Monday, January 22, 2018

The strongest insights into the biological bases of social connection come from animal research, which shows that social bonds rely on the same neurochemicals that support general motivation, among them opioids

Opioids and Social Connection. Tristen K. Inagaki. Current Directions in Psychological Science, https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721417735531

Abstract: Social connection, the pleasurable, subjective experience of feeling close to and bonded with other people, is critical for well-being and continued social bonding. Despite the importance of social connection for many important outcomes, few researchers have experimentally examined how humans connect with those to whom they feel close. The strongest insights into the biological bases of social connection come from animal research, which shows that social bonds rely on the same neurochemicals that support general motivation. One class of neurochemicals, opioids, has received increased attention in recent years with the rise of pharmacological methods to manipulate opioids in humans. This article reviews emerging findings to show that opioids affect social feelings, behaviors, and perceptions in both positive and negative social experiences and concludes with the implications of such findings. Future work should consider the subjective feelings of social connection felt during interactions with close social contacts in order to further the understanding of social connection.

Keywords: social affiliation, social bonding, attachment, social reward, endogenous opioids

A compilation of heat flux recordings from Greenland show the existence of geothermal heat sources beneath GIS and could explain high glacial ice speed areas such as the Northeast Greenland ice stream

High geothermal heat flux in close proximity to the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream. Søren Rysgaard, Jørgen Bendtsen, John Mortensen & Mikael K. Sejr. Scientific Reports 8, Article number: 1344 (2018), doi 10.1038/s41598-018-19244-x

Abstract: The Greenland ice sheet (GIS) is losing mass at an increasing rate due to surface melt and flow acceleration in outlet glaciers. Currently, there is a large disagreement between observed and simulated ice flow, which may arise from inaccurate parameterization of basal motion, subglacial hydrology or geothermal heat sources. Recently it was suggested that there may be a hidden heat source beneath GIS caused by a higher than expected geothermal heat flux (GHF) from the Earth’s interior. Here we present the first direct measurements of GHF from beneath a deep fjord basin in Northeast Greenland. Temperature and salinity time series (2005–2015) in the deep stagnant basin water are used to quantify a GHF of 93 ± 21 mW m−2 which confirm previous indirect estimated values below GIS. A compilation of heat flux recordings from Greenland show the existence of geothermal heat sources beneath GIS and could explain high glacial ice speed areas such as the Northeast Greenland ice stream.

Monastic Tibetan Buddhists showed significantly greater fear of death than any other group. The monastics were also less generous than other groups about the prospect of giving up a slightly longer life in order to extend the life of another

Nichols, S., Strohminger, N., Rai, A. and Garfield, J. (2018), Death and the Self. Cogn Sci. doi:10.1111/cogs.12590

Abstract: It is an old philosophical idea that if the future self is literally different from the current self, one should be less concerned with the death of the future self (Parfit, 1984). This paper examines the relation between attitudes about death and the self among Hindus, Westerners, and three Buddhist populations (Lay Tibetan, Lay Bhutanese, and monastic Tibetans). Compared with other groups, monastic Tibetans gave particularly strong denials of the continuity of self, across several measures. We predicted that the denial of self would be associated with a lower fear of death and greater generosity toward others. To our surprise, we found the opposite. Monastic Tibetan Buddhists showed significantly greater fear of death than any other group. The monastics were also less generous than any other group about the prospect of giving up a slightly longer life in order to extend the life of another.

The cryptic reaction shot has grown dramatically in movies. The shots are designed to enhance viewers’ emotional involvement with characters. They depict a facial gesture that reflects a slightly negative and slightly aroused emotional state

Cutting, J. E. and Armstrong, K. L. (2018), Cryptic Emotions and the Emergence of a Metatheory of Mind in Popular Filmmaking. Cogn Sci. doi:10.1111/cogs.12586

Abstract: Hollywood movies can be deeply engaging and easy to understand. To succeed in this manner, feature-length movies employ many editing techniques with strong psychological underpinnings. We explore the origins and development of one of these, the reaction shot. This shot typically shows a single, unspeaking character with modest facial expression in response to an event or to the behavior or speech of another character. In a sample of movies from 1940 to 2010, we show that the prevalence of one type of these shots—which we call the cryptic reaction shot—has grown dramatically. These shots are designed to enhance viewers’ emotional involvement with characters. They depict a facial gesture that reflects a slightly negative and slightly aroused emotional state. Their use at the end of conversations, and typically at the end of scenes, helps to leave viewers in a state of speculation about what the character is thinking and what her thoughts may mean for the ongoing narrative.

Is Accurate, Positive, or Inflated Self-perception Most Advantageous for Psychological Adjustment? A Competitive Test of Key Hypotheses

Humberg, Sarah, Michael Dufner, Felix D Schönbrodt, Katharina Geukes, Roos Hutteman, Albrecht Kuefner, Maarten van Zalk, Jaap J A Denissen, Steffen Nestler, and Mitja Back. 2018. “Preprint of "is Accurate, Positive, or Inflated Self-perception Most Advantageous for Psychological Adjustment? A Competitive Test of Key Hypotheses"”. Open Science Framework. January 21. osf.io/9w3bh

Abstract: Empirical research on the (mal-)adaptiveness of favorable self-perceptions, self-enhancement, and self-knowledge has typically applied a classical null-hypothesis testing approach and provided mixed and even contradictory findings. Using data from five studies (laboratory and field, total N = 2,823), we employed an information-theoretic approach combined with Response Surface Analysis to provide the first competitive test of six popular hypotheses: that more favorable self-perceptions are adaptive versus maladaptive (Hypotheses 1 and 2: Positivity of self-view hypotheses), that higher levels of self-enhancement (i.e., a higher discrepancy of self-viewed and objectively assessed ability) are adaptive versus maladaptive (Hypotheses 3 and 4: Self-enhancement hypotheses), that accurate self-perceptions are adaptive (Hypothesis 5: Self-knowledge hypothesis), and that a slight degree of self-enhancement is adaptive (Hypothesis 6: Optimal margin hypothesis). We considered self-perceptions and objective ability measures in two content domains (reasoning ability, vocabulary knowledge) and investigated six indicators of intra- and interpersonal psychological adjustment. Results showed that most adjustment indicators were best predicted by the positivity of self-perceptions, there were some specific self-enhancement effects, and evidence generally spoke against the self-knowledge and optimal margin hypotheses. Our results highlight the need for comprehensive simultaneous tests of competing hypotheses. Implications for the understanding of underlying processes are discussed.

Exploring the Great Schism in the Social Sciences: Confirmation Bias and the Interpretation of Results Relating to Biological Influences on Human Behavior and Psychology

Exploring the Great Schism in the Social Sciences: Confirmation Bias and the Interpretation of Results Relating to Biological Influences on Human Behavior and Psychology. Jeffrey Winking. Evolutionary Psychology,  https://doi.org/10.1177/1474704917752691

Abstract: The nature–nurture debate is one that biologists often dismiss as a false dichotomy, as all phenotypic traits are the results of complex processes of gene and environment interactions. However, such dismissiveness belies the ongoing debate that is unmistakable throughout the biological and social sciences concerning the role of biological influences in the development of psychological and behavioral traits in humans. Many have proposed that this debate is due to ideologically driven biases in the interpretation of results. Those favoring biological approaches have been accused of a greater willingness to accept biological explanations so as to rationalize or justify the status quo of inequality. Those rejecting biological approaches have been accused of an unwillingness to accept biological explanations so as to attribute inequalities solely to social and institutional factors, ultimately allowing for the possibility of social equality. While it is important to continue to investigate this topic through further research and debate, another approach is to examine the degree to which the allegations of bias are indeed valid. To accomplish this, a convenience sample of individuals with relevant postgraduate degrees was recruited from Mechanical Turk and social media. Participants were asked to rate the inferential power of different research designs and of mock results that varied in the degree to which they supported different ideologies. Results were suggestive that researchers harbor sincere differences of opinion concerning the inferential value of relevant research. There was no suggestion that ideological confirmation biases drive these differences. However, challenges associated with recruiting a large enough sample of experts as well as identifying believable mock scenarios limit the study’s inferential scope.

Keywords: confirmation bias, academia, evolutionary studies, cognitive bias, MTurk