Friday, August 18, 2017

Women have greater inhibition even with no social component in the experiment

Sex Differences on the Go/No-Go Test of Inhibition. Espen A. Sjoberg and Geoff G. Cole. Archives of Sexual Behavior,

Abstract: Parental investment theory suggests that women, due to greater investment in child rearing, can be more choosy than men when considering a potential mate. A corollary to this is that women should possess greater inhibition abilities compared to men in contexts related to sex and reproduction. This notion has found support from the inhibition literature demonstrating that while women do indeed show greater inhibition on tasks that include a social aspect, no such effect is found on cognitive tasks that do not possess a social component. In the present experiment, participants (N = 66) performed a variant of a classic Go/No-Go task consisting of infrequent No-Go trials in which a response needed to be withheld. ***Importantly, the stimuli were geometric shapes possessing no social component. Results showed that women outperformed men on the No-Go trials, indicating greater inhibition***. No significant difference was found in reaction time on Go trials. Thus, the results cannot be explained in terms of a speed/accuracy trade-off. We discuss the findings in the context of the female-evolved inhibition hypothesis.

Waiting for the Second Treat: Developing Culture-Specific Modes of Self-Regulation

Lamm, B., Keller, H., Teiser, J., Gudi, H., Yovsi, R. D., Freitag, C., Poloczek, S., Fassbender, I., Suhrke, J., Teubert, M., Vöhringer, I., Knopf, M., Schwarzer, G. and Lohaus, A. (2017), Waiting for the Second Treat: Developing Culture-Specific Modes of Self-Regulation. Child Development, doi:10.1111/cdev.12847

Abstract: The development of self-regulation has been studied primarily in Western middle-class contexts and has, therefore, neglected what is known about culturally varying self-concepts and socialization strategies. The research reported here compared the self-regulatory competencies of German middle-class (N = 125) and rural Cameroonian Nso preschoolers (N = 76) using the Marshmallow test (Mischel, 2014). Study 1 revealed that 4-year-old Nso children showed better delay-of-gratification performance than their German peers. Study 2 revealed that culture-specific maternal socialization goals and interaction behaviors were related to delay-of-gratification performance. Nso mothers’ focus on hierarchical relational socialization goals and responsive control seems to support children's delay-of-gratification performance more than German middle-class mothers’ emphasis on psychological autonomous socialization goals and sensitive, child-centered parenting.

A higher percentage of Cameroonian Nso children (69.7%) than German middle-class children (28%) succeeded in waiting for the research assistant to return with the second treat. Furthermore, compared to only 28.9% of the Cameroonian Nso children, 49.6% of the German middle-class children ate or at least tasted the sweet before the research assistant returned. Only one Nso child left the room to terminate the delay period ahead of time, but 22.4% of the German middle-class children acted in this way. Finally, although eight Nso children (10.5%) fell asleep during the delay, no German child exhibited this behavior.


Subsequent univariate analyses revealed that German middle-class children exhibited more time in distraction behaviors in terms of turning away from the sweet and talking or singing. Furthermore, they spend more time in negative emotions than rural Nso children [desperate face, whining, crying, etc.].


waiting falls neatly into the hierarchically interrelated cultural model of the Nso farmer families, which has adapted to the community’s demands. In this context, the development of self-regulation constitutes an early and unconditional achievement that stems from children’s sense of belongingness and perceived responsibility (Keller, 2015). Accordingly, the children raised in these two cultural models also differed substantially in their delay strategies. Nso children displayed the lack of motion and emotion-neutral attitude expected of them as good behavior (Keller & Otto, 2009). They sat in front of the table with the sweet without engaging in much motor activity, and some downregulated themselves so effectively that they even fell asleep during the delay. Their emotional inexpressiveness is in line with the cultural ideal of an “easy child” who does not jeopardize social functioning with social or emotional demands. [...] German children, on the other hand, acted out their attitudes of self-selected behavioral choices with different kinds of motor strategies, such as moving their bodies, turning around, changing position, walking around in the room, and even leaving the room.

These different delay strategies further suggest that self-regulation is based on different underlying processes based on cultural environment.

An Investigation of Genetic and Environmental Influences Across the Distribution of Self-Control

An Investigation of Genetic and Environmental Influences Across the Distribution of Self-Control. Joseph A. Schwartz et al. Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol 44, Issue 9, 2017,

Abstract: Previous research illustrating a robust, negative association between self-control and various forms of delinquent and criminal behavior has resulted in a more concentrated focus on the etiological development of self-control. The current study aims to contribute to this literature using a sample of twin and sibling pairs from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) to examine genetic and shared environmental influences across levels of self-control. The results of modified DeFries–Fulker (DF) equations revealed that genetic and shared environmental influences were distributed in a nonlinear pattern across levels of self-control. Subsequent biometric quantile regression models revealed that genetic influences on self-control were maximized in the 50th and 60th percentiles, and minimized in the tails of the distribution. Shared environmental influences were nonsignificant at all examined quantiles of self-control with only one exception. The theoretical importance of utilizing genetically informed modeling strategies is discussed in more detail.

My comment: intermediate levels of self-control are dominated by genetics, and the environment is dominant in those with high (more strict education???) and low (too lenient parents or non-structured families???) self-control.

Human Self as Information Agent: Functioning in a Social Environment Based on Shared Meanings

Human Self as Information Agent: Functioning in a Social Environment Based on Shared Meanings. Roy F. Baumeister, Heather M. Maranges, and Kathleen D. Vohs. Review of General Psychology, June 2017. DOI: 10.1037/gpr0000114

Abstract: A neglected aspect of human selfhood is that people are information agents. That is, much human social activity involves communicating and discussing information. This occurs in the context of incompletely shared information—but also a group’s store of collective knowledge and shared understanding. This article elucidates a preliminary theory of self as information agent, proposing that human evolution instilled both abilities and motivations for the various requisite functions. These basic functions include (a) seeking and acquiring information, (b) communicating one’s thoughts to others, (c) circulating information through the group, (d) operating on information to improve it, such as by correcting mistakes, and (e) constructing a shared understanding of reality. Sophisticated information agents exhibit additional features, such as sometimes selectively withholding information or disseminating false information for self-serving reasons, cultivating a reputation as a credible source of information, and cooperating with others to shape the shared worldview in a way that favors one’s subgroup. Meaningful information is thus more than a resource for individual action: It also provides the context, medium, and content within which the individual self interacts with its social environment.

One fascinating question about official falsehoods is whether the ruling elites who propagate such views believe them or not. We speculate that there are cases of both types. That is, some rulers may knowingly, even cynically, uphold a false worldview because it helps sustain them in power, whereas others sincerely believe their worldview. Probably many cases exist in the large gray area between those two, in which self-deceptive tactics are used to sustain preferred beliefs, and doubts are shrugged off as counterproductive. As an example close to home, psychology today is dominated by a political viewpoint that is progressively liberal, but it seems unlikely that many researchers knowingly assert falsehoods as scientific facts. They do however make publication of some findings much easier than others. The selective critique enables them to believe that the field’s body of knowledge supports their political views more than it does, because contrary facts and findings are suppressed (e.g., Duarte et al., 2015). In general, we suspect that far more elites use biased informational strategies to convince themselves of the truth of their preferred views than cynically assert positions they know to be false—though the latter happens too.

[...] Individuals should therefore first have some motivation to seek and obtain information. They may seek information to fill gaps in the group’s collective knowledge (as opposed to merely satisfying their own curiosity).

The group’s stock of information grows as people contribute different bits of information, but it is only a group resource insofar as the members share it. Hence resolving disputes and inconsistencies is helpful. There is thus some tension between adding diverse input and achieving agreement. A leader can encourage everyone to think the same thing, possibly at the expense of contrary and more accurate views. Leaders can also encourage diverse views and dissent, though that presumably makes it harder for the leader to lead.

Why might evolution have made people willing to sacrifice accuracy in favor of consensus, at least sometimes? Here we speculate that desire for consensus may derive from an innate social motive, whereas accuracy is an epistemic motive that would need to be acquired, and is therefore less deeply rooted and perhaps weaker [it is stronger the need to know what others think is true than to make sure you know the truth???]. Accuracy requires meaningful evaluation, as it is essentially a match between two ideas—and perhaps meaning cannot be transmitted by purely physical processes, such as birth. To put this another way, consensus is about you and me having the same thoughts, and nature can program us to want sameness in general, as is seen in preference for genetic kin. In contrast, accuracy is about abstract relationships between statements and circumstances, and thus it is a meaningful rather than a physical thing. There may not be an innate motive to evaluate the truthvalue of assertions or to appreciate the meaningful difference between truth and falsehood. Hence it may be necessary to learn from experience that accuracy is an informational virtue that confers benefits, whereas consensus may be more closely tied to innate motivations.

Disclosing information about the self is intrinsically rewarding -- individuals were willing to forgo money to disclose about the self

Disclosing information about the self is intrinsically rewarding. Diana I. Tamir and Jason P. Mitchell. Proc Natl Acad Sci, 109(21): 8038–8043, May 22 2012,

Abstract: Humans devote 30–40% of speech output solely to informing others of their own subjective experiences. What drives this propensity for disclosure? Here, we test recent theories that individuals place high subjective value on opportunities to communicate their thoughts and feelings to others and that doing so engages neural and cognitive mechanisms associated with reward. Five studies provided support for this hypothesis. Self-disclosure was strongly associated with increased activation in brain regions that form the mesolimbic dopamine system, including the nucleus accumbens and ventral tegmental area. ***Moreover, individuals were willing to forgo money to disclose about the self***. Two additional studies demonstrated that these effects stemmed from the independent value that individuals placed on self-referential thought and on simply sharing information with others. Together, these findings suggest that the human tendency to convey information about personal experience may arise from the intrinsic value associated with self-disclosure.

Keywords: self-reference, social cognition, reward, functional MRI

Helping populism win? Social media use, filter bubbles, and support for populist presidential candidates in the 2016 US election campaign

Helping populism win? Social media use, filter bubbles, and support for populist presidential candidates in the 2016 US election campaign. Jacob Groshek and Karolina Koc-Michalska.  Information, Communication & Society, Volume 20, 2017 - Issue 9, Pages 1389-1407.

ABSTRACT: Undoubtedly, populist political candidates from the right and the left, including Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, changed the tenor and direction of the 2016 presidential contest in the US. Much like Barack Obama’s electoral successes that were credited at least in part to his savvy social media campaigning in 2008 and 2012, since Trump’s victory, the notion that social media ‘helped him win’ has been revitalized, even by Trump himself [McCormick, R. (2016a). Donald Trump says Facebook and Twitter ‘helped him win’. The Verge. Retrieved from]. This study therefore explores citizen support for populist and establishment candidates across the ideological spectrum in the US to specifically examine if using social media was related to an increased likelihood of supporting populist presidential political candidates, including Trump. Differing forms of active, passive, and uncivil social media were taken into account and the findings suggest active social media use for politics was actually related to less support for Republican populists, such as Trump, but that forms of both passive or uncivil social media use were linked to an increase in the likelihood of support to a level roughly equivalent to that of the traditional television viewing. These patterns are almost the inverse of support for Democratic populists, in this case namely Sanders.

KEYWORDS: Populism, social media, elections, president, campaigns, Trump

Concerned that DSM-5 tend to over-pathologize ordinary quirks and eccentricities

Misophonia: A new mental disorder? Steven Taylor. Medical Hypotheses, Volume 103, June 2017, Pages 109-117,

Abstract: Misophonia, a phenomenon first described in the audiology literature, is characterized by intense emotional reactions (e.g., anger, rage, anxiety, disgust) in response to highly specific sounds, particularly sounds of human origin such as oral or nasal noises made by other people (e.g., chewing, sniffing, slurping, lip smacking). Misophonia is not listed in any of the contemporary psychiatric classification systems. Some investigators have argued that misophonia should be regarded as a new mental disorder, falling within the spectrum of obsessive-compulsive related disorders. Other researchers have disputed this claim. The purpose of this article is to critically examine the proposition that misophonia should be classified as a new mental disorder. The clinical and research literature on misophonia was examined and considered in the context of the broader literature on what constitutes a mental disorder. ***There have been growing concerns that diagnostic systems such as DSM-5 tend to over-pathologize ordinary quirks and eccentricities. Accordingly, solid evidence is required for proposing a new psychiatric disorder.*** The available evidence suggests that (a) misophonia meets many of the general criteria for a mental disorder and has some evidence of clinical utility as a diagnostic construct, but (b) the nature and boundaries of the syndrome are unclear; for example, in some cases misophonia might be simply one feature of a broader pattern of sensory intolerance, and (c) considerably more research is required, particularly work concerning diagnostic validity, before misophonia, defined as either as a disorder or as a key feature of some broader syndrome of sensory intolerance, should be considered as a diagnostic construct in the psychiatric nomenclature. A research roadmap is proposed for the systematic evaluation as to whether misophonia should be considered for future editions of DSM or ICD.

My comment: Hahahahahahahaha. How could they think so... Why the concern? Hahahahahahahaha.

They distanced themselves from the negative images of consumption associated with the wealthy... ostentation, materialism, and excess -- all markers of moral unworthiness

Uneasy Street: The Anxieties of Affluence. Rachel Sherman. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017,

...they described their desires and needs as basic and their spending as disciplined and family-oriented.  They asserted that they "could live without" their advantages if they had to, denying that they were dependent on their comfortable lifestyles.  They distanced themselves from the negative images of consumption often associated with the wealthy, such as ostentation, materialism, and excess -- all markers of moral unworthiness.  These interpretations allowed them to believe that they deserved what they had and at the same time to cast themselves as "normal" people rather than "rich" ones.

See also: This Hamptons trailer park is a billionaire hotspot. By Jennifer Gould Keil. NY Post, Jul 26, 2017.

And: The Perils of Proclaiming an Authentic Organizational Identity. By Balázs Kovács, Glenn Carroll & David Lehman. Sociological Science, January 2017,

And: Why Elites Love Authentic Lowbrow Culture: Overcoming High-Status Denigration with Outsider Art. By Oliver Hahl, Ezra W. Zuckerman, Minjae Kim
American Sociological Review,

Anomie, Mistrust, and the Impact of Race, SES, and Gender

"It's Hardly Fair to Bring a Child Into the World With the Way Things Look.": Anomie, Mistrust, and the Impact of Race, SES, and Gender. Melvin Thomas. Sociological Inquiry,

Abstract: This article examines the impact of race, socioeconomic status (SES), and gender on subjective outlook using anomie and general mistrust as indicators. Specifically, this study addresses the following questions: (1) How do African Americans and whites compare with respect to anomie and mistrust? (2) Do racial differences in anomie and mistrust vary by SES? (3) Do African American women have higher levels of anomie and mistrust than whites and African American men? and (4) Are African Americans becoming more or less trusting and anomic over time? Using data from the General Social Survey (GSS) (1972-2014), the analysis reveals significant racial differences in social outlook as measured by anomie and mistrust. African Americans indicate higher levels of both anomie and mistrust than whites even after controls for SES and the other variables. The racial gap in anomie and mistrust increases with increases in SES. Being African American and female is associated with higher levels of anomie but not mistrust. African American mistrust decreases relative to whites over time. More affluent African Americans' anomie levels slightly increase relative to similar whites over time. Explanations using the "rage of a privileged class" and "intersectionality" ideas are evaluated.

My comments:

1  the result of this research is unfavourable to the group studied, so the author use a justification in the title. The truth could be this: if one is poor, one is more ethical and respects rules and laws (at least those of your own group, we don't know), and is more trustful of others (we don't know who are the others, see below comment #2 on mistrust). When people in this group increases their socioeconomic status (SES), they find reasons to throw that love of law and ethical behavior overboard (which we assume have a negative impact on community life, cooperation and solidarity), and rationalize it _afterwards_ with how harsh and unjust is the real world. Same with mistrust, which also increases with SES. Of course, other groups with a long history of discrimination, including obstacles to access higher education today, are not in anomie or mistrust levels as we see here. This makes the group studied look bad, and they compensate with a poor-me-how-harsh-is-life title.

There is no mention of other groups: "asia" (Asian, Asiatic), "hispan" (Hispanic, Hispanos, Hispanas), "latin" (Latino, Latina). So, of course, we cannot know if the community is that of your ethnic background, or one including the whites, or only that of whites, or maybe whites + other minorities.

This not knowing which laws/customs/mores do they respect makes useless this half of the study, IMHO.

BTW, the explanation for their abandoning love of law is that the guys increasing their SES are more conscious of the discrimination they suffer. Which, again, other groups do not do to the same extent.Of course, it can be a catch-22 situation... More criminality in this group makes the others fearful of young members of the group and those who are not criminal (the overwhelming majority) get offended for the assessment.

2  about the mistrust part... we do not know what the subjects mean when they answer to "most of the time people" or "most people" questions, and the authors recognize it, although they bury the problem in the text:
One problem interpreting these findings is that it is hard to know who “most people” are imagined to be in the trust items. [...] Unfortunately, not knowing exactly whom the respondents have in mind is a limitation of this study.

They are good scholars because they say this? Are you serious? Right in front of my salad? Wrong. This limitation makes this half of the study useless.

To me it is clear that there is a mix here of effects. Some subjects (most likely men) are talking about whites, and some about whites + hispanics + asiatics + others, but don't know the proportions. But some women probably are complaining about black men (husbands, sex partners). As a consequence of the defects in the questionnaire, we don't know the proportions or men and women who equate "most people" with blacks, or whites, or whites + others.

The Gun-Slave Hypothesis And The 18th Century British Slave Trade

The Gun-Slave Hypothesis And The 18th Century British Slave Trade. Warren Whatley. Explorations in Economic History,

Abstract: The Gun-Slave Hypothesis is the long-standing idea that European gunpowder technology played a key role in growing the transatlantic slave trade. I combine annual data from the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database and the Anglo-African Trade Statistics to estimate a Vector Error Correction Model of the 18th century British slave trade that captures four versions of the Gun-Slave Hypothesis: guns-for-slaves-in-exchange, guns-for-slaves-in-production, slaves-for-guns-derived and the gun-slave cycle. Three econometric results emerge. (1) Gunpowder imports and slave exports were co-integrated in a long-run equilibrium relationship. (2) Positive deviations from equilibrium gunpowder "produced" additional slave exports. This guns-for-slaves-in-production result survives 17 placebo tests that replace gunpowder with non-lethal commodities imports. It is also confirmed by an instrumental variables estimation that uses excess capacity in the British gunpowder industry as an instrument for gunpowder. (3) Additional slave exports attracted additional gunpowder imports for 2-3 more years. Together these dynamics formed a gun-slave cycle. Impulse-response functions generate large increases in slave export in response to increases in gunpowder imports. I use these results to explain the growth of slave exports along the Guinea Coast of Africa in the 18th century.