Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The feeling of beauty and the amplitude of pleasure are independent of stimulus duration

Beauty at a glance: The feeling of beauty and the amplitude of pleasure are independent of stimulus duration. Aenne A. Brielmann; Lauren Vale; Denis G. Pelli. Journal of Vision December 2017, Vol.17, 9. doi:10.1167/17.14.9  jov.arvojournals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2665844

Abstract: Over time, how does beauty develop and decay? Common sense suggests that beauty is intensely felt only after prolonged experience of the object. Here, we present one of various stimuli for a variable duration (1–30 s), measure the observers' pleasure over time, and, finally, ask whether they felt beauty. On each trial, participants (N = 21) either see an image that they had chosen as “movingly beautiful,” see an image with prerated valence, or suck a candy. During the stimulus and a further 60 s, participants rate pleasure continuously using a custom touchscreen web app, EmotionTracker.com. After each trial, participants judge whether they felt beauty. Across all stimulus kinds, durations, and beauty responses, the dynamic pleasure rating has a stereotypical time course that is well fit by a one-parameter model with a brief exponential onset (roughly 2.5 s), a sustained plateau during stimulus presentation, and a long exponential decay (roughly 70 s). Across conditions, only the plateau amplitude varies. Beauty and pleasure amplitude are nearly independent of stimulus duration. The final beauty rating is positively correlated with pleasure amplitude (r = 0.60), and nearly independent of duration (r = 0.10). Beauty's independence from duration is unlike Bentham's 18th-century notion of value (utility), which he supposed to depend on the product of pleasure amplitude and duration. Participants report having felt pleasure as strongly after a mere 1 s stimulus as after longer durations, up to 30 s. Thus, we find that amplitude of pleasure is independent of stimulus duration.

Anti-Flynn effects -- What causes the secular declines in IQ? A Data Synthesis and Analysis of Predictors

Woodley of Menie, M. A., PeƱaherrera-Aguirre, M., Fernandes, H. B. F., & Figueredo, A.-J. (2017). What Causes the Anti-Flynn Effect? A Data Synthesis and Analysis of Predictors. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ebs0000106

Abstract: Anti-Flynn effects (i.e., secular declines in IQ) have been noted in a few countries. Much speculation exists about the causes of these trends; however, little progress has been made toward comprehensively testing these. A synthetic literature search yielded a total of 66 observations of secular IQ decline from 13 countries, with a combined sample size of 302,234 and study midyears spanning 87 years, from 1920.5 to 2007.5. Multilevel modeling (MLM) was used to examine the effect of study midyear, and (after controlling for this and other factors) hierarchical general linear modeling (GLM) was used to examine the following sequence of predictors: domain “g-ness” (a rank-order measure of g saturation) Index of Biological State (IBS; a measure of relaxed/reversed selection operating on g), per capita immigration, and the 2-way interactions IBS × g-ness and Immigration × g-ness. The MLM revealed that the anti-Flynn effect has strengthened in more recent years. Net of this, the GLM found that g-ness was a positive predictor; that is, less aggregately g-loaded measures exhibited bigger IQ declines; IBS was not a significant predictor; however immigration predicted the decline, indicating that high levels of immigration promote the anti-Flynn effect. Among the interactions there was a negative effect of the Immigration × g-ness interaction, indicating that immigration promotes IQ decline the most when the measure is higher in g-ness. The model accounted for 37.1% of the variance among the observations.

Social Origins of Inventors, Parental Education, IQ -- Data from Finland

The Social Origins of Inventors. Philippe Aghion, Ufuk Akcigit, Ari Hyytinen, Otto Toivanen. NBER Working Paper No. 24110. http://www.nber.org/papers/w24110

Abstract: In this paper we merge three datasets - individual income data, patenting data, and IQ data - to analyze the determinants of an individual's probability of inventing. We find that: (i) parental income matters even after controlling for other background variables and for IQ, yet the estimated impact of parental income is greatly diminished once parental education and the individual's IQ are controlled for; (ii) IQ has both a direct effect on the probability of inventing an indirect impact through education. The effect of IQ is larger for inventors than for medical doctors or lawyers. The impact of IQ is robust to controlling for unobserved family characteristics by focusing on potential inventors with brothers close in age. We also provide evidence on the importance of social family interactions, by looking at biological versus non-biological parents. Finally, we find a positive and significant interaction effect between IQ and father income, which suggests a misallocation of talents to innovation.

I like that you feel my pain, but I love that you feel my joy -- Empathy for a partner’s negative versus positive emotions independently affect relationship quality

I like that you feel my pain, but I love that you feel my joy -- Empathy for a partner’s negative versus positive emotions independently affect relationship quality. Michael R. Andreychik. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407517746518

Abstract: Given the myriad ways in which close relationships impact human well-being, it is important to understand the factors that contribute to healthy relationship functioning. One such factor is the extent to which partners empathize with each other’s emotional experiences. To date however, research examining empathy’s relevance for social relationships has focused overwhelmingly on empathy for others’ specifically negative emotions. Building on recent scholarship demonstrating the separability of empathy for others’ negative versus positive emotions, the present work argues that both of these empathic capacities contribute to relationship quality and that they do so via different pathways. A first study showed that whereas perceptions of a partner’s negative empathy and positive empathy were each independently associated with relationship quality, this association was substantially stronger for positive empathy. A second, experimental study demonstrated independent causal effects of negative empathy and positive empathy and showed that these effects were mediated by different mechanisms. These results suggest that although having a partner who empathizes with one’s negative emotions is good for relationships, having a partner who (also) empathizes with one’s positive emotions may carry even greater benefits.

Keywords: Close relationships, positive empathy, negative empathy, relationship science, social support

Explicit Sexual Movie Viewing in the United States According to Selected Marriage and Lifestyle, Work and Financial, Religion and Political Factors

Explicit Sexual Movie Viewing in the United States According to Selected Marriage and Lifestyle, Work and Financial, Religion and Political Factors. Aaron M. Frutos, Ray M. Merrill. Sexuality & Culture. Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 1062–1082. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12119-017-9438-6

Abstract: The purpose of the current study was to evaluate explicit sexual movie use among men and women in the United States according to relationship, lifestyle, work, financial, religious, and political factors. Analyses involved 11,372 adults who responded to questions about demographics and explicitly sexual movie use in the General Social Survey (GSS) from 2000 to 2014. Viewing of an explicit sexual movie in the previous year was significantly greater in men than women (35 vs. 16%); Blacks than Whites (33 vs. 22%); and never married (41 vs. 18% married, 31% separated, and 24% divorced). It also decreased with older age, higher education, and more children in the household. After model adjustment for these variables, viewing an explicit sexual movie was associated with a number of relationship, lifestyle, financial, religious, political, and other variables. For example, viewing such movies was related to less happiness in marriage, multiple sex partners in past year, less satisfaction with one’s financial situation, no religious preference, and a more liberal political orientation. The effect of some variables on pornography viewing differed between men and women. For example, out of men and women who consider themselves to be “not spiritual”, men were more likely to view pornography than women. Explicit sexual movie viewing is associated with factors from diverse domains, including poorer relationship quality, more liberal sexual views and practices, poorer economic conditions, lower religious orientation or commitment, and more liberal political views.

Homosexual orientation seems associated with a less pronounced sexual differentiation of brain white matter tracts & a less pronounced functional connectivity of the self-referential networks

Manzouri A, Savic I. Cerebral sex dimorphism and sexual orientation. Hum Brain Mapp. 2017;00:1–12. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.23908

Abstract: The neurobiology of sexual orientation is frequently discussed in terms of cerebral sex dimorphism (defining both functional and structural sex differences). Yet, the information about possible cerebral differences between sex-matched homo and heterosexual persons is limited, particularly among women. In this multimodal MRI study, we addressed these issues by investigating possible cerebral differences between homo and heterosexual persons, and by asking whether there is any sex difference in this aspect. Measurements of cortical thickness (Cth), subcortical volumes, and functional and structural resting-state connections among 40 heterosexual males (HeM) and 40 heterosexual females (HeF) were compared with those of 30 homosexual males (HoM) and 30 homosexual females (HoF). Congruent with previous reports, sex differences were detected in heterosexual controls with regard to fractional anisotropy (FA), Cth, and several subcortical volumes. Homosexual groups did not display any sex differences in FA values. Furthermore, their functional connectivity was significantly less pronounced in the mesial prefrontal and precuneus regions. In these two particular regions, HoM also displayed thicker cerebral cortex than other groups, whereas HoF did not differ from HeF. In addition, in HoM the parietal Cth showed “sex-reversed” values, not observed in HoF. Homosexual orientation seems associated with a less pronounced sexual differentiation of white matter tracts and a less pronounced functional connectivity of the self-referential networks compared to heterosexual orientation. Analyses of Cth suggest that male and female homosexuality are not simple analogues of each other and that differences from heterosexual controls are more pronounced in HoM.

There Is No Empirical Evidence for Critical Positivity Ratios: Comment on Fredrickson (2013)

There Is No Empirical Evidence for Critical Positivity Ratios: Comment on Fredrickson (2013). Carol A. Nickerson. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, https://doi.org/10.1177/0022167817740468

Abstract: Fredrickson and Losada (American Psychologist, 2005, 60, 678-686) theorized that a ratio of positive affect to negative affect (positivity ratio) of 2.9013 acts as a critical minimum for well-being. Recently, Brown, Sokal, and Friedman (American Psychologist, 2013, 68, 801-813) convincingly demonstrated that the mathematical work underlying this critical minimum positivity ratio was both flawed and misapplied. This comment addresses Fredrickson’s (American Psychologist, 2013, 68, 814-822) insistence that, regardless of the incorrect mathematical work, substantial empirical evidence exists both for critical minimum and maximum positivity ratios and, more generally, for a (unspecified) nonlinear relation between the positivity ratio and well-being, by first noting that there was a mismatch between Fredrickson and Losada’s (2005) theory and the data used to test it, then describing the methodological and statistical problems of Fredrickson and Losada’s empirical study (2005), and, finally, examining the other studies that Fredrickson (2013) cited as empirical evidence.

Strong evidence that for a number of issue areas, women are more supportive of an activist government than men of the same party

Lizotte, M.-K. (2017), Gender, Partisanship, and Issue Gaps. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy. doi:10.1111/asap.12144

Abstract: A defining feature of American politics, including party identification, is the question of the proper role of government. Partisanship is a prevailing way that individuals organize their attitudes. Democrats should take the Democratic Party's positions, and Republicans should take the Republican Party's positions. Instead, people have conflicting considerations that shape their opinions. Given that gender is integral in structuring individuals’ positions in society, it is reasonable to expect that gender differences might produce intraparty differences. This article establishes a gender gap in scope of government that transcends partisanship. Using the cumulative American National Election Study Data 1994–2008, I find strong evidence that for a number of issue areas, women are more supportive of an activist government than men of the same party. Preferences regarding the scope of government provide a coherent explanation for these observed gaps.

First quantitative study of heterospecific sexual behavior between macaques and a non-primate species (sika deer)

Deer Mates: A Quantitative Study of Heterospecific Sexual Behaviors Performed by Japanese Macaques Toward Sika Deer. Noƫlle Gunst, Paul L. Vasey, Jean-Baptiste Leca. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-017-1129-8

Abstract: This is the first quantitative study of heterospecific sexual behavior between a non-human primate and a non-primate species. We observed multiple occurrences of free-ranging adolescent female Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) performing mounts and sexual solicitations toward sika deer (Cervus nippon) at Minoo, central Japan. Our comparative description of monkey-deer versus monkey-monkey interactions supported the “heterospecific sexual behavior” hypothesis: the mounts and demonstrative solicitations performed by adolescent female Japanese macaques toward sika deer were sexual in nature. In line with our previous research on the development of homospecific sexual behavior in immature female Japanese macaques, this study will allow us to test other hypotheses in the future, such as the “practice for homospecific sex,” the “safe sex,” the “homospecific sex deprivation,” the “developmental by-product,” and the “cultural heterospecific sex” hypotheses. Further research will be necessary to ascertain whether this group-specific sexual behavior was a short-lived fad or an incipient cultural phenomenon and may also contribute to better understanding the proximate and ultimate causes of reproductive interference.

Education is Related to Greater Ideological Prejudice

P J Henry, Jaime L Napier; Education is Related to Greater Ideological Prejudice, Public Opinion Quarterly, , nfx038, https://doi.org/10.1093/poq/nfx038

Abstract: Decades of research have shown that education reduces individuals’ prejudices toward people who belong to different groups, but this research has focused predominantly on prejudice toward ethnic/racial groups, immigrant groups, and general nonconformists. However, it is not clear whether education reduces other prejudices against groups along different dimensions, including ideological identification. An analysis of American National Election Studies data from 1964 to 2012 shows that education is related to decreases in interethnic/interracial prejudice, but also to increases in ideological (liberal vs. conservative) prejudice. This finding could not be explained simply by the greater polarization of the American electorate in the past twenty years. The results require rethinking how and why education is associated with reduced prejudice for certain groups but not others.