Sunday, August 20, 2017

An Analysis of the Fake News Audience in the Lead Up to the 2016 Presidential Election

Nelson, Jacob. (2017). Fake News, Fake Problem? An Analysis of the Fake News Audience in the Lead Up to the 2016 Presidential Election.

Abstract: In light of the recent U.S. election, many fear that “fake news” has become a powerful and sinister force in the news media environment. These fears stem from the idea that as news consumption increasingly takes place via social media sites, news audiences are more likely to find themselves drawn in by sensational headlines to sources that lack accuracy or legitimacy, with troubling consequences for democracy. However, we know little about the extent to which online audiences are exposed to fake news, and how these outlets factor into the average digital news diet. In this paper, I argue that fears about fake news consumption echo fears about partisan selective exposure, in that both stem from concerns that more media choice leads audiences to consume news that align with their beliefs, and to ignore news that does not. Yet recent studies have concluded that the partisan media audience (1) is small and (2) also consumes news from popular, centrist outlets. I use online news audience data to show a similar phenomenon plays out when it comes to fake news. Findings reveal that social media does indeed play an outsized role in generating traffic to fake news sites; however, the actual fake news audience is small, and a large portion of it also visits more popular, “real” news sites. I conclude by discussing the implications of a news media landscape where the audience is exposed to contradictory sources of public affairs information.

Public Order and Private Payments: Evidence from the Swedish Soccer League

Public Order and Private Payments: Evidence from the Swedish Soccer League. Sten Nyberg and Mikael Priks. Journal of Public Economics, September 2017, Pages 1-8,

•    Private security at public events can be subject to free-riding and externalities.
•    Co-payments for police at events can improve incentives for organizers.
•    We examine a natural experiment with co-payments in the Swedish soccer league.
•    Results show that co-payments increase private security and reduce unruly behavior.

Abstract: Should organizers of events share the associated costs of maintaining public order? We address this question by using unique data from the Swedish soccer league where co-payment for police were introduced for some clubs only. The difference-in-differences analysis shows that co-payments increased private guards by 40 percent and suggests a reduction of unruly behavior by 20 percent. The results are consistent with our model, where co-payments alleviate under-provision in efforts by organizers to combat problems such as hooliganism due to exernalities and free-riding on police services. The model also sheds light on the critique that co-payments could lead financially constrained organizers to provide less security.

The association between urban tree cover and gun assault: a case-control and casecrossover study

The association between urban tree cover and gun assault: a case-control and casecrossover study. Michelle Kondo et al. American Journal of Epidemiology, 1 August 2017, Pages 289–296.

Abstract: Green space and vegetation may play a protective role against urban violence. We investigated whether being near urban tree cover during outdoor activities was related to being assaulted with a gun. We conducted geographic information systems–assisted interviews with boys and men aged 10–24 years in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, including 135 patients who had been shot with a firearm and 274 community controls, during 2008–2011. Each subject reported a step-by-step mapped account of where and with whom they traveled over a full day from waking until being assaulted or going to bed. Geocoded path points were overlaid on mapped layers representing tree locations and place-specific characteristics. Conditional logistic regressions were used to compare case subjects versus controls (case-control) and case subjects at the time of injury versus times earlier that day (case-crossover). When comparing cases at the time of assault to controls matched at the same time of day, being under tree cover was inversely associated with gunshot assault (odds ratio (OR) = 0.70, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.55, 0.88), especially in low-income areas (OR = 0.69, 95% CI: 0.54, 0.87). Case-crossover models confirmed this inverse association overall (OR = 0.55, 95% CI: 0.34, 0.89) and in low-income areas (OR = 0.54, 95% CI: 0.33, 0.88). Urban greening and tree cover may hold promise as proactive strategies to decrease urban violence.

My comment: Obviously, the shooter finds less interesting someone near an obstacle, to shoot well is already difficult and not to miss a shot when the victim can duck under some object is even more difficult, so you try to get those with no cover, i.e., those in the open.

Using Cognitive Dissonance to Explore Attitudinal Hypocrisy

Having Your Cake and Eating It Too: Using Cognitive Dissonance to Explore Attitudinal Hypocrisy. Timothy P. Collins. Chapter 6 of Hypocrisy in American Political Attitudes: A Defense of Attitudinal Incongruence, pp 247-288. ISBN: 978-3-319-54011-5 (Print) 978-3-319-54012-2 (Online)

Abstract: The extent to which a person has attitudes that contradict other attitudes is simply cognitive dissonance by another name. I review cognitive dissonance literature and design a survey experiment in which Midwestern university students’ personal perceptions of and distastes for being accused of being hypocritical are tested in an induced compliance research procedure. The results suggest that, in contrast to previous research and the well-established expectations, the participants were only minimally troubled by the idea that they may be hypocritical. For those who were troubled, political ideology and identity had only marginal predictive effects; instead, the traits of dogmatism and openness to experience appeared to supplant the expected roles of ideological orientations.
Obviously they [conservatives] are hypocrites in that they want small government but then want to ban gay marriage and increase spending on national defense. You simply can’t have the best of both worlds.—Liberal experimental participant
Liberals are hypocrites because like Obama he wants equality but then he is exempt from Obamacare.—Conservative experimental participant

The perception of emotion in artificial agents

Hortensius, R., Hekele, F., & Cross, E. S. (2017, August 1). The perception of emotion in artificial agents. Retrieved from PsyArXiv

Abstract: Given recent technological developments in robotics, artificial intelligence and virtual reality, it is perhaps unsurprising that the arrival of emotionally expressive and reactive artificial agents is imminent. However, if such agents are to become integrated into our social milieu, it is imperative to establish an understanding of whether and how humans perceive emotion in artificial agents. In this review, we incorporate recent findings from social robotics, virtual reality, psychology, and neuroscience to examine how people recognize and respond to emotions displayed by artificial agents. First, we review how people perceive emotions expressed by an artificial agent, such as facial and bodily expressions and vocal tone. Second, we evaluate the similarities and differences in the consequences of perceived emotions in artificial compared to human agents. Besides accurately recognizing the emotional state of an artificial agent, it is critical to understand how humans respond to those emotions. Does interacting with an angry robot induce the same responses in people as interacting with an angry person? Similarly, does watching a robot rejoice when it wins a game elicit similar feelings of elation in the human observer? Here we provide an overview of the current state of emotion expression and perception in social robotics, as well as a clear articulation of the challenges to be addressed as we move ever closer to truly emotional artificial agents.

In the original Milgram study, participants were instructed that they would collaborate with the experimenter to investigate the effects of punishment on learning. To this end, the participant was instructed to administer electric shocks of increasing voltage to a learner – who was actually a confederate – whenever he made a mistake in the learning task. At a certain threshold of 300V, the learner no longer responded to the task and kicked the wall in protest, yet the average maximum shock had a voltage of 312V. Twenty-six out of 40 participants were willing to deliver the maximum intensity of 450V to the learner. This paradigm has subsequently been used to test whether and to what extent people will punish an artificial agent (Fig. 3). One replication of the classic Milgram experiment might provide insight [98]. The experiment featured a physically present robot learner, which led to even more pronounced effects than the original study –the highest electric shock of 450V was administered to the robot, despite its verbal protest and painful facial expression, by all participants.

Another study used a female virtual learner in a similar setup where participants read words to the learner and were able to punish the learner with shocks when she made a mistake [99]. The virtual learner was either visible or partially hidden throughout the experiment, which influenced the amount of shocks administered, with fewer shocks being administered when the virtual learner was fully visible. Overall results were similar to the original Milgram experiment, with 85% of participants delivering the maximum voltage. Even though all participants were aware that the learner was a virtual agent, the visual and verbal expression of pain in response to the shock was sufficient to trigger discomfort and stress in participants.

Attractiveness of the female body: Preference for average or supernormal?

Slobodan Markovic, Tara Bulut, "Attractiveness of the female body: Preference for average or supernormal?" in: Paolo Bernardis, Carlo Fantoni, Walter Gerbino (eds.) "TSPC2016: Proceedings of the Trieste Symposium on Perception and Cognition, November 4th 2016", Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2016, p. 28.

The main purpose of the present study was to contrast the two hypotheses of female body attractiveness. The first is the “preference-for-average” hypothesis: the most attractive female body is the one that represents the average body proportions for a given population [1]. The second is the “preference-for-supernormal” hypothesis: according to the so-called “peak shift effect”, the most attractive female body is more feminine than the average [2]. We investigated the preference for three female body parts: waist to hip ratio (WHR), buttocks and breasts. There were 456 participants of both genders. Using a program for computer animation (DAZ 3D) three sets of stimuli were generated (WHR, buttocks and breasts). Each set included six stimuli ranked from the lowest to the highest femininity level. Participants were asked to choose the stimulus within each set which they found most attractive (task 1) and average (task 2). One group of participants judged the body parts that were presented in the global condition (whole body), while the other group judged the stimuli in the local condition (isolated body parts only).


In short, these findings support the preference-for-supernormal hypothesis: the most attractive WHR, buttocks and breasts are more feminine than average ones, for both genders and in both presentation conditions.

Food addiction among sexual minorities

Food addiction among sexual minorities. Jacob C. Rainey, Celina R. Furman, and Ashley N. Gearhardt. Appetite,

Abstract: Although sexual minorities represent a small proportion of the general population, this group has been observed to be at an increased risk of developing various pathologies, including substance use and eating disorders. Research suggests that foods high in added fat and refined carbohydrates may trigger an addictive response, especially in at-risk individuals. Consequently, food addiction is associated with elevated risk for obesity, diet-related disease, and psychological distress. However, there is limited research on whether food addiction, like substance use, may be elevated among sexual minorities, and whether self-compassion may be a protective factor. Thus, the current study aims to test whether food addiction is elevated in sexual minorities (relative to heterosexuals) and if discrimination and self-compassion may be related to food addiction among sexual minorities. ***In a community sample of 356 participants (43.3% sexual minority), sexual minorities had almost twice the prevalence of food addiction (16.9%) as heterosexuals (8.9%). Also, sexual minorities on average experienced more food addiction symptoms*** (M = 2.73, SD = 1.76) than heterosexuals (M = 1.95, SD = 1.59). ***For sexual minorities, heterosexist harassment was associated with increased food addiction, while self-compassion appeared to be a protective factor***. Further research needs to examine between-group differences among sexual minorities for better treatment and interventions for food addiction.