Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Genetic and Environmental Pathways Underlying Personality Traits and Perceived Stress: Twin Studies

Luo, J., Derringer, J., Briley, D. A., and Roberts, B. W. (2017) Genetic and Environmental Pathways Underlying Personality Traits and Perceived Stress: Concurrent and Longitudinal Twin Studies. Eur. J. Pers., doi: 10.1002/per.2127

Abstract: The present study examined the genetic and environmental etiology underlying the Big Five personality traits and perceived stress, concurrently and longitudinally. In study 1, we used the twin sample from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health IV) data. The results indicated that about 70% of the association between the Big Five personality traits and perceived stress was due to genetic influences. In study 2, we used the twin sample from the Midlife in the United States Survey (MIDUS I and II) to examine the genetic and environmental influences underlying the longitudinal relations between the Big Five personality traits and perceived stress. The results suggested that continuity in perceived stress was primarily accounted for by genetic influences, and changes in perceived stress were mainly due to nonshared environmental influences. The continuity in the association between the five personality traits and perceived stress was largely accounted for by genetic factors, and nonshared environmental factors made greater contributions to changes in the association between personality traits and perceived stress. Among the Big Five personality traits, the genetic components in conscientiousness and neuroticism made substantial contributions to the genetic link between personality traits and perceived stress across both studies.

Digital Goods Are Valued Less Than Physical Goods

Ozgun Atasoy, Carey K Morewedge; Digital Goods Are Valued Less Than Physical Goods, Journal of Consumer Research, , ucx102, https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucx102

Abstract: Digital goods are, in many cases, substantive innovations relative to their physical counterparts. Yet, in five experiments, people ascribed less value to digital than to physical versions of the same good. Research participants paid more for, were willing to pay more for, and were more likely to purchase physical goods than equivalent digital goods, including souvenir photographs, books (fiction and nonfiction), and films. Participants valued physical goods more than digital goods whether their value was elicited in an incentive compatible pay-what-you-want paradigm, with willingness to pay, or purchase intention. Greater capacity for physical than digital goods to garner an association with the self (i.e., psychological ownership), underlies the greater value ascribed to physical goods. Differences in psychological ownership for physical and digital goods mediated the difference in their value. Experimentally manipulating antecedents and consequents of psychological ownership (i.e., expected ownership, identity-relevance, perceived control) bounded this effect, and moderated the mediating role of psychological ownership. The findings show how features of objects influence their capacity to garner psychological ownership before they are acquired, and provide theoretical and practical insights for the marketing, psychology, and economics of digital and physical goods.

Keywords: digital goods, value, psychological ownership, perceived control

Self-handicapping during play fighting in capuchin monkeys

Self-handicapping during play fighting in capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella). Meredith C. Lutz and Peter G. Judge. Behaviour, DOI: 10.1163/1568539X-00003449

Abstract: Play may serve several potential functions, including learning to overcome unexpected circumstances. Self-handicapping, during which individuals do not utilize their full strength, is proposed to provide training for the unexpected. If self-handicapping occurs, then play fight intensity should decrease as partner age discrepancy increases. By playing with reduced intensity, the older partner self-handicaps, exposing itself to situations that it does not fully control. Self-handicapping was investigated in a captive group of brown capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) by recording the duration and sequence of play during focal samples. All instances of play fighting were scored from video for intensity. As the age difference between the partners increased, the intensity of play bouts decreased. Since partners with larger age disparities played less intensely, results provided quantitative evidence for self-handicapping, although additional factors may affect play intensity. We suggest that self-handicapping encourages play and provides support for the training for the unexpected hypothesis.

The challenge of starting and keeping a relationship: Prevalence rates and predictors of poor mating performance

The challenge of starting and keeping a relationship: Prevalence rates and predictors of poor mating performance. Menelaos Apostolou, Marios Shialos, Elli Kyrou, Artemis Demetriou, Anthi Papamichael. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 122, February 1 2018, Pages 19–28. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2017.10.004

•    Estimates the prevalence rates of poor mating performance
•    Finds that about one in two adults face difficulties in intimate relationships
•    Explores the factors that predict poor mating performance
•    Identifies the evolutionary causes of poor mating performance

Abstract: There are reasons to believe that the mechanisms involved in mating, evolved in a context where marriages were arranged and male-male competition was strong. Thus, they may not work well in a post-industrial context, where mating is not regulated and where male-male competition is weak. As a consequence of the mismatch between ancestral and modern conditions, several individuals may face difficulties in the domain of mating. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence rates of poor mating performance and to identify some of its predictors. In particular, evidence from 1894 Greek and Greek-Cypriot participants from three independent studies, indicated that about one in five individuals found intimate relationships difficult, about one in two experienced difficulties in either starting or keeping a relationship, and about one in five experienced difficulties in both starting and keeping a relationship. Moreover, it was found that sexual functioning, self-esteem, self-perceived mate value, choosiness, personality, attention to looks, and mating effort were significant predictors of poor mating performance. It was also found that men and women closely overlapped in their mating performance, while age did not predict how well people do in the domain of mating.

Keywords: Mating performance; Mismatch problem; Mate choice; Parental choice; Mating

Parental Mate Choice Manipulation Tactics: Exploring Prevalence, Sex and Personality Effects. Menelaos Apostolou, Ioulia Papageorgi. Evolutionary Psychology, Jul 2014, https://doi.org/10.1177/147470491401200307

Abstract: Parents and children are genetically related but not genetically identical, which means that their genetic interests overlap but also diverge. In the area of mating, this translates into children making mate choices that are not in the best interest of their parents. Parents may then resort to manipulation in order to influence their children's mating decisions in a way that best promotes the former's interests. This paper attempts to identify the structure of manipulation tactics that parents employ on their daughters and sons, as well as on their daughters' and sons' mates, and also to estimate their prevalence. On the basis of the structure of the derived tactics, four hypotheses are tested: Mothers are more willing than fathers to use manipulation tactics; parents are willing to use more manipulation on their daughters than on their sons; the personality of parents predicts the use of tactics on their children and on their children's mates; and the personality of children and of children's mates predicts the use of tactics on them. Evidence from two independent studies provides support for the first three hypotheses, but mixed support for the fourth hypothesis. The implications of these findings are further discussed.

Finally, the age of parents was negatively related to their willingness to apply manipulation on their children and their children’s mates.

One possible explanation for the latter finding is that the residual reproductive value of younger parents is higher than the residual reproductive value of older parents. In other words, parents have more reproductive years ahead of them when they are younger than when they are older. In a pre-industrial context, and most probably during ancestral times, parents would control their children’s mate choices so as to arrange beneficial marriage alliances, and they could divert this cost in their own reproductive effort (Apostolou, 2014). For instance, a father could use the bridewealth he received from the marriage of his daughter to get an additional wife for himself, while a mother could use the resources derived from a beneficial alliance to mother additional children. However, these reproductive benefits are exhausted with age, which means that older parents have less to gain from controlling their children. As a consequence, there will be less intense selection pressures exercised on older parents to control mating, which in turn may result in older parents being less interested in using manipulation to influence their children’s mate choice.

Stupid human rights activists look to the other side when you pay lip service to them

Join the Chorus, Avoid the Spotlight: The Effect of Neighborhood and Social Dynamics on Human Rights Organization Shaming. Sam Bell, Chad Clay and Amanda Murdie. Journal of Conflict Resolution, https://doi.org/10.1177/0022002717727829

Abstract: Which countries are likely to be ignored for their human rights abuses? This article focuses on one particular way that cases of human rights abuse might be overlooked by human rights organizations (HROs): the relative visibility of the state’s abusiveness vis-à-vis its geographic and social peers. HROs are more likely to target abusive states that are located in regions with more HRO resources and/or are surrounded by states that demonstrate higher respect for human rights, as these abuses will stand out much more clearly. Further, human rights treaties can be used by abusive states as a form of strategic “social camouflage,” with states trying to minimize the risk of HRO attention by ratifying human rights treaties to look more like their rights-respecting peers. Using a cross-national time-series research design, this article finds much support for the argument: abusive states that “join the chorus” avoid HRO attention.

I could have said this to you with no need to study the data. Anyone working in NGOs and reading the newspapers knows this.

Wandering thoughts about consciousness, the brain, and the commentary system of Larry Weiskrantz

Wandering thoughts about consciousness, the brain, and the commentary system of Larry Weiskrantz. Giovanni Berlucchi. Neuropsychologia, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.10.011

•    Importance of Weiskrantz's work for a neuroscientific understanding of consciousness
•    Subjective commentaries in parallel to behavior as markers of consciousness
•    Commentaries in animals as proofs of animal consciousness
•    Conscious human beings unable to provide verbal commentaries: the locked-in syndrome
•    The midpontine pretrigeminal cat as a possible animal model of the locked-in syndrome

Abstract: Larry Weiskrantz has always pursued a keen interest in consciousness in humans and other animals by performing clever experiments and proposing clever ideas. In this rather idiosyncratic essay I selectively review some old and new evidence on real and apparent losses of consciousness in humans, new means that allow the human brain to expose its conscious awareness directly, and experiments on animals that may bridge their consciousness with that of humans.

Keywords: human consciousness; animal consciousness; brainstem sections hippocampus; locked-in syndrome

locked-in patients are not particularly distressed by their huge behavioral limitations [...] the emotional balance is shifted toward positive emotions

Does Performance Matter? Evaluating Political Selection Along the Chinese Administrative Ladder

Does Performance Matter? Evaluating Political Selection Along the Chinese Administrative Ladder. Pierre Landry, Xiaobo Lü and Haiyan Duan. Comparative Political Studies, http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2452482

Abstract: Political selection is central to the survival of all regimes. This article evaluates the relative importance of performance and political connection for the advancement of local politicians under authoritarianism. We hypothesize that in a large-scale multilevel polity, economic performance plays a greater role in promotion at lower administrative levels of government than at higher ones, even after controlling for political connections. This dualist strategy allows the ruling elites to achieve economic performance while minimizing the advancement of potentially disloyal challengers. Thus, balancing between loyalty and competence among subordinates enhances regime survival. Our empirical evidence draws on a comprehensive panel dataset of provincial, prefectural, and county-level Communist party secretaries and government executives appointed between 1999 and 2007. We find consistent evidence for our argument under various model specifications. We also explore the heterogeneous effects of performance on promotion given the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) age ineligibility rule for cadre promotion and jurisdiction characteristics.

Loyalty Can't Be Bought: Explaining Military Defection during Civilian Uprisings against Autocracies

Plana, Sara, Loyalty Can't Be Bought: Explaining Military Defection during Civilian Uprisings against Autocracies (August 17, 2017). MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2017-20. https://ssrn.com/abstract=3020775

Abstract: Why do soldiers disobey orders to defend the regime against civilian protestors? Using a mixed-method approach with a time-series cross-sectional large-N analysis and cross- and within-case process-tracing, I test two competing logics: one that claims obedience follows from incentivizing loyalty and another that points to immaterial shared bonds. Contrary to the dominant stream in the literature, I provide evidence that a regime’s efforts to materially incentivize loyalty are not good predictors of whether soldiers will defend the regime in its hour of need. I argue that material incentives tend to be moot when soldiers are faced with the proximate decision of firing on civilians. Instead, other motivations come to the fore — specifically, whether soldiers are more strongly bonded to the society or to the military and which action would be the more socially costly as a result.

Keywords: Defection, Military, Uprising, Autocracies, Autocracy, Loyalty