Friday, October 6, 2017

Value information about a drug, such as the price tag, can strongly affect its therapeutic (and antitherapeutic) effect

Interactions between brain and spinal cord mediate value effects in nocebo hyperalgesia. A. Tinnermann et al. Science  Oct 06 2017, Vol. 358, Issue 6359, pp. 105-108. DOI: 10.1126/science.aan1221

Abstract: Value information about a drug, such as the price tag, can strongly affect its therapeutic effect. We discovered that value information influences adverse treatment outcomes in humans even in the absence of an active substance. Labeling an inert treatment as expensive medication led to stronger nocebo hyperalgesia than labeling it as cheap medication. This effect was mediated by neural interactions between cortex, brainstem, and spinal cord. In particular, activity in the prefrontal cortex mediated the effect of value on nocebo hyperalgesia. Value furthermore modulated coupling between prefrontal areas, brainstem, and spinal cord, which might represent a flexible mechanism through which higher-cognitive representations, such as value, can modulate early pain processing.

From the editors:

Patients in randomized clinical trials frequently stop taking their drug, complaining of side effects. However, it turns out that some of these subjects are part of the placebo group and thus never received any active medication. This is a case of the nocebo effect seriously interfering with medical treatment. Tinnermann et al. investigated whether value information such as the price of a medication can further modulate behavioral nocebo effects and the underlying neural network dynamics. They used brain imaging to characterize the circuits involved in nocebo hyperalgesia within the descending pain pathway from the prefrontal cortex to the spinal cord. Their findings revealed how value information increased the nocebo effect.

Polity or Policy? Explaining Ordinary Muslims’ Support for Suicide Bombing

Polity or Policy? Explaining Ordinary Muslims’ Support for Suicide Bombing. Christine Fair & Junjie Chen. Georgetown University Working Paper, August 2017.

Abstract: Public opinion research shows there is considerable, albeit varied, support for terrorist tactics among the world’s varied Muslim populations. Data from the Pew Research Center demonstrated that in 2014, 47 and 46 percent of Bangladeshis and Lebanese respondents, respectively, approved of suicide bombing, compared to only 5 and 3 percent of Tunisian and Pakistani respondents (Pew 2014). Scholars have sought to identify respondent-level determinants of support for suicide bombings (and other forms of political violence) perpetrated by Islamist militant groups by using a variety of country-specific and multi-national survey samples as well as novel survey techniques (reviewed in Bullock, Imai and Shapiro 2011). None of the extant literature has focused on aspects of the polity in which these Muslims respondents live, namely whether or not the person lives in a Muslim-majority country and/or whether that person lives in a country which has adopted Islam as the state’s formal religion. We posit that these two considerations are likely important in explaining why some Muslims support suicide bombing while others do not. To test the salience of these variables, we employ 2011-2-12 data from Pew Research Center’s World’s Muslim Survey, to model support for suicide bombing using Ordinary Least Squares regression. We find that the share of Muslims in the state’s population is generally negatively associated with the support of terrorist attacks while the codification of Islam as a state religion positively correlates with support for suicide bombing.

Types of intelligence predict likelihood to get married and stay married

Types of intelligence predict likelihood to get married and stay married: Large-scale empirical evidence for evolutionary theory. Jaakko Aspara, Kristina Wittkowski, and Xueming Luo. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 122, February 1 2018, Pages 1–6.

•    Intelligence scores of male individuals are studied as predictors of marriage.
•    Two samples are examined: initially non-married males and already-married males.
•    Intelligence predicts both likelihood to get married and likelihood to stay married.
•    Verbal, numeric, and spatial logic intelligence differently predict the two.
•    The results suggest intelligence to be an evolutionary fitness indicator in mating.

Abstract: Decisions related to marriage and divorce are key life events for individuals. In the present research, we provide large-scale evidence of the role of individual intelligence in marriage and divorce behavior, controlling for tangible resources such as income and social status symbols. We find that male individuals' intelligence score at early adulthood has a positive relationship with their subsequent likelihood to get married, in a sample of 120,290 males. Intelligence also predicts continued marriage (non-divorce) in a separate sample of 68,150 married males. The relatively easier-to-perceive verbal intelligence predicts the likelihood of getting married (bivariate correlation r = 0.07) slightly better than the harder-to-observe numeric (r = 0.06) and logical intelligence (r = 0.05). The likelihood to stay married is predicted to an equal extent by verbal, numeric, and logical intelligence (r ≈ 0.05). A series of regression models confirms the direct effect of residualized intelligence on marriage behavior over and above its indirect effect through income, social status, and other control variables. These findings provide empirical evidence for the notion of evolutionary psychology that human intelligence, as an intangible fitness indicator, directly influences mating prospects, rather than merely exerting its influence through the tangible resources of income and social status.

Keywords: Evolution; Intelligence; Marriage; Divorce; Fitness indicators; Verbal intelligence; Numeric ability; Spatial logic

My comment: Marriage should be understood as something temporary... CheckThe Future of Everything. 50 Experts Explain Where We’re Heading– and How We’ll Get There. The Wall Street Journal, Dec 2014. >>> The Future of Love Will Play Out by Prehistoric Rules. By Helen Fisher:
"Third, we will see more divorce. Today, almost 50% of American men and women are projected to divorce. However, in huntinggathering societies, men and women regularly have two or three marriages. Across prehistory, serial pairing was probably the norm—as it is becoming once again.

In fact, I believe we are shedding some 10,000 years of agrarian traditions and returning to our prehistoric roots. Our farming forebears were obliged to marry someone with the “right” kin, social and religious connections. Arranged marriages were the norm."

Male brain type women and female brain type men are more similar to the opposite sex than to their own in a range of social, cognitive and personality variables

Male brain type women and female brain type men: Gender atypical cognitive profiles and their correlates. Annika M., Svedholm-H√§kkinen, Sini J. Ojala, & Marjaana Lindeman. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 122, February 1 2018, Pages 7–12.

•    Sex differences have been documented in occupations, interests, and abilities
•    Empathizing-Systemizing theory attempts to explain cognitive sex differences
•    Women on average empathize more, men on average systemize more
•    We studied men and women with gender atypical cognitive profiles
•    Gender atypical profiles predicted qualities commonly linked with the opposite sex

Abstract: Gender differences exist in abilities, interests, and occupations. According to the Empathizing-Systemizing theory, the reason for all gender differences lies in the relative weights of two cognitive processes: women empathize more, which is useful in understanding people, while men systemize more, which means interpreting phenomena as rule-based systems. The terms “male and female brain type” refer to a heightened preference for one process over the other. We aimed to find out whether the gender atypical groups of male brain type women and female brain type men are more similar to the opposite sex than to their own in terms of a range of social, cognitive and personality variables. Female and male brain type groups were identified and compared within both genders in an online study (N = 2983). The results show there are female brain type men and male brain type women, who are characterized by qualities more often associated with the opposite sex, and who have not been reached by prior research. Thus, these findings demonstrate that cognitive type is a more powerful predictor of certain characteristics than is biological sex.

Keywords: Brain type; Empathizing; Systemizing; Cognitive style; Gender differences

Participants who read about an underdog had higher creativity scores and produced a wider range of ideas

The Underdog Advantage in Creativity. Abby Boytos, Kerry Smith, and JongHan Kim. Thinking Skills and Creativity,

•    The study examines how thinking about underdogs can enhance creativity.
•    Underdogs often achieve success by finding creative solutions.
•    For underdogs, their approach motivation and lack of resources give underdogs a creative advantage.
•    Reading an underdog story may predispose the individual to finding creative solutions.

Abstract: Underdogs are expected to lose. Yet, many underdogs—from the Biblical David to today’s Harry Potter—emerge victorious. What do underdogs who win against seemingly impossible odds have in common? One answer may be creativity: they find creative ways to reach their goals. To determine how creativity figures into the success of underdogs, we randomly assigned participants in this study to either of two groups: one that reads a story about an underdog and one that reads a story about a top dog. After reading their respective stories, the participants completed the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking. As we predicted, participants who had read about an underdog had higher creativity scores and produced a wider range of ideas than those who had read about a top dog. Those results suggested that their contemplation of successful underdogs had stimulated the participants’ creativity. The implication is that the underdog experience may itself predispose individuals to finding creative solutions.

Keywords: creativity; underdog; top dog; inspiration; carryover effect

Educational differences in the chances and timing of grandparenthood

Who becomes a grandparent – and when? Educational differences in the chances and timing of grandparenthood. Jan Skopek and Thomas Leopold. Demographic Research, Vol 37, article 29, pages 917-928.


BACKGROUND: Despite  recent  advances,  the  demographic  understanding  of  grandparenthood  remains limited.

OBJECTIVE: Our  study  examines  educational  differences  in  the  transition  to  grandparenthood. Comparing  East  and  West  Germany,  we  analyze  educational  differences  in  a)  the chance  of  becoming  a  grandparent,  and  b)  the  timing  of  grandparenthood  for  both  men and women.

METHODS: We   used   fertility   data   across   three   family   generations   (German   Ageing   Survey, N= 2,434 men and women born 1933‒1948) and methods of survival time analysis to study educational gradients in the transition to grandparenthood.

RESULTS: We found a strong educational gradient in the chances of grandparenthood among West German  women:  Lower-educated  women’s  chances  of  becoming  a  grandmother  were similar to higher-educated women’s chances of becoming a mother.

CONCLUSIONS: Our  findings  have  implications  for  research  on  multi-generational  social  mobility  and on the consequences of grandparenthood.

CONTRIBUTION: Our  study  is  the  first  to  analyze  how  the  transition  to  grandparenthood  is  socially stratified.