Sunday, November 19, 2017

Ability to perceive person identity from other human voices seems prodigious, but limitations emerge... Spontaneous laughter impairs such recognition. seems too monkey-ish.

Impoverished encoding of speaker identity in spontaneous laughter. Nadine Lavan, , Bethanie Short, Amy Wilding, Carolyn McGettigan. Evolution and Human Behavior,

Abstract: Our ability to perceive person identity from other human voices has been described as prodigious. However, emerging evidence points to limitations in this skill. In this study, we investigated the recent and striking finding that identity perception from spontaneous laughter - a frequently occurring and important social signal in human vocal communication - is significantly impaired relative to identity perception from volitional (acted) laughter. We report the findings of an experiment in which listeners made speaker discrimination judgements from pairs of volitional and spontaneous laughter samples. The experimental design employed a range of different conditions, designed to disentangle the effects of laughter production mode versus perceptual features on the extraction of speaker identity. We find that the major driving factor of reduced accuracy for spontaneous laughter is not its perceived emotional quality but rather its distinct production mode, which is phylogenetically homologous with other primates. These results suggest that identity-related information is less successfully encoded in spontaneously produced (laughter) vocalisations. We therefore propose that claims for a limitless human capacity to process identity-related information from voices may be linked to the evolution of volitional vocal control and the emergence of articulate speech.

Keywords: Speaker identity; Voice; Volitional vocalisation; Laughter; Speaker discrimination

The Joint Effects of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Age on the Incarceration and Sentence Length Decisions

The Joint Effects of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Age on the Incarceration and Sentence Length Decisions. Tina Freiburger and Alyssa Sheeran. Race and Justice,

Abstract: The current study adds to the literature examining the effects of race, ethnicity, gender, and age on sentencing decisions. The results indicate that Black and male defendants were more likely to be incarcerated in jail as opposed to receiving a probation sentence than White and female defendants. When race, ethnicity, and gender interactions were considered, it appeared that the race effect was driven by Black males' reduced likelihood to receive probation as opposed to jail. Black females were the least likely to be jailed. Age interactions revealed that being young disadvantaged Black males but advantaged other groups. The decision to incarcerate a defendant in jail versus prison was not significantly influenced by race, ethnicity, or gender. When sentence length was examined, Black males received significantly shorter jail sentences than all groups except Black females. When age was considered, Hispanic defendants 30-39 received longer jail sentences than almost every group.

In China, the “Fall in Love Emotional Education” school teaches how to groom oneself, approach a woman and flirt with contacts -- Gov't as matchmaker

In China, an Education in Dating. By SUI-LEE WEE
The New York Times, Nov 18 2017

JINAN, China — Zhang Zhenxiao is 27 years old. He has never been in a relationship. He has never kissed a woman.

Now, Mr. Zhang is ready for love — but like many men in China, he doesn’t know where to begin.

So Mr. Zhang turned to a dating coach. The “Fall in Love Emotional Education” school, which caters to straight men, has taught him how to groom himself, approach a woman and flirt his way into her smartphone contacts.

“There are many people who lack the ability to have a relationship,” said Mr. Zhang, who enrolled in a three-day course during a weeklong holiday in October. “Many times, it’s not that there’s something wrong with us. It’s that we don’t know what details to pay attention to.”

While dating is hard everywhere, it is arguably worse for Chinese men looking for a woman. China’s now-ended one-child policy, carried out in a country with a strong cultural preference for boys, prompted many couples to abort female fetuses. In 2016, there were about 33.6 million more men than women in China, according to the government.

“They are caught in a very difficult situation, especially for those with no money,” said Li Yinhe, a prominent scholar of sexuality in China.

China worries about its lonely hearts. Newspapers warn that a surplus of unhappy, single men in China could lead to an increase in human trafficking, sex crimes and social instability. So the government is playing matchmaker.

In June, the Communist Youth League, a training ground for many top officials, organized a mass speed dating event for 2,000 young singles in the eastern province of Zhejiang. The same month, the All-China Women’s Federation in northwestern Gansu Province helped organize a similar event for “leftover men and women,” a term used in China to refer to unmarried people in their late 20s or older.

For decades, Chinese marriages were arranged through matchmakers or families. In some places, parents still post the résumés of their single children on trees and lampposts.

Marriage was utilitarian, done so people could start a family. Even when the notion of “freedom to love” became popular after 1950, there were few social venues for people to snuggle and mingle. Until the late 1990s, sex outside marriage was illegal.

Mr. Zhang’s dating coach, Zhang Mindong, said he was once like the men he teaches. A self-professed loser, or “diaosi,” Zhang Mindong said he suffered a painful breakup in 2012. He turned to the internet to find solutions and discovered the term “pick-up artist.”

Zhang Mindong started his school in the eastern city of Jinan in 2014, which he now runs with Cui Yihao, 25, and Fan Long, 29. Their services range from $45 for an online course to about $3,000 for one-on-one coaching. Similar schools have opened in several Chinese cities in recent years.

The number of students who take offline courses at “Fall in Love Emotional Education” has grown from one in 2014, to more than 300 now, according to Zhang Mindong. About 90 percent of graduates end up with girlfriends, he said.

At the October session, there was Yu Ruitong, a 23-year-old software developer who had three previous relationships; Ye Chaoqun, a 27-year-old small business owner who is hoping to make the woman he likes fall in love with him; and James Zhang, a 30-year-old cancer doctor who is looking to expand the circle of women he knows. Both Mr. Ye and James Zhang have returned to polish what they learned earlier — this time free of charge.

To show his students what they were up against, Zhang Mindong held up a profile of an attractive woman on a dating app that had garnered “likes” from 7,000 men. “This is the environment in China,” he said.

In the first hour, Zhang Mindong proclaimed them sartorial disasters. Most of the first day was devoted to improving dress. (“Narrow collars, sleeves should be folded up above the elbow and trousers should be fitted.”) They bought clothes and got haircuts.

“After getting into a relationship with a woman, many Chinese men let themselves go. They don’t wash their hair, change their clothes and become really dirty,” said Zhang Mindong, who was wearing hip glasses and a fitted white shirt.

“But that’s not the case for women, and this is why so many Chinese men can’t have a long-term relationship.”

The makeovers are followed by the students posing for photos — reading Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time,” sipping tea and nibbling canapés presented in a silver bird cage, looking pensively out a window. That culminated in selfies with Wang Zhen, a female friend of Mr. Cui’s.

That’s designed for dating in the digital era. In China, where the mobile internet has revolutionized social life, getting to know a person takes place almost exclusively on WeChat, a popular social media tool that is used by nearly 1 billion people.

Most social interactions in China usually start or end with people scanning each other’s WeChat QR codes — a practice known as saoing — or adding each other’s WeChat IDs. Many women form their impressions of men based on photographs on WeChat’s “Moments,” a Facebook-like tool.

On a Thursday night outside a busy shopping mall in Jinan, the students got their first challenge: approach women and ask for their WeChat contacts.

“You give her two choices: ‘Why don’t you add me or I sao you?’” Zhang Mindong told the students. “So no matter what she picks, you’ll succeed.”

After practicing their moves on Ms. Wang, the students set off. Zhang Zhenxiao rushed up to two women, who paused but continued walking. He chased after them and stopped them again. After a minute, they walked away.

“I didn’t succeed,” a dejected Mr. Zhang said, returning to the group.

“No, the fact that you approached them means you did,” Mr. Cui said, patting him on the back.

By the end of the night, all the students had obtained at least one WeChat contact.

The classes, held in an apartment on the grounds of Shandong University, have an air of brotherly camaraderie — the students, huddled together on a floral couch scribbling in notebooks, practiced real smiles and flirtatious banter with their coaches.

A materials buyer for a renovations company, Zhang Zhenxiao said he had never learned how to talk to a woman. His high school forbade students from mixing with members of the opposite sex. His parents had an arranged marriage.

Now, they are giving him pressure to settle down. He is on a quest for his ideal woman — a bubbly tomboy who likes wearing jeans and not skirts all the time.

“I think there are many single women who are just like me,” he said, “all longing for love.”

Follow Sui-Lee Wee on Twitter: @suilee.

Zhang Tiantian contributed research in Beijing.

A version of this article appears in print on November 19, 2017, on Page BU1 of the New York edition with the headline: In China, Guys Enroll In Dating 101.

Check also High sex ratios in rural China: declining well-being with age in never-married men. Zhou X, and Hesketh T. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2017 Sep 19;372(1729). pii: 20160324. doi:

Racial Bias in Policing — Traffic Tickets and Officer Leniency

A Few Bad Apples? Racial Bias in Policing. Felipe Goncalves and Steven Mello. Nov 2017.

Abstract: We estimate the degree to which individual police o cers practice racial discrimination. Traffic police regularly discount the charged speed on drivers’ tickets to avoid a discrete jump in the fine schedule. This behavior leads to an excess mass in the distribution of charged speeds just below the jump. Using a bunching estimation design and data from the Florida Highway Patrol, we show that minorities are less likely to receive this break than white drivers. We disaggregate to the individual police officer level and find significant heterogeneity across o cers in their degree of discrimination, with 40% of officers explaining the entirety of the aggregate discrimination. Our measure of discrimination is easy to calculate and can be used by police departments as part of an early warning system. Using a simple personnel policy that reassigns officers across locations based on their lenience, departments can effectively reduce the aggregate disparity in treatment.

JEL Classification: J71, K42
Keywords: Discrimination, Racial Bias, Police, Traffic Enforcement.