Monday, September 30, 2019

False information can have short-term effects on what we believe & how we behave politically following exposure, which may be minimal, despite the countervailing narrative in the popular press

What’s Next? Six Observations for the Future of Political Misinformation Research. Brian E. Weeks, Homero Gil de Zúñiga. American Behavioral Scientist, September 30, 2019.

Abstract: Research on political misinformation is booming. The field is continually gaining more key insights about this important and complex social problem. Academic interest on misinformation has consistently been a multidisciplinary effort. But perhaps political communication researchers are particularly well situated to be the leading voices on the public’s understanding of misinformation and many are heeding the call. With that responsibility in mind, in this brief article we offer six observations for the future of political misinformation research that we believe can help focus this line of inquiry to better ensure we address some of the most pressing problems. Our list is not exhaustive, nor do we suggest that areas we do not cover are not important. Rather, we make these observations with the goal of spurring a conversation about the future of political misinformation research.

Keywords: misinformation, political misinformation, political communication, fake news

Intelligence of males and females were underpinned by different neurobiological correlates, which are consistent with their respective superiority in cognitive domains (visuospatial vs verbal ability)

Gender Differences in Connectome-based Predictions of Individualized Intelligence Quotient and Sub-domain Scores. Rongtao Jiang et al. Cerebral Cortex, bhz134, July 29 2019.

Abstract: Scores on intelligence tests are strongly predictive of various important life outcomes. However, the gender discrepancy on intelligence quotient (IQ) prediction using brain imaging variables has not been studied. To this aim, we predicted individual IQ scores for males and females separately using whole-brain functional connectivity (FC). Robust predictions of intellectual capabilities were achieved across three independent data sets (680 subjects) and two intelligence measurements (IQ and fluid intelligence) using the same model within each gender. Interestingly, we found that intelligence of males and females were underpinned by different neurobiological correlates, which are consistent with their respective superiority in cognitive domains (visuospatial vs verbal ability). In addition, the identified FC patterns are uniquely predictive on IQ and its sub-domain scores only within the same gender but neither for the opposite gender nor on the IQ-irrelevant measures such as temperament traits. Moreover, females exhibit significantly higher IQ predictability than males in the discovery cohort. This findings facilitate our understanding of the biological basis of intelligence by demonstrating that intelligence is underpinned by a variety of complex neural mechanisms that engage an interacting network of regions—particularly prefrontal–parietal and basal ganglia—whereas the network pattern differs between genders.

Randomness and related concepts (events happening “accidentally”, “coincidentally” or “by chance”) are typically assumed to occur in a context of small rather than large events

Are random events expected to be small? Karl Halvor TeigenAlf Børre Kanten. Psychological Research, September 30 2019.

Abstract: People’s intuitions about mathematical and statistical concepts often include features that are not a part of the formal definitions. We argue that randomness and related concepts (events happening “accidentally”, “coincidentally” or “by chance”) are typically assumed to occur in a context of small rather than large events. Five experiments were designed to test the hypothesis of an association between perceived randomness and size. In Experiment 1 and 2, statements describing small outcomes as due to chance were judged to be more natural and to make better sense than corresponding statements about large outcomes (or about small outcomes not due to chance). Experiment 3 showed that people imagine that stories about randomness in daily life should preferably start with small events, even when they eventually turn out to be consequential (e.g., stories about an apparently random meeting ending with marriage). Experiment 4 demonstrated that small changes in a graph of a random walk were seen as random, whereas large changes were perceived as potentially nonrandom. Finally, Experiment 5 showed that small animals are believed to display more random behavior than larger ones. This applied also to fictional creatures with nonsense names, where size was implicitly suggested by the names’ phonetic qualities. Analogical instances can be found in the history of science, all the way back to Lucretius’ doctrine of the tiny “swerves” of atoms. The pervasive association between smallness and randomness might be partly due to real-world observations and partly to cognitive and motivational constraints.

90 countries, 45 years of analysis: Financial repression (restrictions on interest rates, credit allocation, capital movements, etc.) poses a significant drag on growth, 0.4-0.7 percentage points

Financial Repression is Knocking at the Door, Again. Etibar Jafarov,Rodolfo Maino,Marco Pani. IMF Working Paper No. 19/211.

Summary: Financial repression (legal restrictions on interest rates, credit allocation, capital movements, and other financial operations) was widely used in the past but was largely abandoned in the liberalization wave of the 1990s, as widespread support for interventionist policies gave way to a renewed conception of government as an impartial referee. Financial repression has come back on the agenda with the surge in public debt in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, and some countries have reintroduced administrative ceilings on interest rates. By distorting market incentives and signals, financial repression induces losses from inefficiency and rent-seeking that are not easily quantified. This study attempts to assess some of these losses by estimating the impact of financial repression on growth using an updated index of interest rate controls covering 90 countries over 45 years. The results suggest that financial repression poses a significant drag on growth, which could amount to 0.4-0.7 percentage points.

Children of divorced parents are less honest than children of non-divorced parents; psychological counseling improves their honesty, and fails to improve children of non-divorced parents

Parents’ marital status, psychological counseling and dishonest kindergarten children: An experimental study. Yossef Tobol, Gideon Yaniv. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, September 30 2019.

• An experiment with kindergarten children is conducted to reveal their level of honesty.
• Children of divorced parents are less honest than children of non-divorced parents.
• Psychological counseling improves honesty of children of divorced parents.
• Psychological counseling fails to improve honesty of children of non-divorced parents.

Abstract: The present paper reports the results of an experiment which studied the effects of parents’ marital status (divorced or non-divorced) and psychological counseling (administered or not) on the honesty level of kindergarten children. Data on marital status and psychological counseling was anonymously provided by the kindergarten teachers and children's level of honesty was assessed by a flip-coin task which rewarded a self-reported favorable outcome. The experiment gave rise to two major results: first, children of divorced parents are less honest than children of non-divorced parents and second, psychological counseling helps improve honesty among children of divorced parents but fails to do so among children of non-divorced parents. No gender effect was found.

Keywords: Kindergarten childrenDishonest behaviorFlip coin taskPsychological counseling

Growth has been good after reform in Africa and Latin America, in contrast to the “lost decades” of the 80s and 90s

In Search of Reforms for Growth: New Stylized Facts on Policy and Growth Outcomes. William Easterly. NBER Working Paper No. 26318, September 2019.

Abstract: The lack of growth response to “Washington Consensus” policy reforms in the 1980s and 1990s led to widespread doubts about the value of such reforms. This paper updates these stylized facts by analyzing moderate to extreme levels of inflation, black market premiums, currency overvaluation, negative real interest rates and abnormally low trade shares to GDP. It finds three new stylized facts: (1) policy outcomes worldwide have improved a lot since the 1990s, (2) improvements in policy outcomes and improvements in growth across countries are correlated with each other (3) growth has been good after reform in Africa and Latin America, in contrast to the “lost decades” of the 80s and 90s. This paper makes no claims about causality. However, if the old stylized facts on disappointing growth accompanying reforms led to doubts about economic reforms, new stylized facts should lead to some positive updating of such beliefs.

Gluten aversion is not limited to the political left; perhaps most surprising, supporters of Donald Trump are more likely to identify as avoiding gluten, relative to non-supporters

Gluten aversion is not limited to the political left. Trey Malone, F. Bailey Norwood. Agriculture and Human Values, June 20 2019.

Abstract: Despite a heightened political discourse surrounding food choices, few studies have identified connections between political beliefs and consumer perceptions. Using gluten as an example, this article identifies how political opinions relate to opinions of food products. If an avoidance of gluten is a biological condition and not a social construct, there should be no correlation between political opinions and gluten avoidance. Our study uncovers a complex relationship between the social construction of gluten avoidance and the potential role of political views. Perhaps most surprising, we find that supporters of Donald Trump are more likely to identify as avoiding gluten, relative to non-supporters. Findings suggest that future research might benefit from considering the political beliefs of consumers when estimating models of food demand.

Keywords: Gluten Politics Survey Food

From 2018... Overestimating democracy, despite its absence, is widespread in less developed countries with little or no democratic tradition; underestimating is common in mature, economically developed, Protestant democracies

From 2018... Democracy Confused: When People Mistake the Absence of Democracy for Its Presence. Stefan Kruse, Maria Ravlik, Christian Welzel. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, December 31, 2018.

Abstract: A widely neglected phenomenon consists in the fact that large population segments in many countries confuse the absence of democracy with its presence. Significantly, these are also the countries where widespread support for democracy coexists with persistent deficiencies in the latter, including its outright absence. Addressing this puzzle, we introduce a framework to sort out to what extent national populations overestimate their regimes’ democratic qualities. We test our hypotheses applying multilevel models to about 93,000 individuals from 75 countries covered by the cross-cultural World Values Surveys. We find that overestimating democracy is a widespread phenomenon, although it varies systematically across countries. Among a multitude of plausible influences, cognitive stimuli and emancipative values work together as a psychologically activating force that turns people against overestimating democracy. In fact, this psychological activation not only reduces overestimations of democracy; it actually leads toward underestimations, thus increasing criticality rather than accuracy in assessments. We conclude that, by elevating normative expectations, psychological activation releases prodemocratic selection pressures in the evolution of regimes.

Keywords: cognitive mobilization, democracy assessments, emancipative values, political support, regime legitimacy

Cross-Cultural Variations in Extreme Rejecting and Extreme Affirming Response Styles

Cross-Cultural Variations in Extreme Rejecting and Extreme Affirming Response Styles. Tieyuan Guo, Roy Spina. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, September 9, 2019.

Abstract: Previous research has discussed cultural differences in moderacy vs extremity response styles. The present research found that cultural differences in response styles were more complex than previously speculated. We investigated cross-cultural variations in extreme rejecting versus affirming response biases. Although research has indicated that overall Chinese have less extreme responses than Westerners, the difference may be mainly driven by extreme rejecting responses because respondents consider answering survey questions as a way of interacting with researchers, and extreme rejecting responses may disrupt harmony in relationships, which is valued more in Chinese collectivistic culture than in Western individualistic cultures. Studies 1 and 2 revealed that Chinese had less extreme rejecting response style than did British, whereas they did not differ in extreme affirming response style. Study 2 further revealed that the cross-cultural asymmetry in extreme rejecting versus affirming response styles was partially accounted for by individualism orientation at the individual level. Consistently, Study 3 revealed that at the country level, individualism was positively associated with extreme rejecting response style, but was not associated with extreme affirming response style, suggesting that individualism accounted for the asymmetric cultural variation in extreme rejecting versus affirming response styles.

Keywords: culture, extremity response style, extreme rejecting response style, extreme affirming response style, individualism

From 1972... Erving Goffman's Relations in Public: Microstudies of the Public Order

Relations in Public: Microstudies of the Public Order. Erving Goffman. Penguin, 1972. ISBN-13 978-0140216141

Editor text:
Until recently, to be in a "public place" meant to feel safe. That has changed, especially in cities. Urban dwellers sense the need to quickly react to gestural cues from persons in their immediate presence in order to establish their relationship to each other. Through this communication they hope to detect potential danger before it is too late for self-defense or flight. The ability to read accurately the "informing signs" by which strangers indicate their relationship to one another in public or semi-public places without speaking, has become as important as understanding the official written and spoken language of the country.

In Relations in Public, Erving Goff man provides a grammar of the unspoken language used in public places. He shows that the way strangers relate in public is part of a design by which friends and acquaintances manage their relationship in the presence of bystanders. He argues that, taken together, this forms part of a new domain of inquiry into the rules for co-mingling, or public order.

Most people give little thought to how elaborate and complex our everyday behavior in public actually is. For example, we adhere to the rules of pedestrian traffic on a busy thoroughfare, accept the usual ways of acting in a crowded elevator or subway car, grasp the delicate nuances of conversational behavior, and respond to the rich vocabulary of body gestures. We behave differently at weddings, at meals, in crowds, in couples, and when alone. Such everyday behavior, though generally below the level of awareness, embodies unspoken codes of social understandings necessary for the orderly conduct of society.

p 32: "All of this may be seen in miniature in elevator behavior. Passengers have two problems: to allocate the space equably, and to maintain a defensible position, which in this context means orientation to the door and center with the back up against the wall if possible. The first few individuals can enter without anyone present having to rearrange himself, but very shortly each new entrant – up to a certain number – causes all those present to shift position and reorient themselves in sequence. Leave-taking introduces a tendency to reverse the cycle, but this is tempered by the countervailing resistance to appearing uncomfortable in an established distance from another. Thus, as the car empties, passengers acquire a measure of uneasiness, caught between two opposing inclinations – to obtain maximum distance from others and to inhibit avoidance behavior that might give offense."
p 31: "(when the two are of opposite sex, there exists the added complication that failure to move away when possible can be taken as a sign of undue interest.)"

Sunday, September 29, 2019

3G Internet reduces government approval and increases the perception of corruption in government when the internet is not censored; effect is stronger when traditional media is censored

Guriev, Sergei and Melnikov, Nikita and Zhuravskaya, Ekaterina, 3G Internet and Confidence in Government (June 30, 2019). SSRN:

Abstract: How does the internet affect government approval? Using surveys of 840,537 individuals from 2,232 subnational regions in 116 countries in 2008-2017 from the Gallup World Poll and the global expansion of 3G networks, we show that an increase in internet access reduces government approval and increases the perception of corruption in government. This effect is present only when the internet is not censored and is stronger when traditional media is censored. Actual incidents of corruption translate into higher corruption perception only in places covered by 3G. In Europe, the expansion of mobile internet increased vote shares of anti-establishment populist parties.

Binge drinking as a costly sexual signal (the drinker is capable of bearing the harmful consequences of alcohol consumption): Having more eligible men in a district compared to women was associated with higher male drinking rates

Operational Sex Ratio Predicts Binge Drinking Across U.S. Counties. Toe Aung et al. Evolutionary Psychology, September 29, 2019.

Abstract: Previous research suggests that binge drinking among young men serves as a “costly signal” to potential mates, such that the binge drinker is capable of bearing the harmful consequences of alcohol consumption. Here, we propose that binge drinking among young adults is conditionally dependent upon the signaler’s willingness to take risks, which is influenced by the local operational sex ratio (OSR). Using archived binge drinking estimates from 2009 to 2012 and Census Bureau records of OSRs, we tested the relationship between OSR and binge drinking rates at the county level across 3,143 U.S. counties against hypotheses drawn from evolutionary theory. Results from our mixed-effects models revealed that a higher overall OSR (i.e., more eligible men compared to women) was associated with higher male binge drinking rates but lower female binge drinking rates. A higher OSR particularly in the 20–29 and 50+ age groups predicted higher male binge drinking rates but lower female binge drinking rates. Our findings generally support predictions derived from evolutionary theory and suggest that binge drinking may function as a costly sexual signal, conditionally regulated by age and the local sex ratio.

Keywords: costly signaling, binge drinking, sex ratio, operational sex ratio, sexual signaling, young adults, alcohol consumption, risk-taking behavior, drinking

Rebellious music genres (rap, punk & heavy metal) are not linked to maladaptive personality traits; conservative music (country, gospel) was weakly linked to neurotic, hostile, & eccentric tendencies

Maladaptive personality and psychopathy dimensions as predictors of music and movie preferences in US adults. Pavel S Blagov et al. Psychology of Music, August 13, 2019.

Abstract: We link modern conceptualizations of maladaptive personality and psychopathy dimensions to music and movie genre preferences. Participants, N = 379, completed the Personality Inventory (5th ed.; PID-5), Triarchic Psychopathy Measure (TriPM), and music and movie preferences questionnaires. The structure of some, but not all, music preferences factors aligned with previous reports. Overall, maladaptive traits had meaningful, albeit modest links to entertainment media preferences, but not to the kinds of intense or rebellious music genres sometimes labeled as “problem” entertainment in prior literature. Support emerged for several a priori hypotheses, but some predictions based on the three- and five-factor normal personality trait and entertainment preferences literature did not generalize to a five-factor formulation of maladaptive personality. We discuss the findings’ implications and several likely sources of inconsistencies in the literature on music and movie preferences and personality.

Keywords: clinical issues, everyday life, genre, individual differences, personality

Alcohol by night: People were motivated to preload to save money & socialise, were likely to drink more than they predicted, & were more surprised by their alcohol reading the more they drank

Drinking to go out or going out to drink? A longitudinal study of alcohol in night-time entertainment districts. Grant J. Devilly et al. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, September 29 2019, 107603.

• End of night intoxication is predicted by beginning of night intoxication.
• Personality and demographics differentially predict drinking for males and females.
• People drink more than they anticipate within night time entertainment districts.
• Drinkers are surprised by the degree of their intoxication the more they drink.

Background: Recent research has highlighted the growing trend of alcohol preloading before a night out. We wished to look at people’s motivations for preloading, their estimation for drinking during the night, and assess the impact that preloading has on how inebriated people become across the night as measured by Breath Approximated blood Alcohol Content (BrAC).
Method: We randomly surveyed and breath-tested patrons as they entered and exited Night Time Entertainment Districts (NEDs) in Brisbane, Queensland. We obtained 360 participants who were encouraged to contact us at the end of their night, compensating them for their time with a taxi voucher. Of these, 143 people returned and completed an exit questionnaire.
Findings: We found that people were motivated to preload in order to save money and socialise, were likely to drink more than they predicted over the course of the night, and were more surprised by their alcohol reading the higher their BrAC; this trajectory displayed little difference between men and women. It was further found that, for men, personality contributed 19% of the variance to exit BrAC, but entry BrAC accounted for nearly 38% of unique variance. For women, body mass index significantly predicted exit BrAC (9% unique variance), but entry BrAC accounted for nearly 30% unique variance.
Interpretation: To reduce general levels of intoxication in city NEDs, interventions should focus on having people come in earlier, less drunk, and be taught to have more realistic appraisals of their drinking.

Keywords: Alcohol UseNight-Time Entertainment DistrictsPreloadingEnd-of-NightLongitudinal StudyLegislation

The roots of intolerance and opposition to compromise: The effects of absolutism on political attitudes

The roots of intolerance and opposition to compromise: The effects of absolutism on political attitudes. Kevin Arceneaux. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 151, December 1 2019, 109498.

Abstract: Compromise and tolerance are often considered to be virtues, especially in the realm of democratic politics. Without them, it would be difficult for democratic institutions to fulfill their intended purpose: resolving disputes peacefully. Yet many controversial political issues reduce to moral imperatives that engender strong, uncompromising opinions. There is a tendency to conceptualize moralizing as an aspect of issues, but considerable evidence suggests that the tendency to think about the world in absolutist terms is also a psychological predisposition. In this project, I seek to elaborate the correlates and consequences of individual differences in absolutism. A suite of observational analyses and an experimental test conforms that there is a great deal of variance in ethical predispositions across individuals and that these differences matter politically. Absolutists are more likely to adopt extreme opinions, display intolerance toward political disagreement, and punish politicians who make compromises.

James Hankins' Virtue Politics: Soulcraft and Statecraft in Renaissance Italy

Virtue Politics: Soulcraft and Statecraft in Renaissance Italy. James Hankins. Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press, Dec 2019.

Convulsed by a civilizational crisis, the great thinkers of the Renaissance set out to reconceive the nature of society. Everywhere they saw problems. Corrupt and reckless tyrants sowing discord and ruling through fear; elites who prized wealth and status over the common good; military leaders waging endless wars. Their solution was at once simple and radical. “Men, not walls, make a city,” as Thucydides so memorably said. They would rebuild their city, and their civilization, by transforming the moral character of its citizens. Soulcraft, they believed, was a precondition of successful statecraft.

A dazzlingly ambitious reappraisal of Renaissance political thought by one of our generation’s foremost intellectual historians, Virtue Politics challenges the traditional narrative that looks to the Renaissance as the seedbed of modern republicanism and sees Machiavelli as its exemplary thinker. James Hankins reveals that what most concerned the humanists was not reforming laws or institutions so much as shaping citizens. If character mattered more than constitutions, it would have to be nurtured through a new program of education they called the studia humanitatis: the humanities.

We owe liberal arts education and much else besides to the bold experiment of these passionate and principled thinkers. The questions they asked―Should a good man serve a corrupt regime? What virtues are necessary in a leader? What is the source of political legitimacy? Is wealth concentration detrimental to social cohesion? Should citizens be expected to fight for their country?―would have a profound impact on later debates about good government and seem as vital today as they did then.

Tyler Cowen excerpts (Sep 29 2019,

I have sought to present the political ideas of the humanists as the expression of a movement of thought and action, similar in its physiognomy if not in its content to the movement of the philosophes of the Enlightenment.  It was a movement that was stimulated by a crisis of legitimacy in late medieval Italy and by widespread disgust with its political and religious leadership.  Its adherents were men who had wide experience -- often bitter, personal experience -- with tyranny.  They knew that oligarchs and even popular governments could be as tyrannical as princes.  Their movement was largely in agreement about its goals: to rebuild Europe's depleted reserves of good character, true piety, and practical wisdom.  They also agreed widely about means: the revival of classical antiquity, which the humanists presented as an inspiring pageant, rich in examples of noble conduct, eloquent speech, selfless dedication to country, and inner moral strength, nourished by philosophy and uncorrupt Christianity.  The humanist movement yearned after greatness, moral and political.  Its most pressing historical questions were how ancient Rome had achieved her vast and enduring empire, and whether it was possible to bring that greatness to life again under modern conditions.  This led to the question of whether it was the Roman Republic or the Principate that should be emulated; and, once the humanists had learned Greek, it provoked the further question of whether Rome was the only possible ancient model to emulate, or whether Athens or Sparta, or even the Persia of Xenophon's Cyrus, held lessons for contemporary statesmen.

Women & men want a partner that is funnier than themselves; only women want a partner that is also more trustworthy than they are; none want a partner more intelligent

From 2018... The Persistence of Established Dating Theories in a Real-Life Dyadic Blind Date Study. Yannick Nout, MSci Thesis, Applied Cognitive Psychology. Leiden Uni, Aug 2018.

Abstract: Mating is fundamental for reproduction and family life and the drive to mate stands high on the hierarchy of human needs. Consequently, there are many theories and concepts regarding dating. However, studies done on this topic are usually conducted in a laboratory setting, while dating normally occurs in much less controlled conditions. This study aimed to test if several established dating theories (partner preferences, Attractiveness Halo Effect, (nonverbal) communication and expressions, mimicry and physiological synchrony) hold up in a more realistic real-life dating experiment. This study was conducted at public events and combined questionnaires, behavioural expressions and physiological measures (eye tracking, heart rate, skin conductance). Participants (N = 140) were formed into opposite-sex dyads and interacted three times during their ‘date’ (first impression, verbal and nonverbal interaction). Many of our findings were in line with previous research. Partner preferences seem to be in line with research; the Attractiveness Halo Effect occurred; participants were not accurate in guessing if they were liked by their partner; submissive behaviour reflected liking, sexual attraction and attraction to some degree, however results regarding affiliative behaviour contradicted previous research; only female sexual attraction is affected by submissive and affiliative behaviour; there is evidence that mimicry occurs; physiological synchrony affected females’ opinions, male date outcome and date outcome match. These results suggest that most dating theories and concepts to a certain degree hold up in real-life contexts.

Keywords: dating, real-life, partner preferences, attractiveness halo effect, nonverbal communication, mimicry, physiological synchrony

Alan Blinder's influential estimate, 2007: 25pct more of U.S. jobs were at risk of being offshored; instead, more jobs were added than lost, against the scaremongering that millions would be lost

Report: Overboard on Offshore Fears. Adam Ozimek, chief economist at Upwork. Sep 27 2019.

In 2007 an economist predicted U.S. service sector jobs were at high risk of being offshored. Data now shows that instead they are going remote.

Executive Summary

Advancing technology is unlocking great potential in remote work opportunities by making it increasingly easy for work that used to be done in person to now be done remotely. Yet these changes have led some researchers to worry about the offshoring of U.S. jobs. In one influential estimate from 2007, economist Alan Blinder projected that a quarter or more of U.S. jobs were at risk of being offshored.

In this report, we take a look at the data from the decade-plus since this warning was issued and find that the techno-pessimism was misplaced. Instead of being offshored, the types of work predicted to be at risk of offshoring are increasingly being performed remotely by workers within the U.S. While technology may be giving firms the choice of hiring workers from around the globe, this is not translating to job loss. Instead, it’s leading to more U.S. workers enjoying the greater freedom, flexibility, and shorter commutes of remote work.

This analysis investigates the growth of remote work in the U.S. using Census Bureau data, unique surveys and data from Upwork, the largest online work website. The key results are as follows:

.  Contrary to popular predictions made in 2007, offshoring risk is not related to job loss for hundreds of occupations.

.  Instead, those jobs predicted as “at risk” of being offshored are significantly more remote work based today.

.  Data from Upwork shows that U.S. knowledge workers retain a competitive advantage even in a global marketplace, and are in demand from both U.S. businesses and businesses around the world.

.  Young business owners and hiring managers are more comfortable with remote work, and younger workers are more likely to want to work remotely, which suggests the remote work trend will continue to grow based on demographic change alone.

.  Instead of focusing on how demand might shift overseas, research should consider how remote work could help shift demand within the U.S. to lower cost of living areas that are currently lacking in economic opportunity.

The White-Collar Job Apocalypse That Didn’t Happen.  Ben Casselman. TNYT, Sep 27 2019.

In a follow-up paper released Friday, another economist, Adam Ozimek, revisited Mr. Blinder’s analysis to see what had happened over the past decade. Some job categories that Mr. Blinder identified as vulnerable [to offshoring], like data-entry workers, have seen a decline in United States employment. But the ranks of others, like actuaries, have continued to grow.

Over all, of the 26 occupations that Mr. Blinder identified as “highly offshorable” and for which Mr. Ozimek had data, 15 have added jobs over the past decade and 11 have cut them. Altogether, those occupations have eliminated fewer than 200,000 jobs over 10 years, hardly the millions that many feared. A second tier of jobs — which Mr. Blinder labeled “offshorable” — has actually added more than 1.5 million jobs.

But Mr. Blinder didn’t miss the mark entirely, said Mr. Ozimek, who is chief economist at Upwork, an online platform for hiring freelancers. The new study found that in the jobs that Mr. Blinder identified as easily offshored, a growing share of workers were now working from home. Mr. Ozimek said he suspected that many more were working in satellite offices or for outside contractors, rather than at a company’s main location. In other words, technology like cloud computing and videoconferencing has enabled these jobs to be done remotely, just not quite as remotely as Mr. Blinder and many others assumed.

Logic, Fast and Slow: The Persistent Difficulty of the Monty Hall Problem

Logic, Fast and Slow: The Persistent Difficulty of the Monty Hall Problem. Jay Kosegarten & Gary Kose. EvoS Journal, 2019, NEEPS XII, pp. 24-42.

ABSTRACT: Evolutionary cognitive psychology is equipped to answer questions regarding not only human reasoning but also its limitations. Given that the field argues for naturally selected reasoning capacities (either broad or modular), the causes of certain cognitive errors and biases are of important interest. Kahneman (2011) has investigated and explicated the many fallacies in human logic that can lead people to make less than optimal judgments and decisions. Evolutionary cognitive psychologists have examined both probability judgments and conditional reasoning. Taken together, it would appear that evolutionary psychology could shed light on the notion that humans think both ‘fast and slow.’ This study examined two aspects of logical problem-solving hypothesized to be necessary for deducing the optimal response to the Monty Hall problem.  The authors investigated the effects of a demonstration designed to emphasize the logic of the Monty Hall problem and to facilitate perspective-change, and the authors investigated the effects of counterfactual reasoning tasks.  Alone, these two conditions—the demonstration and counterfactual reasoning—did not improve performance over controls.  When combined, they did significantly improve subjects’ performance. We argue that subjects’ strong tendency to respond illogically to the Monty Hall problem is an example of fast, System 1 thinking and that the combined cognitive influences of a logical demonstration and counterfactual reasoning facilitated slow, System 2 thinking. Further we argue that slow, System 2 thinking operates with two subsystems called ‘fast logic’ and ‘slow logic.’

KEYWORDS: Problem-Solving, Probabilistic Reasoning, Logic

Check also... Saenen, L. et al., (2018). Why Humans Fail in Solving the Monty Hall Dilemma: A Systematic Review. Psychologica Belgica, 58 (1), pp . 128–158.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Italy: 75% of immigrants integrate into the majoritarian culture over a generation; interestingly, a lower cultural intolerance of Italians towards minorities would lead to slower cultural integration

Marriage, Fertility, and Cultural Integration in Italy. Alberto Bisin, Giulia Tura. NBER Working Paper No. 26303, September 2019.

We study the cultural integration of immigrants, estimating a structural model of marital matching along ethnic dimensions, exploring in detail the role of fertility, and possibly divorce in the integration process. We exploit rich administrative demographic data on the universe of marriages formed in Italy, as well as birth and separation records from 1995 to 2012. We estimate strong preferences of ethnic minorities' towards socialization of children to their own identity, identifying marital selection and fertility choices as fundamental socialization mechanisms. The estimated cultural intolerance of Italians towards immigrant minorities is also substantial. Turning to long-run simulations, we find that cultural intolerances, as well as fertility and homogamy rates, slow-down the cultural integration of some immigrant ethnic minorities, especially Latin America, East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Nonetheless, 75% of immigrants integrate into the majoritarian culture over the period of a generation. Interestingly, we show by counterfactual analysis that a lower cultural intolerance of Italians towards minorities would lead to slower cultural integration by allowing immigrants a more widespread use of their own language rather than Italian in heterogamous marriages. Finally, we quantitatively assess the effects of large future immigration inflows.

Women & men perception of breasts: The bigger, the higher the reproductive efficiency, lactational efficiency, sexual desire, promiscuity attributed; & perceived as less faithful & less intelligent

Stereotypical and Actual Associations of Breast Size with Mating-Relevant Traits. Krzysztof Kościński, Rafał Makarewicz, Zbigniew Bartoszewicz. Archives of Sexual Behavior, September 27 2019.

Abstract: Breast size varies substantially among women and influences perception of the woman by other people with regard to her attractiveness and other characteristics that are important in social contexts, including mating. The theory of sexual selection predicts that physical criteria of partner selection should be markers of the candidate’s desirable properties, mainly biological quality. Few studies, however, have examined whether breast size really signals biological quality or its components and whether observers accurately interpret these signals. Our first study encompassed 163 young women and aimed to establish actual correlates of breast size. The aim of the second study was to determine preferences and stereotypes related to breast size: 252–265 women and men evaluated female digital figures varying in, among other characteristics, breast size. Breast size (breast circumference minus chest circumference) was negatively associated with body asymmetry and positively associated with infections of the respiratory system, but did not correlate with infections of the digestive system, openness to casual sex, and testosterone and estradiol level. Women and men perceived breasts in a similar way to each other: the bigger the breasts the higher the reproductive efficiency, lactational efficiency, sexual desire, and promiscuity attributed to the woman. Nevertheless, large breasts were not regarded more attractive than average ones, though small breasts were the least attractive. In addition, big-breasted women were perceived as less faithful and less intelligent than women with average or small breasts. We discuss our results from the perspectives of evolutionary psychology, perceptual biases, and social stereotypes.

Keywords: Breast size Physical attractiveness Sexual selection Biological signal Social perception

A mindset of optimism is associated with lower cardiovascular risk and that promotion of optimism and reduction in pessimism may be important for preventive health

Association of Optimism With Cardiovascular Events and All-Cause Mortality - A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Alan Rozanski et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(9):e1912200. September 27, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.12200

Key Points
Question  Is a mindset of optimism associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality?

Findings  In this meta-analysis of 15 studies including 229 391 individuals, optimism was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular events and pessimism was associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular events; the pooled association was similar to that of other well-established cardiac risk factors.

Meaning  The findings suggest that a mindset of optimism is associated with lower cardiovascular risk and that promotion of optimism and reduction in pessimism may be important for preventive health.

Importance  Optimism and pessimism can be easily measured and are potentially modifiable mindsets that may be associated with cardiovascular risk and all-cause mortality.

Objective  To conduct a meta-analysis and systematic review of the association between optimism and risk for future cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality.

Data Sources and Study Selection  PubMed, Scopus, and PsycINFO electronic databases were systematically searched from inception through July 2, 2019, to identify all cohort studies investigating the association between optimism and pessimism and cardiovascular events and/or all-cause mortality by using the following Medical Subject Heading terms: optimism, optimistic explanatory style, pessimism, outcomes, endpoint, mortality, death, cardiovascular events, stroke, coronary artery disease, coronary heart disease, ischemic heart disease, and cardiovascular disease.

Data Extraction and Synthesis  Data were screened and extracted independently by 2 investigators (A.R. and C.B.). Adjusted effect estimates were used, and pooled analysis was performed using the Hartung-Knapp-Sidik-Jonkman random-effects model. Sensitivity and subgroup analyses were performed to assess the robustness of the findings. The Meta-analysis of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (MOOSE) reporting guideline was followed.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Cardiovascular events included a composite of fatal cardiovascular mortality, nonfatal myocardial infarction, stroke, and/or new-onset angina. All-cause mortality was assessed as a separate outcome.

Results  The search yielded 15 studies comprising 229 391 participants of which 10 studies reported data on cardiovascular events and 9 studies reported data on all-cause mortality. The mean follow-up period was 13.8 years (range, 2-40 years). On pooled analysis, optimism was significantly associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular events (relative risk, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.51-0.78; P < .001), with high heterogeneity in the analysis (I2 = 87.4%). Similarly, optimism was significantly associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality (relative risk, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.80-0.92; P < .001), with moderate heterogeneity (I2 = 73.2%). Subgroup analyses by methods for assessment, follow-up duration, sex, and adjustment for depression and other potential confounders yielded similar results.

Conclusions and Relevance  The findings suggest that optimism is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality. Future studies should seek to better define the biobehavioral mechanisms underlying this association and evaluate the potential benefit of interventions designed to promote optimism or reduce pessimism.


Extensive evidence has demonstrated an association between negative emotions, social factors, and certain chronic stress conditions and adverse cardiac outcomes.1 Less well studied has been the potential association between positive and negative mindsets and cardiac risk. Such research is of interest because mind-sets are potentially modifiable, thus making them a novel relevant target for clinical intervention. One such mindset is an individual’s level of optimism, commonly defined as the tendency to think that good things will happen in the future.2 Empirical studies have long indicated that more optimistic individuals are more likely to succeed at work and in school, sports, politics, relationships, and other forms of life endeavors.3,4 A more recent study also reported positive associations between optimism and a range of favorable physical health outcomes.5 Nevertheless, the assessment of optimism and pessimism in cardiac medical practice is uncommon. In 2001, Kubzansky and colleagues6 reported the first study, to our knowledge, to find an association between higher optimism and a lower risk for specific cardiac outcomes, including angina, myocardial infarction, and cardiac death. They showed effects of optimism beyond those of depression or other forms of psychological distress, a critical finding because a concern about such findings is that they simply reflect the absence of depression rather than active effects of optimism. Since then, similar findings have been described in other studies,7-20 and most studies considered depression or distress as a potential confounder. To consider these findings more systematically, we conducted a meta-analysis of studies that have assessed the association between optimism and pessimism and adverse cardiac outcomes. Our goals were to evaluate the magnitude of this association, the consistency of results among reported studies, the influence of potential confounders, and the quality of the reported literature.

Vegetarian diets may be perceived as inadequately nutritious, inadequately tasty, socially stigmatizing, too expensive, unfamiliar, inconvenient; dominant factors are the two first

Taste and health concerns trump anticipated stigma as barriers to vegetarianism. Daniel L.Rosenfeld, A. JanetTomiyama. Appetite, Volume 144, January 1 2020, 104469.

Abstract: Meat-eaters report that a number of barriers inhibit them from going vegetarian—for example, perceiving vegetarian diets to be inadequately nutritious, too expensive, unfamiliar, inconvenient, inadequately tasty, and socially stigmatizing. However, research identifying which barriers uniquely predict meat-eaters’ openness to going vegetarian is lacking from the current literature. In the present research, accordingly, we conducted a highly powered, preregistered study (N = 579) to identify which barriers uniquely predict openness to going vegetarian. We focused specifically on anticipated vegetarian stigma, given recent qualitative evidence highlighting this attitude as an influential barrier. That is, do meat-eaters resist going vegetarian because they fear that following a vegetarian diet would make them feel stigmatized? Being of younger age, more politically conservative, White, and residing in a rural community predicted greater anticipated vegetarian stigma among meat-eaters. Frequentist and Bayesian analyses converged, however, to suggest that anticipated vegetarian stigma was not a significant predictor of openness to going vegetarian. The strongest predictors of openness were perceived tastiness and perceived healthfulness of vegetarian dieting. These factors—but not anticipated stigma—furthermore explained why men (compared to women) and political conservatives (compared to liberals) were particularly resistant to going vegetarian.

Bullshitting frequency was positively associated with overclaiming and negatively associated with sincere self-presentation, honesty, cognitive ability, open-minded cognition, & self-regard

Littrell, Shane, Evan Risko, and Jonathan A. Fugelsang. 2019. “The Bullshitting Frequency Scale: Development and Psychometric Properties.” PsyArXiv. September 27. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Recent psychological research has identified important individual differences associated with receptivity to bullshit which has greatly enhanced our understanding of the processes behind susceptibility to pseudo-profound or otherwise misleading information. However, the bulk of this research attention has focused on cognitive and dispositional factors related to bullshit (the product), while largely overlooking the influences behind bullshitting (the act), leaving several important theoretical questions thus far unanswered. Here, we present results from three studies focusing on the construction and validation of a new, reliable scale measuring the frequency with which individuals engage in bullshitting in everyday situations. Overall, bullshitting frequency was positively associated with overclaiming and negatively associated with sincere self-presentation, honesty, cognitive ability, open-minded cognition, and self-regard. These results represent an important step forward by demonstrating the utility of the Bullshitting Frequency Scale as well as highlighting certain individual differences that may play important roles in the extent to which individuals engage in everyday bullshitting.


“One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share.” – Harry Frankfurt (1986)

Given the increasing prevalence of misleading information and “fake news” on the internet and society at large (Lewandosky, Ecker, & Cook, 2017), a growing body of work has emerged that focuses on better understanding the nature of bullshit and bullshitting. Some has been more descriptive, highlighting the use of bullshit in politics (Kristansen & Kaussler, 2018), business organizations (Martin & Wilson, 2011; Spicer, 2013), academic settings (Cohen, 2012), and everyday life (Frankfurt, 1986). Other research, in psychology, has taken a more empirical approach, examining individual differences associated with receptivity to bullshit and the production of bullshit (i.e., bullshitting). For instance, multiple studies have linked bullshit receptivity (i.e., the propensity to rate vacuous, randomly-generated statements as profound) to factors such as decreased engagement in analytic thinking (Pennycook, Cheyene, Barr, Koehler, & Fugelsang, 2015) and biased pattern perception (Walker, Turpin, Stolz, Fugelsang, & Koehler, 2019). Other work has examined the functions of bullshit production (i.e., bullshitting) as a strategy for managing impressions and attitude change in areas from simple social interactions to assessments of abstract art (Petrocelli, 2018; Turpin et al., 2019).

Bullshitting, broadly defined

Philosopher Harry Frankfurt (1986) is perhaps best known for his seminal piece, On Bullshit, in which he described a “bullshitter” as a person who deliberately conveys a false/phony impression of himself or his intentions in a way that is unconcerned with the truth. In other words, the veracity of what the bullshitter is saying does not matter, as his or her primary concern is whether others are persuaded by it. Frankfurt contrasts this from lying in that the liar is deliberately attempting to get others to believe a falsehood. A key distinction is in the motivation; a liar’s goal is to deceive whereas a bullshitter’s goal is often to impress.

Though this explication of bullshitting is generally well-regarded, some have critiqued it as capturing “just one flower in the lush garden of bullshit” (Cohen, 2012). Indeed, several have modified or expanded on his definitions to provide a more comprehensive view of bullshitting in daily life. For instance, Cohen (2012) highlighted that the aim of some bullshitters is to impress using discourse constructed with “unclarifiable unclarity”; that is, relying on vacuous, confusing buzzwords which obscure the fact that the statements, while superficially impressive, contain no discernible meaning. An example cited is the arguably impenetrable, jargon-heavy writing found in some academic publications. For Cohen, this type of bullshit is distinct from Frankfurtian bullshit in that the Cohen-bullshitter is unconcerned with the lucidity of what he says, rather than unconcerned with its truth-value (Cohen, 2012).

Another proposed type of bullshit/bullshitting is evasive bullshitting, which involves speech aimed at avoiding answering questions one does not want to answer, as giving direct answers may be harmful to oneself or others (Carson, 2016). For instance, a politician may be motivated to use evasive bullshitting when questioned by a member of the press if, for instance, a direct answer could potentially cost votes (harm to self) or jeopardize national security (harm to others). An equally common example might be one’s romantic partner asking if their new haircut or outfit makes them look unattractive. In some cases, a frank response might result in undesirable social costs for either party (or both).

Finally, some have attempted to refine Frankfurt’s assertion that bullshitting, by definition, is unconnected to a concern for the truth (Frankfurt, 1986, p. 90). For instance, Stokke and Fallis (2017) characterize bullshitting as speech that is unconcerned with the truthful advancement of an honest discourse, rather than unconcerned with the veracity of individual statements. Put another way, the bullshitter is not indifferent toward the truth-value of the content of each thing he says. Rather, he is indifferent toward whether his statements create an impression that the overall discourse leads to an honest representation of the truth. Meibauer (2018) describes bullshitting as having a “misrepresentational intent” that is based on “a loose concern for the truth” (p. 366). That is, the bullshitter may not know the truth-value of his statements, yet he is often aware of his unawareness, and asserts himself with a sense of certainty that his statements are true regardless. Indeed, the bullshitter’s goal is not to communicate an objective truth, but to instill a particular belief or impression in another person – regardless of whether the bullshitter also believes it – and can be accomplished through misleading exaggeration or implicature (Stokke & Fallis, 2017; Webber, 2013).

Claims for mirror self-recognition have been made for numerous species ranging from dolphins and elephants to fish and ants; reproducible experimental evidence is avaialable only for some great apes

Gallup, G. G., Jr., & Anderson, J. R. (2019). Self-recognition in animals: Where do we stand 50 years later? Lessons from cleaner wrasse and other species. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice, Sep 2019.

Abstract: Claims for mirror self-recognition have been made for numerous species ranging from dolphins and elephants to fish and ants. But based on rigorous, reproducible experimental evidence only some great apes and humans have shown clear, consistent and convincing evidence that they are capable of correctly deciphering mirrored information about themselves. In this article we critique some of the recent claims for self-recognition in other species and summarize some of the cognitive implications of the capacity to become the object of your own attention. Recent neurobiological evidence now appears to validate the connection between self-recognition and self-awareness.

Check also A Killer Whale’s (Orcinus orca) Response to Visual Media. Pepper Hanna et al. International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 30.

Friday, September 27, 2019

From 2015... Male homosexual preference: Available data challenges the common view of MHP being a “virtually universal” trait; social stratification together with hypergyny seem necessary for its evolution

From 2015... Barthes J, Crochet P-A, Raymond M (2015) Male Homosexual Preference: Where, When, Why? PLoS ONE 10(8), Aug 12 2016, e0134817.

Abstract: Male homosexual preference (MHP) has long been of interest to scholars studying the evolution of human sexuality. Indeed, MHP is partially heritable, induces a reproductive cost and is common. MHP has thus been considered a Darwinian paradox. Several questions arise when MHP is considered in an evolutionary context. At what point did MHP appear in the human evolutionary history? Is MHP present in all human groups? How has MHP evolved, given that MHP is a reproductively costly trait? These questions were addressed here, using data from the anthropological and archaeological literature. Our detailed analysis of the available data challenges the common view of MHP being a “virtually universal” trait present in humans since prehistory. The conditions under which it is possible to affirm that MHP was present in past societies are discussed. Furthermore, using anthropological reports, the presence or absence of MHP was documented for 107 societies, allowing us to conclude that evidence of the absence of MHP is available for some societies. A recent evolutionary hypothesis has argued that social stratification together with hypergyny (the hypergyny hypothesis) are necessary conditions for the evolution of MHP. Here, the link between the level of stratification and the probability of observing MHP was tested using an unprecedented large dataset. Furthermore, the test was performed for the first time by controlling for the phylogenetic non-independence between societies. A positive relationship was observed between the level of social stratification and the probability of observing MHP, supporting the hypergyny hypothesis.

From 2016... Homophobia might reflect concerns about sexuality in general and not homosexuality in particular

From 2016... Homophobia Is Related to a Low Interest in Sexuality in General: An Analysis of Pupillometric Evoked Responses. Boris Cheval et al. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Volume 13, Issue 10, October 2016, Pages 1539-1545.

Introduction: A recent study by Cheval et al (J Sex Med 2016;13:825–834) found that individuals high in homophobia look significantly less long at sex-related photographs, regardless of their nature (ie, homosexual or heterosexual). Because viewing time is under some conscious control, this result could indicate that individuals high in homophobia have a low sexual interest in any sexual stimuli or are consciously motivated to avoid sexual material in line with their conscious values.
Aim: To determine the mechanism underlying shorter viewing time of sex-related photographs in individuals high in homophobia using pupil dilatation, which is considered a spontaneous, unconscious, and uncontrollable index of sexual interest.
Methods: Heterosexual men (N = 36) completed a questionnaire assessing their level of homo-negativity and then performed a picture-viewing task with simultaneous eye-tracking recording to assess their pupillary responses to the presentation of sexually related or neutral photographs.
Main Outcome Measures: Non-linear mixed models were carried out to fit the individual non-linear trajectories of pupillary reaction. Different parameters were obtained including the final asymptote of the pupillary response.
Results: Results showed that the final pupil size of men high in homophobia increased significantly less to the presentation of sex-related images (ie, heterosexual and homosexual) than the pupil size of men low in homophobia. In contrast, no significant difference in the final pupil size reaction toward homosexual images (vs heterosexual images) emerged between men high and men low in homophobia.
Conclusion: Theoretically, these findings reinforce the necessity to consider that homophobia might reflect concerns about sexuality in general and not homosexuality in particular.

Key Words: HomophobiaEye TrackingPupillary ResponsesSexual Interest

Moderate to strong evidence for the absence of an experimental effect: Belief in a controlling God did not increase after a threat compared to an affirmation of personal control (US & the Netherlands)

Hoogeveen, Suzanne, Eric-Jan Wagenmakers, Aaron Kay, and Michiel van Elk. 2019. “Compensatory Control and Belief in God: A Registered Replication Report Across Two Countries.” PsyArXiv. September 27. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Compensatory Control Theory (CCT) suggests that religious belief systems provide an external source of control that can substitute a perceived lack of personal control. In a seminal paper, Kay et al. (2008) experimentally demonstrated that a threat to personal control increases endorsement of the existence of a controlling God. In the current registered report, we conducted a high-powered (N = 829) direct replication of this effect, using samples from the Netherlands and the United States. Our results show moderate to strong evidence for the absence of an experimental effect across both countries: belief in a controlling God did not increase after a threat compared to an affirmation of personal control. In a complementary preregistered analysis, an inverse relation between general feelings of personal control and belief in a controlling God was found in the US, but not in the Netherlands. We discuss potential reasons for the replication failure of the experimental effect and cultural mechanisms explaining the cross-country difference in the correlational effect. Together, our findings suggest that experimental manipulations of control may be ineffective in shifting belief in God, but that individual differences in the experience of control may be related to religious beliefs in a way that is consistent with CCT.

Religiosity Predicts Evidentiary Standards: Religious individuals exhibited a bias for believing religious claims relative to scientific claims, while nonreligious guys were consistent in their standards of evidence across domains

Religiosity Predicts Evidentiary Standards. Emilio J. C. Lobato et al. Social Psychological and Personality Science, September 9, 2019.

Abstract: Research shows that religious and nonreligious individuals have different standards of evidence for religious and scientific claims. Here, in a preregistered replication and extension of McPhetres and Zuckerman, participants read about an effect attributed to either a scientific or religious cause, then assessed how much evidence, in the form of successful replications, would be needed to confirm or to reject the causal claim. As previously observed, religious individuals exhibited a bias for believing religious claims relative to scientific claims, while nonreligious individuals were consistent in their standards of evidence across domains. In a novel extension examining standards of evidence with respect to failures of replication, we found that religious individuals were consistent across domains, whereas nonreligious individuals indicated a lower threshold for rejecting religious claims relative to scientific claims. These findings indicate asymmetries in the evaluation of claims based on the presence versus absence of supportive evidence.

Keywords: religion, science, evidence, decision-making

Facebook is found as a useful tool to fulfil human needs, which predict continued Facebook use intentions of participants, and further, satisfaction with life

Who Needs Social Networking? An Empirical Enquiry into the Capability of Facebook to Meet Human Needs and Satisfaction with Life. David Houghton, Andrew Pressey, Doga Istanbulluoglu. Computers in Human Behavior, September 27 2019.

•    Investigation into the fulfilment of human needs through Facebook use.
•    SEM to assess human needs, Facebook use and Satisfaction with Life.
•    Facebook fulfils needs, and continued use is associated with satisfaction with life.

Abstract: Social Network Sites (SNS) have been the topic of much scholarly and public debate for the most part of the 21st century. A number of studies have investigated the benefits and drawbacks to using SNS, with Facebook the largest example boasting billions of active monthly users. In recent months, media commentary has raised a number of concerning cases surrounding Facebook’s use of data, its connection with other organizations and its legitimacy, making a number of open public calls to abandon the platform. However, active users still number in the billions, raising the question, “does Facebook achieve something on a fundamental human and social level that users are willing to overlook the potential drawback to its use?” Using Maslow’s needs hierarchy, this study adopts a survey approach (n=316) and explores the capacity for Facebook to satisfy human needs. Findings identify Facebook as a useful tool to fulfil human needs, which predict continued Facebook use intentions of participants, and further, satisfaction with life. These findings offer a broad-based view of Facebook use and its resonance with key motivators of behavior, supporting both Maslow’s needs hierarchy and highlighting the importance of need fulfilment for continued service use and satisfaction with life.

Check also The economic effects of Facebook. Roberto Mosquera et al. Experimental Economics, September 26 2019.
Those who are off Facebook for one week reduce news consumption, are less likely to recognize politically-skewed news stories, report being less depressed and engage in healthier activities. These results are strongest for men. Our results further suggest that, after the restriction, Facebook’s value increases, consistent with information loss or that using Facebook may be addictive.

The Social Effects of Internet Deprivation: Can You Engage in Political Activity Without Internet Access? Very little, it seems

Can You Engage in Political Activity Without Internet Access? The Social Effects of Internet Deprivation. Ryan Shandler, Michael L Gross, Daphna Canetti. Political Studies Review, September 26, 2019.

Abstract: To what extent can you engage in political activity in the modern age without Internet access? The growing dependence on Internet access to fulfill basic civil functions is threatened by increasing personal and societal cyber vulnerability. In this article, we explore the extent to which citizens are able, or unable, to engage in specific political activities in the absence of Internet connectivity. To concretize the subject, we test how Internet deprivation affects the ability to realize three basic elements of political participation: political expression, civic association, and access to information. To measure this, we develop a new experimental methodology that tests people’s ability to complete tasks related to each function under simulated treatments of Internet access or deprivation. This empirical methodology offers a new framework through which to quantify the realization of social tasks under experimental conditions. Early results suggest that the absence of Internet access significantly reduces task completion for activities related to political expression and political association and conditionally reduces task completion for practices associated with freedom of information. Having substantiated this empirical framework, we encourage its application to additional forms of political activity.

Keywords: Internet access, Internet deprivation, cyber policy, freedom of speech, cyber terrorism

When a woman is more attractive than her mate, men desire to mate poach, and if a woman is less attractive than her partner, men desire to mate copy

Moran, J. B., & Wade, T. J. (2019). Perceptions of a mismatched couple: The role of attractiveness on mate poaching and copying. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, Sep 2019.

Abstract: This research investigated how a couple’s discrepancy in attractiveness influences men’s decision to mate poach or mate copy. The participants (N = 97 heterosexual men) were presented with 3 photos of a quasi couple in which the woman was consistent, and the 3 men were unattractive, equally, or more attractive than her. This study used ranking questions to assess heterosexual men’s perception of a couple. Participants were asked to drag and drop the 3 randomized photos in order of preference for 8 randomized questions regarding mate poaching and mate copying. Eight Friedman tests were conducted and revealed a significant difference between the rankings of the photos for each situation. These findings suggest that there are clear differences between the conditional mating strategies men use. Results revealed that when a woman is more attractive than her mate, men desire to mate poach, and if a woman is less attractive than her partner, men desire to mate copy.

The relationship between tickling, sensation, and laughter is complex; tickling or its mere anticipation makes us laugh, but not when we self-tickle; the study uses rats to understand self-tickle suppression & tickle anticipation

Behavioral and Cortical Correlates of Self-Suppression, Anticipation, and Ambivalence in Rat Tickling. Shimpei Ishiyama, Lena V. Kaufmann, Michael Brecht. Current Biology, September 26 2019.

•    Self-touch suppresses vocalizations and cortical excitation
•    Self-touch suppression is rescued by blocking cortical inhibition
•    Rats show ambivalent response to tickling
•    Layer 5 somatosensory cortex represents tickle anticipation

Summary: The relationship between tickling, sensation, and laughter is complex. Tickling or its mere anticipation makes us laugh, but not when we self-tickle. We previously showed rat somatosensory cortex drives tickling-evoked vocalizations and now investigated self-tickle suppression and tickle anticipation. We recorded somatosensory cortex activity while tickling and touching rats and while rats touched themselves. Allo-touch and tickling evoked somatotopic cortical excitation and vocalizations. Self-touch induced wide-ranging inhibition and vocalization suppression. Self-touch also suppressed vocalizations and cortical responses evoked by allo-touch or cortical microstimulation. We suggest a global-inhibition model of self-tickle suppression, which operates without the classically assumed self versus other distinction. Consistent with this inhibition hypothesis, blocking cortical inhibition with gabazine abolished self-tickle suppression. We studied anticipation in a nose-poke-for-tickling paradigm. Although rats nose poked for tickling, they also showed escaping, freezing, and alarm calls. Such ambivalence (“Nervenkitzel”) resembles tickle behaviors in children. We conclude that self-touch-induced GABAergic cortical inhibition prevents self-tickle, whereas anticipatory layer 5 activity drives anticipatory laughter.

Those who are off Facebook for one week reduce news consumption, are less likely to recognize politically-skewed news stories, report being less depressed and engage in healthier activities; these results are strongest for men

The economic effects of Facebook. Roberto Mosquera et al. Experimental Economics, September 26 2019.

Abstract: Social media permeates many aspects of our lives, including how we connect with others, where we get our news and how we spend our time. Yet, we know little about the economic effects for users. In 2017, we ran a large field experiment with over 1765 individuals to document the value of Facebook to users and its causal effect on news, well-being and daily activities. Participants reveal how much they value one week of Facebook usage and are then randomly assigned to a validated Facebook restriction or normal use. One week of Facebook is worth $67. Those who are off Facebook for one week reduce news consumption, are less likely to recognize politically-skewed news stories, report being less depressed and engage in healthier activities. These results are strongest for men. Our results further suggest that, after the restriction, Facebook’s value increases, consistent with information loss or that using Facebook may be addictive.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The link between people’s social relationships and their level of self-esteem is truly reciprocal in all developmental stages across the life span, reflecting a positive feedback loop between the constructs

Harris, M. A., & Orth, U. (2019, September 26). The Link Between Self-Esteem and Social Relationships: A Meta-Analysis of Longitudinal Studies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Sep 26 2019.

Theorists have long assumed that people’s self-esteem and social relationships influence each other. However, the empirical evidence has been inconsistent, creating substantial uncertainty about whetherrelationships are in fact an influential factor in self-esteem development and vice versa. This meta-analysis synthesizes the available longitudinal data on the prospective effect of social relationships on self-esteem (48 samples including 46,231 participants) and the prospective effect of self-esteem on social relationships (35 samples including 21,995 participants). All effects controlled for prior levels of the outcomes. Results showed that relationships and self-esteem reciprocally predict each other over time with similar effect sizes (beta=.08 in both directions). Moderator analyses suggested that the effects heldcacross sample characteristics such as mean age, gender, ethnicity, and time lag between assessments, except for the self-esteem effect on relationships, which was moderated by type of relationship partner (stronger for general relationships than for specific partners) and relationship reporter (stronger for self-reported than for informant-reported relationship characteristics). The findings support assumptions of classic and contemporary theories on the influence of social relationships on self-esteem and on the consequences of self-esteem for the relationship domain. In sum, the findings suggest that the link between people’s social relationships and their level of self-esteem is truly reciprocal in all developmental stages across the life span, reflecting a positive feedback loop between the constructs.

Keywords: longitudinal studies, meta-analysis, prospective effects, self-esteem, social relationships

Non-Religious Identities and Life Satisfaction: Questioning the Universality of a Linear Link between Religiosity and Well-Being

Non-Religious Identities and Life Satisfaction: Questioning the Universality of a Linear Link between Religiosity and Well-Being. Katharina Pöhls et al. Journal of Happiness Studies, September 26 2019.

Abstract: Previous research has frequently found a positive relation between religiosity compared to non-religiosity and psychological well-being. Recent studies have demonstrated differences between types of non-religious individuals and the relevance of a fit between individual (non-)religiosity and characteristics of the country a person is living in. This study combined the previous (partially) competing lines of research for the first time and examined the connection between self-identifying as specifically atheist, non-religious without further distinction, weakly religious, or highly religious and life satisfaction. World Values Survey data of 24 countries worldwide that vary in their social norms of religiosity and societal levels of development were used for a quantitative intercultural comparison (N = 33,879). In contrast to most previous research, a multilevel regression analysis showed no differences between highly religious, indistinct non-religious, and atheist individuals’ level of life satisfaction when the fit between individual (non-)religiosity and country characteristics was included. Weakly religious individuals though were significantly less satisfied with life than highly religious individuals. Thus, our results indicate that only in religious societies, identifying as non-religious/atheist is related to lower life satisfaction. When controlling for the context, a curvilinear relation between (non-)religiosity and life satisfaction emerged. Additionally, atheists differed in their sensitivity towards the social norm of religiosity from indistinct non-religious individuals—their well-being varied dependent on living in a country with many other secular individuals or not. These results demonstrate differences between subgroups of (non-)religious individuals and they call into question a general benefit of religiosity for subjective well-being independent of societal context.

Keywords: Non-religiosity Atheism Religiosity Belief certainty Person-culture fit Life satisfaction

Canada: Similar to the findings in the alcohol literature, the upper 10% of cannabis users accounted for approximately two-thirds of all cannabis consumed in the country

Who consumes most of the cannabis in Canada? Profiles of cannabis consumption by quantity. Russell C. Callaghan et al. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, September 25 2019, 107587.

• Study pooled Waves 1-3 of the 2018 Canadian National Cannabis Survey (n = 18,900).
• Surveys assessed cannabis use by quantity across seven major cannabis-product types.
• A standard joint measure was created, based on physical production equivalencies.
• The upper 10% of Canadian cannabis users accounted for 66% of all cannabis consumed.

Aim: To establish whether the population-level pattern of cannabis use by quantity is similar to the distributions previously reported for alcohol, in which a small subset of drinkers accounts for a majority of total population alcohol consumption.

Method: The current study pooled Waves 1-3 of the 2018 National Cannabis Survey (n = 18,900; 2584 past-three-month cannabis users), a set of stratified, population-based surveys designed to assess cannabis consumption and related behaviors in Canada. Each survey systematically measured self-reported cannabis consumption by quantity across seven of the major cannabis-product types. In order to enable the conversion of self-reported consumption of non-flower cannabis products into a standard joint equivalent (SJE: equal to 0.5 g of dried cannabis), we created conversion metrics for physical production equivalencies across cannabis products.

Results: Similar to the findings in the alcohol literature, study results show that cannabis consumption is highly concentrated in a small subset of users: the upper 10% of cannabis users accounted for approximately two-thirds of all cannabis consumed in the country. Males reported consuming more cannabis by volume than females (approximately 60% versus 40%), with young males (15-34 years old) being disproportionately represented in the heaviest-using subgroups.

Conclusions: Most of the cannabis used in Canada is consumed by a relatively small population of very heavy cannabis users. Future research should attempt to identify the characteristics of the heaviest-using groups, as well as how population-level cannabis consumption patterns relate to the calculus of cannabis-related harms in society.

Keywords: CannabisMarijuanaSurveyQuantityStandard Joint

Positive associations among curiosity lability & depression, & negative ones among curiosity lability & life satisfaction and flourishing; curiosity is higher on days of greater happiness & physical activity

Within‐person variability in curiosity during daily life and associations with well‐being. David M. Lydon‐Staley, Perry Zurn, Danielle S. Bassett. The Journal of Personality, September 13 2019.

Objective: Curiosity promotes engagement in novel situations and the accruement of resources that promote well‐being. An open question is the extent to which curiosity lability, the degree to which curiosity fluctuates over short timescales, impacts well‐being.

Method: We use data from a 21‐day daily diary as well as trait measures in 167 participants (mean age = 25.37 years, SD = 7.34) to test (a) the importance of curiosity lability for depression, flourishing, and life satisfaction, (b) day‐to‐day associations among curiosity and happiness, depressed mood, anxiety, and physical activity, and (c) the role of day's mood as a mediator between physical activity and curiosity.

Results: We observe positive associations among curiosity lability and depression, as well as negative associations among curiosity lability and both life satisfaction and flourishing. Curiosity is higher on days of greater happiness and physical activity, and lower on days of greater depressed mood. We find evidence consistent with day's depressed mood and happiness being mediators between physical activity and curiosity.

Conclusions: Greater consistency in curiosity is associated with well‐being. We identify several potential sources of augmentation and blunting of curiosity in daily life and provide support for purported mechanisms linking physical activity to curiosity via mood.

Curiosity promotes engagement with novel and challenging stimuli and situations, leading to the accruement of resources, and promoting well‐being (Fredrickson & Cohn, 2008). It is through consistently acting on one's curiosity that high trait curiosity is thought to promote well‐being (Kashdan et al., 2018), necessitating a consideration of the extent to which curiosity lability, fluctuations in curiosity over the time scale of days, and a measure of inconsistency in one's curiosity, may undermine well‐being. We quantified between‐person differences in curiosity lability over the course of 21 days and tested the associations between curiosity lability and depression, life satisfaction, and flourishing. Consistent with the hypothesized importance of consistent curiosity in promoting well‐being, individuals with relatively greater fluctuations in curiosity around their average level of curiosity during the daily diary protocol had decreased life satisfaction and increased depression. Notably, the association between curiosity lability and both life satisfaction and depression was significant above and beyond a trait measure of curiosity, indicating the added value of considering dynamics in curiosity for understanding well‐being. A main effect of curiosity lability on flourishing was not observed. Instead, inconsistency in curiosity was associated with lower flourishing only for participants with below average levels of trait curiosity.

After revealing the importance of within‐person fluctuations in curiosity for well‐being, we examined the extent to which happiness, depressed mood, anxiety, and physical activity acted as potential sources of augmentation and blunting of curiosity in daily life. In line with previous laboratory findings (Rodrigue et al., 1987) and perspectives that positive emotions motivate exploration (Diener & Diener, 1996) while negative emotions restrict exploration (Fredrickson, 2004), we observed that days of higher than usual depressed mood were associated with lower than usual curiosity, and that days of higher than usual happiness were associated with higher than usual curiosity. These results suggest that negative associations among depressed mood and curiosity generalize to ecologically valid, naturalistic fluctuations in mood and curiosity occurring during the course of daily life.

Within‐person variability in anxiety was not associated with changes in curiosity. Due in great part to the Latin sense of cura as meticulous, painstaking, even obsessive care (Leigh, 2013), curiosity and anxiety have been densely intertwined historically, promulgating the notion that curiosity “has always an appearance of giddiness, restlessness, and anxiety” (Burke, 1958, p. 31). Early psychological theories proposed that curiosity may result from the identification of contradictions and ambiguities that leads to an unpleasant feeling some have interpreted as anxiety (Berlyne, 1960; Dollard & Miller, 1950; Spielberger & Starr, 1994). Other perspectives view anxiety as a state that interferes with the exploratory behavior characteristic of curiosity (Kashdan et al., 2004). The contrasting associations among anxiety and curiosity may be differentially present prior to curiosity‐driven exploration and during the process of curiosity‐driven engagement with novel stimuli and situations. Testing these distinct pathways will require repeated measures at more fine‐grained timescales than were available in the daily diary reports in the present study.

We replicate previously observed between‐person associations among curiosity and physical activity (Brand et al., 2010), with higher levels of average physical activity across the 21‐day daily diary protocol associated with higher levels of average curiosity. In addition to replicating this between‐person finding, our collection of intensive repeated measures allowed us to disentangle within‐person and between‐person associations among physical activity and curiosity, and to demonstrate that the association among physical activity and curiosity was also evident at the within‐person level, with days of greater than usual physical activity being associated with greater than usual curiosity. Results of the within‐person mediation analyses are consistent with frameworks suggesting that physical activity's association with curiosity is partially mediated via physical activity's effects on positive and depressed mood (Berger & Owen, 1992; Penedo & Dahn, 2005; Rehor et al., 2001). Further study of physical activity using modes, scales, and intensities titrated to disabled bodies, moreover, could deepen and extend the present study to account for a population significantly understudied in the literature on curiosity.

In summary, the present study extends previous examinations of the association among curiosity and well‐being by demonstrating that the extent to which one consistently reports feeling curious during the course of daily life is associated with well‐being. The findings emphasize the importance of considering dynamics in curiosity and, by observing within‐person associations among curiosity, depressed mood, happiness, and physical activity, begin the task of identifying potential sources of augmentation and blunting of curiosity in daily life that may be targeted to realize consistent curiosity.

Childhood experience of parents’ lying is related to lying to parents in adulthood, and to adulthood maladjustments; parenting by lying may negatively impact children’s later psychosocial functioning

Parenting by lying in childhood is associated with negative developmental outcomes in adulthood
Author links open overlay panel Peipei Setoh et al. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, September 26 2019, 104680.

•    Childhood experience of parents’ lying is related to lying to parents in adulthood.
•    Childhood experience of parents’ lying is related to adulthood maladjustments.
•    Parenting by lying may negatively impact children’s later psychosocial functioning.

Abstract: Parenting by lying refers to the parenting practice of deception to try to control children’s behavioral and affective states. Although the practice is widely observed across cultures, few studies have examined its associations with psychological outcomes in adulthood. The current research fills this gap by sampling 379 young Singaporean adults who reported on their childhood exposure to parenting by lying, their current deceptive behaviors toward parents, and their psychosocial adjustment. Results revealed that the adults who remembered being exposed to higher levels of parenting by lying in childhood showed higher levels of deception toward their parents and higher levels of psychosocial maladjustment. Our findings suggest that parenting by lying may have negative implications for children’s psychosocial functioning later in life.

Rolf Degen summary:
"Childhood experience of parents’ lying is related to lying to parents in adulthood." The paper doesn't even consider the possibility that this could be linked to a common genetic disposition.

192 Countries, 2001-2018: The strongest predictors of variation in entrepreneurial activity were normative, with social norms being the most strongly associated with entrepreneurialism & rates of organizational founding

Assenova, Valentina, Why Are Some Societies More Entrepreneurial than Others? Evidence from 192 Countries over 2001-2018 (January 25, 2019). SSRN:

Abstract: Why do societies vary in their rates of entrepreneurship and organizational founding? Drawing on the largest available longitudinal sample comprising 192 countries over 2001-2018, I examine the evidence in relation to several explanations, including variation in the density of established organizations, national investment in research and development (R&D), technology transfer to new companies, the quality of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, venture capital (VC) availability, and governmental support and policies for entrepreneurship. Contrary to prevailing theories, there is limited empirical support for these explanations. Rather, the evidence shows that the strongest predictors of cross-national variation in entrepreneurial activity were normative, with social norms being the most strongly associated with entrepreneurialism and rates of organizational founding. This study further examines the relationship between norms and societal culture and finds that more gender-egalitarian societies and societies that value and reward performance and endorse status privileges had on average higher rates of organizational founding, net of differences in national income and economic growth. The paper discusses the implications of these findings in relation to research on the social determinants of entrepreneurship and organizational founding.

Keywords: entrepreneurship; organization theory; cross-national differences
JEL Classification: M13, L26, L53

Women and men differ in the perception of their technological capabilities, with women having a worse perception of their own skills, although they do not differ in goal achievement

Similarities and Differences between Genders in the Usage of Computer with Different Levels of Technological Complexity. Sabrina Sobieraj, Nicole C. Krämer. Computers in Human Behavior, September 25 2019.

•    Women and men differ in the perception of their technological capabilities
•    Women and men do not differ in goal achievement
•    Women and men slightly differ in their affect depending on technologies’ complexity

Abstract: Research on technology usage and acceptance has demonstrated that women and men use technology differently, and also differ in their self-perception regarding technology (e.g., women see themselves as less capable). Gender role beliefs, according to which women are expected to be less interested in and less capable of using technologies than men, have been discussed as one major reason for these differences. Such differing attributions of women and men can induce negative experiences in terms of negative feelings and can reinforce the feelings of uncertainty experienced by women. We therefore assume that the usage of technology, especially with increasing complexity, may induce more negative experiences in women than in men. We conducted a 2 (male, female) x 3 (technological complexity) between-subjects lab experiment (N = 148) to examine the interaction between technological complexity and users’ gender. The analyses revealed that women and men differ in the perception of their technological capabilities, but not in goal achievement. Additionally, we found slight gender differences concerning positive affect, but not concerning negative affect, depending on technologies’ complexity.

Piloerection (goosebumps) Is Not a Reliable Physiological Correlate of Awe

McPhetres, Jonathon, and Andrew Shtulman. 2019. “Piloerection (goosebumps) Is Not a Reliable Physiological Correlate of Awe.” OSF Preprints. September 25. doi:10.31219/

Abstract: In scientific and popular literature, piloerection (e.g. goosebumps) is often described as being related to the experience of awe, though this correlation has not been tested empirically. Using two pre-registered and independently collected samples (N = 233), we examined the objective physiological occurrence of piloerection in response to awe-inducing stimuli. Stimuli were selected to satisfy three descriptors of awe, including perceptual vastness, virtual reality, and expectancy-violating events. The stimuli reliably elicited self-reported awe to a great extent, in line with hypotheses. However, awe-inducing stimuli were not associated with the objective occurrence of piloerection. While participants self-reported high levels of goosebumps and “the chills,” there was no physical evidence of this. These results suggest that piloerection is not reliably connected to the experience of awe—at least using stimuli known to elicit awe in an experimental setting.

A large number of Americans believe their physical health has been harmed by their exposure to politics & even more report that politics has resulted in emotional costs and lost friendships

Friends, relatives, sanity, and health: The costs of politics. Kevin B. Smith, Matthew V. Hibbing, John R. Hibbing. PLoS ONE 14(9), e0221870, September 25, 2019.

Abstract: Political scientists have long known that political involvement exacts costs but they have typically defined these costs in relatively narrow, largely economic terms. Though anecdotal evidence suggests that the costs of politics may in fact extend beyond economics to frayed personal relationships, compromised emotional stability, and even physical problems, no systematic evidence on these broader costs exists. We construct and validate batteries of survey items that delineate the physical, social, and emotional costs of political engagement and administer these items to a demographically representative sample of U.S. adults. The results suggest that a large number of Americans believe their physical health has been harmed by their exposure to politics and even more report that politics has resulted in emotional costs and lost friendships.

Deception Detection: Emotion recognition training was not found to impact on accuracy

Zloteanu, Mircea. 2019. “Emotion Recognition and Deception Detection.” PsyArXiv. September 25. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: People hold strong beliefs regarding the role of emotional cues in detecting deception. While research on the diagnostic value of such cues has been mixed, their influence on human veracity judgments should not be ignored. Here, we address the relationship between emotional information and veracity judgments. In Study 1, the role of emotion recognition in the process of detecting naturalistic lies was investigated. Decoders’ accuracy was compared based on differences in trait empathy and their ability to recognize microexpressions and subtle expressions. Accuracy was found to be unrelated to facial cue recognition but negatively related to empathy. In Study 2, we manipulated decoders’ emotion recognition ability and the type of lies they saw: experiential or affective. Decoders either received emotion recognition training, bogus training, or no training. In all scenarios, training was not found to impact on accuracy. Experiential lies were easier to detect than affective lies, but, affective emotional lies were easier to detect than affective unemotional lies. The findings suggest that emotion recognition has a complex relationship with veracity judgments.

Male juvenile rats and laughter: There was evidence that tickling showed rebound and emotional contagion effects

Relationships between play and responses to tickling in male juvenile rats. Tayla Hammond et al. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, September 25 2019, 104879.

•    Solitary but not social play increased prior to and potentially in anticipation of tickling sessions
•    There were substantial differences between cohorts in their tickling responses and play behaviour.
•    Taking account of cohort there was evidence that tickling showed rebound and emotional contagion effects
•    Cohort effects may be explained by differences in physical condition prior to tickling.

Abstract: Play is a putatively positive experience and of key interest to the study of affective state in animals. Rats produce 50 kHz ultrasonic vocalisation (USVs) during positive experiences, including social play and tickling. The tickling paradigm is intended to mimic social play resulting in positively valanced ultrasonic vocalisation (USV) production. We tested two hypotheses on the relationship between tickling and play: that tickling would increase play behaviour or that play behaviour would increase in anticipation of tickling, and that tickling would share some specific properties of play (rebound and emotional contagion of unexposed cage mates). Male Wistar rats (N = 64, with 32 rats/cohort) of 28 days of age were housed in pairs with one rat assigned to be tickled and one as the non-tickled control. Production of 50 kHz USVs and hand-following behaviour was measured. Prior to handling, solitary and social play was recorded for 5 minutes in the home cage. A two-day break in tickling was used to assess a potential rebound increase in responses to tickling. Only one rat within each cage was handled to assess emotional contagion through changes in the behaviour of the cage-mate. Solitary but not social play increased prior to tickling relative to controls (p = 0.01). There were marked differences between cohorts; tickled rats in C2 produced less 50 kHz USVs than those in C1 (p  = 0.04) and overall, C2 rats played less than rats in C1 (social p =  0.04 and solitary p <  0.001) and had a lighter start weight on arrival (p =  0.009) compared with cohort 1 (C1). In C1, there was evidence of rebound in USV production (p <  0.001) and a contagious effect of tickling reflected by increased hand-following in cage mates (p = 0.02). We found a positive relationship between start weight and USV responses to tickling (Rs = 0.43, p < 0.001), suggesting that the divergence in USV production may be due to developmental differences between cohorts. The results suggest that the relationship between tickling and play is complex in that tickling only affected solitary and not social play, and that tickling responses showed rebound and contagion effects on cage-mates which were specific to cohort responses to tickling.