Saturday, January 26, 2019

Theories of God: Explanatory coherence in religious cognition

Theories of God: Explanatory coherence in religious cognition. Andrew Shtulman, Max Rattner. PLOS, December 26, 2018.

Abstract: Representations of God in art, literature, and discourse range from the highly anthropomorphic to the highly abstract. The present study explored whether people who endorse anthropomorphic God concepts hold different religious beliefs and engage in different religious practices than those who endorse abstract concepts. Adults of various religious affiliations (n = 275) completed a questionnaire that probed their beliefs about God, angels, Satan, Heaven, Hell, cosmogenesis, anthropogenesis, human suffering, and human misdeeds, as well as their experiences regarding prayer, worship, and religious development. Responses to the questionnaire were analyzed by how strongly participants anthropomorphized God in a property-attribution task. Overall, the more participants anthropomorphized God, the more concretely they interpreted religious ideas, importing their understanding of human affairs into their understanding of divine affairs. These findings suggest not only that individuals vary greatly in how they interpret the same religious ideas but also that those interpretations cohere along a concrete-to-abstract dimension, anchored on the concrete side by our everyday notions of people.

Testosterone doesn't impair mens' cognitive empathy: Evidence from two large-scale randomized controlled trials

Does testosterone impair mens' cognitive empathy? Evidence from two large-scale randomized controlled trials. Amos Nadler, David Zava, Triana Ortiz, Neil Watson, Justin Carre, Colin Camerer, Gideon Nave. bioRxiv 516344,

Abstract: The capacity to infer the mental states of others (known as cognitive empathy) is essential for social interactions, and a well-known theory proposes that it is negatively affected by intrauterine testosterone exposure. Furthermore, previous studies reported that testosterone administration impaired cognitive empathy in healthy adults, and that a biomarker of prenatal testosterone exposure (finger digit ratios) moderated the effect. However, empirical support for the relationship has relied on small-sample studies with mixed evidence. We investigate the reliability and generalizability of the relationship in two large-scale double-blind placebo-controlled experiments in young men (N=243 and N=400), using two different testosterone administration protocols. We find no evidence that cognitive empathy is impaired by testosterone administration or associated with digit ratios. With an unprecedented combined sample size, these results counter current theories and previous high-profile reports, and demonstrate that previous investigations of this topic have been statistically underpowered.

Penis size over-reporting is more prevalent among experienced college men than in less experienced ones; may be due to a greater sense of masculinity & sexual competence and prowess by experienced men

Social Desirability and Young Men’s Self-Reports of Penis Size. Bruce M. King, Lauren M. Duncan, Kelley M. Clinkenbeard, Morgan B. Rutland & Kelly M. Ryan. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy,

Abstract: Previous studies demonstrate that many men have insecurities about the size of their penises, often resulting in low sexual self-esteem and sexual problems. In the present study, mean self-reported erect penis length by 130 sexually experienced college men (6.62 inches) was greater than found in previous studies in which researchers took measurements. This suggests that many of the men embellished their responses. Only 26.9% of the sexually experienced men self-reported penis lengths of less than 6 inches, while 30.8% self-reported lengths of 7 inches or more (with 10% self-reporting 8 inches or more). The correlation with Marlowe–Crowne social desirability scores was +.257 (p < .01), indicating that men with a high level of social desirability were more likely than others to self-report having a large penis.

The difference between sexually experienced and inexperienced men for self-reported penis size has not previously been reported but suggests that over-reporting is more prevalent among experienced men, thus accounting for the stronger correlation in that group. We speculate that the difference between the two groups is due to a greater sense of masculinity and sexual competence and prowess by experienced men.

Women high on narcissism were more likely to engage in blatant lying, machiavellianism predicted blatant lying & lying to avoid confrontation; primary & secondary psychopathy predicted self-serving deception

Dark triad traits and women's use of sexual deception. Gayle Brewer, Demi De  Griffa, Ezgi Uzun. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 142, 1 May 2019, Pages 42-44.

•    Dark Triad traits independently predict women's use of sexual deception.
•    Women high on narcissism were more likely to engage in blatant lying.
•    Machiavellianism predicted blatant lying and lying to avoid confrontation.
•    Primary and secondary psychopathy each predicted the use of self-serving deception.

Abstract: Dark Triad traits are related but distinct personality traits (narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy) characterised by emotional coldness, exploitation, and a lack of empathy. Previous research investigates Dark Triad traits in relation to sexual behaviour and the use of deception in mating contexts. Few studies have, however, considered the types of sexual deception performed by those high on Dark Triad traits. In the present study, heterosexual women (N = 217) aged 18–59 years completed a series of online questionnaires assessing Dark Triad traits (narcissism, Machiavellianism, primary and secondary psychopathy) and sexual deception (blatant lying, self-serving deception, and avoiding confrontation). Multiple regression analyses indicate that Dark Triad traits are associated with each form of sexual deception investigated. Women high on narcissism were more likely to engage in blatant lying whilst Machiavellianism was associated with greater use of blatant lying and lying to avoid confrontation. Primary and secondary psychopathies were each associated with self-serving deception. Future studies should consider Dark Triad traits in relation to the effectiveness of each form of deception employed.

Unlearning implicit racial and gender biases during sleep: A failure to replicate Hu et al. (2015)

Unlearning implicit social biases during sleep: A failure to replicate. Graelyn B. Humiston, Erin J. Wamsley. PLOS January 25, 2019.

Abstract: A 2015 article in Science (Hu et al.) proposed a new way to reduce implicit racial and gender biases during sleep. The method built on an existing counter-stereotype training procedure, using targeted memory reactivation to strengthen counter-stereotype memory by playing cues associated with the training during a 90min nap. If effective, this procedure would have potential real-world usefulness in reducing implicit biases and their myriad effects. We replicated this procedure on a sample of n = 31 college students. Contrary to the results reported by Hu et al., we found no effect of cueing on implicit bias, either immediately following the nap or one week later. In fact, bias was non-significantly greater for cued than for uncued stimuli. Our failure to detect an effect of cueing on implicit bias could indicate either that the original report was a false positive, or that the current study is a false negative. However, several factors argue against Type II error in the current study. Critically, this replication was powered at 0.9 for detecting the originally reported cueing effect. Additionally, the 95% confidence interval for the cueing effect in the present study did not overlap with that of the originally reported effect; therefore, our observations are not easily explained as a noisy estimate of the same underlying effect. Ultimately, the outcome of this replication study reduces our confidence that cueing during sleep can reduce implicit bias.