Monday, November 13, 2017

Psychopathy and Heroism in First Responders: Traits Cut From the Same Cloth?

Patton, C. L., Smith, S. F., & Lilienfeld, S. O. (2017). Psychopathy and Heroism in First Responders: Traits Cut From the Same Cloth? Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment. Advance online publication.

Abstract: Some scholars have posited that certain traits associated with psychopathy—namely, fearlessness, boldness, and willingness to take risks—are associated with greater engagement in heroic and altruistic acts; nevertheless, this conjecture has received little empirical attention. We examined the relations among psychopathic traits, heroism, altruism, workplace deviance, and leadership in first-responder (n = 138) and civilian (n = 104) samples recruited by means of an online platform. Across samples, fearless dominance, boldness, sensation seeking, and several other psychopathy-related variables were positively and significantly associated with everyday heroism and altruism. First responders scored significantly higher than did civilians on measures of psychopathy, fearlessness, boldness, heroism, and altruism, and reported significantly greater workplace deviance and participation in leadership activities. Our results support previous suggestions of ties between psychopathic traits, especially fearlessness and heroism, although they leave unresolved the question of why certain antisocial and prosocial behaviors appear to covary.

Have passive rentiers replaced the working rich at the top of the U.S. income distribution? They haven't.

Capitalists in the Twenty-First Century. Matthew Smith, Danny Yagan, Owen Zidar, and Eric Zwick.

Abstract: Have passive rentiers replaced the working rich at the top of the U.S. income distribution? Using administrative data linking 10 million firms to their owners, this paper shows that private business owners who actively manage their firms are key for top income inequality. Private business income accounts for most of the rise of top incomes since 2000 and the majority of top earners receive private business income--most of which accrues to active owner-managers of mid-market firms in relatively skill-intensive and unconcentrated industries. Profit falls substantially after premature owner deaths. Top-owned firms are twice as profitable per worker as other firms despite similar risk, and rising profitability without rising scale explains most of their profit growth. Together, these facts indicate that the working rich remain central to rising top incomes in the twenty-first century.

The view that political attitudes are detached from any physical properties is unsustainable -- social justice attitude linked to genetics

A Genetic Basis of Economic Egalitarianism. Nemanja Batrićević, and Levente Littvay. Social Justice Research,

Abstract: Studies of political attitudes and ideologies have sought to explain their origin. They have been assumed to be a result of political values ingrained during the process of socialization until early adulthood, as well as personal political experience, party affiliation, social strata, etc. As a consequence of these environment-dominated explanations, most biology-based accounts of political preference have never been considered. However, in the light of evidence accumulated in recent years, the view that political attitudes are detached from any physical properties became unsustainable. In this paper, we investigate the origins of social justice attitudes, with special focus on economic egalitarianism and its potential genetic basis. We use Minnesota Twin Study data from 2008, collected from samples of monozygotic and dizygotic twin pairs (n = 573) in order to estimate the additive genetic, shared environmental, and unique environmental components of social justice attitudes. Our results show that the large portion of the variance in a four-item economic egalitarianism scale can be attributed to genetic factor. At the same time, shared environment, as a socializing factor, has no significant effect. The effect of environment seems to be fully reserved for unique personal experience. Our findings further problematize a long-standing view that social justice attitudes are dominantly determined by socialization.

Check also Sabatini, Fabio and Ventura, Marco and Yamamura, Eiji and Zamparelli, Luca (2017): Fairness and the unselfish demand for redistribution by taxpayers and welfare recipients. Ludwig-Maximilians Universitaet Muenchen,

Male prairie voles enjoy forcing sex on the females, the females do not enjoy not being able to escape

Mating and social exposure induces an opioid-dependent conditioned place preference in male but not in female prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster). M. Ulloa et al. Hormones and Behavior, Volume 97, January 2018, Pages 47–55.

•    In male prairie voles (M. ochrogaster), one ejaculation is rewarding.
•    In males, social cohabitation with mating for 6 h that leads to pair bonding is rewarding.
•    In females, neither condition induces conditioned place preference.
•    The reward state induced by one ejaculation or 6 h of mating is opioid dependent.

Abstract: In rodents, sexual stimulation induces a positive affective state that is evaluated by the conditioned place preference (CPP) test. Opioids are released during sexual behavior and modulate the rewarding properties of this behavior. Prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) are a socially monogamous species, in which copulation with cohabitation for 6 h induces a pair bond. However, the mating-induced reward state that could contribute to the establishment of the long-term pair bond has not been evaluated in this species. The present study aimed to determine whether one ejaculation or cohabitation with mating for 6 h is rewarding for voles. We also evaluated whether this state is opioid dependent. Our results demonstrate that mating with one ejaculation and social cohabitation with mating for 6 h induce a CPP in males, while exposure to a sexually receptive female without mating did not induce CPP. In the female vole, mating until one ejaculation, social cohabitation with mating, or exposure to a male without physical interaction for 6 h did not induce CPP. To evaluate whether the rewarding state in males is opioid dependent, the antagonist naloxone was injected i.p. The administration of naloxone blocked the rewarding state induced by one ejaculation and by social cohabitation with mating. Our results demonstrate that in the prairie vole, on the basis of the CPP in the testing conditions used here, the stimulation received with one ejaculation and the mating conditions that lead to pair bonding formation may be rewarding for males, and this reward state is opioid dependent.

Keywords: Sexual reward; Conditioned place preference; Social cohabitation with mating; Opioids and voles

Vanity of vanities: Consumers tell others about a positive experience if it signals expertise

Signaling Success: Word of Mouth as Self-Enhancement. Andrea C. Wojnicki, and David Godes. Customer Needs and Solutions,

Abstract: This paper highlights the significance and implications of self-enhancement as an important motivation for consumers’ word-of-mouth behaviors. The authors predict and demonstrate that following a given positive consumption experience, experts generate more WOM than if the experience was negative and more than novices. They do so because WOM regarding positive, successful experiences can serve as an indicator, or signal, of expertise. Four controlled experiments and one empirical study support the theory. This pattern is intensified when consumers’ expertise self-concepts are salient, and it diminishes when the context does not present the opportunity to self-enhance because the outcome of the experience is not attributable to the consumer’s expertise or because the distinction between good and bad products does not require expertise.

The Effect Of Retouched Media Images On Body Dissatisfaction

The Effect Of Retouched Media Images On Body Dissatisfaction. Danielle M Lorch. A dissertation submitted to the graduate faculty of The University of Alabama at Birmingham, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Birmingham, Alabama, 2017.

Contemporary society, including social and main-stream media, perpetuate unrealistic body ideals through their promotion of slender, thin-ideal body shapes and sizes that are typically photo-shopped to appear even thinner. More specifically, portrayal of the thin-ideal can negatively influence body dissatisfaction. Viewing slender models is associated with increased body dissatisfaction, while viewing average or plus size models is associated with decreased body dissatisfaction. This difference in effect of model size (slender vs. average vs. plus-size) on body dissatisfaction varies based on whether individuals compare themselves to others they view as more or less attractive than themselves. The purpose of this study was to evaluate if displaying these media images in their original, untouched forms would reduce the effect of thin-ideal media exposure on body dissatisfaction, thin-ideal internalization, and state appearance comparison (i.e., social comparison with the media images being viewed) among college females (M age = 19.4 years).

This study was divided into two phases. Phase one (n=27) was designed to validate images used in phase two (n=244), where the effect of photo-shopping media images on outcome variables was assessed. Body dissatisfaction, thin-ideal internalization, and perceived media pressure were assessed pre- and post- exposure and state appearance comparison was assessed post-exposure. Body dissatisfaction (t (238) = -5.52, p < 0.001), thin-ideal internalization (t (237) = -2.32, p = 0.02), and perceived media pressure (t (238) = -3.58, p < 0.001) significantly increased from baseline to postexposure.

However, there were no significant group effects on body dissatisfaction (F (1, 232) = 0.02, p = 0.89), thin-ideal internalization (F (1, 231) = 3.46, p = 0.06), perceived media pressure (F (1, 232) = 1.34, p = 0.25), or state appearance comparison (F (1, 233) = 0.10, p =0.75) between the untouched and retouched conditions. These results suggest it is likely not photo-shopping of models, but rather the size and/or weight of the models being portrayed, that is associated with increased body dissatisfaction and thin-ideal internalization. Therefore, rather than focusing on policies to prohibit photo-shop use in professional media sources, it may be more beneficial to begin by implementing minimum BMI restrictions for models.

Keywords: body dissatisfaction, thin-ideal internalization, appearance comparison, thin-ideal media, photo-shop, retouched images.

Why people dox others --- Doxing = malicious release of personal sensitive information

Fifteen Minutes of Unwanted Fame: Detecting and Characterizing Doxing. Peter Snyder, Periwinkle Doerfler, Chris Kanich, and Damon McCoy. In Proceedings of IMC ’17 (November 1–3, 2017, London, UK). ACM, New York, 13 pages.

Abstract: Doxing is online abuse where a malicious party harms another by releasing identifying or sensitive information. Motivations for doxing include personal, competitive, and political reasons, and web users of all ages, genders and internet experience have been targeted. Existing research on doxing is primarily qualitative. This work improves our understanding of doxing by being the first to take a quantitative approach. We do so by designing and deploying a tool which can detect dox files and measure the frequency, content, targets, and effects of doxing on popular dox-posting sites. This work analyzes over 1.7 million text files posted to, and, sites frequently used to share doxes online, over a combined period of approximately thirteen weeks. Notable findings in this work include that approximately 0.3% of shared files are doxes, that online social networking accounts mentioned in these dox files are more likely to close than typical accounts, that justice and revenge are the most often cited motivations for doxing, and that dox files target males more frequently than females. We also find that recent anti-abuse efforts by social networks have reduced how frequently these doxing victims closed or restricted their accounts after being attacked. We also propose mitigation steps, such a service that can inform people when their accounts have been shared in a dox file, or law enforcement notification tools to inform authorities when individuals are at heightened risk of abuse.

We identified four general motivations for doxing. Some doxers gave a competitive motivation for attacking their victim, such as wanting to demonstrate their “superior” abilities, or demonstrating that a target claiming to be “un-doxable” was vulnerable.

Another common motivation was revenge, or the doxer attacking because of something the target had done to the doxer. Examples of revenge motivations included the doxee “stealing” a significant other from the doxer, or the doxee being an “attention whore” in an online forum or chat.

A third recurring motivation was justice, or the doxer attacking the doxee because the doxee had previously done something immoral or unfair to a third party. This is different from a revenge motivation, where the harm being “avenged” is committed against the doxer. Examples of justice-motivated doxings include targets who were alleged to have scammed other people in an online forum, or who worked with law enforcement.

A fourth motivation we observed was political, or doxing in support of a larger goal than simply targeting individuals. Examples of political doxes included de-anonymizing KKK members, suspected child-pornography trading groups, or people working in industries that the doxers considered to be abusive to animals.

Physiological Arousal and Self-Reported Valence for Erotica Images Correlate with Sexual Policy Preferences

Amanda Friesen, Kevin B. Smith, John R. Hibbing; Physiological Arousal and Self-Reported Valence for Erotica Images Correlate with Sexual Policy Preferences, International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Volume 29, Issue 3, September 01 2017, Pages 449–470,

Abstract: Individuals do not always accurately report the forces driving their policy preferences. Such inaccuracy may result from the fact that true justifications are socially undesirable or less persuasive than competing justifications or are unavailable in conscious awareness. Because of the delicate nature of these issues, people may be particularly likely to misstate the reasons for preferences on gay marriage, abortion, abstinence-only education, and premarital sex. Advocates on both sides typically justify their preferences in terms of preserving social order, maintaining moral values, or protecting civil liberties, not in terms of their own sexual preferences. Though these are the stated reasons, in empirical tests we find that psychophysiological response to sexual images also may be a significant driver of policy attitudes.

Higher than usual Google searches for life-threatening illnesses predicted increases in searches for religious content (e.g., God, Jesus, prayer)

Searching for God: Illness-Related Mortality Threats and Religious Search Volume in Google in 16 Nations. Brett W. Pelham, Mitsuru Shimizu, Jamie Arndt, Mauricio Carvallo, Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,

Abstract: We tested predictions about religiosity and terror management processes in 16 nations. Specifically, we examined weekly variation in Google search volume in each nation for 12 years (all weeks for which data were available). In all 16 nations, higher than usual weekly Google search volume for life-threatening illnesses (cancer, diabetes, and hypertension) predicted increases in search volume for religious content (e.g., God, Jesus, prayer) in the following week. This effect held up after controlling for (a) recent past and annual variation in religious search volume, (b) increases in search volume associated with religious holidays, and (c) variation in searches for a non-life-threatening illness (“sore throat”). Terror management threat reduction processes appear to occur across the globe. Furthermore, they may occur over much longer periods than those studied in the laboratory. Managing fears of death via religious belief regulation appears to be culturally pervasive.

The best estimate of the effects of campaign contact & advertising on Americans' candidates choices in general elections is zero

Kalla, Joshua and Broockman, David E., The Minimal Persuasive Effects of Campaign Contact in General Elections: Evidence from 49 Field Experiments (September 25, 2017). Forthcoming, American Political Science Review; Stanford University Graduate School of Business Research Paper No. 17-65. American Political Science Review, forthcoming, available at SSRN:

Abstract: Significant theories of democratic accountability hinge on how political campaigns affect Americans' candidate choices. We argue that the best estimate of the effects of campaign contact and advertising on Americans' candidates choices in general elections is zero. First, a systematic meta-analysis of 40 field experiments estimates an average effect of zero in general elections. Second, we present nine original field experiments that increase the statistical evidence in the literature about the persuasive effects of personal contact 10-fold. These experiments' average effect is also zero. In both existing and our original experiments, persuasive effects only appear to emerge in two rare circumstances. First, when candidates take unusually unpopular positions and campaigns invest unusually heavily in identifying persuadable voters. Second, when campaigns contact voters long before election day and measure effects immediately - although this early persuasion decays. These findings contribute to ongoing debates about how political elites influence citizens' judgments.

Blind woman cannot discriminate gender of target faces, but perceives happy, fearful or angry expressions

Affective blindsight in the absence of input from face processing regions in occipital-temporal cortex. Christopher L. Striemer, Robert L. Whitwell, Melvyn A. Goodale. Neuropsychologia,

•    Patient MC has extensive bilateral lesions to occipital and ventral-temporal cortex
•    MC is completely blind to static stimuli, but has spared motion perception
•    Despite her extensive lesions MC can discriminate between different facial emotions
•    MC cannot discriminate gender from faces, or localize targets
•    Affective blindsight does not depend on V1, or ‘face’ regions in the ventral stream

Abstract: Previous research suggests that the implicit recognition of emotional expressions may be carried out by pathways that bypass primary visual cortex (V1) and project to the amygdala. Some of the strongest evidence supporting this claim comes from case studies of “affective blindsight” in which patients with V1 damage can correctly guess whether an unseen face was depicting a fearful or happy expression. In the current study, we report a new case of affective blindsight in patient MC who is cortically blind following extensive bilateral lesions to V1, as well as face and object processing regions in her ventral visual stream. Despite her large lesions, MC has preserved motion perception which is related to sparing of the motion sensitive region MT+ in both hemispheres.

To examine affective blindsight in MC we asked her to perform gender and emotion discrimination tasks in which she had to guess, using a two-alternative forced-choice procedure, whether the face presented was male or female, happy or fearful, or happy or angry. In addition, we also tested MC in a four-alternative forced-choice target localization task. Results indicated that MC was not able to determine the gender of the faces (53% accuracy), or localize targets in a forced-choice task. However, she was able to determine, at above chance levels, whether the face presented was depicting a happy or fearful (67%, p=.006), or a happy or angry (64%, p=.025) expression. Interestingly, although MC was better than chance at discriminating between emotions in faces when asked to make rapid judgments, her performance fell to chance when she was asked to provide subjective confidence ratings about her performance. These data lend further support to the idea that there is a non-conscious visual pathway that bypasses V1 which is capable of processing affective signals from facial expressions without input from higher-order face and object processing regions in the ventral visual stream.

Keywords: blindsight; emotion; amygdala; face processing

Choices of decreasing value should provoke decreasing anxiety, but it doesn't work that way -- aversive vs. unrewarding

Shenhav, Amitai, Carolyn K D Wolf, and Uma R Karmarkar. 2017. “The Evil of Banality: When Choosing Between the Mundane Feels Like Choosing Between the Worst”. PsyArXiv. August 3.

Abstract: Our most important decisions often provoke the greatest anxiety, whether we seek the better of two prizes or the lesser of two evils. Yet many of our choices are more mundane, such as selecting from a slate of mediocre but acceptable restaurants. Previous research suggests that choices of decreasing value should provoke decreasing anxiety. Here we show that this is not the case. Across three behavioral studies and one fMRI study, we find that anxiety and its neural correlates demonstrate a U-shaped function of choice set value, greatest when choosing between both the highest value and lowest value sets. We show that these counterintuitive findings can be accounted for by decision-makers perceiving low-value items as aversive rather than simply unrewarding. Decision-makers thus experience anxiety from competing avoidance motivations when forced to select among such options, comparable to the competing approach motivations they experience when choosing between high-value items.