to attractive faces even before being influenced by cultural standards of beauty***. The intercultural agreement on this matter and its emergence during infancy suggest an evolutionary basis for facial attractiveness. Sensitivity to facial attractiveness is typically understood through evolutionary-based frameworks, either reflecting mate selection mechanisms or emerging as by-products of brain processing and perceptual sensory biases. In the current article, we review data on the emergence and the development of attractiveness preferences in infants, focusing on mechanisms that may explain or contribute to these preferences such as familiarity or fluency in processing. We further discuss the possibility that infants’ preference for attractiveness could extend to other stimuli than faces like objects or visual art. Potential directions for future research are proposed for developmental and comparative approaches.

including attractive cats and tigers, as judged by adults

Wisdom and how to cultivate it: Review of emerging evidence for a constructivist model of wise thinking

Wisdom and how to cultivate it: Review of emerging evidence for a constructivist model of wise thinking. Igor Grossmann. European Psychologist, in press. Pre-print:

Abstract: Some folk beliefs characterize wisdom as an essence – a set of immutable characteristics, developing as a consequence of an innate potential and extraordinary life experiences. Emerging empirical scholarship involving experiments, diary and cross-cultural studies contradicts such folk beliefs. Wise thinking, which includes intellectual humility, recognizing uncertainty and change, considering different perspectives and integrating these perspectives, is subject to cross-situational variability. Cumulatively, empirical research suggests that variability in wise thinking is systematic, with greater wisdom in naturally and experimentally-induced contexts promoting an ego-decentered (vs. egocentric) viewpoint. Moreover, teaching for wisdom benefits from appreciation of context-dependency of intentions and actions depicted in the narratives of wisdom exemplars’ lives. I conclude by advancing a constructivist model of wise thinking, suggesting that cultural-historical, personal-motivational, and situational contexts play a critical role for wisdom, its development and its application in daily life.

Recently, scholars also extended the study of wise thinking into the real world, asking a group of adults from Berlin, Germany, to fill out a 9-day diary (Grossmann, Gerlach, et al., 2016). Each day, participants reflected on the most difficult situation encountered during the day, reconstructed the experience and answered questions concerning wisdom in their reflections.

On average, researchers observed a modest association between scores of wise thinking across diary days, r = .20. In other words, ***a person showing lots of wisdom in situation X had about 4% chance of showing a similar degree of wisdom in situation Y***. Comparably modest degree of intra-individual stability appears when comparing wise reasoning about distinct interpersonal situations from the recent past or when examining how wise reasoning varies over periods of several years (Brienza et al., in press). [...]. ***Notably, the stability in wise reasoning among the top 25% performers in the diary was also small, r = .23, tentatively suggesting that intra-individual stability in wise reasoning is not greater among wiser individuals***.

The false cues of intelligence are the ones found attractive

Sidari, Morgan (2016). A beautiful mind: Testing the sexual selection theory of human intelligence. Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

Abstract: The evolutionary forces that gave rise to humans’ extreme intelligence are not well understood. One prominent theory is that our surplus intelligence evolved as a fitness indicator to advertise genetic quality to prospective romantic partners. If our intelligence evolved over multitudes of generations’ romantic and sexual choices, this legacy should be reflected in our preferences today. In this thesis, I test several key predictions from the sexual selection theory of human intelligence. Participants (100 males, 99 females) took part in a speed-dating experiment whereby their verbal and non-verbal intelligence was measured and they provided ratings for each other on intelligence, humour, and attractiveness. I made the following predictions: first, measured intelligence will be detectable through perceptions of intelligence and perceptions of humour (a proposed display of intelligence); second, more intelligent people will be found more attractive by members of the opposite sex. Results showed that more intelligent people were perceived as more intelligent; however, they were not perceived as more humorous. Additionally, those who were perceived to be more intelligent or more humorous were found more attractive; however, those who were actually more intelligent were not. The finding that more intelligent people were not perceived as more humorous is not consistent with humour acting as a display of intelligence. Additionally, ***the findings that perceived intelligence is attractive and measured intelligence is not suggest that it may be the false cues of intelligence that are found attractive***. These results are not consistent with intelligence acting as a fitness indicator; thereby raising important issues with a theory that has been prominent in evolutionary psychology for sixteen years and yet remained relatively untested. Limitations and directions for future research are discussed.

Support for redistribution is shaped by compassion, envy, and self-interest, but not a taste for fairness

Support for redistribution is shaped by compassion, envy, and self-interest, but not a taste for fairness. Daniel Sznycer et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,  vol. 114 no. 31, 8420–8425.

Significance: Markets have lifted millions out of poverty, but considerable inequality remains and there is a large worldwide demand for redistribution. Although economists, philosophers, and public policy analysts debate the merits and demerits of various redistributive programs, a parallel debate has focused on voters’ motives for supporting redistribution. Understanding these motives is crucial, for the performance of a policy cannot be meaningfully evaluated except in the light of intended ends. Unfortunately, existing approaches pose ill-specified motives. Chief among them is fairness, a notion that feels intuitive but often rests on multiple inconsistent principles. We show that evolved motives for navigating interpersonal interactions clearly predict attitudes about redistribution, but a taste for procedural fairness or distributional fairness does not.

Abstract: Why do people support economic redistribution? Hypotheses include inequity aversion, a moral sense that inequality is intrinsically unfair, and cultural explanations such as exposure to and assimilation of culturally transmitted ideologies. However, humans have been interacting with worse-off and better-off individuals over evolutionary time, and our motivational systems may have been naturally selected to navigate the opportunities and challenges posed by such recurrent interactions. We hypothesize that modern redistribution is perceived as an ancestral scene involving three notional players: the needy other, the better-off other, and the actor herself. We explore how three motivational systems—compassion, self-interest, and envy—guide responses to the needy other and the better-off other, and how they pattern responses to redistribution. Data from the United States, the United Kingdom, India, and Israel support this model. Endorsement of redistribution is independently predicted by dispositional compassion, dispositional envy, and the expectation of personal gain from redistribution. By contrast, a taste for fairness, in the sense of (i) universality in the application of laws and standards, or (ii) low variance in group-level payoffs, fails to predict attitudes about redistribution.

Felt Age, Desired, and Expected Lifetime in the Context of Health, Well-Being, and Successful Aging

Felt Age, Desired, and Expected Lifetime in the Context of Health, Well-Being, and Successful Aging. Neala Ambrosi-Randić, Marina Nekić, Ivana Tucak Junaković. The International Journal of Aging and Human Development,

Abstract: This study examines the interrelations of three different aspects of the subjective age: felt, desired and expected, as well as their relations with the chronological age (CA), health, and psychological well-being variables. Four hundred and twenty-three community-dwelling Croatian adults, aged 60–95 years, participated in the study. All three subjective age measures significantly correlated with the CA. Self-rated health were better predictors of the subjective age compared to the psychological variables. Among psychological variables, successful aging was the only significant predictor of the felt and expected age, while optimism showed to be the only significant predictor of the desired age. Results indicate the importance of some sociodemographic, psychological, and health variables for understanding older persons' subjective age identity and their desires and expectations regarding length of life. Besides the CA, it is very useful to include subjective age measures in research with elderly people.

Summary: Old adults see themselves as 10 years younger than their chronological age. Desires about lifetime are rather modest (wanted avg 88 and expected avg 84 yo).

Consumption and Income Inequality in the U.S. Since the 1960s

Consumption and Income Inequality in the U.S. Since the 1960s. Bruce D. Meyer, James X. Sullivan. NBER Working Paper No. 23655,

Official income inequality statistics indicate a sharp rise in inequality over the past five decades. These statistics do not accurately reflect inequality because income is poorly measured, particularly in the tails of the distribution, and current income differs from permanent income, failing to capture the consumption paid for through borrowing and dissaving and the consumption of durables such as houses and cars. We examine income inequality between 1963 and 2014 using the Current Population Survey and consumption inequality between 1960 and 2014 using the Consumer Expenditure Survey. We construct improved measures of consumption, focusing on its well-measured components that are reported at a high and stable rate relative to national accounts. While overall income inequality (as measured by the 90/10 ratio) rose over the past five decades, the rise in overall consumption inequality was small. The patterns for the two measures differ by decade, and they moved in opposite directions after 2006. Income inequality rose in both the top and bottom halves of the distribution, but increases in consumption inequality are only evident in the top half. The differences are also concentrated in single parent families and single individuals. Although changing demographics can account for some of the changes in consumption inequality, they account for little of the changes in income inequality. Consumption smoothing cannot explain the differences between income and consumption at the very bottom, but the declining quality of income data can. Asset price changes likely account for some of the differences between the measures in recent years for the top half of the distribution.

Authoritarianism and Affective Polarization: A New View on the Origins of Partisan Extremism

Authoritarianism and Affective Polarization: A New View on the Origins of Partisan Extremism. Matthew D. Luttig. Public Opinion Quarterly, August 02, 2017,

Abstract: What drives affective polarization in American politics? One common argument is that Democrats and Republicans are deeply polarized today because they are psychologically different—motivated by diametrically opposed and clashing worldviews. This paper argues that the same psychological motivation—authoritarianism—is positively related to partisan extremism among both Republicans and Democrats. Across four studies, this paper shows that authoritarianism is associated with strong partisanship and heightened affective polarization among both Republicans and Democrats. Thus, strong Republicans and Democrats are psychologically similar, at least with respect to authoritarianism. As authoritarianism provides an indicator of underlying needs to belong, these findings support a view of mass polarization as nonsubstantive and group-centric, not driven by competing ideological values or clashing psychological worldviews.

Persistent effect of sex ratios on relationship quality and life satisfaction

Persistent effect of sex ratios on relationship quality and life satisfaction. Pauline Grosjean, Robert C. Brooks. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. Volume 372, issue 1729, September 19, 2017.

Abstract: Convict transportation to Australia imposed heavily male-biased sex ratios in some areas, altering the convict-era mating market and generating long-running cultural effects that persist to the present day. We test whether convict-era sex ratios have altered marital and overall life satisfaction today, through their persistent effects on gender norms and household bargaining. We find that both women and men are happier, and the happiness gap within married couples is smaller in areas where convict-era sex ratios were heavily male-biased than in areas where sex ratios were historically more even. We discuss our results in light of household bargaining theory, evolutionary sexual conflict theory and the well-documented relationship between conservative attitudes and self-reported happiness.

A male-biased sex ratio, which implies a lower supply of women on the marriage market, results in a generally favourable price for women on the mating market, and better bargaining positions for women within the marital household. As a result, under such conditions, mating market models predict that women are more likely to marry, are less likely to participate in the labour force, and consume more leisure [6–10]. Evidence from traditional [11], historic [12] and industrialized [13] societies suggests that behavioural responses to imbalanced adult sex ratios can be both facultative and highly sensitive to ecological, economic and cultural context.

Wild Voices: Mimicry, Reversal, Metaphor, and the Emergence of Language

Wild Voices: Mimicry, Reversal, Metaphor, and the Emergence of Language. Chris Knight and Jerome Lewis. Current Anthropologym v 58, Number 4 | August 2017,

Abstract: Why is it that, out of 220 primate species, we are the only one that talks? The relative inflexibility of primate vocal signaling reflects audience pressure for reliability. Where interests conflict, listeners’ resistance to being deceived drives signalers to limit their vocal repertoire to signals that cannot be faked. This constraint was lifted in the human case, we argue, because the original victims of our species’ first deceptive vocalizations were nonhuman animals. When our ancestors were vulnerable hominins equipped with limited weaponry, they kept predators away by increasing the range and diversity of their vocal calls. This led to choral singing, primarily by females, and deceptive mimicry of animal calls, primarily by scavenging and hunting males. A critical feature of our model is the core principle of reversal, whereby deceptive signals aimed originally by a coalition against an external target are subsequently redeployed for honest communicative purposes within the group. We argue that this dynamic culminated ultimately in gestural, vocal, and ritual metaphor, opening the way to word formation and the rapid emergence of grammar.

The Good, the Bad, and the Male: Men, But Not Women, Avoid Own-Gender Stereotypical Judgments of Affective Valence

The Good, the Bad, and the Male: Men, But Not Women, Avoid Own-Gender Stereotypical Judgments of Affective Valence. Markus Conrad and Christian von Scheve. Gender Issues, September 2017, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 223–239,

Abstract: We examine gender differences in the endorsement of gender-stereotypical judgments of the affective valence of social concepts. Sociological as well as social psychological theories indicate that individuals are inclined to behave in ways concordant with prevailing roles and corresponding stereotypes. Recent debates suggest gender biases in the social desirability of gender-stereotype endorsement. We use words with apparent gender differences in perceived affective valence and ask participants to (a) individually rate the valence of each word, (b) estimate how, in general, same-sex individuals would rate the word, and (c) estimate how, in general, opposite-sex individuals would rate the word. Results show that female participants’ self-ratings align with their estimated ratings of the majority of women, whereas male participants’ self-ratings notably deviate from their estimated male majority ratings. We interpret these results as a consequence of a declining esteem of stereotypically male attributes in society.

Survival of the Fittest and the Sexiest: Evolutionary Origins of Adolescent Bullying

Survival of the Fittest and the Sexiest: Evolutionary Origins of Adolescent Bullying. Jun-Bin Koh, and Jennifer S. Wong. Journal of Interpersonal Violence,

Abstract: The central idea of evolutionary psychology theory (EPT) is that species evolve to carry or exhibit certain traits/behaviors because these characteristics increase their ability to survive and reproduce. Proponents of EPT propose that bullying emerges from evolutionary development, providing an adaptive edge for gaining better sexual opportunities and physical protection, and promoting mental health. This study examines adolescent bullying behaviors via the lens of EPT. Questionnaires were administered to 135 adolescents, ages 13 to 16, from one secondary school in metro Vancouver, British Columbia. Participants were categorized into one of four groups (bullies, victims, bully/victims, or bystanders) according to their involvement in bullying interactions as measured by the Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire. Four dependent variables were examined: depression, self-esteem, social status, and social anxiety. Results indicate that bullies had the most positive scores on mental health measures and held the highest social rank in the school environment, with significant differences limited to comparisons between bullies and bully/victims. These results lend support to the hypothesis that youth bullying is derived from evolutionary development. Implications for approaching anti-bullying strategies in schools and directions for future studies are discussed.