Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Adjusting communication to take into account information available to one’s audience is routine in humans -- Now in chimpanzees

Vocalizing in chimpanzees is influenced by social-cognitive processes. Catherine Crockford, Roman M. Wittig and Klaus Zuberbühler. Science Advances  Nov 15 2017, Vol. 3, no. 11, e1701742. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701742

Abstract: Adjusting communication to take into account information available to one’s audience is routine in humans but is assumed absent in other animals, representing a recent development on the lineage leading to humans. This assumption may be premature. Recent studies show changes in primate alarm signaling to threats according to the receivers’ risk. However, a classic problem in these and other perspective-taking studies is discerning whether signalers understand the receivers’ mental states or simply are responding to their behavior. We designed experiments to exclude concurrent reading of the receivers’ behavior by simulating receivers using prerecorded calls of other group members. Specifically, we tested whether wild chimpanzees emitted differing signals in response to a snake model when simulated receivers previously emitted either snake-related calls (indicating knowledge) or acoustically similar non–snake-related calls (indicating ignorance). Signalers showed more vocal and nonvocal signaling and receiver-directed monitoring when simulated receivers had emitted non–snake-related calls. Results were not explained by signaler arousal nor by receiver identity. We conclude that chimpanzees are aware enough of another’s perspective to target information toward ignorant group members, suggesting that the integration of signaling and social cognition systems was already emerging in early hominoid lineages before the advent of more language-specific features, such as syntax.

Blocking nocturnal blue light for insomnia: A randomized controlled trial.

Blocking nocturnal blue light for insomnia: A randomized controlled trial. Ari Shechter et al. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 2017 Oct 21;96:196-202. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2017.10.015

Abstract: The use of light-emitting electronic devices before bedtime may contribute to or exacerbate sleep problems. Exposure to blue-wavelength light in particular from these devices may affect sleep by suppressing melatonin and causing neurophysiologic arousal. We aimed to determine if wearing amber-tinted blue light-blocking lenses before bedtime improves sleep in individuals with insomnia. Fourteen individuals (n = 8 females; age ± SD 46.6 ± 11.5 y) with insomnia symptoms wore blue light-blocking amber lenses or clear placebo lenses in lightweight wraparound frames for 2 h immediately preceding bedtime for 7 consecutive nights in a randomized crossover trial (4-wk washout). Ambulatory sleep measures included the Pittsburgh Insomnia Rating Scale (PIRS) completed at the end of each intervention period, and daily post-sleep questionnaire and wrist-actigraphy. PIRS total scores, and Quality of Life, Distress, and Sleep Parameter subscales, were improved in amber vs. clear lenses condition (p-values less than 0.05). Reported wake-time was significantly delayed, and mean subjective total sleep time (TST), overall quality, and soundness of sleep were significantly higher (p-values less than 0.05) in amber vs. clear lenses condition over the 7-d intervention period. Actigraphic measures of TST only were significantly higher in amber vs. clear lenses condition (p = 0.035). Wearing amber vs. clear lenses for 2-h preceding bedtime for 1 week improved sleep in individuals with insomnia symptoms. These findings have health relevance given the broad use of light-emitting devices before bedtime and prevalence of insomnia. Amber lenses represent a safe, affordable, and easily implemented therapeutic intervention for insomnia symptoms.

KEYWORDS: Actigraphy; Behavioral intervention; Blue blocker; Insomnia; Randomized controlled trial; Sleep

Focusing on the present predicts improvements in life satisfaction but not happiness

Being present: Focusing on the present predicts improvements in life satisfaction but not happiness. Peter Felsman et al. Emotion. 2017 Oct;17(7):1047-1051. doi: 10.1037/emo0000333

Abstract: Mindfulness theorists suggest that people spend most of their time focusing on the past or future rather than the present. Despite the prevalence of this assumption, no research that we are aware of has evaluated whether it is true or what the implications of focusing on the present are for subjective well-being. We addressed this issue by using experience sampling to examine how frequently people focus on the present throughout the day over the course of a week and whether focusing on the present predicts improvements in the 2 components of subjective well-being over time — how people feel and how satisfied they are with their lives. Results indicated that participants were present-focused the majority of the time (66%). Moreover, focusing on the present predicted improvements in life satisfaction (but not happiness) over time by reducing negative rumination. These findings advance our understanding of how temporal orientation and well-being relate.

Women’s relationship satisfaction was related to similarity in left-right and liberal-conservative political attitudes

Leikas, Sointu, Ville J Ilmarinen, Markku Verkasalo, Hanna-Leena Vartiainen, and Jan-Erik Lönnqvist. 2017. “Relationship Satisfaction and Similarity of Personality Traits, Personal Values, and Attitudes”. PsyArXiv. November 15.

Abstract: Spousal similarity and its consequences are widely studied, but methodologically challenging topics. We employed Response Surface Analysis to examine similarity along political attitudes, personal values, and personality traits. Opposite-sex couples (624 individuals) expecting a child were recruited. Spouses were highly similar regarding their political attitudes and moderately similar regarding trait Openness and the personal values Universalism and Tradition. Similarity for other traits and values was weak (e.g. Conscientiousness, Power values) or non-existent (e.g. Neuroticism, Benevolence values). Similarity in conservative vs. liberal attitudes was non-linear: a conservative-conservative union was most common. Women’s relationship satisfaction was related to similarity in left-right and liberal-conservative political attitudes, and both partners’ satisfaction was related to similarity in Self-Direction values. Similarity in personality traits was unrelated to relationship satisfaction.

Examining Overlap in Behavioral and Neural Representations of Morals, Facts, and Preferences

Theriault, Jordan E, Adam Waytz, Larisa Heiphetz, and Liane Young. 2017. “Examining Overlap in Behavioral and Neural Representations of Morals, Facts, and Preferences.”. PsyArXiv. November 14. doi:10.1037/xge0000350

Abstract: Moral objectivists generally believe that moral claims are akin to facts, whereas moral subjectivists generally believe that moral claims are more akin to preferences. Evidence from developmental and social psychology has generally favored an objectivist view; however, this work has typically relied on few examples, and analyses have disallowed statistical generalizations beyond these few stimuli. The present work addresses whether morals are represented as fact-like or preference-like, using behavioral and neuroimaging methods, in combination with statistical techniques that can a) generalize beyond our sample stimuli, and b) test whether particular item features are associated with neural activity. Behaviorally, and contrary to prior work, morals were perceived as more preference-like than fact-like. Neurally, morals and preferences elicited common magnitudes and spatial patterns of activity, particularly within dorsal-medial prefrontal cortex (DMPFC), a critical region for social cognition. This common DMPFC activity for morals and preferences was present across whole-brain conjunctions, and in individually localized functional regions of interest (targeting the Theory of Mind network). By contrast, morals and facts did not elicit any neural activity in common. Follow-up item analyses suggested that the activity elicited in common by morals and preferences was explained by their shared tendency to evoke representations of mental states. We conclude that morals are represented as far more subjective than prior work has suggested. This conclusion is consistent with recent theoretical research, which has argued that morality is fundamentally about regulating social relationships.

College-educated escorts have better outside options to prostitution, attracting fewer unpleasant clients and combining sexual services with non-sexual services such as companionship

Prostitution, hours, job amenities and education. Scott Cunningham, Todd D. Kendall. Review of Economics of the Household, December 2017, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 1055–1080.

Abstract: We analyze the relationship between education and criminal behavior based on a survey of nearly 700 North American female escorts who provide (typically illegal) prostitution services. Nearly 40% of the women in our sample report college completion. College-educated women are less likely to see clients in any given week and do not earn higher average hourly wages. However, conditional on seeing any clients, college-educated prostitutes see more clients and provide longer client sessions. We demonstrate that these results are consistent with a model in which college-educated prostitutes have better outside options to prostitution, but are also able to reduce the marginal disutility of prostitution work by attracting fewer unpleasant clients and by combining sexual services with non-sexual services such as companionship, where college education may be productive.