Friday, November 10, 2017

Callousness and manipulativeness are central traits to a dark personality

A Network of Dark Personality Traits: What Lies at the Heart of Darkness? David K. Marcus, Jonathan Preszler, Virgil Zeigler-Hill. Journal of Research in Personality,

•    Network analysis provides a novel approach to studying dark personality traits.
•    Interpersonal manipulation is central to a network of dark personality traits.
•    Callousness is central to a network of dark personality traits.

Abstract: The question of whether there is a common element at the core of the various dark personality traits (e.g., psychopathy, narcissism, Machiavellianism, spitefulness, aggressiveness) has been the subject of debate. Callousness, manipulativeness, and disagreeableness have all been nominated as possibly serving as the core of these dark traits. Network analysis, which graphically and quantitatively describes the centrality of various related traits, provides a novel technique for examining this issue. We estimated an association network and an Adaptive Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operator network for two large samples, one college student sample (N = 2,831) and one mixed college student and Mechanical Turk sample (N = 844). Interpersonal manipulation and callousness were the traits that were central to the networks.

Keywords: Network Analysis; Psychopathy; Narcissism; Machiavellianism; Spitefulness; Dark Triad

The “bad guy” profile is closer to the normal profile of real humans than that of the “good guys,” which are stereotyped

What are the cephalometric features of “good” and “bad” guys in cartoons? Alexandre Weiss, Cyril Villat, Alban Poitel and Sarah Gebeile-Chauty.  Orthod Fr, Volume 88, Issue 3, 263 - 274.


Objective: The objective of the study was to search for links between specific facial features and the psychology of the “good” and “bad” guys in cartoons. Material and method: We made 60 cephalometric tracings and compared the characters’ profiles using statistical tests.

Results: The “bad guy” profile is closer to the normal profile of real humans than that of the “good guys”. Profiles perceived as “good” in cartoons appear to be stereotyped. Thus, any profile not matching the “norm” can be interpreted as being unpleasant and consequently associated with the features of the “bad guys”. The standard “bad guy” profile has a longer more prominent nose, a jutting chin (a bigger soft-tissue angle) and a higher upper third of the face than the lower third (the opposite of the standard profile of the “good guys”).

Discussion: These standardized portraits reflect and influence the (subconscious) prejudices of both young and less young movie-goers (not to mention the cartoonists) regarding their fellow humans.

Key words: Cephalometry / Profile / Soft tissue / Cartoon / Morphopsychology

Violence Against Women Journal: The Meaning and Practice of Ejaculation on a Woman’s Face

Naked Aggression: The Meaning and Practice of Ejaculation on a Woman’s Face. Chyng Sun, Matthew B. Ezzell, Olivia Kendall. Violence Against Women, Vol 23, Issue 14, 2017.

Abstract: Based on in-depth interviews with 16 heterosexual men, this study focuses on participants’ meaning-making surrounding a common and controversial sexual act in pornography: ejaculation on a woman’s face (EOWF). We analyze the ways that male consumers decoded EOWF and the ways that EOWF, as a sexual script, was included in the men’s accounts of their sexual desires and practices. The majority of the men decoded EOWF through the preferred (encoded) meaning as an act of male dominance and sexual aggression and that they wanted to engage in it despite their general belief that women would not be interested in it.

Keywords: pornography, sexual behaviors, sexual script, male aggression, audience research,
sexual aggression

Given that U.S. society is White supremacist, patriarchal, and capitalist (hooks, 1994), it is not surprising that pornographers would encode these values in sexual expression and gender dynamics that may also be familiar and even attractive to male consumers. Put simply, pornography reflects the hegemonic value of male dominance and further perpetuates it. Just as rape is both illegal and normalized within patriarchal cultures (see, for example, Buchwald, Fletcher, & Roth, 2004), male dominance and sexual aggression in pornography may be found simultaneously distasteful and enticing. Some of the men in our study were open and direct about the appeal of EOWF as an expression of male dominance, but others couched the appeal of the act in its role in “pushing boundaries” or in its status as “taboo,” even if they could articulate the preferred meaning upon reflection. The strategy of euphemizing male sexual aggression as “taboo” may allow respondents to eroticize it without feeling misogynistic—but this strategy has its contradictions.

Indeed, multiple contradictions were revealed in the respondents’ discourses around pornography and sex. Typically, male participants initially failed to articulate why they liked to watch EOWF in pornography or what meaning they saw, if any, in the act. But when they were allowed some time to reflect, they stated that it is about male dominance and female degradation. Most men acknowledged that female porn stars come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and would only perform EOWF for money, but they also maintained that some performers genuinely liked it—and they maintained that they could tell—while saying that they often engaged in a “suspension of disbelief” to convince themselves of the performers’ enjoyment. Respondents also stated that they did not think women around them would like to be the targets of EOWF; nonetheless, they desired or had performed the act. This group of men seemed to struggle with cognitive dissonance (Aronson, 1992; Festinger, 1957; Stalder & Baron, 1998) concerning pornography’s function of providing sexual pleasure (in private, while masturbating) and the misogynistic messages that they were made aware of through self-reflection (in public, with an interviewer). The respondents’ lack of critical reflection, or their holding multiple, contradictory perspectives without resolving them, may be a form of moral identity work that allows them to maintain their stated attitude of “respecting women” while finding pleasure in male dominance. It is particularly at this juncture—recognizing the misogyny of EOWF but finding excuses to keep watching or performing it—that we recognize the power of pornography both in its encoded messages and in the context in which it is used.


Given that the subjects in the study were highly educated and had access to discourses of feminism and gender equality, the finding is particularly sobering.

Richard Feynman on Why Questions

[Transcript] Richard Feynman on Why Questions
61 Post author: Grognor 08 January 2012 07:01PM
I thought this video was a really good question dissolving by Richard Feynman. But it's in 240p! Nobody likes watching 240p videos. So I transcribed it. (Edit: That was in jest. The real reasons are because I thought I could get more exposure this way, and because a lot of people appreciate transcripts. Also, Paul Graham speculates that the written word is universally superior than the spoken word for the purpose of ideas.) I was going to post it as a rationality quote, but the transcript was sufficiently long that I think it warrants a discussion post instead.

Here you go:
Interviewer: If you get hold of two magnets, and you push them, you can feel this pushing between them. Turn them around the other way, and they slam together. Now, what is it, the feeling between those two magnets?
Feynman: What do you mean, "What's the feeling between the two magnets?"
Interviewer: There's something there, isn't there? The sensation is that there's something there when you push these two magnets together.
Feynman: Listen to my question. What is the meaning when you say that there's a feeling? Of course you feel it. Now what do you want to know?
Interviewer: What I want to know is what's going on between these two bits of metal?
Feynman: They repel each other.
Interviewer: What does that mean, or why are they doing that, or how are they doing that? I think that's a perfectly reasonable question.
Feynman: Of course, it's an excellent question. But the problem, you see, when you ask why something happens, how does a person answer why something happens? For example, Aunt Minnie is in the hospital. Why? Because she went out, slipped on the ice, and broke her hip. That satisfies people. It satisfies, but it wouldn't satisfy someone who came from another planet and who knew nothing about why when you break your hip do you go to the hospital. How do you get to the hospital when the hip is broken? Well, because her husband, seeing that her hip was broken, called the hospital up and sent somebody to get her. All that is understood by people. And when you explain a why, you have to be in some framework that you allow something to be true. Otherwise, you're perpetually asking why. Why did the husband call up the hospital? Because the husband is interested in his wife's welfare. Not always, some husbands aren't interested in their wives' welfare when they're drunk, and they're angry.
And you begin to get a very interesting understanding of the world and all its complications. If you try to follow anything up, you go deeper and deeper in various directions. For example, if you go, "Why did she slip on the ice?" Well, ice is slippery. Everybody knows that, no problem. But you ask why is ice slippery? That's kinda curious. Ice is extremely slippery. It's very interesting. You say, how does it work? You could either say, "I'm satisfied that you've answered me. Ice is slippery; that explains it," or you could go on and say, "Why is ice slippery?" and then you're involved with something, because there aren't many things as slippery as ice. It's very hard to get greasy stuff, but that's sort of wet and slimy. But a solid that's so slippery? Because it is, in the case of ice, when you stand on it (they say) momentarily the pressure melts the ice a little bit so you get a sort of instantaneous water surface on which you're slipping. Why on ice and not on other things? Because water expands when it freezes, so the pressure tries to undo the expansion and melts it. It's capable of melting, but other substances get cracked when they're freezing, and when you push them they're satisfied to be solid.
Why does water expand when it freezes and other substances don't? I'm not answering your question, but I'm telling you how difficult the why question is. You have to know what it is that you're permitted to understand and allow to be understood and known, and what it is you're not. You'll notice, in this example, that the more I ask why, the deeper a thing is, the more interesting it gets. We could even go further and say, "Why did she fall down when she slipped?" It has to do with gravity, involves all the planets and everything else. Nevermind! It goes on and on. And when you're asked, for example, why two magnets repel, there are many different levels. It depends on whether you're a student of physics, or an ordinary person who doesn't know anything. If you're somebody who doesn't know anything at all about it, all I can say is the magnetic force makes them repel, and that you're feeling that force.
You say, "That's very strange, because I don't feel kind of force like that in other circumstances." When you turn them the other way, they attract. There's a very analogous force, electrical force, which is the same kind of a question, that's also very weird. But you're not at all disturbed by the fact that when you put your hand on a chair, it pushes you back. But we found out by looking at it that that's the same force, as a matter of fact (an electrical force, not magnetic exactly, in that case). But it's the same electric repulsions that are involved in keeping your finger away from the chair because it's electrical forces in minor and microscopic details. There's other forces involved, connected to electrical forces. It turns out that the magnetic and electrical force with which I wish to explain this repulsion in the first place is what ultimately is the deeper thing that we have to start with to explain many other things that everybody would just accept. You know you can't put your hand through the chair; that's taken for granted. But that you can't put your hand through the chair, when looked at more closely, why, involves the same repulsive forces that appear in magnets. The situation you then have to explain is why, in magnets, it goes over a bigger distance than ordinarily. There it has to do with the fact that in iron all the electrons are spinning in the same direction, they all get lined up, and they magnify the effect of the force 'til it's large enough, at a distance, that you can feel it. But it's a force which is present all the time and very common and is a basic force of almost - I mean, I could go a little further back if I went more technical - but on an early level I've just got to tell you that's going to be one of the things you'll just have to take as an element of the world: the existence of magnetic repulsion, or electrical attraction, magnetic attraction.
I can't explain that attraction in terms of anything else that's familiar to you. For example, if we said the magnets attract like if rubber bands, I would be cheating you. Because they're not connected by rubber bands. I'd soon be in trouble. And secondly, if you were curious enough, you'd ask me why rubber bands tend to pull back together again, and I would end up explaining that in terms of electrical forces, which are the very things that I'm trying to use the rubber bands to explain. So I have cheated very badly, you see. So I am not going to be able to give you an answer to why magnets attract each other except to tell you that they do. And to tell you that that's one of the elements in the world - there are electrical forces, magnetic forces, gravitational forces, and others, and those are some of the parts. If you were a student, I could go further. I could tell you that the magnetic forces are related to the electrical forces very intimately, that the relationship between the gravity forces and electrical forces remains unknown, and so on. But I really can't do a good job, any job, of explaining magnetic force in terms of something else you're more familiar with, because I don't understand it in terms of anything else that you're more familiar with.

Liking what others “Like”: using Facebook to identify determinants of conformity

Liking what others “Like”: using Facebook to identify determinants of conformity. Johan Egebark and Mathias Ekström. Experimental Economics,

Abstract: In this paper we explore the micro-level determinants of conformity. Members of the social networking service Facebook express positive support to content on the website by clicking a Like button. We set up a natural field experiment to test whether users are more prone to support content if someone else has done so before. To find out to what extent conformity depends on group size and social ties we use three different treatment conditions: (1) one stranger has Liked the content, (2) three strangers have Liked the content, and (3) a friend has Liked the content. The results show that one Like from a single stranger had no impact. However, increasing the size of the influencing group doubled the probability that subjects expressed positive support. Friendship ties were also decisive. People were, on average, four times more likely to press the Like button if a friend, rather than a stranger, had done so before them. The existence of threshold effects in our experiment clearly shows that both group size and social proximity matters when opinions are shaped.

Sexual Appeal Is In The Nose -- Patterns of Eye Movements When Observers Judge Female Facial Attractiveness

Patterns of Eye Movements When Observers Judge Female Facial Attractiveness. Yan Zhang et al. Front. Psychol.,

Abstract: The purpose of the present study is to explore the fixed model for the explicit judgments of attractiveness and infer which features are important to judge the facial attractiveness. Behavioral studies on the perceptual cues for female facial attractiveness implied three potentially important features: averageness, symmetry, and sexual dimorphy. However, these studies did not explained which regions of facial images influence the judgments of attractiveness. Therefore, the present research recorded the eye movements of 24 male participants and 19 female participants as they rated a series of 30 photographs of female facial attractiveness. Results demonstrated the following: (1) Fixation is longer and more frequent on the noses of female faces than on their eyes and mouths (no difference exists between the eyes and the mouth); (2) The average pupil diameter at the nose region is bigger than that at the eyes and mouth (no difference exists between the eyes and the mouth); (3) the number of fixations of male participants was significantly more than female participants. (4) Observers first fixate on the eyes and mouth (no difference exists between the eyes and the mouth) before fixating on the nose area. In general, participants attend predominantly to the nose to form attractiveness judgments. The results of this study add a new dimension to the existing literature on judgment of facial attractiveness. The major contribution of the present study is the finding that the area of the nose is vital in the judgment of facial attractiveness. This finding establish a contribution of partial processing on female facial attractiveness judgments during eye-tracking.

Same Genes, Different Brains: Neuroanatomical Differences Between Monozygotic Twins Discordant for Musical Training

Same Genes, Different Brains: Neuroanatomical Differences Between Monozygotic Twins Discordant for Musical Training. Örjan de Manzano Fredrik Ullén. Cerebral Cortex,

Abstract: Numerous cross-sectional and observational longitudinal studies show associations between expertise and regional brain anatomy. However, since these designs confound training with genetic predisposition, the causal role of training remains unclear. Here, we use a discordant monozygotic (identical) twin design to study expertise-dependent effects on neuroanatomy using musical training as model behavior, while essentially controlling for genetic factors and shared environment of upbringing. From a larger cohort of monozygotic twins, we were able to recruit 18 individuals (9 pairs) that were highly discordant for piano practice. We used structural and diffusion magnetic resonance imaging to analyze the auditory-motor network and within-pair differences in cortical thickness, cerebellar regional volumes and white-matter microstructure/fractional anisotropy. The analyses revealed that the musically active twins had greater cortical thickness in the auditory-motor network of the left hemisphere and more developed white matter microstructure in relevant tracts in both hemispheres and the corpus callosum. Furthermore, the volume of gray matter in the left cerebellar region of interest comprising lobules I–IV + V, was greater in the playing group. These findings provide the first clear support for that a significant portion of the differences in brain anatomy between experts and nonexperts depend on causal effects of training.

Keywords: expertise, MRI, music, neuroanatomy, twins