Friday, February 16, 2018

Do Red Objects Enhance Sexual Attractiveness? No Evidence from Two Large Replications and an Extension

Pollet, Thomas V., Joanne Costello, Lotte Groeneboom, Leonard S Peperkoorn, and Junhui Wu 2018. “Do Red Objects Enhance Sexual Attractiveness? No Evidence from Two Large Replications and an Extension”. PsyArXiv. February 16.

Abstract: Color has been argued to exert a powerful effect on motivation and behavior. This has led researchers, most notably in social psychology, to examine the effects of color on perceptions of (sexual) attractiveness. Building on a body of work on the ‘romantic red effect’, Lin (2014) found evidence that the color of a laptop influenced ratings of a woman’s sexual attractiveness. If this holds true, then color effects could have profound importance for the marketing of consumer products such as laptops. Here we present two replications, one in the Netherlands and one in China, investigating whether red products increase perceptions of attractiveness. In addition, we also present an extension where we use a different object (a watch) and evaluate male attractiveness, rather than female attractiveness. Across three studies, totaling over 600 participants, we found no support for the claim that red products enhance sexual attractiveness. We discuss the implications for research on color and attractiveness and its implications for consumer research.

Magical thinking decreases across adulthood

Brashier, N. M., & Multhaup, K. S. (2017). Magical thinking decreases across adulthood. Psychology and Aging, 32(8), 681-688.

Abstract: Magical thinking, or illogical causal reasoning such as superstitions, decreases across childhood, but almost no data speak to whether this developmental trajectory continues across the life span. In four experiments, magical thinking decreased across adulthood. This pattern replicated across two judgment domains and could not be explained by age-related differences in tolerance of ambiguity, domain-specific knowledge, or search for meaning. These data complement and extend findings that experience, accumulated over decades, guides older adults’ judgments so that they match, or even exceed, young adults’ performance. They also counter participants’ expectations, and cultural sayings (e.g., “old wives’ tales”), that suggest that older adults are especially superstitious.

Born criminal? Differences in structural, functional and behavioural lateralization between criminals and noncriminals

Born criminal? Differences in structural, functional and behavioural lateralization between criminals and noncriminals. Priscilla Savopoulos & Annukka K. Lindell. Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition,

ABSTRACT: Over 100 years ago Lombroso [(1876/2006). Criminal man. Durham: Duke University Press] proposed a biological basis for criminality. Based on inspection of criminals’ skulls he theorized that an imbalance of the cerebral hemispheres was amongst 18 distinguishing features of the criminal brain. Specifically, criminals were less lateralized than noncriminals. As the advent of neuroscientific techniques makes more fine-grained inspection of differences in brain structure and function possible, we review criminals’ and noncriminals’ structural, functional, and behavioural lateralization to evaluate the merits of Lombroso’s thesis and investigate the evidence for the biological underpinning of criminal behaviour. Although the body of research is presently small, it appears consistent with Lombroso’s proposal: criminal psychopaths’ brains show atypical structural asymmetries, with reduced right hemisphere grey and white matter volumes, and abnormal interhemispheric connectivity. Functional asymmetries are also atypical, with criminal psychopaths showing a less lateralized cortical response than noncriminals across verbal, visuo-spatial, and emotional tasks. Finally, the incidence of non-right-handedness is higher in criminal than non-criminal populations, consistent with reduced cortical lateralization. Thus despite Lombroso’s comparatively primitive and inferential research methods, his conclusion that criminals’ lateralization differs from that of noncriminals is borne out by the neuroscientific research. How atypical cortical asymmetries predispose criminal behaviour remains to be determined.

KEYWORDS: Lateralization, criminal, brain, handedness, psychopathy

Check also: A population-specific HTR2B stop codon predisposes to severe impulsivity. L Bevilacqua et al. Nature. 2010 Dec 23;468(7327):1061-6. doi: 10.1038/nature09629. Erratum in Nature, 2011 Feb 17;470(7334):424.
Abstract: Impulsivity, describing action without foresight, is an important feature of several psychiatric diseases, suicidality and violent behaviour. The complex origins of impulsivity hinder identification of the genes influencing it and the diseases with which it is associated. Here we perform exon-focused sequencing of impulsive individuals in a founder population, targeting fourteen genes belonging to the serotonin and dopamine domain. A stop codon in HTR2B was identified that is common (minor allele frequency > 1%) but exclusive to Finnish people. Expression of the gene in the human brain was assessed, as well as the molecular functionality of the stop codon, which was associated with psychiatric diseases marked by impulsivity in both population and family-based analyses. Knockout of Htr2b increased impulsive behaviours in mice, indicative of predictive validity. Our study shows the potential for identifying and tracing effects of rare alleles in complex behavioural phenotypes using founder populations, and indicates a role for HTR2B in impulsivity.

An anticipated reality becoming current triggers an observable boost in people’s rationalizations

Inaugurating Rationalization: Three Field Studies Find Increased Rationalization When Anticipated Realities Become Current. Kristin Laurin,

Abstract: People will often rationalize the status quo, reconstruing it in an exaggeratedly positive light. They will even rationalize the status quo they anticipate, emphasizing the upsides and minimizing the downsides of sociopolitical realities they expect to take effect. Drawing on recent findings on the psychological triggers of rationalization, I present results from three field studies, one of which was preregistered, testing the hypothesis that an anticipated reality becoming current triggers an observable boost in people’s rationalizations. San Franciscans rationalized a ban on plastic water bottles, Ontarians rationalized a targeted smoking ban, and Americans rationalized the presidency of Donald Trump, more in the days immediately after these realities became current compared with the days immediately before. Additional findings show evidence for a mechanism underlying these behaviors and rule out alternative accounts. These findings carry implications for scholarship on rationalization, for understanding protest behavior, and for policymakers.

Keywords: rationalization, system justification, anticipatory rationalization, political psychology, motivated cognition, open data, open materials, and preregistered

Toward a multifactorial model of expertise: beyond born versus made

Hambrick, D. Z., Burgoyne, A. P., Macnamara, B. N. and Ullén, F. (2018), Toward a multifactorial model of expertise: beyond born versus made. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci.. doi:10.1111/nyas.13586

Abstract: The debate over the origins of individual differences in expertise has raged for over a century in psychology. The “nature” view holds that expertise reflects “innate talent”—that is, genetically determined abilities. The “nurture” view counters that, if talent even exists, its effects on ultimate performance are negligible. While no scientist takes seriously a strict nature-only view of expertise, the nurture view has gained tremendous popularity over the past several decades. This environmentalist view holds that individual differences in expertise reflect training history, with no important contribution to ultimate performance by innate ability (“talent”). Here, we argue that, despite its popularity, this view is inadequate to account for the evidence concerning the origins of expertise that has accumulated since the view was first proposed. More generally, we argue that the nature versus nurture debate in research on expertise is over—or certainly should be, as it has been in other areas of psychological research for decades. We describe a multifactorial model for research on the nature and nurture of expertise, which we believe will provide a progressive direction for future research on expertise.

When a schadenfreude eliciting misfortune happens to an envied person, this reduces subsequent envy

van de Ven, Niels, 2018. “A Schadenfreude Inducing Misfortune Reduces Envy”. Open Science Framework. February 15.

Abstract: Three studies find that when a schadenfreude eliciting misfortune happens to an envied person, this reduces subsequent envy. The results are consistent with the idea that schadenfreude serves as a signal that the prior imbalance in how one would like the world to see (caused by the other being better off than we would like him/her to be) is restored again.