Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Unemployed individuals who do not suffer from material deprivation may not experience a life satisfaction decrease and may even experience a life satisfaction increase

A Pecuniary Explanation for the Heterogeneous Effects of Unemployment on Happiness. Jianbo Luo. Journal of Happiness Studies, October 30 2019.

Abstract: Why unemployment has heterogeneous effects on subjective well-being remains a hot topic. Using German Socio-Economic Panel data, this paper finds significant heterogeneity using different material deprivation measures. Unemployed individuals who do not suffer from material deprivation may not experience a life satisfaction decrease and may even experience a life satisfaction increase. Policy implications for taxation and unemployment insurance are discussed.

Keywords Unemployment Subjective well-being Heterogeneity Material deprivation Minimum required income

We explore two key contexts of humility, intellectual and cultural

Humility. Daryl R. Van Tongeren et al. Current Directions in Psychological Science, July 2, 2019.

Abstract: We review humility, a trait characterized by (a) an ability to accurately acknowledge one’s limitations and abilities and (b) an interpersonal stance that is other-oriented rather than self-focused. We explore two key contexts of humility, intellectual and cultural; explain why humility is important; and identify open questions for future research.

Keywords humility, humble, modest, modesty

Research on humility has been growing rapidly (see Worthington, Davis, & Hook, 2017). Although research in social psychology has long documented the many ways in which humans are egoistic, selfishly motivated, and self-protective (Van Tongeren & Myers, 2017), recent work on humility has examined personality characteristics associated with acknowledging and owning one's biases and limitations (Haggard et al., 2018), openness (Hook, Davis, Owen, Worthington, & Utsey, 2013), and prioritizing the well-being of others (Davis et al., 2013). The purpose of this article is to review the research on humility, identify open questions for further inquiry, and catalyze future research in this important area of psychological science.

What Is Humility?

Although some lay conceptualizations of humility involve characteristics such as lowliness or self-abasement (Weidman, Cheng, & Tracy, 2018), these have not been core features of psychological conceptualizations of humility. Rather, a recent review of humility measures (McElroy-Heltzel, Davis, DeBlaere, Worthington, & Hook, 2019) revealed that most researchers conceptualize humility as involving both intrapersonal and interpersonal processes, although there is somewhat more agreement among scholars about the intrapersonal aspect of the definition. Intrapersonally, humility involves the degree to which someone seems to have a relatively accurate view of self. Expressions of this aspect of humility might include the ability to acknowledge and own one's limitations (Haggard et al., 2018), recognize the fallibility of one's beliefs, and have a clearer sense of one's strengths and weaknesses. Interpersonally, humility involves the degree to which one has an orientation toward the needs and well-being of others (Davis et al., 2011). People might judge this aspect of humility through interpersonal behaviors that indicate the restraint of the ego, modest self-presentation, and respectful interpersonal interaction.

Early research focused on potential problems defining and measuring humility (Davis, Worthington, & Hook, 2010), given concerns that self-reports of high humility might paradoxically indicate a lack of humility. Over time, several teams began to use a personality-judgment approach that treats multimethod measurement strategies as the gold standard (Baumeister, Vohs, & Funder, 2007). Using this approach, researchers have published many measures of humility, with most including both intrapersonal and interpersonal content (McElroy-Heltzel et al., 2019). Measurement approaches have included selfreports (e.g., Ashton et al., 2004; Leary et al., 2017), otherreports (e.g., Davis et al., 2011; McElroy et al., 2014; Owens, Johnson, & Mitchell, 2013), implicit measures (e.g., Rowatt et al., 2006), and behavioral measures (e.g., Van Tongeren, Stafford, et al., 2016). The vast majority of studies have focused on humility as a trait, which is the focus of this review.

Furthermore, relative to other virtues, such as forgiveness or gratitude, in which the context is more specified, humility-relevant behavior may occur in a range of situations. Measures have sometimes focused on contexts theorized to evoke egotism or defensiveness, which make the practice of humility more difficult. In the study of humility, two contexts have garnered initial attention. One context involves encountering the ideas of other people. Intellectual humility refers to humility about one's ideas, beliefs, or viewpoints (Davis et al., 2016). Within this context, intrapersonally, intellectual humility involves awareness and ownership of the limitations and biases in one's formation and maintenance of knowledge (Haggard et al., 2018) and a willingness to revise one's views in light of strong evidence (Leary et al., 2017; McElroy et al., 2014). Interpersonally, it involves regulating egoistic motives so that one can present one's ideas in a modest and respectful manner, admit when one is wrong, present one's beliefs in ways that are nondefensive, and show that one cares more about learning and preserving relationships than about being "right" or demonstrating intellectual superiority. Importantly, intellectual humility is not being ambivalent or lacking personal conviction. Rather, it is a way of holding one's beliefs, however convinced one might be.with perspective taking and respect for others, viewpoints.

A second context involves intercultural relationships. Belonging to a cultural group tends to reinforce biases related to loyalty and commitment. Cultural humility refers to humility about one's cultural beliefs, values, and attitudes. Intrapersonally, cultural humility involves an awareness of the limitations of one's own cultural worldview, curbing the natural tendency to view one's own values and culture as superior. Interpersonally, cultural humility involves an openness and willingness to learn about the cultural orientation of other people (Hook et al., 2013). Cultural humility can involve various aspects of cultural identity, including the political (i.e., political humility) or religious (i.e., religious humility) beliefs and practices of other individuals. In therapeutic settings (Hook et al., 2013), clients who rated their therapists as high in cultural humility reported a stronger therapeutic alliance and better improvement in therapy (Hook et al., 2013). Clients also reported experiencing fewer racial offenses or microaggressions when they had a therapist with higher cultural humility (Hook, Farrell, et al., 2016). In general, individuals (laypersons and counselors alike) with cultural humility are more likely to consider the importance of cultural backgrounds, understand their own cultural limits and privilege, and take a genuine interest in learning from the cultures of others.

When Media Violence Awakens our Better Nature: The Effect of Unpleasant Violence on Reactivity toward and Enjoyment of Media Violence

When Media Violence Awakens our Better Nature: The Effect of Unpleasant Violence on Reactivity toward and Enjoyment of Media Violence. T. Franklin Waddell, Erica Bailey, Marcela Weber, James D. Ivory & Edward Downs. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Oct 29 2019.

Abstract: The effects of violent media on aggression-related outcomes is an ongoing debate, often focusing on the effects of violence portrayals that are sanitized for the viewer. However, narratives that focus on the real world consequences of violence are also known to receive critical acclaim and broad exposure. Do unpleasant portrayals of violence affect viewers’ subsequent reactivity to violence? Results from two laboratory studies show that prior exposure to unpleasant violence increases donation behavior to assist victims of real world violence (N = 60) and decreases enjoyment of fictional media violence (N = 109). The implications of these findings are discussed.

Beyond sex differences, factors such as early environmental cues of relationship instability, individuals’ motivation for engaging in casual sex, and higher number of their casual sex partners contribute to the positive view of casual sex

Beyond Sex Differences: Predictors of Negative Emotions Following Casual Sex. Jessica A. Hehman, Catherine A. Salmon. Evolutionary Psychological Science, October 30 2019.

Abstract: Recently, much attention has been focused on understanding casual sex, or hooking up, among college students. The current study uses an adaptationist approach to go beyond sex differences in casual sex behavior, examining predictors of emotional reactions and including a community sample (39 females, 84 males) in addition to a typical college sample (103 females, 62 males). If males and females possess different emotional mechanisms designed to evaluate the consequences of sexual behavior, we would expect sex differences in emotional reactions as well as in motivations for engaging in casual sex. Individual differences in motivation may influence whether emotional reactions to casual sex are positive or negative. Early environmental cues of relationship stability may also have an impact on emotional responses. Results indicate that in addition to sex differences, factors such as early environmental cues of relationship instability, individuals’ motivation for engaging in casual sex, and the number of their casual sex partners contribute to the positive or negative nature of their response to casual sex experiences. In addition, results from the community sample suggest that there may be life stage-specific effects.

Keywords: Casual sex Sex differences Motivation Father absence Life stage-specific effects

Alcohol-related harms have been decreasing for more recent cohorts of young adults over the past three decades, which is consistent with previously-reported declines in alcohol consumption among this age group

Visontay, Rachel, Louise Mewton, Matthew Sunderland, Katrina Prior, and Tim Slade. 2019. “Declining Alcohol-related Harms in Young Adults: A Cross-temporal Meta-analysis Using the AUDIT.” PsyArXiv. October 30. doi:10.31234/

Background: Recent studies suggest that alcohol use has been decreasing among both adolescents and young adults. In the current paper, we aim to test whether this trend extends to a decline in the harmful consequences of alcohol use (i.e. alcohol-related harms).
Methods: We systematically searched the literature for articles examining alcohol-related harms and alcohol consumption in adolescent (12-17 years) and young adult (18-24 years) samples using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) and AUDIT Alcohol Consumption subscale (AUDIT-C), respectively. Insufficient data was available for AUDIT and AUDIT-C scores in adolescents as well as AUDIT-C scores for young adults. As such, we applied cross-temporal meta-analysis to the extracted data for AUDIT scores in young adults only.
Results: A decrease was found in young adults’ AUDIT scores measured between 1989-2015, representing a .73 standard deviation change over this period. Variance did not change over this time. Interpretation of the study findings is limited by small sample size and the breadth of the AUDIT instrument.
Conclusions: Results indicate that alcohol-related harms have been decreasing for more recent cohorts of young adults over the past three decades, which is consistent with previously-reported declines in alcohol consumption among this age group. Several factors such as delayed initiation to alcohol consumption, greater awareness and understanding of alcohol-related harm, increased digital socialising, and health promotion efforts may be driving these reductions.

Money is generally seen as good, but what about when it is morally tainted?

The Dilemma of Dirty Money. Arber Tasimi, James J. Gross. Current Directions in Psychological Science, October 29, 2019.

Abstract: Money is generally seen as good, but what about when it is morally tainted? Does this affect whether people want money or how they would spend it? In this article, we review a nascent literature on “dirty money” and then organize these findings using a framework that formalizes the idea that dirty money creates a valuation conflict because it is both “good” (the money part) and “bad” (the dirty part). To show how this conflict is adjudicated, we draw on the self-control literature, which provides a way to think about how dueling impulses come into being and wax and wane over time until one prevails. We conclude by outlining promising directions for future research and considering their broader implications for the field.

Keywords affective science, decision-making, development, individual differences, money, morality, value-based choice

Cumulative technological evolution: There is a brain network for tool-use action observation (the tool-use observation network), mostly situated in the left hemisphere, & distinct from the non-tool-use observation network

To Watch is to Work: a Review of NeuroImaging Data on Tool Use Observation Network. Emanuelle Reynaud, Jordan Navarro, Mathieu Lesourd, François Osiurak. Neuropsychology Review, October 29 2019.

Abstract: Since the discovery of mirror neurons in the 1990s, many neuroimaging studies have tackled the issue of action observation with the aim of unravelling a putative homolog human system. However, these studies do not distinguish between non-tool-use versus tool-use actions, implying that a common brain network is systematically involved in the observation of any action. Here we provide evidence for a brain network dedicated to tool-use action observation, called the tool-use observation network, mostly situated in the left hemisphere, and distinct from the non-tool-use action observation network. Areas specific for tool-use action observation are the left cytoarchitectonic area PF within the left inferior parietal lobe and the left inferior frontal gyrus. The neural correlates associated with the observation of tool-use reported here offer new insights into the neurocognitive bases of action observation and tool use, as well as addressing more fundamental issues on the origins of specifically human phenomena such as .

Keywords: Tool use Action observation Left inferior parietal cortex Meta-analysis

The past decade contained almost half the cases (13%) that existed at the 80s peak of serial homicide (27%); technology, shifts in offending behavior, proactive law enforcement action, & vigilance of society contributed

Yaksic, Enzo, Clare Allely, Raneesha De Silva, Melissa Smith-Inglis, Daniel Konikoff, Kori Ryan, Dan Gordon, et al. 2019. “Detecting a Decline in Serial Homicide: Have We Banished the Devil from the Details?.” SocArXiv. February 11. doi:10.1080/23311886.2019.1678450

Objectives: The likelihood that serial murderers are responsible for most unresolved homicides and missing persons was examined by investigating the accounting of the phenomenon in the context of a declining prevalence.
Methods: A mixed methods approach was used, consisting of a review of a sample of unresolved homicides, a comparative analysis of the frequency of known serial homicide series and unresolved serial homicide series, and semi-structured interviews of experts.
Results: The past decade contained almost half the cases (13%) that existed at the 1980s peak of serial homicide (27%). Only 282 (1.3%) strangled females made up the 22,444 unresolved homicides reviewed. Most expert respondents thought it unreasonable that any meaningful proportion of missing persons cases are victims of serial homicide.
Conclusions: Technology, shifts in offending behavior, proactive law enforcement action, and vigilance of society have transformed serial killing and aids in viewing offenders as people impacted by societal shifts and cultural norms. The absence of narrative details inhibited some aspects of the review. An exhaustive list of known unresolved serial homicide series remained elusive as some missing persons are never reported. Future research should incorporate those intending to murder serially, but whose efforts were stalled by arrest, imprisonment, or death.

In addition, individuals who perceived themselves as being more attractive tended to have a higher sexual desire and higher relationship quality

Extradyadic behaviors and gender: How do they relate with sexual desire, relationship quality, and attractiveness. Joana Arantes, Helena M. Oliveira and Fátima Barros. Front. Psychol., Oct 29 2019, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02554

Abstract: Recent years have seen an increasing number of studies on relationship infidelity (Fisher, 2018; Pinto & Arantes, 2017; Silva, Saraiva, Albuquerque & Arantes, 2017; Pazhoohi et al., 2017). However, much is still to learn about the impact of these extradyadic behaviors on subsequent relationships that an individual may have. Our main goal was to study the association between past extradyadic behaviors – inflicted and suffered – and current relationship quality, sexual desire and attractiveness. Specifically, we aimed to: i) Understand if past extradyadic behaviors are related to current relationship quality, sexual desire, and self-perceived and partner’s attractiveness; ii) Identify possible gender differences in these variables. For that, 382 participants (260 females and 122 males) were recruited through personal and institutional e-mails, online social networks (e.g., Facebook), and the website of the Evolutionary Psychology Group from the University of Minho. All participants completed a demographic and relationship questionnaire, followed by questions related to extradyadic behaviors and self-perceived attractiveness, the Perceived Relationship Quality Components (PRQC) Inventory, the Sex Drive Scale (SDQ), and the Importance of Partner’s Physical Attractiveness Scale (IPPAS). For those currently involved in a relationship, results suggested that extradyadic behaviors (both suffered or inflicted) are linked with current low relationship quality and high sexual desire in the present. In addition, individuals who perceived themselves as being more attractive tended to have a higher sexual desire and higher relationship quality. Overall, men reported higher levels of extradyadic behaviors and sexual desire, gave more importance to physical attractiveness, and perceived their current relationship as having less quality than women. These results add to the literature by focusing on different variables that play an important role in romantic relationships, and have important implications.

Keywords: extradyadic behaviors, sexual desire, relationship quality, attractiveness, gender

Real-life revenge may not effectively deter norm violations, as a response that must take place almost immediately and in the same domain to be effective

Real-life revenge may not effectively deter norm violations. Maartje Elshout, Rob M. A., Nelissen, Ilja van Beest, Suzan Elshout & Wilco W. van Dijk. The Journal of Social Psychology, Oct 28 2019.

ABSTRACT: The current article examined the characteristics of real-life revenge acts. A demographically diverse sample of avengers described autobiographical revenge acts and the preceding offense. They rated the severity of both acts, the time before taking revenge, and motives for the timing. Independent raters also rated the severity of both acts and coded the domains. Results revealed that real-life revenge is (1) by and large equally common as revealed by lab-based studies on revenge, but (2) is usually a delayed response, and (3) although similar to offenses in severity (according to independent parties), it is dissimilar in the domain. These characteristics contradict manifestations of revenge as studied in lab research (e.g., as a response that must take place immediately and in the same domain). These discrepancies suggest that not all real-life instances of revenge are optimally suited to serve a deterrence function and that other motives may underlie more destructive revenge acts.

KEYWORDS: Revenge, vengeance, retaliation, violence, aggression



Only 14.4% of avengers took revenge immediately. The majority of avengers took revenge after at least a day had passed and the largest group took revenge between 1 week and 1 month after the offense. The delay was influenced by (low) immediate revenge possibility and planning tendencies. The results on time between the offense and revenge act are in line with theoretical reflections on revenge arguing that revenge usually takes place after some time has passed (Frijda, 2007; Kim & Smith, 1993), in part because it requires planning (Bar-Elli & Heyd, 1986).
In lab research, revenge acts usually take place right after the offense, in line with its supposed role as a deterrence mechanism. However, the current findings suggest that revenge is typically delayed, which makes it poorly geared toward deterring future offenses as this requires a certain level of instantaneousness for the offense to be associated with the punishment.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

We now know that disgust sensitivity is heritable, and that parental modeling does not appear to shape it; but idiosyncratic experience does shape it

Tybur, Joshua M., and Annika Karinen. 2019. “Measurement and Theory in Disgust Sensitivity.” PsyArXiv. October 29. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: This chapter covers the 20+ year history of disgust sensitivity research by summarizing and contrasting different disgust sensitivity instruments and discussing how these instruments are used and interpreted.

Surveys conducted in the United States show that people report disgust toward actions and objects that inhabit some of the most important corners of our lives. We are disgusted by the prospect of eating certain foods, the sights and smells of other people’s bodies, the thought of sexual contact with most of the people on earth, and considerations of others’ moral shortcomings (Haidt et al., 1994; Tybur et al., 2009). International surveys indicate that disgust’s relevance to food choice, mating, and morality is not a quirk of US culture (Curtis and Biran, 2001; Haidt et al., 1997; cf. Kollareth and Russell, in 2017). Despite disgust’s far-reaching consequences, only scarce work was devoted to understanding the emotion through most of the twentieth century (Rozin et al., 2009). In the 1990s, however, the dearth of research to the topic caught the attention of a handful of scientists, who described disgust as both the ‘forgotten emotion of psychiatry’ (Phillips et al., 1998) and as a scarcely investigated – yet key – cog in the mechanisms that underlie our moral psychology (Haidt et al., 1993; Haidt et al., 1997). Calls for greater interest in disgust were heard across the behavioral sciences, with researchers using the science of disgust to better understand political attitudes (Inbar et al., 2012), food preferences (Fessler et al., 2003), health behavior (Reynolds et al., 2014), personality (Tybur and De Vries, 2013), psychopathology (Olatunji and Sawchuk, 2005), aggression (Pond et al., 2012), and moral judgments (Chapman and Anderson, 2013, 2014).

Although much of this work on disgust has focused on understanding the psychological processes underlying disgust and their resulting effects on behavior (e.g., Tybur and Lieberman, 2016), the majority of disgust research has focused on individual differences. Largely using self report instruments, researchers have tested how disgust sensitivity (DS) – that is, reported intensity of disgust toward the types of things that arouse at least a little disgust in most healthy adults – relates to the variety of topics detailed earlier. Results from these studies portray the disgust sensitive individual as someone who is averse toward new experiences (Tybur and De Vries, 2013), politically conservative (Inbar et al., 2012), prone to moral judgment (Chapman and Anderson, 2014), and more likely to have anxiety disorders (Olatunji and Sawchuk, 2005). Relative to the prodigious measurement of DS, though, little work has critically analyzed the validity of the multiple DS instruments used in the literature and the nature of DS as a construct. This chapter aims to provide a survey of the DS literature and, in doing so, comment on the dimensionality of DS, the mechanistic roots of DS, the developmental origins of DS, and a theoretical framework that can organize the literature.

Concluding thoughts

Researchers have been excited to find that DS relates to phenomena such as political ideology and psychopathology. Such findings promise to provide novel understandings of why individuals adopt liberal vs. conservative political positions, or why they experience potentially debilitating anxieties about washing and cleansing. The potential knowledge gleaned from these studies is constrained by our understanding of DS itself, though. Much recent progress has been made in understanding disgust as an emotion, and in understanding the dimensionality of DS, relation with personality, and heritability. Every slice of new information about DS can raise further questions. We now know that DS is heritable, and that parental modeling does not appear to shape DS. But what are the genetic and environmental sources shaping DS? Pathogen DS appears to relate to behavioral avoidance of pathogen cues, but perhaps not facial responses to pathogen cues. Do null relations with facial response reflect a disjunction between experienced and expressed disgust, or do they reflect underpowered studies? And, further, what differentiates pathogen DS from other variables used in the behavioral immune system literature, and what differentiates sexual DS from sociosexuality? Questions like these suggest that DS research has entered a second generation of sorts – it has matured from a new venture that shows promise for understanding a variety of phenomena to a multidisciplinary undertaking dedicated to understanding dimensionality, development, and cross-cultural variation. We hope that this chapter has sketched out promising directions for this second generation of research, and that future overviews of DS can provide answers to some of the questions posed.

Participants (n = 828) reported how they perceived sexual & romantic fantasizing; despite the current sentiment on socially & morally unacceptable physical acts, fantasizing towards themselves are not perceived as unacceptable

Perceived Acceptability of Sexual and Romantic Fantasizing. Tara M. Busch. Sexuality & Culture, October 29 2019.

Abstract: To better understand the social norms surrounding fantasizing behavior, the current research aimed to assess how acceptable various types of fantasizing (romantic or sexual) are perceived. Understanding and abiding by social norms helps people avoid criticism, social sanctions, and ostracism. Thus, better understanding the social norms surrounding various types of fantasies can help people better navigate their social worlds, especially with respect to sexuality, dating, and relationships. Participants (n = 828) reported how acceptable, violating, and bothersome they perceived sexual and romantic fantasizing to be towards themselves and others. Results suggest that despite the current sentiment on socially and morally unacceptable physical acts, mental acts of fantasizing are not perceived as unacceptable or violating. No gender differences arose between men and women’s perceptions of fantasy acceptability. Demographic differences in perceived fantasy acceptability by race, sexual orientation, relationship status, and age are discussed. These findings deepen the understanding of how society views fantasizing behavior and help begin to define boundaries for acceptable versus violating thoughts.

Keywords: Sexual fantasies Romantic fantasies Fantasizing Social norms Moral issue

Male husbands: These results reflect the stress associated with being the sole breadwinner, & more significantly, with gender norm deviance due to husbands being outearned by their wives

Spousal Relative Income and Male Psychological Distress. Joanna Syrda. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, October 28, 2019.

Abstract: Using Panel Study of Income Dynamics 2001-2015 dataset (6,035 households, 19,688 observations), this study takes a new approach to investigating the relationship between wife’s relative income and husband’s psychological distress, and finds it to be significantly U-shaped. Controlling for total household income, predicted male psychological distress reaches a minimum at a point where wives make 40% of total household income and proceeds to increase, to reach highest level when men are entirely economically dependent on their wives. These results reflect the stress associated with being the sole breadwinner, and more significantly, with gender norm deviance due to husbands being outearned by their wives. Interestingly, the relationship between wife’s relative income and husband’s psychological distress is not found among couples where wives outearned husbands at the beginning of their marriage pointing to importance of marital selection. Finally, patterns reported by wives are not as pronouncedly U-shaped as those reported by husbands.

Keywords male psychological distress, spousal relative income, marriage, gender, panel data estimation

Self-driving cars are sensitive to color patches attacks, patches artfully made to interfere with optical estimation

Attacking Optical Flow. Anurag Ranjan, Joel Janai, Andreas Geiger, Michael J. Black. arXiv, Oct 22 2019.

Abstract: Deep neural nets achieve state-of-the-art performanceon the problem of optical flow estimation. Since optical flow is used in several safety-critical applications like self-driving cars, it is important to gain insights into the robustness of those techniques. Recently, it has been shown thatadversarial attacks easily fool deep neural networks to misclassify objects. The robustness of optical flow networks to adversarial attacks, however, has not been studied so far. In this paper, we extend adversarial patch attacks to optical flow networks and show that such attacks can compromise their performance. We show that corrupting a small patch of less than 1% of the image size can significantly affect optical flow estimates. Our attacks lead to noisy flow estimatesthat extend significantly beyond the region of the attack, inmany cases even completely erasing the motion of objects in the scene. While networks using an encoder-decoder architecture are very sensitive to these attacks, we found that networks using a spatial pyramid architecture are less affected. We analyse the success and failure of attacking both architectures by visualizing their feature maps and comparing them to classical optical flow techniques which are robust to these attacks. We also demonstrate that such attacks are practical by placing a printed pattern into real scenes.

Volitional Control of Piloerection: Objective Evidence and Its Potential Utility in Neuroscience Research

Katahira, Kenji, Ai Kawakami, Akitoshi Tomita, and Noriko Nagata. 2019. “Volitional Control of Piloerection: Objective Evidence and Its Potential Utility in Neuroscience Research.” PsyArXiv. October 29. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: The ability of volitional control of piloerection has been reported in a rare subset of individuals. This ability may be useful to study involuntary emotional piloerection, as research on this phenomenon has suffered from low reproducibility. However, objective evidence at a group-level and stability under experimental constraints remain to be examined. The present study aimed to validate existing findings of voluntary generated piloerection (VGP) and to examine its potential contribution to neuroscientific research based on objective evidence of this ability. In Study 1, to confirm the characteristics of VGP reported in previous studies and identify individuals with VGP capability, an online survey of VGP candidates found through a large-scale screening was conducted. In Study 2, a total of 18 VGP holders participated in a mail-based piloerection measurement experiment, and the nature of VGP was examined based on the objective evidence obtained by image-based analysis (GooseLab). The results of the web survey largely recapitulated the characteristics of VGP reported in previous studies, and objective measurements revealed the utility of this ability in neuroscientific research. For some participants, VGP appeared to be emotionally promoted, which suggests that VGP shares the emotional nature of involuntary piloerection. The findings from this study demonstrated the possible contribution of VGP to elucidating the mechanism of involuntary emotional piloerection and the neural basis of piloerection itself.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Be Cautious with the Precautionary Principle: Evidence from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident Suggests that the increase in mortality from higher electricity prices outnumbers the accident itself

Be Cautious with the Precautionary Principle: Evidence from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident. Matthew J. Neidell, Shinsuke Uchida, Marcella Veronesi. NBER Working Paper No. 26395, October 2019.

Abstract: This paper provides a large scale, empirical evaluation of unintended effects from invoking the precautionary principle after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. After the accident, all nuclear power stations ceased operation and nuclear power was replaced by fossil fuels, causing an exogenous increase in electricity prices. This increase led to a reduction in energy consumption, which caused an increase in mortality during very cold temperatures. We estimate that the increase in mortality from higher electricity prices outnumbers the mortality from the accident itself, suggesting the decision to cease nuclear production has contributed to more deaths than the accident itself.

Long-Term Effects of California's 2004 Paid Family Leave Act: It reduced the number of children born; also, we find little evidence that PFLA increased women’s employment, wage earnings, or attachment to employers

The Long-Term Effects of California's 2004 Paid Family Leave Act on Women's Careers: Evidence from U.S. Tax Data. Martha J. Bailey, Tanya S. Byker, Elena Patel, Shanthi Ramnath. NBER Working Paper No. 26416, October 2019.

Abstract: This paper uses IRS tax data to evaluate the short- and long-term effects of California’s 2004 Paid Family Leave Act (PFLA) on women’s careers. Our research design exploits the increased availability of paid leave for women giving birth in the third quarter of 2004 (just after PFLA was implemented). These mothers were 18 percentage points more likely to use paid leave but otherwise identical to multiple comparison groups in pre-birth demographic, marital, and work characteristics. We find little evidence that PFLA increased women’s employment, wage earnings, or attachment to employers. For new mothers, taking up PFLA reduced employment by 7 percent and lowered annual wages by 8 percent six to ten years after giving birth. Overall, PFLA tended to reduce the number of children born and, by decreasing mothers’ time at work, increase time spent with children.

Digital Detox: The Effect of Smartphone Abstinence on Mood, Anxiety, and Craving

Wilcockson, Thomas, Ashley Osborne, and David A. Ellis, Dr. 2019. “Digital Detox: The Effect of Smartphone Abstinence on Mood, Anxiety, and Craving.” PsyArXiv. October 28. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.06.002

Abstract: Whether behavioural addictions should be conceptualised using a similar framework to substance-related addictions remains a topic of considerable debate. Previous literature has developed criteria, which allows any new behavioural addiction to be considered analogous to substance-related addictions. These imply that abstinence from a related object (e.g., smartphones for heavy smartphone users) would lead to mood fluctuations alongside increased levels of anxiety and craving. In a sample of smartphone users, we measured three variables (mood, anxiety, and craving) on four occasions, which included a 24-hour period of smartphone abstinence. Only craving was affected following a short period of abstinence. The results suggest that heavy smartphone usage does not fulfil the criteria required to be considered an addiction. This may have implications for other behavioural addictions.

Mothers’ genetics were associated with children’s attainment over and above children's own genetics, via cognitively stimulating parenting—an environmentally mediated effect

Using DNA From Mothers and Children to Study Parental Investment in Children’s Educational Attainment. Jasmin Wertz et al. Child Development, October 27 2019.

Abstract: This study tested implications of new genetic discoveries for understanding the association between parental investment and children’s educational attainment. A novel design matched genetic data from 860 British mothers and their children with home‐visit measures of parenting: the E‐Risk Study. Three findings emerged. First, both mothers’ and children’s education‐associated genetics, summarized in a genome‐wide polygenic score, were associated with parenting—a gene–environment correlation. Second, accounting for genetic influences slightly reduced associations between parenting and children’s attainment—indicating some genetic confounding. Third, mothers’ genetics were associated with children’s attainment over and above children's own genetics, via cognitively stimulating parenting—an environmentally mediated effect. Findings imply that, when interpreting parents’ effects on children, environmentalists must consider genetic transmission, but geneticists must also consider environmental transmission.


The investments parents make to raise their offspring are thought to be a major contributor to children’s educational success, making parental investment a cornerstone of psychological, sociological, and economic models that seek to explain how educational inequalities are created and perpetuated (Cheng, Johnson, & Goodman, 2016; Feinstein, Duckworth, & Sabates, 2004; Kalil, 2015). However, findings from behavioral‐genetic studies have challenged causal interpretations of parental influence by showing genetic influences on parenting; a gene–environment correlation. Here we tested implications of gene–environment correlations for parental investment in children’s educational attainment using a novel design—in a prospective‐longitudinal study, we collected genotype data from both mothers and children and matched these genetic data with home‐visit measures of parenting behavior. We report three main findings.

First, we found evidence for gene–environment correlations. Both mothers’ and children’s education‐associated genetics, summarized in genome‐wide polygenic scores, were associated with the kind of parenting that is known to be linked with children’s later educational success. By collecting genetic data from both mothers and their offspring, we were able to show that different forms of gene–environment correlations operate in the same family, at the same time. Both active and evocative gene–environment correlations were implicated in the cognitive stimulation and the warm, sensitive parenting that children experienced and in the kinds of households (chaotic; safe and tidy) in which children grew up. Second, we found evidence for slight genetic confounding. The estimated effects of mothers’ parenting on children’s educational attainment were significantly reduced after accounting for education‐associated genetics, consistent with a view of genes as confounding part of the link between parenting and child attainment. However, the magnitude of confounding as measured using the polygenic score was small. Third, we found evidence for genetic nurture. Parenting behavior—particularly mothers’ cognitive stimulation of their children—explained why mothers’ genetics were associated with their children’s educational attainment (independently of children's own genetics). This finding extends recent reports of associations between parental genetics and children’s educational attainment (Bates et al., 2018; Belsky et al., 2018; Kong et al., 2018; Liu, 2018) by showing, for the first time, that parents’ education‐associated genetics shape the features of the family environment that predict the next generation’s educational success.

Our findings need to be interpreted in light of several limitations. First, our approach to estimating genetic nurture relies on the assumption that mothers’ and children’s polygenic scores are measured with identical error. To the extent that this assumption is violated, our estimates of genetic nurture could be upwardly or downwardly biased, depending on whether error is greater in mothers’ versus children’s polygenic scores. However, the assumption is probably defensible, because mothers’ and children’s polygenic scores are identical measurements, that is, sums of the same genotypes transformed using the same weights. Second, although the education polygenic score that we used is based on the largest‐ever social science GWAS, a limitation of this GWAS is that it still reflects only a portion of all genetic influences on educational attainment (approximately one third; Lee et al., 2018). To the extent that the polygenic score is an underestimate of the total genetic influence on educational attainment, our estimates of gene–environment correlations, genetic confounding, and possibly genetic nurture are likely to be underestimates of the true effects. At this point, our findings provide “proof‐of‐principle” of these processes, and the implications they raise can continue to be tested as refined polygenic scores become available. Third, we tested genetic confounding and genetic nurture only for children’s educational attainment, not for other child outcomes. We focused on educational attainment because it is a central determinant of future health, wealth, and well‐being (Cutler & Lleras‐Muney, 2010; Hout, 2012; Oreopoulos & Salvanes, 2011), and because the polygenic score for educational attainment is based on the largest GWAS of a social‐behavior phenotype (Lee et al., 2018). As increasingly larger GWAS are conducted for more developmental outcomes, the same design we present here can be used to test genetic confounding and genetic nurture for other outcomes. Fourth, our study members are still young and most of them have not yet completed their final educational degree. Our measure of educational attainment is therefore only a proxy measure. However, UK students’ qualifications obtained by age 18 are good indicators of their educational pathways beyond age 18 (UK Department for Education, 2018). Furthermore, polygenic‐score associations with educational attainment are very similar between our study and studies of adults (Belsky et al., 2018; Lee et al., 2018), and findings of genetic nurture have been observed in studies of adults who have completed their education (Bates et al., 2018; Belsky et al., 2018; Kong et al., 2018; Lee et al., 2018). Fifth, our labeling of correlations between parents’ genetics and parenting as “active gene–environment correlation” may elicit skepticism among some readers, because correlations between genetics and parenting are typically examined from the perspective of the child and are then referred to as “passive” gene–environment correlations. We would argue that a correlation between parents’ genes and parenting qualifies as active gene–environment correlation, which has been defined as a person contributing to their own environment, and actively seeking an environment related to their genetic propensities (Plomin et al., 1977). Specifically, the aspects of parenting we examine—the cognitively stimulating activities that parents and children engage in together; the warmth and sensitivity of the parent–child relationship; the chaos in the household; and the safety and tidiness of the home—all represent environmental exposures for the parent and the child, that are actively created and shaped by parents to match their genetic dispositions. This interpretation of active gene–environment correlation also follows the concept of niche construction in animal ecology, whereby organisms actively modify their own and each others’ environments; for example by building nests for their offspring (Odling‐Smee, Laland, & Feldman, 2003). Sixth, there is a wide variety of measures available to study parenting and our findings may not generalize to all of these other measures. However, we recently reported very similar associations to the ones observed in our study in an independent sample, using measures of parenting that were derived using what some researchers view as the “gold standard” of parenting assessment—observer ratings of videotaped parent–child interactions (Wertz et al., 2019). The replication across two independent cohorts and different measurements of parenting bolsters the substance of our findings. Seventh, we did not have genetic data from fathers, which means that we were unable to control for fathers’ education polygenic scores when estimating associations between mothers’ and children’s education polygenic scores and parenting. To the extent that fathers’ genes are correlated with parenting, the associations we observed in our study may partly reflect effects of fathers’ genetics, because biological fathers’ and children’s genes are correlated (due to genetic inheritance) and because mothers’ and fathers’ genetics may be correlated (due to assortative mating, i.e., the tendency to select partners with characteristics similar to one’s own). Eigth, even though our research is genetically informative, it is still observational, and hence cannot establish causal relationships between genetics, parenting, and children’s educational attainment. What it can do is (a) point to pathways through which genetic influences may contribute to intergenerational transmission; (b) elucidate processes of gene–environment interplay in parenting and child development; (c) shed light on possible developmental and social mechanisms that link parent and child education‐associated genetics with future attainment; and (d) provide an example of how to integrate new genomic discoveries into developmental psychology to study questions relevant to child development. Against this background, we conclude by discussing the implications of our findings about gene–environment correlations, genetic confounding, and genetic nurture for a more thorough understanding of the developmental processes that shape children’s attainment.

Our findings of gene–environment correlation replicate and extend our prior work on genetic associations with parenting (Wertz et al., 2019). We replicated findings from a previous analysis in a New Zealand cohort, in which we showed that parents’ education polygenic scores were associated with the warm, sensitive, stimulating parenting they provided to their children (Wertz et al., 2019). Here we report the same pattern of results in an independent cohort of British mothers, indicating that genetic correlations with parenting are robust against differences in context and measurements of parenting. We extend this prior work by incorporating children’s polygenic scores in our analyses, finding that children’s genetics are associated with the parenting they receive. Together with other recent studies (Dobewall et al., 2018; Krapohl et al., 2017; Selzam et al., 2018), these findings provide molecular‐genetic evidence for a bidirectional model of parent–child relations, in which parenting is partly a response to children’s characteristics (Bell, 1968; Crouter & Booth, 2003; Pardini, 2008; Sameroff, 2010).

Findings of gene–environment correlations with parenting imply that the family environments children experience while growing up are partly a function of their own and their parents’ genetics. For example, we found that children of parents who carried a higher number of education‐associated variants were exposed to greater cognitive stimulation in the home compared to children of parents who carried fewer of these variants. Because biological parents and children share genes, family environments shaped by parents’ genes will tend to match and reinforce children’s genetic dispositions (Knafo & Jaffee, 2013; Scarr & McCartney, 1983; Tucker‐Drob & Harden, 2012). Such a match can positively influence children’s development; for example, when a child with a high education polygenic score is born into a family that provides cognitive stimulation. However, the same match also implies that a children with lower education polygenic scores will tend not to experience exactly the kind of stimulating and supportive parenting that could make a difference for their attainment. Thus, for better and for worse, correlations between genes and environments can reduce the availability of experiences that alter individuals’ developmental trajectories. This also applies to the reproduction of educational success across generations. To the extent that educational outcomes are influenced by genetics, genes will tend to be a force for intergenerational stability in educational attainment, both via direct genetic transmission and via indirect effects of genes on caregiving environments that shape future generations’ behaviors. This tendency means that is it important to improve children’s access to interventions that may be able to break reinforcing links between genes and environments, such as high‐quality early skill‐building programs (Heckman, 2006).

Given how much attention critics of parenting effects devote to the possibility of genetic confounding (Harris, 1998; Rowe, 1993; Sherlock & Zietsch, 2018), it may seem surprising that our estimates of genetic confounding were so small. There are two possible explanations for this finding: either genetics do little to confound associations between parenting and children’s educational attainment, or we have underestimated the true magnitude of genetic confounding. The observation that polygenic‐score associations with educational attainment are substantially lower than heritability estimates of educational attainment (Branigan, McCallum, & Freese, 2013) suggests that our findings underestimate genetic confounding. Currently, even the best and biggest efforts to capture the genetic variants associated with educational attainment are still missing a substantial part of its heritability (Manolio et al., 2009; National Human Genome Research Institute, 2018). Until more of this “missing heritability” can be accounted for at the molecular‐genetic level, the safest way to rule out genetic confounding is to continue to use family‐based designs, such as discordant‐twin designs (McGue, Osler, & Christensen, 2010; Vitaro, Brendgen, & Arseneault, 2009), parent–child adoption designs (Leve et al., 2013) or children‐of‐twin designs (D’Onofrio et al., 2003), that can estimate associations between parenting and children’s educational attainment free from genetic influences shared between parents and children (Turkheimer & Harden, 2014).

Debates about parental influences on children’s development tend to contrast the effects of parents’ genes—assumed to influence children via genetic transmission—with the effects of parenting—assumed to influence children via environmental ways. Our finding of genetic nurture draws a more nuanced picture, by showing that mothers’ genetics were associated with children’s attainment over and above genetic transmission, via parenting. This finding has three implications. First, over and above a persons’ own genetics, their development will be shaped by the genetics of significant others. We demonstrate this here for effects of parents’ genetics on children’s outcomes, but this observation likely extends beyond parents to everyone who creates environments inhabited by people: family members; individuals residing outside the family context, such as peers and partners (Conley et al., 2016; Domingue et al., 2018); even people to whom a child may be exposed to only indirectly, such as the grandparents who raised a child’s parents (Hällsten & Pfeffer, 2017; Kong et al., 2018; Liu, 2018). The existence of a “social genome” broadens the scope of the study of genetics, from an individual’s genes and their effects on an individual’s phenotype, to the genomes of the individuals making up an individual’s social context (Domingue & Belsky, 2017). Second, much has been written about the need to integrate genetics into parenting research and socialization theory, but there is also a need to integrate environments into how we think about and collect genetic data. Correlations between genes and environments are a challenge not only for socialization research, but also for genetics research: Although DNA sequence cannot be modified by the environment, our findings show that environments still pose a threat to causal inference, because associations between a person’s DNA and developmental outcomes may partly reflect effects of environments created through genes of other individuals (Bates et al., 2018; Kong et al., 2018). As much as genetic confounding needs to be considered when estimating environmental effects, “environmental confounding” needs to be taken into account when estimating genetic effects (Krapohl et al., 2017; Young et al., 2018). Third, environments are part of the pathway from genotype to phenotype (Kandler & Zapko‐Willmes, 2017; Scarr & McCartney, 1983). Specifically, we found that genetic influences on children’s educational attainment partly manifested through parenting; an environmentally mediated genetic effect. The finding shows that new GWAS discoveries are not inimical to socialization theories, because these genetics partly work through factors that socialization researchers have studied for decades, such as the home environment. Combining genetic data with measures of individuals’ social environments is key to tracing how genetics affect life outcomes. By joining forces in this way, genetics and socialization researchers will be able to strengthen causal estimates and obtain a more complete understanding of the processes shaping children’s attainments.

Mexican Cartel Wars Fight for the Opioid U.S Market: Homicide rates increase along with the number of active cartels per municipality, with higher increases when a second, third, fourth and fifth cartel become active

Mexican Cartel Wars: Fighting for the Opioid U.S. Market. Fernanda Sobrino. October 25, 2019.

Abstract: The number of major Drug Trafficking Organizations in Mexico increased fromfour to nine over the last two decades. This was accompanied by an increase in drugtrade related violence. This paper examines the relationship between competition and violence in illegal drug markets. In particular, I exploit an external demand shock to the heroin market. The 2010 OxyContin reformulation made the pill harder to abuse and led some opioid abusers to switch to heroin. I construct a novel data set of cartel presence across Mexican municipalities by scraping Google News and using natural language processing. I exploit within municipality variation by combining agro-climatic conditions to grow opium poppy with heroin prices in the United States across time. Event study estimates suggest that cartel presence increases substantially after 2010 in municipalities well suited to grow opium poppy. Homicide rates increase along with the number of active cartels per municipality, with higher increases when a second, third, fourth and fifth cartel become active in the territory. These results suggest that some of the increase in violence that Mexico experienced in the last fifteen years could be attribute to criminal groups fighting for market shares of heroin and not only to changes in government enforcement.

Postnatal depressive symptoms in women display marked similarities across continents

Postnatal depressive symptoms display marked similarities across continents. Rikke Wesselhoeft et al. Journal of Affective Disorders, Volume 261, 15 January 2020, Pages 58-66.

•    This is the first study to examine postnatal depressive symptoms in women from three continents.
•    There is a cross-continental consistency of postnatal depressive symptoms that contain three factors: anhedonia, anxiety and depression.
•    Postnatal depressive symptoms are associated with low education level across continents.

Background: Postnatal depressive symptoms measured by the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) are reported to display measurement variance regarding factor structure and the frequency of specific depressive symptoms. However, postnatal depressive symptoms measured by EPDS have not been compared between women representing three continents.

Methods: A cross-sectional study including birth cohort samples from Denmark, Vietnam and Tanzania. Women were included during pregnancy at routine care sites. Depressive symptoms were self-reported 40–90 days postpartum using the EPDS. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses and generalized additive regression models were performed.

Results: A total of N = 4,516 participated in the study (Denmark N = 2,069, Vietnam N = 1,278, Tanzania N = 1,169). Factor analyses identified three factors (anhedonia, anxiety and depression) that were almost identical in the three study populations. The only variation between countries was that the item ‘self-harm’ loaded differently. Women from Tanzania and Denmark were more likely to have an EPDS total score above cut-off 12 (12.6% and 6.4%), compared to women from Vietnam (1.9%) (p<0.001). A low level of education was associated with significantly more depressive symptoms after adjusting for country (p<0.001).

Limitations: EPDS data was collected at a later time point in the Danish sample.

Conclusions: Postnatal depressive symptoms constitute a three-factor model across cultures including the factors anhedonia, anxiety and depression. The frequency of postnatal depressive symptoms differs between high-, medium-, and low-income countries. However, clinicians should bear in mind that low-educated women worldwide are more likely to experience postnatal depressive symptoms.

Significant correlations were found between social comparisons made on SNS (i.e., general and upward comparisons) & depression; social comparisons were more strongly related to depression than was time spent there

Is social network site usage related to depression? A meta-analysis of Facebook–depression relations. Sunkyung Yoon et al. Journal of Affective Disorders, Volume 248, 1 April 2019, Pages 65-72.

•    Significant correlations between SNS-usage variables (i.e., time spent on social networking sites (SNS) and SNS checking frequency) and depression were found.
•    Significant correlations were found between social comparisons made on SNS (i.e., general and upward comparisons) and depression was found.
•    Social comparisons on SNS were more strongly related to depression than was time spent on SNS.

Background: Facebook depression is defined as feeling depressed upon too much exposure to Social networking sites (SNS). Researchers have argued that upward social comparisons made on SNS are the key to the Facebook depression phenomenon. To examine the relations between SNS usage and depression, we conducted 4 separate meta-analyses relating depression to: (1) time spent on SNS, (2) SNS checking frequency, (3) general and (4) upward social comparisons on SNS. We compared the four mean effect sizes in terms of magnitude.

Methods: Our literature search yielded 33 articles with a sample of 15,881 for time spent on SNS, 12 articles with a sample of 8041 for SNS checking frequency, and 5 articles with a sample of 1715 and 2298 for the general and the upward social comparison analyses, respectively.

Results: In both SNS-usage analyses, greater time spent on SNS and frequency of checking SNS were associated with higher levels of depression with a small effect size. Further, higher levels of depression were associated with greater general social comparisons on SNS with a small to medium effect, and greater upward social comparisons on SNS with a medium effect. Both social comparisons on SNS were more strongly related to depression than was time spent on SNS.

Limitations: Limitations include heterogeneity in effect sizes and a small number of samples for social comparison analyses.

Conclusions: Our results are consistent with the notion of ‘Facebook depression phenomenon’ and with the theoretical importance of social comparisons as an explanation.

Costly signaling: The historical and cultural popularity of tattooing may be partly due to honest information tattoos convey about enhanced immune response, similar to physical benefits of exercise

The evolutionary adaptation of body art: Tattooing as costly honest signaling of enhanced immune response in American Samoa. Christopher D. Lynn et al. American Journal of Human Biology, October 26 2019.

Background: Tattooing has been practiced globally for thousands of years. From an evolutionary perspective, this tradition seems counterintuitive because it is a dermal injury that risks infection. Previous research indicates tattooing may habituate the immune system for subsequent stress, as with exercise or vaccination, an important benefit in high‐risk areas. Visible injuries through tattooing may be a form of costly honest signaling—consciously or unconsciously drawing attention to immunological quality.

Objectives: We tested this habituation effect of tattooing in American Samoa, where its practice is common and extensive and infectious disease rates high. We hypothesized that people with more tattoo experience would have enhanced immune response related to the stress of being tattooed. We compared total and rate of tattoo experience to determine if tattooing is more analogous to exercise or vaccination.

Methods: We measured secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA), cortisol, C‐reactive protein (CRP), and tattoo experience in 25 adults receiving tattoos. We compared post‐tattoo SIgA to total and rate of tattoo experience using analyses of covariance, controlling for pre‐tattoo SIgA, tattoo duration, age, marital status, and stress and baseline health (cortisol, CRP, body mass index, and cigarette use).

Results: Post‐tattoo SIgA positively correlated with total tattoo experience (P < .05). Furthermore, when dichotomized by experience, participants with low tattoo experience showed little to no stress‐related immune change, whereas high‐experience participants exhibited elevated SIgA, suggesting habituation to repeated tattooing.

Conclusions: The historical and cultural popularity of tattooing may be partly due to honest information tattoos convey about adaptive biology, similar to physical benefits of exercise.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

People with disabilities were just as participatory, if not more so, & reported being even more interested in politics than those without disabilities

Patterns and Mechanisms of Political Participation among People with Disabilities. Sierra Powell ; April A. Johnson . J Health Polit Policy Law (2019) 44 (3): 381-422, June 1 2019.

Context: Previous research has shown that Americans with disabilities turn out to vote at significantly lower levels than people without disabilities, even after accounting for demographic and other situational factors related to political involvement. The authors examined the potential mechanisms underlying their low turnout. They asked whether people with disabilities exhibit participatory attitudes and behaviors at levels commensurate with their other individual-level characteristics.
Methods: The present study conducted descriptive and predictive analyses on data from the 2012 and 2016 American National Election Studies.
Findings: Despite low levels of turnout in recent elections, people with disabilities were just as participatory, if not more so, when considering alternative forms of political engagement. The authors' analyses indicate that, while disability status had no bearing on political efficacy or partisan strength, those with disabilities reported being even more interested in politics than those without disabilities. Evidence is provided that depressed turnout rates among those with disabilities may be due in part to lower levels of attentiveness to the news, political knowledge, and negative perceptions of government.
Conclusions: The psychological impacts and behavioral consequences that emerge from possessing a disability and the broader role of disability in the American political context are multifaceted. This area of research would benefit from future studies that examine a variety of electoral contexts.

Keywords: disability, voting, political participation, political psychology, American National Election Study

Any “radicalization” that occurs on YouTube happens according to the standard model of persuasion: People adopt new beliefs about the world by combining their prior beliefs with new information

A Supply and Demand Framework for YouTube Politics. Kevin Munger & Joseph Phillips. Penn State Political Science, October 1, 2019.

Abstract: Youtube is the most used social network in the United States. However, for a combination of sociological and technical reasons, there exist little quantitative social science research on the political content on Youtube, in spite of widespread concern about the growth of extremist YouTube content. An emerging journalistic consensus theorizes the central role played by the video "recommendation engine," but we believe that this is premature. Instead, we propose the "Supply and Demand" framework for analyzing politics on YouTube. We discuss a number of novel technological affordances of YouTube as a platform and as a collection of videos, and how each might drive supply of or demand for extreme content. We then provide large-scale longitudinal descriptive information about the supply of and demand for alternative political content on YouTube. We demonstrate that viewership of far-right videos peaked in 2017.

2 The “Zombie Bite” Theory of YouTube
Beginning with Bridle (2017)’s viral essay about horrifying content auto-recommended to children and extended to the realm of adult politics with journalistic enterprises like Nicas (2018) and Tufekci (2018), a single narrative has emerged: YouTube audiences are at risk of far-right radicalization and this is because the YouTube algorithm that was designed to maximize the company’s profits via increased audience time on the platform has learned to show people far-right videos.6

A working paper published online by Ribeiro et al. (2019) in August 2019 is by far the most rigorous and comprehensive analysis of YouTube radicalization to date. They find compelling evidence of commenter overlap between videos uploaded by the three ideological communities: the “Alt-Lite,” the “Intellectual Dark Web,” and the “Alt-Right” (we discuss this typology and propose an alternative typology below). The paper demonstrates that many of the commenters on “Alt-Right” videos had previously commented on videos from the other camps. This is valuable descriptive information, and it enables the scholarly community to better theorize about causal relationships of interest. However, this is not itself evidence in favor of any given theory of the underlying causal process that explains Alt-Right viewership.

Ribeiro et al. (2019)’s conclusion admits as much: “Our work resonates with the narrative that there is a radicalization pipeline...Indeed, we manage to measure traces of this phenomenon using commenting users.”

The status of the “radicalization pipeline” is indeed best characterized as a “narrative,” rather than a theory. The chronological fact of people watching and commenting on Alt-Lite videos before moving onto Alt-Right videos is undeniable. But what model of the world does this call into question? Presented with the descriptive fact of “AltRight” creators with sizeable audiences on YouTube, did any theorize the existence of some kind of ideological discontinuity in the media that audience had previously consumed?

Indeed, the most plausible mechanism by which a viewership discontinuity might occur is the recommendation engine. But despite considerable energy, Ribeiro et al. (2019) fail to demonstrate that the algorithm has a noteworthy effect on the audience for Alt-Right content. A random walk algorithm beginning at an Alt-Lite video and taking 5 steps randomly selecting one of the ten recommended videos will only be recommended a video from the Alt-Right approximately one out every 1,700 trips. For a random walker beginning at a “control” video from the mainstream media, the probability is so small that it is difficult to see on the graph, but it is certainly no more common than one out of every 10,000 trips.7

In short, the best quantitative evidence available demonstrates that any “radicalization” that occurs on YouTube happens according to the standard model of persuasion: people adopt new beliefs about the world by combining their prior beliefs with new information (Guess and Coppock, 2018). People select information about topics that interest them; if political, they prefer information that is at least some what congenial to their prior beliefs (Stroud, 2017). Persuasion happens at the margins when it does happen.

The “Zombie Bite” theory is, of course, something of a straw man; no one has fully articulated and defended it. [...]

People Become More Conservative as They Age Less Frequently Than Believed; but when attitudes do shift across the lifespan, liberals are more likely to become conservatives than the opposite

Do People Really Become More Conservative as They Age? Johnathan C. Peterson, Kevin B. Smith, and John R. Hibbing. The Journal of Politics, Oct 27 2019.

Abstract: Folk wisdom has long held that people become more politically conservative as they grow older, though several empirical studies suggest political attitudes are stable across time. Utilizing data from the Michigan Youth-Parent Socialization Panel study, we analyze attitudinal change over a major portion of the adult lifespan. We document changes in party identification, self-reported ideology, and selected issue positions over this time period and place these changes in context by comparing them with contemporaneous national averages. Consistent with previous research but contrary to folk wisdom, our results indicate that political attitudes are remarkably stable over the long-term. In contrast to previous research, however, we also find support for folk wisdom: On those occasions when political attitudes do shift across the lifespan, liberals are more likely to become conservatives than conservatives are to become liberals, suggesting that folk wisdom has some empirical basis even as it overstates the degree of change.

Keywords: attitude change, liberals, conservatives, ideology, socialization

Woman’s status brand displays: Materialistic men interpret women’s conspicuous consumption as high financial mating standards & are socially deterred by women’s such consumption

Setting the bar: The influence of women’s conspicuous display on men’s affiliative behavior. Jill M.Sundie et al. Journal of Business Research, October 21 2019.

• Materialistic people pay differential attention to a woman’s status brand displays.
• Materialistic men report relying differentially on resources and status to attract women.
• Materialistic men interpret women’s conspicuous consumption as high financial mating standards.
• Materialistic men are socially deterred by women’s conspicuous consumption.
• Materialistic women are not socially deterred by a woman’s conspicuous consumption.

Abstract: Four studies provide evidence for a process by which a woman’s conspicuous consumption can serve as a deterrent to affiliative behaviors by materialistic men, via heightened perceptions of the woman’s financial standards for a romantic partner. Materialistic men report utilizing status and resources to attract women more than non-materialistic men. Materialistic men may therefore utilize information about a woman’s status-linked displays to better calibrate their financially-oriented mating efforts. Differential attention to more subtle displays of a woman’s luxury branded items appears to drive materialistic men’s disinterest in social interaction with a woman who conspicuously consumes. A woman’s conspicuous consumption causes materialistic men to rate a real interaction with that woman less favorably. For women, the opposite is observed, with non-materialistic women reacting more negatively to the interaction.

Keywords: MaterialismStatus consumptionConspicuous consumptionMatingSignaling

Economist trying to model optimal choosing, under- and over-reaction, mental accounting, rational inattention, etc., under cognitive constraints

A Theory of Narrow Thinking. Chen Lian. MIT, May 24, 2019.

Abstract: I develop an approach, which I term narrow thinking, to break the decision-maker’s ability to perfectly coordinate her multiple decisions. For a narrow thinker, different decisions are based on different, non-nested, information. The narrow thinker then makes each decision with an imperfect understanding of the others. Formally, it is as if the decision-maker is a collection of multiple selves playing an incomplete-information game. The friction effectively attenuates the degree of interaction across decisions and can translate into either over- or under-reaction depending on the environment. Narrow thinking leads to a violation of the fungibility principle and a smooth model of mental accounting. Narrow thinking also reconciles other seemingly disparate phenomena ina unified framework, suchas excess smoothness to taste shocks, the small wage elasticity of daily labor supply, and the label effect. Finally, I study an endogenous narrow thinking problem: the decision maker chooses optimally what information each decision is based upon, subject to a cognitive constraint.

Keywords: boundedrationality,narrowbracketing,incompleteinformation,multipleselves, mental accounting

7 Conclusion
Each decision maker faces multiple economic decisions, and makes these decisions separately. Nevertheless, in standard modeling practice, we implicitly assume perfect self-coordination among all these decisions. It is as if the decision maker determines all her decisions together. In this paper, I try to break such perfection. I develop an approach, narrow thinking, to capture the decision maker’s difficulty in coordinating her multiple decisions. The notion of narrow thinking is that differentdecisionsarebasedondifferent, non-nested, information. This notion is motivated by the psychological observation that the decision maker may not incorporate all the relevant information when making each decision. Under narrow thinking, each decision of the decision maker is made with an imperfect understanding of other decisions. In response to shocks to the fundamental, it is as if each decision is made caring less about the influence of other decisions. I then show how narrow thinking can provide a unified explanation to seemingly disparate behavioral phenomena, including both under-reaction and over-reaction. A general principle is: when the indirect effect works in the same direction as the direct effect, narrow thinking leads to under-reaction; when the indirect effect works in the opposite direction to the direct effect, a dampening of the indirect effect under narrow thinking leads to over-reaction. Finally, let me outline two potential avenues for future research. A first possibility is to explore the general equilibrium implications of narrow thinking. A second possibility is to conduct an experimental test of narrow thinking, along the line of the potential experiment I discussed at the end of Section 3.

1.1 Related Literature
This paper builds on, and adds to, the growing literature on rational inattention (Sims, 2003; Mackowiak and Wiederholt, 2009; Matejka, 2015, 2016; Matejka and McKay, 2015; Koszegi and Matejka, 2018)3 and sparsity (Gabaix, 2014, 2017). There, the key friction is the decision maker’s imperfect perception of the fundamental, while the decision maker perfectly knows her other decisions when making a particular decision. On the other hand, the narrow thinking approach lets different decisions be based on different, non-nested, information and captures the friction that each decision can be made with an imperfect understanding of other decisions. As the decision problem under narrow thinking is equivalent to multiple selves playing an incomplete information game, the paper also builds upon the literature on incomplete information “beauty contests” (Morris and Shin, 2002; Angeletos and Pavan, 2007; Bergemann and Morris, 2013). This literature studies linear best-response games under incomplete information. A key insightfromtheliteratureisthatincompleteinformationcanattenuatetheequilibriuminteraction (Angeletos and Lian, 2016, 2018; Bergemann, Heumann and Morris, 2017). In these works, the behavior of each individual is frictionless and the focus is on inter-personal coordination friction and macroeconomic applications. The current paper, on the other hand, focuses on intra-personal friction in coordinating a decision maker’s multiple decisions and behavioral applications. This change of focus permits me to build a bridge between the incomplete information literature and the bounded rationality literature. The paper then shows how such intra-personal frictions can deliver a novel theory to reconcile seemingly disparate behavioral phenomena. By viewing the decision maker as a team of multiple selves, the paper also connects to the literature on multiple-selves and team theory. The multiple-selves literature (Piccione and Rubinstein, 1997; Benabou and Tirole, 2002, 2003, 2004; Gottlieb, 2014, 2017) uses environments in which multiple selves have conflicted interests to model motivated beliefs and reasoning, and explores reasons why the decision maker’s beliefs and behavior can be systematically biased. The multiple selves of the narrow thinker, on the other hand, have common interests, and the focus of the current paper is about frictional behavior in response to shocks. Narrow thinking does not necessarily lead to systematical bias on average. The team theory literature (Marschak and Radner, 1972; Dessein, Galeotti and Santos, 2016), on the other hand, mostly focuses on optimal information design in an organization. Angeletos and Pavan (2007) develop a method to use team theory to find the constrained efficient allocation in an economy with dispersed information. Angeletos and Pavan (2009), Lorenzoni (2010) and Angeletos and La’O (2018) then use the method to characterize optimal policy with informational frictions. Multiple cognitive frictions can let different decisions be made based on different, non-nested, information. For example, Gennaioli and Shleifer (2010), Kahana (2012), Wilson (2014), Bordalo, Gennaioli and Shleifer (2017) and Jehiel and Steiner (2018) on bounded recall, and Tversky and Kahneman(1973)andKahneman(2011)onheuristics,biases,andselectiveretrievalfrommemory. These works therefore provide complementarity justification for the kind of frictions that define narrow thinking. Gennaioli and Shleifer (2010) use the term “local thinker” to describe a decision maker whose bounded recall follows the representativeness heuristic, and study the implication for single-decision problems. The current paper, on the other hand, focuses on the decision maker’s difficulty in coordinating her multiple decisions. On the applied side, narrow thinking provides a unified framework to explain different behavioral phenomena. Depending on the environment, narrow thinking can translate into either over- or under-reaction. Applications studied in the paper connect to the literature on narrow bracketing (Rabin and Weizsacker, 2009), mental accounting (Thaler, 1985, 1999; Heath and Soll, 1996; Hastings and Shapiro, 2013; Abeler and Marklein, 2016), excessive sensitivity to temporary income shock (Parker et al., 2013; Kueng, 2018), the small cross-price demand elasticity (Gabaix and Laibson, 2006; Abaluck and Gruber, 2011, 2016; Allcott and Taubinsky, 2015) and the small wage elasticity of daily labor supply (Camerer et al., 1997; Farber, 2015; Thakral and To, 2017). For each application, narrow thinking’s distinct economic implications and testable predictions will be discussed. Koszegi and Matejka (2018) is a recent, complementary, paper that shares the focus on an information-based theory of mental accounting. That paper stays within the rational inattention paradigm, and different decisions are based on the same, imperfect, information.

Does Childhood Religiosity Delay Death? Only for those confined to those who downgraded their religiosity

Does Childhood Religiosity Delay Death? Laura Upenieks, Markus H. Schafer, Andreea Mogosanu. Journal of Religion and Health, October 25 2019.

Abstract: This study explores the potential long-term health effects of religiosity in the childhood home. Analyses use retrospective childhood data from the MIDUS survey linked to National Death Index records from 1995 to 2014. Findings from Cox proportional hazard models suggest that children brought up in highly religious households have a higher risk of mortality than those socialized in more moderately religious households, this despite such individuals having better overall health profiles. The surprising link between high childhood religiosity and mortality was confined to those who downgraded their religiosity. Those who intensified from moderate to high religiosity, in fact, seemed to be most protected. We call for future research to more clearly specify the intervening mechanisms linking childhood religion with adult health and mortality over the life course.

Keywords: Religiosity Socialization Health behaviors Life course Mortality

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Why does the mind wander? Maybe when the agent’s current goal is deemed insufficiently rewarding, the cognitive control system initiates a search for a new, more rewarding goal

Why does the mind wander? Joshua Shepherd. Neuroscience of Consciousness, Volume 2019, Issue 1, October 22 2019, niz014,

. Makes a novel and empirically tractable proposal regarding why the mind wanders
. Offers novel explanations of data on mind wandering
. Offers predictions for future work on mind wandering
. Integrates literature on cognitive control with the literature on mind wandering
. Discusses implications for a philosophical account of the nature of mind wandering

Abstract: I seek an explanation for the etiology and the function of mind wandering episodes. My proposal—which I call the cognitive control proposal—is that mind wandering is a form of non-conscious guidance due to cognitive control. When the agent’s current goal is deemed insufficiently rewarding, the cognitive control system initiates a search for a new, more rewarding goal. This search is the process of unintentional mind wandering. After developing the proposal, and relating it to the literature on mind wandering and on cognitive control, I discuss explanations the proposal affords, testable predictions the proposal makes, and philosophical implications the proposal has.


The cognitive control proposal makes predictions. Confirmation of these would be good news; disconfirmation would be bad news.
First, given the explanation offered for the initiation of mind wandering episodes, the proposal predicts that increases in reward for satisfying an occurrent goal would correlate with decreases in propensity to mind wander. It is well-confirmed that increasing reward leads to boosts in performance level, and to overcoming any purported “ego-depletion,” even for very boring tasks. Paradigms that have established this result could be used to test for the place of mind wandering in the behavioral data.
Second, the proposal predicts that increases in reward for non-occurrent goals the agent possesses would increase mind wandering. We have already seen that reminding agents of goals they possess, or of goals they will soon need to attempt to satisfy, leads to more mind wandering in the direction of these goals. The prediction here is more specific. If one were to, e.g., notify participants that they were soon to perform a task associated with some level of reward, and then to put participants through a low reward task, the prediction is that tendency to mind wander towards this task would be associated with the discrepancy in reward between the current and upcoming task.
Third, this proposal draws upon a view of the cognitive control system on which the learning of values associated with goals, and the learning of values associated with stimuli features predictive of goals, is crucial. So the proposal, plus plausible assumptions about reinforcement learning processes, predicts that it is possible to train participants to associate stimuli with certain goals, and that registration of such stimuli would generate mind wandering to the degree that the associated goal is rewarding. Very costly goals would produce little mind wandering. Cheap but rewarding goals would produce more.
And it may be possible to extend this result. It depends on what the agent associates with rewarding goals. Above I suggested that the system need not always compare value between explicit goals, and that the value computation might include an association between expected levels of reward and particular environments. If so, simply placing an agent in such environments would manipulate levels of unintentional mind wandering.
It may be useful to distinguish predictions this proposal makes from a related proposal: the current concerns hypothesis. The current concerns hypothesis (for which, see Klinger et al. 1973; Smallwood and Schooler 2006) has it that mind wandering is caused by a shift in salience—when one’s current goals (or concerns: here I use these terms interchangeably), become more salient than the external environment, one’s mind begins to wander. As Smallwood explains the view, “attention will be most likely to shift to self-generated material when such information offers larger incentive value than does the information in the external environment” (2013, 524). This proposal is distinct from mine in the following ways. First, I propose a specific mechanism, connected with recent modeling work in cognitive control, to explain the onset of mind wandering. Thus far, of course, the proposal can be seen as a specification of the current concerns hypothesis. Second, this mechanism initiates mind wandering not by turning attention to one’s current concerns, but by directed thought to search for a more valuable goal than the present one. So the cognitive control proposal makes predictions the current concerns hypothesis does not. For example, the cognitive control proposal predicts that propensity to mind wander could be increased by devaluing the present goal, independently of the salience of any of one’s current goals. That is, no matter how much one’s current goals or concerns lack salience, once could increase mind wandering by devaluing the occurrent goal. And it predicts that mind wandering will not turn directly to one’s other goals—the mind may wander to the environment, rather than to internal concerns, since this is one way the agent may attempt to find a more rewarding task. So we should, e.g., be able to find episodes of more intense environmental scanning as a part of the mind wandering episode. Indeed, if the environment is expected to contain valuable options, one would predict that this is where attention will go, rather than to any internal space of concerns.
This is not to deny that mind wandering represents a failure in some sense. McVay and Kane (2010b) have argued that mind wandering represents an executive control failure. What fails is a process of goal maintenance: “we suggest that goal maintenance is often hijacked by task-unrelated thought (TUT), resulting in both the subjective experience of mind wandering and habit-based errors” (324). The possibility I am raising is that failures of goal-maintenance could in another sense be successes of a different process. Indeed, perhaps processes of goal-maintenance are closely related to the value-based process of estimating the expected value of continuing on some task, or of searching for a new task, that I propose underlies unintentional mind wandering.
In sum, the proposal is plausible on its face. If correct, it promises to explain a range of data regarding mind wandering, and to explain the—from the agent’s conscious perspective very puzzling—initiation of mind wandering episodes. The proposal may also contribute to explanations of the dynamics of mind wandering. The predictions this proposal makes are testable, and work in this direction might take steps towards further integrating knowledge of how cognitive control works with knowledge of how mind wandering works.