Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Firms headquartered in countries with strict environmental policies perform their polluting activities abroad in countries with relatively weaker policies, but emit less overall CO2 globally due to strict policies at home

Exporting Pollution. Itzhak Ben-David, Stefanie Kleimeier, Michael Viehs. NBER Working Paper No. 25063.

Abstract: Despite awareness of the detrimental impact of CO2 pollution on the world climate, countries vary widely in how they design and enforce environmental laws. Using novel micro data about firms’ CO2 emissions levels in their home and foreign countries, we document that firms headquartered in countries with strict environmental policies perform their polluting activities abroad in countries with relatively weaker policies. These effects are stronger for firms in high-polluting industries and with poor corporate governance characteristics. Although firms export pollution, they nevertheless emit less overall CO2 globally in response to strict environmental policies at home.

Hillary Clinton: 'You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for'

Clinton: 'You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for'. Rachel Ventresca, CNN, October 9, 2018,

Washington (CNN)Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that civility in America can only begin again if Democrats win back the House or Senate this fall.

"You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about," Clinton said in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour. "That's why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that's when civility can start again. But until then, the only thing that the Republicans seem to recognize and respect is strength."

Clinton alluded to previous controversies -- like the 2000 election recount to the "swift boat" attacks against John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election to the confirmation of Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh -- as evidence of what she sees as hardball tactics by Republicans.

"I remember what they did to me for 25 years -- the falsehoods, the lies, which unfortunately people believe because the Republicans have put a lot of time, money, and effort in promoting them," Clinton said. "So when you're dealing with an ideological party that is driven by the lust for power, that is funded by corporate interests who want a government that does its bidding, it's -- you can be civil, but you can't overcome what they intend to do unless you win elections."

Clinton said a top priority of a Democratic House and Senate should be to scrutinize President Donald Trump. Asked if Democrats should impeach Trump, Clinton sidestepped.

"The question about impeachment — you know, that will be left to others to decide," Clinton said. "I want to stop the degrading of the rule of law. The delegitimizing of elections. One of their priorities should be, let's protect our elections. Let's make sure that we have electoral security. Let's end the suppression of voters. So there is a big agenda if the Democrats take over."

CNN's Mick Krever contributed to this report.

Backward magical contagion: discomfort or pleasure when something like hair falls into the possession of a negatively- or positively-perceived individual; lots of people experience such fear

Reversing the causal arrow: Incidence and properties of negative backward magical contagion in Americans. Paul Rozin, Christopher Dunn, Natalie Fedotova. Judgment and Decision Making, Vol. 13, No. 5, Sept 2018, pp. 441-450,

Abstract: Backward magical contagion describes instances in which individuals (sources) express discomfort or pleasure when something connected to them (medium; e.g., hair, a diary) falls into the possession of a negatively- or positively-perceived individual (recipient). The reaction seems illogical, since it is made clear that the source will never experience the object again, and the psychological effect appears to reverse the standard forward model of causality. Backward magical contagion was originally believed to be a belief held only within traditional cultures. Two studies examined negative backward contagion in adult Americans in online surveys. Study 1 indicated that backward contagion effects occur commonly, particularly when a recipient knows of the medium’s source. Study 2 showed that backward contagion effects tend to be neutralized when the recipient burns the object, as opposed to just possessing it or discarding it. Ironically, in traditional cultures, burning is a particularly potent cause of backward contagion.

Keywords: magic, contagion, backward causation

Risk Factors Related to Cognitive Distortions Toward Women and Moral Disengagement: A Study on Sex Offenders

Risk Factors Related to Cognitive Distortions Toward Women and Moral Disengagement: A Study on Sex Offenders. Giulio D’Urso, Irene Petruccelli, Simona Grilli, Ugo Pace. Sexuality & Culture,

Abstract: Violence against women is a heterogeneous phenomenon worldwide. In order to better understand this phenomenon, it is also necessary to study the offenders against women. Therefore, the present study investigates, in the light of risk factors, the individual and social characteristics (related to adolescence), the moral disengagement strategies and cognitive distortions of 120 sex offenders detained in Italian jails. We administered the semi-structured interview for data collection regarding family, social and medical histories and the manner in which the deviant act was carried out, the Moral Disengagement Scale, and the Vindictive Rape Attitude Questionnaire to investigate the presence of cognitive distortions toward women. Results show important risk factors in the genesis of moral disengagement strategies in the offenders: the use of substances and being institutionalized in their past. In addition, through a multiple regression model, we noticed how education levels represent a negative predictor of cognitive distortions towards women and the attribution of blame to a positive predictor. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Keywords: Sex offenders Moral disengagement Cognitive distortions Risk factors Substance abuse Institutionalization Adolescence

Relationships and Infidelity in Pornography: An Analysis of Pornography Streaming Websites

Relationships and Infidelity in Pornography: An Analysis of Pornography Streaming Websites. Kyler R. Rasmussen, Daniel Millar, Jeremy Trenchuk. Sexuality & Culture,

Abstract: Research suggests that pornography has the potential to inform sexual and romantic scripts, but no studies have examined the relational content within modern mainstream pornography. In this article, we present a content analysis of 190 sexually explicit online video clips from mainstream pornography streaming websites, coding for the relationship between participants (if any) and whether the video portrayed acts of infidelity. We also contrasted those clips with a comparison sample of 77 YouTube videos. We found that depictions of on-screen committed relationships were relatively rare in pornography (7.9% of videos) compared to YouTube (18.2%), but that infidelity was relatively common (25.3% vs. 2.6%), with pornography more likely to depict women as engaging in infidelity than men. Relational content was more likely to be included in a pornographic clip when the video portrayed a fictional narrative. These findings are consistent with past research connecting pornography consumption with open and liberal sexuality.

Keywords: Casual sex Content analysis Infidelity Pornography

Studies with the strongest research designs indicate that psychotherapy may be considerably less effective than we tend to believe; in fact, different psychotherapies may be equally ineffective

Insight Into Insight in Psychotherapy. Per H√łglend. American Journal of Psychiatry,

There have been more than 5,000 randomized controlled trials of psychotherapy. Most meta-analyses conclude that psychotherapy is effective for a range of disorders, and different modalities of therapy are equally effective. However, studies with the strongest research designs indicate that psychotherapy may be considerably less effective than we tend to believe (1). In fact, different psychotherapies may be equally ineffective. Too many patients fail to respond or continue to experience residual symptoms after treatment termination. All treatments for mental disorders have a wide margin for improvement.

Mental health professionals still believe that psychotherapy can be improved by theoretical discussion, logic, and expert opinion (2). This may be one of the reasons for the existence of several hundred “brand name” psychotherapies. However, in order to improve clinical theories, treatment interventions, and training, we need to identify how psychotherapy works—the mechanisms of change underlying the treatment effects (3). It is only with the specification of mediators of change, whether psychological (3) or biological (4), that the field will move forward. Many mechanisms may have an impact in the complex process of psychotherapy, but insight is regarded as one of the most important mechanisms of change, not only in dynamic psychotherapy (5) but also, increasingly, in cognitive behavioral therapy (6) and experiential psychotherapy (7).

In this regard, the study reported in this issue of the Journal by Jennissen and colleagues (8) is timely. This is the first meta-analysis of studies with data on the insight-outcome correlation. The meta-analysis is generally well done, with all of the elements that one would want to see—checks for heterogeneity, study quality, weighting, risk of publication bias. The authors screened more than 12,000 abstracts, assessed 261 full-text papers, and ended up with 22 studies (with 23 effect sizes). Their definition of insight is broad, but it is mainstream and reasonably accurate. They define it as “patients’ understanding of associations between past and present experiences, typical relationship patterns, and the relation between interpersonal challenges, emotional experience, and psychological symptoms.” The eligibility criteria used are sensible. [...]


Jennissen et al. report a consistent pattern of associations between insight and outcome across disorders and therapy types. There was a significant moderate relationship (r=0.31) between insight and treatment outcome. The study was not powered to detect moderators of the insight-outcomes associations. Overall, the findings constitute preliminary support for the importance of insight in different forms of psychotherapy.

Jennissen and colleagues’ choice to include many different diagnoses and different treatments in their meta-analysis may reflect current developments in our field. Given the shared brain circuitry, genes found across disorders, medications used across disorders, and the reality of considerable comorbidity, there is growing recognition that only a few domains of dysfunction may extend across the many DSM diagnostic categories. Caspi et al. (9) have argued that psychopathology could be explained with one general psychopathology dimension. The Research Domain Criteria initiative of the National Institute of Mental Health focuses on only a few domains of dysfunction, social processes being one of them. Transdiagnostic approaches and unified trans-theoretical treatment protocols may improve future research.

Jennissen and colleagues’ meta-analysis estimated a moderate association between insight and psychotherapy outcome across diagnostic categories and different schools of psychotherapy. Its magnitude is comparable to effect sizes of established treatment factors, such as therapeutic alliance. A large number of studies have documented a moderate but consistent relationship between therapeutic alliance and outcome, across different treatments and diagnoses (10). Brain changes, too, mainly in the prefrontal cortex, cingulate gyrus, and amygdala, are associated with symptom improvement across different diagnoses and treatments (11). However, an association with outcome is necessary but not sufficient. Just like insight and alliance, brain changes may be a consequence of symptom change or a proxy for some other therapeutic change processes. Further longitudinal research with study designs that include most or all steps in mediation research is necessary to establish insight, or alliance, or brain changes as mechanisms for treatment outcome. In our own research into the effect of insight on the outcome of psychotherapy, my colleagues and I found that use of a specific technique in dynamic psychotherapy (transference work) increased gain of insight during therapy substantially, with a subsequent improvement in outcome (12).

[full text and references in link above]

8  Jennissen S, Huber J, Ehrenthal JC, et al.: Association between insight and outcome of psychotherapy: systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Psychiatry 2018;175:961–969

Domesticated Foxes Developing Laughter To Please Us

Domesticated Foxes Laugh with You (and Without You). Lee Alan Dugatkin. Psychology Today, Oct 2018,



This part of the story begins in the 1980s when Lyudmila heard some of the domesticated foxes vocalizing in an odd new way, making a high-pitched “haaaaaw, haaaaaw, haw, haw, haw” sound when people approached them. Lyudmila thought it sounded like they were laughing and called it the “ha ha” vocalization. But neither Lyudmila nor the other researchers in the fox study had knowledge of how to study vocalizations, so not much came of the new sounds. Then, in 2005, Lyudmila got a phone call from Svetlana Gogoleva.


[...] What she found was that the “ha ha” sounds mimicked the sound of human laughter very closely. Closer than any other nonhuman vocalization. When she looked at a spectrogram that allowed her to visualize the domesticated fox “ha ha” sound, and a spectrogram of human laughter, she was hard pressed to tell the difference. The similarity was astonishing. Almost eerie. Of course, the domesticated foxes make their “ha ha” sound regardless of what we might consider funny. But that doesn’t change the fact that the domestication experiment has now produced foxes that not only act and look like a lapdog, but will give you a “ha ha” when you need a laugh, as well as when you do not.

Gogoleva and Lyudmila hypothesize that the tame foxes make the “ha ha” sound to attract human attention and prolong interaction with people. Somehow, they propose, the tame foxes have become adept at pleasing us by the sound of our own laughter. How, they don’t know, but a more pleasant way for one species to bond with another is hard to imagine.

Check also Smiles as Multipurpose Social Signals. Jared Martin et al. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, and references therein.