Sunday, September 23, 2018

What Fantasies Can Do to Your Relationship & The Effects of Sexual Fantasies on Couple Interactions: Dyadic fantasizing was associated with heightened desire & increased engagement in relationship-promoting behaviors

What Fantasies Can Do to Your Relationship: The Effects of Sexual Fantasies on Couple Interactions. Gurit E. Birnbaum et al. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,

Abstract: Research addressing the underlying functions of sexual fantasies has mainly focused on variables associated with frequency and content of fantasies. Relatively less is known about how sexual fantasizing affects the relationship. Four studies examined the contribution of fantasizing about one’s partner (“dyadic fantasies”) to relationship outcomes. In Studies 1 and 2, participants fantasized either about their partner or about someone else and rated their desire to engage in sex and other nonsexual relationship-promoting activities with their partner. In Studies 3 and 4, romantic partners recorded their fantasies and relationship interactions each evening for a period of 21 and 42 days, respectively. In Study 4, partners also provided daily reports on relationship perceptions. Overall, dyadic fantasizing was associated with heightened desire and increased engagement in relationship-promoting behaviors. Relationship perceptions explained the link between dyadic fantasies and relationship-promoting behaviors, suggesting that such fantasies benefit the relationship by enhancing partner and relationship appeal.

Keywords: extradyadic, fantasies, relationship quality, sexual desire, sexuality

Why are some societies more religious than others? One answer is religious coping: Individuals turn to religion to deal with unpredictable life events, like natural disasters, even though the effect decreases after a while

Acts of God? Religiosity and Natural Disasters Across Subnational World Districts. Jeanet Sinding Bentzen. University of Copenhagen.

Abstract: Religious beliefs influence individual behavior in many settings. But why are some societies more religious than others? One answer is religious coping: Individuals turn to religion to deal with unbearable and unpredictable life events. To investigate whether coping can explain global differences in religiosity, I combine a global dataset on individual-level religiosity with spatial data on natural disasters. Individuals become more religious if an earthquake recently hit close by. Even though the effect decreases after a while, data on children of immigrants reveal a persistent e§ect across generations. The results point to religious coping as the main mediating channel, but alternative explanations such as mutual insurance or migration cannot be ruled out entirely. The findings may help explain why religiosity has not vanished as some scholars once predicted.

Hawkish leaders face fewer domestic barriers than doves when it comes to pursuing reconciliation with foreign enemies. Two causal mechanisms: Voters are more confident in rapprochement when it is pursued by a hawk & are more likely to view those hawks as moderates

Hawks, Doves, and Peace: An Experimental Approach. Michaela Mattes, Jessica L. P. Weeks. American Journal of Political Science,

Abstract: An old adage holds that “only Nixon could go to China”; that is, hawkish leaders face fewer domestic barriers than doves when it comes to pursuing reconciliation with foreign enemies. However, empirical evidence for this proposition is mixed. In this article, we clarify competing theories, elucidate their implications for public opinion, and describe the results of a series of survey experiments designed to evaluate whether and why there is a hawk's advantage. We find that hawks are indeed better positioned domestically to initiate rapprochement than doves. We also find support for two key causal mechanisms: Voters are more confident in rapprochement when it is pursued by a hawk and are more likely to view hawks who initiate conciliation as moderates. Further, the hawk's advantage persists whether conciliatory efforts end in success or failure. Our microfoundational evidence thus suggests a pronounced domestic advantage for hawks who deliver the olive branch.

Our results are the opposite of the good genes hypothesis prediction and suggest that in western, healthy populations, human mate preferences for more symmetric bodies are not related to immune competence

Human body symmetry and immune efficacy in healthy adults. Boguslaw Pawlowski et al. American Journal of Physical Anthropology,


Objectives: More symmetric organisms are perceived as more attractive. Fluctuating asymmetry (FA) i.e. small, random deviations from perfect bilateral symmetry, is supposed to inform about developmental instability. According to the good genes hypothesis, a low level of FA is a putative cue to an organism's biological quality. An important aspect of this quality is the immune system functioning. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between immune system functioning and body symmetry in healthy people.

Materials and Methods: The composite body FA (cFA) was assessed on the basis of six bilateral traits (on hands and feet). The ISF was determined by many innate (total complement and lysozyme activity, neutrophils function) and adaptive immune parameters (T CD3 and B CD19 lymphocytes, total IgA and IgG and response to flu vaccine). A total of 98 men and 92 women were subjected to flu (among them 37 men and 30 women also to tetanus) vaccination. The blood samples were collected before and 4 weeks after the antigens exposure. Immunomodulatory factors: participant's age, body fat, and free testosterone level, were controlled.

Results: Apart from the weak positive association between CD3 or CD19 and cFA in men, we found no association between the level of body symmetry and the rest of the analyzed immune parameters for both sexes.

Discussion: Our results are the opposite of the good genes hypothesis prediction and suggest that in western, healthy populations, human mate preferences for more symmetric bodies are not related to immune competence.

Driving near-accidents: People evaluated the consequences of an unexpected turn of events to be more extreme when it was presented as a counterfactual possibility rather than an actual occurrence

Learning from what might have been – judgments and evaluations of counterfactual outcomes. Jens Andreas Terum. PhD dissertation. The Artic University of Norway. November 2017.


The aim of the present thesis is to contribute to the understanding of how people construct hypothetical alternatives to past events, and further explore the role of such counterfactual thinking in learning from accidents and near-accidents. In Paper 1 we introduced the notion that counterfactual thinking is a form of mental simulation that relies on abstract, gist based representations of the world, and therefore promote s a focus on schematic and prototypical outcomes. For events with a clear valence, this should lead counterfactual speculations to be more extreme, or unambiguously good or bad, compared to ordinary predictions. In line with our expectation, people evaluated the consequences of an unexpected turn of events to be more extreme, when it was presented as a counterfactual possibility rather than an actual occurrence.

Paper 2 replicated the main finding in Paper 1, and extended the investigation to include affective evaluations. Consistent with the previous finding, participants exaggerated consequence estimates, but affective evaluations indicated an opposite effect: factual events were evaluated as more emotionally impressive than the same events presented as counterfactual, for both positive and negative outcomes. These apparently contradictory findings were discussed within the framework of Construal Level Theory, and it is suggested that both findings are compatible with an abstract, high – level account of counterfactual thinking.

In Paper 3 we investigate d learning from accidents and near-accidents. By asking people about their thoughts and feelings following accidents and near-accidents, we examined the degree to which these experiences had inspired caution. The results indicated that accidents inspired more caution than near-accidents. Furthermore, repeated experience with Judgments and evaluations of counterfactual outcomes near accidents app eared to have inspired caution, but we observed no change in caution following repeated experience with near-accidents. Learned carefulness did not seem to be associated with reported emotional intensity of the counterfactual outcomes imagined. However, learned carefulness was strongly associated with self-focused upward counterfactuals and the specific emotions of unpleasantness and regret, implicating the role of deliberate reflection .

In sum, the thesis contributes to research on counterfactual thinking by showing that counterfactuals promote a focus on extreme consequences, but attenuated affective reactions, consistent with the idea that counterfactual thinking is more abstract and schematic than future oriented thinking. One implication may be that learning from near-misses and close escapes is more contingent on deliberate reflection rather than affective assimilation.

Oil Sanctions Against Iran Prove Potent: “The president is doing the opposite of what the experts said, and it seems to be working out”

Oil Sanctions Against Iran Prove Potent. Clifford Krauss. TNYT, Sep 19 2018.

HOUSTON — When President Trump announced in May that he was going to withdraw the United States from the nuclear agreement that the Obama administration and five other countries negotiated with Iran in 2015 and reimpose sanctions on the country, the decision was fraught with potential disaster.

If Mr. Trump’s approach worked too well, oil prices would spike and hurt the American economy. If it failed, international companies would continue trading with Iran, leaving the Islamic Republic unscathed, defiant and free to restart its nuclear program.

But the policy has been effective without either of those nasty consequences, at least so far.

Nearly two months before American oil sanctions go into effect, Iran’s crude exports are plummeting. International oil companies, including those from countries that are still committed to the nuclear agreement, are bailing out of deals with Tehran.

And remarkably, the price of oil in the United States has risen only modestly while gasoline prices have essentially remained flat. The current global oil price hovers around $80 a barrel, $60 below the highs of a decade ago.

“The president is doing the opposite of what the experts said, and it seems to be working out,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research, a research and consulting firm.

Initial signs of a foreign-policy success could benefit Mr. Trump politically as Republicans try to hold on to control of Congress. The president and lawmakers allied with him could point to the administration’s aggressive stand toward Iran as evidence that his unconventional approach to diplomacy has been much more fruitful and far less costly than Democrats have been willing to acknowledge.

The administration’s tactical advantage could be fleeting, of course, if Iran retaliates with cyberattacks or militarily, incites more militia violence in Iraq, or revives its nuclear program.

The most important reason that predictions of higher oil prices have been wrong is that there is plenty of oil sloshing around the world. The United States has become a huge exporter of oil in the last several years and is now shipping roughly the same amount — more than two million barrels a day — that Iran did earlier this year.

Trade tensions and economic problems in developing countries like Turkey and Argentina might also be slowing the growth of energy demand.

Another thing in Mr. Trump’s favor is that while governments in Europe and Asia have publicly opposed his decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement, many businesses in those places have made a different calculation. They have concluded that it makes little financial sense to risk investments in and trade with the United States by doing business with Iran.

Until Mr. Trump’s May announcement, Western allies considered the nuclear deal with Iran a success. In exchange for agreeing to strict limits on its nuclear program and international monitoring, Iran was allowed to re-enter the global oil market. The deal lifted restrictions on foreign companies doing business in Iran and gave the country access to frozen assets overseas.

After Nov. 4, companies that buy, ship or insure shipments of Iranian oil can be excluded from the American market and banking system unless they obtain waivers from the administration.

Trump administration officials say its sanctions are designed to punish Iran for its interventions in Syria, Yemen and other countries.

For Iran, the timing could not be worse. The country has lost influence over oil prices as other producers have eclipsed its energy industry, which has not kept up with technological advances.

At the beginning of the century, Iranian officials could shake the oil markets by staging military maneuvers or merely hinting that they would reduce supplies. Back then, American oil production was falling and global demand for crude was surging.

But those days are long gone. Like the United States, countries including Canada and Brazil are also exporting more oil. Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iraq have also increased production, helping to keep oil prices in check. Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies are only too happy to support the sanctions against their chief rival, Iran, by expanding exports.

[chart] Sources: Thomson Retuers; Energy Information Administration

That has provided a buffer for the global oil market as Iranian exports dropped by more than 25 percent, or around 600,000 barrels a day, between June and the start of September. Exports are expected to drop by an additional half-million barrels when American sanctions go into effect. All told, exports could drop from a high of 2.7 million barrels this year to fewer than a million in 2019 — lowering the country’s exports to less than 1 percent of the global market, from about 3 percent earlier this year.

That would further squeeze the Iranian government, which had $50 billion in oil revenue last year; oil and petroleum products make up about 70 percent of the country’s exports by value.

“For Iran, it shows the leverage that they have had through oil has not only diminished but may never return,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, a senior fellow specializing in energy at the Council on Foreign Relations. “People just don’t care if they are going to lose business in Iran. People don’t feel desperate for supply.’’

The sanctions are so onerous that even companies from countries opposed to Mr. Trump’s approach are withdrawing from Iran.

South Korea, Iran’s third-biggest oil market last year, halted purchases in August after buying 194,000 barrels a day in July. Shipments to France and Japan, two other major markets, are also dropping.

OMV, the Austrian oil company, recently backed out of an agreement with the National Iranian Oil Company to evaluate oil fields. Hellenic Petroleum of Greece, Spain’s Repsol and Italy’s Eni are winding down oil purchases.

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative Washington think tank, found that 71 foreign companies planned to withdraw from Iran, 19 intended to stay and 142 were undecided or hadn’t said as of early September.

“Big international companies have to ask themselves what risks are they willing to take on,” said David Adesnik, the foundation’s director of research. “Even if you don’t have a business in the U.S. you can be cut off from our financial system, and that’s not something a truly global firm can afford.”

The next big shoe to drop appears to be India, Iran’s second-biggest oil market after China. Reliance Industries, the nation’s leading refiner, has said it will stop buying Iranian crude when American sanctions kick in. And the State Bank of India, the country’s largest lender, has told refiners that it will block payments for Iranian crude.

American officials are waging a public and private campaign to persuade foreign leaders to cut economic ties with Iran — and to buy more American oil.

During a visit to India this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the administration was seeking a total halt to Iranian oil exports, although countries will be given time to switch suppliers.

“Purchases of Iranian crude will go to zero from every country or sanctions will be imposed,” Mr. Pompeo said.

The sanctions could allow Russian and Chinese companies to replace Western businesses in Iran. After Washington denied it a waiver, the French oil giant Total pulled out of a contract to develop the South Pars gas field, leaving a potential opening to China’s CNPC to increase its investment in the field.

China, which imports a half-million barrels of Iranian crude a day, can more easily resist American policy than other countries. That’s because its smallest refiners and domestic banks have little or no exposure to the United States.

Russia is another obstacle.

Gazprom and Rosneft, two state-controlled Russian oil and gas giants, are negotiating oil development deals worth roughly $10 billion with the Iranian oil ministry.

For its part, Iran is not sitting still. The state-run Iranian tanker company is storing oil on its fleet of supertankers rather than shut down production, which can damage wells. Iran could smuggle oil over land through Pakistan and Afghanistan, and barter with trading companies to get around sanctions.

International transactions are largely denominated in dollars, which strengthens American sanctions. Over time, Iran’s oil trade could shift to other currencies, particularly the Chinese renminbi.

“We will continue by all means to both produce and export,” President Hassan Rouhani of Iran said recently on state TV. “Oil is in the front line of confrontation and resistance.”

A version of this article appears in print on Sept. 20, 2018, on Page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: Oil Sanctions Against Iran Prove Potent

Luxury goods are beneficial signals that bestow social benefits like positive evaluations & compliance, but there can be high costs when it comes to warmth; costs appear to be driven by impression management concerns rather than envy

The Dark Side of Luxury: Social Costs of Luxury Consumption. Christopher Cannon, Derek D. Rucker. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,

Abstract: Extant research demonstrates that luxury goods are beneficial signals that bestow upon individuals social benefits that range from positive evaluations to compliance. In contrast to this perspective, the current work explores the idea that luxury goods can carry significant negative social costs for actors. Across four experiments, the social cost of luxury is examined. Although individuals who display luxury goods are ascribed higher status, they can pay a hefty tax when it comes to warmth. The social costs of luxury consumption appear to be driven by impression management concerns rather than envy. Consequently, whether the consumption of luxury goods yields positive or negative social consequences for an actor critically depends both on whether status or warmth is relevant for a decision and observers’ own lay beliefs about luxury consumption. Overall, this work reveals the more complex psychology of individuals’ interpretation and response to actors’ use of luxury goods.

Keywords: luxury consumption, social influence, status, warmth, impression management