Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Local Competition Amplifies the Corrosive Effects of Inequality: Inequality is at its most damaging when it arises between close competitors

Local Competition Amplifies the Corrosive Effects of Inequality. D. B. Krupp, Thomas R. Cook. Psychological Science, https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797617748419

Abstract: Inequality is widely believed to incite conflict, but the evidence is inconsistent. We argue that the spatial scale of competition—the extent to which individuals compete locally, with their interaction partners, or globally, with the entire population—can help settle the question. We built a mathematical model of the evolution of conflict under inequality and tested its predictions in an experimental game with 1,205 participants. We found that inequality increases conflict, destroys wealth, and engenders risk taking. Crucially, these effects are amplified by local competition. Thus, inequality is at its most damaging when it arises between close competitors. Indeed, at the extremes, the combined effects of inequality and the scale of competition are very large. More broadly, our findings suggest that disagreements in the literature may be the result of a mismatch between the scale at which inequality is measured and the scale at which conflict occurs.

Keywords: inequality, scale of competition, conflict, relative deprivation, tragedy of the commons, risk taking, open data, open materials, preregistered

Mainstream media, same author: https://aeon.co/ideas/kill-the-competition-why-siblings-fight-but-colleagues-cooperate (h/t alert reader)

Academic gains of students enrolled in public schools compared to students of private BIP-creativity elementary schools (that aim to promote the development of talent, intelligence & personality): no differences at the end of fourth grade

Who is ahead at the end of elementary school? Student achievement gains in private BIP-Creativity schools and public schools. Frank Lipowsky et al. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, October 2018, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 897–927. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11618-018-0807-1

Abstract: The number of students enrolled in private schools has been growing continuously in the past years, especially in elementary schools. There is a variety of reasons for this development. Among other expectations, parents anticipate a superior education for their children and hope for bigger academic success. However, empirical results on the effectiveness of private schools are inconsistent and ambiguous, partly because many studies used cross-sectional data. Longitudinal studies investigating the development of elementary school students are especially lacking.

The present study compares academic achievement gains of students enrolled in public schools to students who learned in the so-called BIP-creativity elementary schools. BIP schools are private schools that aim to promote the development of the talent, intelligence and personality of their students. This study investigates the development of students in mathematics, reading and orthography over a 4-years period.

As the group of BIP-students is selected in terms of their socio-economic background, analyses were run in two ways. First, multilevel analyses controlling for student and class characteristics were performed. Second, a Propensity Score Matching based on school enrollment data was used in order to select a comparable group of students from public schools. Each BIP-student was matched to a student from the public schools that had a comparable socio-economic background and similar cognitive characteristics. Neither multilevel analyses nor mean comparisons of the matched samples could reveal any differences between the two groups of students in the three domains of academic achievement at the end of fourth grade.

Keywords: BIP-creativity schools Elementary school Private school Public school Propensity Score Matching

The Heritability of Self-control: Meta-analysis based on a sample size of >100.000 individuals, published between 1996 and 2018, reveal that heritability is around 60%

Willems, Yayouk, Nicky Boesen, Jian-Bin Li, Meike Bartels, and Catrin Finkenauer. 2018. “The Heritability of Self-control: A Meta-analysis.” PsyArXiv. October 17. doi:10.31234/osf.io/eaz3d

Abstract: Self-control is the ability to control one’s impulses when faced with challenges or temptations, and is robustly associated with physiological and psychological well-being. Twin studies show that self-control is heritable, but estimates range between 0% and 90%, making it difficult to draw firm conclusions. The aim of this study was to perform a meta-analysis to provide a quantitative overview of the heritability of self-control. A systematic search resulted in 31 included studies, based on a sample size of >100.000 individuals, published between 1996 and 2018. Our results revealed an overall monozygotic twin correlation of .58, and an overall dizygotic twin correlation of .28, resulting in a heritability estimate of 60%. The heritability of self-control did not vary across gender or age. The heritability did differ across informants, with stronger heritability estimates based on parent report versus self-report or observations. This finding provides evidence that when aiming to understand individual differences in self-control, one should take genetic factors into account. Recommendations for future research are discussed.

Vegetarians reported lower self-esteem, lower psychological adjustment, less meaning in life, & more negative moods than semi-vegetarians & omnivores; also reported more negative social experiences than omnivores & semi-vegetarians

Relationships between Vegetarian Dietary Habits and Daily Well-Being. John B. Nezlek, Catherine A. Forestell & David B. Newman. Ecology of Food and Nutrition, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03670244.2018.1536657

ABSTRACT: The goal of the present study was to examine differences in the daily experiences of vegetarians and non-vegetarians. At the end of each day for two weeks, a convenience sample of American undergraduates described how they felt and how they thought about themselves that day, and they described the events that occurred to them that day. Multilevel modeling analyses (days nested within persons) found that vegetarians (individuals who avoided all meat and fish, n = 24) reported lower self-esteem, lower psychological adjustment, less meaning in life, and more negative moods than semi-vegetarians (individuals who ate some meat and/or fish, n = 56) and omnivores (individuals who did not restrict their intake of meat or fish, n = 323). Vegetarians also reported more negative social experiences than omnivores and semi-vegetarians. Although women were more likely than men to identify as vegetarians and semi-vegetarians, controlling for participant gender did not change the results of the analyses. The differences we found are consistent with other research that suggests that vegetarians are less psychologically well-adjusted than non-vegetarians. The implications of the present results for understanding relationships between dietary habits and well-being are discussed.

KEYWORDS: Daily diary, vegetarianism, well-being

The five stages in coping with dying & bereavement does not measure up to the standards of a sound theory in contemporary thinking, can actually do damage when misapplied or applied too rigidly, & should be set aside

The ‘five stages’ in coping with dying and bereavement: strengths, weaknesses and some alternatives. Charles A. Corr. Mortality, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13576275.2018.1527826

ABSTRACT: This article offers a reflective analysis of one well-known psychological theory, the so-called ‘five stages’ in coping with dying and coping with bereavement. Despite widespread acceptance among the general public and continued presence in some forms of professional education, it is argued that the ‘five stages’ model is less attractive than it initially appears. Significant criticisms of the theory are set forth here, as well as notable strengths of its underlying foundations. Lessons to learn about this theory are offered in terms of both coping with dying and coping with bereavement. In addition, examples of alternative theories from the literature are presented in both spheres. The conclusion is that although the five stages model is important as a classical theory with constructive historical implications, it does not measure up to the standards of a sound theory in contemporary thinking, can actually do damage when misapplied to individuals or applied too rigidly, and should be set aside as an unreliable guide to both education and practice.

KEYWORDS: Five stages, Kübler-Ross, coping, dying, bereavement

Carl Jung (1954, p. 7) once offered the following comment:

Theories in psychology are the very devil. It is true that we need certain points of view for their orienting and heuristic value; but they should always be regarded as mere auxiliary concepts that can be laid aside at any time.


In her book, On Death and Dying (1969), Elisabeth Kübler-Ross reported that a series of interviews with adults who had a terminal illness had led her to formulate a theoretical model of five psychosocial stages (see Table 1). She interpreted these stages as ‘defense mechanisms’ that ‘will last for different periods of time and will replace each other or exist at times side by side’ (p. 138). The possibility of stages existing simultaneously or ‘side by side’ was not well developed, perhaps because the very word ‘stage’ suggests linearity and perhaps also because there was some ambiguity in the way individuals were portrayed in this model. Were the stages descriptive or prescriptive? Was it that individuals might, may, will or must move through the five stages?

There can be no doubt that Kübler-Ross’s five stages appealed to many who read about or heard of this model. Her work helped to bring the situation of dying persons and issues involved in coping with dying to public and professional attention. She drew attention to the human aspects of living with dying and her model identified common patterns of familiar psychosocial reactions to difficult situations.

There are, however, major difficulties in accepting the five stage model as it was originally presented. Early research by others (e.g. Metzger, 1980; Schulz & Aderman, 1974) did not support this model. In addition, since its initial appearance in 1969, there has been no independent confirmation of its validity or reliability, and Kübler-Ross advanced no further evidence on its behalf before her death in August 2004. On the contrary, many clinicians who work with the dying found this model to be inadequate, superficial, and misleading (e.g. Pattison, 1977; Shneidman, 1980/1995; Weisman, 1977).

[Table 1.]

Responding to past and present losses

Anticipating and responding to losses yet to come Described as a stage ‘almost void of feelings’ Source: Based on Kübler-Ross (1969). Widespread acclaim in the popular arena contrasts with sharp criticism from scholars (e.g. Klass, 1982; Klass & Hutch, 1986), and there is no evidence that this model is employed in contemporary hospice programmes that have caring for the dying as their primary focus. One detailed and authoritative evaluation of this stage-based model by a well-known psychologist raised the following points: (1) the existence of these stages as such as not been demonstrated; (2) no evidence has been presented that people actually do move from stage 1 through stage 3; (3) the limitations of the method have not been acknowledge; (4) the line is blurred between description and prescription; (5) the totality of the person’slifeis neglected in favour of the supposed stages of dying; and (6) the resources, pressures and characteristics of the immediate environment, which can make a tremendous difference, are not taken into account (Kastenbaum, 2012). In addition, Weisman (1972) pointed out that ‘denial’ and ‘acceptance’ arethemselves complex and not as simple as they first appea r(and, one might add that ‘depression’ must mean something more akin to ‘sadness’ than to ‘clinical depression’ unless we think that this stage in coping with dying reflects a major psychiatric disorder).

Apart from the implication that there are only five ways to cope with dying, a primary criticism of this model is that there is no reason to think that these particular five ways are linked together as stages in a larger process (Corr, 1993, 2011). In fact, Kübler-Ross herself argued for fluidity, give-and-take, the possibility of experiencing two of these responses simultaneously, and an ability to jump around from one stage to another. This is more realistic and closer to what Shneidman (1973,p.7)calleda‘hive of affect’,i.e.abusy, buzzing, active set of feelings, attitudes and other reactions to which a person can return from time to time, or again and again, now expressing one posture, now another, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes repeatedly, sometimes with long intervals in between. If so, the language of ‘stages’, with its associated implications of linear progression/regression, is not really appropriate for a cluster of disconnected coping strategies. Numerous vignettes in On Death and Dying that describe different individuals experiencing different reactions and responses to life-threatening illness do not support claims that any one of these individuals has or will move through all five of the ‘stages’. This stage theory is attractive because it seems to describe a relatively simple, straight-lined, predictable course of behaviour, one culminating in a clear end –but that does not mean the fivestage model is a sound theory.

Unfortunately, some enthusiasts have misused this model by objectifying dying persons as a ‘case of anger’ or a ‘case of depression’; others have told ill persons that they have already been angry and should now ‘move on’ to bargaining or depression; and still others have become frustrated by those whom they view as ‘stuck’ in the dying process. Kübler-Ross could have modified her theory after its initial presentation. She might not have contented herself with simply repeating its main elements in her many presentations and other publications. And she might have addressed criticisms or misuses of the fivestage model. But she did none of these things. As she left it, the five-stage model stands on nothing more than one author’s clinical impressions from 50-year-old interviews. Unfortunately, the result (contrary to Jung’s advice) is that employing this model all too often tends to force those who are coping with dying into a pre-established framework that suppresses their individuality. Thus, Rosenthal (1973, p. 39), as he was coping with his own dying, wrote, ‘Being invisible I invite only generalizations’.

Longevity might increase together with numbers of cortical neurons through their impact on three main factors: delay of sexual maturity, which postpones the onset of aging; lengthening of

Longevity and sexual maturity vary across species with number of cortical neurons, and humans are no exception. Suzana Herculano‐Houzel. Journal of Comparative Neurology, https://doi.org/10.1002/cne.24564

Abstract: Maximal longevity of endotherms has long been considered to increase with decreasing specific metabolic rate, and thus with increasing body mass. Using a dataset of over 700 species, here I show that maximal longevity, age at sexual maturity and post‐maturity longevity across bird and mammalian species instead correlate primarily, and universally, with the number of cortical brain neurons. Correlations with metabolic rate and body mass are entirely explained by clade‐specific relationships between these variables and numbers of cortical neurons across species. Importantly, humans reach sexual maturity and subsequently live just as long as expected for their number of cortical neurons, which eliminates the basis for earlier theories of protracted childhood and prolonged post‐menopause longevity as derived human characteristics. Longevity might increase together with numbers of cortical neurons through their impact on three main factors: delay of sexual maturity, which postpones the onset of aging; lengthening of the period of viable physiological integration and adaptation, which increases post‐maturity longevity; and improved cognitive capabilities that benefit survival of the self and of longer‐lived progeny, and are conducive to prolonged learning and cultural transmission through increased generational overlap. Importantly, the findings indicate that theories of aging and neurodegenerative diseases should take absolute time lived besides relative “age” into consideration.

Early humans, rather than being "killer apes” in the Pleistocene and early Holocene, lived as relatively peaceful hunter-gathers for some 15,000 generations, from the emergence of modern Homo sapiens up until the invention of agriculture

Hunter-Gatherers and Human Evolution: New Light on Old Debates. Richard B. Lee. Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 47:513-531 (Volume publication date October 2018), https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-anthro-102116-041448

Abstract: One of the most persistent debates in anthropology and related disciplines has been over the relative weight of aggression and competition versus nonaggression and cooperation as drivers of human behavioral evolution. The literature on hunting and gathering societies—past and present—has played a prominent role in these debates. This review compares recent literature from both sides of the argument and evaluates how accurately various authors use or misuse the ethnographic and archaeological research on hunters and gatherers. Whereas some theories provide a very poor fit with the hunter-gatherer evidence, others build their arguments around a much fuller range of the available data. The latter make a convincing case for models of human evolution that place at their center cooperative breeding and child-rearing, as well as management of conflict, flexible land tenure, and balanced gender relations.

Keywords: hunter-gatherers, behavioral ecology, human evolution, violence, gender, child-rearing