Thursday, August 24, 2017

Beyond Black and White: Suspension Disparities for Hispanic, Asian, and White Youth

Beyond Black and White: Suspension Disparities for Hispanic, Asian, and White Youth. Mark Alden Morgan & John Paul Wright. Criminal Justice Review,

Abstract: Studies have consistently found a significant gap between Black and White students in various forms of school discipline. Few studies, however, have examined disciplinary differences between other racial and ethnic groups. Focusing on out-of-school suspensions, a punishment closely linked to the “school-to-prison pipeline,” we investigate the disparities between Hispanic, Asian, and White youth. Data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class are used to control for contemporary socioeconomic variables, the context of the school environment, and the parent-reported behavior of the student. Through a series of logistic regression models, we found that White students were significantly more likely to be suspended than were Hispanics or Asians. However, while the disparity between Hispanics and Whites was eliminated after controlling for student misbehavior, the gap persisted between Asians and Whites. These results question the contention that systemic racial discrimination is a leading contributor to group differences in school discipline. Moreover, we add to a limited but growing literature showing Asian students are significantly less likely to experience school punishments including suspension.

In God we trust? Neural measures reveal lower social conformity among non-religious individuals

In God we trust? Neural measures reveal lower social conformity among non-religious individuals. Ravi Thiruchselvam et al. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, June 2016, Pages 956-964,

Abstract: Even in predominantly religious societies, there are substantial individual differences in religious commitment. Why is this? One possibility is that differences in social conformity (i.e. the tendency to think and behave as others do) underlie inclination towards religiosity. However, the link between religiosity and conformity has not yet been directly examined. In this study, we tested the notion that non-religious individuals show dampened social conformity, using both self-reported and neural (EEG-based ERPs) measures of sensitivity to others’ influence. Non-religious vs religious undergraduate subjects completed an experimental task that assessed levels of conformity in a domain unrelated to religion (i.e. in judgments of facial attractiveness). Findings showed that, although both groups yielded to conformity pressures at the self-report level, non-religious individuals did not yield to such pressures in their neural responses. These findings highlight a novel link between religiosity and social conformity, and hold implications for prominent theories about the psychological functions of religion.

The prevalence of discrimination across racial groups in contemporary America: Results from a nationally representative sample of adults

The prevalence of discrimination across racial groups in contemporary America: Results from a nationally representative sample of adults. Brian B. Boutwell et al. PLoS One, August 24, 2017,

Abstract: A large body of social science research is devoted to understanding the causes and correlates of discrimination. Comparatively less effort has been aimed at providing a general prevalence estimate of discrimination using a nationally representative sample. The current study is intended to offer such an estimate using a large sample of American respondents (N = 14,793) while also exploring perceptions regarding why respondents felt they were discriminated against. The results provide a broad estimate of self-reported discrimination experiences—an event that was only reported by about one-quarter of all sample members—across racial and ethnic categories.

Parents are asking for children who are able to drink socially, for business purposes

in China some parents are asking for children who are able to drink socially, for business purposes, and thus trying to avoid some genes that make it difficult to process alcohol > the report in Nature: China’s embrace of embryo selection raises thorny questions --- Fertility centres are making a massive push to increase preimplantation genetic diagnosis in a bid to eradicate certain diseases.
By David Cyranoski. Aug 16 2017.

Breaking Magic: Foreign Language Suppresses Superstition

Breaking Magic: Foreign Language Suppresses Superstition. Constantinos Hadjichristidis, Janet Geipel & Luca Surian. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, Aug 2017, Pages 1-36,

Abstract: In three studies we found that reading information in a foreign language can suppress common superstitious beliefs. Participants read scenarios either in their native or a foreign language. In each scenario, participants were asked to imagine performing an action (e.g., submitting a job application) under a superstitious circumstance (e.g., broken mirror; four-leaf clover) and to rate how they would feel. Overall, foreign language prompted less negative feelings towards bad-luck scenarios, less positive feelings towards good-luck scenarios, while it exerted no influence on non-superstitious, control scenarios. We attribute these findings to language-dependent memory. Superstitious beliefs are typically acquired and used in contexts involving the native language. As a result, the native language evokes them more forcefully than a foreign language.

Keywords: superstition, bilingualism, emotions, language, the foreign language effect

The Impact of Abnormally Shaped Vegetables on Consumers’ Risk Perception

The Impact of Abnormally Shaped Vegetables on Consumers’ Risk Perception. Natascha Loebnitz and Klaus G. Grunert. Food Quality and Preference,

•    We examine vegetable shape abnormality on consumers’ risk perception.
•    Vegetable shape abnormality affect risk perception through food’s perceived naturalness.
•    Abnormally shaped vegetables are seen as unnatural which in turn increases risk perception.
•    Knowledge types moderate the vegetable shape – risk perception relationship.

Abstract: Genetically-modified (GM) food evokes high levels of fear and negative associations among consumers. This study predicts that people may associate naturally occurring vegetable shape-abnormalities with GM food, which increases their risk perception. With an experimental design in two studies, this research investigates the impact of abnormally-shaped vegetables on participants’ risk perceptions related to vegetable items that vary in their degree of association with GM technology. The results reveal that knowledge can moderate the vegetable shape-abnormality–risk relationship, depending on its objectivity or subjectivity.

Keywords: Abnormally-shaped vegetables; Risk perception; Knowledge types; Perceived naturalness; GM food

My comment: "Consumers perceive abnormally-shaped vegetables as more risky [...] and paradoxically, they associate natural vegetable shape-abnormalities with GM, despite having no other information available" & "increasing consumers' objective knowledge about food production does not prevent risk perceptions."

Gender equality, value violations, and prejudice toward Muslims

Gender equality, value violations, and prejudice toward Muslims. Aaron Moss et al. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations,

Abstract: Why are people prejudiced toward Muslims? In this research, we used a value violation framework to predict that when people believe Muslims value gender equality less than reference groups, it creates a value violation that leads to prejudice. In Study 1, people believed that Muslims value gender equality less than Christians, and the more people believed that Muslims do not value gender equality, the more they reported prejudice toward Muslims. In Study 2, we manipulated perceptions of how much Muslims value gender equality by giving people evidence that Muslims either do or do not support women’s rights. Afterward, we measured people’s prejudice toward Muslims and desire for social distance. Telling people that Muslims value gender equality reduced both prejudice and the desire for social distance. These effects occurred by increasing people’s beliefs that they share values with Muslims, highlighting the importance of values as a source of prejudice.

Do post-reproductive aged females promote maternal health? Preliminary evidence from historical populations

Do post-reproductive aged females promote maternal health? Preliminary evidence from historical populations. Alison Gemmill and Ralph Catalano. Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health, eox012,

Background and Objectives: Much literature argues that natural selection conserved menopause and longevity in women because those who stopped childbearing helped bolster daughters’ fertility and reduce infant mortality among grandchildren. Whether the presence of grandmothers ever improved fitness sufficiently to affect longevity via natural selection remains controversial and difficult to test. The argument underlying the grandmother and associated alloparenting literature, however, leads us to the novel and testable prediction that the presence of older women in historical societies could have affected population health by reducing lethality associated with childbearing.

Methodology: Using historical life table data from four societies (Denmark, England and Wales, France, and Sweden), we test the hypothesis that death rates among women initiating childbearing declined when the societies in which they were embedded included unexpectedly high frequencies of older women. We use time series analysis to measure the extent to which the observed likelihood of death among women aged 20-24 differs from statistically expected values when the number of older women grows or declines.

Results: In three of the four countries examined, we find an inverse relationship between the frequency of post-reproductive females in the population and odds of mortality among females at the peak of childbearing initiation.

Conclusions and implications: Results suggest that the presence of older women in a population may enhance population health by reducing mortality among women who face high risk of maternal death, although additional research is needed to determine if this relationship is causal.

The Future of Secularism: A Biologically Informed Theory Supplemented with Cross-Cultural Evidence

The Future of Secularism: A Biologically Informed Theory Supplemented with Cross-Cultural Evidence. Lee Ellis et al. Evolutionary Psychological Science, September 2017, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 224–242,

Abstract: For over a century, social scientists have predicted declines in religious beliefs and their replacement with more scientific/naturalistic outlooks, a prediction known as the secularization hypothesis. However, skepticism surrounding this hypothesis has been expressed by some researchers in recent decades. After reviewing the pertinent evidence and arguments, we examined some aspects of the secularization hypothesis from what is termed a biologically informed perspective. Based on large samples of college students in Malaysia and the USA, religiosity, religious affiliation, and parental fertility were measured using self-reports. Three religiosity indicators were factor analyzed, resulting in an index for religiosity. Results reveal that average parental fertility varied considerably according to religious groups, with Muslims being the most religious and the most fertile and Jews and Buddhists being the least. Within most religious groupings, religiosity was positively associated with parental fertility. While cross-sectional in nature, ***when our results are combined with evidence that both religiosity and fertility are substantially heritable traits, findings are consistent with view that earlier trends toward secularization (due to science education surrounding advancements in science) are currently being counter-balanced by genetic and reproductive forces. We also propose that the inverse association between intelligence and religiosity, and the inverse correlation between intelligence and fertility lead to predictions of a decline in secularism in the foreseeable future. A contra-secularization hypothesis is proposed and defended in the discussion. It states that secularism is likely to undergo a decline throughout the remainder of the twenty-first century, including Europe and other industrial societies***.

Keywords: Religions, Religiosity, Secularization, Parental fertility, Cross-cultural

My comment: Very interesting article. I believed, from a long time, that the people needs religion. A different thing is what will happen to some strands, like those in Evangelical Christianity that support creationism instead of evolutionism. Maybe these groups will diminish. Or maybe all traditional religions will suffer a decrease in influence, althouth the total sum of religions will increase in the XXI century...