Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Young Children Negatively Evaluate and Sanction Free-riders, Even Absorbing Costs to Punish Further

Yang, Fan, You-jung Choi, Antonia Misch, Xin Yang, and Yarrow Dunham 2018. “In Defense of the Commons: Young Children Negatively Evaluate and Sanction Free-riders”. PsyArXiv. April 18. doi:10.17605/OSF.IO/XMQK8

Abstract: Human flourishing depends on individuals paying costs to contribute to common goods, but such arrangements are vulnerable to “free-riding”, in which individuals benefit from others’ contributions without paying costs themselves. Systems of tracking and sanctioning free-riders can stabilize cooperation, but the origin of such tendencies is not well understood. Here, we provide evidence that children as young as four negatively evaluate and sanction free-riders. Across six studies we show that these tendencies are robust, large in magnitude, tuned to intentional rather than unintentional non-contribution, and generally consistent across third- and first-party cases. Further, these effects cannot be accounted for by factors that frequently co-occur with free-riding, such as the costs that free-riding imposes on the group or that free-riding is often non-conformity. Our findings demonstrate that from early in life children both hold and enforce a normative expectation that individuals are intrinsically obligated to contribute to the common good.

An evolved psychological mechanism for detecting and deterring free-riders has been suggested as a potentially important contributor to the stability of cooperation in multi-party settings, and adults’ spontaneous detection and negative evaluation of free-riders is consistent with this possibility [...]. But adults have extensive experience with institutional and other societal sanctions directed at free-riders, raising an alternative explanation: sanctioning free-riders is a learned norm. While our results do not settle this issue, they show that the tendency to sanction free-riders emerges several years prior to formal schooling, when children are not yet expected to be regular contributors and are unlikely to be sanctioned for failing to contribute themselves. Indeed, for at least two reasons our results are challenging for straightforward socialization accounts. First, in an aggregated analysis for all cases of intentional free-riding (drawn from studies 1-5), we observed greater negativity towards free-riders in younger children, a pattern inconsistent with gradual norm internalization. Second, the developmental patterns observed here appear to emerge earlier than other forms of norm enforcement. For example, compared to free-riding, unfairness in dyadic interactions presumably occurs more frequently in children’s life and thus should be a more direct targetfor socialization.

However, if not directly affected, children do not sanction such violations until middle childhood (Blake & McAuliffe, 2011; McAuliffe et al., 2015). Therefore, our findings suggest that protracted social learning and extensive group experiences are not necessary for the emergence of a tendency to sanction free-riders. Our results are consistent with proposals for an evolved psychological machinery for cheater detection and sanctioning.


Heterosexual College Students Who Hookup with Same-Sex Partners

Heterosexual College Students Who Hookup with Same-Sex Partners. Arielle Kuperberg, Alicia M. Walker. Archives of Sexual Behavior,

Abstract: Individuals who identify as heterosexual but engage in same-sex sexual behavior fascinate both researchers and the media. We analyzed the Online College Social Life Survey dataset of over 24,000 undergraduate students to examine students whose last hookup was with a same-sex partner (N = 383 men and 312 women). The characteristics of a significant minority of these students (12% of men and 25% of women) who labelled their sexual orientation “heterosexual” differed from those who self-identified as “homosexual,” “bisexual,” or “uncertain.” Differences among those who identified as heterosexual included more conservative attitudes, less prior homosexual and more prior heterosexual sexual experience, features of the hookups, and sentiments about the encounter after the fact. Latent class analysis revealed six distinctive “types” of heterosexually identified students whose last hookup was with a same-sex partner. Three types, comprising 60% of students, could be classified as mostly private sexual experimentation among those with little prior same-sex experience, including some who did not enjoy the encounter; the other two types in this group enjoyed the encounter, but differed on drunkenness and desire for a future relationship with their partner. Roughly, 12% could be classified as conforming to a “performative bisexuality” script of women publicly engaging in same-sex hookups at college parties, and the remaining 28% had strong religious practices and/or beliefs that may preclude a non-heterosexual identity, including 7% who exhibited “internalized heterosexism.” Results indicate several distinctive motivations for a heterosexual identity among those who hooked up with same-sex partners; previous research focusing on selective “types” excludes many exhibiting this discordance.

Why Do People Volunteer? An Experimental Analysis of Preferences for Time Donations Instead of Money

Why Do People Volunteer? An Experimental Analysis of Preferences for Time Donations. Alexander L. Brown, Jonathan Meer, J. Forrest Williams. Management Science,

Abstract: Why do individuals volunteer their time even when recipients receive far less value than the donor’s opportunity cost? Previous models of altruism that focus on the overall impact of a gift cannot rationalize this behavior, despite its prevalence. We develop a model that allows for differential warm glow depending on the form of the donation. In a series of laboratory experiments that control for other aspects of volunteering, such as its signaling value, subjects demonstrate behavior consistent with the theoretical assumption that gifts of time produce greater utility than the same transfers in the form of money. Subjects perform an effort task, accruing earnings at potentially different wage rates for themselves or a charity of their choice, with the ability to transfer any of their personal earnings to charity at the end of the experiment. Subjects exhibit strong preferences for donating time even when differential wage rates make it costly to do so. The results provide new insights on the nature of volunteering and gift giving.

Promiscuous America: Smart, Secular, and Somewhat Less Happy

Promiscuous America: Smart, Secular, and Somewhat Less Happy. Nicholas H. Wolfinger. Institute for Family Studies, Apr 18 2018. Full article with images at


We like to think of America as sexually permissive. We’re bombarded with stories of rapid-fire Tinder liaisons and meaningless college hookups. The reality isn’t monastic but is more staid than most of us think. The median American woman has had three sex partners in her lifetime. The median man has had five.

These numbers have remained unchanged for decades: you have to look at people born prior to the 1940s, who came of age before the Sexual Revolution, to find lower numbers. The one exception is college-educated men, whose median tally has declined over the past couple of decades (the numbers for men who didn’t complete college have stayed the same).

But medians don’t tell the whole story. The distribution of promiscuity is skewed to the right: most people have only a few partners, but a few people have a whole lot. The data look like this:

Note: Ns = 17,252 (women) & 13,531 (men). Results are unweighted.

The yellow bars are medians, included to provide some perspective. Although most people have had only a few partners, a few have had a multitude (indeed, I capped the maximum at 100 so a single page graph would be intelligible). Five percent of women have had 16 or more partners; five percent of men have had 50 or more. One percent of American women have had over 35 partners; the comparable figure for men is 150.


The Trends

Overall, younger Americans are now having sex with fewer people than their Boomer or Gen X elders, but that’s not the case for the female promiscuous minority. The figure below looks at what portion of the sample for each survey year falls into the top five percentile for the entire sample; in order words, what proportion of women for each survey year had 16 or more partners. The data show a linear increase in the percentage of women who fall into the high side of sexual adventurousness. In 1990, about 3% of women had had over 15 sex partners. By 2016, this number was up to 7 percent. Additional analysis suggests that women’s increasing sexual adventurousness over the years of the time series represents a secular trend towards promiscuity.

Note: N = 17,252. Results are unweighted.

The story is different for men, for whom promiscuity was most common in the previous decade. Since then, a declining proportion of men have had 50 or more sex partners. Still, top-five percentile sexual exploration remains a bit more common for men than it was in the early 1990s, near the beginning of the time series.

Notes: N = 13,531. Results are unweighted.

The Predictable Demographic Differences

The residents of Promiscuous America are predictable in many ways. They’re less likely to be married and more likely to be divorced. They’re several times as likely as their less adventurous peers to have cheated on a spouse. They watch more porn. They’re more likely to be political liberals than moderates or conservatives. Many of them live in the western United States (for women, that means the intermountain west more than the west coast). They’re more likely to live in cities than in suburbs or rural areas.

It’s also predictable that the promiscuous are less religious than other Americans, but there are nevertheless interesting differences by denominational affiliation. Christians are the least likely to fall into the top 5% of the promiscuity distribution. Still, in terms of sheer percentage points, the differences between Christians and nonbelievers are not enormous. When it comes to “Other” faiths (including Muslims, Hindus, and myriad less common religions), the men behave like Christians. Other-faith women are more likely to reside in Promiscuous America Of all survey respondents to claim a denominational affiliation, Jews are the most likely to report high promiscuity (8% of Jewish women, 6% of Jewish men). The highest levels of promiscuity naturally belong to Americans who don’t claim a denominational affiliation. This includes 10% of unaffiliated women, and 7% of unaffiliated men.


​​​The Unanticipated Correlates of Promiscuity

Two related factors—education and intelligence—are highly predictive of having a large number of sex partners. Some of us have a mental portrait of Promiscuous America that looks like the Jerry Springer Show, but this doesn’t seem to comport with reality. People with post-graduate degrees are much more likely than their less-educated peers to be promiscuous, and this is especially true of women. Over 2% of women with advanced degrees fall into the top percentile of promiscuity; in other words, over 35 sex partners. Almost 1.5% of men report top-percentile promiscuity of 150 or more partners. Both these numbers are far higher than they are for people with less formal education. Generally speaking, people with high levels of education have the highest marriage rates and the lowest divorce rates, but their ranks also contain a sprinkling of sexual sybarites.


Related to education is the comparably higher intelligence of sexually adventurous Americans. The General Social Survey contains a 10-word vocabulary test that has been shown to have a high correlation (r = .71) with sophisticated IQ test results. Obviously, a 10-question test can’t do justice to a complex concept like intelligence, but for ease of explication, I’ll refer to its results as reflecting IQ or intelligence.

Both men and women in the top percentile of promiscuity report higher intelligence scores than do their less well-traveled peers. This also holds true for women but not men in the top 5% of promiscuity. Top-five percentile men have IQs only slightly higher than their less sexually adventurous peers.


The link between education and sexual exploration has long been clear. In his brilliant and ethically-challenged study of anonymous gay sex, the late sociologist Laud Humphreys observed that his educated respondents were more willing to explore a range of sexual activities. National data also show higher rates of anal sex among educated women. A small number of highly educated people seem to have channeled this curiosity into promiscuity. Perhaps this dynamic can also explain the proclivity for poly-partner promiscuity and intelligence. Finally, these associations seem particularly strong for women.

Does It Matter if You’re Promiscuous?

There are modest but still statistically significant differences in respondent happiness by promiscuity. The 5% most promiscuous respondents of both sexes are less likely to report being “very happy” and more likely to say they are “not too happy.” This pattern holds for women when looking at the top one percentile of promiscuity, but not men. In other words, men who report having had 150 or more sex partners are not any happier or unhappier than their non-Lothario counterparts, but that’s not true for women.


Multivariate analysis reveals that the happiness gap between Promiscuous America and their less sexually adventurous peers can be partly explained by marital status. Recall that promiscuous survey respondents are less likely to be married and more likely to be divorced. Regular readers of this blog are well aware of the fact that marriage and happiness are correlated, and this association might account for why some promiscuous adults are less happy. But there are likely other reasons, some of which might be anterior to both unhappiness and promiscuity. For instance, childhood sexual abuse increases the later-life chances of both promiscuity and unhappiness. In other words, there is no way of knowing if promiscuity is directly causing people to be unhappy.

The happiness story changes when promiscuous Americans get married. These respondents are not more or less happy in their relationships than their non-promiscuous peers. Some may have relegated their infidelities to their first marriages. A small number may be in polyamorous or other forms of open relationships, although it’s impossible to know with these data.

Contrary to public perception, typical sexual behavior hasn’t changed much in recent decades. But there will always be outliers, Americans who have a multitude of sex partners. This behavior is becoming more common for women, but less common for men. Perhaps these women are experiencing the last stages of the Sexual Revolution, stages that came earlier to men. It’s evidence for this proposition that there is no male equivalent to the term “slut shaming.”


Nicholas H. Wolfinger is Professor of Family and Consumer Studies and Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the University of Utah. His most recent book is Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, Love, and Marriage among African Americans and Latinos, coauthored with W. Bradford Wilcox (Oxford University Press, 2016). Follow him on Twitter at @NickWolfinger.

Sex Differences in Attraction to Familiar and Unfamiliar Opposite-Sex Faces: Men Prefer Novelty and Women Prefer Familiarity. Anthony C. Little, Lisa M. DeBruine, Benedict C. Jones. Archives of Sexual Behavior, July 2014, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 973–981.

Abstract: Familiarity is attractive in many types of stimuli and exposure generally increases feelings of liking. However, men desire a greater number of sexual partners than women, suggesting a preference for novelty. We examined sex differences in preferences for familiarity. In Study 1 (N = 83 women, 63 men), we exposed individuals to faces twice and found that faces were judged as more attractive on the second rating, reflecting attraction to familiar faces, with the exception that men’s ratings of female faces decreased on the second rating, demonstrating attraction to novelty. In Studies 2 (N = 42 women, 28 men) and 3 (N = 51 women, 25 men), exposure particularly decreased men’s ratings of women’s attractiveness for short-term relationships and their sexiness. In Study 4 (N = 64 women, 50 men), women’s attraction to faces was positively related to self-rated similarity to their current partner’s face, while the effect was significantly weaker for men. Potentially, men’s attraction to novelty may reflect an adaptation promoting the acquisition of a high number of sexual partners.

Perception of Physical Attractiveness When Consuming and Not Consuming Alcohol: A Meta‐Analysis

Perception of Physical Attractiveness When Consuming and Not Consuming Alcohol: A Meta‐Analysis. Molly A. Bowdring, Michael A. Sayette. Addiction,

Background and Aims: Elucidating why people drink and why drinking can lead to negative psychosocial consequences remains a crucial task for alcohol researchers. Because drinking typically occurs in social settings, broader investigation of the associations between alcohol and social experience is needed to advance understanding of both the rewarding and hazardous effects of alcohol use. This review aimed to (a) estimate alcohol's relation to the perception of others' physical attractiveness and (b) suggest theoretical and methodological considerations that may advance the study of this topic.

Methods: Systematic review of Scopus and PsycInfo databases was conducted to identify experimental and quasi‐experimental studies, with either between‐ or within‐subjects designs, that assessed attractiveness ratings provided by individuals who had and had not consumed alcohol (k=16 studies, n=1,811). A meta‐analysis was conducted to evaluate alcohol's aggregate association with physical attractiveness perceptions. Separate a priori secondary analyses examined alcohol's associations with perception of opposite‐sex (k=12 studies) and same‐sex (k=7 studies) attractiveness.

Results: The primary analysis indicated that alcohol was significantly related to enhanced attractiveness perceptions (d=0.19, 95% CI=0.05‐0.32, p=.01; I2=5.28, 95% CI=0.00 to 39.32). Analysis of alcohol's association with perception of opposite‐sex attractiveness similarly yielded a small, significant positive association (d=0.30, 95% CI=0.16‐0.44, p<.01; I2=17.49, 95% CI=0.00 to 57.75). Alcohol's relation to perception of same‐sex attractiveness was not significant (d=0.04, 95% CI=‐0.18‐0.26, p=.71; I2=54.08, 95% CI=0.00 to 81.66).

Conclusions: Experimental and quasi‐experimental studies suggest that consuming alcohol may have a small effect of increasing perceived attractiveness of people of the opposite sex.

The strength of a message can affect whether or not an individual tells the truth; Stronger messages are found to increase truth-telling by 30 percentage points

Language and Lies. Glynis Gawn, Robert Innes. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics,

•    The strength of a message can affect whether or not an individual tells the truth.
•    An experiment measures how message type affects a sender’s intrinsic lie aversion.
•    “Strong” vs. “weak” messages significantly promote truthfulness in the experiment.
•    Stronger messages are found to increase truth-telling by 30 percentage points.
•    Differential aversion to “weak” vs. “strong” lies can be socially advantageous.

Abstract: Does an individual’s aversion to a lie depend upon the language used to communicate the lie? We adapt the Lopez-Perez and Spiegelman (2013) dot experiment to measure how a “weak” vs. “strong” message affects individuals’ propensities for truthfulness when there is a monetary incentive to lie and no other person is affected by the communication. Weak messages state a fact, whereas strong statements “solemnly swear” to the fact. In our first (between-subject) experiment, strong (vs. weak) statements increase the percentage of subjects choosing to tell the truth by approximately 30 percentage points in each of three different payoff scenarios that favor lying to a different extent. Because lies increase payoffs in the experiment, the weaker aversion to weaker lies is socially advantageous. In a second (within-subject) experiment participants choose between messages of different strength and we find (1) a preference for lying with weak (vs. strong) language, and (2) a significant fraction of subjects who are willing to pay a positive amount to avoid a strong vs. weak lie. From both experiments, we conclude that our subjects tend to be intrinsically less averse to dishonesty when a lie is conveyed with weak vs. strong language.

Keywords: Deception; Language; Communication; Lying Aversion

Using Massive Online Choice Experiments to Measure Changes in Well-being: Digital goods have created large gains in well-being that are missed by conventional measures of GDP and productivity

Using Massive Online Choice Experiments to Measure Changes in Well-being. Erik Brynjolfsson, Felix Eggers, Avinash Gannamaneni. NBER Working Paper No. 24514.

Abstract: GDP and derived metrics (e.g., productivity) have been central to understanding economic progress and well-being. In principle, the change in consumer surplus (compensating expenditure) provides a superior, and more direct, measure of the change in well-being, especially for digital goods, but in practice, it has been difficult to measure. We explore the potential of massive online choice experiments to measure consumers’ willingness to accept compensation for losing access to various digital goods and thereby estimate the consumer surplus generated from these goods. We test the robustness of the approach and benchmark it against established methods, including incentive compatible choice experiments that require participants to give up Facebook for a certain period in exchange for compensation. The proposed choice experiments show convergent validity and are massively scalable. Our results indicate that digital goods have created large gains in well-being that are missed by conventional measures of GDP and productivity. By periodically querying a large, representative sample of goods and services, including those which are not priced in existing markets, changes in consumer surplus and other new measures of well-being derived from these online choice experiments have the potential for providing cost-effective supplements to existing national income and product accounts.