Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Why thinking over & over about something leads to ever more thoughts about it: Future voluntary imagery can be decoded from activity patterns in the brain up to 11 secs before engaging in voluntary imagery

Decoding the contents and strength of imagery before volitional engagement. Roger Koenig-Robert & Joel Pearson. Scientific Reports, volume 9, Article number: 3504 (2019). https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-39813-y

Abstract: Is it possible to predict the freely chosen content of voluntary imagery from prior neural signals? Here we show that the content and strength of future voluntary imagery can be decoded from activity patterns in visual and frontal areas well before participants engage in voluntary imagery. Participants freely chose which of two images to imagine. Using functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) and multi-voxel pattern analysis, we decoded imagery content as far as 11 seconds before the voluntary decision, in visual, frontal and subcortical areas. Decoding in visual areas in addition to perception-imagery generalization suggested that predictive patterns correspond to visual representations. Importantly, activity patterns in the primary visual cortex (V1) from before the decision, predicted future imagery vividness. Our results suggest that the contents and strength of mental imagery are influenced by sensory-like neural representations that emerge spontaneously before volition.



Introduction

A large amount of psychology and, more recently, neuroscience has been dedicated to examining the origins, dynamics and categories of thoughts1,2,3. Sometimes, thoughts feel spontaneous and even surprising; while other times they feel effortful, controlled and goal oriented. When we decide to think about something, how much of that thought is biased by pre-existent neural activity? Mental imagery, a sensory thought, can be triggered voluntarily or involuntarily4. However, how much of the content and strength of our mental images we actually control when we voluntarily generate imagery remains unknown. For example, individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) report a complete lack of control of both the content and strength of their mental imagery5. While evidence suggests that imagery strength varies both between and within individuals in the normal population5,6. Previous research has shown that prefrontal activity can predict future decisions7,8,9,10, and nonconscious sensory activity11, and that mental images can be decoded from early visual cortex12,13. However, it remains unknown whether nonconscious sensory activity influences what we think and how strongly we think it.
To investigate the origins of the content and strength of voluntary imagery, we crafted a thought-based mental imagery decision task, in which individuals could freely decide what to imagine, while we recorded brain activation using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We used multi-voxel pattern analysis (MVPA, see Materials and Methods for details) to decode information contained in spatial patterns of brain activation recorded using fMRI14,15,16. Additionally, in an independent control experiment, we estimated the temporal reliability of the reported onset of thoughts, as it has been criticized in previous paradigms17. Using a design exploiting the known effect of imagery priming on subsequent binocular rivalry as a function of time18, we show that participants’ reports of thought onsets were indeed reliable within the temporal resolution of fMRI.
Models of determinants of decision making postulate that executive areas in the prefrontal cortex would trigger selection processes leading to future choices9,10,19. In addition to the executive areas involvement in future visual thoughts, we aimed to test whether predictive information could also be decoded from visual areas, as previous results have shown that visual imagery recruits visual areas12,13. To test this, we used both searchlight and visual (from V1 to V4) regions-of-interest (ROI) decoding. We also sought to determine the representational content of the predictive signals: is predictive information, to some extent, similar to perceptual visual representations? To assess this, we perceptually presented gratings outside of attention to participants in separate runs. Functional brain images from the perceptual blocks were then used to train classifiers, which were subsequently tested on imagery blocks both before and after the decision. This so called perception-imagery generalization cross decoding was thus used to show common informational content between visual perceptual representations and predictive signals. Finally, we tested whether the subjective strength of visual imagery could be decoded from information in visual areas before reported volition. Such an involvement of visual areas in the future strength of visual imagery would provide further evidence that sensory areas also play an important role in the phenomenology of future thoughts.
Using this paradigm, we found that activity patterns were predictive of mental imagery content as far back as 11 seconds before the voluntary decision of what to imagine –in visual, frontal and subcortical areas. Importantly, predictive patterns in the primary visual cortex (V1) and the lateral prefrontal cortex were similar to perceptual representations elicited by unattended images. We show that the subjective strength (vividness) of future mental imagery can be predicted from activation patterns contained in the primary visual cortex (V1) before a decision is made. Our results suggest that the contents and strength of mental imagery are influenced by sensory-like neural representations that emerge spontaneously before volition. These results are important as they point to a role of visual areas in the pre-volitional processes leading to visual thought production, thus shedding light on the mechanisms of intrusive mental imagery in conditions such as PTSD, as well as the origins of normal mental imagery.

Concluding remarks and future directions

Our current study can be seen as the first to capture the possible origins and contents of involuntary thoughts and how they progress into or bias subsequent voluntary imagery. This is compatible with the finding that the most prominent differences between low and high vividness trials are seen for the pre-imagery period in visual areas, especially the primary visual cortex, which can be interpreted as when one of the patterns is more strongly represented it will induce a more vivid subsequent volitional mental image. This is in line with reports showing that imagery vividness depends on the relative overlap of the patterns of activation elicited by visual perception and imagery45. Our results expand that finding by showing that the vividness of future visual thoughts is predicted by information stored in the primary visual cortex.
It is up to future research to reveal whether representations biasing subsequent voluntary imagery are genuinely non-conscious or not. This will not only shed light on age-old questions of volition, but also provide a clear mechanism for pathological intrusive thoughts common across multiple mental disorders.

Evidence of a pure collaboration effect, distinct from motivations of future reciprocity, in-group favouritism or concern for accountability

Experimental evidence for a pure collaboration effect. Mary C. McGrath & Alan S. Gerber. Nature Human Behaviour (2019), Feb 18 2019, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-019-0530-9

Abstract: What makes us willing to sacrifice our own self-interest for another person? Humans can forgo short-term individual gain to achieve long-term benefits1,2,3,4—but long-run self-interest cannot fully explain unselfish behaviour5. Collaboration in our evolutionary past may have played a role in shaping an innate human sense of distributive justice6, influencing who we consider deserving of our aid or generosity. Previous research has not been able to isolate this response to collaboration as an independent effect, distinct from other motivations to share7,8. Here we present evidence of a pure collaboration effect, distinct from motivations of future reciprocity, in-group favouritism or concern for accountability. We demonstrate this effect among adult subjects in an economic setting, showing that the effect constitutes a psychological phenomenon with relevance for real-world social and political behaviour. This collaboration effect is substantial: it motivates sharing among people otherwise inclined to share nothing and increases the proportion of participants willing to give up half of their allotted money. We find evidence supporting our hypothesis that the collaboration effect operates by creating a sense of debt owed to one’s collaborator.

Men significantly donated money or other items to panhandlers more often while in the presence of a woman, using this display of generosity and wealth to signal positive attributes to potential mates

Distribution of Resources to Panhandlers as a Male Display of Potential Mate Quality. Amy Webb & Maryanne L. Fisher. Human Ethology Bulletin, Volume 33, No 4, 28-36,  Dec 31, 2018. DOI:  https://doi.org/10.22330/heb/332/028-036

ABSTRACT: Evolutionary psychological theory predicts that because women generally prefer men with resources, men will display their generosity and wealth in order to gain positive attention from potential mates. Therefore, the goal of the current study was to examine men’s displays of generosity and wealth in the presence versus absence of women. We hypothesized that men would donate money or other items most often in the presence of women, compared to while walking alone or in the presence of other men. We performed observations along busy pedestrian streets in Atlantic Canada, and documented the frequency with which men stopped to provide money or items to those begging (“panhandling”) for resources. Our results supported our hypothesis, as men significantly donated money or other items more often while walking in the presence of a woman, as compared to any other condition. We propose that men are using this display of generosity and wealth to signal positive attributes to potential mates. This finding offers a new avenue in which to test theories regarding mate preferences in a natural setting.

Keywords: Mate preferences, Resources, Ethology, Mate quality, Observation.


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Human Ethology Bulletin 33(2018)4: 28-36
Research Article
DISTRIBUTION OF RESOURCES TO PANHANDLERS AS A
MALE DISPLAY OF POTENTIAL MATE QUALITY
Amy Webb1 & Maryanne L. Fisher2
1Human Sexuality Research Laboratory, School of Psychology, University of Ottawa, Canada
2Department of Psychology, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Canada
awebb069@uottawa.ca
ABSTRACT
Evolutionary psychological theory predicts that because women generally prefer men with
resources, men will display their generosity and wealth in order to gain positive attention from
potential mates. Therefore, the goal of the current study was to examine men’s displays of
generosity and wealth in the presence versus absence of women. We hypothesized that men
would donate money or other items most often in the presence of women, compared to while
walking alone or in the presence of other men. We performed observations along busy
pedestrian streets in Atlantic Canada, and documented the frequency with which men stopped
to provide money or items to those begging (“panhandling”) for resources. Our results
supported our hypothesis, as men significantly donated money or other items more often while
walking in the presence of a woman, as compared to any other condition. We propose that men
are using this display of generosity and wealth to signal positive attributes to potential mates.
This finding offers a new avenue in which to test theories regarding mate preferences in a
natural setting.
Keywords: Mate preferences, Resources, Ethology, Mate quality, Observation.
__________________________________________________________
Webb, A. & Fisher, M.L.: Distribution of Resources
Human Ethology Bulletin 33(2018)4: 28-36
INTRODUCTION
Sex differences in theories surrounding mate preferences indicate that women generally
prefer men with resources. One explanation for this preference stems from parental
investment theory. The evolution of anisogamy (i.e., sexual reproduction with unequal
size of gametes) leads to the possibility that women are the more investing sex because of
disproportionate costs related to their gametes, gestation, and postpartum childcare
(Trivers, 1972; but see also Fisher, Garcia, & Burch, in press, for a review of criticisms).
While men’s reproductive success is thought to be largely determined by their number of
copulations, women’s reproductive success relies on their investments of time and energy
during conception, gestation, and post-partum childcare (Campbell, 1999; Trivers,
1972). Women’s substantial parental investment causes them to have a deficit in securing
adequate resources for themselves and/or their children, leading them to theoretically
rely on men’s resources and efforts to aid with children. Past research indicates women
are typically much choosier than men when selecting a mate (e.g., Walters & Crawford,
1994), and overall, express a preference for men who can provide care, have the ability
and willingness to invest resources, and contribute support for both them and their
children (e.g., Buss 1989; Lu, Zhu, & Chang, 2015).
Sexual selection theory (Darwin, 1871) leads to the premise that to experience
reproductive success, individuals need to out perform potential rivals for mates while
also appearing the most appealing to members of the opposite sex. Therefore,
individuals may endeavor to appear the best, compared to others of the same sex, in the
hopes that they are selected for mating. The traits that lead to this evaluation by potential
mates are the same as those involved in mating competition (Andersson, 1994), which
leads to difficulties in trying to tease apart whether an individual is displaying a preferred
mating-relevant characteristic to court a potential mate or to win against rivals, or both.
Recent developments indicate that for men, intrasexual competition more than women’s
mate preferences seem to have a larger role in shaping physical dominance (Kordsmeyer,
Hunt, Puts, Ostner, & Penke, 2018). Either way, these individuals who are high on these
preferred traits have evolved a reproductive advantage (Buss & Schmitt, 1993).
Men significantly vary in the specific qualities that women find appealing,
particularly when being considered as a prospective long-term mate (Buss & Schmitt, in
press). In a long-term mating situation, men are more likely to provide food, find or
defend territories, feed and protect children, and perhaps provide opportunities for
status transfer, power, or other resources (Buss, 1989; Buss & Schmitt, 1993). Women
consider a number of observable cues to judge whether a man is a desirable long-term
mate (Buss & Schmitt, 1993). One of the most important signals of his mate quality is
his ability to distribute resources, or whether he possesses traits that indicate future
accrual of resources, such as ambition, industriousness, and being a hard worker (e.g.,
Buss, 1989).
Ultimately, women generally benefit if they are able to identify potential mates who
are both willing and able to invest resources to them and their children, given the
potential deficits they will face in accruing independent resources. It is highly important
for women to observe such cues as ambition, industry, income, status, and generosity, as
these characteristics are correlated with a man’s ability and willingness to invest (Buss &
Schmitt, 1993). Thus, the current study is an examination of whether men display
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generosity and wealth via sharing their resources while in the presence of women, if
given the opportunity.
We observed men’s interactions with individuals asking for money (hereon called
panhandlers). Panhandlers are people who publicly request money, food, or other
donations from people they do not know (Lee & Farrell, 2003), and most are not
homeless (Dordick et al., 2017). They exist universally, and have likely existed across all
of time (Verma, Bharti, & Singh, 2018). Across a range of locations (e.g., Brussels,
Toronto, Moscow, Shanghai, and London), panhandlers typically earn an average hourly
income comparable to minimum wage in that location (see Dordick et al., 2017, for a
review). Often, they request money or other items with little or nothing to give the
donor in return. Panhandlers typically situate themselves in locations of high public
traffic where money may be readily at hand, meaning that while most poor individuals
try to hide their poverty, panhandlers must flaunt it to be successful (Dordick et al.,
2017). Indeed, in locations such as downtown Manhattan, over 10,000 people are
thought to see a panhandler in one afternoon (Dordick et al., 2017).
The majority of panhandlers are men who have been forced into asking for money
because of one or more negative life events (e.g., illness, accident) (Lee & Farrell, 2003).
The majority of panhandlers are substance abusers and due to this, often also have
criminal records (Lee & Farrell, 2003). There is a stereotype that they may also be at
higher rates for violence or mental illness, although research does not support this belief
(Lee & Farrell, 2003; Tsai, Lee, Byrne, Pietrzak & Southwick, 2017). Compared to 1990,
recent national surveys about attitudes toward homeless individuals (including
panhandlers) shows that Americans endorse more support for this group and an increase
in compassion (Tsai, Lee, Byrne, Pietrzak & Southwick, 2017). At the same time, there
have been government movements to prohibit panhandling, which is counterproductive
to alleviating homelessness, possibly because citizens experience a sense of disgust when
they are in close proximity to those asking for money (Clifford, & Piston, 2017).
Pandey et al. (2006) reported that panhandlers experience stigma and feel
marginalized, dehumanized, discriminated against, and alienated, leading them to have
negative views of their personal well‐being. However, in some instances panhandlers
appeared to enjoy the stigma because it directly led to increased donations of items. Due
to the stereotypes about panhandlers, there exists a wide range of emotions and attitudes
towards them as a group, including pity, fear, and anger (Lee & Farrell, 2003).
For the purpose of the current study, panhandlers provide the opportunity for men
to demonstrate their ability to distribute resources in front of potential mates. This
display would show generosity and kindness (both considered preferred traits; Buss,
1989), but also that he possesses sufficient resources that he may give them away freely.
Thus, we hypothesized that due to this behavior being relevant as a mating signal, men
would be most likely to give panhandlers money or other items when in the presence of a
woman, as compared to when they were with another man or alone. By extension, we
also hypothesized that men who were walking alone would provide money and other
items to panhandlers at the same rate as women walking alone. Similar findings were
obtained by Iredale, Van Vugt, and Dunbar (2008); in an experimental game situation,
men were more likely to donate a higher portion of earned money to charity when
observed by women than by men, or with no observer.
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METHODS
Context
The studied individuals (hereby called “participants” although they were blind to their
inclusion in the study) were observed in one of four conditions: (1) women walking
alone past a panhandler, (2) men walking alone past a panhandler, (3) a man walking
with another man past a panhandler, and (4) a man walking with a woman past a
panhandler. Each individual was asked for change by an actual panhandler for that
environment; they were not a confederate for the study. The consequences of their
request were recorded by an observer discretely watching from a short distance away
(e.g., inside a coffee shop or similar location). All observations were made as participants
travelled along a sidewalk toward the panhandler, and neither the participants nor the
panhandler were aware that they were being monitored. Observation ended once the
participant walked past the panhandler.
Observations took place in several downtown locations of Halifax, Canada where
panhandlers select areas of high pedestrian traffic. It was not possible to determine the
nature of the items given to the panhandler without interfering with the interaction.
Consequently, we established a simple criterion that a successful attempt at panhandling
consisted of any item given by the pedestrian and placed into the hand or cup of the
panhandler. We did observe that the majority of items consisted of coins (note that
Canada has a 5, 10, 25 cent coin, as well as a 1 and 2 dollar coin).
Panhandlers were chosen based on the ability of the observer to remain hidden and
undetected in a location of close proximity. Four separate panhandlers were watched in
their interactions with pedestrians. All panhandlers were men, Caucasian, approximately
40-70 years old, were wearing clothes (i.e., large jackets and jeans) that appeared ripped
and dirty, and were without a pet or sign asking for money. All panhandlers requested
money verbally to pedestrians while remaining in a seated position.
Observations occurred over four days, for approximately three hours each day in
total. Each day consisted of a different panhandler in a different location. All data
collection occurred between January and March in the middle of a week day while there
was no precipitation.
Participants
A total of 200 individuals were observed. We observed across the locations until we
obtained a sample of 50 individuals in each of the four conditions. There were no
exclusion criteria, as so long as the participants were of adult age (i.e., looked over the age
of 20) and satisfied the criteria of the condition. Ethnicity varied, although we did notice
that the majority of participants were either of Caucasian or Asian young adults.
We elected to systematically observe every second individual matching the condition
criteria in order to allow the observer sufficient time after the event to complete the
observation and record the result. Pedestrians were excluded if they were walking with
more than one other adult for the dyad conditions, and excluded across all conditions if
they were walking with an animal or child. Pedestrians were also excluded if they had to
pass by another individual within a 5 meter radius around the panhandler (which we had
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marked inconspicuously while the panhandler was absent), as the presence of anyone
other than those involved in the interaction could serve as a potential confounding
variable.
Given the possibility of disgust in relation to panhandling, for the sake of interest we
also recorded whether the pedestrian made physical contact with the panhandler (which
we predicted would be a rare occurrence). We also recorded whether the pedestrian
started use of an electronic device (e.g., a cellular telephone) while approaching the
panhandler, presumably as a way to distract themselves from the interaction. We further
observed whether they made direct eye contact or not with the panhandler. Other
variables such as whether they stood in front of the panhandler or turned around while
in close proximity (e.g., to change direction and avoid the interaction) was also recorded.
Changes in gait speed were documented, given that we expected some individuals to
speed up to avoid the interaction. We note that these changes had to be very clear in
order to be observed reliably.
RESULTS
There are four independent conditions (i.e., male alone, female alone, male dyad, and
female/male dyad) with a binary (yes/no) dependent variable, leading to a 4 X 2
contingency table. Due to the small number of cases (under 5) in all but the female/male
dyad who did give an item to the panhandler, we decided to employ Fisher’s exact test
with the Monte Carlo approximation to determine significance. The comparison was
significant, Fisher’s exact test = 9.947, p = .015 (99% CI = .012 to .018; two-tailed, α = .
05). Some readers may be interested in the Pearson Chi-square value (despite the
minimum cell counts) with the Monte Carlo approximation; χ2(3) = 12.271, p = .006
(99% CI = .004 to .008). Table 1 provides the descriptive results.
Table 1: Percentage of Pedestrians Giving Item(s) to Panhandlers in Presence or
Absence of Others
Condition Percentage (%) Gave Item(s) to Panhandler
Female only Current study
Male only Tovée et al., 1997
Male dyad Tovée et al., 1997
Female/male dyad Voracek & Fisher, 2006
Note. Total sample size was 200, 50 per condition.
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Only 2 of the 200 participants touched the panhandler, both of them men such that
one was walking alone, and the other in the male dyad condition. A total of 14.5% of
pedestrians turned toward an electronic device when approaching the panhandler, 5.5%
stood in front of the panhandler (distributed across the conditions), and 1% (one in the
female only and one in the male only condition) turned around when approaching the
panhandler. Eye contact was made by 27.5% of the pedestrians; although the frequency
varied by condition (24% female only, 36% male only, 8% male dyad, 34% female/male
dyad) it was not significant, Fisher’s exact test = 6.582, p = .09 (note that the cell sizes did
not warrant the Monte Carlo approximation). Pedestrian’s gait speed increased for 39.5%
of the sample, while it slowed for 38.5%; this change was distributed across the
conditions and not significant (speed increase, Fisher’s exact test = 6.686, p = .348; speed
decrease Fisher’s exact test = 4.999, p = .541; approximation again not necessary).
DISCUSSION
Past observational research indicates that men alter their behavior in the presence of
women (e.g., Wilson & Daly, 2004). The aim of the current study was to investigate
men’s displays of resources in the presence versus absence of women, using the
framework of evolved mate preferences. We hypothesized that men would donate money
or other items most often in the presence of women, compared to while walking alone or
in the presence of other men. Our hypothesis was supported. We argued that men
engage in this behavior as a signal to potential mates about their personality
characteristics of kindness and generosity, as well as their current level of resources or
wealth. There exists a large corpus of research that shows women generally favor men
with these traits, at least in terms of self-report data (e.g., Buss, 1989; Buss & Schmitt, in
press; Hunter, Hill, Reid, Bourgeois, & Fisher, in review).
It is key to note that simply the presence of another individual does not lead to the
same outcome. Men walking with another man gave significantly fewer items to
panhandlers than when walking with a woman, and hence, we conclude that it is not
merely the presence of another person that prompts this behavior. While walking with
another male, men do not need to demonstrate generosity or their ability to allocate
resources, which supports our conjecture that this behavior is a display to gain favor with
potential mates. The behavior is also not specific to men, as we found men gave items to
panhandlers as often as women when walking alone, and that it remained significantly
less frequent than the behavior of men in the mixed sex dyads.
Our findings align with those of Iredale, Van Vugt, and Dunbar (2008). In an
experimental game situation, men were more likely to donate a larger portion of their
earned winnings to charity when observed by women, than when observed by men or
when not observed. The researchers attributed this finding to costly signaling, such that
generosity may indicate traits such as kindness and helpfulness. More recently, Van Vugt
and Iredale (2013) replicated this effect, finding groups of men donated more in public
good games when there was a female audience, and that men’s donations positively
increased according to their rating of the women’s attractiveness.
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We note that our observations occurred during the winter months in Canada, but
effort was taken to ensure that the weather conditions as well as other contextual issues
(e.g., time of day, day of the week, temperature) were as close to possible as identical
across the days in which we collected our data. It may be informative to replicate this
study when the weather is warmer, given that pedestrians may behave more leisurely and
be more interactive due to the higher temperature. Ambient temperature is key, as Vanky
and colleagues (2017) findings do not support the potential of a merely seasonality
effect. They gathered GPS data from a mobile telephone tracking application for almost
250 000 trips over 50 weeks by 13688 individuals living in Boston or San Francisco.
They report that regardless of seasonality, ambient air temperature and cloud cover
predict trip frequency, particularly for weekend (and they argue presumably
discretionary) travel. However, weather had minimal impact on the duration of trips,
once a trip was initiated.
One limitation concerns the assumption of pedestrian’s sexual orientation. The
design of this research dictated that we assumed all female/male dyads involved
heterosexual individuals, and that the male/male dyads did not involve displays of
mating-relevant signals. These assumptions, of course, are likely not accurate. Further
research is needed to examine how sexual orientation plays a role in the same sorts of
behaviours observed in this study. Moreover, we do not know the relationship of those
involved in the dyads; it could be that the female/male dyads were romantic partners or
siblings, for example, which likely influences the results and their implications.
Another limitation is that we did not include data from female/female dyads. This
exclusion was due to the focus of the current work on male displays. However, for
completeness, it would be potentially informative to include female/female dyads. We
also could have considered sex of the panhandlers more fully, although observation
suggests that in Halifax, the location of the study, the overwhelming majority of
panhandlers are men. Goldberg (1995) performed a similar study to the current research
and documented that men, when alone, were more likely to donate items to female than
male panhandlers. They also report that men, when accompanied by similarly aged
women, seemed to avoid giving items to female panhandlers and did not give
disproportionately more to male panhandlers, which the author interpreted as men
avoiding “showing off.” Different results were found decades earlier by Latane (1970)
who recorded men were more likely to provide assistance (i.e., tell the time, provide
directions, or give money) than women, and women were more likely to receive help
than men.
The findings of the current study indicate that naturalistic observation of real-world
events may be useful for understanding mate preferences that are typically documented
via self-report surveys. We showed that men are most likely to signal their resources as
well as generosity and kindness in the presence of women, which suggests that they may
have an awareness of female mate preferences and perform these actions in order to be
viewed in a positive manner.
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Just how miserable is work? It seems that not so much... We feel about the same at work than at non-work.

Just how miserable is work? A meta-analysis comparing work and non-work affect. Martin J. Biskup, Seth Kaplan, Jill C. Bradley-Geist, Ashley A. Membere. PLOS One, March 5, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0212594

Abstract: Although we spend much of our waking hours working, the emotional experience of work, versus non-work, remains unclear. While the large literature on work stress suggests that work generally is aversive, some seminal theory and findings portray working as salubrious and perhaps as an escape from home life. Here, we examine the subjective experience of work (versus non-work) by conducting a quantitative review of 59 primary studies that assessed affect on working days. Meta-analyses of within-day studies indicated that there was no difference in positive affect (PA) between work versus non-work domains. Negative affect (NA) was higher for work than non-work, although the magnitude of difference was small (i.e., .22 SD, an effect size comparable to that of the difference in NA between different leisure activities like watching TV versus playing board games). Moderator analyses revealed that PA was relatively higher at work and NA relatively lower when affect was measured using “real-time” measurement (e.g., Experience Sampling Methodology) versus measured using the Day Reconstruction Method (i.e., real-time reports reveal a more favorable view of work as compared to recall/DRM reports). Additional findings from moderator analyses included significant differences in main effect sizes as a function of the specific affect, and, for PA, as a function of the age of the sample and the time of day when the non-work measurements were taken. Results for the other possible moderators including job complexity and affect intensity were not statistically significant.

The drop in homicide represents a public health breakthrough for African American males, almost a year of increase in life expectancy at birth

The Impact of the Homicide Decline on Life Expectancy of African American Males. Patrick Sharkey, Michael Friedson. Demography, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13524-019-00768-4

Abstract: Homicide is a leading cause of death for young people in the United States aged 15–34, but it has a disproportionate impact on one subset of the population: African American males. The national decline in homicide mortality that occurred from 1991 to 2014 thus provides an opportunity to generate evidence on a unique question—How do population health and health inequality change when the prevalence of one of the leading causes of death is cut in half? In this article, we estimate the impact of the decline in homicide mortality on life expectancy at birth as well as years of potential life lost for African American and white males and females, respectively. Estimates are generated using national mortality data by age, gender, race, and education level. Counterfactual estimates are constructed under the assumption of no change in mortality due to homicide from 1991 (the year when the national homicide rate reached its latest peak) to 2014 (the year when the homicide rate reached its trough). We estimate that the decline in homicides led to a 0.80-year increase in life expectancy at birth for African American males, and reduced years of potential life lost by 1,156 years for every 100,000 African American males. Results suggest that the drop in homicide represents a public health breakthrough for African American males, accounting for 17 % of the reduction in the life expectancy gap between white and African American males.

Are Cheaters Sexual Hypocrites? Sexual Hypocrisy, the Self-Serving Bias, and Personality Style

Are Cheaters Sexual Hypocrites? Sexual Hypocrisy, the Self-Serving Bias, and Personality Style. Benjamin Warach, Lawrence Josephs, Bernard S. Gorman. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, March 5, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167219833392

Abstract: This article examines moral hypocrisy and the self-serving bias (SSB) in the sexual infidelity context. We found evidence of self-serving attributions that occur between primary relationship partners following sexual betrayals. Specifically, we found that sexual infidelity perpetrators (a) blamed their primary dyadic partners (i.e., victims) for infidelities significantly more than those victims blamed themselves for such infidelities, (b) blamed the surrounding circumstances for infidelities significantly more than their victims did, and (c) rated the emotional impact of infidelities on their victims as significantly less than victims’ ratings of such impact. Moreover, we found that participants with prior experience as both sexual infidelity perpetrators and victims displayed “sexual hypocrisy” by judging others more harshly than themselves for sexually unfaithful behavior. Our findings demonstrate that personality variables associated with sexual infidelity (narcissism, sexual narcissism, avoidant attachment, and primary psychopathy) are also relevant to self-serving attributions in the sexual infidelity context.

Keywords: sexual infidelity, self-serving bias, moral hypocrisy, sexual hypocrisy

“I Would Never Fall for That”: The Use of an Illegitimate Authority ... Marked discrepancy between how students predicted they would respond and how they actually did; the mean obedience rate was 95.7%

“I Would Never Fall for That”: The Use of an Illegitimate Authority to Teach Social Psychological Principles. Sally D. Farley, Deborah H. Carson, Terrence J. Pope. Teaching of Psychology, Mar 5 2019. https://doi.org/10.1177/0098628319834200

Abstract: This activity explores attitudinal beliefs and behavioral responses of obedience to an illegitimate authority figure in an ambiguous situation. In Experiment 1, students either self-reported the likelihood that they would obey a request made by a stranger to surrender their cell phone or were asked directly and in person by a confederate to relinquish their cell phone. The exercise revealed a marked discrepancy between how students predicted they would respond and how they actually did respond to the request. In Experiment 2, student learning was measured in addition to obedience. Although students exposed to the exercise had similar gains in learning as those exposed to a control condition, the mean obedience rate was a compelling 95.7%. Furthermore, students self-reported a greater willingness to obey the commands of an authority figure after learning about the Milgram study than before, thereby acknowledging their vulnerability to authority. We discuss the role of Milgram’s study in the psychology curriculum and provide recommendations for how this exercise might assist understanding of myriad social psychological principles.

Keywords: Hofling, Milgram, exercise, authority, obedience