Saturday, March 24, 2018

Zoon Politikon: The Evolutionary Origins of Human Socio-political Systems

Zoon Politikon: The Evolutionary Origins of Human Socio-political Systems. Herbert Gintis, Carel van Schaik, Christopher Boehm. Behavioural Processes, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2018.01.007

Highlights

•    Strong social interdependence plus availability of lethal weapons in early hominin society undermined the standard social dominance hierarchy.
•    The successful political structure that replaced the ancestral social dominance hierarchy was an egalitarian political system in which the group controlled its leaders.
•    The heightened social value of non-authoritarian leadership entailed enhanced biological fitness for such traits as linguistic facility, political ability, and human hypercognition.
•    This equalitarian political system persisted until cultural changes in the Holocene fostered accumulation of material wealth, when a social hierarchy with authoritarian leaders could again be sustained.

Climate change believers were most likely to endorse federal climate policies; skeptics were most likely to report pro-environmental behavior

Believing in climate change, but not behaving sustainably: Evidence from a one-year longitudinal study. Michael P. Hall, Neil A. Lewis Jr, Phoebe C. Ellsworth. Journal of Environmental Psychology, Volume 56, April 2018, Pages 55–62. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2018.03.001

Highlights
•    We conducted a one-year longitudinal study of 600 Americans' climate beliefs.
•    Cluster analyses found three distinct groups based on climate belief trajectories.
•    Climate change believers were most likely to endorse federal climate policies.
•    Climate change skeptics were most likely to report pro-environmental behavior.

Abstract: We conducted a one-year longitudinal study in which 600 American adults regularly reported their climate change beliefs, pro-environmental behavior, and other climate-change related measures. Using latent class analyses, we uncovered three clusters of Americans with distinct climate belief trajectories: (1) the “Skeptical,” who believed least in climate change; (2) the “Cautiously Worried,” who had moderate beliefs in climate change; and (3) the “Highly Concerned,” who had the strongest beliefs and concern about climate change. Cluster membership predicted different outcomes: the “Highly Concerned” were most supportive of government climate policies, but least likely to report individual-level actions, whereas the “Skeptical” opposed policy solutions but were most likely to report engaging in individual-level pro-environmental behaviors. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

Keywords: Climate change; Cluster analysis; Attitudes; Beliefs; Behavior

Schadenfreude towards initially successful persons was intensified when they displayed dominance (i.e., hubristic pride or general dominance) instead of prestige (i.e., authentic pride or general prestige) or other displays (i.e., embarrassment) following their achievement. This effect was mediated via inferiors’ malicious envy.

Lange, Jens,and Lea Boecker 2018. “Preprint - Schadenfreude as Social-functional Dominance Regulator”. Open Science Framework. March 22. osf.io/x72sk

Abstract: Schadenfreude follows from misfortunes happening to other individuals. It is therefore an essentially social emotion. However, previous research has mainly explored its intrapersonal functions. Complementing these findings, we propose a social-functional approach to schadenfreude. Seven studies (total N = 2,362) support that (a) schadenfreude is a reaction to a misfortune befalling an initially dominance-displaying individual and (b) the public expression of schadenfreude downregulates the dominance of the other person. Specifically, schadenfreude towards initially successful persons was intensified when they displayed dominance (i.e., hubristic pride or general dominance) instead of prestige (i.e., authentic pride or general prestige) or other displays (i.e., embarrassment) following their achievement (Studies 1 to 3). This effect was mediated via inferiors’ malicious envy (Study 4). The public expression of schadenfreude then reduced the perceived dominance of the initially successful person compared to private expressions of schadenfreude and awkward silence (Studies 5 and 6). This dominance reduction further had downstream consequences for the superior person (Study 7). The findings underline the social functioning of schadenfreude and provide avenues for research on schadenfreude at the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and intergroup level.

Dogs (Canis familiaris) stick to what they have learned rather than conform to their conspecifics’ behavior

Dogs (Canis familiaris) stick to what they have learned rather than conform to their conspecifics’ behavior. Markus Germar et al. PLoS, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194808

Abstract: In recent years, an increasing number of studies has investigated majority influence in nonhuman animals. However, due to both terminological and methodological issues, evidence for conformity in nonhuman animals is scarce and controversial. Preliminary evidence suggests that wild birds, wild monkeys, and fish show conformity, that is, forgoing personal information in order to copy the majority. By contrast, chimpanzees seem to lack this tendency. The present study is the first to examine whether dogs (Canis familiaris) show conformity. Specifically, we tested whether dogs conform to a majority of conspecifics rather than stick to what they have previously learned. After dogs had acquired a behavioral preference via training (i.e., shaping), they were confronted with counter-preferential behavior of either no, one or three conspecifics. Traditional frequentist analyses show that the dogs’ behavior did not differ significantly between the three conditions. Complementary Bayesian analyses suggest that our data provide moderate evidence for the null hypothesis. In conclusion, our results suggest that dogs stick to what they have learned rather than conform to the counter-preferential behavior of others. We discuss the possible statistical and methodological limitations of this finding. Furthermore, we take a functional perspective on conformity and discuss under which circumstances dogs might show conformity after all.