Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Locked-in individuals do not experience the anguish and turmoil that this horrifying situation would lead observers to expect

Phenomenology of the Locked-In Syndrome: an Overview and Some Suggestions. Fernando Vidal. Neuroethics,

Abstract: There is no systematic knowledge about how individuals with Locked-in Syndrome (LIS) experience their situation. A phenomenology of LIS, in the sense of a description of subjective experience as lived by the ill persons themselves, does not yet exist as an organized endeavor. The present article takes a step in that direction by reviewing various materials and making some suggestions. First-person narratives provide the most important sources, but very few have been discussed. LIS barely appears in bioethics and neuroethics. Research on Quality of Life (QOL) provides relevant information, one questionnaire study explores the sense of personal continuity in LIS patients, and LIS has been used as a test case of theories in “embodied cognition” and to explore issues in the phenomenology of illness and communication. A systematic phenomenology of LIS would draw on these different areas: while some deal directly with subjective experience, others throw light on its psychological, sociocultural and materials conditions. Such an undertaking can contribute to the improvement of care and QOL, and help inform philosophical questions, such as those concerning the properties that define persons, the conditions of their identity and continuity, or the dynamics of embodiment and intersubjectivity.

Keywords: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) Illness narratives Locked-in syndrome (LIS) Personhood Phenomenology Quality of life (QOL)

Check also Wandering thoughts about consciousness, the brain, and the commentary system of Larry Weiskrantz. Giovanni Berlucchi. Neuropsychologia,
locked-in patients are not particularly distressed by their huge behavioral limitations [...] the emotional balance is shifted toward positive emotions

Forecasting tournaments & epistemic humility: Turning polarized beliefs to nuanced probability judgments, incentivizing people to be flexible belief updaters whose views converge in response to facts, depolarizing debates

Forecasting tournaments, epistemic humility and attitude depolarization. Barbara Mellers, PhilipTetlock, Hal R. Arkes. Cognition,

Abstract: People often express political opinions in starkly dichotomous terms, such as “Trump will either trigger a ruinous trade war or save U.S. factory workers from disaster.” This mode of communication promotes polarization into ideological in-groups and out-groups. We explore the power of an emerging methodology, forecasting tournaments, to encourage clashing factions to do something odd: to translate their beliefs into nuanced probability judgments and track accuracy over time and questions. In theory, tournaments advance the goals of “deliberative democracy” by incentivizing people to be flexible belief updaters whose views converge in response to facts, thus depolarizing unnecessarily polarized debates. We examine the hypothesis that, in the process of thinking critically about their beliefs, tournament participants become more moderate in their own political attitudes and those they attribute to the other side. We view tournaments as belonging to a broader class of psychological inductions that increase epistemic humility and that include asking people to explore alternative perspectives, probing the depth of their cause-effect understanding and holding them accountable to audiences with difficult-to-guess views.

There was no evidence for a positive association between partner similarity & the three well-being measures; they discuss the implications of this finding for our understanding of partner choice & divorce

Verbakel, Ellen, and Christiaan W. S. Monden. 2018. “Higher Well-being with Similar Partner? Testing the Similarity Hypothesis for Socio-demographic Characteristics.” SocArXiv. July 5. doi:10.31235/

Abstract: Studies on marriage and divorce often assume, explicitly or implicitly, that there is a positive relationship between partner similarity and well-being. We test this similarity hypothesis: do individuals who share more socio-demographic characteristics with their partners report higher well-being than individuals whose partners are less similar? We analyzed information on more than 2,300 married and cohabiting couples aged 18-50 from the UK Understanding Society wave 1 survey. Three dimensions of well-being were assessed: relationship quality, life satisfaction and psychological distress. We examined similarity on seven characteristics separately and as an index of similarity: age, father’s class, education, ethnicity, religiosity, native language, and parental divorce. The results provided no support for the similarity hypothesis: there was no evidence for a positive association between partner similarity and the three well-being measures. We discuss the implications of this finding for our understanding of partner choice and divorce.

Future clarity—the extent to which the future seems vivid and certain—is associated with the inclination to consume healthy food, abstain from cigarettes, participate in physical activity, & experience positive emotions

Look into the crystal ball: Can vivid images of the future enhance physical health? Simon A Moss et al. Journal of Health Psychology,

Abstract: Many impulsive behaviors, unpleasant emotions, and misguided cognitions increase the incidence of type 2 diabetes and other conditions. This study tests the premise that such risk factors are inversely related to future clarity—the extent to which the future seems vivid and certain. Specifically, 211 participants completed the measures of future clarity and various determinants of health. Future clarity was positively associated with the inclination of participants to consume healthy food, abstain from cigarettes, participate in physical activity, and experience positive emotions. Future research should examine whether interventions designed to help individuals clarify and pursue their aspirations could stem lifestyle diseases.

Keywords: emotions, healthy behavior, physical activity, quasi-experiment, smoking

People infuse their passwords with autobiographical information; some people do it as mementos to cue autobiographical information

People infuse their passwords with autobiographical information. Robbie J. Taylor & Maryanne Garry. Memory,

ABSTRACT: Passwords might unlock more than our computer accounts. A New York Times Magazine described anecdotes of people who infused their passwords with autobiographical information [Urbina, I. (2014, November 20). The Secret Life of Passwords. New York Times. Retrieved from]. We suspected people infused their passwords with autobiographical information so they could privately remember that information. Across two studies we took a systematic approach to address the extent to which people infused passwords with autobiographical information and the functions that information served. We also examined the self-reported consequences of people infusing their passwords with autobiographical information. Across both studies, 41.6–71.1% of people infused their passwords with autobiographical memories; in Study 2, 9.3% of people infused their passwords with episodic future thoughts. People who infused their password with autobiographical information reported that information served identity, social, and directive functions, and they created their password to remember that information. These studies show that people do not simply use passwords to unlock their computer accounts. Some people might use passwords as mementos to cue autobiographical information.

KEYWORDS: Autobiographical memory, password, episodic future thought

We perceive good luck itself, rather than material goods, as a limited resource; there is a limited amount of good luck to get, and if another is lucky, he is robbing us

Marciano, Deborah, Eden Krispin, Sacha Bourgeois-Gironde, and Leon Deouell. 2018. “Limited Resources or Limited Luck? Why People Perceive an Illusory Negative Correlation Between the Outcomes of Choice Options Despite Unequivocal Evidence for Independence.” PsyArXiv. October 30. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: When humans learn of the outcome of an option they did not choose (the alternative outcome), before their own outcome is known, they form biased expectations about their future reward. Specifically, people see an illusory negative correlation between the two outcomes, which we coined the Alternative Omen Effect (ALOE). Why does this happen? Here, we tested several alternative explanations and conclude that the ALOE may derive from a pervasive belief that good luck is a limited resource. In Experiment 1, we show that the ALOE is due to people seeing a good alternative outcome as a bad sign regarding their outcome, but not vice versa. Experiment 2 confirms that the ALOE is a highly ingrained bias that replicates across tasks, and that the ALOE cannot be explained by preconceptions regarding outcome distribution, including 1) the Limited Good Hypothesis (zero-sum bias), according to which people see the world as a zero-sum game, and assume that resources there means fewer resources here, and/or 2) a more specific assumption that laboratory tasks are programmed as zero-sum games. To neutralize these potential beliefs, participants had to draw actual colored beads from two real, distinct bags. In spite of the unequivocal situational evidence of the independence of the two resources, we found a strong ALOE. Finally, in Experiment 3, we tested the Limited Luck Hypothesis: by eliminating the value of the outcomes we eliminated the ALOE. These results suggest that individuals perceive good luck itself, rather than material goods, as a limited resource. We discuss how the Limited Luck belief might explain a wide range of behaviors traditionally associated with the Limited Good belief.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Brain connectivity is associated with personality traits (Five-factor model of personality), forming a “global personality network”; that network is more similar between monozygotic twin pairs compared to the dizygotic twin pairs

Intersubject similarity of personality is associated with intersubject similarity of brain connectivity patterns. Wei Liu, Nils Kohn, Guillén Fernández. NeuroImage,

•    Brain connectivity is associated with personality traits (Five-factor model of personality), forming a “global personality network”.
•    Global personality network is more similar between monozygotic twin pairs compared to the dizygotic twin pairs.
•    Intersubject network similarity analysis can identify pairs of participants with similar personality profiles.
•    Global personality network can predict participants’ item-level responses in the Five-Factor Model.

Abstract: Personality is a central high-level psychological concept that defines individual human beings and has been associated with a variety of real-world outcomes (e.g., mental health and academic performance). Using 2 h, high resolution, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) resting state data of 984 (primary dataset N = 801, hold-out dataset N = 183) participants from the Human Connectome Project (HCP), we investigated the relationship between personality (five-factor model, FFM) and intrinsic whole-brain functional connectome. We found a pattern of functional brain connectivity (“global personality network”) related to personality traits. Consistent with the heritability of personality traits, the connectivity strength of this global personality network is also heritable (more similar between monozygotic twin pairs compared to the dizygotic twin pairs). Validated by both the repeated family-based 10-fold cross-validation and hold-out dataset, our intersubject network similarity analysis allowed us to identify participants' pairs with similar personality profiles. Across all the identified pairs of participants, we found a positive correlation between the network similarity and personality similarity, supporting our “similar brain, similar personality” hypothesis. Furthermore, the global personality network can be used to predict the individual subject's responses in the personality questionnaire on an item level. In sum, based on individual brain connectivity pattern, we could predict different facets of personality, and this prediction is not based on localized regions, but rather relies on the individual connectivity pattern in large-scale brain networks.

The Democratic State & How the Public Sector Promotes Human Happiness: Public employees are happier & exhibit greater life satisfaction; country differences in subjective well-being varies positively with the size of the public sector

Well-Being and the Democratic State: How the Public Sector Promotes Human Happiness. Alexander Pacek, Benjamin Radcliff, Mark Brockway. Social Indicators Research,

Abstract: While a growing literature within the study of subjective well-being demonstrates the impact of socio-political factors on subjective well-being, scholars have conspicuously failed to consider the role of the size and scope of government as determinants of well-being. In this study, we examine the size of the public sector as a determinant of cross-national variation in life satisfaction across the industrial democracies. At the individual-level, we find that public employees are happier and exhibit greater life satisfaction than otherwise similar others. At the aggregate level, the data strongly suggest that the subjective well-being varies positively with the size of the public sector. The implications for the study of life satisfaction are discussed.

Keywords: Public employment Size of government Happiness Life satisfaction Welfare state Labor unions Public sector

Men who engage in swinging have higher self-esteem, but women who engage in swinging have self-esteem comparable to others

Swinging high or low? Measuring self-esteem in swingers. Amanda S. Ruzansky, Marissa A. Harrison. The Social Science Journal,

•    We quantitatively measured the self-esteem of swingers.
•    Our sample consisted of 41 participants (19 men and 22 women) identifying as swingers and attending a swinging event.
•    Our participants largely matched the demographics reported in other studies of swingers.
•    We found that female swingers had self-esteem comparable to a general sample.

Abstract: This study sought to examine the self-esteem of individuals involved in a consensually non-monogamous relationship, the swinging lifestyle. Utilizing the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, the self-esteem of swingers was quantified and compared to a general sample. The results reveal that swingers have higher self-esteem. However, gender differences emerged in post hoc analyses whereby men who engage in swinging have higher self-esteem, but women who engage in swinging have self-esteem comparable to others. Results are discussed in terms of evolutionary and clinical importance. Limitations and future directions are also discussed.

Left-wing electoral victories cause significant and substantial short-term decreases in stock market valuations & in the US dollar value of the domestic currency, while the response of sovereign bond markets is muted

Girardi, Daniele, "Political Shocks and Financial Markets: Regression-Discontinuity Evidence from National Elections" (2018). UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers. 245.

Abstract: Despite growing interest in the effect of political-institutional factors on the economy, causally identified evidence on the reaction of financial markets to electoral outcomes is still relatively scarce, due to the difficulty of isolating causal effects. This paper fills this gap: we estimate the ‘local average treatment effect’ of left-wing (as opposed to conservative) electoral victories on share prices, exchange rates, and sovereign bond yields and spreads. Using a new dataset of worldwide national (parliamentary and presidential) elections in the post-WWII period, we obtain a sample of 954 elections in which main parties/candidates can be classified on the left-right scale based on existing sources and monthly financial data are available. To achieve causal identification, we employ a dynamic regression-discontinuity design, thus focusing on close elections. We find that left-wing electoral victories cause significant and substantial short-term decreases in stock market valuations and in the US dollar value of the domestic currency, while the response of sovereign bond markets is muted. Effects at longer time horizons (6 to 12 months) are very dispersed, signaling large heterogeneity in medium-run outcomes. Stock market and exchange rate effects are stronger and more persistent in elections in which the Left’s proposed economic policy is more radical, in developing economies, and in the post-1990 period.

Holding People Responsible for Ethical Violations: The Surprising Benefits of Accusing Others

Building trust by tearing others down: When accusing others of unethical behavior engenders trust. Jessica A. Kennedy, Maurice E. Schweitzer. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Volume 149, November 2018,

•    Accusing others of unethical behavior can engender greater trust in an accuser.
•    Accusations can elevate trust by boosting perceptions of accusers’ integrity.
•    Accusations fail to build trust when they are perceived to reflect ulterior motives.
•    Morally hypocritical accusers and false accusations fail to build trust.
•    Accusations harm trust in the target.

Abstract: We demonstrate that accusations harm trust in targets, but boost trust in the accuser when the accusation signals that the accuser has high integrity. Compared to individuals who did not accuse targets of engaging in unethical behavior, accusers engendered greater trust when observers perceived the accusation to be motivated by a desire to defend moral norms, rather than by a desire to advance ulterior motives. We also found that the accuser’s moral hypocrisy, the accusation's revealed veracity, and the target’s intentions when committing the unethical act moderate the trust benefits conferred to accusers. Taken together, we find that accusations have important interpersonal consequences.

Check also Holding People Responsible for Ethical Violations: The Surprising Benefits of Accusing Others.  Jessica A. Kennedy and Maurice E. Schweitzer.
Abstract: Individuals who accuse others of unethical behavior can derive significant benefits. Compared to individuals who do not make accusations, accusers engender greater trust and are perceived to have higher ethical standards. In Study 1, accusations increased trust in the accuser and lowered trust in the target. In Study 2, we find that accusations elevate trust in the accuser by boosting perceptions of the accuser’s ethical standards. In Study 3, we find that accusations boosted both attitudinal and behavioral trust in the accuser, decreased trust in the target, and promoted relationship conflict within the group. In Study 4, we examine the moderating role of moral hypocrisy. Compared to individuals who did not make an accusation, individuals who made an accusation were trusted more if they had acted ethically but not if they had acted unethically. Taken together, we find that accusations have significant interpersonal consequences. In addition to harming accused targets, accusations can substantially benefit accusers.

Keywords: Ethics; Ethical Violations; Accusations

Adoption as A Strategy to Fulfill Sex Preferences of U.S. Parents: Children were more likely to be of the missing sex (i.e., girls were more likely than were boys to have only preceding brothers)

Adoption: A Strategy to Fulfill Sex Preferences of U.S. Parents. Ashley Larsen Gibby, Kevin J. A. Thomas. Journal of Marriage and Family,


Objective: This article examines adoption as a strategy used by parents in the United States to fulfill their preference for a specific sex composition among their children.

Background: Evidence from the United States suggests that parents with children of the same sex are more likely to continue childbearing, as parents generally desire at least one girl and one boy. What is unknown, however, is whether parents use adoption to fulfill this same preference.

Method: Using data from the 2016 American Community Survey (n = 1,107,800 children), the authors test the relationships among the sex composition of preceding siblings, child sex, and adoption status.

Results: Children who had same‐sex preceding siblings were more likely to be adopted, as opposed to biologically related to their parents, than children who had mixed‐sex preceding siblings. Furthermore, adopted children were more likely to be of the missing sex (i.e., adopted girls were more likely than were adopted boys to have only preceding brothers).

Conclusion: These findings suggest a need to consider parental sex preferences and child sex in studies on adoption decisions. Furthermore, the results point to adoption as an additional mechanism parents can use to achieve a balanced sex composition among their children.

Monday, October 29, 2018

How The High Priests Of Science Lost Their Status & Prestige

How The High Priests Of Science Lost Their Status & Prestige
John Horgan, The Wall Street Journal, October 19 2018

Stephen Hawking and Martin Rees recognize science’s declining status. But both authors fail to mention that science’s wounds are at least partially self-inflicted. I’m glad I witnessed science’s high priests at the height of their glory. But perhaps we are better off doubting all authorities, including scientific ones.


A high point of my career as a science journalist was a cosmology workshop I bulled my way into in 1990. Thirty luminaries of physics gathered in a rustic resort in northern Sweden to swap ideas about how our universe was born. Stephen Hawking, although almost entirely paralyzed, was the id of the meeting, a joker with a Mick Jagger smirk. Martin Rees, cool and elegant, was the superego, as was befitting for a future president of the Royal Society, one of science’s most venerable institutions.

Personalities aside, Hawking and Mr. Rees had much in common. Born in 1942, both became professors at the University of Cambridge, where Newton once taught. Both contributed to our modern understanding of the big bang, black holes, galaxies and other cosmic matters. Both were committed to telling the public about science’s astonishing revelations.

One afternoon everyone piled into a bus and drove to a local church to hear a concert. As the scientists proceeded down the center aisle of the packed church, led by Hawking in his wheelchair, parishioners stood and applauded. These churchgoers seemed to be acknowledging that science was displacing religion as the source of answers to the deepest mysteries, like why we exist.

That scene came to mind as I read two new books, “Brief Answers to the Big Questions,” by Hawking and “On the Future: Prospects for Humanity” by Mr. Rees. The authors’ styles differ—Hawking cocky, Mr. Rees sober—but the substance of their books overlaps. They offer brisk, lucid peeks into the future of science and of humanity. They evince a profound faith in science’s power to demystify nature and bend it to our ends.

Yet reading these books was a bittersweet experience, and not only because Hawking died last March, at 76. (His book was completed by colleagues and family members.) The works resemble relics from a long-gone golden age: The high priests of science no longer enjoy the prestige they did just a few decades ago.

Hawking in this book is less brash than he once was. In 1980 he proclaimed that, by the end of the 20th century, physicists would discover an “ultimate theory” that would solve the riddle of existence. It would tell us what reality is made of, where it came from and why it takes the form that it does. In “Brief Answers” Hawking concedes that “we are not there yet,” and he pushes back his prediction for a “theory of everything” to the end of thiscentury. But he continues to promote the same ideas that he has for decades. String theory remains his favorite “theory of everything.” Also called M-theory, it conjectures that reality is made of infinitesimal strings, loops or membranes wriggling in a hyperspace of 10 dimensions.

Noting that, according to quantum mechanics, empty space seethes with particles popping into and out of existence, Hawking suggests that the entire universe began as one of these virtual particles. The universe is “the ultimate free lunch,” he says. Our universe may also be just one of many. M-theory, quantum mechanics and inflation—a theory of cosmic creation—all suggest our cosmos is just a minuscule bubble in an infinite ocean, or “multiverse.”

To explain why we live in this universe rather than one with radically different laws, Hawking invokes the “anthropic principle”: If our universe were not as we observe it to be, we would not be here to observe it. Our scientific picture of the cosmos, Hawking proposes, is already so complete that it eliminates the need for God. “No one created the universe,” he declares, “and no one directs our fate.”

Science can save us, too, Hawking states. It gives us the means to establish colonies on Mars and elsewhere in case the Earth becomes unlivable—whether because of nuclear war, runaway warming, pandemics or an asteroid collision. “If humanity is to continue for another million years,” he states, “our future lies in boldly going where no one else has gone before.”

Mr. Rees’s worldview differs in a few respects from Hawking’s. He describes himself as a “practising but unbelieving Christian.” He respects believers, with whom he shares “a sense of wonder and mystery.” As for space-colonization, Mr. Rees asserts that it is “a dangerous delusion to think that space offers an escape from Earth’s problems.” He dwells more than Hawking on threats posed by climate change, nuclear weapons, bioterrorism, asteroid collisions and even economic inequality. He urges redistribution of the “enormous wealth” generated by the “digital revolution.”

Yet the Cambridge colleagues agree on major issues. That machines will inevitably become super-intelligent, capable of learning without human guidance and pursuing their own goals. That we can nonetheless harness these machines for our own ends, or even merge with them. That we need more science and technology to help us overcome challenges to our peace and prosperity. That science will eventually explain the origin of this universe and even confirm the existence of other universes.

“It’s highly speculative,” Mr. Rees says of multiverse theory. “But it’s exciting science. And it may be true.” Mr. Rees also shares Hawking’s vision of “post-human” cyborgs fanning out through the universe to colonize other star systems. Our bionic descendants might be smart enough to invent warp-drive spaceships and time machines, Mr. Rees suggests. They might even solve what many scientists and philosophers consider the greatest mystery of all, the mind-body problem. This puzzle asks, as Mr. Rees puts it, “how atoms can assemble into ‘grey matter’ that can become aware of itself and ponder its origins.”

Hawking and Mr. Rees recognize science’s declining status. They call for better science education to lure more young people into science and to counter public ignorance about vaccines, genetically modified foods, climate change, nuclear power, and evolution. “The low esteem in which science and scientists are held is having serious consequences,” Hawking complains.

Both authors fail to mention that science’s wounds are at least partially self-inflicted. In 2005 statistician John Ioannidis presented evidence that “most published research findings are wrong.” That is, the findings cannot be replicated by follow-up research. Many other scholars have now confirmed the work of Mr. Ioannidis. The so-called replication crisis is especially severe in fields with high financial stakes, such as oncology and psychopharmacology.

But physics, which should serve as the bedrock of science, is in some respects the most troubled field of all. Over the last few decades, physics in the grand mode practiced by Hawking and Mr. Rees has become increasingly disconnected from empirical evidence. Proponents of string and multiverse models tout their mathematical elegance, but strings are too small and multiverses too distant to be detected by any conceivable experiment.

In her new book “Lost in Math,” German physicist Sabine Hossenfelder offers a far more candid and compelling assessment of modern physics than her English elders. She fears that physicists working on strings and multiverses are not really practicing physics. “I’m not sure anymore that what we do here, in the foundations of physics, is science,” she confesses.

As I finished “Brief Answers to the Big Questions” and “On the Future,” a few questions of my own came to mind. Will science regain its luster? Will it earn back the public’s trust, or will its authority be permanently diminished? And what outcome should we prefer? I’m glad I witnessed science’s high priests at the height of their glory. But perhaps we are better off doubting all authorities, including scientific ones.

Pornography consumption was associated with an impersonal approach to sex among both men and women; among both adolescents and adults; and across countries, time, and methods

Pornography and Impersonal Sex. Robert S Tokunaga, Paul J Wright, Joseph E Roskos. Human Communication Research, hqy014,

Abstract: This paper presents meta-analytic findings on pornography consumption and impersonal sexual attitudes and behaviors. Results were based on more than 70 reports spanning over 40 years of research. Data from 13 countries were located, with attitudinal results from more than 45,000 participants and behavioral results from over 60,000 participants. Pornography consumption was associated with an impersonal approach to sex among both men and women; among both adolescents and adults; and across countries, time, and methods. Mediation results were consistent with the sexual script theory hypothesis that viewing pornography leads to more impersonal sexual attitudes, which in turn increase the likelihood of engaging in impersonal sexual behavior. Confounding analysis did not support the libertarian theory of pornography's hypothesis that the only reason why pornography consumption correlates with impersonal sexual behavior is because people who are already impersonal in their approach to sex are more likely to consume pornography and engage in impersonal sexual acts.

30 Pacific and Indian Ocean atolls including 709 islands: No atoll lost land area, 88.6% of islands were either stable or increased in area, while only 11.4% contracted; atolls affected by rapid sea‐level rise did not show a distinct behavior

A global assessment of atoll island planform changes over the past decades. Virginie K. E. Duvat. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change.

Abstract: Over the past decades, atoll islands exhibited no widespread sign of physical destabilization in the face of sea‐level rise. A reanalysis of available data, which cover 30 Pacific and Indian Ocean atolls including 709 islands, reveals that no atoll lost land area and that 88.6% of islands were either stable or increased in area, while only 11.4% contracted. Atoll islands affected by rapid sea‐level rise did not show a distinct behavior compared to islands on other atolls. Island behavior correlated with island size, and no island larger than 10 ha decreased in size. This threshold could be used to define the minimum island size required for human occupancy and to assess atoll countries and territories' vulnerability to climate change. Beyond emphasizing the major role of climate drivers in causing substantial changes in the configuration of islands, this reanalysis of available data indicates that these drivers explain subregional variations in atoll behavior and within‐atoll variations in island and shoreline (lagoon vs. ocean) behavior, following atoll‐specific patterns. Increasing human disturbances, especially land reclamation and human structure construction, operated on atoll‐to‐shoreline spatial scales, explaining marked within‐atoll variations in island and shoreline behavior. Collectively, these findings highlight the heterogeneity of atoll situations. Further research needs include addressing geographical gaps (Indian Ocean, Caribbean, north‐western Pacific atolls), using standardized protocols to allow comparative analyses of island and shoreline behavior across ocean regions, investigating the role of ecological drivers, and promoting interdisciplinary approaches. Such efforts would assist in anticipating potential future changes in the contributions and interactions of key drivers.

Assessing Impacts of Climate Change > Observed Impacts of Climate Change; Paleoclimates and Current Trends > Earth System Behavior

This evidence supports my claim that the threat of conventional retaliation is sufficient to deter a preventive strike against emerging nuclear state

Closing the Window of Vulnerability: Nuclear Proliferation and Conventional Retaliation. Jan Ludvik. Security Studies,

Abstract: Living with a nuclear-armed enemy is unattractive, but, strangely, states seldom use their military power to prevent the enemy’s entry into the nuclear club. It is puzzling why preventive strikes against nuclear programs have been quite rare. I address this puzzle by considering the role of conventional retaliation, a subfield of deterrence that so far has received scant attention in the literature. I theorize the concept of conventional retaliation and test its explanatory power. First, I explore all historical cases where states struck another state’s nuclear installations and find none occurring when the proliferator threatened conventional retaliation. Second, I explore two cases where a strike was most likely, but the would-be attacker balked and find smoking-gun evidence that the threat of conventional retaliation restrained the would-be attacker. This evidence supports my claim that the threat of conventional retaliation is sufficient to deter a preventive strike against emerging nuclear states.

From 2013, Secret Codes of Political Propaganda: The Unknown System of Writing Teams

From 2013, Secret Codes of Political Propaganda: The Unknown System of Writing Teams. Wen-Hsuan Tsai and Peng-Hsiang Kao. The China Quarterly, Volume 214, June 2013, pp. 394-410,

Abstract: Within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), some Party units have established a largely unknown network of writing teams which propagate the policies or perspectives of a particular unit by publishing feature articles in Party journals. These writing teams often make use of a pseudonym in the form of a person's name, leading outsiders to believe that the work is written by a journalist. In fact, the pseudonyms of the Party unit writing teams function as a form of secret code. Through this code, inner Party members can recognize which unit's views an article reflects. In order to reveal exactly which units the codes represent, we have collated the names of over 20 writing teams. In addition, we provide an introduction to the functioning of the writing teams and the manner in which articles are produced. Finally, we propose that the CCP's mechanism of “propaganda codes” is gradually undergoing the process of institutionalization.

Brain Tissue–Volume Changes in Cosmonauts: Gray-matter volume decreases, cerebrospinal fluid increases

Brain Tissue–Volume Changes in Cosmonauts. Angelique Van Ombergen et al. N Engl J Med 2018; 379:1678-1680, October 25, 2018, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc1809011

Long-duration spaceflight has detrimental effects in several physiological systems. Several studies have shown an upward shift of the cerebral hemispheres, a decrease in frontotemporal volume, and an increase in ventricle size after spaceflight.1-3 However, information is limited about the effects of microgravity on brain volume, particularly regarding changes that are evident more than 1 month after spaceflight.

We prospectively studied data from T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that was performed in 10 male cosmonauts (mean age, 44 years; average space-mission duration, 189 days) at three time points: preflight (in 10 cosmonauts), short-term postflight (average, 9 days postflight; in 10), and long-term postflight follow-up (average, 209 days postflight; in 7). The volumes of gray matter, white matter, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) were analyzed with the use of voxel-based morphometry. [...]

The gray-matter volume postflight as compared with preflight showed a widespread decrease in the orbitofrontal and temporal cortexes; the maximal decrease was 3.3% in the right middle temporal gyrus. At long-term postflight follow-up, most reductions in gray-matter volume had recovered toward preflight levels (e.g., a 1.2% reduction in gray-matter volume persisted in the right temporal gyrus). The white-matter volume postflight as compared with preflight was reduced along a longitudinal tract of the left temporal lobe, but there was a global reduction of cerebral white-matter volume at long-term follow-up as compared with postflight. The ventral CSF spaces of the cerebral hemispheres and the ventricles had increased in volume postflight as compared with preflight (maximal increase, 12.9% in the third ventricle), while CSF volume below the vertex decreased. At long-term follow-up, the CSF volume in the ventricles had returned toward preflight values, while the CSF volume in the entire subarachnoid space around the brain had increased. Changes in the volumes of gray matter and CSF are shown in Figure 1.

Attributes associated with sexual attractiveness in female bodies (waist-to-hip ratio) are processed rapidly in the stream of visual processing

Waist‐to‐hip ratio affects female body attractiveness and modulates early brain responses. Marzia Del Zotto, David Framorando, Alan J. Pegna. European Journal of Neuroscience,

Abstract: This investigation examined the electrophysiological response underlying the visual processing of waist‐to‐hip ratio (WHR) in female bodies, a characteristic known to affect perceived attractiveness. WHRs of female bodies were artificially adjusted to values of 0.6, 0.7, 0.8 or 0.9. Behavioural ratings of attractiveness of the bodies revealed a preference for WHRs of 0.7 in the overall group of participants, which included both male and female heterosexual individuals. Event‐related potentials (ERPs) were then recorded while participants performed a selective attention task involving photographs of female models and scrambled images. Results showed that the P1 (80‐120 ms) and N1 (130‐170 ms) components situated over posterior brain regions were the earliest components to be modulated by attention and bodies. Interestingly, the VPP, a vertex‐positive potential occurring between 120‐180 ms, produced a greater positivity for WHRs of 0.7 compared to the other ratios. However, this increase was only observed when the body stimuli were attended, while no effect was observed for unattended bodies. These findings provide evidence of an early brain sensitivity to visual attributes that constitute secondary sexual characteristics. Although they are relatively discrete from the point of view of their physical quality, these signs possess strong behavioural significance, producing greater reported attractiveness, likely by conveying the biological meaning that signals good health and greater reproductive success. Our results therefore reveal that attributes associated with sexual attractiveness in female bodies are processed rapidly in the stream of visual processing.

Those paired with an opposite-sex partner exerciced a higher levels of intensity and traveled greater distances during their workouts; and even more if single

Going the distance, going for speed: Honest signaling and the benefits of exercising with an opposite-sex partner. Michael D. Baker et al. Evolution and Human Behavior,

When people are aware that potential mates are observing their performances, they may alter their behavior (consciously or unconsciously) in order to make themselves appear more desirable to these individuals. This is consistent with previous research showing that matingrelated display strategies may be situationally sensitive, such that people will only engage in these displays when they believe that their performance will be viewed by a desirable functionally-relevant target (Baker & Maner, 2008, 2009).

In general, the current research demonstrates the utility of applying an evolutionary perspective to generate and test specific predictions regarding how human performance varies depending upon both fundamental social motives and social context. A more general social psychological theory such as social facilitation theory would generate a prediction that performance would be similarly enhanced in the presence of any partner, regardless of individual differences in relationship status or mating motives. However, our results demonstrate that performance in the presence of another individual varies depending on the sex of the individuals in the situation as well as the motives of the actor. We argue that this finding is best interpreted as being a product of human mating strategies. More specifically, the pattern of observed results is consistent with predictions generated by costly signaling theory and the fundamental social motives perspective. Improvements in performance were observed only in the presence of a potential mate and only when the actor possessed personal characteristics associated with greater levels of motivation to seek a mate. Accounting for individual differences in fundamental social motives and functionally relevant social factors can lead to the generation of novel hypotheses about how these factors interact to impact performance. Although the current research focused on exercise performance, it is reasonable to speculate that fundamental social motives and social context might interact to influence performance of a range of different behaviors in functionally relevant ways.

The findings of the current work demonstrate how social context can affect performance in a manner consistent with a sexual display strategy. By tailoring one’s behaviors to the preferences of potential mates, these behaviors can serve as advertisements of desirable qualities, allowing people to market themselves as desirable romantic or sexual prospects. In order to better understand why people behave the way that they do in any given situation, it is helpful to take into account the opportunities afforded by the social context as well as the fundamental social goals that the actor is motivated to pursue. This work demonstrates that conceptualizing public behaviors as serving a social display function can lead to an improved understanding of the impact of social context on performance.

Endogenous Emotion Generation Abilities Support Adaptive Emotion Regulation & More Happiness

Engen, Haakon, Philipp Kanske, and Tania Singer. 2018. “Endogenous Emotion Generation Abilities Support Adaptive Emotion Management.” PsyArXiv. October 28. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Emotions are frequently thought of as reactions to events in the world. However, many of our emotional experiences are of our own making, coming from thoughts and memories. These different origins mean that these endogenous emotions are more controllable than exogenous emotions, making plausible a role of endogenous emotion in self-regulation and mental health. We tested this idea in a representative sample of 277 individuals (163 female, 20-55 years) who partook in an experiment measuring individual differences in endogenous emotion generation ability and a questionnaire battery measuring individual differences in trait affect and emotional self-regulation style. Two hypotheses for how endogenous emotion generation can facilitate mental health were tested:  By buffering negative stressors with self-generated positive emotion enabling use of emotion-focused regulation techniques, or by allowing effective simulation of the emotional consequences of future events, facilitating active and instrumental coping. Support for both hypotheses was found. Consistent with buffering, positive emotion generation ability mediated the relationship between emotion-focused regulation and trait affect, while the ability to generate emotions regardless of valence, was found to mediate the relationship between active and instrumental regulation and trait affect, supporting a simulation account. This suggests role of emotion generation in emotion regulation, a finding of both theoretical and practical implication for mental health interventions.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Imprisonments in hospitals in at least 30 other countries, including Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, China & Thailand, Lithuania & Bulgaria, & others in Latin America & the Middle East

AP Investigation: Hospital patients held hostage for cash. MARIA CHENG. AP, October 25, 2018.

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The Kenyatta National Hospital is east Africa’s biggest medical institution, home to more than a dozen donor-funded projects with international partners — a “Center of Excellence,” says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The hospital’s website proudly proclaims its motto — “We Listen ... We Care” — along with photos of smiling doctors, a vaccination campaign and staffers holding aloft a gold trophy at an awards ceremony.

But there are no pictures of Robert Wanyonyi, shot and paralyzed in a robbery more than a year ago. Kenyatta will not allow him to leave the hospital because he cannot pay his bill of nearly 4 million Kenyan shillings ($39,570). He is trapped in his fourth-floor bed, unable to go to India, where he believes doctors might help him.

At Kenyatta National Hospital and at an astonishing number of other hospitals around the world, if you don’t pay up, you don’t go home.

The hospitals often illegally detain patients long after they should be medically discharged, using armed guards, locked doors and even chains to hold those who have not settled their accounts. Mothers and babies are sometimes separated. Even death does not guarantee release: Kenyan hospitals and morgues are holding hundreds of bodies until families can pay their loved ones’ bills, government officials say.

Dozens of doctors, nurses, health experts, patients and administrators told The Associated Press of imprisonments in hospitals in at least 30 other countries, including Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, China and Thailand, Lithuania and Bulgaria, and others in Latin America and the Middle East.

The AP investigation built on a report last year by the British think-tank Chatham House; its experts found more than 60 press reports of patient detention in 14 countries in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

“What’s striking about this issue is that the more we look for this, the more we find it,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, who was not involved in the British research. “It’s probably hundreds of thousands if not millions of people that this affects worldwide. It is not something that is only happening in a small number of countries, but the problem is that nobody is looking at this and it is way off the public health radar.”

Some examples:

—In the Philippines, Annalyn Manalo was held at Mount Carmel Diocesan General Hospital in Lucena City for 1½ months starting last December following treatment for heart problems. Administrators refused initially to allow her family to pay in installments — and the cost of each extra day in detention was added to the bill.

“We were treated like criminals,” said Manalo’s husband, Sigfredo. “The security guards would come and check on us all the time.”

—In Congo’s second city of Lubumbashi, the AP visited more than 20 hospitals and clinics and found that all but one routinely detained patients who failed to pay, even though the practice is illegal there.

—In Bangalore, India, Emmanuel Malagi was detained in a private hospital for three months after he was treated for a spinal tumor, according to his brother, Christanand. Prevented from seeing him, his family scrambled unsuccessfully to pay his nearly 1.4 lakh rupees ($19,281) bill — and when he died, the hospital demanded another 10 lakh ($13,771) to release the body.

—In Malaysia, a medical student from the Netherlands on a diving trip got the bends. He couldn’t afford his decompression treatment; the hospital locked him in a room for four days, with no food or drink, until he was able to get the money, according to Saskia Mostert, a Dutch academic who has researched hospital detentions.

—In Bolivia, a government ombudsman reported that 49 patients were detained in hospitals or clinics in the last two years because they couldn’t pay, despite a law that prohibits the practice.

During several August visits to Kenyatta National Hospital, The Associated Press witnessed armed guards in military fatigues standing watch over patients, and saw where detainees slept on bedsheets on the floor in cordoned-off rooms. Guards prevented one worried father from seeing his detained toddler. All despite a court ruling years ago that found the detentions were illegal.

Health experts decry hospital imprisonment as a human rights violation. Yet the United Nations, U.S. and international health agencies, donors and charities all have remained silent while pumping billions of dollars into these countries to support splintered health systems or to fight outbreaks of diseases including AIDS and malaria.

“It’s the dirty underbelly of global health that nobody wants to talk about,” said Sophie Harman, a health academic at Queen Mary University of London.

“People know patients are being held prisoner, but they probably think they have bigger battles in public health to fight, so they just have to let this go.”


Where patients are imprisoned, hospitals acknowledge it is not necessarily profitable. But many say it often leads at least to partial payment and serves as a deterrent.

Unlike many hospitals in developed countries, African hospitals don’t always provide food, clothing or bedding for patients, so holding onto them does not necessarily incur a significant cost. Detained patients typically rely on relatives to bring them food while those without obliging family members resort to begging for help from staff or other patients.

Dr. Festus Njuguna, a pediatric oncologist at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, about 300 kilometers northwest of Nairobi, said the institution regularly holds children with cancer who have finished their treatment, but whose parents cannot pay. The children are typically left on the wards for weeks and months at a time, long after their treatment has ended.

“It’s not a very good feeling for the doctors and nurses who have treated these patients, to see them kept like this,” Njuguna said.

Still, some officials openly defend the practice.

“We can’t just let people leave if they don’t pay,” said Leedy Nyembo-Mugalu administrator of Congo’s Katuba Reference Hospital. He said holding patients wasn’t an issue of human rights, but simply a way to conduct business: “No one ever comes back to pay their bill a month or two later.”

At many Kenyan hospitals, including Kenyatta, officials armed with rifles patrol the hallways and guard the hospital’s gates. Patients must show hospital guards a discharge form to prove they’re allowed to leave and even visitors must sometimes surrender their identification cards before seeing patients.


“This is something that hospital authorities have been trying to keep under wraps,” said George Morara, vice chairperson of the country’s national commission on human rights. He said the number of Kenyans imprisoned in hospitals is “disturbingly high” and that the practice is “ubiquitous in public and private hospitals.”

He said patients have been held at Kenyatta for up to two years, and it was reasonable to suspect that hundreds of patients could be detained there at any time.

Kenya’s ministry of health and Kenyatta canceled several scheduled interviews with the AP and declined to respond to repeated requests for comment.


Although the court instructed the government to produce guidelines on how hospitals should waive fees for patients unable to pay, Opondo said the proposed fixes have not gone far enough. A program that provides free maternity care is only available at a select number of private hospitals and does not include post-delivery care.

Earlier this month, Kenya’s High Court ruled again that imprisoning patients “is not one of the acceptable avenues (for hospitals) to recover debt.” The case involved a man detained at Nairobi Women’s Hospital since June 25; the judge ordered his immediate release despite the outstanding bill. Kenyan politicians also will soon debate a proposed amendment to the country’s health law that will explicitly make patient detentions illegal.

The latest amendment was submitted by MP Jared Okelo, a member of Parliament who described the imprisonment of mothers as “rampant.”

Omuya is still scarred by her detention at Pumwani. She says she developed chronic pneumonia after being held in the damp, cold conditions there and has not been able to work full-time since.

Neither Omuya nor Oliele have been paid the damages awarded to them by the court: Omuya was to receive 1,500,000 shillings ($14,842) from the hospital while Oliele was to receive 500,000 shillings ($4,948).


Desmond Tiro in Nairobi and Paola Flores in La Paz, Bolivia contributed to this report.

Paraventricular thalamic neurons represent multiple salient features of sensory stimuli, like reward, aversiveness, novelty, & surprise; the nucleus thus provides context-dependent salience encoding

Dynamic salience processing in paraventricular thalamus gates associative learning. Yingjie Zhu, Gregory Nachtrab, Piper C. Keyes, William E. Allen, Liqun Luo, Xiaoke Chen. Science , Vol. 362, Issue 6413, pp. 423-429. DOI: 10.1126/science.aat0481

Abstract: The salience of behaviorally relevant stimuli is dynamic and influenced by internal state and external environment. Monitoring such changes is critical for effective learning and flexible behavior, but the neuronal substrate for tracking the dynamics of stimulus salience is obscure. We found that neurons in the paraventricular thalamus (PVT) are robustly activated by a variety of behaviorally relevant events, including novel (“unfamiliar”) stimuli, reinforcing stimuli and their predicting cues, as well as omission of the expected reward. PVT responses are scaled with stimulus intensity and modulated by changes in homeostatic state or behavioral context. Inhibition of the PVT responses suppresses appetitive or aversive associative learning and reward extinction. Our findings demonstrate that the PVT gates associative learning by providing a dynamic representation of stimulus salience.

A close view of the paraventricular thalamus

The paraventricular thalamus is a relay station connecting brainstem and hypothalamic signals that represent internal states with the limbic forebrain that performs associative functions in emotional contexts. Zhu et al. found that paraventricular thalamic neurons represent multiple salient features of sensory stimuli, including reward, aversiveness, novelty, and surprise. The nucleus thus provides context-dependent salience encoding. The thalamus gates sensory information and contributes to the sleep-wake cycle through its interactions with the cerebral cortex. Ren et al. recorded from neurons in the paraventricular thalamus and observed that both population and single-neuron activity were tightly coupled with wakefulness.

Stereotypes about wealthy people’s personality are accurate albeit somewhat exaggerated; wealthy people can be characterized as stable, flexible, & agentic individuals who are focused more on themselves than on others

Leckelt, Marius, David Richter, Carsten Schröder, Albrecht C. P. Küfner, Markus M. Grabka, and Mitja Back. 2018. “The Rich Are Different: Unraveling the Perceived and Self-reported Personality Profiles of High Net-worth Individuals.” PsyArXiv. October 28. doi:10.1111/bjop.12360

Abstract: Beyond money and possessions, how are the rich different from the general population? Drawing on a unique sample of high net-worth individuals from Germany (≥1 million Euro in financial assets; N = 130), nationally representative data (N = 22,981), and an additional online panel (N = 690), we provide the first direct investigation of the stereotypically-perceived and self-reported personality profiles of high net-worth individuals. Investigating the broad personality traits of the Big Five and the more specific traits of narcissism and locus of control, we find that stereotypes about wealthy people’s personality are accurate albeit somewhat exaggerated and that wealthy people can be characterized as stable, flexible, and agentic individuals who are focused more on themselves than on others.

Researchers at Brown U found that alcohol hijacks a conserved memory pathway in the brain and changes which versions of genes are made, forming the cravings that fuel addiction

Alcohol Activates Scabrous-Notch to Influence Associated Memories. Emily Petruccelli et al. Neuron, October 25, 2018.

    •  Alcohol cue preference requires Scabrous-Notch interaction in mushroom body neurons
    •  Alcohol activates Notch and Su(H) target gene expression in the adult brain
    •  Dopamine 2 receptor splicing and targeting by Su(H) are altered by alcohol exposure
    •  Alcohol cue preference affects mushroom body gene expression and splicing

Summary: Drugs of abuse, like alcohol, modulate gene expression in reward circuits and consequently alter behavior. However, the in vivo cellular mechanisms through which alcohol induces lasting transcriptional changes are unclear. We show that Drosophila Notch/Su(H) signaling and the secreted fibrinogen-related protein Scabrous in mushroom body (MB) memory circuitry are important for the enduring preference of cues associated with alcohol’s rewarding properties. Alcohol exposure affects Notch responsivity in the adult MB and alters Su(H) targeting at the dopamine-2-like receptor ( Dop2R). Alcohol cue training also caused lasting changes to the MB nuclear transcriptome, including changes in the alternative splicing of Dop2R and newly implicated transcripts like Stat92E. Together, our data suggest that alcohol-induced activation of the highly conserved Notch pathway and accompanying transcriptional responses in memory circuitry contribute to addiction. Ultimately, this provides mechanistic insight into the etiology and pathophysiology of alcohol use disorder.

Press release:

Literature said property crimes have more instrumental motives, require planning, & hence are particularly sensitive to permanent changes in cost & benefits, but violent crime declines in U.S. cities on days in which the local pollen count is unusually high

Chalfin, Aaron and Danagoulian, Shooshan and Deza, Monica, More Sneezing, Less Crime? Seasonal Allergies, Transitory Costs and the Market for Offenses (August 18, 2018).

Abstract: The neoclassical economic model of crime envisions crime as a gamble undertaken by a rational individual who is weighing the costs and benefits of offending at the margin. A large literature estimates the sensitivity of crime to policy inputs that shift the cost of offending such as police and prisons. In this paper, we point out that participants in the market for offenses also respond to transitory changes in situational factors and that these are in constant flux. We consider the responsiveness of crime to a pervasive and common health shock which we argue shifts costs and benefits for offenders and victims: seasonal allergies. Leveraging daily variation in city-specific pollen counts, we present novel evidence that violent crime declines in U.S. cities on days in which the local pollen count is unusually high and that these effects are driven by residential violence. While past literature suggests that property crimes have more instrumental motives, require planning, and hence are particularly sensitive to permanent changes in the cost and benefits of crime, we find evidence that violence may be especially sensitive to situational factors.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Despite philosophical & conventional wisdom dating back to the ancients, researchers have only recently begun to uncover evidence that extreme standing on “normal” or “desirable” personality traits might be maladaptive

Extreme Personalities at Work and in Life. Nathan T. Carter, Joshua D. Miller, Thomas A. Widiger. Current Directions in Psychological Science,

Abstract: Contemporary personality taxonomies cast personality traits as ranging from the maladaptive (e.g., low conscientiousness) to adaptive (e.g., high conscientiousness) levels. Despite philosophical and conventional wisdom dating back to the ancients, researchers have only recently begun to uncover evidence that extreme standing on “normal” or “desirable” personality traits might be maladaptive. Here, we present an emerging perspective on why and how extreme standing on “desirable” trait continua translates into maladaptive behavior and undesirable outcomes at work and in life. An overview of the literature on the topic is presented for each trait within the five-factor model. We suggest two reasons for the lack of clarity in the empirical literature: (a) problems with statistical tests resulting from measurement error and (b) lack of breadth in the conceptualization and measurement of personality traits. We suggest that a solution to this problem is to extend trait continua to reflect maladaptive levels at both ends. We close by pointing out that a major implication of this emerging perspective indicates that many more people possess optimal personality-trait levels than previously thought and that future research needs to examine whether the question is consistent with evolutionary and neurophysiological accounts of personality science.

Keywords: personality, curvilinearity, inverted U, nonlinearity, personality disorders

27% of participants have kept a financial secret from their partner; and both marital & life satisfaction were lower for participants who have experienced financial infidelity than in those who have not

Jeanfreau, M., Noguchi, K., Mong, M. D., & Stadthagen, H. (2018). Financial Infidelity in Couple Relationships. Journal of Financial Therapy, 9(1) 2.

Four hundred and fourteen participants answered questions regarding financial habits within the context of the couple relationship.The Big Five Personality Inventory and a Martial and Life Satisfaction Scale were used to determine the incidence and factors associated with financial infidelity. Results  indicated that 27% of participants have kept a financial secret from their partner. Furthermore, both marital and life satisfaction were lower for participants who have experienced financial infidelity than in those who have not. Finally, conscientiousness, a factor from the Big Five Personality Inventory, showed a significant difference, suggesting that more organized individuals  were less likely to keep financial secrets. Clinical implications are also discussed.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Bacon's ideas are central in the culture of growth; his epistemology derives from his jurisprudence &, hence, reflects common-law culture, which can help explain the coincidence of early political & economic development in England

Toward understanding 17th century English culture: A structural topic model of Francis Bacon's ideas. PeterGrajzl, Peter Murrell. Journal of Comparative Economics,

•    Bacon's ideas are central in the culture of growth of early modern England.
•    We study Bacon's thought using machine-learning tools for analysis of text-as-data.
•    Bacon communicated strategically and did not emphasize some ideas later viewed as Baconian.
•    Bacon's epistemology derives from his jurisprudence and, hence, reflects common-law culture.
•    Features and origins of Bacon's ideas help interpret England's early development.

Abstract: We use machine-learning methods to study the features and origins of the ideas of Francis Bacon, a key figure who provided the intellectual roots of a cultural paradigm that spurred modern economic development. Bacon's works are the data in an estimation of a structural topic model, a recently developed methodology for analysis of text corpora. The estimates uncover sixteen topics prominent in Bacon's opus. Two are key elements of the ideas usually associated with Bacon—inductive epistemology and fact-seeking. The utilitarian promise of science and the centralized organization of the scientific quest, embraced by Bacon's followers, were not emphasized by him. Using strategic communication, Bacon facilitated reception of his scientific methodology, targeted influential groups, and finessed powerful opponents. We provide the first quantitative evidence that the genesis of Bacon's epistemology lies in his experience in the common-law. Combining our findings with accepted arguments in the existing literature, we suggest that the effects of common-law culture can help explain the coincidence of early political and economic development in England.

Adult participants who chewed gum while studying a 9‐min lesson on a mental mathematics strategy outperformed a nonchewing condition on a subsequent problem‐solving test, whereas also reporting higher levels of postlesson alertness

Chewing gum while studying: Effects on alertness and test performance. Paul Ginns, Theresa Kim, Eleni Zervos. Applied Cognitive Psychology,

Summary: Recent research has demonstrated chewing gum can enhance various cognitive processes associated with learning, but most studies have used cognitive functioning tasks (e.g., selective attention and working memory) as outcomes. Across two experiments, we investigated effects of chewing gum on self‐reports of alertness and test performance following study of realistic educational materials. In Experiment 1 (n = 40), adult participants who chewed gum while studying a 20‐min physiology lesson outperformed a nonchewing condition on subsequent terminology and comprehension tests, but did not report higher levels of postlesson alertness as hypothesised. In Experiment 2 (n = 39), adult participants who chewed gum while studying a 9‐min lesson on a mental mathematics strategy outperformed a nonchewing condition on a subsequent problem‐solving test, whereas also reporting higher levels of postlesson alertness. The results provide initial support for chewing gum while studying realistic educational materials across a range of topics and study durations.

The intense selection of chickens for production traits (egg laying) is thought to cause undesirable side effects & changes in behavior due to trade-offs from energy expenditure; contrary to expectations, productive hens show increased cognitive skills

More Than Eggs – Relationship Between Productivity and Learning in Laying Hens. Anissa Dudde, E. Tobias Krause, Lindsay R. Matthews & Lars Schrader. Front. Psychol., October 26 2018,

Abstract: The intense selection of chickens for production traits, such as egg laying, is thought to cause undesirable side effects and changes in behavior. Trade-offs resulting from energy expenditure in productivity may influence other traits: in order to sustain energetic costs for high egg production, energy expenditure may be redirected away from specific behavioral traits. For example, such energetic trade-offs may change the hens’ cognitive abilities. Therefore, we hypothesized highly productive laying hens to show reduced learning performance in comparison to moderate productive lines. We examined the learning ability of four chicken lines that differed in laying performance (200 versus 300 eggs/year) and phylogenetic origin (brown/white layer; respectively, within performance). In total 61 hens were tested in semi-automated Skinner boxes in a three-phase learning paradigm (initial learning, reversal learning, extinction). To measure the hens’ learning performance within each phase, we compared the number of active decisions needed to fulfill a learning criteria (80% correct choices for learning, 70% no responses at extinction) using linear models. Differences between the proportions of hens per line that reached criterion on each phase of the learning tasks were analyzed by using a Kaplan–Meier (KM) survival analysis. A greater proportion of high productive hens achieved the learning criteria on each phase compared to less productive hens (Chi23 = 8.25, p = 0.041). Furthermore, high productive hens accomplished the learning criteria after fewer active decisions in the initial phase (p = 0.012) and in extinction (p = 0.004) compared to the less selected lines. Phylogenetic origin was associated with differences in learning in extinction. Our results contradict our hypothesis and indicate that the selection for productivity traits has led to changes in learning behavior and the high productive laying hens possessed a better learning strategy compared to moderate productive hens in a feeding-rewarding context. This better performance may be a response to constraints resulting from high selection as it may enable these hens to efficiently acquire additional energy resources. Underlying mechanisms for this may be directly related to differences in neuronal structure or indirectly to foraging strategies and changes in personality traits such as fearfulness and sociality.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Rolf Degen summarizing: Across cultures, women agreed about which male faces signalled a penchant for sexual unfaithfulness, but actual hit rate was low, indicating that potential cheaters evolved to hide their true nature

Impressions of sexual unfaithfulness and their accuracy show a degree of universality. Clare A. M. Sutherland et al. PLOS One,

Abstract: Forming accurate impressions of others’ trustworthiness is a critical social skill, with faithfulness representing a key aspect of trust in sexual relationships. Interestingly, there is evidence for a small degree of accuracy in facial impressions of sexual unfaithfulness. Theoretical accounts suggest that these impressions may function to help with partner selection, and may be universal. If so, impressions should be similar for perceivers from different cultures and accuracy should not be limited to own-race faces. We tested these predictions by asking Caucasian and Asian women to judge the likelihood of unfaithfulness from the faces of Caucasian males whose past sexual history was known. In two studies we found high cross-cultural agreement in these impressions, consistent with universality in the impressions themselves. In Study 1, we found an other-race effect in impression accuracy, with significantly less accurate cross-race impressions by Asian women than own-race impressions by Caucasian women. Asian women showed no accuracy. Interestingly, in Study 2, Asian women who had grown up in the West showed small but significant accuracy in their impressions, with no other-race effect. Results are consistent with a degree of universality in the accuracy of this important aspect of social perception, provided that perceivers have experience with the faces being assessed.

Ignorance of History and Perceptions of Racism: Another Look at the Marley Hypothesis

Ignorance of History and Perceptions of Racism: Another Look at the Marley Hypothesis. Jason E. Strickhouser, Ethan Zell, Kara E. Harris. Social Psychological and Personality Science,

Abstract: Why do White Americans perceive less racism than Black Americans? Two provocative studies on the Marley hypothesis suggest that White Americans are more ignorant of historical instances of racism than Black Americans and that ignorance of history mediates racial differences in perceptions of racism. We conducted two replications of the Marley hypothesis in a different institutional and regional context than prior studies. In contrast with prior findings, the difference between White and Black Americans knowledge of historical racism was not significant in either of our replications and was dramatically smaller than that obtained in prior studies. Thus, the present research failed to replicate the mediation effect found in prior studies. We discuss potential explanations for these discrepant findings (e.g., differences in institution and region) and call for additional research examining whether the Marley hypothesis is moderated by cultural contexts.

Keywords: social perception, racism, minority groups, intergroup relations, replication

The activity of midbrain dopamine neurons & mesolimbic dopamine levels are consistently modulated by anticipated future reward more strongly & consistently than effort, even after weighting reward & effort on behavior equally

What Is the Relationship between Dopamine and Effort? Mark E.Walton and Sebastien Bouret. Trends in Neurosciences,

* Compared to reward, effort remains poorly understood, both at the behavioral and neurophysiological levels.
* Dopamine has been proposed as central to effort-related decision making, but its role is not clearly defined.
* In fact, the activity of midbrain dopamine neurons and mesolimbic dopamine levels are consistently modulated by anticipated future reward more strongly and consistently than effort, even when the weight of reward and effort on behavior are equated.
* These signals may promote decisions to act based on the potential gain from a future reward.

Abstract: The trade-off between reward and effort is at the heart of most behavioral theories, from ecology to economics. Compared to reward, however, effort remains poorly understood, both at the behavioral and neurophysiological levels. This is important because unwillingness to overcome effort to gain reward is a common feature of many neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders. A recent surge in interest in the neurobiological basis of effort has led to seemingly conflicting results regarding the role of dopamine. We argue here that, upon closer examination, there is actually striking consensus across studies: dopamine primarily codes for future reward but is less sensitive to anticipated effort cost. This strong association between dopamine and the incentive effects of rewards places dopamine in a key position to promote reward-directed action.

Competition- & mate-related cues & interactions rapidly increase testosterone; these increases map onto ongoing and future competitive and mate-seeking behaviours; testosterone administration rapidly modulates neural processing & behaviour

Human social neuroendocrinology: Review of the rapid effects of testosterone. Shawn N.Geniole, Justin M.Carré. Hormones and Behavior, Volume 104, August 2018, Pages 192-205.

•    We review human social neuroendocrinology studies involving testosterone.
•    Competition- and mate-related cues and interactions rapidly increase testosterone.
•    These increases map onto ongoing and future competitive and mate-seeking behaviours.
•    Testosterone administration rapidly modulates neural processing and behaviour.
•    We propose a new, integrative model: the Fitness Model of Testosterone Dynamics.

Abstract: It is well documented that testosterone concentrations change rapidly within reproductively relevant contexts (e.g., competition, mate-seeking). It has been argued that such rapid changes in testosterone may serve to adaptively fine-tune ongoing and/or future social behaviour according to one's social environment. In this paper, we review human correlational and experimental evidence suggesting that testosterone fluctuates rapidly in response to competition and mate-seeking cues, and that such acute changes may serve to modulate ongoing and/or future social behaviours (e.g., risk-taking, competitiveness, mate-seeking, and aggression). Some methodological details, which limit interpretation of some of this human work, are also discussed. We conclude with a new integrative model of testosterone secretion and behaviour, the Fitness Model of Testosterone Dynamics. Although we focus primarily on human aggression in this review, we also highlight research on risk-taking, competitiveness, and mate-seeking behaviour.

The Moral Machine gathered 40 million decisions in ten languages from millions of people in 233 countries: Differences correlate with modern institutions and deep cultural traits

The Moral Machine experiment. Edmond Awad, Sohan Dsouza, Richard Kim, Jonathan Schulz, Joseph Henrich, Azim Shariff, Jean-François Bonnefon & Iyad Rahwan. Nature (2018),

Abstract: With the rapid development of artificial intelligence have come concerns about how machines will make moral decisions, and the major challenge of quantifying societal expectations about the ethical principles that should guide machine behaviour. To address this challenge, we deployed the Moral Machine, an online experimental platform designed to explore the moral dilemmas faced by autonomous vehicles. This platform gathered 40 million decisions in ten languages from millions of people in 233 countries and territories. Here we describe the results of this experiment. First, we summarize global moral preferences. Second, we document individual variations in preferences, based on respondents’ demographics. Third, we report cross-cultural ethical variation, and uncover three major clusters of countries. Fourth, we show that these differences correlate with modern institutions and deep cultural traits. We discuss how these preferences can contribute to developing global, socially acceptable principles for machine ethics. All data used in this article are publicly available.

Sex & the city. Are financial decisions driven by emotions? Our findings suggest that agents incorrectly attribute their good mood to positive economic perspectives rather than positive emotions

Sex & the city. Are financial decisions driven by emotions? Giampaolo Gabbi, Giovanna Zanotti. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance,

Abstract: Although the role of irrationality in trading choices has been extensively discussed in the literature, individual incidental emotions have been neglected. We investigated emotional explanatory factors and trading choices in a sample of non-professional agents who managed a virtual financial positions pretending to be traders. Using a series of daily surveys over a five-week period as well as introductive inventory surveys, we constructed measures of core affect and emotions and correlated these with subjects’ financial choices. Our purpose is to test if the decision to buy or sell financial assets is affected by the emotional state of individuals, considering also gender clusters. A focus is on incidental emotions, detecting how positive emotions due to sexual activity may alter financial trading choices. Our findings suggest that agents incorrectly attribute their good mood to positive economic perspectives rather than positive emotions.

Rodents' ultrasonic vocalizations are actively produced by both sexes during sexual interactions, contrary to earlier assumptions; male-typical and female-typical vocal behaviors can be identified

Vocal Signals of Sexual Motivation in Male and Female Rodents. Marcela Fernández-Vargas. Current Sexual Health Reports,


Purpose of the Review: Rodents produce ultrasonic vocalizations (USV) under different social contexts, including courtship and reproduction. The present review aims to summarize the behavioral, bioacoustical, and physiological evidence that USV are reliable signals of sexual motivation in both male and female rodents.

Recent Findings: USV are actively produced by both sexes during sexual interactions, contrary to earlier assumptions. Male-typical and female-typical vocal behaviors can be identified. Calling rates and acoustic parameters, such as call duration, frequency, and energy, can be modulated rapidly over time by motivational state and sexual context. USV produced in response to sexual context could be regulated by the brain on a moment-to-moment basis through non-classical mechanisms of steroid action. Finally, I provide some practical considerations for the acoustic and statistical analyses of these vocal signals.

Summary: USV can be used as signals of sexual motivation in both sexes to study brain and hormonal mechanisms underlying sexual behavior or sexual differentiation.

Keywords: Ultrasonic vocalizations Sexual behavior Sexual motivation Sex steroids Bioacoustics Communication Nongenomic steroid action Rodents House mouse Rats Golden hamsters Syrian hamsters

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Despite their limited optical resolution, Drosophila melanogaster’s neuronal architecture has the capability to extract & encode a rich feature set that allows flies to re-identify individual conspecifics with surprising accuracy

Schneider J, Murali N, Taylor GW, Levine JD (2018) Can Drosophila melanogaster tell who’s who? PLoS ONE 13(10): e0205043.

Abstract: Drosophila melanogaster are known to live in a social but cryptic world of touch and odours, but the extent to which they can perceive and integrate static visual information is a hotly debated topic. Some researchers fixate on the limited resolution of D. melanogaster’s optics, others on their seemingly identical appearance; yet there is evidence of individual recognition and surprising visual learning in flies. Here, we apply machine learning and show that individual D. melanogaster are visually distinct. We also use the striking similarity of Drosophila’s visual system to current convolutional neural networks to theoretically investigate D. melanogaster’s capacity for visual understanding. We find that, despite their limited optical resolution, D. melanogaster’s neuronal architecture has the capability to extract and encode a rich feature set that allows flies to re-identify individual conspecifics with surprising accuracy. These experiments provide a proof of principle that Drosophila inhabit a much more complex visual world than previously appreciated.

Voters appear to be sorting on non-political neighborhood attributes that covary with partisan preferences rather than explicitly seeking politically congruent neighbors; location must have some influence on political preference, rather than the other way around

Does residential sorting explain geographic polarization? Gregory J. Martin & Steven W. Webster. Political Science Research and Methods,

Abstract: Political preferences in the United States are highly correlated with population density, at national, state, and metropolitan-area scales. Using new data from voter registration records, we assess the extent to which this pattern can be explained by geographic mobility. We find that the revealed preferences of voters who move from one residence to another correlate with partisan affiliation, though voters appear to be sorting on non-political neighborhood attributes that covary with partisan preferences rather than explicitly seeking politically congruent neighbors. But, critically, we demonstrate through a simulation study that the estimated partisan bias in moving choices is on the order of five times too small to sustain the current geographic polarization of preferences. We conclude that location must have some influence on political preference, rather than the other way around, and provide evidence in support of this theory.

Jackdaws delayed longest in entering their nest-box after encountering a stimulus that should not move independently, suggesting they recognized the movement as unexpected

Wild jackdaws are wary of objects that violate expectations of animacy. Alison L. Greggor, Guillam E. McIvor, Nicola S. Clayton, Alex Thornton. Royal Society Open Science, DOI: 10.1098/rsos.181070

Abstract: Nature is composed of self-propelled, animate agents and inanimate objects. Laboratory studies have shown that human infants and a few species discriminate between animate and inanimate objects. This ability is assumed to have evolved to support social cognition and filial imprinting, but its ecological role for wild animals has never been examined. An alternative, functional explanation is that discriminating stimuli based on their potential for animacy helps animals distinguish between harmless and threatening stimuli. Using remote-controlled experimental stimulus presentations, we tested if wild jackdaws (Corvus monedula) respond fearfully to stimuli that violate expectations for movement. Breeding pairs (N = 27) were presented at their nests with moving and non-moving models of ecologically relevant stimuli (birds, snakes and sticks) that differed in threat level and propensity for independent motion. Jackdaws were startled by movement regardless of stimulus type and produced more alarm calls when faced with animate objects. However, they delayed longest in entering their nest-box after encountering a stimulus that should not move independently, suggesting they recognized the movement as unexpected. How jackdaws develop expectations about object movement is not clear, but our results suggest that discriminating between animate and inanimate stimuli may trigger information gathering about potential threats.

Canada: Secularized women are found to have lower fertility rates compared with the actively religious; the strictly seculars, a proxy identifier for the atheists, have the lowest fertility & the highest likelihood of remaining childless

Religiosity, Secularity and Fertility in Canada. Maryam Dilmaghani. European Journal of Population,

Abstract: Using several cycles of the Canadian General Social Survey covering cohorts born from the early 1900s onwards, this paper examines how religiosity and secularity associate with fertility in Canada. The analysis shows that among multiple dimensions of religiosity, religious attendance is the strongest predictor of higher fertility in the country. For the latest cycle conducted in 2011, three mutually exclusive groups of secularized women are compared with the actively religious in their fertility behaviour and intentions. All these secularized women are found to have lower fertility rates compared with the actively religious. Among them, the strictly seculars, a proxy identifier for the atheists, have the lowest fertility and the highest likelihood of remaining childless. Various implications are discussed.

Keywords: Fertility, Religiosity, Secularity, Canada

The experience of a childhood trauma increases a person’s ability to take the perspective of another and to understand their mental and emotional states, & this impact is long-standing

Elevated empathy in adults following childhood trauma. David M. Greenberg et al. PLOS One,

Abstract: Traumatic events increase the risk of depression, but there is also evidence that adversity can lead to posttraumatic growth, including increased compassion and prosocial behavior. To date there is no empirical research pinpointing childhood trauma to an increase in trait empathy in adulthood. Although somewhat counter-intuitive, this might be predicted if trauma not only increases fear of future threat but also renders the individual more sensitive to suffering in others. We explored this possible link using multiple studies, self-report measures, and non-clinical samples. Results across samples and measures showed that, on average, adults who reported experiencing a traumatic event in childhood had elevated empathy levels compared to adults who did not experience a traumatic event. Further, the severity of the trauma correlated positively with various components of empathy. These findings suggest that the experience of a childhood trauma increases a person’s ability to take the perspective of another and to understand their mental and emotional states, and that this impact is long-standing. Future research needs to test if this is seen on performance measures, and how these findings extend to clinical populations.

Abstinence from social media increased time spent engaged in browsing the Internet, working, childcare, and cooking/cleaning; time in social media was negatively associated with quality of day

Where does the time go? An experimental test of what social media displaces and displaced activities’ associations with affective well-being and quality of day. Jeffrey A Hall, Rebecca M Johnson, Elaina M Ross .New Media & Society,

Abstract: Drawing from media displacement theory, this article explores which activities are displaced when individuals spend time on social media. Community and undergraduate participants (N = 135) were randomly assigned to five conditions: no change in social media use, or abstinence from social media for 1 week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks, or 4 weeks. Participants completed a daily diary measuring how they spent time each day, affective well-being, and quality of day for 28 days. The results indicate that abstinence from social media increased time spent engaged in seven activities, primarily browsing the Internet, working, childcare, and cooking/cleaning. In addition, associations among psychosocial outcomes and the displaced activities were examined. Time spent working, sleeping, and cooking/cleaning were negatively associated with affective well-being and quality of day. On days participants used social media, minutes of use were negatively associated with quality of day. The results suggest that social media primarily displaces unpleasant or neutral activities.

Keywords: Diary study, media displacement, social media use, time, well-being

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Local Competition Amplifies the Corrosive Effects of Inequality: Inequality is at its most damaging when it arises between close competitors

Local Competition Amplifies the Corrosive Effects of Inequality. D. B. Krupp, Thomas R. Cook. Psychological Science,

Abstract: Inequality is widely believed to incite conflict, but the evidence is inconsistent. We argue that the spatial scale of competition—the extent to which individuals compete locally, with their interaction partners, or globally, with the entire population—can help settle the question. We built a mathematical model of the evolution of conflict under inequality and tested its predictions in an experimental game with 1,205 participants. We found that inequality increases conflict, destroys wealth, and engenders risk taking. Crucially, these effects are amplified by local competition. Thus, inequality is at its most damaging when it arises between close competitors. Indeed, at the extremes, the combined effects of inequality and the scale of competition are very large. More broadly, our findings suggest that disagreements in the literature may be the result of a mismatch between the scale at which inequality is measured and the scale at which conflict occurs.

Keywords: inequality, scale of competition, conflict, relative deprivation, tragedy of the commons, risk taking, open data, open materials, preregistered

Mainstream media, same author: (h/t alert reader)

Academic gains of students enrolled in public schools compared to students of private BIP-creativity elementary schools (that aim to promote the development of talent, intelligence & personality): no differences at the end of fourth grade

Who is ahead at the end of elementary school? Student achievement gains in private BIP-Creativity schools and public schools. Frank Lipowsky et al. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, October 2018, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 897–927.

Abstract: The number of students enrolled in private schools has been growing continuously in the past years, especially in elementary schools. There is a variety of reasons for this development. Among other expectations, parents anticipate a superior education for their children and hope for bigger academic success. However, empirical results on the effectiveness of private schools are inconsistent and ambiguous, partly because many studies used cross-sectional data. Longitudinal studies investigating the development of elementary school students are especially lacking.

The present study compares academic achievement gains of students enrolled in public schools to students who learned in the so-called BIP-creativity elementary schools. BIP schools are private schools that aim to promote the development of the talent, intelligence and personality of their students. This study investigates the development of students in mathematics, reading and orthography over a 4-years period.

As the group of BIP-students is selected in terms of their socio-economic background, analyses were run in two ways. First, multilevel analyses controlling for student and class characteristics were performed. Second, a Propensity Score Matching based on school enrollment data was used in order to select a comparable group of students from public schools. Each BIP-student was matched to a student from the public schools that had a comparable socio-economic background and similar cognitive characteristics. Neither multilevel analyses nor mean comparisons of the matched samples could reveal any differences between the two groups of students in the three domains of academic achievement at the end of fourth grade.

Keywords: BIP-creativity schools Elementary school Private school Public school Propensity Score Matching

The Heritability of Self-control: Meta-analysis based on a sample size of >100.000 individuals, published between 1996 and 2018, reveal that heritability is around 60%

Willems, Yayouk, Nicky Boesen, Jian-Bin Li, Meike Bartels, and Catrin Finkenauer. 2018. “The Heritability of Self-control: A Meta-analysis.” PsyArXiv. October 17. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Self-control is the ability to control one’s impulses when faced with challenges or temptations, and is robustly associated with physiological and psychological well-being. Twin studies show that self-control is heritable, but estimates range between 0% and 90%, making it difficult to draw firm conclusions. The aim of this study was to perform a meta-analysis to provide a quantitative overview of the heritability of self-control. A systematic search resulted in 31 included studies, based on a sample size of >100.000 individuals, published between 1996 and 2018. Our results revealed an overall monozygotic twin correlation of .58, and an overall dizygotic twin correlation of .28, resulting in a heritability estimate of 60%. The heritability of self-control did not vary across gender or age. The heritability did differ across informants, with stronger heritability estimates based on parent report versus self-report or observations. This finding provides evidence that when aiming to understand individual differences in self-control, one should take genetic factors into account. Recommendations for future research are discussed.

Vegetarians reported lower self-esteem, lower psychological adjustment, less meaning in life, & more negative moods than semi-vegetarians & omnivores; also reported more negative social experiences than omnivores & semi-vegetarians

Relationships between Vegetarian Dietary Habits and Daily Well-Being. John B. Nezlek, Catherine A. Forestell & David B. Newman. Ecology of Food and Nutrition,

ABSTRACT: The goal of the present study was to examine differences in the daily experiences of vegetarians and non-vegetarians. At the end of each day for two weeks, a convenience sample of American undergraduates described how they felt and how they thought about themselves that day, and they described the events that occurred to them that day. Multilevel modeling analyses (days nested within persons) found that vegetarians (individuals who avoided all meat and fish, n = 24) reported lower self-esteem, lower psychological adjustment, less meaning in life, and more negative moods than semi-vegetarians (individuals who ate some meat and/or fish, n = 56) and omnivores (individuals who did not restrict their intake of meat or fish, n = 323). Vegetarians also reported more negative social experiences than omnivores and semi-vegetarians. Although women were more likely than men to identify as vegetarians and semi-vegetarians, controlling for participant gender did not change the results of the analyses. The differences we found are consistent with other research that suggests that vegetarians are less psychologically well-adjusted than non-vegetarians. The implications of the present results for understanding relationships between dietary habits and well-being are discussed.

KEYWORDS: Daily diary, vegetarianism, well-being

The five stages in coping with dying & bereavement does not measure up to the standards of a sound theory in contemporary thinking, can actually do damage when misapplied or applied too rigidly, & should be set aside

The ‘five stages’ in coping with dying and bereavement: strengths, weaknesses and some alternatives. Charles A. Corr. Mortality,

ABSTRACT: This article offers a reflective analysis of one well-known psychological theory, the so-called ‘five stages’ in coping with dying and coping with bereavement. Despite widespread acceptance among the general public and continued presence in some forms of professional education, it is argued that the ‘five stages’ model is less attractive than it initially appears. Significant criticisms of the theory are set forth here, as well as notable strengths of its underlying foundations. Lessons to learn about this theory are offered in terms of both coping with dying and coping with bereavement. In addition, examples of alternative theories from the literature are presented in both spheres. The conclusion is that although the five stages model is important as a classical theory with constructive historical implications, it does not measure up to the standards of a sound theory in contemporary thinking, can actually do damage when misapplied to individuals or applied too rigidly, and should be set aside as an unreliable guide to both education and practice.

KEYWORDS: Five stages, Kübler-Ross, coping, dying, bereavement

Carl Jung (1954, p. 7) once offered the following comment:

Theories in psychology are the very devil. It is true that we need certain points of view for their orienting and heuristic value; but they should always be regarded as mere auxiliary concepts that can be laid aside at any time.


In her book, On Death and Dying (1969), Elisabeth Kübler-Ross reported that a series of interviews with adults who had a terminal illness had led her to formulate a theoretical model of five psychosocial stages (see Table 1). She interpreted these stages as ‘defense mechanisms’ that ‘will last for different periods of time and will replace each other or exist at times side by side’ (p. 138). The possibility of stages existing simultaneously or ‘side by side’ was not well developed, perhaps because the very word ‘stage’ suggests linearity and perhaps also because there was some ambiguity in the way individuals were portrayed in this model. Were the stages descriptive or prescriptive? Was it that individuals might, may, will or must move through the five stages?

There can be no doubt that Kübler-Ross’s five stages appealed to many who read about or heard of this model. Her work helped to bring the situation of dying persons and issues involved in coping with dying to public and professional attention. She drew attention to the human aspects of living with dying and her model identified common patterns of familiar psychosocial reactions to difficult situations.

There are, however, major difficulties in accepting the five stage model as it was originally presented. Early research by others (e.g. Metzger, 1980; Schulz & Aderman, 1974) did not support this model. In addition, since its initial appearance in 1969, there has been no independent confirmation of its validity or reliability, and Kübler-Ross advanced no further evidence on its behalf before her death in August 2004. On the contrary, many clinicians who work with the dying found this model to be inadequate, superficial, and misleading (e.g. Pattison, 1977; Shneidman, 1980/1995; Weisman, 1977).

[Table 1.]

Responding to past and present losses

Anticipating and responding to losses yet to come Described as a stage ‘almost void of feelings’ Source: Based on Kübler-Ross (1969). Widespread acclaim in the popular arena contrasts with sharp criticism from scholars (e.g. Klass, 1982; Klass & Hutch, 1986), and there is no evidence that this model is employed in contemporary hospice programmes that have caring for the dying as their primary focus. One detailed and authoritative evaluation of this stage-based model by a well-known psychologist raised the following points: (1) the existence of these stages as such as not been demonstrated; (2) no evidence has been presented that people actually do move from stage 1 through stage 3; (3) the limitations of the method have not been acknowledge; (4) the line is blurred between description and prescription; (5) the totality of the person’slifeis neglected in favour of the supposed stages of dying; and (6) the resources, pressures and characteristics of the immediate environment, which can make a tremendous difference, are not taken into account (Kastenbaum, 2012). In addition, Weisman (1972) pointed out that ‘denial’ and ‘acceptance’ arethemselves complex and not as simple as they first appea r(and, one might add that ‘depression’ must mean something more akin to ‘sadness’ than to ‘clinical depression’ unless we think that this stage in coping with dying reflects a major psychiatric disorder).

Apart from the implication that there are only five ways to cope with dying, a primary criticism of this model is that there is no reason to think that these particular five ways are linked together as stages in a larger process (Corr, 1993, 2011). In fact, Kübler-Ross herself argued for fluidity, give-and-take, the possibility of experiencing two of these responses simultaneously, and an ability to jump around from one stage to another. This is more realistic and closer to what Shneidman (1973,p.7)calleda‘hive of affect’,i.e.abusy, buzzing, active set of feelings, attitudes and other reactions to which a person can return from time to time, or again and again, now expressing one posture, now another, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes repeatedly, sometimes with long intervals in between. If so, the language of ‘stages’, with its associated implications of linear progression/regression, is not really appropriate for a cluster of disconnected coping strategies. Numerous vignettes in On Death and Dying that describe different individuals experiencing different reactions and responses to life-threatening illness do not support claims that any one of these individuals has or will move through all five of the ‘stages’. This stage theory is attractive because it seems to describe a relatively simple, straight-lined, predictable course of behaviour, one culminating in a clear end –but that does not mean the fivestage model is a sound theory.

Unfortunately, some enthusiasts have misused this model by objectifying dying persons as a ‘case of anger’ or a ‘case of depression’; others have told ill persons that they have already been angry and should now ‘move on’ to bargaining or depression; and still others have become frustrated by those whom they view as ‘stuck’ in the dying process. Kübler-Ross could have modified her theory after its initial presentation. She might not have contented herself with simply repeating its main elements in her many presentations and other publications. And she might have addressed criticisms or misuses of the fivestage model. But she did none of these things. As she left it, the five-stage model stands on nothing more than one author’s clinical impressions from 50-year-old interviews. Unfortunately, the result (contrary to Jung’s advice) is that employing this model all too often tends to force those who are coping with dying into a pre-established framework that suppresses their individuality. Thus, Rosenthal (1973, p. 39), as he was coping with his own dying, wrote, ‘Being invisible I invite only generalizations’.