Monday, November 26, 2018

Sensation seeking & the factor intellect/imagination predict liking of horror & frequency of use; gender, educational level, & age are also correlated; people seek out horror media with threatening stimuli that they perceive to be plausible

Clasen, M., Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, J., & Johnson, J. A. (2018). Horror, personality, and threat simulation: A survey on the psychology of scary media. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences,

Abstract: Horror entertainment is a thriving and paradoxical industry. Who are the consumers of horror, and why do they seek out frightening media? We provide support for the threat simulation theory of horror, according to which horror media provides a form of benign masochism that offers negative emotional stimulation through simulation of threat scenarios. Through an online survey of genre use and preference as well as personality traits and paranormal beliefs (n = 1,070), we find that sensation seeking and the fifth of the Big Five factors, intellect/imagination, predict liking of horror and frequency of use. Gender, educational level, and age are also correlated with horror liking and frequency of use (males show higher liking and more frequent use, whereas liking and use frequency are negatively correlated with educational level and age). People with stronger beliefs in the paranormal tend to seek out horror media with supernatural content, whereas those with weaker beliefs in the paranormal gravitate toward horror media with natural content, suggesting that people seek out horror media with threatening stimuli that they perceive to be plausible. While frightening media may be initially aversive, people high in sensation seeking and intellect/imagination, in particular, like intellectual stimulation and challenge and expect not just negative but also positive emotions from horror consumption. They brave the initially aversive response to simulate threats and so enter a positive feedback loop by which they attain adaptive mastery through coping with virtual simulated danger.

Check also So Disgusting, But You Can't Take Your Eyes Off the Screen: Can Personality Traits and Disgust Sensitivity Influence People's Love for Horror Movies? Ashley Marie Dillard. Western Carolina University, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2018. 10788427.

Normalized hurricane damage in the continental United States 1900–2017: Consistent with observed trends in the hurricane landfalls, the updated normalized loss estimates also show no trend

Normalized hurricane damage in the continental United States 1900–2017. Jessica Weinkle, Chris Landsea, Douglas Collins, Rade Musulin, Ryan P. Crompton, Philip J. Klotzbach & Roger Pielke Jr. Nature Sustainability (2018),

Abstract: Direct economic losses result when a hurricane encounters an exposed, vulnerable society. A normalization estimates direct economic losses from a historical extreme event if that same event was to occur under contemporary societal conditions. Under the global indicator framework of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the reduction of direct economic losses as a proportion of total economic activity is identified as a key indicator of progress in the mitigation of disaster impacts. Understanding loss trends in the context of development can therefore aid in assessing sustainable development. This analysis provides a major update to the leading dataset on normalized US hurricane losses in the continental United States from 1900 to 2017. Over this period, 197 hurricanes resulted in 206 landfalls with about US$2 trillion in normalized (2018) damage, or just under US$17 billion annually. Consistent with observed trends in the frequency and intensity of hurricane landfalls along the continental United States since 1900, the updated normalized loss estimates also show no trend. A more detailed comparison of trends in hurricanes and normalized losses over various periods in the twentieth century to 2017 demonstrates a very high degree of consistency.

People will often fight not for individual or collective material gain, but because of their commitment to abstract moral & sacred ideas; decisions to support or oppose war are descriptively deontological & are relatively insensitive to material costs or benefits

The Moral Logic of Political Violence. Jeremy Ginges. Trends in Cognitive Sciences,

Abstract: There is a moral logic to reasoning about political violence. People will often fight not for individual or collective material gain, but because of their commitment to abstract moral and sacred ideas. Moreover, decisions to support or oppose war are descriptively deontological and are relatively insensitive to material costs or benefits.

For example, in one set of experiments carried out with Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, participants were randomly presented with one of two compromises over a disputed issue such as Jerusalem: a straight compromise for peace, or the same compromise for peace plus a material incentive such as the promise of a life free of violence, or billions of dollars to the collective.  When participants were moral absolutists with respect to the issues in conflict (regarding them as sacred values) adding a material incentive backfired, ironically ‘increasing’ support for violent opposition to the deal. The existence of culturally specific sacred values does not itself impede tolerant interactions across cultures (Box 1). However, aggression may occur when one group acts to demean or threaten the second group’s sacred values.

Decisions about War Are Relatively Insensitive to Consequences
Rather than being a product of a breakdown in morality, war is often regarded as a moral necessity if not a moral good [2,7,13]. While moral reasoning is important to collective action in general [5], people tend to make decisions about war in a deontological way such that violence is either seen as prohibited or mandated.  This leads to decisions that are relatively insensitive to material consequences.  In anonymous surveys of Jewish Israelis living in the West Bank and Gaza, participation in non-violent protest (aggressive and non-aggressive) was related to both the perceived effectiveness of such behavior and its perceived ‘righteousness’. However, participation in violent attacks was predicted by righteousness and unrelated to effectiveness [3].

Cross-cultural experiments show similar effects [2]. In one experimental paradigm, participants were randomly assigned to consider their support for either a non-violent response (negotiation) or a violent response (armed attack) to the kidnapping and imminent murder of 100 innocent civilians.  In prior tests, participants thought both options were equally appropriate and desirable. However, when asked to indicate how many hostages they required to be rescued to support the response they were considering, participants in the negotiation condition demanded between 80 and 100 hostages to be rescued, while those in the armed attack condition option required only one hostage to be rescued.  Participants in themilitary conditions would often give strategic reasons for their responses, typically by arguing that violence will deter future attacks. Yet, a subsequent experiment showed that support for military options was similarly insensitive to its deterrent capability [2]. Thus, people reason differently about violent and nonviolent option in intergroup conflicts, using the logic of instrumental rationality for nonviolence, but deontological reasoning when making choices about political violence.  This can lead to systematic inconsistency of preferences for military action (Box 2).

Degree of perceived aggression in a robot's behavior did not have a significant impact on their decision to follow the robot's instruction; people often exhibit reactance in situations where they feel their freedom is being threatened

S. Agrawal and M. Williams, "Would You Obey an Aggressive Robot: A Human-Robot Interaction Field Study," 2018 27th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN), Nanjing, China, 2018, pp. 240-246. doi: 10.1109/ROMAN.2018.8525615

Abstract: Social Robots have the potential to be of tremendous utility in healthcare, search and rescue, surveillance, transport, and military applications. In many of these applications, social robots need to advise and direct humans to follow important instructions. In this paper, we present the results of a Human-Robot Interaction field experiment conducted using a PR2 robot to explore key factors involved in obedience of humans to social robots. This paper focuses on studying how the human degree of obedience to a robot's instructions is related to the perceived aggression and authority of the robot's behavior. We implemented several social cues to exhibit and convey both authority and aggressiveness in the robot's behavior. In addition to this, we also analyzed the impact of other factors such as perceived anthropomorphism, safety, intelligence and responsibility of the robot's behavior on participants' compliance with the robot's instructions. The results suggest that the degree of perceived aggression in the robot's behavior by different participants did not have a significant impact on their decision to follow the robot's instruction. We have provided possible explanations for our findings and identified new research questions that will help to understand the role of robot authority in human-robot interaction, and that can help to guide the design of robots that are required to provide advice and instructions.

Keywords: Robot sensing systems; Safety; Human-robot interaction; Security; Anthropomorphism; Surveillance

A 4-Year Longitudinal Study of the Sex-Creativity Relationship: There was female superiority in childhood & early adolescence, & male superiority was not found in adolescence & emerging adulthood

A 4-Year Longitudinal Study of the Sex-Creativity Relationship in Childhood, Adolescence, and Emerging Adulthood: Findings of Mean and Variability Analyses. Wu-Jing He. Front. Psychol., 26 November 2018 |

Abstract: The relationship between sex and creativity remains an unresolved research question. The present study aimed to approach this question through the lens of the developmental theory of sex differences in intelligence, which posits a dynamic pattern of sex differences in intellectual abilities from female superiority in childhood and early adolescence to male superiority starting at 16 years of age. A total of 775 participants from three age groups (i.e., children, adolescents, and emerging adults) completed a 4-year longitudinal study comprising four assessments of creative thinking at 1-year intervals. Creative thinking was assessed with the Test for Creative Thinking-Drawing Production. While the results revealed female superiority in childhood and early adolescence, male superiority was not found in adolescence and emerging adulthood. Rather, greater sex similarities and greater male variability were found based on mean and variability analyses, respectively. This study elucidated the link between sex and creativity by (1) taking a developmental perspective, (2) employing a 4-year longitudinal design in three age groups (i.e., children, adolescents, and emerging adults), and (3) analyzing sex differences based on both mean and variability analyses.

Contra media reports, there is no “loneliness epidemic” among older adults; contra previous literature, loneliness may not have cardiometabolic implications; such nonreplications are increasingly common

Loneliness does (not) have cardiometabolic effects: A longitudinal study of older adults in two countries. Social Science & Medicine,

•    Contrary to media reports, there is no “loneliness epidemic” among older adults.
•    Opposing previous studies, loneliness may not be linked to cardiometabolic outcomes.
•    Such nonreplications are common in the growing “biosocial science” literature.
•    More rigorous methods are available, and urgently need incorporation.


Objectives: Mass media increasingly report a “loneliness epidemic.” A growing academic literature claims downstream effects of this experience on surrogate markers of cardiometabolic risk. Evidence on such influences is based on flawed samples and methodologies, rendering inferences questionable. The current study tested these claims.

Methods: Analysis was based on three-wave data on older adults from two national probability samples—the U.S. Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). Models were gender-differentiated. Cardiovascular states were indexed by systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and metabolic condition by hemoglobin A1c. Fixed effects models were used for initial investigation, and subsequent triangulation was through a first-differencing approach with instrumental variables.

Results: Loneliness had no linkage with any of the three outcomes. Nor were prevalences indicative of an epidemic of this affective state. Both gender and cross-national variations emerged: women were lonelier than men in each sample, while ELSA participants of both genders were less so than their HRS counterparts.

Discussion: Contra previous literature, loneliness may not have cardiometabolic implications. Such nonreplications are increasingly common in the emerging “biosocial science” literature. Potential sources are discussed. More rigorous methods are available and urgently need incorporation to root out flawed inferences and conceptual models.