Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Unraveling the asymmetry of Mona Lisa smile?

Unraveling the asymmetry of Mona Lisa smile. Luca Marsili, Lucia Ricciardi, Matteo Bologna. Cortex, April 3 2019,

Abstract: The Mona Lisa portrait, by Leonardo da Vinci, is one of the most famous paintings in the world. Over the years, there have been a number of debated topics on the painting, including the valence of the emotion expressed on her face. Nevertheless, the most recent interpretations agree that Mona Lisa expression is happiness. The smile asymmetry of Mona Lisa is another remarkable feature of the painting. We here asked forty-two healthy raters to judge which of the six basic emotions (or neutral expression) was expressed by the chimeric images of the left or right lower hemi face. We collected chosen responses, confidence levels and reaction times. Our results indicate that happiness is expressed only on the left side. According to some influent theories of emotion neuropsychology, we here interpreted the Mona Lisa asymmetric smile as a non-genuine smile, also thought to occur when the subject lies. Given that Leonardo was a great observer of human physiognomy we speculate on the intriguing possibility that Leonardo already knew the true meaning of asymmetric smile. Thus, Mona Lisa asymmetric smile could represent a stratagem Leonardo deliberately used to hold cryptic and enigmatic messages. Although the Mona Lisa smile continues to attract the attention of its observers, the true message it conveys remains elusive and many unsolved mysteries remain to be elucidated, perhaps via the knowledge of emotion neuropsychology.

Majority of hormesis research has not been privately funded: The public sector (federal & state governmental agencies) exclusively contributed to 78% of the reported research funding

Funding trends in hormetic research. MA Cottrell, WA Mills2 and EJ Calabrese. Human and Experimental Toxicology, Apr 1 2019.

Abstract: The topic of hormesis research funding has been a focus of deliberation within the scientific community for several decades. A common assumption/belief is that most hormesis research is funded by the private sector. With this assumption may emerge questions revolving around potential bias of such research. To provide some clarification to this issue, all hormesis research articles were obtained through online databases for 5-year increments starting with 1995 and ending with 2015 and were subsequently categorized by their funding source. A total of 710 articles were found for those years and 383 of those reported information on funding sources. Reporting funding is not required by law and until more recently was not encouraged or required by funders, research institutions, and/or scientific publishers. The analysis revealed that the assumption that the majority of hormesis research has been privately funded was not supported, with the public sector (i.e. federal and state governmental agencies) exclusively contributing to 78% of the reported research funding. Going forward, funding transparency for scientific research as a whole is essential within the scientific community as it may affect how research may be perceived, accepted, and applied.

Keywords: Hormesis, hormetic, funding sources, bias, risk assessment, dose–response.

A person's abortion views in 1982 led many to switch parties over time; individuals realigned their party affiliation in accordance with their initial abortion views, & their other political, economic and social views followed suit

Party hacks and true believers: The effect of party affiliation on political preferences. Eric D. Gould, Esteban F. Klor. Journal of Comparative Economics, Mar 25 2019.

•    We study the effect of party affiliation on an individual's political views.
•    We show that a person's abortion views in 1982 led many to switch parties over time as parties diverged in their stances on this issue.
•    As individuals realigned their party affiliation in accordance with their initial abortion views, their other political, economic and social views followed suit.

Abstract: This paper examines the effect of party affiliation on an individual's political views. To do this, we exploit the party realignment that occurred in the U.S. due to abortion becoming a more prominent and highly partisan issue over time. We show that abortion was not a highly partisan issue in 1982, but a person's abortion views in 1982 led many to switch parties over time as the two main parties diverged in their stances on this issue. We find that voting for a given political party in 1996, due to the individual's initial views on abortion in 1982, has a substantial effect on a person's political, social, and economic attitudes in 1997. These findings are stronger for highly partisan political issues, and are robust to controlling for a host of personal views and characteristics in 1982 and 1997. As individuals realigned their party affiliation in accordance with their initial abortion views, their other political views followed suit.

The threat of punishment lowered the average quality & quantity of information processed, compared with the prospect of reward or no performance incentive; also induced less cautious decision making by lowering decision thresholds

Information Processing Under Reward Versus Under Punishment. Timothy Ballard et al. Psychological Science, April 2, 2019.

Abstract: Much is known about the effects of reward and punishment on behavior, yet little research has considered how these incentives influence the information-processing dynamics that underlie decision making. We fitted the linear ballistic accumulator to data from a perceptual-judgment task to examine the impacts of reward- and punishment-based incentives on three distinct components of information processing: the quality of the information processed, the quantity of that information, and the decision threshold. The threat of punishment lowered the average quality and quantity of information processed, compared with the prospect of reward or no performance incentive at all. The threat of punishment also induced less cautious decision making by lowering people’s decision thresholds relative to the prospect of reward. These findings suggest that information-processing dynamics are determined not only by objective properties of the decision environment but also by the higher order goals of the system.

Keywords: information processing, reward, punishment, decision making, computational modeling, open data

Sugar Rush or Sugar Crash? A Meta-Analysis of Carbohydrate Effects on Mood: Do not have a beneficial effect on any aspect of mood, lowers alertness within 60 minutes after consumption, increase fatigue within 30 min post-consumption

Sugar Rush or Sugar Crash? A Meta-Analysis of Carbohydrate Effects on Mood. Konstantinos Mantantzis, Friederike Schlaghecken, Sandra I.S├╝nram-Lea, Elizabeth A.Maylor. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Apr 3 2019.

•    Carbohydrates do not have a beneficial effect on any aspect of mood.
•    Carbohydrate consumption lowers alertness within 60 minutes after consumption.
•    Carbohydrates increase fatigue within 30 minutes post-consumption.

Abstract: The effect of carbohydrate (CHO) consumption on mood is much debated, with researchers reporting both mood improvements and decrements following CHO ingestion. As global consumption of sugar-sweetened products has sharply increased in recent years, examining the validity of claims of an association between CHOs and mood is of high importance. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the relationship between acute CHO ingestion and mood. We examined the time-course of CHO-mood interactions and considered the role of moderator variables potentially affecting the CHO-mood relationship. Analysis of 176 effect sizes (31 studies, 1259 participants) revealed no positive effect of CHOs on any aspect of mood at any time-point following their consumption. However, CHO administration was associated with higher levels of fatigue and less alertness compared with placebo within the first hour post-ingestion. These findings challenge the idea that CHOs can improve mood, and might be used to increase the public's awareness that the ‘sugar rush’ is a myth, inform health policies to decrease sugar consumption, and promote healthier alternatives.

Is Locker Room Talk Really Just Talk? An Analysis of Normative Sexual Talk and Behavior: Women were more likely than men to rate nonconsensual language as more normal

Is Locker Room Talk Really Just Talk? An Analysis of Normative Sexual Talk and Behavior. Stephanie Simeone & Elizabeth L. Jeglic.Deviant Behavior, Apr 1 2019.

ABSTRACT: Current sexual violence prevention initiatives have focused on addressing and changing societal norms that are supportive of sexual assault. One area of focus has been the way in which people describe women and sexual acts as it has been suggested that people perceive sex differently. The present study investigated what people consider normative sexual language and behavior and what people consider language and behavior indicative of sexual assault. Participants were given a questionnaire to gather their opinions about sexually assaultive language, their feelings about sex talk, and their experiences with sexual assault. Results indicated that women were more likely than men to rate nonconsensual language as more normal, and that normative ratings of assault language was not related to perpetration of sexual assault. These findings will be discussed as they pertain to sexual violence prevention initiatives.

During the United States (U.S.) presidential election campaign in the fall of 2016, an audiotapedprivate conversation with then presidential candidate Donald J. Trump emerged in which he statedYou know Im automatically attracted to beautifulI just start kissing them. Its like a magnet. Justkiss. I dont even wait. And then when youre a star they let you do it. You can do anything...Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.These comments ignited a fierce debate, with some individuals, including the presidential candidate himself, referring to his language as harmlesslocker room banter,while others stated that this language was indicative of sexual assault. From a legal perspective, the behaviors described in the candidates statement (kissing and grabbing the genital area of a woman without consent) are behaviors that would be considered illegal and if acted upon would result in charges of sexual assault (Cal. Penal Code §261;N.Y. Penal Law §130.05;Tex.Penal Code Ann. § 22.011). However many argued that this type of talk is normative and harmless and that it is common for men to speak like this when in the company of other men. Indeed, shortly after the recording was released, political conservative Ann Coulter commented that Trumps statements werenot intended to be taken seriously,and that his message was merely thatwomen like to sleep with celebrities(Coulter2016). Similarly, Fox News personality SeanH annity publicly defended Trump, saying that the incident was merelywordsand notactions. Whether this type of language is normal is an empirical question. What we do know is that sexual norms continue to evolve. For example, compared to previous decades, people now have a higher number of sexual partners and have more socially liberal views of sexual behavior (Twenge, Sherman, and Wells2015). However, research suggests that women are largely uncomfortable talking about sex (Montemurro, Bartasavich, and Wintermute2015), while men often engage in conversations about sex among other male peers (Knight et al.2012). In talking about sex, men often discuss their partners and the type of sexual behaviors they engage in (Knight et al.2012). Discussion about sex serves as a platform to demonstrate ones masculinity(Pascoe2007). If they talk about sex at all, women have discussions about sex in private withclose friends or family members. For women, the focus of sex talk is less about sharing their experiences, but instead on gaining support and validation (Montemurro, Bartasavich, and Wintermute2015).Changes in behavior are generally accompanied by changes in the way people perceive and discuss sex acts. While society has become more sexually lenient in general, there has been an increased awareness of sexual assault and harassment. During a performance at the 2016 Oscars, musical artist Lady Gaga was joined on stage by survivors of sexual assault as she sang a song written about college sexual assault. Indeed, many universities now provide mandatory sexual assault prevention programs in an effort to bring awareness to this issue and limit the incidence of future sexual assaults (Vladutiu, Martin, and Macy2011). Further, many sexual violence prevention programs now target language that is supportive of sexual violence or that denigrates women, as itis believed that this type of discourse fosters a culture that enables sexual violence to occur (DeGueet al.2014).Sexual assault is a pervasive occurrence in our culture.One in five (18.3%) women report experiencing rape, and 13% of women report that they have experienced sexual coercion (Center for Disease Control and Prevention2012). The negative long-term consequences of sexual assault are well documented and include depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, substance abuse, and suicidality (Kubany et al.1995;Resick1993), thus understanding the causes of sexual violence is imperative to inform prevention and intervention efforts. Attitudes and behaviors that are tolerant or supportive of male violence toward women influence responses to victimization,making it less likely that women will report incidences of sexual violence (Flood and Pease2009). According to the Social Norms Theory, people tend to act in accordance with how they perceive their peers think or behave (Fabiano et al.2003). In the context of sexual assault, men may endorse sexually aggressive behaviors and attitudes because they believe that other men also support these beliefs; however, evidence suggests that men tend to overestimate the sexual aggression of other men (Loh et al.2005). A study investigating social norms of coercive sexual behavior found that students were more likely to report acceptance of rape myths and report that they would engage in behaviors that would constitute rape after learning that their peers supported rape myths (Bohner, Siebler, and Schmelcher2006). Generally, men more frequently endorse rape myths (Burt1980;SuarezandGadalla2010), while women are less accepting(Caron and Carter1997). However, research suggests that although men illustrate higher levelsof rape myth acceptance, women also subscribe to rape myths (Allen et al.1995)although it isunclear how womens acceptance translates into sexual assault perpetration. 

Attitudes toward women 

Sexist attitudes toward women are often found in association with sexual aggression (Burt1980). Feminist theories outline how sexual assault is a byproduct of mens power and control over women(McPhail2016). In a cross-cultural study of tribal societies, Sanday (1981) found that societies with higher incidences of rape were characterized by interpersonal violence and male dominance over women, while societies with lower incidences of rape were related to respect for women, minimal interpersonal violence, andsexual equality.In this way,sexual assault is not simply an individual incident but a wide-ranging constellation of behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, and talk that work to produce and reproduce gendered dominance in everyday interaction(Pascoe and Hollander2016: 69).Although stereotypical images of sexual assault focus on blatant forms of coercive sex, sexual assault may be more nuanced. It appears that for the general public, the line between sexual assault and normal sexual behavior might be blurred, which has led to an increased acceptance of assaul tive behavior and language. Indeed, in one study of situational factors related to victimization, Koss (1985) found that 26 out of 62highly sexually victimized women (e.g., the incident met the legal definition of rape) did not acknowledge that they had experienced a sexual assault. Specifically,women who were assaulted by people they had previously been intimate with or by someone they knew were less likely to categorize the assault as rape. Given the wide variety of behavior that constitutes sexual assault (e.g., lack of consent due to substance intoxication; forcible rape) and the social environment surrounding casual sex, people may not necessarily categorize their experience asassaultive.The current study aims to extend the literature on the relationship between perception of normative and sexually assaultive behavior and language and the perpetration and experience of sexual assault. Although previous research has suggested a relationship between attitudes and behavior, many rely on college samples (Tharp et al.2013). Because research suggests that attitudes supporting sexual assault predict sexual aggression, it is hypothesized that an increased endorsement of sexual assault behaviors and language will be related to higher levels of sexual assault perpetration.It is also hypothesized that men are more likely to endorse behaviors and talk indicative of sexual assault.

The present study examined the relationship between perception of normative and sexually assaul-tive language and behavior. Overall, three major findings emerged. First, people are more likely torate consensual statements as normative than nonconsensual statements. Second,the findings suggestthat compared to men, women were more likely to rate both consensual and nonconsensual sexualstatements as more normal. Lastly, normative perception of sexual assault language was not relatedto engagement in sexual assault behavior.Most participants reported positive emotions when listening to stories of friendsconsensualsexual experiences and reported negative emotions when listening to stories of nonconsensual sexualexperiences. Previous research has found that mens attitudes toward rape are related to their peersattitudes (Bohner, Siebler, and Schmelcher2006), yet the fact that participants reported negativefeelings toward nonconsensual situations suggests that they disapprove of their friends behavior.This is consistent with findings that suggest that men underestimate the level of discomfort of othermen in regard to sexist behavior (Kilmartin et al.1999). In social contexts, men may not truthfullyspeak their minds for fear of ridicule from their peers. Although the current study only assessedemotions related to different types of sexual language and behavior, future research should explorehow men address the topic of sexual assault within social contexts.While the overall sample found the consensual statements as more normative than the non-consensual statements, contrary to our hypothesis, women were more likely than men to rate bothtypes of statements as more normative. These findings are also not in line with previous research,which has indicated that men are more likely to have attitudes that promote sexual assault (Suarezand Gadalla2010). Sex talk is generally viewed as masculine and therefore unbefitting discourse forwomen (Nylund2007). Traditional gender roles suggest differences in the way that women and mentalk about sex (Montemurro, Bartasavich, and Wintermute2015). However, the fact that women donot necessarily engage in sex talk in public does not mean that they do not hold certain viewsregarding sex. Given the change of sexual norms promoting casual sexual relationships, women maybe unsure whether certain talk or behavior constitutes assault. Similarly, women may be more likelyto identify sexual assault language as normal because they have difficulty identifying certain situa-tions as sexual assaults (Koss1985). On the other hand, it is possible that women have becomedesensitized to the crude nature of sexual assault language and now associate normalwith typical.Future research may inquire whether women consider certain statements and situationsas sexual assault.Given that all of the statements were from a male's perspective, women were speculating as towhether or not each statement was normal within the context of men's conversations. Theoretically, iflocker room banter is solely in the presence of other men, then women would not be privy towhat actually occurs during these conversations. Men, on the other hand, may make judgments based off of their own experience as to whether these types of statements are normal in conversation.However, in contrast to the hypothesis, neither the perception of consensual language nor non-consensual language were related to sexual assault behavior. This is contrary to previous literature which has suggested a relationship between normative beliefs and rape proclivity (Strain, Hockett,and Saucier2015). The lack of relationship in the current study may have been due to the lowincidence of sexual assault behavior reported. Alternatively, perhaps sexual assault behavior occursindependently of perceptions of normative behavior. Studies have found that variables such asimpulsivity, anger, and anxiety play a role in the perpetration of sexual aggression (Lyn andBurton2005; Mouilso, Calhoun, and Rosenbloom2013). Future research should consider personalityvariables that may influence perceptions and behaviors.Although the data was collected during a polarizing political election, political affiliation did not playa significant role in perception of normative language and behavior. Because previous research suggeststhat political conservatism is related to negative attitudes toward sex offenders more generally (Pickett,Mancini, and Mears2013;RosselliandJeglic2017), one may postulate that conservative individuals maybe more likely to find nonconsensual language and behaviors as non-normative. However, the currentstudy did not find such differences. Though not the main focus of the current study, future researchshould examine the role of political affiliation on perceptions and behavior related to sexual assault. 

This study is not without its limitations. First, this study relied on self-report. This could lead to under-reportingof the perpetration of sexual assault behavior, and to ratings of sexual assault language. Secondly,some of the participants were recruited via snowballsampling, which could also lead to underreporting.Although participants were assured that their responses were confidential and their names were notassociated with their responses, it is possible that participants did not want to be completely honest withtheiranswersforfearoftheirpeerslearningtheirresponses. Given the voluntary participation of thesample recruited via reddit, it is possible that participants may have held more extreme opinions. However,previous research has used reddit to recruittheir sample (Kaylor, Jeglic, and Collins2016)andstudieshavefound that results from in-person tests were no different than the results from participants recruitedonline. In fact, online recruitment provided a more ethnically diverse sample thanthatofacollegesample(Casler, Bickel, and Hackett2013). The average age of the sample was relatively young (M=26.5years),soit is possible that the perceptions and behaviors reported are not indicative of society more generally.However, as this is the peak time for sexual assault victimization (i.e., ages 1234 are at the highest risk;Greenfield1997), it is important to understand the thoughts and behaviors of this age group. Future research should try to recruit a wider range of age to see if these results are replicated with older adults. 

Despite these limitations, the current study indicates that people are more likely to think that consensual statements are more normal than nonconsensual statements. Specifically, females are more likely than males to rate statements and behaviors of sexual assault as normative. That most men did not perceive nonconsensual statements as normal suggests thatlocker roomtalk may not be as prevalent as recent events make it seem. The current study adds to the understanding of social norms as they pertain tos exual language and behavior. As intervention programs continue to focus on changing social norms that perpetuate sexual violence, the current findings suggest that many so-called normative beliefs may not beas widely held as people perceive. However, the fact that a small portion of people did believenonconsensual language was normal suggests that there is still a need for education about sexual assaultand consensual sexual behavior.

Nationally Representative Sample of Canadians: One-fifth of participants reported prior engagement in an open relationship, and 12% reported open as their ideal relationship type; men voted this three times more than women

Open Relationship Prevalence, Characteristics, and Correlates in a Nationally Representative Sample of Canadian Adults. Nichole Fairbrother, Trevor A. Hart ORCID Icon & Malcolm Fairbrother. The Journal of Sex Research, Apr 1 2019.

Abstract: Open relationships are those in which individuals agree to participate in sexual and/or emotional and romantic interactions with more than one partner. Accurate estimates of the prevalence of open relationships, based on representative, unbiased samples, are few, and there are none from outside of the United States. We present findings from a nationally representative sample of 2,003 Canadian adults, administered in 2017 via an online questionnaire. Overall, 2.4% of all participants, and 4.0% of those currently in a relationship, reported currently being in an open relationship. One-fifth of participants reported prior engagement in an open relationship, and 12% reported open as their ideal relationship type. Men, compared with women, were more likely to report prior open relationship engagement and to identify open as their ideal relationship type. Younger participants were more likely both to engage in and to prefer open relationships. Relationship satisfaction did not differ significantly between monogamous and open relationships. Having a match between one’s actual relationship type and one’s preferred relationship type was associated with greater relationship satisfaction. Findings suggest that, while currently only a small proportion of the population is in an open relationship, interest in open relationships is higher, particularly among younger adults, and open appears to be a viable and important relationship type.