Wednesday, September 19, 2018

People judged that altering some moral facts was impossible—not even God could turn morally wrong acts into morally right acts; but thought that God could make physically impossible and logically impossible events occur

Reinecke, Madeline G., and Zachary Horne. 2018. “Immutable Morality: Even God Could Not Change Some Moral Facts.” PsyArXiv. September 19. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: The idea that morality depends on God is a widely held belief. This belief entails that the moral “facts” could be otherwise because, in principle, God could change them. Yet, some moral propositions seem so obviously true (e.g., the immorality of killing someone just for pleasure) that it is hard to imagine how they could be otherwise. In two experiments, we investigated people’s intuitions about the immutability of moral facts. Participants judged whether it was even possible, or possible for God, to change moral, logical, and physical facts. In both experiments, people judged that altering some moral facts was impossible—not even God could turn morally wrong acts into morally right acts. Strikingly, people thought that God could make physically impossible and logically impossible events occur. These results demonstrate the strength of people’s metaethical commitments and shed light on the nature of morality and its centrality to thinking and reasoning.

Girls surpass boys in educational attainment: The best explanation is boys' greater dispersion of academic achievement

What Explains the Gender Gap Reversal in Education? The Role of the Tail Hypothesis. Laurent Bossavie, Ohto Kanninen. Policy  Research  Working  Paper 8303.

Abstract: The gender gap reversal in educational attainment is ubiquitous in high-income countries, as well as in a growing share of low- and middle-income countries. To account for the reversal, this paper proposes a theoretical framework in which the interplay between the distributions of academic aptitudes and changes in the net benefits of schooling over time affect the gender composition of those getting more schooling. The framework is used to formulate and test alternative hypotheses to explain the reversal. The paper introduces the tail dynamics hypothesis, which builds on the lower dispersion of academic achievement among females observed empirically. It also studies the mean dynamics hypothesis, which is based on previous literature. Both hypotheses can explain the reversal in this framework. However, the assumption behind the tail hypothesis is better supported by the data. Its predictions are also consistent with gender differences in Scholastic Achievement Test score dynamics and in international test score distributions that cannot be explained by previous theories.

Canada Health System: The status quo represents a compromise struck decades ago between payers & physicians & organizations, & the current system works just well enough for those who both need it & vote; but cannot readily meet the changing health care needs of a population

Lessons From the Canadian Experience With Single-Payer Health Insurance: Just Comfortable Enough With the Status Quo. Noah Ivers et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(9):1250-1255. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.3568

Abstract: With single-payer public health insurance again on the political radar in the United States at both the state (California) and federal (Democrat party) levels, the performance of the Canadian health care system during the last 50 years and the lessons it may offer should be considered. Canadians are proud of their universal approach to health insurance based on need rather than income. The system has many strengths, such as the ease of obtaining care, relatively low costs, and low administrative costs, with effectiveness and safety roughly on par with other countries, including those, such as the United States, that spend considerably more per capita. There are increasing frustrations, however, with system performance, especially with issues related to access and coordination of care. Medicine has changed dramatically since the introduction of Canadian Medicare in the late 1960s, which primarily covered acute care physician and hospital services—the needs of the time. Meaningful reforms that match coverage and services to changing needs, especially those of community-based patients with multiple chronic conditions, have been difficult to implement. The status quo represents a compromise struck decades ago between payers and physicians and organizations that provide health care, and the current system works just well enough for those who both need it and vote. Enacting substantial change simply carries too much risk. Perhaps the most important lesson that the United States can learn from Canada’s experience during the last 50 years is that a single-payer health care system solves a lot of problems, but it does not equate to an integrated, well-managed system that can readily meet the changing health care needs of a population.

Feedback loop of environmental unpredictability and harshness which destabilizes intrauterine hormonal conditions in mothers, leading to global health problems, and nonheterosexual preferences in female offspring; bonobos and lions examples are discussed

A Life History Approach to the Female Sexual Orientation Spectrum: Evolution, Development, Causal Mechanisms, and Health. Severi Luoto, Indrikis Krams, Markus J. Rantala. Archives of Sexual Behavior,

Abstract: Women’s capacity for sexual fluidity is at least as interesting a phenomenon from the point of view of evolutionary biology and behavioral endocrinology as exclusively homosexual orientation. Evolutionary hypotheses for female nonheterosexuality have failed to fully account for the existence of these different categories of nonheterosexual women, while also overlooking broader data on the causal mechanisms, physiology, ontogeny, and phylogeny of female nonheterosexuality. We review the evolutionary-developmental origins of various phenotypes in the female sexual orientation spectrum using the synergistic approach of Tinbergen’s four questions. We also present femme-specific and butch-specific hypotheses at proximate and ultimate levels of analysis. This review article indicates that various nonheterosexual female phenotypes emerge from and contribute to hormonally mediated fast life history strategies. Life history theory provides a biobehavioral explanatory framework for nonheterosexual women’s masculinized body morphology, psychological dispositions, and their elevated likelihood of experiencing violence, substance use, obesity, teenage pregnancy, and lower general health. This pattern of life outcomes can create a feedback loop of environmental unpredictability and harshness which destabilizes intrauterine hormonal conditions in mothers, leading to a greater likelihood of fast life history strategies, global health problems, and nonheterosexual preferences in female offspring. We further explore the potential of female nonheterosexuality to function as an alloparental buffer that enables masculinizing alleles to execute their characteristic fast life history strategies as they appear in the female and the male phenotype. Synthesizing life history theory with the female sexual orientation spectrum enriches existing scientific knowledge on the evolutionary-developmental mechanisms of human sex differences.

Keywords: Female sexual orientation Homosexuality Neurodevelopment Evolutionary-developmental psychology Behavioral endocrinology Life history evolution Women’s health

Lead us not into temptation: The seven deadly sins as a taxonomy of temptations

Lead us not into temptation: The seven deadly sins as a taxonomy of temptations. Edward Burkley, Melissa Burkley, Jessica Curtis, Thomas Hatvany. Social and Personality Psychology Compass,

Abstract: People constantly experience a tug‐of‐war between their self‐control on one end and their temptations on the other. Although a great deal of research has examined such self‐control dilemmas, much of it has focused on the “push” of self‐control rather than the “pull” of temptations. To facilitate future work on this latter construct, we sought to create a taxonomy of temptations. Using a top‐down approach, we relied on the philosophical and historical concept of the seven deadly sins—gluttony, greed, lust, sloth, envy, pride, and wrath—to identify and define the most commonly experienced temptations. In support of this taxonomy, we review evidence for the role that self‐control plays in resisting each of these seven temptation domains, including work on trait self‐control and momentary exertions of self‐control. Where applicable, we identify areas where research is lacking and make suggestions for future work. Lastly, we discuss how this taxonomy offers researchers both theoretical and practical benefits.

Difficult to know if the effects of alcohol consumption on mate-selection are due to social factors or cohabitation leading to becoming more similar over time; found that genetic variants related to alcohol may, via effect on alcohol behaviour, influence mate selection

Alcohol consumption and mate choice in UK Biobank: comparing observational and Mendelian randomization estimates. Laurence J Howe, Dan J Lawson, Neil M Davies, Beate St. Pourcain, Sarah J Lewis, George Davey Smith, Gibran Hemani. bioRxiv,

Abstract: Alcohol use is correlated within spouse-pairs, but it is difficult to disentangle the effects of alcohol consumption on mate-selection from social factors or cohabitation leading to spouses becoming more similar over time. We hypothesised that genetic variants related to alcohol consumption may, via their effect on alcohol behaviour, influence mate selection. Therefore, in a sample of over 47,000 spouse-pairs in the UK Biobank we utilised a well-characterised alcohol related variant, rs1229984 in ADH1B, as a genetic proxy for alcohol use. We compared the phenotypic correlation between spouses for self-reported alcohol use with the association between an individual's self-reported alcohol use and their partner's rs1229984 genotype using Mendelian randomization. This was followed up by an exploration of the spousal genotypic concordance for the variant. We found strong evidence that both an individual's self-reported alcohol consumption and rs1229984 genotype are associated with their partner's self-reported alcohol use. The Mendelian randomization analysis, found that each unit increase in an individual's weekly alcohol consumption increased their partner's alcohol consumption by 0.29 units (95% C.I. 0.20, 0.38; P=2.15x10-9). Furthermore, the rs1229984 genotype correlated within spouse-pairs, suggesting that some spousal correlation existed prior to cohabitation. Although the SNP is strongly associated with ancestry, our results suggest that this concordance is unlikely to be explained by population stratification. Overall, our findings suggest that alcohol behaviour directly influences mate selection.

Living longer with help from others: Seeking advice lowers mortality risk

Living longer with help from others: Seeking advice lowers mortality risk. Rebecca K Delaney, Nicholas A Turiano, JoNell Strough. Journal of Health Psychology,

Abstract: Associations between self-sufficiency and advice seeking with mortality risk were examined to assess the long-term implications of individualistic and interpersonally oriented strategies. Wave 1 participants from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (N = 6116, 25–75 years, Mage = 46.38 years) completed questionnaires assessing demographics, self-sufficiency, advice seeking, social support, and health. Cox proportional hazard models indicated that each standard deviation increase in seeking advice was associated with an 11 percent decreased hazard of dying 20 years later. Self-sufficiency was not significantly related. Future research should examine contexts in which interpersonal strategies are adaptive, as seeking advice from others promotes longevity.

Keywords: advice seeking, dependence, independence, mortality, social support

“Bad” agents are identified more quickly & accurately than benign ones; but incorrectly attributing bad character to good people damages existing relationships; cognitive mechanism permits flexible updating of beliefs to forgive sooner

Siegel, Jenifer, Christoph Mathys, Robb Rutledge, and Molly Crockett. 2018. “Beliefs About Bad People Are Volatile.” PsyArXiv. September 17. doi:10.1038/s41562-018-0425-1

Abstract: People form moral impressions rapidly, effortlessly, and from a remarkably young age. Putatively “bad” agents command more attention and are identified more quickly and accurately than benign or friendly agents. Such vigilance is adaptive, but can also be costly in environments where people sometimes make mistakes, because incorrectly attributing bad character to good people damages existing relationships and discourages forming new ones. The ability to accurately infer others’ moral character is critical for healthy social functioning, but the computational processes that support this ability are not well understood. Here we show that moral inference is explained by an asymmetric Bayesian updating mechanism where beliefs about the morality of bad agents are more uncertain (and thus more volatile) than beliefs about the morality of good agents. This asymmetry appears to be a property of learning about immoral agents in general, as we also find greater uncertainty for beliefs about bad agents’ non-moral traits. Our model and data reveal a cognitive mechanism that permits flexible updating of beliefs about potentially threatening others, a mechanism that could facilitate forgiveness when initial bad impressions turn out to be inaccurate. Our findings suggest that negative moral impressions destabilize beliefs about others, promoting cognitive flexibility in the service of cooperative but cautious behavior.

“Happiness pie” (approx 50% of differences are due to genetic factors, 10pct to life circumstances, & 40% available to be changed via volition) is a defective theory; & it is not clear how we can influence substantially our own happiness level

Brown, Nicholas J. L., and Julia M. Rohrer. 2018. “Re-slicing the “happiness Pie”: A Re-examination of the Determinants of Well-being” PsyArXiv. September 18. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: In an influential article, Lyubomirsky, Sheldon, and Schkade (2005) argued that individuals have considerable leeway to increase their levels of chronic happiness. These authors supported their arguments with a model (subsequently popularized under the name of the “happiness pie”) in which approximately 50% of individual differences in happiness are due to genetic factors and 10% to life circumstances, leaving 40% available to be changed via volitional activities. We re-examined Lyubomirsky et al.’s claims and found several apparent deficiencies in their chain of arguments. First, it is not clear that such a split between the possible sources of variance in individual happiness is informative with respect to an individual’s potential to influence his or her well-being. Second, the suggested semi-formalized model of happiness suffers from several weaknesses that might bias the model in favor of assigning more variance to volitional activities. Third, the estimates for the variance attributable to genetic factors and life circumstances that were used to determine the relative size of the slices of the “happiness pie” are questionable. We conclude that there is little empirical evidence for the variance decomposition suggested by the “happiness pie,” and that even if it were valid, it is not necessarily informative with respect to the question of whether individuals can truly exert substantial influence over their own chronic happiness level.