Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A male macacus that prefers mature females

A Male Cynomolgus Monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) Differentially Mated with a Female. Maiko Yoshida Kobayashi. International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 30.

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate male preference and to define the aspects of females that affect male preference. We set experimental conditions that enabled us to measure successful mating by gathering sperm from female vaginal washings and observing sexual behavior. The animal subjects in our study were cynomolgus monkeys, all of whom were bred in our primate institute. During the study, one male would be grouped with two females, each of whom lived in a cage adjacent to the male’s cage. This enabled each of the females to be housed with the male in turn; 12 males and 24 females were included in the study. After a male was housed with a female, we observed through a microscope the existence of sperm in the female’s vaginal washing, thus confirming copulation success. In some of the groups, behavioral observation was conducted on both the male and female subjects. According to our findings, in the multiparous females, successful mating was observed on 29% of cohabitation days. Among nulliparous females, the presence of sperm was observed on only 6% of cohabitation periods. Some 66.7% of nulliparous females never mated with a male. Our observations also revealed that sexual behaviors were more frequently observed when a male lived with a multiparous female. “Male-grooming-of-female” activities were seen more frequently between a male and multiparous female; that is, the male approached a multiparous female for copulation by grooming her. Our study suggests that male cynomolgus monkeys prefer multiparous females, as it is important that a male choose a female who more easily and regularly becomes pregnant and gives birth to offspring with a higher survival rate. Thus, male choice is biologically significant with respect to leaving more offspring.

Keywords: Mating Strategy, Male’s Preference, Cynomolgus Monkeys, Multiparous Female, Behavioral Observation, Sperm, Sexual Behavior

A killer whale watches other cetaceans in TV

A Killer Whale’s (Orcinus orca) Response to Visual Media. Pepper Hanna et al. International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 30.

Abstract: Environmental enrichment is critical for maintaining cognitive welfare for animals in human care but is subject to individual preferences.  The interest in a video-based enrichment was assessed for a single killer whale (Orcinus orca) in human care.  The adult female was presented 20 video recordings featuring cetaceans, elephants, or humans with each video presented in two conditions: (1) with sound and (2) without sound.  Four additional presentations in which the television displayed a blank screen served as controls.  All sessions were videotaped and coded for time spent viewing the recordings, behavioral responses, and visual laterality.  The killer whale spent significantly more time at the television when programs were on screen compared to when the television was present but blank.  She was more likely to watch videos accompanied by sound than those presented without sound. Videos were more likely to be viewed monocularly rather than binocularly, with a right eye preference when viewing the videos the first time they were presented.  The highest rates of behavioral responses occurred during videos of cetaceans.  These results demonstrate that one killer whale responded to video recordings of different stimuli, suggesting that video recordings may be used as a form of enrichment for cetaceans and that not all video content and formats are equally interesting.

My commentary: Whales like watching TV, more if there is sound, and more if the images are about cetaceans. We all love to see other members of our species... Remember the mice:
Social inequality aversion in mice: Analysis with stress-induced hyperthermia and behavioral preference. Shigeru Watanabe. Learning and Motivation, Volume 59, August 2017, Pages 38-46,

Check also: Evolutionary Origin of Empathy and Inequality Aversion. Shigeru Watanabe and Yutaka Kosaki. Evolution of the Brain, Cognition, and Emotion in Vertebrates pp 273-299,

Voice-only communication enhances empathic accuracy

Kraus, M. W. (2017). Voice-only communication enhances empathic accuracy. American Psychologist, 72(7), 644-654.

Abstract: This research tests the prediction that voice-only communication increases empathic accuracy over communication across senses. We theorized that people often intentionally communicate their feelings and internal states through the voice, and as such, voice-only communication allows perceivers to focus their attention on the channel of communication most active and accurate in conveying emotions to others. We used 5 experiments to test this hypothesis (N = 1,772), finding that voice-only communication elicits higher rates of empathic accuracy relative to vision-only and multisense communication both while engaging in interactions and perceiving emotions in recorded interactions of strangers. Experiments 4 and 5 reveal that voice-only communication is particularly likely to enhance empathic accuracy through increasing focused attention on the linguistic and paralinguistic vocal cues that accompany speech. Overall, the studies question the primary role of the face in communication of emotion, and offer new insights for improving emotion recognition accuracy in social interactions.

In a moral dilemma, choose the one you love: Impartial actors are seen as less moral than partial ones

In a moral dilemma, choose the one you love: Impartial actors are seen as less moral than partial ones. Jamie S Hughes. British Journal of Social Psychology, September 2017, Pages 561–577.

Abstract: Although impartiality and concern for the greater good are lauded by utilitarian philosophies, it was predicted that when values conflict, those who acted impartially rather than partially would be viewed as less moral. Across four studies, using life-or-death scenarios and more mundane ones, support for the idea that relationship obligations are important in moral attribution was found. In Studies 1–3, participants rated an impartial actor as less morally good and his or her action as less moral compared to a partial actor. Experimental and correlational evidence showed the effect was driven by inferences about an actor's capacity for empathy and compassion. In Study 4, the relationship obligation hypothesis was refined. The data suggested that violations of relationship obligations are perceived as moral as long as strong alternative justifications sanction them. Discussion centres on the importance of relationships in understanding moral attributions.

KEYWORDS: deontology; impartiality; moral attribution; moral dilemma; relationships

Reasons Probably Won’t Change Your Mind: The Role of Reasons in Revising Moral Decisions

Stanley, M. L., Dougherty, A. M., Yang, B. W., Henne, P., & De Brigard, F. (2017). Reasons Probably Won’t Change Your Mind: The Role of Reasons in Revising Moral Decisions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Abstract: Although many philosophers argue that making and revising moral decisions ought to be a matter of deliberating over reasons, the extent to which the consideration of reasons informs people’s moral decisions and prompts them to change their decisions remains unclear. Here, after making an initial decision in 2-option moral dilemmas, participants examined reasons for only the option initially chosen (affirming reasons), reasons for only the option not initially chosen (opposing reasons), or reasons for both options. Although participants were more likely to change their initial decisions when presented with only opposing reasons compared with only affirming reasons, these effect sizes were consistently small. After evaluating reasons, participants were significantly more likely not to change their initial decisions than to change them, regardless of the set of reasons they considered. The initial decision accounted for most of the variance in predicting the final decision, whereas the reasons evaluated accounted for a relatively small proportion of the variance in predicting the final decision. This resistance to changing moral decisions is at least partly attributable to a biased, motivated evaluation of the available reasons: participants rated the reasons supporting their initial decisions more favorably than the reasons opposing their initial decisions, regardless of the reported strategy used to make the initial decision. Overall, our results suggest that the consideration of reasons rarely induces people to change their initial decisions in moral dilemmas.

Do Parents Value School Effectiveness? -- No, they favor schools that enroll high-achiving peers.

Do Parents Value School Effectiveness? Atila Abdulkadiroglu, Parag A. Pathak, Jonathan Schellenberg, Christopher R. Walters. NBER Working Paper No. 23912.

Abstract: School choice may lead to improvements in school productivity if parents' choices reward effective schools and punish ineffective ones. This mechanism requires parents to choose schools based on causal effectiveness rather than peer characteristics. We study relationships among parent preferences, peer quality, and causal effects on outcomes for applicants to New York City's centralized high school assignment mechanism. We use applicants' rank-ordered choice lists to measure preferences and to construct selection-corrected estimates of treatment effects on test scores and high school graduation. We also estimate impacts on college attendance and college quality. Parents prefer schools that enroll high-achieving peers, and these schools generate larger improvements in short- and long-run student outcomes. We find no relationship between preferences and school effectiveness after controlling for peer quality.

My commentary: Parents seem to choose schools with high-achieving peers due to lack of good information about effectiveness. In some way, they are free-riding on others' work of ascertaining quality/effectiveness.

A newborn infant chimpanzee snatched and cannibalized immediately after birth: Implications for “maternity leave” in wild chimpanzee

Nishie H, Nakamura M. A newborn infant chimpanzee snatched and cannibalized immediately after birth: Implications for “maternity leave” in wild chimpanzee. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2017;00:1–6.

OBJECTIVES: This study reports on the first observed case of a wild chimpanzee infant being snatched immediately after delivery and consequently cannibalized by an adult male in the Mahale Mountains, Tanzania. We demonstrate "maternity leave" from long-term data from the Mahale M group and suggest that it functions as a possible counterstrategy of mother chimpanzees against the risk of infanticide soon after delivery.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The subjects of this study were the M group chimpanzees at Mahale Mountains, Tanzania. The case of cannibalism was observed on December 2, 2014. We used the long-term daily attendance record of the M group chimpanzees between 1990 and 2010 to calculate the lengths of "maternity leave," a perinatal period during which a mother chimpanzee tends to hide herself and gives birth alone.

RESULTS: We observed a very rare case of delivery in a wild chimpanzee group. A female chimpanzee gave birth in front of other members, and an adult male snatched and cannibalized the newborn infant immediately after birth. Using the long-term data, we demonstrate that the length of "maternity leave" is longer than that of nonmaternity leave among adult and adolescent female chimpanzees.

DISCUSSION: We argue that this cannibalism event immediately after birth occurred due to the complete lack of "maternity leave" of the mother chimpanzee of the victim, who might lack enough experience of delivery. We suggest that "maternity leave" taken by expecting mothers may function as a possible counterstrategy against infanticide soon after delivery.

Keywords: Mahale; Pan troglodytes; cannibalism; delivery

Men's preferences for women's body odours are not associated with human leucocyte antigen

Men's preferences for women's body odours are not associated with human leucocyte antigen. Fabian Probst et al. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, October 11 2017, Volume 284, issue 1864.

Abstract: Body odours reportedly portray information about an individual's genotype at the major histocompatibility complex (MHC, called human leucocyte antigen, HLA, in humans). While there is strong experimental support for MHC-associated mating behaviour in animals, the situation in humans is more complex. A lot of effort has been spent on testing HLA-associated odour preferences of women. To date, only very few studies have looked at HLA-linked olfactory preferences in men and these studies have revealed inconsistent results. Here, we investigate men's HLA-associated preferences for women's body odours. Importantly, and in contrast to previous studies, these odours were gathered at peak fertility (i.e. just before ovulation) when any HLA-associated odour preferences should be strongest. We scrutinized whether men's preference for women's body odours is influenced by (i) the number of shared HLA alleles between men and women, (ii) HLA heterozygosity, and (iii) the frequency of rare HLA alleles. We found that men could readily differentiate between odours they found attractive and odours they found less attractive, but that these preferences were not associated with HLA. Specifically, men did not prefer odours from women who are HLA dissimilar, HLA heterozygous, or who have rare HLA alleles. Together, these findings suggest that HLA has no effect on men's odour preferences.

Moral Incongruence, Pornography Use, and Perceived Addiction: Alternate Pathways to Problems

Grubbs, Joshua, and Samuel L Perry. 2017. “Moral Incongruence, Pornography Use, and Perceived Addiction: Alternate Pathways to Problems”. PsyArXiv. October 11.

Abstract: Internet pornography use (IPU) remains a controversial topic within the empirical study of addiction and the clinical management of addictive behaviors. Whereas many people report feeling dysregulated in their use of pornography, mental health and medical communities are divided as to whether or not compulsive IPU is an addiction or some other category of problematic behavior. The present short review seeks to examine this issue more closely, with a focus on how alternate pathways to problems, such as moral disapproval and moral incongruence (i.e., feeling as if one’s behaviors and values about those behaviors are misaligned) might specifically contribute to self-perceived problems around pornography use. Through a review of recent literature, the present work seeks to consider the evidence that moral incogruence about IPU is a common phenomena and that it is associated with outcomes relevant to the study of addiction. Specifically, moral incongruence regarding IPU is associated with greater distress about IPU, greater psychological distress in general, greater reports of problems related to IPU, and greater reports of perceived addiction to IPU. The implications of this body of evidence for both clinical and research communities are discussed, and future directions for research are considered.

Social Integration via Online Dating

The Strength of Absent Ties: Social Integration via Online Dating. Josue Ortega, Philipp Hergovich.,

Abstract: We used to marry people to which we were somehow connected to: friends of friends, schoolmates, neighbours. Since we were more connected to people similar to us, we were likely to marry someone from our own race.
However, online dating has changed this pattern: people who meet online tend to be complete strangers. Given that one-third of modern marriages start online, we investigate theoretically, using random graphs and matching theory, the effects of those previously absent ties in the diversity of modern societies.
We find that when a society benefits from previously absent ties, social integration occurs rapidly, even if the number of partners met online is small. Our findings are consistent with the sharp increase in interracial marriages in the U.S. in the last two decades.