Thursday, November 29, 2018

Vertical pupils are perceived as more threatening; snake phobia, & not spider phobia, was found to be related to perceiving vertical pupils as threatening

The evil eye effect: vertical pupils are perceived as more threatening. Sinan Alper, Elif Oyku Us & Dicle Rojda Tasman. Cognition and Emotion, https://doi.org/10.1080/02699931.2018.1550741

ABSTRACT: Popular culture has many examples of evil characters having vertically pupilled eyes. Humans have a long evolutionary history of rivalry with snakes and their visual systems were evolved to rapidly detect snakes and snake-related cues. Considering such evolutionary background, we hypothesised that humans would perceive vertical pupils, which are characteristics of ambush predators including some of the snakes, as threatening. In seven studies (aggregate N = 1458) conducted on samples from American and Turkish samples, we found that vertical pupils are perceived as more threatening on both explicit (Study 1) and implicit level (Studies 2–7) and they are associated with physical, rather than social, threat (Study 4). Findings provided partial support regarding our hypothesis about the relevance of snake detection processes: Snake phobia, and not spider phobia, was found to be related to perceiving vertical pupils as threatening (Study 5), however an experimental manipulation of saliency of snakes rendered no significant effect (Study 6) and a comparison of fears of snakes, alligators, and cats did not support our prediction (Study 7). We discuss the potential implications and limitations of these novel findings.

KEYWORDS: Evolutionary psychology, horizontal pupil, snake detection theory, implicit association test, vertical pupil

In matters of the heart, as in many other matters generally, we adhere to existing states (“status quo bias”) & value them more (“endowment effect”)

I Have, Therefore I Love: Status Quo Preference in Mate Choice. Gul Gunaydin et al. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167217746339

Abstract: Decades of research indicate that individuals adhere to existing states (“status quo bias”) and value them more (“endowment effect”). The present work is the first to investigate status quo preference within the context of trade-offs in mate choice. Across seven studies (total N = 1,567), participants indicated whether they would prefer remaining with a current partner possessing a particular set of traits (e.g., high trustworthiness, low attractiveness) or switching to an alternative partner possessing opposite traits. Preference for a given trait was highest when the individual representing the status quo (one’s romantic partner or an interaction partner) possessed that trait. Concerns about hurting the partner, ambiguity avoidance, and biased construal of the partner and the alternative predicted status quo preference and disapproval of the current partner by network members eliminated this effect. These findings indicate that when it comes to matters of the heart, we tend to love what we currently have.

Keywords: status quo bias, endowment effect, decision making, romantic relationships, mate-choice trade-offs

Psychopathy and homicide are importantly linked and that psychopathic personality functioning is a significant risk factor for various forms of lethal violence

Psychopathic killers: A meta-analytic review of the psychopathy-homicide nexus. Bryanna Fox, Matt DeLisi. Aggression and Violent Behavior, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2018.11.005

Abstract: Despite cultural notions that psychopathy and homicide are strongly linked, there has not been a quantitative meta-analytic review of the association between psychopathy and homicide offending. The current study meta-analyzed data from 29 unique samples from 22 studies that included 2603 homicide offenders, and found that the mean psychopathy score on the PCL-R for a homicide offender was 21.2 (95% CI = 18.9–23.6). This score is indicative of moderate psychopathy. The overall effect size r = 0.68 was large, and effect sizes intensified in studies of more severe manifestations of homicide including sexual homicide (r = 0.71), sadistic homicide (r = 0.78), serial homicide (r = 0.74), and multi-offender homicide (r = 0.80). Current study findings make clear that psychopathy and homicide are importantly linked and that psychopathic personality functioning is a significant risk factor for various forms of lethal violence.

An oxytocin receptor gene has been associated with emotional traits such as positive affect and related constructs such as optimism and self-esteem; this seems not replicable

The Oxytocin Receptor Gene (OXTR) Variant rs53576 is Not Related to Emotional Traits or States in Young Adults. Tamlin S. Conner et al. Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02548

Abstract
BACKGROUND: To understand the genetic underpinnings of emotion, researchers have studied genetic variants in the oxytocin system, a hormone and neurotransmitter important to socio-emotional functioning. The oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) variant rs53576 has been associated with emotional traits such as positive affect and related constructs such as optimism and self-esteem. Individuals carrying the A allele (AG and AA genotypes) of rs53576 have been found to score lower in these traits when compared to GG homozygotes, although not always. Given recent mixed evidence regarding this polymorphism, replication of these associations is critical.

METHODS: Using a cross-sectional design, the present study tested the association between rs53576 and a wide variety of emotional traits and states in a sample of 611 young adults ages 18 - 25 of various ethnicities (European, Asian, Māori/Pacific Islander, other). Participants completed standard trait measures of positive and negative affect, depressive symptoms, life engagement, psychological well-being, optimism, and self-esteem. They also completed state measures of positive and negative affect and life engagement for 13-days using Internet daily diaries.

RESULTS: Controlling for ethnicity and gender, variation at the OXTR variant rs53576 obtained from blood samples was not related to any of the emotional traits or states. This null finding occurred despite measuring emotions in ‘near to real time’ using daily diaries and having sufficient power to detect a medium effect size difference between homozygous genotype groups.

CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that variation at the rs53576 locus may not be as involved in emotional differences as initial studies suggested.

Keywords: Oxytocin, Genetics, Rs53576, Mental Health, emotion, mood, Well-being, gene, Daily diary

Mindfulness not related to behavioral & speech markers of emotional positivity (or less negativity), interpersonally better connected (quality or quantity), or prosocial orientation (more affectionate, less gossipy or complaining)

Dispositional mindfulness in daily life: A naturalistic observation study. Deanna M. Kaplan, L. Raison, Anne Milek, Allison M. Tackman, Thaddeus W. W. Pace, Matthias R. Mehl. PLOS, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0206029

Abstract: Mindfulness has seen an extraordinary rise as a scientific construct, yet surprisingly little is known about how it manifests behaviorally in daily life. The present study identifies assumptions regarding how mindfulness relates to behavior and contrasts them against actual behavioral manifestations of trait mindfulness in daily life. Study 1 (N = 427) shows that mindfulness is assumed to relate to emotional positivity, quality social interactions, prosocial orientation and attention to sensory perceptions. In Study 2, 185 participants completed a gold-standard, self-reported mindfulness measure (the FFMQ) and underwent naturalistic observation sampling to assess their daily behaviors. Trait mindfulness was robustly related to a heightened perceptual focus in conversations. However, it was not related to behavioral and speech markers of emotional positivity, quality social interactions, or prosocial orientation. These findings suggest that the subjective and self-reported experience of being mindful in daily life is expressed primarily through sharpened perceptual attention, rather than through other behavioral or social differences. This highlights the need for ecological models of how dispositional mindfulness “works” in daily life, and raises questions about the measurement of mindfulness.