Saturday, August 31, 2019

Do People Want to Be More Moral? They reported a lower desire to change more morally-relevant traits (e.g., honesty, compassion), compared to less morally-relevant traits (e.g., anxiety, sociability)

Sun, Jessie, and Geoffrey Goodwin. 2019. “Do People Want to Be More Moral?” PsyArXiv. August 26. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Most people want to change some aspects of their personality, but does this phenomenon extend to moral character, and to close others? Targets (N = 800) and well-acquainted informants (N = 958) rated targets’ personality traits and reported how much they wanted the target to change each trait. Targets and informants reported a lower desire to change more morally-relevant traits (e.g., honesty, compassion), compared to less morally-relevant traits (e.g., anxiety, sociability). Moreover, although targets and informants generally wanted targets to improve more on traits that targets had less desirable levels of, targets’ moral change goals were less calibrated to their current levels. Finally, informants wanted targets to change in similar ways, but to a lesser extent, than targets themselves did. These findings shed light on self–other similarities and asymmetries in personality change goals, and suggest that the general desire for self-improvement may be less prevalent in the moral domain.

10% Less Democracy: Why You Should Trust Elites a Little More and the Masses a Little Less

10% Less Democracy: Why You Should Trust Elites a Little More and the Masses a Little Less. Garett Jones.

"During the 2016 presidential election, both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders argued that elites were hurting the economy. But, drawing together evidence and theory from across economics, political science, and even finance, Garett Jones says otherwise. In 10% Less Democracy, he makes the case that the richest, most democratic nations would be better off if they slightly reduced accountability to the voting public, turning up the dial on elite influence.
To do this, Jones builds on three foundational lines of evidence in areas where he has personal experience. First, as a former staffer in the U.S. Senate, he saw how Senators voted differently as elections grew closer. Second, as a macroeconomist, Jones knows the merits of "independent" central banks, which sit apart from the political process and are controlled by powerful insiders. The consensus of the field is that this detached, technocratic approach has worked far better than more political and democratic banking systems. Third, his previous research on the effects of cognitive skills on political, social, and economic systems revealed many ways in which well-informed voters improve government.

Discerning repeated patterns, Jones draws out practical suggestions for fine-tuning, focusing on the length of political terms, the independence of government agencies, the weight that voting systems give to the more-educated, and the value of listening more closely to a group of farsighted stakeholders with real skin in the game―a nation's sovereign bondholders. Accessible to political news junkies while firmly rooted and rigorous, 10% Less Democracy will fuel the national conversation about what optimal government looks like."

"How can we rescue democracy from the slough of despond into which it has fallen? In this lucidly written book, Garett Jones makes the case for a surprising answer: the best way to improve democracy is to have a bit less of it. It's only by handing power to technical experts, lengthening congressional terms, staggering elections, and reducing direct democracy that we can save the invaluable core of democracy from self-destruction." (Adrian Wooldridge co-author of Capitalism in America: An Economic History)

"10% Less Democracy is a joy to read. If you liked Freakonomics or Predictably Irrational, you'll love this book. It deserves to be read widely, widely discussed―and acted upon. A tour de force combining the best economic insight with real-world, practical applications. Every chapter demonstrates ways in which reducing democratic control over certain decisions reliably results in better outcomes for all. We should jettison our religious attachment to democracy and see it for what it is: a tool good only in moderation." (Jason Brennan, author of Cracks in the Ivory Tower)

Garett Jones is Associate Professor of Economics at the Center for Study of Public Choice, George Mason University. He also holds the BB&T Professorship for the Study of Capitalism at the Mercatus Center. Garett's research and commentary have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Forbes, and Businessweek. His first book, Hive Mind: How Your Nation's IQ Matters So Much More Than Your Own (Stanford, 2015) was a Gold Medalist in the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards.

The Honeymoon Is Over: Sex-differentiated Changes in Sexual Desire Predict Marital Dissatisfaction

The Honeymoon Is Over: Sex-differentiated Changes in Sexual Desire Predict Marital Dissatisfaction. James K. McNulty, Jessica A. Maxwell, Andrea L. Meltzer, Roy F. Baumeister. In press in Archives of Sexual Behavior,

Abstract: Sex is critical to marriage. Yet, there are several reasons to expect spouses to experience declines in the desire for sex over time, and the rates of any declines in sexual desire may differ for men and women. We used two multi-wave, longitudinal studies to test whether male and female members of newlywed couples experienced different rates of change in sexual desire, whether any such changes were accentuated by childbirth, and whether any such changes had implications for marital satisfaction. In both studies, spouses provided multiple reports of sexual desire, marital satisfaction, and childbirth. Results demonstrated that women’s sexual desire declined more steeply over time than did men’s sexual desire, which did not decline on average. Further, childbirth accentuated this sex difference by partially, though not completely, accounting for declines in women’s sexual desire but not men’s. Finally, declines in women’s but not men’s sexual desire predicted declines in both partners’ marital satisfaction. These effects  held controlling depressive symptoms and stress, including stress from parenthood. The current findings offer novel longitudinal evidence for sex-differentiated changes in sexual desire and thereby suggest an important source of marital discord.

Key words: marriage; sexual desire; sex differences; gender differences; sexuality; passion

People high in neuroticism & extraversion were the most vulnerable to rumors; women are more vulnerable to rumors than men (could it be to protect the offspring???)

Who falls for rumor? Influence of personality traits on false rumor belief. Kaisheng Lai et al. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 152, 1 January 2020, 109520.

• High extraversion and neuroticism predicted vulnerability to false rumor belief.
• Women were more likely to believe rumors than men.
• Lower education predicted higher rumor belief.
• Extraversion positively predicted rumor belief for men, but not for women.

Abstract: While social media makes information easily accessible, it also breeds unprecedented quantities of false rumors that individuals frequently fall prey to. There have been increasing efforts to combat rumors, yet the first battle in this war would be targeting the most vulnerable people. However, systematic understanding of associations between individual characteristics and rumor belief is still lacking. With a national survey in China (N = 11,551), we investigated relationships between individuals' big five personality traits and their beliefs in false rumors circulating on social media. Correlations and multiple regression models showed that people high in neuroticism and extraversion were the most vulnerable to rumors. Furthermore, demographic characteristics, such as being female and having less education were associated with higher rumor belief. The findings enhance understanding of dispositional factors associated with people's information decisions and provide guidance for anti-rumor campaigns.

Keywords: Rumor Big five Social media Information decision

Room for agreement: Policies that make the poorest wealthier, while keeping the status of the wealthiest, are seen as fair by both Democrats & Republicans & among high- and low–income individuals

Toni Rodon and Marc Sanjaume, "How fair is it? An experimental study of perceived fairness of distributive policies," The Journal of Politics, accepted,

Abstract: How do people evaluate fairness of redistributive policies when redistribution is considered as multidimensional? We estimate the effect of distributive policies on the top- and bottom-income group, as well as the general wealth, social mobility and the origin of wealth on people’s perceived fairness towards them. Findings reveal that policies that encourage upwards social mobility, an increase in general wealth and reward effort and upward mobility are seen as fair. Yet, what is seen as fair or unfair differs substantially across party and income groups. Policies that promote an increase of the status of the wealthiest, as well as policies that do not change or deteriorate the status of the poorest, generate different fairness perceptions. But there is also some room for agreement, as policies that make the poorest wealthier, while keeping the status of the wealthiest, are seen as fair by both Democrats and Republicans and among high- and low–income individuals.

Keywords: Redistribution, Conjoint, Fairness, Multidimensionality, Rawls, Ideology, Income

Friday, August 30, 2019

Evidence from San Francisco's 1994 change in law about Effects of Rent Control Expansion: Rent control prevents displacement of incumbent renters in the short run, but there was a loss of housing supplyin the long run

Diamond, Rebecca, Tim McQuade, and Franklin Qian. 2019. "The Effects of Rent Control Expansion on Tenants, Landlords, and Inequality: Evidence from San Francisco." American Economic Review, 109 (9): 3365-94. DOI: 10.1257/aer.20181289

Abstract: Using a 1994 law change, we exploit quasi-experimental variation in the assignment of rent control in San Francisco to study its impacts on tenants and landlords. Leveraging new data tracking individuals' migration, we find rent control limits renters' mobility by 20 percent and lowers displacement from San Francisco. Landlords treated by rent control reduce rental housing supplies by 15 percent by selling to owner-occupants and redeveloping buildings. Thus, while rent control prevents displacement of incumbent renters in the short run, the lost rental housing supply likely drove up market rents in the long run, ultimately undermining the goals of the law.

Fear in infancy: Lessons from snakes, spiders, heights, and strangers

LoBue, V., & Adolph, K. E. (2019). Fear in infancy: Lessons from snakes, spiders, heights, and strangers. Developmental Psychology, 55(9), 1889-1907.

Abstract: This review challenges the traditional interpretation of infants’ and young children’s responses to three types of potentially “fear-inducing” stimuli—snakes and spiders, heights, and strangers. The traditional account is that these stimuli are the objects of infants’ earliest developing fears. We present evidence against the traditional account, and provide an alternative explanation of infants’ behaviors toward each stimulus. Specifically, we propose that behaviors typically interpreted as “fearful” really reflect an array of stimulus-specific responses that are highly dependent on context, learning, and the perceptual features of the stimuli. We speculate about why researchers so commonly misinterpret these behaviors, and conclude with future directions for studying the development of fear in infants and young children.

Check also Are Humans Prepared to Detect, Fear, and Avoid Snakes? The Mismatch between Laboratory and Ecological Evidence. Carlos M. Coelho et al. Front. Psychol. Aug 28 2019, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02094.

It’s Not the Media, Stupid: Many in the Western world strongly believe things that are barely ever mentioned in the mainstream media, just as many firmly reject or ignore some of the messages that are repeated incessantly by them

It’s Not the Media, Stupid. Kenneth Newton, August 29 2019. The Political Quarterly,

Abstract: It is commonly believed that the general public is heavily dependent on the media for its political news and views and that, as a consequence, the media exercise a strong influence over public opinion and behaviour. However, many millions in the Western world strongly believe things that are barely ever mentioned in the mainstream media, just as many millions also firmly reject or ignore some of the messages that are repeated incessantly by them. This confirms sixty years of experimental psychology research showing that most individuals are capable of preserving their beliefs, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, argument and logic to the contrary. Consistent with this, political science research finds little evidence of strong media influence on the party voting, political attitudes and election agendas of citizens. They have their own ways of gathering political information about the world around them, and they do not necessarily believe what they read in the papers, unless they are so inclined to start with. Consequently, media influences on mass opinion and behaviour are weaker than commonly assumed and, such as they are, their effects are more beneficial than harmful for democracy.


Surveys in the USA and UK estimate that some 15 per cent of the population pays little or no attention to the news media, although this may not prevent them from holding strong opinions about the issues of the day. Those who receive news will not necessarily believe it, and those who believe it will not necessarily interpret it in the same way. Those who interpret it in the same way will not necessarily act upon it in the same way. Added to this is the fact that different media present different news in different ways and from different perspectives, so there is no single, common set of media effects but a variety of them, some negative, some positive, some weak, some strong, some reinforcing consumer opinion, some used by consumers to reinforce their own opposing views. Moreover, the news media are not the only source of news and opinion, and in some cases may not be the most important, the most trusted or have the biggest impact. In other words, there is a long chain of causation running between what the media produce and public opinion and behaviour, and in many instances, the links are broken or splay out along different paths, with different consequences. The result is millions of news avoiders, accepters, deniers and ignorers, which turns the spotlight on what people do with the news they receive according to their pre‐exiting values, opinions, backgrounds and circumstances.
The result is that media effects on political attitudes and behaviour are usually, not always, weak and patchy or too small to measure. What turns up in most media effects research are the factors of the standard model of the social sciences that explains most forms of public attitudes and behaviour. The standard model usually includes age, sex, education, income, social status, ethnicity and employment status. Where politics are concerned, it also includes political interest and values, which, in turn, influence how much attention citizens pay to the news, what news sources they prefer and, most important, how they react to the news they receive see, hear and read. When the variables of the standard model are taken into account, media effects are usually, but not always, found to be insubstantial, statistically insignificant or weak.
None of this will come as a surprise to a large battalion of psychologists who have conducted laboratory experiments on belief preservation and cognitive bias, nor to an army of other social scientists who use the standard model, rather than media variables, to explain public opinion and behaviour. On top of this, while we depend upon the news for some sorts of political information, having no first‐hand experience of the matter, there are many other aspects of public policy and public services which we rub up against in everyday life. Some research suggests that real‐world experience, including political talk with others, has a bigger impact on what people think and do—either on its own or in conjunction with media reports about it. However, because it is so readily assumed that we depend upon the news for our news, there is rather little research on other sources of news and opinion.
The claims made about media influence in this article are of more than academic interest, for as long as we continue to shoot the messengers, we will not come to grips with the real drivers of mass attitudes and behaviour. In general, it makes little sense to blame the media for the ills and ailments of modern government and politics, in spite of all the self‐evident deficiencies of large parts of the news media. Just as President Clinton pointed to the state of the American economy to explain his election success, so also and for the same reasons, the media are not the main drivers behind Trump, Brexit, racism, sexism, populism, xenophobia, intolerance, greed, self‐centredness and materialism. These things cannot be tackled as long as we continue to assume that others believe everything they read in the papers. For better or worse, the public has its own way of making up its mind about many of the most important issues of the day, and this way is rooted in the social backgrounds, present circumstances and opinions of individuals and groups in society. As Clinton might have said, ‘It’s the economy, not the media, stupid’.

Effects of the personality characteristics of Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy (the Dark Triad) on political ambition: Those traits are significantly related to ambition

The Dark Triad and nascent political ambition. Rolfe Daus Peterson & Carl L. Palmer. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, Aug 29 2019.

ABSTRACT: This research considers the effects of the personality characteristics of Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy (labeled the Dark Triad) on political ambition. Research on nascent ambition has shown that individuals who express political ambition differ by social background, gender, and personality. Using original survey research, our analyses find that Dark Triad traits are significantly related to ambition. Respondents who score higher in Machiavellianism are more likely to have higher political ambition, more likely to enjoy the specific aspects of campaigning, and more likely to predict they will be successful candidates. While narcissism is related to feeling qualified and thinking about running for political office, individuals scoring higher in narcissism are less likely to express interest in the specific work of political campaigning. The results have implications for understanding the traits that drive political ambition and how the body politic gets the politicians it needs, though possibly not the politicians it wants.

Since MODIS began collecting measurements we found a decrease in the total area burned each year: Between 2003 & 2019, that number has dropped by roughly 25 pct

Building a Long-Term Record of Fire. Adam Voiland. NASA, August 21, 2019.

[full text, graphs, links, etc., at the link above]

Editor’s Note: Read more about studying Earth’s fires with satellites in Part 1. This story was written as part of the 20th anniversary celebration of this website.

The control of fire is a goal that may well be as old as humanity, but the systematic monitoring of fire on a global scale is a much newer capability.

In the 1910s, the U.S. Forest Service began building fire lookout towers on mountain peaks in order to detect distant fires. A few decades later, fire-spotting airplanes flew onto the scene. Then in the early 1980s, satellites began to map fires over large areas from the vantage point of space.

Over time, researchers have built a rich and textured record of Earth’s fire activity and are now able to analyze decadal trends. “The pace of discovery has increased dramatically during the satellite era,” said James Randerson, a scientist at the University of California, Irvine. “Having high-quality, daily observations of fires available on a global scale has been critical.”

The animation above shows the locations of actively burning fires on a monthly basis for nearly two decades. The maps are based on observations from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. The colors are based on a count of the number (not size) of fires observed within a 1,000-square-kilometer area. White pixels show the high end of the count—as many as 30 fires in a 1,000-square-kilometer area per day. Orange pixels show as many as 10 fires, while red areas show as few as 1 fire per day.

[December 1, 2014 - August 31, 2015]

The sequence highlights the rhythms—both natural and human-caused—in global fire activity. Bands of fire sweep across Eurasia, North America, and Southeast Asia as farmers clear and maintain fields in April and May. Summer brings new activity in boreal and temperate forests in North America and Eurasia due to lighting-triggered fires burning in remote areas. In the tropical forests of South America and equatorial Asia, fires flare up in August, September, and October as people make use of the dry season to clear rainforest and savanna, as well as stop trees and shrubs from encroaching on already cleared land. Few months pass in Australia without large numbers of fires burning somewhere on the continent’s vast grasslands, savannas, and tropical forests.

But it is Africa that is truly the fire continent. On an average day in August, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometers (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua and Terra satellites detect 10,000 actively burning fires around the world—and 70 percent them happen in Africa. Huge numbers of blazes spring up in the northern part of continent in December and January. A half year later, the burning has shifted south. Indeed, global fire emissions typically peak in August and September, coinciding with the main fire seasons of the Southern Hemisphere, particularly Africa. (High activity in temperate and boreal forests in the Northern Hemisphere in the summer also contribute.)

[Photo August 29, 2018]

The second animation underscores how much fire activity shifts seasonally by highlighting burning activity during December 2014, April 2015, and August 2015. The satellite image above shows smoke rising from the savanna of northern Zambia on August 29, 2018, around the time global emissions reach their maximum.

Though Africa dominates in the sheer number of fires, fires seasons there are pretty consistent from year-to-year. The most variable fire seasons happen elsewhere, such as the tropical forests of South America and equatorial Asia. In these areas, the severity of fire season is often linked to cycles of El Niño and La Niña. The buildup of warm water in the eastern Pacific during an El Niño changes atmospheric patterns and reduces rainfall over many rainforests, allowing them to burn more easily and widely.

[animation Aug 2015]

Despite the vast quantities of carbon released by fires in savannas, grasslands, and boreal forests, research shows that fires in these biomes do not generally add carbon to the atmosphere in the long term. The regrowth of vegetation or the creation of charcoal typically recaptures all of the carbon within months or years. However, when fires permanently remove trees or burn through peat (a carbon-rich fuel that can take centuries to form), little carbon is recaptured and the atmosphere sees a net increase in CO2.

That is why outbreaks of fire in countries with large amounts of peat, such as Indonesia, have an outsized effect on global climate. Fires in equatorial Asia account for just 0.6 percent of global burned area, yet the region accounts for 8 percent of carbon emissions and 23 percent of methane emissions. On October, 25, 2015, the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera aboard the DSCOVR satellite acquired an image (below) of heavy smoke over Indonesia; El Niño was particularly active at the time.

[photo October 15, 2015]

One of the most interesting things researchers have discovered since MODIS began collecting measurements, noted Randerson, is a decrease in the total number of square kilometers burned each year. Between 2003 and 2019, that number has dropped by roughly 25 percent.

As populations have increased in fire-prone regions of Africa, South America, and Central Asia, grasslands and savannas have become more developed and converted into farmland. As a result, long-standing habits of burning grasslands (to clear shrubs and land for cattle or other reasons) have decreased, explained NASA Goddard Space Flight scientist Niels Andela. And instead of using fire, people increasingly use machines to clear crops.

“There are really two separate trends,” said Randerson. “Even as the global burned area number has declined because of what is happening in savannas, we are seeing a significant increase in the intensity and reach of fires in the western United States because of climate change.”

[global burned area 2003 - 2015]

When researchers began using satellites to study the world’s fires in the 1980s, they were just sorting out the basics of how to detect fires from space. Now after mining MODIS data for nearly two decades, scientists are looking ahead to other satellites and technologies that they hope will advance the study of fire in the coming years.

A series of follow-on sensors called the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 satellites now make near-real time observations of emissions that are even more accurate than those from MODIS because of improved fire detections along the edge of the edges of images, noted Andela.

Meanwhile, the launch of satellites with higher-resolution sensors is also helping. “The Landsat 8 and Sentinel satellites, in particular, are contributing to a revolution in our ability to measure the burned area of small grassland and forest fires,” said Randerson. “And we are going to need additional detection capabilities in the coming years to track increasingly destructive mega fires during all times of day and night.”

NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview. Story by Adam Voiland.

References & Resources

    Andela, N. et al. (2017) A human-driven decline in global burned area. Science, 356 (6345), 1356-1362.
    Chen, Y. et al. (2017) A pan-tropical cascade of fire driven by El Niño/Southern Oscillation. Nature Climate Change, 7, 906-911.
    Giglio, L. et al. (2006) Global distribution and seasonality of active fires as observed with the Terra and Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences 111, G2.
    Giglio, L. et al. (2006) Global estimation of burned area using MODIS active fire observations. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 9, 957-974.
    Jones, S. et al. (2017) Advances in the Remote Sensing of Active Fires: A Review. Accessed August 20, 2019.
    Korontzi, S. et al. (2006) Global distribution of agricultural fires in croplands from 3 years of Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 2 (20).
    NASA Earthdata (2019, August 7) Wildfires Can’t Hide from Earth Observing Satellites. Accessed 20, 2019.
    Turetsky, M. et al. (2015) Global vulnerability of peatlands to fire and carbon loss. Nature Geoscience, 8, 11-14.
    Van der Werf, G. et al. (2017) Global fire emissions estimates during 1997-2016. Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 9, 697-720.

The Earth Observatory is part of the EOS Project Science Office at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The Relationship Between Individual Differences in Gray Matter Volume and Religiosity and Mystical Experiences: A Pre‐registered Voxel‐based Morphometry Study

The Relationship Between Individual Differences in Gray Matter Volume and Religiosity and Mystical Experiences: A Pre‐registered Voxel‐based Morphometry Study. Michiel van Elk, Lukas Snoek. European Journal of Neuroscience, August 29 2019.

Abstract: The neural substrates of religious belief and experience are an intriguing though contentious topic. Here we had the unique opportunity to establish the relation between validated measures of religiosity and gray matter volume in a large sample of participants (N = 211). In this registered report we conducted a confirmatory Voxel‐Based Morphometry (VBM) analysis to test three central hypotheses regarding the relationship between religiosity and mystical experiences and gray matter volume. The preregisterered hypotheses, analysis plan, preprocessing and analysis code, and statistical brain maps are all available from online repositories. By using a region‐of‐interest (ROI) analysis, we found no evidence that religiosity is associated with a reduced volume of the orbito‐frontal cortex and changes in the structure of the bilateral inferior parietal lobes. Neither did we find support for the notion that mystical experiences are associated with a reduced volume of the hippocampus, the right middle temporal gyrus or with the inferior parietal lobes. A whole‐brain analysis furthermore indicated that no structural brain differences were found in association with religiosity and mystical experiences. We believe that the search for the neural correlates of religious beliefs and experiences should therefore shift focus from studying structural brain differences to a functional and multivariate approach.

Conspiracy theorists are less engaged in traditional left-right politics, have a less clear picture of “what goes with what”; & are associated with antigovernmental orientations and a lack of political efficacy

Conspiratorial Thinking and Political Constraint. Adam M Enders. Public Opinion Quarterly, nfz032, August 26 2019,

Abstract: Recent research on conspiracy beliefs reveals that the general predisposition to believe conspiracy theories cuts across partisan and ideological lines. While this may signify that political orientations have no bearing on conspiratorial reasoning, it also may suggest that conspiracy theorists are simply less engaged in traditional left-right politics. In this manuscript, I consider the relationship between conspiratorial thinking and political constraint, or the extent to which individuals have a clear picture of “what goes with what” with respect to the various objects of the political world. Using the 2012 American National Election Study, I construct a measure of conspiratorial thinking, as well as several operationalizations of both ideological and group-based constraint and ideological thinking. Results show that individuals prone to conspiratorial thinking are less politically constrained—when it comes to both thoughts about issues and feelings about political groups—than their less conspiratorial counterparts. Moreover, conspiratorial thinking is positively associated with antigovernmental orientations and a lack of political efficacy, with conspiracy theorists perceiving a governmental threat to individual rights and displaying a deep skepticism that who one votes for really matters. These findings suggest that conspiratorial thinking may have broader implications for individuals’ basic conceptualization of politics.

Smartphone Nonusers: Associated Sociodemographic and Health Variables

Smartphone Nonusers: Associated Sociodemographic and Health Variables. Eduardo J. Pedrero-Pérez, Sara Morales-Alonso, Ester Rodríguez-Rives, José Manuel Díaz-Olalla, Blanca Álvarez-Crespo, and María Teresa Benítez-Robredo. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, Aug 29 2019.

Abstract: Smartphone abuse and the associated consequences have been intensely studied. However, little attention has been given to the group of people who have a smartphone and yet barely use it. One might think that they are at the opposite end of abuse, both behaviorally and in relation to the consequences. This study aims to establish sociodemographic variables and health indicators for smartphone nonusers. A population survey through random stratified sampling in a large city (Madrid, Spain) obtained 6,820 people between 15 and 65 years who own a smartphone. About 7.5 percent (n = 511) stated they do not use their smartphone regularly. This group comprised more of men than of women with a higher mean age, underprivileged social class, residence in less-developed districts, and a lower education level. They showed worse mental health indicators, lower perceived quality of life relating to their health, more sedentarism, and greater tendency toward being overweight/obese and a higher feeling of loneliness. When looking at all these variables together, the regression model showed that in addition to sex, age, social class, and education level, the only significantly associated health indicator was a feeling of loneliness. Mobile phone abuse is associated with health problems, but nonregular use does not reflect the opposite. It is important to study the group of nonusers and explore the reasons and related consequences, particularly the role of perceived loneliness, which is paradoxical as a smartphone is a tool that can foster interpersonal contact.

From 2002: Same-Sex Sexual Partner Preference in Hormonally and Neurologically Unmanipulated Animals

Same-Sex Sexual Partner Preference in Hormonally and Neurologically Unmanipulated Animals. Paul L. Vasey. Annual Review of Sex Research, Volume 13, 2002 - Issue 1, Pages 141-179.

Abstract: Proximate and ultimate biological theories for understanding sexual behavior predict that sexual dimorphism in sexual partner preference should be ubiquitous in the animal kingdom. A review of the literature found evidence for same-sex sexual partner preference in a small number of species (female pukekos, cows, domestic rams, female Uganda kobs, female Japanese macaques). Thus, theoretical predictions concerning the development and evolution of sexual partner preference appear to hold true except for a handful of exceptional species. Why individuals in some animal species exhibit same-sex sexual partner preference remains the object of debate. At a proximate level, domestic rams that exhibit same-sex sexual partner preference have been shown to differ in certain aspects of their neurobiology and physiology from rams that do not exhibit such a preference. It remains unclear, however, as to whether these differences are produced by sex-atypical perinatal exposure to androgens and their estrogenic metabolites. At an ultimate level, numerous functional hypotheses for same-sex sexual partner preference have been tested in female Japanese macaques but have failed to receive support. Understanding why same-sex sexual partner preference evolves in some species may involve abandoning a strictly functional perspective and, instead, approaching the issue from the perspective of each species' unique evolutionary history.

Key Words: animals, development, evolution, sexual partner preference

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Religiosity’s role on political attitudes is more heritable than social, & religiosity accounts for more genetic influence on political attitudes than personality; when including religiosity, personality’s influence is greatly reduced

The Higher Power of Religiosity Over Personality on Political Ideology. Aleksander Ksiazkiewicz, Amanda Friesen. Political Behavior, August 29 2019.

Abstract: Two streams of research, culture war and system justification, have proposed that religious orientations and personality, respectively, play critical roles in political orientations. There has been only limited work integrating these two streams. This integration is now of increased importance given the introduction of behavior-genetic frameworks into our understanding of why people differ politically. Extant research has largely considered the influence of personality as heritable and religiosity as social, but this view needs reconsideration as religiosity is also genetically influenced. Here we integrate these domains and conduct multivariate analyses on twin samples in the U.S. and Australia to identify the relative importance of genetic, environmental, and cultural influences. First, we find that religiosity’s role on political attitudes is more heritable than social. Second, religiosity accounts for more genetic influence on political attitudes than personality. When including religiosity, personality’s influence is greatly reduced. Our results suggest religion scholars and political psychologists are partially correct in their assessment of the “culture wars”—religiosity and ideology are closely linked, but their connection is grounded in genetic predispositions.

Keywords: Religion Religiosity Personality Ideology Attitudes Genetics

Why attitude to good people is not always positive?

Why attitude to good people is not always positive: explanation based on decision theory. Part 3 (Why Should We Play Down Emotions: A Theoretical Explanation) of "How to Make Decisions: Consider Multiple Scenarios, Consult Experts, Play Down Emotions– Quantitative Explanation of Common sense Ideas", by Julio Urenda et al. Technical Report UTEP-CS-19-94, August 2019, to appear in Journal of Uncertain Systems, 2020, Vol. 14. Check for a mathematical derivation of the conclusions.

Formulation of the problem. There are very good people in this world, people who empathize with others, people who actively help others. Based onall the nice and helpful things that these good people do, one would expect that other people would appreciate them, cherish them, and that, in general, their attitude towards these good people would be positive. However, in real life,the attitude is often neutral or even negative. The resulting emotions hurt our ability to listen to their advice and thus, improve our decisions. Why? Is there a rational explanation for these emotions?


Common sense explanation. From the common sense viewpoint, the above mathematics makes perfect sense: A very good person is unhappy if other people are unhappy. If we empathize with this person, we become unhappy too, and since people do not want to be unhappy, they prefer (at best) to ignore others’ unhappiness – or even blame them for their own unhappiness.

Why IQ Test Scores Are Slightly Decreasing: Possible System-Based Explanation for the Reversed Flynn Effect

Why IQ Test Scores Are Slightly Decreasing: Possible System-Based Explanation for the Reversed Flynn Effect. Griselda Acosta, Eric Smith, and Vladik Kreinovich. Technical Report UTEP-CS-19-61, July 2019.

Abstract: Researchers who monitor the average intelligence of human population have reasonably recently made an unexpected observation: that aftermany decades in which this level was constantly growing (this is knownas the Flynn effect), at present, this level has started decreasing again. Inthis paper, we show that this reversed Flynn effect can be, in principle, explained in general system-based terms: namely, it is similar to the fact that a control system usually overshoots before stabilizing at the desiredlevel. A similar idea may explain another unexpected observation - that the Universe's expansion rate, which was supposed to be decreasing, isactually increasing.1 Formulation of the Problem IQ tests: a brief reminder.

For many decades, researchers have been using standardized test to measure Intelligent Quotient (IQ, for short), a numerical values that describes how smarter is a person that an average population:

.the IQ value of 100 means that this person has average intelligence,
.values above 100 means that this person's intelligence is above average,and
.values below 100 means that this person's intelligence is below average.1

Of course, this is a rough estimation. Researchers have known that there are different types of intelligence, and that it is therefore not possible to adequately characterize one person's intelligence by using a single number. However, the IQ test score remains a reasonable overall (approximate) measure both of the individual intelligence and of the relative intelligence of different population groups. For example, a recent study showed that non-violent criminals are,on average, smarter than violent ones; this makes sense, since it takes someintelligence (ill-used but still intelligence) to steal without using violence.Average IQ scores grow: Flynn's effect.

Since the IQ scores describethe relation of a tested person's intelligence to an average intelligence at thegiven moment of time, researchers periodically estimate this average level of intelligence.

Somewhat unexpectedly, it turned out that for almost 100 years, the averagelevel of intelligence has been growing; see, e.g., [2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 15, 18, 21]. Specifically:

.if we give average current folks the test from the 1930s, they will, onaverage, score way above 100, and
.vice versa, if we measure the intelligence of the 1930s folks in a currentscale, their average intelligence will be way below 100, at about the 80-90level.

This steady increase in intelligence is known as the Flynn effect, after a scientist who actively promoted this idea.

Why IQ scores grow: possible explanation.
There are many explanations for the growth in intelligence. One of the natural ones is that, in contrastthe old days, when in many professions, physical force was all that is neededto earn a living, nowadays intelligence is very important . non-intelligent jobshave been mostly taken up by machines. No one needs a galley slave to rowa boat, no one needs a strong man to lift heavy things, etc. It is thereforereasonable that modern life requires more intelligent activities, and this increasein solving intelligent problems naturally leads to an increased intelligence . justlike exercising the muscles leads to an improved physique.

Reverse Flynn effect.
While the intelligence scores have been steadily risingfor several decades, lately, a reverse phenomenon has been observed, when theaverage scores no longer grow; instead, they decline. This decline is not as bigas to wipe out the results of the previous decades of growth, but it is big enoughto be statistically significant; see, e.g., [1, 6, 7, 10, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19, 20].

How can we explain the reverse Flynn effect?
There are many differentexplanations for the reverse Flynn effect: that it has been caused by pollution,that it has been caused by declining education standards, etc.In this paper, we analyze this phenomenon from the general systems view-point, and conclude that, from the system.s viewpoint, a current small decline isnatural - and that we therefore do not need to be unnecessarily alarmed by this2 decline. In other words, in spite of this decline, it is still reasonable to remain optimistic.

When their own payoff is unknown, all subjects prefer a more unequal distribution provided it makes everyone weakly better off; 25% burn money to make things less unequal, even when it does not make anyone better off

Preferences over income distribution: Evidence from a choice experiment. Sophie Cetre et al. Journal of Economic Psychology, August 28 2019, 102202.

•    We elicit subjects preferences over pairs of payoff distributions within small groups, in a firm-like setting.
•    When they do not know what their own payoff will be, all subjects prefer the more unequal distribution provided it makes everyone weakly better off. This is true, no matter whether income positions will be based on merit or luck.
•    People change their choice when they learn about their own payoff rank.
•    Even then, 75% of subjects prefer Pareto-dominant distributions.
•    However, 25% engage into money burning at the top in order to reduce inequality, even when it does not make anyone better off.
•    Even when their own money is at stake, 20% of subjects are willing to pay just to reduce the degree of inequality.

Abstract: Using a choice experiment in the lab, we assess the relative importance of different attitudes to income inequality. We elicit subjects’ preferences regarding pairs of payoff distributions within small groups, in a firm-like setting. We find that distributions that satisfy the Pareto-dominance criterion attract unanimous suffrage: all subjects prefer larger inequality provided it makes everyone weakly better off. This is true no matter whether payoffs are based on merit or luck. Unanimity only breaks once subjects’ positions within the income distribution are fixed and known ex-ante. Even then, 75% of subjects prefer Pareto-dominant distributions, but 25% of subjects engage in money burning at the top in order to reduce inequality, even when it does not make anyone better off. A majority of subjects embrace a more equal distribution if their own income or overall efficiency is not at stake. When their own income is at stake and the sum of payoffs remains unaffected, 20% of subjects are willing to pay for a lower degree of inequality.

Democrats tend to score higher than Republicans on open-minded cognitive style variables; but these partisan differences have very little relationships with how they assess the strength of arguments they disagree with

Differences that don’t make much difference: Party asymmetry in open-minded cognitive styles has little relationship to information processing behavior. April Eichmeier, Neil Stenhouse. Research & Politics, August 28, 2019.

Abstract: We investigated the link between party identification and several cognitive styles that are associated with open-minded thinking. We used a web-based survey which involved participants rating the strength of an argument they initially disagreed with. Results showed that Democrats tend to score higher and Republicans tend to score lower on open-minded cognitive style variables. However, mediation analyses showed that these partisan differences in cognitive style generally have negligible relationships with how individuals assess the strength of arguments they disagree with. In other words, partisan differences in cognitive style may often make little meaningful difference to information processing.

Keywords: Partisan bias, motivated social cognition, motivated reasoning, political psychology, partisan asymmetry, cognitive style

Check also Does Media Literacy Help Identification of Fake News? Information Literacy Helps, but Other Literacies Don’t. S. Mo Jones-Jang, Tara Mortensen, Jingjing Liu. American Behavioral Scientist, August 28, 2019.

We sought to test whether stereotypes that women have better language skills than men would make men to underperform in language tests; found little evidence for stereotype threat effects on men in language tasks

Chaffee, Kathryn E., Nigel M. Lou, and Kimberly A. Noels. 2019. “Does Stereotype Threat Affect Men in Language Domains?.” PsyArXiv. August 28. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Currently, boys and men tend to underperform in language domains in school and on standardized tests, and they are also underrepresented in language-related fields of study. Stereotype threat is one way in which psychologists have found that stereotypes can affect students’ performance and sense of belonging in academic subjects and test settings Researchers have traditionally found that when girls and women are reminded of stereotypes that math is for boys, girls and women tend to underperform on math tests. Stereotype threat has also been found to affect women’s sense of belonging in math settings. We sought to test whether stereotypes that women have better language skills than men would affect men in the same way. We conducted a series of four experiments (N=542) testing the effect of explicit stereotype threats on men’s performance in language-related tasks, and their sense of belonging to language-related domains. We found little evidence for stereotype threat effects on men in language tasks. Mini-meta analyses revealed aggregate effect sizes indistinguishable from zero across our studies, and Bayesian analysis suggested that the null hypothesis was consistently more likely than the alternative. Future research should explore other explanations for gender gaps in language.

Are Humans Prepared to Detect, Fear, and Avoid Snakes? The Mismatch between Laboratory and Ecological Evidence

Are Humans Prepared to Detect, Fear, and Avoid Snakes? The Mismatch between Laboratory and Ecological Evidence. Carlos M. Coelho et al. Front. Psychol. Aug 28 2019, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02094

Abstract: Since Seligman's 1971 statement that the vast majority of phobias are about objects essential to the survival of a species, a multitude of laboratory studies followed, supporting the finding that humans learn to fear and detect snakes (and other animals) faster than other stimuli. Most of these studies used schematic drawings, images, or pictures of snakes, and only a small amount of fieldwork in naturalistic environments was done. We address fear preparedness theories, and automatic fast detection data from mainstream laboratory data and compares it with ethobehavioural information relative to snakes, predator-prey interaction, and snakes’ defensive kinematics strikes in order to analyse their potential matching. From this analysis four main findings arose, namely that: 1) Snakebites occur when people are very close to the snake and are unaware or unable to escape the bite; 2) Human visual detection and escape response is slow compared to the speed of snake strikes; 3) In natural environments, snake experts are often unable to see snakes existing nearby; 4) animate objects in general capture more attention over other stimuli and dangerous but recent objects in evolutionary terms are also able to be detected fast. The issues mentioned above pose several challenges to evolutionary psychology-based theories expecting to find special-purpose neural modules. The older selective habituation hypothesis (Schleidt, 1961), that prey animals start with a rather general predator image from which specific harmless cues are removed by habituation might deserve reconsideration.

Keywords: General feature detection, modular theory, snake bite kinematics, selective habituation hypothesis, evolutionary psychology

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

A difficult conversation: Delivering news of a fatal illness to one's own wife

A Difficult Conversation. Martin B. Wice. August 27, 2019. JAMA. 2019;322(8):727-728. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.11757

[Full text, references, etc., at the journal above]

In her late 50s, Cathy developed fatigue. Over the course of a few months, she began to take afternoon naps and fall asleep earlier than normal. Then, over a 2-week period, she gained 15 pounds. Overnight, her belly swelled full of fluid, and she appeared 7 months pregnant. The next day, Cathy's primary care physician sent her to the hospital emergency department for a CT scan of her abdomen and pelvis. As a physician myself seeing patients at another nearby hospital, I logged into the network computer and, with Cathy’s permission, reviewed her scan results with the emergency department physician over the phone. Cathy's imaging and subsequent peritoneal fluid were consistent with advanced ovarian cancer—to me, a death sentence. I had delivered poor prognoses many times during my career, so I took it upon myself to give Cathy the bad news and ensure that I would be with her during this difficult conversation. This was especially challenging because Cathy was no ordinary patient—she was my wife of 31 years.

I finished my rounds and quickly drove to the emergency department where Cathy was waiting. On the drive, questions rushed through my head. How do you tell the woman you love that this disease can be only temporarily contained with surgery and chemotherapy? How do you tell her that she will never see her children graduate from their respective professional schools, will never watch her children get married, will never meet her grandchildren, and will never enjoy her golden years? How do you tell your children that their mother will be gone in a few short years? How do I as a husband cope with the stress of caring for a wife severely compromised not only from her cancer but from the cancer treatments? How do I cope knowing that soon I will need to learn to live without my life partner, the love of my life, the person whom I and others consistently relied on for support?

Cathy would have known the answers to these questions. She was the one to whom friends, children of friends, and even her own children's classmates came for unbiased and compassionate advice. As a wife, she always provided support and direction. If I ever questioned her, she reminded me that agreeing with her demonstrated good judgment.

As a mother of twin boys, Cathy guided our children on their journey to becoming kind, giving, and productive adults. She was also their advocate. One of our sons struggled in school from a “central processing” hearing disorder because of which he could hear the sounds of speech but could not distinguish their meaning. Cathy supported him through a grueling therapy program and installed sound amplification systems in each of his classrooms so that he could hear his teachers' voices over the background noise. Cathy then went on to advocate for better diagnosis and treatment of all hearing impaired children in our community and had great success advocating for proper acoustics in each K-12 classroom in our area.

Cathy also supported my parents as if she were their own daughter. When my father developed Alzheimer disease, she helped care for him until his death. With our local Alzheimer Association, she created a handbook for hospitals on how to interact with patients with dementia, an endeavor that earned her the volunteer of the year award. When my mother had a stroke, Cathy cared for her in our home. Now, it was our turn to support, advocate for, and care for Cathy.

Once I arrived at the emergency department, I pulled myself together to have the most difficult conversation of my life. I called upon my training as a physician to deliver bad news: you assess the patient's medical, functional, emotional, and spiritual needs, as well as the patient’s family's needs. After weighing the pros and cons of each option, you determine the best approach to address these needs. You then sit down with the patient and family members and have a private, nonjudgmental, and supportive conversation. Speaking at eye level, you discuss the situation as partners. You pause and allow the information to sink in. You have a box of tissues at the ready. You offer a calming touch as appropriate. If and when the patient and family members are able to continue the discussion, you outline the various scenarios and the best outcomes. You pause again. You allow the patient and family to respond further. You address their concerns and questions. I had done this many times but never as both the doctor guiding the conversation and the family taking it in.

I sat at Cathy's side and held her hand. I called upon my extensive training to navigate this conversation, and then delivered the horrible news. “Your abdomen is filled with abnormal cells, cells that are from advanced ovarian cancer,” I said, still overwhelmed and trying to contain my own shock. I paused to give both her and me time to process the information. As husband and wife, we shed tears together. I promised to always advocate for her, always seek out the best possible care for her, and always be there for her. The gynecologic oncologist arrived, and we discussed the treatment plan. I vacillated between 2 worlds: at times, a physician; at times, a worried husband and now caregiver. This would be a twilight zone I would never leave. We shared the initial shock of her diagnosis the remainder of the night. Neither one of us had much sleep. We did what we always did in a crisis: we held each other tight for mutual support.

The next day, we celebrated our wedding anniversary with Cathy undergoing a bowel prep for the imminent tumor debulking procedure. Being board-certified in both internal medicine as well as physical medicine and rehabilitation and with official orders from her oncologist, I organized a customized cancer rehabilitation program for Cathy. And I kept my promise. I supported Cathy through her initial surgery and then through her multiple cycles of chemotherapy and its debilitating consequences: the fatigue, low blood counts and multiple transfusions, pneumonias and urinary tract infections, recurrent nausea and vomiting, hair loss, painful peripheral neuropathy, edema, and “chemo brain.” She lost strength, balance, hearing, renal function, mobility, and she lost her way of life.

As a husband, I provided her emotional support to counteract her frustrations, fears, and depression. I provided physical support when necessary, helping her bathe, dress, stand, and walk. When I could, I took her to chemotherapy. When others took her, I would visit her in the outpatient cancer center. When she was hospitalized, I would spend the night with her. Later, when she lost all bowel function, I connected her to intravenous fluids each morning and night. When her liver stopped working altogether, I took her home to die in a familiar setting, surrounded by her immediate family. Cathy passed away 2 days later, 3 and a half years after her initial diagnosis, with her sons and me at her bedside.

In this time of challenge, I found inspiration in these words by philosopher John O’Donohue1:

    When the reverberations of shock subside in you,
    May grace come to restore you to balance.
    May it shape a new space in your heart
    To embrace this illness as a teacher
    Who has come to open your life to new worlds.

I have grown a great deal in my “new world.” I rebalanced my life during Cathy’s illness and after her death. She and I spent our remaining time together to the fullest, and I have since continued living each day as if it is my last. I developed a better appreciation for relationships, the wonders of nature, and my connection to the rest of the world. There is new space in my heart that has allowed me to deepen established and new relationships. My love and support for our children increased, as I did my best to compensate for the love and support that Cathy had so generously given in life. In her final days, Cathy told me to find someone new to share my life, and I did. Cathy’s illness taught me that the challenges of disease can enhance people’s lives, and I am grateful for this lesson in my own.

On a professional level, Cathy’s illness strengthened my empathy for and commitment to patients and their families at intense times of need. Each time I give bad news, I am transported back to the emergency department with Cathy. I not only relive the delivery of Cathy’s cancer diagnosis; I relive the shock of just having received it. I will never forget being caught in the world of a physician, a loving husband, and a caregiver. My new tripartite identity may not be a perspective I anticipated but is one that has enhanced the quality of care I provide.

With her diagnosis, Cathy and I were forced to acknowledge that life is limited, which gave our lives and the lives around us so much more meaning. This is a legacy Cathy gave to me. No difficult conversation can ever replace this.

Additional Information: I thank Elizabeth Mueller, BS, Elise Alspach, PhD, and Kathleen Schoch, PhD, for editorial assistance and feedback in association with InPrint: A Scientific Editing Network at Washington University in St Louis. None were compensated beyond their usual salary. I also thank my son for allowing me to share this story.

Proximity (Mis)perception: Public Awareness of Nuclear, Refinery, and Fracking Sites

Proximity (Mis)perception: Public Awareness of Nuclear, Refinery, and Fracking Sites. Benjamin A. Lyons, Heather Akin, Natalie Jomini Stroud. Risk Analysis, August 27 2019.

Abstract: Whether on grounds of perceived safety, aesthetics, or overall quality of life, residents may wish to be aware of nearby energy sites such as nuclear reactors, refineries, and fracking wells. Yet people are not always accurate in their impressions of proximity. Indeed, our data show that only 54% of Americans living within 25 miles of a nuclear site say they do, and even fewer fracking‐proximal (30%) and refinery‐proximal (24%) residents respond accurately. In this article, we analyze factors that could either help people form more accurate perceptions or distort their impressions of proximity. We evaluate these hypotheses using a large national survey sample and corresponding geographic information system (GIS) data. Results show that among those living in close proximity to energy sites, those who perceive greater risk are less likely to report living nearby. Conversely, social contact with employees of these industries increases perceived proximity regardless of actual distance. These relationships are consistent across each site type we examine. Other potential factors—such as local news use—may play a role in proximity perception on a case‐by‐case basis. Our findings are an important step toward a more generalizable understanding of how the public forms perceptions of proximity to risk sites, showing multiple potential mechanisms of bias.


Living near sites such as nuclear reactors, refineries, and fracking wells can cause anxiety. Sites like these can pose high‐magnitude risks to human health, although the likelihood is low (e.g., Bertazzi, Pesatori, Zocchetti, & Latocca, 1989; Mitka, 2012; Vesely & Rasmuson, 1984). The proximity of such sites to one's residence can factor into important life decisions like home ownership or beginning a family (Boyle & Kiel, 2001; Doyle et al., 2000). The not‐in‐my‐backyard (NIMBYism) phenomenon, in which locals oppose new development, is a manifestation of such concerns (Lima, 2004; Lima & Marques, 2005). In addition, living near these sites may be undesirable to some solely on aesthetic grounds (Kiel & McClain, 1995). There also are desirable consequences from knowing that one lives near a particular site. For instance, this knowledge can lead residents to develop plans of action in case of complications or emergencies (Cuite, Schwom, & Hallman, 2016; Perko, Železnik, Turcanu, & Thijssen, 2012; Zeigler, Brunn, & Johnson, 1981).

However, people are not always correct in their impressions of whether they live near energy sites. Indeed, our data show that only 54% of Americans living within 25 miles of a nuclear site say they do, and even fewer fracking‐proximal (30%) and refinery‐proximal (24%) residents respond accurately. There is ample evidence that factors beyond reality affect beliefs about one's surroundings, and of proximity, in particular (Cesario & Navarrete, 2014; Craun, 2010; Giordano, Anderson, & He, 2010; Howe, 1988). In this article, we analyze what factors correlate with perceived proximity to three distinct types of sites: nuclear sites, refineries, and fracking wells. We model how orientations toward information (risk perception, general science knowledge) and access to sources of information (news consumption, social contact) relate with perceptions of proximity.

As outlined shortly, each of these factors can lead to correct beliefs about one's proximity to energy sites. At the same time, they also can have a distorting effect, making people believe that they live closer (or farther) than they do in actuality. Watching local news, for instance, could yield a better understanding of where these sites exist, or could correlate with the belief that these sites are more proximate than they are in reality. We evaluate perceived proximity using a large national survey sample and corresponding GIS data that allow us to know exactly how proximate each respondent is from one of these sites.

Examining perceived proximity across three different types of sites allows us to move research on proximity perception forward. We find that risk perception and social contact are consistently associated with proximity misperception. However, our results show that it is not the case that these factors solely promote correct or incorrect beliefs. Rather, context—in this case, actual distance—is key. Dependent on actual distance, factors like risk perception and social contact can increase the probability that one's reported proximity is accurate for some, but increase the probability that one inaccurately reports that one lives nearby for others. Ultimately, our findings illuminate barriers to successful information campaigns, and potential ways to overcome them.

Science teams' impact is predicted more by the lower-citation rather than the higher-citation members; teams tend to assemble among individuals with similar citation impact in all fields of science and patenting

Decoding team and individual impact in science and invention. Mohammad Ahmadpoor and Benjamin F. Jones. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 9, 2019 116 (28) 13885-13890.

Significance: Scientists and inventors increasingly work in teams. We track millions of individuals across their collaboration networks to help inform fundamental features of team science and invention and help solve the challenge of assessing individuals in the team production era. We find that in all fields of science and patenting, team impact is weighted toward the lower-impact rather than higher-impact team members, with implications for the output of specific teams and team assembly. In assessing individuals, our index substantially outperforms existing measures, including the h index, when predicting paper and patent outcomes or when characterizing eminent careers. The findings provide guidance to research institutions, science funders, and scientists themselves in predicting team output, forming teams, and evaluating individual impact.

Abstract: Scientists and inventors increasingly work in teams, raising fundamental questions about the nature of team production and making individual assessment increasingly difficult. Here we present a method for describing individual and team citation impact that both is computationally feasible and can be applied in standard, wide-scale databases. We track individuals across collaboration networks to define an individual citation index and examine outcomes when each individual works alone or in teams. Studying 24 million research articles and 3.9 million US patents, we find a substantial impact advantage of teamwork over solo work. However, this advantage declines as differences between the team members’ individual citation indices grow. Team impact is predicted more by the lower-citation rather than the higher-citation team members, typically centering near the harmonic average of the individual citation indices. Consistent with this finding, teams tend to assemble among individuals with similar citation impact in all fields of science and patenting. In assessing individuals, our index, which accounts for each coauthor, is shown to have substantial advantages over existing measures. First, it more accurately predicts out-of-sample paper and patent outcomes. Second, it more accurately characterizes which scholars are elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Overall, the methodology uncovers universal regularities that inform team organization while also providing a tool for individual evaluation in the team production era.

Keywords: team science collaboration prediction team organization

Does Media Literacy Help Identification of Fake News? Information Literacy Helps, but Other Literacies Don’t

Does Media Literacy Help Identification of Fake News? Information Literacy Helps, but Other Literacies Don’t. S. Mo Jones-Jang, Tara Mortensen, Jingjing Liu. American Behavioral Scientist, August 28, 2019.

Abstract: Concerns over fake news have triggered a renewed interest in various forms of media literacy. Prevailing expectations posit that literacy interventions help audiences to be “inoculated” against any harmful effects of misleading information. This study empirically investigates such assumptions by assessing whether individuals with greater literacy (media, information, news, and digital literacies) are better at recognizing fake news, and which of these literacies are most relevant. The results reveal that information literacy—but not other literacies—significantly increases the likelihood of identifying fake news stories. Interpreting the results, we provide both conceptual and methodological explanations. Particularly, we raise questions about the self-reported competencies that are commonly used in literacy scales.

Keywords: fake news, media literacy, information literacy, digital literacy, news literacy, misinformation, disinformation

Gangestad et al. (this issue) recently published alternative analyses of our open data & state that women show ovulatory shifts in preferences for men’s bodies; we think the results are not robust

Penke, Lars, Julia Stern, Ruben C. Arslan, and Tanja M. Gerlach. 2019. “No Robust Evidence for Cycle Shifts in Preferences for Men's Bodies in a Multiverse Analysis: A Response to Gangestad Et Al. (2019).” PsyArXiv. August 28. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Gangestad et al. (this issue) recently published alternative analyses of our open data to investigate whether women show ovulatory shifts in preferences for men’s bodies. They argue that a significant three-way interaction between log-transformed hormones, a muscularity component, and women’s relationship status provides evidence for the ovulatory shift hypothesis. Their conclusion is opposite to the one we previously reported (Jünger et al., 2018). Here, we provide evidence that Gangestad et al.’s differing conclusions are contaminated by overfitting, clarify reasons for deviating from our preregistration in some aspects, discuss the implications of data-dependent re-analysis, and report a multiverse analysis which provides evidence that their reported results are not robust. Further, we use the current debate to contrast the risk of prematurely concluding a null effect against the risk of shielding hypotheses from falsification. Finally, we discuss the benefits and challenges of open scientific practices, as contested by Gangestad et al., and conclude with implications for future studies.

No Robust Evidence for Cycle Shifts in Preferences for Men's Bodies in a Multiverse Analysis

Results bolster the small body of literature showing that flashbulb memories are subject to reconstructive processes & suggest that memories decay further between 3 & 5 months after events

Krackow, E., Deming, E., Longo, A., & DiSciullo, V. (2019). Memories of learning the news of the 2016 U.S. presidential election results. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice,

Abstract: The current study examined the consistency of flashbulb memories for the 2016 U.S. presidential election outcome by comparing a Time 1 memory that was obtained after the expected point of memory consolidation to a Time 2 memory obtained within a delay in which memories were expected to remain consistent based on the majority of literature. Despite expected consistency, narrative reports showed substantial change and several specific question responses showed a substantial range of change from Time 1 to Time 2. Changes in response to specific questions correlated significantly with the tendency to provide new information in the Time 2 narrative. Emotional determinants (feelings about the election result outcome) and emotion regulation abilities did not predict consistency of memories. Participant stress ratings showed a small but significant negative correlation with change in memory (greater stress = greater omission of information). These results bolster the small body of literature showing that flashbulb memories are subject to reconstructive processes and combined with other results (Krackow, Lynn, & Payne, 2005), they suggest that memories may decay further between 3 and 5 months following an event.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Understanding hostility in online political discussions: Non-hostile people opt out of the discussions, individuals prone to hostility could be more likely to participate in online than offline discussions

Why so angry? Understanding hostility in online political discussions. Alexander Bor &Michael Bang Petersen. Online disinformation: an integrated view conference 2019. Aarhus University.

Most US citizens consider online political discussions to be uncivil, aggressive and hostile. Although political discussions can get heated by their very nature, the available data suggests that online discussions are seen as much worse than offline discussions. Yet, while a range of studies has documented the existence of widespread perceptions of online political hostility, our understanding of the causes of these perceptions are limited. The aim of the present paper is to provide the first comprehensive review and empirical test of the potential mechanisms that could cause widespread online political hostility.

As our theoretical starting point, we distinguish between two broad factors: the messages sent and the message received. Two potential explanations relate to the first factor. The first explanation proposes negative behavioral changes. This suggests that people are more likely to send hostile messages online than offline. Anonymity is a frequently blamed culprit of online hostility, but online environments have several other unique features too; for example, people are often distracted or tired while crafting their messages. Such characteristics may undermine people’s emotion regulation mechanisms and may lead to increased hostility on online platforms. The second explanation proposes that online environments attract particular individuals and, thereby, change the composition of people participating in political discussions. Through such sorting, individuals prone to hostility could be more likely to participate in online than offline discussions. It is possible that whereas social defense mechanisms effectively guard offline discussions against hostile intruders, it is more difficult to exclude hostile parties from online discussions.

It is also important to consider whether the perceived hostility is exacerbated on the receivers’ end too. A third explanation suggests that the density of communication networks in online environments may also contribute to higher perceived hostility, even if the same messages are being sent by the same people. Whereas offline political discussions typically involve only a handful of people and rarely more than a few dozen, in online discussions hundreds can participate. In other words, any hostile message is likely to be received by many more people inan online discussion. Computer algorithms prioritizing comments with attention grabbing or controversial content likely intensify this effect. Finally, the perception effect proposes that even if none of the explanations above were true, it is possible that the same messages are perceived as more hostile online than in face-to-face interactions. People may have a harder time judging the hostility of messages they receive and may make more false-positive mistakes online, where they lack non-verbal cues, lack reputational information about the sender, and often see only fragments of a conversation thread. We test observable implications for these explanations relying on an original online survey of US citizens (N = 1500), conducted by YouGov on an approximately representative sample. The survey includes measures of political participation and hostility online and offline, perceptions of these environments as well as a wide array of personality measures.

Against common predictions, we find little evidence for behavior being corrupted by online environments or for sorting effects revealing the entry of new, hostile parties to online discussions. Our data shows very high correlations between online and offline behaviors including hostility (rs> 0.8). Moreover, personality measures, which indicate a general tendency for hostile political behavior(such as need for chaos, trait aggression, status driven risk-seeking and difficulties in emotion regulation), correlate highly with both online and offline hostility (0.4 < rs <0.6). We do find firm evidence for sorting caused by hostile individuals being more active onlinethan non-hostile individuals. According to our data, people who self-report sending hostile messages 1) spend more time on social media (but less time on other parts of the internet) and 2) discuss politics more than non-hostile individuals. These differences are particularly large when it comes to discussing politics with strangers.

We find suggestive evidence that perception and network effects also increase perceived hostility. Discussions with strangers correlate with negative impressions of online discussions. Importantly, this is not true for offline discussions: the more people discuss politics with strangers face-to-face, the more positive their evaluations get. Furthermore, due to the density of online communication networks, discussions with strangers are more frequent both in absolute and relative terms online than offline. The paper concludes with discussing the implications of these findings.

Lifting short-sale constraints leads to a decrease in stock price crash risk; effect is more pronounced for firms whose managers are more likely to hoard bad news & obfuscate financial information; & for those with more severe overinvestment

Short-sale constraints and stock price crash risk: Causal evidence from a natural experiment. Xiaohu Deng, Lei Gao, Jeong-Bon Kim. Journal of Corporate Finance, August 20 2019, 101498.

•    We study the causal relation between short-sale constraints and stock price crash risk.
•    Lifting short-sale constraints leads to a decrease in stock price crash risk.
•    The effect is more pronounced for firms whose managers are more likely to hoard bad news and obfuscate financial information.
•    The effect is more pronounced for firms with more severe overinvestment problems.
•    Short sellers play important roles in monitoring managerial disclosure strategies and real investment decisions.

Abstract: We examine the relation between short-sale constraints and stock price crash risk. To establish causality, we take advantage of a regulatory change from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)’s Regulation SHO pilot program, which temporarily lifted short-sale constraints for randomly designated stocks. Using Regulation SHO as a natural experiment setting in which to apply a difference-in-differences research design, we find that the lifting of short-sale constraints leads to a significant decrease in stock price crash risk. We further investigate the possible underlying mechanisms through which short-sale constraints affect stock price crash risk. We provide evidence suggesting that lifting of short-sale constraints reduces crash risk by constraining managerial bad news hoarding and improving corporate investment efficiency. The results of our study shed new light on the cause of stock price crash risk as well as the roles that short sellers play in monitoring managerial disclosure strategies and real investment decisions.

Blocking or unfriending others for political reasons is related to more expressive participation (discussing & posting about politics), & more demonstrative forms of participation (donating money & volunteering time)

Robertson, Craig and Fernandez, Laleah and Shillair, Ruth, The Political Outcomes of Unfriending: Social Network Curation, Network Agreeability, and Political Participation (July 24, 2019). SSRN:

Abstract: Research has noted a link between social media use and political participation. Scholars have also identified a need to explain this link. The present study is a theoretical and empirical probe into the political outcomes of unfriending people on social media. Drawing on privacy management theory and the social identity perspective, it explores the relationship between social network curation (blocking or unfriending others on social media for political reasons), perceived social network agreeability (how often people agree with the political opinions or political content of friends on social media), and forms of political participation. Using data from a survey of US adults (N=2,018) and a structural equation modelling approach, study results indicate a relational path from social network curation, through expressive participation (e.g. discussing politics and posting about politics on social media), to more demonstrative forms of participation (e.g. donating money and volunteering time). The study contributes to our understanding of the link between social media use and political outcomes by focusing on a unique explanatory mechanism. Policy implications pertain to the role that social media use plays in fostering political involvement. Specifically, if cutting disagreeable friends out of one’s social network is associated with political participation, this raises normative concerns regarding engagement which is underpinned by political polarization and intolerance.

Keywords: social media, political participation, unfriending

Out of all the participating users who post comments in a particular shaming event, the majority of them are likely to shame the victim; shamers' follower counts increase faster than that of the nonshamers in Twitter

Online Public Shaming on Twitter: Detection, Analysis, and Mitigation. Rajesh Basak; Shamik Sural; Niloy Ganguly; Soumya K. Ghosh. IEEE Transactions on Computational Social Systems, Volume 6, Issue 2, April 2019, pp 208 - 220, DOI: 10.1109/TCSS.2019.2895734

Abstract: Public shaming in online social networks and related online public forums like Twitter has been increasing in recent years. These events are known to have a devastating impact on the victim's social, political, and financial life. Notwithstanding its known ill effects, little has been done in popular online social media to remedy this, often by the excuse of large volume and diversity of such comments and, therefore, unfeasible number of human moderators required to achieve the task. In this paper, we automate the task of public shaming detection in Twitter from the perspective of victims and explore primarily two aspects, namely, events and shamers. Shaming tweets are categorized into six types: abusive, comparison, passing judgment, religious/ethnic, sarcasm/joke, and whataboutery, and each tweet is classified into one of these types or as nonshaming. It is observed that out of all the participating users who post comments in a particular shaming event, majority of them are likely to shame the victim. Interestingly, it is also the shamers whose follower counts increase faster than that of the nonshamers in Twitter. Finally, based on categorization and classification of shaming tweets, a web application called BlockShame has been designed and deployed for on-the-fly muting/blocking of shamers attacking a victim on the Twitter.

Did parasite manipulation influence human neurological evolution? About Marco del Giudice's Invisible Designers: Brain Evolution Through the Lens of Parasite Manipulation

Did parasite manipulation influence human neurological evolution? Christopher Packham. Aug 26 2019.

It seems so obvious that someone should have thought of it decades ago: Since parasites have plagued eukaryotic life for millions of years, their prevalence likely affected evolution. Psychologist Marco Del Giudice of the University of New Mexico is not the first researcher to suggest that the evolution of the human brain could have been influenced by parasites that manipulate host behavior. But tired of waiting for neurologists to pick up the ball and run with it, he has published a paper in the Quarterly Review of Biology that suggests four categories of adaptive host countermeasures against brain-manipulating parasites and the likely evolutionary responses of the parasites themselves. The idea has implications across a host of fields, and may explain human psychology, functional brain network structure, and the frustratingly variable effects of psychopharmaceuticals.

Detailed and gruesomely readable, the paper is a work of theory intended to provide a roadmap for deeper study that is likely to be agonizingly complex, and which will eventually require the involvement of neurologists, evolutionary biologists, psychologists, parasitologists and many others.

Manipulating host behavior

Many parasites manipulate host behavior in order to increase reproductive success and to spread across wider areas. Dr. Del Giudice cites such examples as Toxoplasma gondii, which hitches a ride in a rat and induces epigenetic changes in the rodent's amygdala. These changes diminish its predator aversion around cats, the protozoan's intended destination, and the only animal in which it can reproduce. (As a side effect, it can infect humans—people are a reproductive dead end for T. gondii, but it is also believed to alter human behavior.)

Del Giudice also cites rabies, which increases production of infectious saliva and induces the host's aversion to water, which further concentrates the saliva, and then engenders violent aggression to increase the likelihood of biting, a transmission route. And many sexually transmitted pathogens are known to manipulate host sexual behavior.

The point is that parasites are really bad for hosts, and it therefore stands to reason that the evolution of modern humans includes protective countermeasures that were selected for success and likely shaped the stupefyingly complex central nervous system

The paper is organized by four countermeasures hosts have evolved against manipulative parasites: restricting access to the brain; increasing the costs of manipulation; increasing the complexity of signaling; and increasing robustness. Within each category, Del Giudice suggests evolutionary responses by parasites to these countermeasures.

Restricting access to the brain

For aspiring higher organisms, keeping parasites out of the central nervous system is like Immunology 101; as Del Giudice points out, the adaptive benefits of restricting access to the brain also apply to non-parasitic pathogens. So the blood-brain barrier comprises the first line of defense as a layer of physical and chemical security.

Parasites have evolved other options to manipulate behavior from outside of the brain: Some produce behavior-altering substances like dopamine and release them into the blood; some manipulate the secretion of hormones; others activate specific immune responses in order to manipulate the host. Del Giudice also cites a number of parasites that evolved methods of passing through the blood-brain barrier in order to reach the brain physically.

Increasing the costs of manipulation

Some parasites release certain neurochemicals to alter host behavior. As a countermeasure, hosts could adapt by increasing the amount of particular neurochemicals required to induce such responses, greatly increasing the metabolic cost to the parasites. Since hosts are generally much larger, this increased cost could be completely negligible to the host while overwhelming the parasite's ability to produce enough of the neuroactive substance.

Del Giudice adds, "Since present-day instances of manipulation are mostly of the indirect kind, selection to increase the costs of signaling would have peaked a long time ago, possibly in the early stages of brain evolution… Paradoxically, if those countermeasures were so effective that they forced most parasites to adopt indirect strategies, they would have rendered themselves obsolete, eventually becoming a net cost without any prevailing benefits. If so, they may have been selected out owing to the relentless pressure for efficiency."

Increasing the complexity of signals

The central nervous system uses neuroactive substances as internal signals between neurons, brain networks and between the brain and other organs. Parasites can hijack these pathways to alter behavior by producing overriding signals or, as Del Giudice points out, corrupting existing ones. This entails breaking the host's internal signaling code.

Thus, a more complex signaling code is more difficult for a parasite to break. Instances of such a complexity increase include the requirement of joint action of different neurochemicals, or releasing neuroactive substances in specifically timed pulses. Expanding the set of transmission molecules and their binding receptors also increases complexity. More elaborate internal signals increase the time required to break. From an adaptive standpoint, this can close off the parasite's options, forcing it to develop other means of manipulation.

However, rising complexity raises the metabolic costs for the hosts, though these costs are disproportionately more expensive for parasites. And Del Giudice points out that increasing the complexity of a system "tends to create new points of fragility," which may be exploited by adapting parasites.

Increasing robustness

Increasing the robustness of a system basically amounts to damage control. Higher organisms tend to evolve in such a way that they can maintain normal behavior functionality, even during attack by a parasite. Del Giudice discusses a number of passive, reactive and proactive robustness host strategies, including redundancy and modularity of systems; so-called bow-tie network architectures; feedback-regulated systems that detect perturbations of the system and make corrective adjustments; and the monitoring of nonspecific cues such as immune system activities that indicate the presence of a parasitic pathogen.

Largely, robustness adaptations are likely to exclude fixed physiological adjustments, and instead favor the development of "plastic responses triggered by cues of infection." The reason is that if brain physiology and behavior are adapted to function best in the presence of a pathogen, then its absence would lead to non-optimal behaviors and reduced survival.

Del Giudice includes in the paper a discussion of the constraints on the evolution of countermeasures by hosts. These include metabolic and computational constraints such as energy availability and small body size—animals with larger brains can more easily evolve higher levels of protective complexity. This is one reason that behavior-altering parasites are more commonly observed in insects, which have provided fundamental examples of parasite strategies and host countermeasures.


Finally, the author includes a fascinating discussion of the implications of such adaptations for psychopharmacology. "Using psychoactive drugs to treat psychiatric symptoms is an attempt to alter behavior by pharmacological means. This is also what manipulative parasites do—even though, in the case of psychiatric treatment, the goal is to benefit the patient," Del Giudice writes.

Thus, adaptive responses to attacks by parasites could explain why antidepressants tend to induce tolerance in some patients—like parasites, the drugs seek to alter the organism's behavior, with the possibility that robust neural systems rebalance behavior pathways that have been altered by the drug. "It is worth considering the possibility that at least some of these reactive mechanisms may be specifically designed to detect and respond to parasite intrusions," Del Giudice writes. "If so, standard pharmacological treatments may unwittingly mimic a parasite attack and trigger specialized defensive responses." He adds that certain undesirable side effects of drugs could be metabolically expensive but useful adaptive features during a parasite infection, but detrimental to psychiatric treatment.

The paper is a theoretical exploration of the ideas surrounding parasitism as an evolutionary pressure, and as such, usefully illuminates how complex and difficult the question will be for researchers tackling the already challenging fields of neurophysiology and brain networks.

>>>> Marco del Giudice. Invisible Designers: Brain Evolution Through the Lens of Parasite Manipulation, The Quarterly Review of Biology (2019). DOI: 10.1086/705038

An additional marijuana dispensary leads to a reduction of 17 crimes per month per 10,000 residents (19 pct decline); crime reductions are highly localized, no evidence of spillover benefits to adjacent neighborhoods

Not in my backyard? Not so fast. The effect of marijuana legalization on neighborhood crime. Jeffrey Brinkman, David Mok-Lamme. Regional Science and Urban Economics, August 24 2019, 103460,

Abstract: This paper studies the effects of marijuana legalization on neighborhood crime and documents the patterns in retail dispensary locations over time using detailed micro-level data from Denver, Colorado. To account for endogenous retail dispensary locations, we use a novel identification strategy that exploits exogenous changes in demand across different locations arising from the increased importance of external markets after the legalization of recreational marijuana sales. The results imply that an additional dispensary in a neighborhood leads to a reduction of 17 crimes per month per 10,000 residents, which corresponds to roughly a 19 percent decline relative to the average crime rate over the sample period. Reductions in crime are highly localized, with no evidence of spillover benefits to adjacent neighborhoods. Analysis of detailed crime categories provides insights into the mechanisms underlying the reductions.

Openness, low disgust sensitivity, and cognitive ability - traits and individual differences historically associated with less prejudice - may in fact also show evidence of worldview conflict

Brandt, M. J., & Crawford, J. T. (Accepted/In press). Worldview conflict and prejudice. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 1-99. Aug 27 2019.

Abstract: People are motivated to protect their worldviews. One way to protect one’ worldviews is through prejudice towards worldview-dissimilar groups and individuals. The traditional hypothesis predicts that people with more traditional and conservative worldviews will be more likely to protect their worldviews with prejudice than people with more liberal and progressive worldviews, whereas the worldview conflict hypothesis predicts that people with both traditional and liberal worldviews will be protect their worldviews through prejudice. We review evidence across both political and religious domains, as well as evidence using disgust sensitivity, Big Five personality traits, and cognitive ability as measures of individual differences historically associated with prejudice. We discuss four core findings that are consistent with the worldview conflict hypothesis: (1) The link between worldview conflict and prejudice is consistent across worldviews. (2) The link between worldview conflict and prejudice is found across various expressions of prejudice. (3) The link between worldview conflict and prejudice is found in multiple countries. (4) Openness, low disgust sensitivity, and cognitive ability - traits and individual differences historically associated with less prejudice - may in fact also show evidence of worldview conflict. We discuss how worldview conflict may be rooted in value dissimilarity, identity, and uncertainty management, as well as potential routes for reducing worldview conflict.

Do we find it desirable when people who agree with us nonetheless seek out views that we oppose? Observers strongly prefer individuals who seek out political views that the observer opposes

Seek and ye shall be fine: attitudes towards political perspective-seekers. Gordon Heltzel. Masters Thesis, University of British Columbia, Psychology. Aug 22 2019.

Description: Over the past two decades, growing political polarization has led to increasing calls for people to seek out and try to understand opposing political views. Although seeking out opposing views is objectively desirable behavior, do we find it socially desirable when people who agree with us nonetheless seek out views that we oppose? We find that observers strongly prefer individuals who seek out, rather than avoid, political views that the observer opposes. Across nine online studies we find a large preference for these political perspective-seekers, and in a lab study, 73% of participants chose to interact with a perspective-seeking confederate. This preference is weakly moderated by the direction of participants’ ideology and the strength of their beliefs. Moreover, it is robust regardless of why the individual seeks or avoids opposing views, and emerges even when the perspective-seeker is undecided and not already committed to participants’ own views. However, the preference disappears when a perspective-seeker attends only to the perspective that observers disagree with, disregarding the observer’s side. These findings suggest that, despite growing polarization, people still think it is important to understand and tolerate political opponents. This work also informs future interventions, which could leverage social pressures to promote political perspective-seeking and combat selective-exposure, thus improving political relations.

The neural profiles of overly positive self-evaluations that are driven by the desire to defend self-esteem are predictable & distinguishable from those arising from limited cognitive engagement

The advantages and disadvantages of self-insight: New psychological and neural perspectives. Jennifer S. Beer, Michelle A. Harris. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, May 24 2019.

Abstract: People quickly assess the honesty of others but how honest are they with themselves and does it matter for their success and happiness? Our understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of self-insight is currently clouded by a number of measurement issues in the existing literature on self-evaluation and related constructs such as authenticity. Most studies do not use independent sources to evaluate self-concept, objectivity of the self-concept, and the consequence of their discrepancy. Additionally, daily diary studies indicate that research on related constructs such as authenticity may fail to capture accurate self-insight as intended. Furthermore, research drawing on neuropsychological populations, fMRI with healthy populations, and computational modeling has shown that not all self-insight failures are alike even if they appear the same at the level of behavioral measurement. For example, the neural profiles of overly positive self-evaluations that are driven by the desire to defend self-esteem are predictable and distinguishable from neural profiles of positive self-evaluation arising from limited cognitive engagement. Therefore, future research must aim for more rigorous measurement to understand the underlying cause of self-insight failure (rather than just identifying a shortcoming) to meaningfully understand the benefits and costs of different types of self-insight failure. The current research does not allow us to confidently conclude that self-insight has advantages over some types of self-insight failure (or vice versa) and we conclude by calling for more systematic investigation of why, when, where, and for whom self-insight is costly or beneficial.

Keywords: AuthenticityBrainComputational modelingFrontal lobefMRILesionSelfEmotionMotivationWell-being