Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Better natural: Perceived attractiveness from the natural condition was 1.5 points higher than perceived attractiveness from the simulated upper lip filler injection, & 2.6 points higher than the simulated upper lip lift

Perception of upper lip augmentation utilizing simulated photography. Gary Linkov, Elizabeth Wick, Dorina Kallogjeri, Collin L. Chen, Gregory H. Branham. May 15, 2019. Archives of Plastic Surgery 2019;46(3):248-254. https://doi.org/10.5999/aps.2018.01319

Background: No head to head comparison is available between surgical lip lifting and upper lip filler injections to decide which technique yields the best results in patients. Despite the growing popularity of upper lip augmentation, its effect on societal perceptions of attractiveness, successfulness and overall health in woman is unknown.

Methods: Blinded casual observers viewed three versions of independent images of 15 unique patient lower faces for a total of 45 images. Observers rated the attractiveness, perceived success, and perceived overall health for each patient image. Facial perception questions were answered on a visual analog scale from 0 to 100, where higher scores corresponded to more positive responses.

Results: Two hundred and seventeen random observers with an average age of 47 years (standard deviation, 15.9) rated the images. The majority of observers were females (n=183, 84%) of white race (n=174, 80%) and had at least some college education (n=202, 93%). The marginal mean score for perceived attractiveness from the natural condition was 1.5 points (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.9–2.18) higher than perceived attractiveness from the simulated upper lip filler injection condition, and 2.6 points higher (95% CI, 1.95–3.24) than the simulated upper lip lift condition. There was a moderate to strong correlation between the scores of the same observer.

Conclusions: Simulated upper lip augmentation is amenable to social perception analysis. Scores of the same observer for attractiveness, successfulness, and overall health are strongly correlated. Overall, the natural condition had the highest scores in all categories, followed by simulated upper lip filler, and lastly simulated upper lip lift.

Keywords: Lip / Surgery, plastic / Injections / Perception

Ideological migration: Observational Data on 150 Erstwhile Democrats

Klein, Daniel B. and Fleming, Cy, WalkAway: Observational Data on 150 Erstwhile Democrats (May 17, 2019). Forthcoming, SOCIETY; George Mason University Department of Economics Research Paper Series. SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3389650

Abstract: #WalkAway signifies walking away from the Democratic Party. The movement was launched in June 2018 by Brandon Straka, when he uploaded what became the prototypical video of an individual telling his or her story about walking away. During 130 days, 150 erstwhile Democrats provided video testimonials at Straka’s official YouTube channel. Of the 150 erstwhile Democrats, 23% report catching a lot of grief, plus another 16% report catching some grief, for questioning or deviating from leftist opinions. Most importantly, 70% suggest a civility gap between the left and non-left. These are lower bounds, since the testimonials are spontaneous monologues, not replies to questions. Many other observed features are reported, to deepen our thinking about ideological migration. However, filters involved in the sample must be borne in mind. A linked Excel file contains complete data.

Keywords: ideology, ideological migration, party politics, nationalism
JEL Classification: A13, H0, P0, Z1

I find no effect of political ideology or religiosity on women’s likelihood of faking orgasm, or men and women’s levels of sexual desire; neither political ideology nor religiosity comes close to reaching significance

Ideological Correlates of Sexual Behavior: Linking political ideology, religiosity, and gender ideology with orgasm and desire. Emily Ann Harris. PhD thesis, Univ of Queensland, 2018. https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/data/UQ_4d2929a/s4200251_phd_thesis.pdf?Expires=1558512862&Signature=g4Q4~8x0OJtaiOc-zT7dRI1~hSoOyA1D0qrhcUj66N5N5U3UbbrEUc7AgeSlKinGfFphnCxQL0F6jICUjqycbVodBH7QW~9MrxyU1vD-6Rvqvasdb1kKvP-nULCuQkLcE5DyL2xEnLcmKSP7TPmUeNiQ9K-XnT2I-UZZhZAdtdaG1MfVkxcK4FwzOQXIPZbu0y4h~ABiJ1cQnhDB~qXmdv-m-4s3jtcORF-OPLlFfUJmVoZ4Tpsd~~FFYfddJUSt2iEFn2P3yAdq8L99RHFcBUKiIyursfz833C1mTiWQOciMOr9Zr3WgmcOYJcNi2AYGXaz9T1CNkLdrH7Z8WrJmQ__&Key-Pair-Id=APKAJKNBJ4MJBJNC6NLQ

Ideologies provide a set of norms and values that guide our attitudes and behavior in times of uncertainty. Given theprivate nature of sex, we may be particularly reliant on our pre-existing ideas about the world to guide our actions in the bedroom. Previous research on the influence of social values on sexual behavior has typically focused on group-level processes, forexample, research on the cultural suppression of female sexuality (Baumeister & Twenge, 2002). Scholars in the social sciences have discussed the ways in which we internalize social norms and values, and how these might influence our experience of sex, for example through sexual scripts (Gagnon & Simon, 1973). There is, however, limited empirical work testing the association between worldviews, or ideologies, and sexual behavior at the individual level. The aim of the present thesis is to investigate whether ideologies are predictive of sexual behavior. I focus on three ideologies, namely, political ideology, religiosity, and gender ideology, and three aspects of sexuality: orgasm (Chapter 3), faking orgasm (Chapter 4), and sexual desire (Chapter 5).
In Chapter 3, I present findings from two surveys of women (N = 662) showing that traditional gender ideology is indirectly linked with frequency of orgasm. I find that women who endorse a benevolently sexist worldview (i.e., a traditional gender ideology) are more likely to believe that men are sexually selfish. This belief then predicts decreased willingness to ask for sexual pleasure, which in turn predicts less frequent orgasms. This study provides the first evidence that traditional gender ideology constrains sexual pleasure (though indirectly). In Chapter 4, I show that hostile and benevolent sexism are predictive of lifetime frequency of faking orgasm in women. Women high in benevolent sexism faked their orgasm less frequently, whereas women high in hostile sexism faked their orgasm more frequently. The studies presented in Chapters 3 and 4 show that women who endorse a traditional gender ideology may not actively pursue sexual pleasure, or feel the need to exaggerate their sexual pleasure. Where previouswork has shown that benevolent sexism has negative consequences for women in social and relationship contexts, the findings presented in Chapters 3 and 4 show that benevolent sexism also has implications for women’s lives.
These studies contribute to an existing literature that has sought to identify and challenge the ways in which patriarchal values shape women’s sexuality. In general, feminist scholars and social scientists have emphasized the ways in which women’s sexuality is socially determined. Far less work has been done on the social influences on men’s sexuality. Relatedly, academic and lay theories of sexuality propose that women’s sexuality is more sensitive to the social environment relative to men’s sexuality (Baumeister, 2000; Regan & Berscheid, 1995). We tested this assumption in Chapter 5 by measuring men and women’s sexual desire over time in order to assess variation in desire, and the degree to which desire is associated with social and psychological factors. We found that the patterns of sexual desire between men and women are remarkably similar. We found no gender differences in sexual desire variability, nor did gender moderate any of the effects of social and psychological factors on desire.
In Chapters 4 and 5, I find no effect of political ideology or religiosity on women’s likelihood of faking orgasm, or men and women’s levels of sexual desire. In both studies, neither political ideology nor religiosity comes close to reaching significance. Thus, these two ideologies may be too psychologically distal to have a meaningful impact on sexual outcomes. Further, the relevance of political ideology and religion with regards to sexuality may have faded over time, or at least narrowed to specific domains of sexuality, such as sexual orientation and gender identity (Aosved & Long, 2006). Gender and gender ideology, on the other hand, emergeas consistent themes across my three studies. As such, when it comes to ideology, it is our ideas about men and women in society that are most likely to guide our sexual behavior. I discuss the implications and future directions of these findings in Chapter 6.

The neural and genetic correlates of satisfying sexual activity in heterosexual pair‐bonds

The neural and genetic correlates of satisfying sexual activity in heterosexual pair‐bonds. Bianca P. Acevedo et al. Brain and Behavior. 2019;e01289. March 14 2019 DOI: 10.1002/brb3.1289

Introduction: In humans, satisfying sexual activity within a pair‐bond plays a significant role in relationship quality and maintenance, beyond reproduction. However, the neural and genetic correlates for this basic species‐supporting function, in response to a pair‐bonded partner, are unknown.

Methods: We examined the neural correlates of oxytocin‐ (Oxtr rs53576) and vaso‐pressin‐ (Avpr1a rs3) receptor genotypes with sexual satisfaction and frequency, among a group of individuals in pair‐bonds (M relationship length = 4.1 years). Participants were scanned twice (with functional MRI), about 1‐year apart, while viewing face images of their spouse and a familiar, neutral acquaintance.

Results: Sex satisfaction scores showed significant interactions with Oxtr and Avprvariants associated with social behaviors in a broad network of regions involved in reward and motivation (ventral tegmental area, substantia nigra [SN], and caudate), social bonding (ventral pallidum), emotion and memory (amygdala/hippocampus), hormone control (hypothalamus); and somatosensory and self‐other processing (SII, frontal, and temporal lobe). Sexual frequency interactions also showed activations in the SN and paraventricular hypothalamus for Avpr, and the prefrontal cortex for Oxtr.

Conclusions: Satisfying sexual activity in pair‐bonds is associated with activation of subcortical structures that support basic motivational and physiological processes; as well as cortical regions that mediate complex thinking, empathy, and self‐other processes highlighting the multifaceted role of sex in pair‐bonds. Oxtr and Avpr gene variants may further amplify both basic and complex neural processes for pair‐bond conservation and well‐being.

KEYWORDS: fMRI, oxytocin, pair‐bonding, prefrontal cortex, sexual frequency, sexual satisfaction,vasopressin

Personality traits predict daily spatial behavior; extraversion positively related to daily spatial behavior, especially to the number of different places visited, the total distance traveled, and the entropy of movement

Big Five personality traits predict daily spatial behavior: Evidence from smartphone data. Peilin Ai, Yuanyuan Liu, Xi Zhao. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 147, 1 September 2019, Pages 285-291. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2019.04.027

Abstract: The field of psychology is increasingly interested in daily spatial behavior, regarded as the diversity and regularity of people visiting various places. By combining survey data on the personality traits of 243 college students with their mobility patterns extracted from smartphone records, the current study examined the relationships between the Big Five personality traits and daily spatial behavior. Results showed that extraversion positively related to daily spatial behavior, especially to the number of different places visited, the total distance traveled, and the entropy of movement. Agreeableness positively related to the range of movement. Conscientiousness negatively related to the number of different places visited. There was no evidence that neuroticism and openness relate to daily spatial behavior.

Psychology and morality of political extremists: They show a lower positive emotion & a higher negative emotion than partisan users, but their differences in certainty is not significant; we found no evidence for elevated moral foundations

Psychology and morality of political extremists: evidence from Twitter language analysis of alt-right and Antifa. Meysam Alizadeh et al. EPJ Data Science20198:17. May 14 2019. https://doi.org/10.1140/epjds/s13688-019-0193-9

Abstract: The recent rise of the political extremism in Western countries has spurred renewed interest in the psychological and moral appeal of political extremism. Empirical support for the psychological explanation using surveys has been limited by lack of access to extremist groups, while field studies have missed psychological measures and failed to compare extremists with contrast groups. We revisit the debate over the psychological and moral appeal of extremism in the U.S. context by analyzing Twitter data of 10,000 political extremists and comparing their text-based psychological constructs with those of 5000 liberal and 5000 conservative users. The results reveal that extremists show a lower positive emotion and a higher negative emotion than partisan users, but their differences in certainty is not significant. In addition, while left-wing extremists express more language indicative of anxiety than liberals, right-wing extremists express lower anxiety than conservatives. Moreover, our results mostly lend support to Moral Foundations Theory for partisan users and extend it to the political extremists. With the exception of ingroup loyalty, we found evidences supporting the Moral Foundations Theory among left- and right-wing extremists. However, we found no evidence for elevated moral foundations among political extremists.

They found that empathy increased across the life span, particularly after age 40, and more recent cohorts were higher in empathy

Longitudinal Changes in Empathy Across the Life Span in Six Samples of Human Development. Jeewon Oh et al. Social Psychological and Personality Science, May 20, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550619849429

Abstract: The development of empathy is a hotly debated topic. Some studies find declines and others an inverse U-shaped pattern in empathy across the life span. Yet other studies find no age-related changes. Most of this research is cross sectional, and the few longitudinal studies have their limitations. The current study addresses these limitations by examining changes in empathy in six longitudinal samples (total N = 740, age 13–72). In a preliminary study (N = 784), we created and validated a measure of empathy out of the California Adult Q-Sort. The samples were combined for multilevel analyses in a variant of an accelerated longitudinal design. We found that empathy increased across the life span, particularly after age 40, and more recent cohorts were higher in empathy.

Keywords: empathy, life span development, Q-Sorts, personality

Monday, May 20, 2019

Males with a mother living in their group have higher paternity success in bonobos (but not chimpanzees)

Males with a mother living in their group have higher paternity success in bonobos but not chimpanzees. Martin Surbeck et al. Current Biology, Volume 29, Issue 10, 20 May 2019, Pages R354-R355. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.03.040

Summary: In many group-living mammals, mothers may increase the reproductive success of their daughters even after they are nutritionally independent and fully grown [1]. However, whether such maternal effects exist for adult sons is largely unknown. Here we show that males have higher paternity success when their mother is living in the group at the time of the offspring’s conception in bonobos (N = 39 paternities from 4 groups) but not in chimpanzees (N = 263 paternities from 7 groups). These results are consistent with previous research showing a stronger role of mothers (and females more generally) in bonobo than chimpanzee societies.

The Illusion of Stable Preferences over Major Life Decisions: Desired fertility is very unstable, but that most people perceive their desires to be stable

The Illusion of Stable Preferences over Major Life Decisions. Maximilian W. Mueller, Joan Hamory Hicks, Jennifer Johnson-Hanks, Edward Miguel. NBER Working Paper No. 25844, May 2019. https://www.nber.org/papers/w25844

Abstract: We examine the stability of preferences over time using panel data from Kenya on fertility intentions, realizations, and recall of intentions. We find that desired fertility is very unstable, but that most people perceive their desires to be stable. Under hypothetical scenarios, few expect their desired fertility to increase over time. Moreover, when asked to recall past intentions, most respondents report previously wanting exactly as many children as they desire today. Biased recall of preferences over a major life decision could have important implications for measuring excess fertility, the evolution of norms, and the perceived need for family planning programs.

We forecast experiencing a greater amount of regret (both affective & cognitive) than we actually experience; predicting more affective regret coincides with lower well-being

Predicting with your head, not your heart: Forecasting errors and the impact of anticipated versus experienced elements of regret on well-being. Tonya M. Buchanan, Joshua Buchanan, Kylie R. Kadey. Motivation and Emotion, May 20 2019. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11031-019-09772-y

Abstract: Research suggests that when predicting our future emotions, affective forecasting errors are frequent (Wilson and Gilbert in Adv Exp Soc Psychol 35:345–411, 2003), influence motivation (Wilson and Gilbert in Curr Dir Psychol Sci 14:131–134, 2005), and drive decisions and behaviors (Dunn and Laham Affective forecasting: a user’s guide to emotional time travel, Psychology Press, London, 2006). Regret can fall prey to these same errors (Gilbert et al., in Psychol Sci 15:346–350, 2004). Recent research characterizes two distinct components of regret: an affective element and cognitive element associated with maladaptive and functional outcomes, respectively (Buchanan et al., in Judgment and Decision Making 11:275–286, 2006). We explored forecasting of these elements across two studies. In Study 1, we investigated how accurately individuals forecast each component of regret, and how this relates to well-being. Participants forecasted experiencing a greater amount of regret (including affective and cognitive components) than they actually experienced. Additionally, forecasted (compared to experienced) components of regret uniquely predicted well-being outcomes, suggesting that predicting more affective regret coincides with lower well-being. In Study 2, forecasting errors in overall regret were eliminated by asking participants to focus on cognitive elements of regret prior to forecasting.

Keywords: Regret Affective forecasting Emotion Well-being Motivation

Romantic initiation strategies: Men to a greater degree than women would use direct approaches & women would use indirect ones (having a friend introduce them, waiting for the other to do something)

Men and women’s plans for romantic initiation strategies across four settings. Susan Sprecher, Stanislav Treger, Nicole Landa. Current Psychology, May 20 2019. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12144-019-00298-7

Abstract: This study, with a sample (N = 735) of both university students and non-student adults, examined the various strategies that men and women believe they would use to initiate romantic contact with an attractive other in four different settings: social gathering, bar/nightclub, class/workplace, and Facebook. We found that men to a greater degree than women reported they would use direct approaches (e.g., initiate a conversation) and women to a greater degree than men reported they would use the indirect strategy of having a friend introduce them and the passive strategy of waiting for the other to do something. Men’s greater expectation of being direct in relationship initiation (relative to women) was found across the settings. Shyness was associated with the lower likelihood of expecting to be direct in initiation strategies, although the strength of the association was stronger for men than for women and depended on both the particular initiation strategy and the setting. The findings offer insights into the dynamics of relationship development and how plans for initiation strategies may differ for men and women, including the differential influence of shyness on romantic initiation for men and women.

Keywords: Relationship initiation strategies Relationship initiation Gender differences Shyness

Compared with their lower-class counterparts, higher-class individuals were more overconfident, which made them appear more competent & more likely to attain social rank

The social advantage of miscalibrated individuals: The relationship between social class and overconfidence and its implications for class-based inequality. Belmi, Peter,Neale, Margaret A.,Reiff, David,Ulfe, Rosemary. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, May 20, 2019. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000187

Understanding how socioeconomic inequalities perpetuate is a central concern among social and organizational psychologists. Drawing on a collection of findings suggesting that different social class contexts have powerful effects on people’s sense of self, we propose that social class shapes the beliefs that people hold about their abilities, and that this, in turn, has important implications for how status hierarchies perpetuate. We first hypothesize that compared with individuals with relatively low social class, individuals with relatively high social class are more overconfident. Then, drawing on research suggesting that overconfidence can confer social advantages, we further hypothesize that the overconfidence of higher class individuals can help perpetuate the existing class hierarchy: It can provide them a path to social advantage by making them appear more competent in the eyes of others. We test these ideas in four large studies with a combined sample of 152,661 individuals. Study 1, a large field study featuring small-business owners from Mexico, found evidence that individuals with relatively high social class are more overconfident compared with their lower-class counterparts. Study 2, a multiwave study in the United States, replicated this result and further shed light on the underlying mechanism: Individuals with relatively high (vs. low) social class tend to be more overconfident because they have a stronger desire to achieve high social rank. Study 3 replicated these findings in a high-powered, preregistered study and found that individuals with relatively high social class were more overconfident, even in a task in which they had no performance advantages. Study 4, a multiphase study that featured a mock job interview in the laboratory, found that compared with their lower-class counterparts, higher-class individuals were more overconfident; overconfidence, in turn, made them appear more competent and more likely to attain social rank.

Participants who played digital games more, spent more time logged to the internet, reported higher levels of internet addiction, but lower levels of depression

Games We Play: Wellbeing of Players of Live and Digital Games. Tihana Brkljačić et al. Chapter 6 of Multifaceted Approach to Digital Addiction and Its Treatment, Bahadir Bozoglan. June, 2019. DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8449-0.ch006

Abstract: The aim of this research was to study frequencies of playing live and digital games, and to test for gender differences, to identify the most frequently played games, and to explore association between well-being indicators and frequency of playing. We found low positive association between frequency of playing of live and digital games. Most frequently played live games were various card games, and Shooter games were most frequent among digital games. Male participants played more frequently both live and digital games. Male participants played more action and simulation computer games, while female participants preferred puzzles and card games. Internet addiction was positively correlated to the amount of time spent logged on to the internet, and higher levels of loneliness and depression. Participants who played live games more reported lower levels of depression. Participants who played digital games more, spent more time logged to the internet, reported higher levels of internet addiction, but lower levels of depression.


Van Leeuwen and Westwood (2008, pp 153) state that: “According to the PsychINFO database, in the last 10 years more than 3000 psychological research articles written in English focused on child play, yet only 40 addressed play in adults or the elderly and this was mainly in therapeutic contexts.“ So, we know very little about how, why and what games adults play, and if there is any association between overall well-being and play in adults.

Whitebread (2012) refers to five types of play in children: physical play (e.g. chasing), play with objects (e.g. construction), symbolic play (e.g. playing with words, sounds, drawing), pretence/socio-dramatic play (role playing) and games with rules (e.g. sports, card games, video games).

Although it is known that need for play is not exclusive for young age (van Leeuwen & Westwood, 2008, Sutton-Smith, 2009), and that adults also enjoy play as a type of leisure activity, only in the recent years scholars started to give more attention to adult play and its functions. One of the major concepts studied in this area is playfulness: the personality trait associated with playing behaviour and willingness to engage in play. In various studies playfulness has been found to be associated with positive outcomes. For example, Magnuson and Barnett (2013) found that playfulness is associated with positive coping. Proyer, Brauer, Wolf and Chick (2018) found it is associated with better subjective well-being, and Proyer (2012) found that people who are more playful are also more creative and intrinsically motivated.

Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime over the Last Two Decades: The cumulative impact of legalized abortion on crime is roughly 45%, a very substantial portion of the roughly 50-55% overall decline from peak in the 1990s

The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime over the Last Two Decades. John J. Donohue, Steven D. Levitt. NBER Working Paper No. 25863, May 2019. https://www.nber.org/papers/w25863

Abstract: Donohue and Levitt (2001) presented evidence that the legalization of abortion in the early 1970s played an important role in the crime drop of the 1990s. That paper concluded with a strong out-of-sample prediction regarding the next two decades: “When a steady state is reached roughly twenty years from now, the impact of abortion will be roughly twice as great as the impact felt so far. Our results suggest that all else equal, legalized abortion will account for persistent declines of 1 percent a year in crime over the next two decades.” Estimating parallel specifications to the original paper, but using the seventeen years of data generated after that paper was written, we find strong support for the prediction. The estimated coefficient on legalized abortion is actually larger in the latter period than it was in the initial dataset in almost all specifications. We estimate that crime fell roughly 20% between 1997 and 2014 due to legalized abortion. The cumulative impact of legalized abortion on crime is roughly 45%, accounting for a very substantial portion of the roughly 50-55% overall decline from the peak of crime in the early 1990s.

Shamans as healers: When magical structure becomes practical function. Comments on placebos and shamanism.

Shamans as healers: When magical structure becomes practical function. Nicholas Humphrey. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Volume 41, 2018 , e77. April 6 2018. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X17002084

Abstract: Singh’s analysis has much to be said for it. When considering the treatment of illness, however, he begins from a shaky premise about uncontrollability and, so, fails to make the most of what shamanic treatments–as placebos–can deliver. Manvir Singh argues convincingly that shamans tick all of theboxes we might expect of a magical agent with the power to influence events over which normal human beings have no control.Yet, in the case of illness, to which his analysis is the most obvious fit, he seems to have misread the situation. He classes recovery from illness along with winning the lottery and being struck by lightning as an“outcomes that seemingly occur randomly... cannot be accounted for by predictive theories, because the causal forces escape human perception” (sect.3.3.1, para.1). True, illness can strike out of the blue, and there may be little people can do to prevent it.
Once a person has been unlucky enough to be struck down, however, their return to health is not as unpredictable or, for that matter, as uncontrollable as Singh implies.
To summarise:
1. Humans, like all animals, possess a highly effective suite ofinternal physiological healing mechanisms designed to beat back infection and repair bodily damage. This means that most people, most of the time, eventually recover of their own accord, even from serious illness.
2. Healing has intrinsic costs, however. For example, running a temperature to kill invading bacteria requires a 50% increase in metabolism, and antibody production uses up precious nutrients that are difficult to replace. So, although it may desirable for patients to get well as soon as possible, it is essential they keep sufficient resources in reserve to cope with future challenges.
3. To make the best of this, the pace of recovery is regulated by a brain-based “health governor” designed by natural selection to manage the healing budget in the light of environmental information. This governor acts, in effect, like a hospital manager who must decide how to allocate resources on the basis of an inventory of what’s available and a forecast of what the future holds.
4. A major consideration is the prospect of external help, especially if this suggests the present bout of illness will be short lived. Evidence of immediate environmental assets such as protection, food supplies, medicinal drugs, and tender loving care can provide such assurance; but it can be more speculative, as when there is good reason to believe that specific curative forces are being activated by someone else.
5. The health governor is potentially gullible. It cannot necessarily tell the difference between real and fake news or between a reasonable inference based on solid evidence and one based on a lie. This means that an empty promise of cure–a placebo–maybe as effective as a valid promise in speeding up recovery.
6. Human beings have discovered and learned to take advantage of this loophole in the innate health management system. Although the deeper explanation remains hidden from everyone involved, placebo treatments of illness operate widely, at both individual and cultural levels. [...] When patients credit a shaman with supernatural powers to banish illness, they empower the shaman to activate their own innate capacities for self-cure.

Now, Singh has given us the best account yet of the logic that lies behind belief in shamanism. He thereby has provided thebest explanation of why the treatments may, in reality, be able to do what is claimed. Yet, the surprise in this article is that Singh himself makes so little of this. For him, the fact that the treatments actually work is of secondary importance to the fact that everyone thinks they ought to work.
Why does he not make more of the practical benefits of placebo-mediated healing? I suspect it’s because, in the spirit of Claude Levi-Strauss, he is reluctant to concede that shamanism has evolved for dirty utilitarian reasons. He wants to see shamanism as a self-contained logical edifice that stands on its own as an appealing intellectual structure. No matter that it may be a flimsy house of cards; it deserves to survive because it is so theoretically appealing.It is an admirably brave thesis, but I find it unduly purist and, more important, scientifically limiting. By discounting shamanism’s potential for genuine cure, Singh is missing an obvious opportunity to explain not only why it survives as a cultural tradition, but also its historic origins.
Presumably, ever since human ancestors became capable of reflecting on their lived experience of illness, they looked for patterns. Surely, they noticed early on that recovery sometimes could be speeded up by the attentions of a trusted member of the community who did nothing other than bid the illness to depart. With no obvious physical cause to account for this action at a distance,they had to look for other explanations. Given the evidence that an ordinary human apparently was able to exert parahuman control over another person’s body, it might well have made sense to conclude that this human was not as human as he seemed. [...]
This jibes with Singh’s account. Note the difference of emphasis, however: Singh explains why a shaman can be expected to be capable of miraculous healing. Yet, he does not raise the possibility that, historically, healing that appeared miraculous came first, and that it was this that inspired people to invent the concept of a shaman. Given that Singh draws parallels between shamanism and other religions, it’s worth remarking that Jesus Christ was acclaimed as the son of God because he was seen to perform miracles, not the other way around [...].

Gender Differences in Stability of Brain Functional Connectivity: Female volunteers showed significantly higher temporal correlation coefficients than male volunteers, suggesting their brain FCs are more stable over time

F116. Gender Differences in Stability of Brain Functional Connectivity. Yicheng Long, Jie Lisa Ji, Alan Anticevic. Biological Psychiatry, 74th Annual Scientific Convention and Meeting, May 15, 2019, Volume 85, Issue 10, Supplement, Page S258. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2019.03.653

Background: Understanding gender differences of the brain’s intrinsic functional architecture may lead to a better understanding of the pathophysiology of many psychiatric disorders whose prevalence differs between genders. Recently, the dynamic brain functional connectivity (FC) has emerged as a major topic in resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) studies, and possible associations have been reported between several psychiatric disorders and the temporal stability of brain FCs. However, little is known about whether or not there is a gender difference in brain FC stability.
Results: Female volunteers showed significantly higher temporal correlation coefficients than male volunteers [...], suggesting their brain FCs are more stable over time.

Check also Gender differences in brain functional connectivity density. Dardo Tomasi, Nora D. Volkow. Human Brain Mapping, March 21 2011. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.21252
Abstract: The neural bases of gender differences in emotional, cognitive, and socials behaviors are largely unknown. Here, magnetic resonance imaging data from 336 women and 225 men revealed a gender dimorphism in the functional organization of the brain. Consistently across five research sites, women had 14% higher local functional connectivity density (lFCD) and up to 5% higher gray matter density than men in cortical and subcortical regions. The negative power scaling of the lFCD was steeper for men than for women, suggesting that the balance between strongly and weakly connected nodes in the brain is different across genders. The more distributed organization of the male brain than that of the female brain could help explain the gender differences in cognitive style and behaviors and in the prevalence of neuropsychiatric diseases (i.e., autism spectrum disorder).

Both men & women found heroic targets to be more desirable than targets low in heroism (stronger effect for women than men); high heroic targets were rated as more desirable for long-term compared to short-term relationships

Bhogal, Manpal S. 2019. “Further Support for the Role of Heroism in Human Mate Choice.” PsyArXiv. May 19. doi:10.31234/osf.io/2npfm

Abstract: Previous research has explored the role of prosociality in mate choice, predominantly focusing on the role of altruism. Although there is ample evidence to suggest altruism has evolved via mate choice, little research has unpacked prosociality by exploring the role of heroism in mate choice. Limited studies have been conducted in this area, and no studies have explored men’s desirability towards heroic targets. The aim of this study was to replicate and extend the limited research on the role of heroism in mate choice. Participants (n=276, 101 men and 175 women) rated several scenarios varying in heroism, whereby they were asked to rate how desirable targets were for a short-term and long-term relationship. The findings show that both men and women found heroic targets to be more desirable than targets low in heroism, although the main effect of sex was stronger for women than men. Furthermore, high heroic targets were rated as more desirable for long-term compared to short-term relationships, thus replicating and extending previous research. The findings add support to the adaptive role of heroism in human mate choice by exploring the role of heroism in both male and female mate choice. Data, materials, and the preregistered hypotheses/protocol are available on the Open Science Framework (osf.io/qbzw7/?view_only=e66411df988844cfa39e63c51ed33131).

Divine Placebo: Health and the Evolution of Religion

Divine Placebo: Health and the Evolution of Religion. Patrik Lindenfors. Human Ecology, April 2019, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 157–163. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10745-019-0066-7

Abstract: In this paper, I draw on knowledge from several disciplines to explicate the potential evolutionary significance of health effects of religiosity. I present three main observations. First, traditional methods of religious healers seldom rely on active remedies, but instead focus on lifestyle changes or spiritual healing practices that best can be described as placebo methods. Second, actual health effects of religiosity are thus mainly traceable to effects from a regulated lifestyle, social support networks, or placebo effects. Third, there are clear parallels between religious healing practices and currently identified methods that induce placebo effects. Physiological mechanisms identified to lie behind placebo effects activate the body’s own coping strategies and healing responses. In combination, lifestyle, social support networks, and placebo effects thus produce both actual and perceived health effects of religiosity. This may have played an important role in the evolution and diffusion of religion through two main pathways. First, any real positive health effects of religiosity would have provided a direct biological advantage. Second, any perceived health effects, both positive and negative, would further have provided a unique selling point for ‘religiosity’ per se. Actual and perceived health effects of religiosity may therefore have played an underestimated role during the evolution of religiosity through both biological and cultural pathways.

Keywords: Evolution Cultural evolution Health Placebo Religiosity Social support networks Lifestyle

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Stress is experienced when an aspect of an individual's identity has the potential to be negatively evaluated; perceived appearance judgements contribute to psychological & biological stress

The effect of perceived appearance judgements on psychological and biological stress processes across adulthood. Natalie J. Sabik et al. Stress and Health, March 18 2019. https://doi.org/10.1002/smi.2863

Abstract: Social self‐preservation theory posits that stress is experienced when an aspect of an individual's identity has the potential to be negatively evaluated. Appearance is a central part of identity; however, little research has examined whether perceived appearance judgements are a source of social‐evaluative stress. In addition, stress may be an explanatory link in the association between appearance perceptions and depressive symptoms. This study examined whether perceived appearance judgements were associated with increased stress and greater depressive symptoms among adults. Study 1 examined the associations between self‐reported appearance judgements and cortisol stress responses in response to a laboratory stressor (Trier Social Stress Test) among 71 individuals aged 18–65. Study 2 assessed self‐reported appearance judgements and depressive symptoms among 498 adults ages 18–65 via an online survey data collection. Appearance judgement was associated with a stronger cortisol response, higher self‐reported stress, and greater depressive symptoms. Stress mediated all associations between appearance judgements and depressive symptoms and neither age nor gender moderated these associations. The findings suggest that appearance judgements contribute to psychological and biological stress processes and demonstrated that stress mediated the association between appearance judgements and depressive symptoms.

Between 1870 and 1916, over 80 percent of alliance ties were partially or completely covert. Otherwise, hidden military pacts are rare. Why was secrecy prevalent in this particular period and not others?

Secrecy among Friends: Covert Military Alliances and Portfolio Consistency. Raymond Kuo. Journal of Conflict Resolution, May 16, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022002719849676

Abstract: Scholars think that friendly nations adopt secrecy to avoid domestic costs and facilitate cooperation. But this article uncovers a historical puzzle. Between 1870 and 1916, over 80 percent of alliance ties were partially or completely covert. Otherwise, hidden pacts are rare. Why was secrecy prevalent in this particular period and not others? This article presents a theory of “portfolio consistency.” Public agreements undermine the rank of hidden alliances. A partner willing to openly commit to another country but not to you signals the increased importance of this other relationship. States pressure their covert partners to avoid subsequent public pacts. This creates a network effect: the more secret partners a state has, the greater the incentives to maintain secrecy in later military agreements. Covert alliances have a cumulative effect. In seeking the flexibility of hidden partnerships, states can lock themselves into a rigid adherence to secrecy.

Keywords: alliance, international alliance, international security, military alliance, secrecy

The high prevalence of intimate partner violence against women in countries with high levels of gender equality (the “Nordic paradox”) is not the result of measurement bias, but a real problem

Prevalence of intimate partner violence against women in Sweden and Spain: A psychometric study of the ‘Nordic paradox.’ Enrique Gracia et al. PLOS, May 16, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0217015

Abstract: The high prevalence of intimate partner violence against women (IPVAW) in countries with high levels of gender equality has been defined as the “Nordic paradox”. In this study we compared physical and sexual IPVAW prevalence data in two countries exemplifying the Nordic paradox: Sweden (N = 1483) and Spain (N = 1447). Data was drawn from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights Survey on violence against women. To ascertain whether differences between these two countries reflect true differences in IPVAW prevalence, and to rule out the possibility of measurement bias, we conducted a set of analyses to ensure measurement equivalence, a precondition for appropriate and valid cross-cultural comparisons. Results showed that in both countries items were measuring two separate constructs, physical and sexual IPVAW, and that these factors had high internal consistency and adequate validity. Measurement equivalence analyses (i.e., differential item functioning, and multigroup confirmatory factor analysis) supported the comparability of data across countries. Latent means comparisons between the Spanish and the Swedish samples showed that scores on both the physical and sexual IPVAW factors were significantly higher in Sweden than in Spain. The effect sizes of these differences were large: 89.1% of the Swedish sample had higher values in the physical IPVAW factor than the Spanish average, and this percentage was 99.4% for the sexual IPVAW factor as compared to the Spanish average. In terms of probability of superiority, there was an 80.7% and 96.1% probability that a Swedish woman would score higher than a Spanish woman in the physical and the sexual IPVAW factors, respectively. Our results showed that the higher prevalence of physical and sexual IPVAW in Sweden than in Spain reflects actual differences and are not the result of measurement bias, supporting the idea of the Nordic paradox.

At the NIH, the proportion of all grant funds awarded to scientists under the age of 36 fell from 5.6% in 1980 to 1.5% in 2017; nearly 99% of investment are awarded to scientists or engineers 36 yo or older

Two threats to U.S. science. Bruce Alberts, Venkatesh Narayanamurti. Science, May 17 2019, Vol. 364, Issue 6441, pp. 613. DOI: 10.1126/science.aax9846


The current grant opportunities for starting a new independent research career in academia have not only become increasingly unavailable to young scientists and engineers, but are also disastrously risk-averse. At the NIH, the proportion of all grant funds awarded to scientists under the age of 36 fell from 5.6% in 1980 to 1.5% in 2017. One might ask the rhetorical question: How successful would Silicon Valley be if nearly 99% of all investments were awarded to scientists and engineers age 36 years or older, along with a strong bias toward funding only safe, nonrisky projects? Similarly, at the U.S. Department of Energy and its National Laboratories, high-risk, high-reward research and development has been severely limited [...]

U.S. leadership must focus on stimulating innovation by awarding an equal number of grants to those new investigators proposing risky new research ideas [...]. At the same time, it is imperative that the United States reconsider its visa and immigration policies, making it much easier for foreign students who receive a graduate degree in a STEM discipline from a U.S. university to receive a green card, while stipulating that each employment-based visa automatically cover a worker's spouse and children.


Milk and Dairy Product Consumption: An Overview of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Shows There is No Increase of Risk of All-Cause Mortality

Milk and Dairy Product Consumption and Risk of Mortality: An Overview of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses. Ivan Cavero-Redondo et al. Advances in Nutrition, Volume 10, Issue suppl_2, May 15 2019, Pages S97–S104, https://doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmy128

ABSTRACT: The effect of dairy product consumption on health has received substantial attention in the last decade. However, a number of prospective cohort studies have shown contradictory results, which causes uncertainty about the effects of dairy products on health. We conducted an overview of existing systematic reviews and meta-analyses to examine the association between dairy product consumption and all-cause mortality risk. A literature search was conducted in MEDLINE (via PubMed), EMBASE, the Cochrane Central Database of Systematic Reviews, and the Web of Science databases from their inception to April, 2018. We evaluated the risk of bias of each study included using the AMSTAR 2 tool. The risk ratios (RRs) for each meta-analysis were displayed in a forest plot for dose-response and for high compared with low dairy consumption. The initial search retrieved 2154 articles; a total of 8 meta-analyses were finally included after applying the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The number of included studies in each meta-analysis ranged from 6 to 26 cohort studies, which reported data from 6–28 populations. The sample sizes varied across studies from 24,466 participants reporting 5092 mortality cases to 938,817 participants reporting 126,759 mortality cases. After assessing the risk of bias, 25% of the studies were categorized as acceptable, 25% as good, and 50% as very good. The RRs reported by the meta-analyses ranged from 0.96 to 1.01 per 200 g/d of dairy product consumption (including total, high-fat, low-fat, and fermented dairy products), from 0.99 to 1.01 per 200–244 g/d of milk consumption, and from 0.99 to 1.03 per 10–50 g/d of cheese consumption. The RR per 50 g/d of yogurt consumption was 0.97 (95% CI: 0.85, 1.11). In conclusion, dairy product consumption is not associated with risk of all-cause mortality. This study was registered in PROSPERO as CRD42018091856.

Keywords: milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, meta-analysis, review, mortality

Saturday, May 18, 2019

USA 1962–2014: Absolute mobility decreases with income; individuals & families occupying the income distribution lower ranks have a higher probability of increasing income over short time periods

Growth, Inequality and Absolute Mobility in the United States,1962–2014. Yonatan Berman. https://www.dropbox.com/s/h6r650313zwqe7d/mobility_recov2.pdf

Abstract: This paper combines historical cross-sectional and longitudinal data in the US to study patterns of economic growth within the income distribution. We quantify absolute mobility as the fraction of families with higher income over a period of several years. The rates of absolute mobility over periods of two to four years are procyclical and are largely confined within 45%–55%. We also find that absolute mobility decreases with income. Individuals and families occupying the lower ranks of the income distribution have a higher probability of increasing their income over short time periods than those occupying higher ranks. This also occurs during periods of increasing inequality. Our findings stem from the importance of the changes in the composition of income percentiles. These changes are over and above mechanical labor market dynamics and life cycle effects. We offer a simplified model to mathematically describe these findings.

Keywords:Social mobility, inequality, growth, labor market dynamics

JEL Codes:D3, E2, H0, J6

Explanatory introspection, salience of one’s faults, accountability, & relationship closeness can boast success in constraining self-enhancement & self-protection strivings, but success is difficult to implement

On the doggedness of self-enhancement and self-protection: How constraining are reality constraints? Constantine Sedikides. Self and Identity, Dec 30 2018. https://doi.org/10.1080/15298868.2018.1562961

ABSTRACT: Self-enhancement and self-protection are constrained by reality. But to what extent? Broader constraints, often considered powerful, such as East-Asian culture, religion, mind-body practices, and prison environments are not particularly effective deterrents. Narrower constraints, also considered powerful, such as self-reflection and mnemic neglect, are not very helpful either. Deliberate and systematic laboratory efforts, both at the intrapersonal level (e.g., explanatory introspection, salience of one’s faults) and the interpersonal level (e.g., accountability, relationship closeness), can boast success in constraining self-enhancement and self-protection strivings, but the success is mixed, difficult to implement, and probably short-lived. The doggedness (potency and prevalence) of self-enhancement and self-protection are due to the functions or social benefits with which they are associated or confer: psychological health, goal pursuit and attainment, leadership election, and sexual selection. These functions are traceable to our species’ evolutionary past.

KEYWORDS: Self-enhancement, self-protection, reality constraints, culture, religion, mind-body practices

Testosterone and cortisol interacted to predict low pro-environmental attitudes; facial and vocal masculinization predict lower pro-environmental attitudes among men

Testosterone, facial and vocal masculinization and low environmentalism in men. Nicholas Landry, Jessica Desrochers, Steven Arnocky. Journal of Environmental Psychology, May 18 2019. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2019.05.007

•    The present study is the first to examine masculinized phenotypes (facial and vocal masculinization) in relation to men’s environmentalism.
•    Testosterone (T) and cortisol (C) interacted to predict low pro-environmental attitudes, such that high T predicted lower environmental attitudes when C was high, but T also predicted higher environmental attitudes at the lowest levels of C.
•    Facial and vocal masculinization predict lower pro-environmental attitudes among men.
•    Results suggest that androgen exposure may play a role in influencing men’s pro-environmental attitudes

Abstract: Robust sex differences in environmentalism have been observed, such that males express fewer pro-environmental attitudes than their female counterparts. To date, most explanations of this sex difference have relied upon socio-cultural and psychological explanations. The present study sought to extend this inquiry by examining the role of testosterone (T), its interaction with cortisol (C), as well as androgen-linked phenotypes (facial and vocal masculinization) in relation to environmental attitudes. In a sample of 162 males, results found a TxC interaction such that high T predicted lower environmental attitudes when C was high, but T also predicted higher environmental attitudes at the lowest levels of C. Moreover, facial and vocal masculinization, as phenotypic markers of developmental T exposure, correlated negatively with pro-environmental attitudes. Together these findings suggest that both state T and putative markers of developmental T exposure negatively predict environmentalism among men, thus highlighting the potential role of androgens in understanding environmental engagement.

Swedish men born 1951–1967: Relative to men with IQ 100, the group with the lowest category of cognitive ability have 0.56 fewer children; men in the highest category have 0.09 more children

Cognitive ability and fertility among Swedish men born 1951–1967: evidence from military conscription registers. Martin Kolk and Kieron Barclay. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, May 8 2019. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.0359

Abstract: We examine the relationship between cognitive ability and childbearing patterns in contemporary Sweden using administrative register data. The topic has a long history in the social sciences and has been the topic of a large number of studies, many reporting a negative gradient between intelligence and fertility. We link fertility histories to military conscription tests with intelligence scores for all Swedish men born 1951–1967. We find a positive relationship between intelligence scores and fertility, and this pattern is consistent across the cohorts we study. The relationship is most pronounced for the transition to a first child, and men with the lowest categories of IQ scores have the fewest children. Using fixed effects models, we additionally control for all factors that are shared by siblings, and after such adjustments, we find a stronger positive relationship between IQ and fertility. Furthermore, we find a positive gradient within groups at different levels of education. Compositional differences of this kind are therefore not responsible for the positive gradient we observe—instead, the relationship is even stronger after controlling for both educational careers and parental background factors. In our models where we compare brothers to one another, we find that, relative to men with IQ 100, the group with the lowest category of cognitive ability have 0.56 fewer children, and men with the highest category have 0.09 more children.

1. Introduction

A paradox of human behaviour in industrialized societies is that high socioeconomic status is usually negatively associated with reproductive success. This is puzzling from an evolutionary perspective in which high status is assumed to give greater access to partners as well as enhanced ability to support offspring [1–3], which was also the case in pre-industrial societies, and has likely been true throughout Homo sapiens pre-historic past [4]. It is also puzzling from an economic perspective because children are a major expenditure that should be more affordable for those with more resources [5]. The typically observed negative relationship has been described as a central problem in the evolutionary study of human behaviour [2]. The relationship between cognitive ability and fertility is an important dimension of this puzzle. For more than a century most studies have found that higher cognitive ability is associated with lower reproductive success (e.g. [2,6,7]), despite the fact that individuals with high cognitive ability achieve substantially higher socioeconomic success than individuals with lower cognitive ability [8], and both men and women rate intelligence as a desirable feature in a potential mate [9]. Furthermore, it has been suggested that the evolution of high cognitive ability in Homo sapiens is attributable to positive selection on intelligence, as higher intelligence facilitated greater social interaction capabilities, which in turn led to greater reproductive success [10,11]. Empirical evidence suggests that the link between socioeconomic success, likely associated with high cognitive ability, and reproductive success was positive in a wide variety of pre-industrial societies [4,12]. By contrast, the empirical evidence for the relationship between socioeconomic status and fertility over the past two centuries is ambiguous, with most studies reporting a negative association. In this study, we revisit this research question, applying a rigorous statistical treatment to high-quality population data to study the relationship between cognitive ability and fertility in contemporary Sweden.

People are more likely to think vaccines are safe, to say they intend to vaccinate, and to actually vaccinate their children when their preferred party is in power

Krupenkin, Masha, Does Partisanship Affect Compliance With Government Recommendations? (October 16, 2018). SSRN http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3290237

Abstract: Because of polarization, Democrats and Republicans have different levels of government trust depending on which party is in power. To what degree does differential trust affect partisan willingness to comply with government recommendations? To answer this question, I analyze compliance with government vaccination recommendations in three separate cases, using survey data and kindergarten vaccination data spanning both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations. I find that people are more likely to think vaccines are safe, more likely to say they intend to vaccinate, and more likely to actually vaccinate their children when their preferred party is in power. Using mediation analysis, I confirm that partisan differences in perceptions of vaccine safety are due to differences in government trust. These findings suggest that partisanship significantly impacts behavior, even in domains concerning health and medical care.

Keywords: partisanship, parties, polarization

Females are more egalitarian than men, like left-leaning voters; men are relatively more efficiency minded, like right-leaning voters; left & right extremes are very egalitarian

Fairness Views and Political Preferences -Evidence from a representative sample. Daniel Müller, Sander Renes. Universitaet Innsbruck, Working Papers in Economics and Statistics 2019-08. May 2019. https://www2.uibk.ac.at/downloads/c4041030/wpaper/2019-08.pdf

Abstract: We elicit distributional fairness ideals of impartial spectators using an incentivized elicitation in a large and heterogeneous sample of the German population. We document several empirical facts: i) egalitarianism is the predominant ideal; ii) females are more egalitarian than men; iii) men are relatively more efficiency minded; iv) left-leaning voters are more likely to be egalitarians whereas right-leaning voters are more likely to be efficiency minded; and v) youngand highly-educated participants hold different fairness ideals than the rest of the population. Moreover, we show that the fairness ideals predict preferences for redistribution and intervention by the government, as well as actual charitable giving, even after controlling for a range of covariates. Hence, our paper contributes to our understanding of the underpinnings of voting behavior and ideological preferences, as well the literature that links lab and field behavior.

Keywords: Distributional fairness, impartial spectator, representative sample, po-litical attitudes, voting behavior, lab to field

Humor production in long-term romantic relationships: What the lack of moderation by sex reveals about humor’s role in mating

Humor production in long-term romantic relationships: What the lack of moderation by sex reveals about humor’s role in mating. Jeffrey A. Hall. International Journal of Humor Research, May 15 2019. https://doi.org/10.1515/humor-2018-0005

Abstract: This manuscript explores whether the associations between partner humor production and relationship satisfaction and humor’s importance in romantic relationships are moderated by sex. Study 1 reports a meta-analysis (k = 10; N = 2,167) of the association between partner humor production (i.e., perceived; partner effects) and relationship satisfaction, and whether associations were moderated by participant sex. Contrary to predictions, partner humor production was more strongly associated to men’s relationship satisfaction than women’s satisfaction. Study 2 surveyed pairs of romantic partners (N = 246) regarding their production of humor, their appreciation of partner humor, and the importance of humor in their relationship. Results indicated no moderations by sex in the association between partner humor production and humor’s importance in the relationship.

Keywords: humor; meta-analysis; relationship satisfaction; romantic relationship

1 Introduction

When seeking a new romantic partner, individuals often seek a mate with a good sense of humor while advertising their own sense of humor (Wilbur and Campbell 2011). In initial interactions between cross-sex strangers, couples that laugh together are more likely to report mutual romantic interest (Grammer and Eibl-Eibesfeldt 1990; Hall 2015). As in many courtship contexts, sex differences in partner preferences and behaviors complicate this general preference for humorous mates. Specifically, humor production in men is typically evaluated more positively by women, compared to the desirability of humor production in women as evaluated by men (Bressler et al. 2006; Lundy et al. 1998; Wilbur and Campbell 2011).

To explain this sex difference, researchers have turned to sexual strategies theory (SST; Buss and Schmitt 1993). The theory suggests that males and females should find different traits more appealing when seeking a short-term mate (e.g., a one-night stand) versus a long-term mate (e.g., marriage). If humor production during courtship is a way to assess the likelihood of long-term cooperation and compatibility, then women ought to favor humor more highly in potential long-term partners than in short-term partners – a tendency supported by past research (e.g., Bressler et al. 2006; Hone et al. 2015; Tornquist and Chiappe 2015). Thus, humor production has been conceptualized a reliable signal of long-term compatibility and enhanced likelihood of relationship success.

This multi-study investigation attempts to answer the question, are sex differences in the value placed on partner humor production when evaluating potential partners comparable to sex differences in the benefits conferred by humor in actual long-term romantic relationships? Specifically, the present investigation will attempt to answer three research questions: (i) Do women, more so than men, experience greater relationship satisfaction when their partners engage in more humor production? (ii) Do women, more so than men, perceive humor as more importance to the relationship when they have partners who produce more humor? (iii) Is the production-importance association mediated by appreciation of one’s partner’s sense of humor? By examining whether the benefits of partner humor production in heterosexual romantic relationship are moderated by sex, the present manuscript will contribute to both research on mate selection and research on the role of humor in long-term relationships.

3 Sexual strategies theory: Humor and long-term versus short-term mating

Sexual strategies theory (Buss and Schmitt 1993) suggests that males and females should find different traits more appealing when seeking a short-term mate (e.g., a one-night stand) versus a long-term mate (e.g., marriage). When seeking short-term mates, women are thought to prefer traits indicative of high quality genes in men, but when seeking long-term mates, women are thought to prefer traits indicative of good parenting and long-term mating success. Tornquist and Chiappe (2015) suggest that humor production during courtship is a way to assess the likelihood of long-term cooperation and compatibility. In finding someone who shares that sense of humor, many joint endeavors involved in long-term relationships and parenting may be more pleasant and cooperative. Several studies have made the distinction between short- and long-term relationships when evaluating humor production in courtship. Bressler et al. (2006) found that women preferred humor production in men in long-term relationships compared to short-term ones. Hone et al. (2015) report the sex difference in preference for a humor-producing partner favoring women was greater in long-term and committed dating conditions compared to short-term mating conditions. Similarly, Tornquist and Chiappe (2015) found that when seeking a long-term relationship, women more favorably rated humor production in men than did men in women. For short-term relationships, sex differences in preferences were not detected (Tornquist and Chiappe 2015). In sum, women favor humor production in men particularly when seeking a long-term partnership, particularly when the humor is warm and positive (Didonato et al. 2013). As predicted by SST, women should value warmth, cooperation, and social facility in men, particularly in the context of long-term pairing, because such traits would engender a more satisfying relationship. This leads to the question, is humor production associated with such benefits in long-term relationships?

Friday, May 17, 2019

Some species share foundational social cognitive mechanisms with humans, like ascription of mental states that require simultaneously representing one's own & another's conflicting motives or views

Theory of mind in animals: Current and future directions. Christopher Krupenye, Josep Call. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, May 17 2019. https://doi.org/10.1002/wcs.1503

Abstract: Theory of mind (ToM; a.k.a., mind‐reading, mentalizing, mental‐state attribution, and perspective‐taking) is the ability to ascribe mental states, such as desires and beliefs, to others, and it is central to the unique forms of communication, cooperation, and culture that define our species. As a result, for 40 years, researchers have endeavored to determine whether ToM is itself unique to humans. Investigations in other species (e.g., apes, monkeys, corvids) are essential to understand the mechanistic underpinnings and evolutionary origins of this capacity across taxa, including humans. We review the literature on ToM in nonhuman animals, suggesting that some species share foundational social cognitive mechanisms with humans. We focus principally on innovations of the last decade and pressing directions for future work. Underexplored types of social cognition have been targeted, including ascription of mental states, such as desires and beliefs, that require simultaneously representing one's own and another's conflicting motives or views of the world. Ongoing efforts probe the motivational facets of ToM, how flexibly animals can recruit social cognitive skills across cooperative and competitive settings, and appropriate motivational contexts for comparative inquiry. Finally, novel methodological and empirical approaches have brought new species (e.g., lemurs, dogs) into the lab, implemented critical controls to elucidate underlying mechanisms, and contributed powerful new techniques (e.g., looking‐time, eye‐tracking) that open the door to unexplored approaches for studying animal minds. These innovations in cognition, motivation, and method promise fruitful progress in the years to come, in understanding the nature and origin of ToM in humans and other species.

Sexual orientation differences in the self-esteem of men and women: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Bridge, L., Smith, P., & Rimes, K. A. (2019). Sexual orientation differences in the self-esteem of men and women: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, May 2019. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/sgd0000342

Abstract: Sexual minority individuals experience higher rates of mental health problems than heterosexual people. It has been suggested that minority stress explains this disparity, partly by elevating rates of general psychological risk factors such as low self-esteem. This study investigated self-esteem in sexual minority people compared with heterosexual people through a systematic review and meta-analysis. A systematic search of four databases was conducted. Observational studies comparing self-esteem in sexual minority and heterosexual men and women separately were included. A qualitative synthesis and random effects meta-analysis were conducted. Potential moderators were explored using subgroup analyses of age, sexual minority orientation, and sample type. Thirty-two eligible studies were identified; 25 compared self-esteem in men and 19 in women. Most studies used the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) to measure self-esteem. Compared with heterosexual men and women, there was significantly lower self-esteem in sexual minority men (SMD = −0.33, 95% CI [−0.44, −0.23]) and women (SMD = −0.20, 95% CI [−0.29, −0.11]). This difference appeared to be moderated by sample type: There was preliminary evidence for more robust differences in men and bisexual individuals. Findings are consistent with the suggestion that self-esteem is lower in sexual minorities than in heterosexual individuals. However, caution is required in drawing firm conclusions due to methodological limitations of the included studies. Self-esteem is a potential target for intervention to prevent psychological disorders in this population

Mortality salience effects (death reminders lead to ingroup-bias and defensive protection of one’s worldview) have been claimed to be a fundamental human motivator; the authors couldn't replicate MS

Sætrevik, Bjørn, and Hallgeir Sjåstad. 2019. “A Pre-registered Attempt to Replicate the Mortality Salience Effect in Traditional and Novel Measures.” PsyArXiv. May 17. doi:10.31234/osf.io/dkg53

Abstract: Mortality salience (MS) effects, in which death reminders lead to ingroup-bias and defensive protection of one’s worldview, have been claimed to be a fundamental human motivator and to be supported in a number of studies. However, empirical support draws mainly from a single task in a single cultural setting, where research robustness and transparency are difficult to evaluate. We wanted to replicate the MS effect in an additional cultural setting (Norway), using both a traditional essay measure of patriotism, a novel measure of a culturally relevant essay about democratic values in the aftermath of a terror attack, and a novel measure of pro-social behaviour. We also included checks of whether the MS manipulation had effects on Stroop processing and psychophysiology. Despite our best efforts, the study failed to replicate the MS effect, both as direct and the conceptual replication. The results on the pro-social measure provided suggestive evidence for increased generosity to non-family members and charity. Surprisingly, we failed to find a significant MS effect on processing speed of social or death related words and on psychophysiological responses. Despite being a relatively small study (n = 100), it indicates that the large MS effect reported in the published literature may be more difficult to reproduce than previously assumed, that it does not transfer easily to other domains, and that if it exist, it might not have a straightforward cognitive mechanism. In future research, the combination of high-powered and pre-registered experiments is needed to detect or reject the MS effect with greater certainty.

We still have no "tests to determine which people have superior lie production abilities"

Personality traits of a good liar: A systematic review of the literature. Monica Semrad, Bridie Scott-Parker, Michael Nagel. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 147, 1 September 2019, Pages 306-316. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2019.05.007

Abstract: Although deception is used by many high-risk occupations, including military leaders, lawyers and politicians, there are currently no selection tests to determine which people have superior lie production abilities for these roles. The lack of selection tests is particularly crucial in the high-risk covert roles of undercover operations and human source management within policing. This paper uses the PRISMA systematic review technique to summarise and synthesis the extant literature examining deception theories and lie production. This paper also examines the relationship between lie production and Emotional Intelligence, and the personality traits of the Dark Triad and the HEXACO, to elucidate the characteristics of good liars. The scant research published within this field has been conducted with a variety of experimental designs and dependent variables. Generally, results indicate that the traits, skills and abilities behind sender demeanour, such as believability and honesty, may be fundamental to lie production ability. These characteristics could be considered in selection testing for to identify people with the ability to deceive effectively.

Attitudes Toward Cognitive Enhancement: More likely to support the use of cognitive enhancement by others than by themselves, and more by employees than by students or athletes

Attitudes Toward Cognitive Enhancement: The Role of Metaphor and Context. Erin C. Conrad, Stacey Humphries & Anjan Chatterjee. AJOB Neuroscience, Volume 10, 2019 - Issue 1, Pages 35-47. May 9 2019. https://doi.org/10.1080/21507740.2019.1595771

Abstract: The widespread use of stimulants among healthy individuals to improve cognition has received growing attention; however, public attitudes toward this practice are not well understood. We determined the effect of framing metaphors and context of use on public opinion toward cognitive enhancement. We recruited 3,727 participants from the United States to complete three surveys using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk between April and July 2017. Participants read vignettes describing an individual using cognitive enhancement, varying framing metaphors (fuel versus steroid), and context of use (athletes versus students versus employees). The main outcome measure was the difference in respondent-assigned level of acceptability of the use of cognitive enhancement by others and by themselves between the contrasting vignettes. Participants were more likely to support the use of cognitive enhancement by others than by themselves and more when the use of enhancement by others was framed with a fuel metaphor than with a steroid metaphor. Metaphoric framing did not affect participants’ attitudes toward their own use. Participants supported the use of enhancement by employees more than by students or athletes. These results are discussed in relation to existing ethical and policy literature.

Keywords: cognitive enhancement, neuroethics, cosmetic neurology, neurology, cognitive neuroscience, nootropics

The body-related afferent signals that subserve body ownership (“this body is mine”) might have a key role in human sense of agency (“this action is due to my own will”); body ownership helps building up motor consciousness

The Role of Body-Related Afferent Signals in Human Sense of Agency. Maria Pyasik, Tiziano Furlanetto, Lorenzo Pia. Journal of Experimental Neuroscience, May 16, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1177/1179069519849907

Abstract: At present, most of the neurocognitive models of human sense of agency (ie, “this action is due to my own will”) have been traditionally rooted in a variety of internal efferent signals arising within the motor system. However, recent neuroscientific evidence has suggested that also the body-related afferent signals that subserve body ownership (ie, “this body is mine”) might have a key role in this process. Accordingly, in the present review paper, we briefly examined the literature investigating how and to what extent body ownership contributes to building up human motor consciousness. Evidence suggests that, if required by the context, body ownership per se can act on agency attribution (ie, independently from efferent signals). Hence, a unitary and coherent subjective experience of willed actions (ie, “this willed action is being realized by my own body”) requires both awareness of being an agent and of owning the body.

Keywords: Bodily self, body ownership, sense of agency, afferent signals, efferent signals

When we achieve willed actions, we do not feel as though those acts simply happen to us, we strongly sense to be in charge. Such subjective experience of authorship is known as sense of agency.1 In other words, we are aware of intending, initiating, and controlling our volitional movements (so-called “body agency”),2 as well as their consequences in the external world (“external agency”),2 and this awareness is vital for survival. Indeed, perceiving to be an agent allows distinguishing actions that are self-generated from those that are generated by others. This, in turn, contributes to the key signature of human nature, that is, the phenomenological experience of self-consciousness.3


It is worth emphasizing, however, that whenever we successfully achieve volitional actions, we feel not only being in control of our movements and their consequences but also that those movements are being executed through our own body (body agency). For instance, if I am thirsty and I quickly get a glass of water, I experience that my own body is moving toward the glass. In the absence of any movement, such an embodied and enduring sense of being aware of our own body, termed body ownership,16 is known to be rooted in multisensory integration. In other words, it arises whenever the body-related afferent sensory signals (ie, visual, tactile, proprioceptive, kinesthetic, auditory, etc) that constantly reach our body are integrated in both spatial and temporal terms. For example, if someone else caresses my arm, I experience that body part as my own because I see and I feel the touches at the same time and in the same place. All in all, the stronger the spatiotemporal congruency among these signals, the higher the feeling of body ownership.17–20 It is thought that in the human brain, body ownership is underpinned by the activity of a network including premotor areas, the occipitotemporal cortex, the primary/secondary somatosensory areas, and the anterior insula.18,21–23

Capitalizing on the above-mentioned considerations, it follows that the coherence, the richness, and the completeness of human subjective experience of being the agent of a given voluntary action necessarily requires both awareness of controlling the actions and awareness of owning the body that achieves them. However, whether, how, and to what extent body ownership has a role in building up such experiences is an issue that only very recently has come to the forefront of the scientific investigations. For these reasons, in this article, we aimed at reviewing all studies that, in one way or another, investigated the possible role of body ownership in building up the sense of agency over the body movements.

[...] In summary, this first set of studies showed that if an external object that is perceived as part of one’s own body moves together with the participant’s body, an illusory sense of agency over the movements of that object arises. This does not happen if the moving external object is not perceived as part of one’s own body.


Another evidence came from a study employing the full-body illusion showing that when a virtual embodied avatar was walking repeatedly along a route, while the participant remained still, an illusion of walking occurred.40 This did not happen when the avatar was not embodied. It is also worth noting that highly automated actions, as walking, are thought to prime the movements and intentions to move in advance. In summary, this second set of studies showed that, if participants’ motor representations (eg, motor intentions, motor imagery or motor plan) match the movements of an external object perceived as part of one’s own body, an illusion of agency arises. This does not happen if the moving external object is not perceived as part of one’s own body.


To sum up, here we reviewed evidence supporting the idea that body ownership does have a role in human sense of agency, specifically body agency. The review shows that being aware of one’s own body has a role per se in building and maintaining the sense of agency, namely it can act on agency attribution in the absence of any efferent signals, such as motor intentions and feedforward predictions, and causes preceding effects and so on. First, it is worth noticing that giving any role to body ownership is not trivial but, rather, consistent with human nature. Indeed, our actions are achieved mainly through the physical body,50 and the body is a prerequisite for any successful interaction with the environment.51 Indeed, it is already known that body ownership affects motor control, allowing to estimate limb positions,52 to tune motor commands,53 and to adjust errors.54 Hence, discovering its role also within motor consciousness would not be surprising. Here, we suggest that the signals that give rise to body ownership might have a key role in sense of agency by acting on agency attribution in the absence of any efferent signals. How is it possible to reconcile in a concrete manner this idea with the current neurocognitive model of the sense of agency? As already mentioned, the classical motor control model of sense of agency states that the experience of being an agent arises from the comparison between predicted and actual outcomes.4,7-10 This, in turn, means that action preparation is a necessary condition to have any experience of being an agent. We put forward the idea that under some circumstances, only seeing the own body moving would be enough to activate the neurocognitive processes subserving action preparation. At this point, the feeling of agency over that specific given act would be triggered. Such a process could be exemplified by the inference: “since this is my body part, any action performed by it would be intended by me.” Furthermore, in dynamic conditions, that is when we actually achieve the willed actions, body ownership would provide additional signals to the efferent motor-related signals and would contribute to the subjective experience of being an agent. Within this view, sense of agency is conceived as a very flexible neurocognitive mechanism. Indeed, it is rooted in the dynamic and optimal integration among efferent and afferent signals. Any given source of information would be weighted according to the specificity of the context and the actual availability of signals.55

We have to emphasize that the present review did not aim to investigate the interactions between human body ownership and sense of agency but, rather, it focused on the role of the former in the construction of the latter. Therefore, this article cannot provide an exhaustive picture of the complex interplay between the two senses, and future studies in this direction should allow gaining key hints to understand human bodily self-consciousness.

In rodents: Probing learning by omitting reinforcement (treats) uncovers latent knowledge & identifies context -not “smartness”- as the major source of individual variability

Dissociating task acquisition from expression during learning reveals latent knowledge. Kishore V. Kuchibhotla et al. Nature Communications, May 2019. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-10089-0

Abstract: Performance on cognitive tasks during learning is used to measure knowledge, yet it remains controversial since such testing is susceptible to contextual factors. To what extent does performance during learning depend on the testing context, rather than underlying knowledge? We trained mice, rats and ferrets on a range of tasks to examine how testing context impacts the acquisition of knowledge versus its expression. We interleaved reinforced trials with probe trials in which we omitted reinforcement. Across tasks, each animal species performed remarkably better in probe trials during learning and inter-animal variability was strikingly reduced. Reinforcement feedback is thus critical for learning-related behavioral improvements but, paradoxically masks the expression of underlying knowledge. We capture these results with a network model in which learning occurs during reinforced trials while context modulates only the read-out parameters. Probing learning by omitting reinforcement thus uncovers latent knowledge and identifies context -not “smartness”- as the major source of individual variability.

Popular version -- Study: Treats Might Mask Animal Intelligence. Chanapa Tantibanchachai. News Releases, May 14, 2019. https://releases.jhu.edu/2019/05/14/study-treats-might-mask-animal-intelligence

Rewards are necessary for learning, but may actually mask true knowledge, finds a new Johns Hopkins University study with rodents and ferrets.

The findings, published May 14 in Nature Communications, show a distinction between knowledge and performance, and provide insight into how environment can affect the two.

“Most learning research focuses on how humans and other animals learn ‘content’ or knowledge. Here, we suggest that there are two parallel learning processes: one for content and one for context, or environment. If we can separate how these two pathways work, perhaps we can find ways to improve performance,” says Kishore Kuchibhotla, an assistant professor in The Johns Hopkins University’s department of psychological and brain sciences and the study’s lead author.

While researchers have known that the presence of reinforcement, or reward, can change how animals behave, it’s been unclear exactly how rewards affect learning versus performance.

An example of the difference between learning and performance, Kuchibhotla explains, is the difference between a student studying and knowing the answers at home, and a student demonstrating that knowledge on a test at school.

“What we know at any given time can be different than what we show; the ability to access that knowledge in the right environment is what we’re interested in,” he says.

To investigate what animals know in hopes of better understanding learning, Kuchibhotla and the research team trained mice, rats and ferrets on a series of tasks, and measured how accurately they performed the tasks with and without rewards.

For the first experiment, the team trained mice to lick for water through a lick tube after hearing one tone, and to not lick after hearing a different, unrewarded tone. It takes mice two weeks to learn this in the presence of the water reward. At a time point early in learning, around days 3-5, the mice performed the task at chance levels (about 50%) when the lick tube/reward was present. When the team removed the lick tube entirely on these early days, however, the mice performed the task at more than 90% accuracy. The mice, therefore, seemed to understand the task many days before they expressed knowledge in the presence of a reward.

Masculine/feminine colors, toys, & objects as more suited for boys/girls or both & boys/girls playing with gender counter-stereotypic toys: The older boys sanctioned counter stereotypical behavior more often than accepted it

Boys Just Don’t! Gender Stereotyping and Sanctioning of Counter-Stereotypical Behavior in Preschoolers. Milica M. Skočajić et al. Sex Roles, May 15 2019. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11199-019-01051-x

Abstract: Although children start to adopt gender stereotypes by the age of three, there is less evidence about how early they start to sanction other children’s counter-stereotypical behaviors. The present study explored the two processes in a single design, comparing younger/older preschool boys and girls and using a two-task procedure involving (a) categorization of pictures of masculine/feminine colors, toys, and objects as more suited for boys/girls or both and (b) descriptions and evaluations of boys/girls playing with gender counter-stereotypic toys. One hundred Serbian children aged 3–4 or 6–7 years-old, balanced by gender, were individually interviewed. Although all three sets of stimuli were stereotyped, toys were stereotyped more often than colors and objects. Overall stereotyping, as well as stereotyping of colors and toys, was more frequent in the older group. Gender differences were more complex, showing some gender x age interactions wherein boys stereotyped masculine stimuli more often than girls did; the older boys, but not the other groups, sanctioned counter stereotypical behavior more often than accepted it; and boys’ behaviors were sanctioned more often than girls’. Finally, stereotyping and sanctioning were strongly positively related. Our study shows that, at early preschool ages, children are not only aware of gender norms, but also ready to sanction peers violating them. Boys seem to be more likely to stereotype, particularly the masculine stimuli, and be sanctioned for not conforming to stereotypes. The findings can help educators and media identify groups that need to be empowered to explore behaviors beyond gender-prescribed roles.

Keywords: Gender role Gender-stereotypes Counter-stereotypical Sanctions Preschool Child development

The Social Price of Constant Connectivity: Smartphones Impose Subtle Costs on Well-Being

The Social Price of Constant Connectivity: Smartphones Impose Subtle Costs on Well-Being. Kostadin Kushlev, Ryan Dwyer, Elizabeth W. Dunn. Current Directions in Psychological Science, May 16, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721419847200

Abstract: Smartphones provide people with a variety of benefits, but they may also impose subtle social costs. We propose that being constantly connected undercuts the emotional benefits of face-to-face social interactions in two ways. First, smartphone use may diminish the emotional benefits of ongoing social interactions by preventing us from giving our full attention to friends and family in our immediate social environment. Second, smartphones may lead people to miss out on the emotional benefits of casual social interactions by supplanting such interactions altogether. Across field experiments and experience-sampling studies, we find that smartphones consistently interfere with the emotional benefits people could otherwise reap from their broader social environment. We also find that the costs of smartphone use are fairly subtle, contrary to proclamations in the popular press that smartphones are ruining our social lives. By highlighting how smartphones affect the benefits we derive from our broader social environment, this work provides a foundation for building theory and research on the consequences of mobile technology for human well-being.

Keywords: subjective well-being, social interactions, smartphones, cyberpsychology, mobile computing

The Frozen Effect: Objects in motion are more aesthetically appealing than objects frozen in time

The Frozen Effect: Objects in motion are more aesthetically appealing than objects frozen in time. Malerie G. McDowell, Jason Haberman. PLOS, May 16, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0215813

Abstract: Videos of moving faces are more flattering than static images of the same face, a phenomenon dubbed the Frozen Face Effect. This may reflect an aesthetic preference for faces viewed in a more ecological context than still photographs. In the current set of experiments, we sought to determine whether this effect is unique to facial processing, or if motion confers an aesthetic benefit to other stimulus categories as well, such as bodies and objects—that is, a more generalized ‘Frozen Effect’ (FE). If motion were the critical factor in the FE, we would expect the video of a body or object in motion to be significantly more appealing than when seen in individual, static frames. To examine this, we asked participants to rate sets of videos of bodies and objects in motion along with the still frames constituting each video. Extending the original FFE, we found that participants rated videos as significantly more flattering than each video’s corresponding still images, regardless of stimulus domain, suggesting that the FFE generalizes well beyond face perception. Interestingly, the magnitude of the FE increased with the predictability of stimulus movement. Our results suggest that observers prefer bodies and objects in motion over the same information presented in static form, and the more predictable the motion, the stronger the preference. Motion imbues objects and bodies with greater aesthetic appeal, which has implications for how one might choose to portray oneself in various social media platforms.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

New evidence on the link between genes, psychological traits, and political engagement

New evidence on the link between genes, psychological traits, and political engagement. Aaron C. Weinschenk et al. Politics and the Life Sciences, Volume 38, Issue 1, Spring 2019, May 16 2019. https://doi.org/10.1017/pls.2019.3

Abstract: We investigate the link between genes, psychological traits, and political engagement using a new data set containing information on a large sample of young German twins. The TwinLife Study enables us to examine the predominant model of personality, the Big Five framework, as well as traits that fall outside the Big Five, such as cognitive ability, providing a more comprehensive understanding of the underpinnings of political engagement. Our results support previous work showing genetic overlap between some psychological traits and political engagement. More specifically, we find that cognitive ability and openness to experience are correlated with political engagement and that common genes can explain most of the relationship between these psychological traits and political engagement. Relationships between genes, psychological traits, and political engagement exist even at a fairly young age, which is an important finding given that previous work has relied heavily on older samples to study the link between genes, psychological traits, and political engagement.

A behavior's environmental impact is judged differently depending on the intention; is judged less effective when based on environmental than selfish motives; this bias is driven by moral comparison (the feeling of moral reproach)

When good intentions go bad: The biased perception of the environmental impact of a behavior due to reliance on an actor's behavioral intention. Gea Hoogendoorn, Bernadette Sütterlin, Michael Siegrist. Journal of Environmental Psychology, May 16 2019. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2019.05.003

•    People are subject to intention actor-observer bias when judging environmental impact.
•    A behavior's environmental impact is judged differently depending on the intention.
•    A behavior is judged less effective when based on environmental than selfish motives.
•    The intention bias is driven by moral comparison, i.e., the feeling of moral reproach.
•    The costlier it is perceived to conduct a behavior, the larger the moral gap.

Abstract: People engage in pro-environmental behaviors for various reasons. Depending on the intention underlying their behavior, they are perceived differently by others. Thus, the question arises whether the reason why a person performs a behavior not only influences how observers perceive that person, but also how observers evaluate the environmental impact of that person's behavior. We conducted two experiments, in which participants (i.e., observers) read a text describing a person (i.e., actor) engaging in a pro-environmental behavior for either self-serving or environmental reasons. We found that the environmental impact of an identical pro-environmental behavior was judged differently depending on the underlying behavioral intention of the actor. When the behavior was performed by the actor for pro-environmental reasons, the positive environmental impact was perceived to be lower than when the behavior was performed for self-serving reasons. These findings suggest that people are subject to an observer intention bias when judging the environmental impact of others' behavior. In two follow-up experiments, we identified moral comparison to be the mechanism underlying this observer intention bias. When reading about an environmentally motivated actor, participants experienced a stronger feeling of being judged as less moral by the actor, than when they read about an actor conducting the same behavior out of self-serving motivation. To cope with this feeling of being judged by others, people downplay the positive impact of the observed morally superior person's actions.

Strategies for Reducing Failures of Self-Control

Beyond Willpower: Strategies for Reducing Failures of Self-Control. Angela L. Duckworth, Katherine L. Milkman, David Laibson. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, February 13, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1177/1529100618821893

Abstract: Almost everyone struggles to act in their individual and collective best interests, particularly when doing so requires forgoing a more immediately enjoyable alternative. Other than exhorting decision makers to “do the right thing,” what can policymakers do to reduce overeating, undersaving, procrastination, and other self-defeating behaviors that feel good now but generate larger delayed costs? In this review, we synthesize contemporary research on approaches to reducing failures of self-control. We distinguish between self-deployed and other-deployed strategies and, in addition, between situational and cognitive intervention targets. Collectively, the evidence from both psychological science and economics recommends psychologically informed policies for reducing failures of self-control.

Keywords: self-control, behavior change, behavioral economics, self-regulation

First Study To Investigate How Attachment Style Changes Through Multiple Decades Of Life

Chopik, W. J., Edelstein, R. S., & Grimm, K. J. (2019). Longitudinal changes in attachment orientation over a 59-year period. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 116(4), 598-611. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000167

Abstract: Research on individual differences in attachment—and their links to emotion, cognition, and behavior in close relationships—has proliferated over the last several decades. However, the majority of this research has focused on children and young adults. Little is known about mean-level changes in attachment orientation beyond early life, in part due to a dearth of longitudinal data on attachment across the life span. The current study used a Q-Sort-based measure of attachment to examine mean-level changes in attachment orientation from age 13 to 72 using data from the Block and Block Longitudinal Study, the Intergenerational Studies, and the Radcliffe College Class of 1964 Sample (total N = 628). Multilevel modeling was employed to estimate growth curve trajectories across the combined samples. We found that attachment anxiety declined on average with age, particularly during middle age and older adulthood. Attachment avoidance decreased in a linear fashion across the life span. Being in a relationship predicted lower levels of anxiety and avoidance across adulthood. Men were higher in attachment avoidance at each point in the life span. Taken together, these findings provide much-needed insight into how attachment orientations change over long stretches of time. We conclude with a discussion about the challenges of studying attachment dynamics across the life course and across specific transitions.

Popular version: First Study To Investigate How Attachment Style Changes Through Multiple Decades Of Life. Christian Jarrett. Research Digest, May 9 2019. https://digest.bps.org.uk/2019/05/09/first-study-to-investigate-how-attachment-style-changes-through-multiple-decades-of-life


The data come from five historic projects, involving personality surveys of 628 US citizens born between 1920 and 1967. The shortest of these was 9 years and the longest was 47 years. They all involved participants being assessed repeatedly over many years using the California Adult Q-sort – a measure that includes 100 personality items. Chopik and his team focused on 14 key items from this measure, allowing them to compile scores for “anxious attachment” and “avoidant attachment” for each participant. People who score highly on “anxious attachment” fear rejection and constantly seek reassurance. People who score highly on “avoidant attachment” find intimacy uncomfortable and find it difficult to provide emotional support to others. Low scores on both anxiety and avoidance is a sign of having a secure attachment style.
The researchers stitched the data from the five historic samples together, so that they had scores for anxious and avoidant attachment spanning 59 years. Past research has already looked at how people of different ages vary in their attachment scores, but one problem with that kind of cross-sectional research is that any differences between people of different ages could be due to generational differences, rather than due to developmental trends. The new research largely overcome that problem, with Chopik and his team able to identify clear age-related trends in the same individuals over time.
Specifically, the team found that people’s anxious attachment tended to be high in adolescence, increasing into their young adulthood, before then declining through life into their middle and old age. Avoidant attachment showed less change with age, but started higher in adolescence and then declined in linear fashion through life.
The researchers surmised that attachment anxiety and avoidance may be high in adolescence due to the stressful transition from having primarily close bonds with parents to having meaningful relationships with peers and first romantic relationships. They also pointed out that mid-life – when anxiety and avoidance tend to decline – is arguably the time when we are most invested in various social roles and relationships and that “…increases in security often result from people becoming more comfortable in their relationships, gaining more evidence that the relationship will last, and having spouses who serve attachment needs and functions that promote close relations.” Meanwhile, in later life, when attachment anxiety and avoidance are typically lowest, they said people tend to be very focused on the here and now – “declines in anxiety and avoidance may reflect the efforts of older adults to become closer to their close friends and family,” they said.
Another finding from the study was that at all times of life, being in a close romantic relationship tended to go hand in hand with scoring lower on attachment anxiety and avoidance. “Romantic partners reward appropriate behaviour and admonish inappropriate behaviour … ,” the researchers said. “By investing in these social roles, individuals adhere to the rules and appropriate behaviour of close relationships and may change how they approach relationships accordingly, perhaps becoming more secure.”
It’s worth noting that this research looked at group averages, which inevitably masks the idiosyncratic ways that some people may change in their attachment style through life. The study is also limited by only involving participants from the US, the fact that it relied on extracting attachment scores from a measure not designed for that purpose, and that data was stitched together from multiple samples so as to cover the period from adolescence to later life. In a way, however, that last point is also a positive: “given the many ways in which these samples differed, the amount of consistency across the samples in estimating changes over time in attachment is even more remarkable. The converging evidence is a testament to the robustness of these results, such that they were found under different conditions in samples collected between 1936 and 2016,” the researchers explained.