Monday, February 19, 2018

Men exhibit greater intergroup bias than do women, but in dating, women more strongly prefer to date men of their own racial group. Manipulating women via nationality to control for racial stereotypes, ameliorating or exacerbating the perceived threat, prevents intergroup bias.

An evolutionary perspective on intergroup dating bias. Samantha Brindley, Melissa M. McDonald, Lisa L. M. Welling & Virgil Zeigler-Hill. Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology,

ABSTRACT: Across a diversity of contexts, men tend to exhibit greater intergroup bias than do women. However, in the domain of dating, this trend is reversed, such that women more strongly prefer to date men of their own racial group. Researchers employing an evolutionary perspective suggest that this sex difference can be explained by an evolutionary history in which men and women faced distinct adaptive challenges in their interactions with outgroup men. For women, outgroup men posed a recurrent threat of sexual coercion. Given the importance of reproductive choice in female mating strategies, this may have exerted selection pressure for psychological mechanisms that promote avoidance of outgroup men. Here we pre-registered a two-study design to examine whether women’s intergroup dating bias, manipulated via nationality to control for racial stereotypes, could be altered by manipulating the formidability of outgroup dating targets, thereby ameliorating or exacerbating their perceived threat. The design did not produce the predicted pattern of intergroup bias, suggesting that the manipulation of group status may need to be stronger. Implications and future directions are discussed.

KEYWORDS: Intergroup bias, mate choice, dating, threat-management, female preferences

Psychological research has documented a tendency for women, relative to men, to exhibit greater intergroup bias in the context of dating (Hitsch, Horta├žsu, & Ariely, 2010; Hwang, 2013). Furthermore, this bias may not be offset by other person characteristics, such as income, that are typically evaluated positively in male romantic partners (Hitsch, Hortascsu, & Ariely, 2006). This finding may be surprising given that much of the research on intergroup bias suggests that men tend to express greater intergroup bias than women in a variety of other contexts (reviewed in McDonald, Navarrete, & Van Vugt, 2012). Previous research attempting to explain this discrepancy has suggested that women’s greater intergroup bias in romantic and intimate contexts might be the result of an evolutionary history in which women were often the victims of sexual coercion, committed by outgroup men during intergroup conflict (McDonald, Donnellan, Cesario, & Navarrete, 2015). From this perspective, women’s intergroup bias in dating contexts may function to protect women’s reproductive choice by avoiding men more prone to reliance on the use of sexually coercive mating tactics.

Parents of high economic status invest more heavily in sons whereas parents of low economic status invest more heavily in daughters, as predicted by the Trivers-Willard hypothesis

Spending Patterns of Chinese Parents on Children’s Backpacks Support the Trivers-Willard Hypothesis: Results Based on Transaction Data from China’s Largest Online Retailer. Shige Song. Evolution and Human Behavior,

Abstract: Using the 2015 student backpack transaction data from the largest e-commerce business in China, this study takes a novel “big data” approach to test the patterns of parental sex preference by comparing the difference in cost between blue and pink backpacks at different quantiles of the backpack cost distribution. Unconditional quantile regression results show that, depending on the quantile of choice, the blue-pink difference in backpack cost can be positive, negative, or zero. This indicates the presence of son preference, daughter preference, and gender indifference in the same population. Treating backpack cost as a proxy measure of parental economic status, such results indicate that parents of high economic status invest more heavily in sons whereas parents of low economic status invest more heavily in daughters, as predicted by the Trivers-Willard hypothesis. The discovery of a third group, between the high- and low-status parents, who invest equally in sons and daughters further strengthens the argument.


Review of Rupert Darwall's Green Tyranny, by Matt Ridley – Russian Spies’ Role In The Great Green Hoax

Matt Ridley: Russian Spies’ Role In The Great Green Hoax. The Times, February 19 2018.

A new book argues that nuclear winter, one of the great environmental scares of the 1980s, was fabricated by Moscow
So, Russia does appear to interfere in western politics. The FBI has charged 13 Russians with trying to influence the last American presidential election, including the whimsical detail that one of them was to build a cage to hold an actor in prison clothes pretending to be Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, it emerges that the Czech secret service, under KGB direction, near the end of the Cold War had a codename (“COB”) for a Labour MP they had met and hoped to influence — presumably under the bizarre delusion that he might one day be in reach of power.

There is no evidence that Jeremy Corbyn was a spy, or of collusion by Trump campaign operatives with the Russians who are charged. Yet the alleged Russian operation in America was anti-Clinton and pro-Trump. It was also pro-Bernie Sanders and pro-Jill Stein, the Green candidate — who shares with Vladimir Putin a strong dislike of fracking.

The Keystone Cops aspects of these stories should not reassure. The interference by Russian agents in western politics during the Cold War was real and dangerous. A startling example from the history of science has recently been discussed in an important book about the origins of the environmental movement, Green Tyranny by Rupert Darwall.

In June 1982, the same month as demonstrations against the Nato build-up of cruise and Pershing missiles reached fever pitch in the West, a paper appeared in AMBIO, a journal of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, authored by the Dutchman Paul Crutzen and the American John Birks. Crutzen would later share a Nobel prize for work on the ozone layer. The 1982 paper, entitled The Atmosphere after a Nuclear War: Twilight at Noon, argued that, should there be an exchange of nuclear weapons between Nato and the Soviet Union, forests and oil fields would ignite and the smoke of vast fires would cause bitter cold and mass famine: “The screening of sunlight by the fire-produced aerosol over extended periods during the growing season would eliminate much of the food production in the Northern Hemisphere.”

Carl Sagan, astronomer turned television star, then convened a conference on the “nuclear winter” hypothesis in October 1983, supported by leading environmental and anti-war pressure groups from Friends of the Earth to the Audubon Society, Planned Parenthood to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Curiously, three Soviet officials joined the conference’s board and a satellite link from the Kremlin was provided.

In December 1983, two papers appeared in the prestigious journal Science, one on the physics that became known as TTAPS after the surnames of its authors, S being for Sagan; the other on the biology, whose authors included the famous biologists Paul Ehrlich and Stephen Jay Gould as well as Sagan. The conclusion of the second paper was extreme: “Global environmental changes sufficient to cause the extinction of a major fraction of the plant and animal species on Earth are likely. In that event, the possibility of the extinction of Homo sapiens cannot be excluded.”

Who started the scare and why? One possibility is that it was fake news from the beginning. When the high-ranking Russian spy Sergei Tretyakov defected in 2000, he said that the KGB was especially proud of the fact “it created the myth of nuclear winter”. He based this on what colleagues told him and on research he did at the Red Banner Institute, the Russian spy school.

The Kremlin was certainly spooked by Nato’s threat to deploy medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe if the Warsaw Pact refused to limit its deployment of such missiles. In Darwall’s version, based on Tretyakov, Yuri Andropov, head of the KGB, “ordered the Soviet Academy of Sciences to produce a doomsday report to incite more demonstrations in West Germany”. They applied some older work by a scientist named Kirill Kondratyev on the cooling effect of dust storms in the Karakum Desert to the impact of a nuclear exchange in Germany.

Tretyakov said: “I was told the Soviet scientists knew this theory was completely ridiculous. There were no legitimate facts to support it. But it was exactly what Andropov needed to cause terror in the West.” Andropov then supposedly ordered it to be fed to contacts in the western peace and green movement.

It certainly helped Soviet propaganda. From the Pope to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament to the non-aligned nations, calls for Nato’s nuclear strategy to be rethought because of the nuclear winter theory came thick and fast. A Russian newspaper used the nuclear winter to inveigh against “inhuman aspirations of the US imperialists, who are pushing the world towards nuclear catastrophe”. The award of the Nobel peace prize in 1985 to the prominent Russian doctor Evgeny Chazov specifically mentioned his support for the nuclear winter theory.

“Propagators of the nuclear winter thus acted as dupes in a disinformation exercise scripted by the KGB”, concludes Darwall. We can never be entirely certain of this because Tretyakov’s KGB colleagues may have been exaggerating their role and he is now dead. But that the KGB did its best to fan the flames is not in doubt.

It soon became apparent that the nuclear winter hypothesis was plain wrong. As the geophysicist Russell Seitz pointed out, “soot in the TTAPS simulation is not up there as an observed consequence of nuclear explosions but because the authors told a programmer to put it there”. He added: “The model dealt with such complications as geography, winds, sunrise, sunset and patchy clouds in a stunningly elegant manner — they were ignored.” The physicist Steven Schneider concluded that “the global apocalyptic conclusions of the initial nuclear winter hypothesis can now be relegated to a vanishingly low level of probability”.

The physicists Freeman Dyson and Fred Singer, who would end up on the opposite side of the global-warming debate from Schneider and Seitz, calculated that any effects would be patchy and short-lived, and that while dry soot could generate cooling, any kind of dampness risked turning a nuclear smog into a warming factor and a short-lived one at that.

By 1986 the theory was effectively dead, and so it has remained. A nuclear war would have devastating consequences, but the impact on the climate would be the least of our worries.

The stakes were higher in the Cold War than today. The Soviet peace offensive secured the support of many western intellectuals and much of the media, and very nearly prevailed.

Weak Intervention Backfire and Criminal Hormesis: Why Some Otherwise Effective Crime Prevention Interventions Can Fail at Low Doses

Shannon J Linning, John E Eck; Weak Intervention Backfire and Criminal Hormesis: Why Some Otherwise Effective Crime Prevention Interventions Can Fail at Low Doses, The British Journal of Criminology, Volume 58, Issue 2, 15 February 2018, Pages 309–331,

Abstract: Although crime prevention tactics are designed to reduce offending, some studies have revealed instances where reported crime actually increases after introducing lower intensity interventions. An analogous trend—characterized by low-dose stimulation and high-dose inhibition—called hormesis has already been observed in the natural sciences. We argue that this phenomenon is theoretically applicable to crime prevention. Findings suggest that researchers should test varying intensities of interventions to avoid rejecting ones that would be otherwise effective at higher levels. Research using dose–response techniques and simulation models should be explored to determine whether a weak intervention backfire effect occurred or is possible. Knowledge of such information could lead to more effective crime prevention strategies and better specified analytic models for evaluation.

Considerable numbers of individuals are first-time convicted for offenses committed at age 25 or later; adult-onset offending is relatively more prevalent among females than among males

Adulthood-limited offending: How much is there to explain? Fredrik Sivertsson. Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 55, March–April 2018, Pages 58–70.

•    The current study uses prospective population-based longitudinal conviction data.
•    Considerable numbers of individuals are first-time convicted for offenses committed at age 25 or later.
•    Adult-onset offending is relatively more prevalent among females than among males.
•    Adult-onset females account for a substantial share of all female adulthood convictions.


Purpose: The current study explores male and female adult-onset offending careers in a Swedish population-based longitudinal dataset comprising five successive birth cohorts which are followed prospectively on the basis of detailed conviction data to age 50.

Methods: Adult-onset offenders are compared to juvenile-onset offenders on a number of criminal career measures. Growth curve analysis is employed to visualize average trajectories for convictions during adulthood.

Results: The study found that 22% of convicted males and 38% of convicted females were convicted for the first time for offenses committed between ages 25 and 50. The adult-onset males contributed 19% of all male adulthood convictions and 16% of male violent convictions in adulthood. The adult-onset females contributed 47% of all female adulthood convictions and 48% of female violent convictions in adulthood. While the adolescent-onset trajectories displayed generally decreasing trends for offending in adulthood, adult-onset females displayed increasing trends in relation to trajectories of violence and drug/alcohol-related offending as they approached middle adulthood.

Conclusions: There is a need for developmental and life-course theories of crime to be explicit in explaining adult-onset offending, particularly in relation to gender disparities.

Keywords: Criminal career; Developmental and life-course criminology; Adult-onset offending; Gender; Population studies; Growth curve

Gender identity is a multifactorial complex trait with a heritable polygenic component

The Biological Contributions to Gender Identity and Gender Diversity: Bringing Data to the Table. Tinca J. C. Polderman et al. Behavior Genetics,

Abstract: The American Psychological Association defines gender identity as, “A person’s deeply-felt, inherent sense of being a boy, a man, or a male; a girl, a woman, or a female; or an alternative gender (e.g., genderqueer, gender nonconforming, gender neutral) that may or may not correspond to a person’s sex assigned at birth or to a person’s primary or secondary sex characteristics” (American Psychological Association, Am Psychol 70(9):832–864, 2015). Here we review the evidence that gender identity and related socially defined gender constructs are influenced in part by innate factors including genes. Based on the data reviewed, we hypothesize that gender identity is a multifactorial complex trait with a heritable polygenic component. We argue that increasing the awareness of the biological diversity underlying gender identity development is relevant to all domains of social, medical, and neuroscience research and foundational for reducing health disparities and promoting human-rights protections for gender minorities.

Male brown widow spiders invest much energy in courtship, and risk cannibalism; by mating with subadult females, males save energy and avoid cannibalism, but instead, choose older adult females, despite not gaining any benefit

Male mate choice in a sexually cannibalistic widow spider. Shevy Waner, Uzi Motro, Yael Lubin, Ally R. Harari. Animal Behaviour, Volume 137, March 2018, Pages 189–196,

•    Male brown widow spiders invest much energy in courtship, and risk cannibalism.
•    By mating with subadult females, males save energy and avoid cannibalism.
•    If mated, subadult females are fertile, but males avoided mating with subadults.
•    Instead, males chose older adult females, despite not gaining any benefit.

Abstract: Males of the brown widow spider, Latrodectus geometricus (Theridiidae), invest energy in courtship displays and are often cannibalized after mating; accordingly, partial sex role reversal is expected. In this species, subadult females are able to mate and produce viable offspring. In contrast to mature females, these subadult females do not cannibalize their mates after copulation. Nevertheless, when given a choice, males preferred mature over subadult females and older over young mature females. We found no benefit for males in mating with the females of their choice. Older females were significantly less fecund than young mature females, and were not more fecund than subadult females. We tested possible advantages in mating with cannibalistic (mature) females, such as an increased probability of plugging the female's genital duct or longer copulations, or disadvantages in mating with subadult females, such as higher remating risk. None of these explanations was supported. Thus, we lack an adaptive explanation for male preference for mature older females. We suggest that older females produce more pheromone to attract males and that males are thus misled into mating with older, more aggressive and less fecund females.

Keywords: brown widow spider; courtship; Latrodectus geometricus; mate choice; sexual cannibalism