Sunday, November 11, 2018

In the absence of a clear majority, the diversity of social information produces opposite effects on herding behavior and subjective uncertainty

Navajas, Joaquin, Oriane Armand, Bahador Bahrami, and Ophelia Deroy. 2018. “Diversity of Opinions Promotes Herding in Uncertain Crowds.” PsyArXiv. April 5. doi:10.31234/osf.io/mvy25

Abstract: Classic and recent studies demonstrate how we fall for the ‘tyranny of the majority’ and follow the dominant trend, perhaps wisely, when uncertain. In many social interactions, however, there is no clearly identified majority, and aggregating the various opinions of others is non-trivial. We asked whether in such conditions herding behavior depends on statistical properties of social information, namely, the variance of opinions in a group. Participants privately estimated the price of eight anonymous paintings. Then, in groups of five, they discussed and agreed on a shared estimate for four paintings. Finally, they provided revised individual estimates for all paintings. We observed that groups converged to each other and boosted their confidence. However, the more diverse groups herded more and showed less confidence. These findings suggest that, in the absence of a clear majority, the diversity of social information produces opposite effects on herding behavior and subjective uncertainty.

Insomnia and mortality: a meta-analysis shows that longevity is not impacted

Insomnia and mortality: a meta-analysis. Nicole Lovato, Leon Lack. Sleep Medicine Reviews, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2018.10.004

Summary: The purpose of this review was to evaluate the strength of evidence for a relationship between risk of mortality and frequent and ongoing insomnia using a meta-analytic strategy.

Seventeen studies, including a total of 36,938,981 individuals followed up for a mean of 11.6 years, reporting the investigation of the association between mortality and frequent (≥3 nights/week), ongoing (≥1 month) insomnia were identified.

There was no difference in the odds of mortality for those individuals with symptoms of insomnia when compared to those without symptoms (OR= 1.06, 95%CI=0.61-1.84, p=.84). This finding was echoed in the assessment of the rate of mortality in those with and without symptoms of insomnia using the outcomes of multivariate models, with the most complete adjustment for potential confounders, as reported by the individual studies included in this meta-analysis (HR= 1.07, 95%CI=.96-.1.19, p=.22). Additional analyses revealed a tendency for an increased risk of mortality associated with hypnotic use.

The current evidence reinforces the use of cognitive therapy, within a CBTi framework, as a frontline non-pharmacological treatment for insomnia to reassure patients their longevity will not be impacted as a consequence of suffering from insomnia.

Humans & news media prioritize outlying information & one reason for a negativity bias in news consumption & production is that negative information is more “outlying”: that is, further away from expectations

A Model of Attentiveness to Outlying News. P J Lamberson, Stuart Soroka. Journal of Communication, Volume 68, Issue 5, 1 October 2018, Pages 942–964, https://doi.org/10.1093/joc/jqy040

Abstract: This paper offers a formal-theoretical account for the preponderance of negative news content. It draws on work suggesting that humans and news media prioritize outlying information and argues that one reason for a negativity bias in news consumption and production is that negative information is more “outlying”: that is, further away from expectations. Expectations change over time, however, and so too do negativity (and other) biases. This dynamic is explored using some simple simulations, followed by an empirical explication using data on the U.S. economy alongside media coverage of the economy and public economic expectations. The end result is a broadly-generalizable account of the shifting prominence of “outlying” information.

The Salafi Worldview and the Hermeneutical Limits of Mainstream Sunni Critique of Salafi-Jihadism

The Salafi Worldview and the Hermeneutical Limits of Mainstream Sunni Critique of Salafi-Jihadism. Adis Duderija. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2018.1529359

Abstract: The aim of this article is to point to the hermeneutical limits of the critique of mainstream Sunnism vis-a-vis the Salafi-jihadist interpretations with particular reference to the literature produced by the proponents of the IS. The main argument the article makes is that by subscribing to what will be termed a “Salafi worldview,” mainstream Sunnism shares many interpretationally crucial epistemological and methodological mechanisms with those adopted by the proponents of the ideology behind the IS. As such mainstream Sunnism has strong hermeneutical limits that do not allow it to be in a position to mount an interpretationally effective rebuttal of many beliefs and practices Salafi-jihadists resort to including those pertaining to apostasy, enslavement, and gender-related issues.

Low levels of professional competency across professional domains can be due to difficulty measuring relevant outcomes, impoverished performance feedback, & lack of accurate assessment tools or decision aids

Assessment of Expert Performance Compared Across Professional Domains. Rick P. Thomas, Ashley Lawrence. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, Volume 7, Issue 2, June 2018, Pages 167-176, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jarmac.2018.03.009

Abstrac: In this paper, we review several task characteristics to explain why experts across domains differ in their level of skill (expertise). Domains may have low levels of professional competency because of difficulty measuring relevant outcomes, impoverished performance feedback, and lack of accurate assessment tools or decision aids. Acknowledging that domains differ furthers research on expertise because it elucidates some common controversies. For example, the role of nurture (job-relevant experience) versus nature (talent or pre-existing abilities) in skilled performance, and the problem that expert-level knowledge and fast decision-making do not always translate into superior performance across domains—the process–performance paradox. Moreover, recommendations for improving domain competence must take into account the underlying differences among domains to provide recommendations appropriate for the current level of competency exhibited by the professionals in the domain.

General Audience Summary: The goal of this paper is to explain why variability in performance exists between professional domains. For example, weather forecasters accurately predict next-day precipitation 82 percent of the time, whereas clinical psychologists and psychiatrists only accurately predict patient violence 39 percent of the time. We review evidence that specific professional domains may have low levels of skill because of difficulty measuring relevant outcomes, impoverished performance feedback, and lack of accurate assessment tools or decision aids. Weather forecasters have access to accurate and usable feedback for their 24-hour precipitation forecasts, whereas clinical psychologists do not have access to feedback of that quality for their predictions of violence. Understanding how differences between professional domains affect performance advances recommendations for improving competence. We also address important issues like why some professionals do not perform better as they gain experience and whether guided practice is really the only ingredient needed to develop high-level skill by evalu-ating the veracity of the claim that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to develop expertise. Similarly, we evaluate whether popular examples, like Shaquille O’Neal’s free-throw shooting improvement under Ed Pablashkis and Judit Polgár’s skill development in chess under her father’s tutelage, are truly mentorship success stories.

Check also Erekson, D. M., Janis, R., Bailey, R. J., Cattani, K., & Pedersen, T. R. (2017). A longitudinal investigation of the impact of psychotherapist training: Does training improve client outcomes? Journal of Counseling Psychology, 64(5), 514-524. https://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2017/11/a-longitudinal-investigation-of-impact.html

Choosing the vocational compared with the academic pathway was associated with higher conscientiousness & less interest in investigative, social, and enterprising activities

School or Work? The Choice May Change Your Personality. Jessika Golle et al. Psychological Science, https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797618806298

Abstract: According to the social-investment principle, entering new environments is associated with new social roles that influence people’s behaviors. In this study, we examined whether young adults’ personality development is differentially related to their choice of either an academic or a vocational pathway (i.e., entering an academic-track school or beginning vocational training). The personality constructs of interest were Big Five personality traits and vocational-interest orientations. We used a longitudinal study design and propensity-score matching to create comparable groups before they entered one of the pathways and then tested the differences between these groups 6 years later. We expected the vocational pathway to reinforce more mature behavior and curtail investigative interest. Results indicated that choosing the vocational compared with the academic pathway was associated with higher conscientiousness and less interest in investigative, social, and enterprising activities.

Keywords: educational pathways, personality development, Big Five traits, vocational interests, propensity-score analysis

Gender differences in adult numeracy are larger in societies that combine egalitarianism with gender segregation in the labour market, & smaller in countries with more inequitable gender relations; this is not an outcome of female disempowerment

Gender differences in adult numeracy: a comparative study. Rose Cook. Thesis submitted for the degree of PhD, UCL, June 2018. http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/10055384/1/Cook_10055384_thesis.pdf

Abstract: This thesis presents a comparative study of gender differences in adult numeracy in 20 OECD countries. It explores the ways in which the widespread male advantage in adult numeracy is associated with gender relations. Gender relations are measured in terms of gender differences in power and status, the gender division of paid and unpaid labour, and gender culture. The thesis uses quantitative secondary analysis of data from the OECD ’s 2012 Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), which provides direct measures of adults’ numeracy skills. The analysis proceeds from an original theoretical framework which combines insights from life course research on the determinants of skills in adulthood, as well as integrating feminist theory of multidimensional gender relations. At the individual level, the results demonstrate that female advances in education do not necessarily equalise adult numeracy. Women’s participation in the labour market is also not enough to guarantee equal levels of adult numeracy: women must also be able to access occupations that use numeracy skills. Cross-nationally, there is no obvious empirical relationship between gender inequality, conventionally conceived, and the gender difference in adult numeracy. Instead, paradoxically, gender differences in adult numeracy are larger in societies that combine egalitarianism with gender segregation in the labour market, and smaller in countries with relatively inequitable gender relations. Overall, there is little evidence that gender differences in adult numeracy are associated with conventional indicators of gender inequality in this sample of countries. The thesis thereby questions the findings of previous research and suggests that instead of being framed as an outcome of female disempowerment, gender differences in adult numeracy should be understood in relation to the multidimensionality of gender relations in post-industrial societies.

Cats were tested in a two-way choice test with human gazing cues; found the hidden food with high success rate by following referential gazes; verbal ostensive cues before gazing made establishing of eye contact with cats faster

Cats (Felis silvestris catus) read human gaze for referential information. Péter Pongrácz, Julianna Szulamit Szapu, Tamás Faragó. Intelligence, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2018.11.001

Highlights
•    Cats were tested in a two-way choice test with human gazing cues.
•    Cats found the hidden food with high success rate by following referential gazes.
•    Verbal ostensive cues before gazing made establishing of eye contact with cats faster.

Abstract: Companion cats often occupy the same anthropogenic niche as dogs in human families. Still, cat cognition remains an underrepresented research subject in ethology. Our goal was to examine whether two components that are crucial in dog-human communicative interactions (sensitivity to ostensive signals; gaze following) are also present in cats. In a two-object choice task, we used dynamic and momentary gazing in ostensive and non-ostensive communicative situations. We tested 41 cats at their owner's home. Cats on the group level achieved a 70% overall success rate, showing that they are capable of following human gaze as a referential cue. Cats' success rate was unaffected both by the type of gazing and the presence/absence of ostensive communication, showing that the subjects followed readily even the more difficult momentary cues. We found a trend (p = 0.085), showing that young cats (max. 1 year old) may achieve higher success rate than adult animals. Ostension had a significant effect on the latency of eye contact, which was the shortest when the experimenter called the cat's attention with ostensive signals (p = 0.006). Our results are the first that prove cats' ability to follow human gaze, which is considered to be one of the more difficult visual referential signals given during human-animal interactions. Although ostension did not affect the success rate of cats, we found ostensive human signals to be a more effective attention elicitor compared to non-ostensive vocalizations. Our study therefore provided the first insight to the existence of sensitivity to human ostension in another non-human species besides dogs. These results emphasize the possible relevance of the domestication process and responsiveness to socialization in the development of human-compatible socio-cognitive skills even in such animals as the cat, where the ancestor was not a highly social species.