Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Napoleon Complex: When Shorter Men Take More

The Napoleon Complex: When Shorter Men Take More. Jill E. P. Knapen, Nancy M. Blaker, Mark Van Vugt. Psychological Science,

Abstract: Inspired by an evolutionary psychological perspective on the Napoleon complex, we hypothesized that shorter males are more likely to show indirect aggression in resource competitions with taller males. Three studies provide support for our interpretation of the Napoleon complex. Our pilot study shows that men (but not women) keep more resources for themselves when they feel small. When paired with a taller male opponent (Study 1), shorter men keep more resources to themselves in a game in which they have all the power (dictator game) versus a game in which the opponent also has some power (ultimatum game). Furthermore, shorter men are not more likely to show direct, physical aggression toward a taller opponent (Study 2). As predicted by the Napoleon complex, we conclude that (relatively) shorter men show greater behavioral flexibility in securing resources when presented with cues that they are physically less competitive. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Keywords: Napoleon complex, human height, status, behavioral flexibility, indirect aggression, open data

China's Social Credit System: An Evolving Practice of Control

Creemers, Rogier, China's Social Credit System: An Evolving Practice of Control (May 9, 2018).

Abstract: The Social Credit System (SCS) is perhaps the most prominent manifestation of the Chinese government's intention to reinforce legal, regulatory and policy processes through the application of information technology. Yet its organizational specifics have not yet received academic scrutiny. This paper will identify the objectives, perspectives and mechanisms through which the Chinese government has sought to realise its vision of "social credit". Reviewing the system's historical evolution, institutional structure, central and local implementation, and relationship with the private sector, this paper concludes that it is perhaps more accurate to conceive of the SCS as an ecosystem of initiatives broadly sharing a similar underlying logic, than a fully unified and integrated machine for social control. It also finds that, intentions with regards to big data and artificial intelligence notwithstanding, the SCS remains a relatively crude tool. This may change in the future, and this paper suggests the dimensions to be studied in order to assess this evolution.

School Progress Among Children of Same-Sex Couples

School Progress Among Children of Same-Sex Couples. Caleb S. Watkins. Demography,

Abstract: This study uses logit regressions on a pooled sample of children from the 2012, 2013, and 2014 American Community Survey to perform a nationally representative analysis of school progress for a large sample of 4,430 children who reside with same-sex couples. Odds ratios from regressions that compare children between different-sex married couples and same-sex couples fail to show significant differences in normal school progress between households across a variety of sample compositions. Likewise, marginal effects from regressions that compare children with similar family dynamics between different-sex married couples and same-sex couples fail to predict significantly higher probabilities of grade retention for children of same-sex couples. Significantly lower grade retention rates are sometimes predicted for children of same-sex couples than for different-sex married couples, but these differences are sensitive to sample exclusions and do not indicate causal benefits to same-sex parenting.

Despite being more egalitarian, men with more education are more likely to have careers that give them privileged status in their marriages and may have “more to lose” in their career by changing their name. Men with less education than their wives are less likely to change their surname

Emily Fitzgibbons Shafer et al, Flipping the (Surname) Script: Men's Nontraditional Surname Choice at Marriage, Journal of Family Issues (2018). DOI: 10.1177/0192513X18770218

Abstract: Using unique, nationally representative data that asks individuals about their surname choice in marriage, we explore heterosexual men’s nontraditional surname choice. We focus on how education—both absolute and relative to wives’—correlates with nontraditional surname choice. Following class-based masculinities theory, we find that men with more education are less likely to choose a nontraditional surname. Despite being more egalitarian in attitudes, men with more education are more likely to have careers that give them privileged status in their marriages and may have “more to lose” in their career by changing their name. In addition, men with less education than their wives are less likely to change their surnames. We argue that this is consistent with compensatory gender display theory. Men having less education in marriage may translate into having less earning power, which is gender nonnormative as men are culturally expected to be primary breadwinners in marriage.

Those applying for a qualified job emphasized their competence while downplaying their warmth; role-playing as crime witnesses, they attenuated their warmth relative to their competence; those in the role of suspects of a severe crime chose to downplay their competence

Lindholm, T. & Yzerbyt, V., (2018). When Being Nice or Being Smart Could Bring You Down: Compensatory Dynamics in Strategic Self-presentation. International Review of Social Psychology. 31(1) , p. 16. DOI:

Abstract: Research shows that the two fundamental dimensions of social perception, warmth and competence, are often negatively related in our perceptions of others, the so-called compensation effect. The current experiments investigate people’s use of such compensation when self-presenting strategically to reach a desired goal. In Experiment 1, participants applying for a qualified job emphasized their competence while downplaying their warmth. In Experiments 2 and 3, participants role-playing as crime witnesses similarly attenuated their warmth relative to their competence. In contrast, in Experiment 3, participants in the role of suspects of a severe crime chose to downplay their competence. Results suggest that self-presenters are sensitive to warmth-competence dynamics in social perception as a means to promote the optimal self-image given their specific goals.

Keywords: Strategic self-presentation,  warmth,  competence,  social compensation

Age of Fathers, Mutation, and Reproduction

Age of Fathers, Mutation, and Reproduction. In Evolution and Human Reproduction. Martin Fieder and Susanne Huber. In the Oxford Handbook of Evolution, Biology, and Society, Edited by Rosemary L. Hopcroft. DOI 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190299323.013.29

Our DNA consists of roughly 3.2 billion base pairs (i.e., 3.2 billion pairs of adenine–thymine and guanine–cytosine covering the genomic information of humans, most of (p. 486) whose functions we do not yet understand) that, together with epigenetic signature, make us different from each other. Currently, we have only a relatively limited understanding of the phenotypical outcomes of our genetic makeup (Jobling, Hurles, & Tyler-Smith, 2013). Clearly, human genetics is extraordinarily complex. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that these variations in the DNA make some of us better adapted than others to certain environments. Those better adapted individuals (in the respective environments) eventually end up with more descendants. Due to the reproductive benefits for those better adapted individuals, the genetic information associated with this beneficial phenotype will spread in a population. Adaptation, however, always refers to the current environment. If the environmental conditions change, then a successful adaptation to the original environment may have no or even negative consequences on fertility. Such a maladaptive condition decreases the reproductive success of its carrier or, in the worst-case scenario, causes that lineage to die out.

Most mutations are thought to be neutral—that is, exerting no or hardly detectable effects on the phenotype—and therefore have no immediate adaptive value. Other mutations are harmful, especially if they occur in protein-encoding DNA sequences leading to an altered protein. A small number of mutations, however, may ultimately lead to a phenotype better adapted than others to its current environment. Such a phenotype will be favored by selection. The actual rate of harmful, neutral, or positive mutations, however, remains difficult to estimate (Keightley, 2012), particularly the rate of mutations that are positively selected for. In two Drosophila populations, Schneider, Charlesworth, Eyre-Walker, and Keightley (2011) estimated the rate of positive selected mutations for amino acid coding sequences (i.e., non-synonymous mutations) to be between 1% and 2% of all occurring mutations.

Where do most of the mutations come from? The very recently discovered answer in humans is impressive—from the age of the father (Kong et al., 2012). According to Kong et al., the father’s age explains nearly all newly occurring (i.e., de novo) mutations in a child. Correspondingly, detrimental parental age effects have been demonstrated for a variety of Mendelian and mental disorders and even for educational attainment (for a review, see D’Onofrio et al., 2014). The reason is that in contrast to women, in whom all cell divisions in the egg are completed before birth, men continue producing sperm throughout their reproductive lives. Consequently, the number of cell divisions and chromosome replications that a sperm cell has gone through increases with the age at which the sperm is produced. This increases the risk that “errors” occur in terms of mutations (Crow, 2000).

Because the mutations induced by male age occur randomly in the human genome, the probability that they directly affect reproductive functioning is relatively low because a detrimental mutation occurring somewhere in our genome does not necessarily affect reproductive functioning. In such cases, an individual could still reproduce normally even if he or she carries a potentially harmful mutation. It would pass those harmful mutations on to the next generation, which may then accumulate over generations. It is thus conceivable that a mechanism may exist that helps avoid excessive mutation loads in future generations. We suggest that mate selection may provide such a mechanism to (p. 487) prevent too high mutation load. This view is supported by our recent findings based on a US sample (Wisconsin Longitudinal Study), in which we demonstrated that children of older fathers are less attractive (Huber & Fieder, 2014). Moreover, offspring of older fathers face a higher risk of remaining unmarried and therefore remaining childless (Fieder & Huber, 2015). Marriage was obligatory in the previously mentioned sample, thereby providing a good indicator for mating success. Comparable findings based on large human data sets have confirmed our results (Hayward, Lummaa, & Bazykin, 2015; Arslan et al., 2016). Similar effects of paternal age have also been reported in animal species ranging from bulb mites (Prokop, Stuglik, Żabińska, & Radwan, 2007) to house sparrows (Schroeder, Nakagawa, Rees, Mannarelli, & Burke, 2015). We therefore suggest that this phenomenon is a more fundamental biological principle: An individual’s mutation load could affect mate selection, thus helping to reduce the mutation load of the progeny.

This view is also in line with the mutation–selection balance theory, proposing that a balance of forces between constantly arising, mildly harmful mutations and selection causes variation in genetic quality and phenotypic condition (Miller, 2000; Keller, 2008). This makes it unlikely that the accumulation of new deleterious mutations leads to a detectable fitness decline in current human populations (Keightley, 2012). The mutation–selection balance is assumed to be particularly important in traits influenced by many genetic loci (multigenic, such as human reproduction), providing a large target size for mutations (Keller, 2008).

Although most of the mutations induced by the age of the father are considered neutral or may be harmful, a small proportion of them are advantageous and provide fitness benefits. This raises an interesting question: Are we able to detect potentially promising mutations in a mate that may be adaptive in the long term? Detecting mutations that in the future may lead to an adaptive phenotype is unlikely. We therefore assume that this is probably a random process. Nevertheless, one can speculate that individuals choose extraordinary traits in potential mates—that is, traits that may be associated with newly induced mutations. The numerous examples include the peacock’s tail (Zahavi & Zahavi, 1999), bower birds (Uy & Borgia, 2000), as well as height (Stulp, Barrett, Tropf, & Mills, 2015) and social status in men (Fieder & Huber, 2007; Nettle & Pollet, 2008; Barthold, Myrskylä, & Jones, 2012; Hopcroft, 2015). If such traits carry adaptive benefits outweighing potentially negative impacts, then selection would favor both the carrier of those mutations and the carrier’s mating partners. Accordingly, mutations induced by a father’s age can also be viewed as a “driving force” of evolution. The reason is that without mutations, evolution would not have taken place at all, and without mutations introduced into the population by male age, evolution would at least have been much slower. The positive mutations induced by age might thus be considered an “engine of evolution,” leading to new phenotypes that could potentially be selected for.

Together with the usually higher status of older men, this positive effect might partially explain women’s preference for somewhat older men (Buss, 1989). Basically, this preference reflects a trade-off between benefits associated with higher status and possible detrimental mutations caused by higher paternal age that may be passed to (p. 488) the offspring. However, because some mutations may be adaptive, overall the benefits may outweigh the costs, at least if the age difference between spouses is not too large. Accordingly, women usually prefer men who are only moderately older than themselves (Buss, 1989; Buunk, Dijkstra, Fetchenhauer, & Kenrick, 2002; Schwarz & Hassebrauck, 2012).

Future studies may aim to measure the impact of mutations directly and not just indirectly via the age of fathers, examining, for instance, if there is any evidence for a potential link between father’s age, mutation rate, marriage fertility, and social status. According to D’Onofrio et al. (2014), higher paternal age is associated with lower educational attainment in the offspring. This finding suggests a possible association between de novo mutation rate and educational attainment, leading to the question whether social status goes beyond being solely culturally determined to also contain an inherited component. At least for educational attainment, this has recently been shown (Rietveld et al., 2013).

An empirical, 21st century evaluation of phrenology: The most rigorous evaluation to date says it is bogus

An empirical, 21st century evaluation of phrenology. O. Parker Jones, F. Alfaro-Almagro, S. Jbabdi. Cortex,

Abstract: Phrenology was a nineteenth century endeavour to link personality traits with scalp morphology, which has been both influential and fiercely criticised, not least because of the assumption that scalp morphology can be informative of underlying brain function. Here we test the idea empirically rather than dismissing it out of hand. Whereas nineteenth century phrenologists had access to coarse measurement tools (digital technology referring then to fingers), we were able to re-examine phrenology using 21st century methods and thousands of subjects drawn from the largest neuroimaging study to date. High-quality structural MRI was used to quantify local scalp curvature. The resulting curvature statistics were compared against lifestyle measures acquired from the same cohort of subjects, being careful to match a subset of lifestyle measures to phrenological ideas of brain organisation, in an effort to evoke the character of Victorian times. The results represent the most rigorous evaluation of phrenological claims to date.

Keywords: phrenology; MRI

Participants had to make the real-life decision to administer an electroshock to a single mouse or allow five other mice to receive the shock. Responses to hypothetical dilemmas are not predictive of real-life dilemma behavior

Of Mice, Men, and Trolleys: Hypothetical Judgment Versus Real-Life Behavior in Trolley-Style Moral Dilemmas. Dries H. Bostyn, Sybren Sevenhant, Arne Roets. Psychological Science,

Abstract: Scholars have been using hypothetical dilemmas to investigate moral decision making for decades. However, whether people’s responses to these dilemmas truly reflect the decisions they would make in real life is unclear. In the current study, participants had to make the real-life decision to administer an electroshock (that they did not know was bogus) to a single mouse or allow five other mice to receive the shock. Our results indicate that responses to hypothetical dilemmas are not predictive of real-life dilemma behavior, but they are predictive of affective and cognitive aspects of the real-life decision. Furthermore, participants were twice as likely to refrain from shocking the single mouse when confronted with a hypothetical versus the real version of the dilemma. We argue that hypothetical-dilemma research, while valuable for understanding moral cognition, has little predictive value for actual behavior and that future studies should investigate actual moral behavior along with the hypothetical scenarios dominating the field.

Keywords: morality, utilitarianism, trolley, consequentialism, open data, open materials