Thursday, September 28, 2017

Method of homicide and severe mental illness: A systematic review

Method of homicide and severe mental illness: A systematic review. Valeria Abreu Minero, Edward Barker, and Rachael Bedford. Aggression and Violent Behavior,

•    Two consistent associations between homicide method and mental illness were identified.
•    An association between schizophrenia/delusional disorder and sharp instruments
•    An association between mood disorders and strangulation/asphyxiation/suffocation/drowning
•    Duration of the illness, victim type, and planning of the homicide are also influential to weapon choice.
•    Up to 96% of offenders experienced psychiatric symptoms at the time of the homicide. <<< this seems wrong, see below in the abstract

Abstract: There is limited research that has examined offense characteristics in homicides committed by individuals with mental illness and with differing psychiatric diagnoses. The aim of this systematic review is to synthesize previous findings of studies analyzing homicide behavior by mentally ill individuals, and reporting any associations between mental illness and method of homicide. We searched four databases (MedLine, PsychINFO, Web of Science and Embase), and identified 52 relevant articles for analysis. Of these 52 articles, nine reported specific information on mental illness and method of homicide. Five out of nine articles revealed an association between schizophrenia/delusional disorder and the use of sharp instruments as a method of homicide. Four out of nine studies revealed an association between mood disorders (bipolar disorder/major depression) and strangulation/asphyxiation/suffocation/drowning. Our review confirms consistency across studies reporting a significant association between close contact methods and schizophrenia/mood disorders. Also identified as possible influential factors concerning weapon choice are illness duration, victim characteristics and planning/lack of planning of the homicide. Additionally, studies revealed up to 96% of severely mentally ill offenders experienced psychiatric symptoms at the time of the homicide. Future research may examine the presence of specific psychiatric symptoms when a mentally ill offender commits a homicide and whether these may be more influential in the method of homicide used than the psychiatric diagnosis of the offender.

Keywords: Homicide method; Homicide; Severe mental illness; Schizophrenia; Mood disorders; Symptoms

Is utilitarian sacrifice becoming more morally permissible?

Is utilitarian sacrifice becoming more morally permissible? Ivar R. Hannikainen, Edouard Machery, and Fiery A. Cushman. Cognition., Volume 170, January 2018, Pages 95–101.

Abstract: A central tenet of contemporary moral psychology is that people typically reject active forms of utilitarian sacrifice. Yet, evidence for secularization and declining empathic concern in recent decades suggests the possibility of systematic change in this attitude. In the present study, we employ hypothetical dilemmas to investigate whether judgments of utilitarian sacrifice are becoming more permissive over time. In a cross-sectional design, age negatively predicted utilitarian moral judgment (Study 1). To examine whether this pattern reflected processes of maturation, we asked a panel to re-evaluate several moral dilemmas after an eight-year interval but observed no overall change (Study 2). In contrast, a more recent age-matched sample revealed greater endorsement of utilitarian sacrifice in a time-lag design (Study 3). Taken together, these results suggest that today’s younger cohorts increasingly endorse a utilitarian resolution of sacrificial moral dilemmas.

Keywords: Moral dilemmas; Cohort effect; Aging; Utilitarianism

Expecting the Unexpected: Using Team Charters to Handle Disruptions and Facilitate Team Performance

Expecting the Unexpected: Using Team Charters to Handle Disruptions and Facilitate Team Performance. Therese E. Sverdrup, Vidar Schei, and Øystein A. Tjølsen. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice 2017, Vol. 21, No. 1, 53–59.

Abstract: Teams are increasingly relied on to manage and adapt to a changing world. Previous studies have found adaptive teams to be less susceptible to disruptive events. In this study, we test whether or not the development of a team charter 2 weeks prior to a given task increases a team’s ability to adapt to disruptions and overall performance. We find that teams that develop team charters are better able to handle disruptive events, which in turn increases their performance.

Keywords: team charter, team adaptation, disruption, team performance, planning

In this study, we examine the effects of establishing a team charter on a team’s ability to adapt to unforeseen triggers or disruptions. More specifically, we test whether there are any differences between teams that have established team charters and teams that have not in terms of their ability to adapt to disruptions and related performance. The study’s predictions are based on the literature on team charters and adaptation. We argue that for teams to be adaptive and resilient in facing the unexpected, the establishment of a team charter is advantageous.

The team charter literature, wherein various teams have been examined extensively over time, has found events occurring early in a team’s life span to have long-lasting effects (Gersick, 1988, 1989; Gersick & Hackman, 1990). Thus, it can be assumed that a team will benefit from developing specific guidelines upon its establishment for better team performance. A small number of studies have examined the relationship between the establishment of team charters and team performance. These studies have shown student teams to perceive both increased satisfaction and performance upon developing team charters (Aaron, McDowell, & Herdman, 2014; Byrd & Luthy, 2010; Cox & Bobrowski, 2000, 2004; Hunsaker, Pavett, & Hunsaker, 2011). In a longitudinal study, Mathieu and Rapp (2009) found that teams that had developed high quality team charters and performance strategies during their establishment phases performed better during their life spans. Such studies show that the development of team charters may result in better performance. However, to our knowledge, no study has tested the effects of a team charter by comparing teams that have established team charters and teams that have not in an experimental setting.

Origin of smile in animals could be trying to appear as of smaller, less threating body

Smiles as Multipurpose Social Signals. Jared Martin et al. Trends in Cognitive Sciences,

Abstract: The human smile is highly variable in both its form and the social contexts in which it is displayed. A social-functional account identifies three distinct smile expressions defined in terms of their effects on the perceiver: reward smiles reinforce desired behavior; affiliation smiles invite and maintain social bonds; and dominance smiles manage hierarchical relationships. Mathematical modeling uncovers the appearance of the smiles, and both human and Bayesian classifiers validate these distinctions. New findings link laughter to reward, affiliation, and dominance, and research suggests that these functions of smiles are recognized across cultures. Taken together, this evidence suggests that the smile can be productively investigated according to how it assists the smiler in meeting the challenges and opportunities inherent in human social living.


Smiles are highly variable across a number of dimensions. Predominant approaches to smile categorization do not sufficiently explain this variability. Their ubiquity and social impact make smiles a critical topic for affective and cognitive science.

A social-functional analysis, categorizing smiles by how they resolve the challenges and opportunities required by social living, suggests three types of smiles: reward smiles that reinforce desired behavior; affiliation smiles that form and maintain social bonds; and dominance smiles that manage social hierarchies.

Recent evidence supports this typology: distinct morphological features communicate each functional intent and motivations to smile are predictably variable across culture based on factors related to the salient social tasks in a given culture.

Keywords: facial expression; social functionalism; social hierarchies; social bonding; behavioral reinforcement

Check also: Tennis grunts communicate acoustic cues to sex and contest outcome. Jordan Raine, Katarzyna Pisanski & David Reby. Animal Behaviour, Volume 130, August 2017, Pages 47-55,

And: Volitional exaggeration of body size through fundamental and formant frequency modulation in humans. Katarzyna Pisanski et al. Scientific Reports,  2016; 6: 34389.

Abstract: Several mammalian species scale their voice fundamental frequency (F0) and formant frequencies in competitive and mating contexts, reducing vocal tract and laryngeal allometry thereby exaggerating apparent body size. Although humans’ rare capacity to volitionally modulate these same frequencies is thought to subserve articulated speech, the potential function of voice frequency modulation in human nonverbal communication remains largely unexplored. Here, the voices of 167 men and women from Canada, Cuba, and Poland were recorded in a baseline condition and while volitionally imitating a physically small and large body size. Modulation of F0, formant spacing (∆F), and apparent vocal tract length (VTL) were measured using Praat. Our results indicate that men and women spontaneously and systemically increased VTL and decreased F0 to imitate a large body size, and reduced VTL and increased F0 to imitate small size. These voice modulations did not differ substantially across cultures, indicating potentially universal sound-size correspondences or anatomical and biomechanical constraints on voice modulation. In each culture, men generally modulated their voices (particularly formants) more than did women. This latter finding could help to explain sexual dimorphism in F0 and formants that is currently unaccounted for by sexual dimorphism in human vocal anatomy and body size.

The Association of Alcohol Consumption Patterns with Self-Rated Physical Health and Psychiatric Distress among veterans

The Association of Alcohol Consumption Patterns with Self-Rated Physical Health and Psychiatric Distress among Afghanistan- and Iraq-Era U.S. Veterans. Patrick S. Calhoun et al. Psychiatry Research,

•    Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans generally endorse high rates of alcohol misuse.
•    Instead of dichotomizing alcohol use, this study explores moderate use in veterans.
•    A random sample of mid-Atlantic veterans received an anonymous self-report survey.
•    Non-drinkers/hazardous drinkers had worse self-rated health than moderate drinkers.
•    Moderate drinkers also had lower rates of probable depression and PTSD.

Abstract: Alcohol misuse is associated with negative mental and physical health outcomes, which presents a public health concern in veterans. However, less is known regarding outcomes among veterans with low to moderate alcohol consumption. This study included veterans with military service in Iraq and/or Afghanistan (N = 1,083) who resided in the VA Mid-Atlantic region catchment area (North Carolina, Virginia, and parts of West Virginia). Participants completed a mailed survey that inquired about demographics, past-year alcohol consumption, self-rated physical health, and psychiatric symptoms. Logistic regression was used to evaluate associations between alcohol consumption and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and self-rated physical health. In both bivariate results and adjusted models, non-drinkers and hazardous drinkers were more likely to endorse clinically significant PTSD and depression symptoms than moderate drinkers. Moderate drinkers were also less likely to report fair/poor health, after adjusting for demographics and psychiatric symptoms. Results overall showed a U-shaped curve, such that moderate alcohol use was associated with lower rates of mental health problems and fair/poor health. While the VA routinely screens for alcohol misuse, current results suggest that non-drinkers are also at risk for poor mental and physical health.

Keywords: Alcohol-Related Disorders; Depression; OEF=Operation Enduring Freedom; OIF=Operation Iraqi Freedom; Protective Factors; PTSD=Posttraumatic Stress Disorder; Veterans Health

Youngsters' drinking behavior can be used as a signal, as both behaviors clearly function as an attention-attracting cue

Does Alcohol Catch the Eye? Investigating Young Adults’ Attention to Alcohol Consumption. Eveline Vincke, and Patrick Vyncke. Evolutionary Psychology,

Abstract: Many studies on young adults’ motivations for drinking overlook the symbolic aspects of alcohol use. However, research indicates that young adults’ alcohol consumption is also driven by signaling motivations. Although the interest of a receiver is a necessary prerequisite of a signal, no previous studies have verified whether drinking behavior indeed attracts young adults’ attention. Therefore, we conducted two studies. A two-part eye-tracking study (N1 = 135, N2 = 140) showed that both young men and young women pay special visual attention to male and female drinking behavior. Additionally, a recall experiment (N = 321) confirmed that observed male and female drinking is better remembered than observed nonsignaling, functional behavior. Moreover, alcoholic beverages also receive special attention, as they were recalled better than other functional products, and also nonalcoholic drinks similar in color and shape. In summary, the experiments clearly showed that male and female drinking behavior can be used as a signal, as both behaviors clearly function as an attention-attracting cue. Additionally, as alcoholic beverages draw more attention than nonalcoholic drinks, this attention is clearly linked to the alcohol element of the drinking behavior.

Keywords: young adults, attention, alcohol consumption, eye tracking, recall, signaling

Both of the present studies show that young adults. drinking behavior is easily perceivable and certainly not ignored by other young adults, seemingly corresponding to the theory of costly signaling ... and its handicap principle (Zahavi & Zahavi, 1997). However, although consuming alcohol can be physically harmful, more research is necessary to confirm whether drinking alcohol is indeed a reliable indicator of specific physical qualities. For smoking .also a known harmful and risky  activity.partial confirmation for this assumption was found, as people with low dispositional health suffered more from the harmful effects of smoking compared to persons with high dispositional health (Dewitte,  2011). For alcohol, only one previous study has attempted to verify whether drinking behavior reflects certain physical qualities, by linking this behavior to fluctuating asymmetry as an indicator of overall genetic quality. However, the study did not find confirmation that the use of alcohol functions as an indicator of those specific biological qualities. Nevertheless, the authors indicated that, given the influence of prenatal and other environmental stressors on fluctuating asymmetry, its use as a measure of overall genetic quality is questionable (Borkowska & Pawlowski, 2014). Equally, drinking behavior could also indicate certain mental qualities, such as the propensity to take physical and/or social risks. As drinking behavior also has financial aspects due to the price of alcoholic beverages, drinking behavior could potentially even be used as a costly signal to indicate the drinker.s financial resources to others. However, to date, it remains unclear whether alcohol consumption is used for these signaling purposes.  Future research could also focus on identifying how alcohol is used in different contexts. On the one hand, male alcohol consumption could function as an intersexual courtship signal, as women displayed interest in men.s drinking behavior. However, as men also paid attention to same-sex drinking behavior, alcohol use might also functi on as a signal for other males, either in intrasexual competitive contexts or in more reciprocal social contexts. As people search for different qualities in romantic partners, sexual partners, coalitional partners, and friends, it would be interesting to know which characteristics and qualities young men attempt to signal in different social situations, through different forms of alcohol consumption.

Similarly, as men also took an interest in women.s drinking behavior, alcohol might also be used by young women as a signal in mating situations. However, the lower attention given by women to other women.s drink ing behavior might indicate that consuming alcohol is a less relevant behavior in female intrasexual signaling. Indeed, whereas men engage in risky intrasexual competitive behavior ..., women prefer engaging in self-promotion in which they attempt to improve their appearance and physical attractiveness (Fisher & Cox, 2011; Fisher, Cox, & Gordon, 2009). This has been attributed to women.s predominant role as the primary caregivers for children, making risky behaviors less appropriate competitive behaviors due to their higher reproductive costs (Campbell, 2004). As drinking behavior, especially in an excessive manner, can also be considered risky and harmful behavior, this could explain why women pay less attention to female peers. drinking behavior. Non etheless, as young women mention using alcohol for social bonding and maintaining friendships (de Visser et al., 2013), female peers. alcohol consumption remains important information.

Together, these results suggest that alcohol consumption might operate as a signaling system in different domains, including intersexual courtship, intrasexual competition, group bonding, and strengthening friend ships. However, further research is necessary to unravel the functioning of alcohol as a signal in these different contexts, and to increase the understanding of the meaning of alcohol. Moreover, as sociocultural norms affect young adults. drinking behavior, future research should take into account both the national and local drinking cultures when studying the meaning of alcohol as a signal. On the one hand, national cultural norms affect both the acceptance and expectation to drink alcohol on specific social occasions as well as the general attitudes toward binge drinking and intoxication (Fjær, Pedersen, von Soest, & Gray, 2016; Grønkjær, Curtis, De Crespigny, & Delmar, 2011; Ma¨kela¨ & Maunu, 2016). Accordingly, alcohol will be perceived very differently in abstinent societies or countries with constrained ritual drinking practices,  compared to the more liberal European drinking cultures in which nondrinkers are often perceived as unusual ...

Additionally, the symbolic meaning of alcohol consumption and excessive drinking also depends on the local  community or peer group of which one is a member ... Furthermore, local alcohol  regulations and policies also affect the meaning of alcohol. For example, an 18-year-old drinking alcohol  would be perceived differently in Belgium than in the United States, where the legal drinking age is 21.

Finally, there are also some limitations to our studies.  Firstly, neither study took into account the act
ual drinking behavior of the participants. Nonetheless, it is possible that drinking behavior and alcoholic beverages receive more attention from drinkers, compared to nondrinkers. However, as the proportion of a lcohol consumers is very high among young adult students in Belgium (Rosiers et al., 2014), we believe that there would have been very few nondrinkers in this study group. Additionally, attention to alcoholic beverages was only measured by means of recall. Future eye-tracking studies should also study the visual attention to alcoholic products.