Monday, April 23, 2018

Online trolling is motivated (at least in part) by sadistic tendencies, minimizing perpetrator culpability in judgments of harmful behavior

Internet Trolling and Everyday Sadism: Parallel Effects on Pain Perception and Moral Judgment. Erin E. Buckels, Paul D. Trapnell, Tamara Andjelovic, Delroy L. Paulhus. Journal of Personality,


Objective: To clarify the association between online trolling and sadistic personality; and provide evidence that the reward and rationalization processes at work in sadism are likewise manifest in online trolling.

Method: Online respondents (total N = 1,715) completed self‐report measures of personality and trolling behavior. They subsequently engaged in one of two judgment tasks. In Study 1, respondents viewed stimuli depicting scenes of emotional/physical suffering, and provided ratings of (a) perceived pain intensity and (b) pleasure experienced while viewing the photos. In Study 2, the iTroll questionnaire was developed and validated. It was then administered alongside a moral judgment task.

Results: Across both studies, online trolling was strongly associated with a sadistic personality profile. Moreover, sadism and trolling predicted identical patterns of pleasure and harm minimization. The incremental contribution of sadism was sustained even when controlling for broader antisocial tendencies (i.e., the Dark Triad, callous‐emotionality, and trait aggression).

Conclusion: Results confirm that online trolling is motivated (at least in part) by sadistic tendencies. Coupled with effective rationalization mechanisms, sadistic pleasure can be consummated in such everyday behaviors as online trolling.


Regional differences in intelligence are positively associated with many economic, social and demographic phenomena, like income, health, educational and occupational achievement, and negatively associated with poverty, fertility and crime

Regional differences in intelligence in 22 countries and their economic, social and demographic correlates: A review. Richard Lynna, John Fuerst, Emil O.W. Kirkegaard. Intelligence, Volume 69, July–August 2018, Pages 24–36.

•    Regional differences in intelligence are reported for fifteen countries.
•    These are positively associated with many economic, social and demographic phenomena.
•    These include income, health, educational and occupational achievement.
•    These are negatively associated with poverty, fertility and crime.

Abstract: Differences in intelligence have previously been found to be related to a wide range of inter-individual and international social outcomes. There is evidence indicating that intelligence differences are also related to different regional outcomes within nations. A quantitative and narrative review is provided for twenty-two countries (number of regions in parentheses): Argentina (24 to 437), Brazil (27 to 31), British Isles (12 to 392), Chile (15), China (31), Colombia (33), Denmark (7), Finland (4), France (90), Germany (16), India (33), Italy (12 to 19), Japan (47), Mexico (31 to 32), Peru (1468), Portugal (5), Russia (29 to 79), Spain (15 to 48), Switzerland (47), Turkey (12), the USA (30 to 3100), and Vietnam (61). Between regions, intelligence is significantly associated with a wide range of economic, social, and demographic phenomena, including income (r_unweighted =  .56), educational attainment (r_unweighted =  .59), health (r_unweighted =  .49), general socioeconomic status (r_unweighted =  .55), and negatively with fertility (r_unweighted = −.51) and crime (r_unweighted = −.20). Proposed causal models for these differences are noted. It is concluded that regional differences in intelligence within nations warrant further focus; methodological concerns that need to be addressed in future research are detailed.

Keywords: Intelligence; Cognitive ability; Income; Health; Achievement; Fertility; Crime; SES; General socioeconomic factor; Inequality

Infants’ prosocial behavior is governed by cost-benefit analyses

Infants’ prosocial behavior is governed by cost-benefit analyses. Jessica A.Sommerville et al. Cognition, Volume 177, August 2018, Pages 12-20.

Abstract: Cost-benefit analyses are central to mature decision-making and behavior across a range of contexts. Given debates regarding the nature of infants’ prosociality, we investigated whether 18-month-old infants’ (N = 160) prosocial behavior is impacted by anticipated costs and benefits. Infants participated in a helping task in which they could carry either a heavy or light block across a room to help an experimenter. Infants’ helping behavior was attenuated when the anticipated physical costs were high versus low (Experiment 1), and high-cost helping was enhanced under conditions of increased intrinsic motivational benefits (Experiments 2 and 3). High-cost helping was further predicted by infants’ months of walking experience, presumably because carrying a heavy block across a room is more effortful for less experienced walkers than for more experienced walkers demonstrating that infants subjectively calibrate costs. Thus, infants’ prosocial responding may be guided by a rational decision-making process that weighs and integrates costs and benefits.

Keywords: Prosocial behavior, Infancy, Cost-benefit analyses, Shared preferences


How does social and sexual information processing map onto cortical circuits?

Socio-sexual processing in cortical circuits. Michael Brecht, Constanze Lenschow, Rajnish P Rao. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, Volume 52, October 2018, Pages 1–9.

Abstract: How does social and sexual information processing map onto cortical circuits? Addressing this question has been difficult, because of a lack of circuit-oriented social neuroscience and an absence of measurements from interacting brains. Recent work showed social information is already differentially processed in the primary sensory cortices. Converging evidence suggests that prefrontal areas contribute to social interaction processing and determining social hierarchies. In social interactions, we identify gender in split seconds, but after centuries of anatomy we are still unable to distinguish male and female cortices. Novel data reinforce the idea of a bisexual layout of cortical anatomy. Physiological analysis, however, provided evidence for sex differences in cortical processing. Unlike other cortical circuits, sexual processing circuits undergo major rewiring and expansion during puberty and show lasting damage from childhood abuse.