Friday, April 12, 2019

How Many Words Do We Read Per Minute? Less than the numbers often cited in scientific and popular writings.

Brysbaert, Marc. 2019. “How Many Words Do We Read Per Minute? A Review and Meta-analysis of Reading Rate.” PsyArXiv. April 12. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Based on the analysis of 190 studies (17,887 participants), we estimate that the average silent reading rate for adults in English is 238 word per minute (wpm) for non-fiction and 260 wpm for fiction. The difference can be predicted by the length of the words, with longer words in non-fiction than in fiction. The estimates are lower than the numbers often cited in scientific and popular writings. The reasons for the overestimates are reviewed. Reading rates are lower for children, old adults, and readers with English as second language. The reading rates are in line with maximum listening speed and do not require the assumption of reading-specific language processing. The average oral reading rate (based on 77 studies and 5,965 participants) is 183 wpm. Within each group/task there are reliable individual differences, which are not yet fully understood. For silent reading of English fiction most adults fall in the range of 175 to 300 wpm; for fiction the range is 200 to 320 wpm. Reading rates in other languages can be predicted reasonably well be taking into account the number of words these languages require to convey the same message as in English.

The widely held assumption in philosophy & psychology that one purpose of human morality is to regulate social behavior is confirmed: the presence of another person increased moral values' importance

Yudkin, Daniel A., Ana P. Gantman, Wilhelm Hofmann, and Jordi Quoidbach. 2019. “Moral Values Gain Importance in the Presence of Others.” PsyArXiv. April 12. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: A widely held assumption in philosophy and psychology is that the purpose of human morality is to regulate social behavior. Yet this premise has never been tested directly. We used a custom smartphone application to repeatedly record participants’ (N = 1,166) social context and the importance they afforded different moral values. Results showed moral values were rated more important when people were in the presence of others versus alone. This effect was robust to a series of potential confounds (demographics, time of day, mood) and was moderated by relationship type such that closer social relationships exerted stronger impact on moral evaluation than more distant. Furthermore, the effect of social proximity on moral evaluation was stronger for “binding” values than “individualizing” ones, suggesting the effect of social context differs according to value type. A randomized laboratory experiment confirmed that the mere physical presence of another person in the immediate environment increased the importance of moral values. Overall, these results demonstrate the contextual sensitivity of moral values and corroborate the view that morals play a social-regulatory role in human behavior.

Moral Values Gain Importance in the Presence of Others

When we think about moral values, it is tempting to picture the philosopher in the armchair, postulating moral principles. Yet there is near consensus this is the wrong way to describe morality. Instead, research suggests the more accurate picture is that of two or more people, figuring out how to live and work together (i, ii, iii, iv, v).
The inherently social nature of morality suggests moral values may be more salient when people are in social contexts. Fitting this idea, classic research suggests the presence of others impacts behavior (vi). Other work shows that social situations increase egalitarian behavior (vii, viii), and the mere suggestion of an external observer can increase cooperation (ix, x, xi). Remarkably, however, the possibility that moral values gain importance in the presence of others has never been directly tested empirically. Answering this question would thus provide empirical validation to a foundational assumption in moral theory.
We sought tested this question using an app-based experience-sampling method (xii, xiii). By measuring the importance of moral values in people’s daily lives as well as their current social situations, this approach has the potential to obtain a more accurate picture of how context impacts moral evaluation. We also tested two additional hypotheses. First, past research suggests that people’s treatment of others varies according to their social distance to the self (xiv, xv). Accordingly, we tested whether the effect is moderated by social distance. Second, research shows morality can be divided into two types of values: “individualizing” (concerned with rights and freedoms), and “binding” (concerned with group harmony and cohesion) (xvi, xvii). Because the latter set is particularly important for social regulation (xviii) it is possible the importance of these values is especially sensitive to the presence of others (xix). Overall, our method presented an opportunity to put several influential theories of moral psychology to the test in a real-world setting.
The research was part of the “58 seconds” project (xx) approved by The Ethics Committee of ESADE Business School, Spain. European adults (N = 1,166, Mage = 35.7, SD = 11.1, 861 female, 305 male) were asked a series of questions (pulled from a larger pool) at random intervals over several months. Moral importance was assessed by averaging across responses of how important it was for participants to behave in accordance with values of care, fairness, loyalty, authority, and purity (0 – not at all; 100 – very) (17). Participants also indicated how happy they felt (0 – not at all; 100 – very), and who, if anyone, they were with. The analytic approach consisted of a series of multilevel analyses using the lme4 and lmerTest packages in R controlling for participants’ age and gender, hour of day, and day of week, with participant-level random intercepts (all scripts and materials at

Smartphone zombies! Pedestrians’ distracted walking as a function of their fear of missing out

Smartphone zombies! Pedestrians’ distracted walking as a function of their fear of missing out. Markus Appel et al. Journal of Environmental Psychology.
April 12 2019.

•    The motives for smartphone use while walking are not well understood.
•    We explore the Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) as a potential reason for this behavior.
•    FoMO predicts distracted walking regardless of participants' age or gender.
•    It further predicts pedestrians' virtual social interactions and dangerous incidents.

Abstract: Smartphone use while walking (i.e., being a smartphone zombie) has become a prevalent phenomenon in many ciies worldwide. Previous research shows that many pedestrians choose to interact with their phones as they walk around in cities, despite being aware that their behavior might be dangerous. To investigate potential reasons for the prevalence of distracted walking, the current study explores the construct Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) as a potential antecedent of pedestrians' smartphone use while walking. Hierarchical OLS and logistic regression analyses show that FoMO predicts distracted walking, the tendency to engage in virtual social interactions while walking, and dangerous traffic incidents—irrespective of participants’ age and gender. Virtual communication might serve as a compensation for real-world company, thus sidelining the need to traverse safely.

Partnered women blindly rated their partner's body odor as smelling sexier and less strong than the body odor of unknown males; body odor preference ratings appear to be driven by familiarity ratings

Do women love their partner's smell? Exploring women's preferences for and identification of male partner and non-partner body odor. Mehmet K. Mahmut, Richard J. Stevenson, Ian Stephen. Physiology & Behavior, Apr 12 2019.


•    Partnered women blindly rated their partner's body odor as smelling sexier than the body odor of unknown males.
•    Partnered women blindly rated their partner's body odor as smelling less strong than the body odor of unknown males.
•    Partnered women were unlikely to rank their partner's body odor as most preferred in a pool including six unknown males.
•    Partnered women could reliably recognise their partner's body odor.
•    Body odor preference ratings appear to be driven by familiarity ratings.

Abstract: Despite evidence indicating body odor (BO) preference is an important driver in mate selection, previous studies have only investigated females' preferences for the BO of strangers. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to determine if partnered females prefer their partner's BO compared to that of others males' BO. Forty partnered and 42 single, heterosexual women aged 18–35 years, brought to the laboratory a shirt their partner or male friend/relative (respectively) sweated in while wearing. The results indicated that both partnered and single women (blindly) rated their known donor's BO as smelling significantly more similar, familiar and sexy compared to six unknown male's BO, but rated their known donor's BO as less intense smelling than unknown males' BO. While participants indicated they liked their known donor's BO more than that of unknown males' BO, the difference was not statistically significant. Moreover, participants were unlikely to rank their known donor's BO as their most preferred of seven BOs. Finally, partnered and single participants could reliably recognise their known donor's BO and that of unknown males' which was driven by their ability to indicate a stranger's BO was not that of known donor's. Overall, these preliminary findings suggest that partnered females may prefer their partners' BO but this preference may not be due to mate selection but instead a consequence of repeated exposure to their partner's BO.

Self-harm in older adults: Loss of control, increased loneliness and perceived burdensome ageing were reported self-harm motivations

Self-harm in older adults: systematic review. M. Isabela Troya et al. The British Journal of Psychiatry, Volume 214, Issue 4, April 2019, pp. 186-200.

Background: Self-harm is a major public health concern. Increasing ageing populations and high risk of suicide in later life highlight the importance of identification of the particular characteristics of self-harm in older adults.

Aim: To systematically review characteristics of self-harm in older adults.

Methods: A comprehensive search for primary studies on self-harm in older adults was conducted in e-databases (AgeLine, CINAHL, PsycINFO, MEDLINE, Web of Science) from their inception to February 2018. Using predefined criteria, articles were independently screened and assessed for methodological quality. Data were synthesised following a narrative approach. A patient advisory group advised on the design, conduct and interpretation of findings.

Results: A total of 40 articles (n = 62 755 older adults) were included. Yearly self-harm rates were 19 to 65 per 100 000 people. Self-poisoning was the most commonly reported method. Comorbid physical problems were common. Increased risk repetition was reported among older adults with self-harm history and previous and current psychiatric treatment. Loss of control, increased loneliness and perceived burdensome ageing were reported self-harm motivations.

Conclusions: Self-harm in older adults has distinct characteristics that should be explored to improve management and care. Although risk of further self-harm and suicide is high in all age cohorts, risk of suicide is higher in older adults. Given the frequent contact with health services, an opportunity exists for detection and prevention of self-harm and suicide in this population. These results are limited to research in hospital-based settings and community-based studies are needed to fully understand self-harm among older adults.

Overestimating the Valuations of Others: People Perceive Others as Experiencing Everything More Intensely

Jung, Minah and Moon, Alice and Nelson, Leif D., Overestimating the Valuations of Others: People Perceive Others as Experiencing Everything More Intensely (February 4, 2019). SSRN,

Abstract: People often make judgments about their own and others’ valuations and preferences. Across 12 studies (N=17,939), we find a robust bias in these judgments such that people tend to believe that others have more intense experiences than they do, leading to overestimation of others’ valuations and preferences. We argue that this overestimation arises because estimations of others’ preferences rely on people’s intuitive, core representations of the experience itself (i.e., whether the experience is positive or negative). We first demonstrate that the overestimation bias is pervasive for a wide range of positive (Studies 1-4) and negative experiences (Study 5), and is not merely an artifact of how preferences are measured (Study 6). This overestimation bias ultimately forms a paradox in how people think that others tradeoff between valuation and utility (Study 7). Specifically, people believe that an identically-paying other would enjoy the same experience more than they would, but also that an identically-enjoying other would pay more for the same experience. Such paradoxical judgments do not extend to domains unrelated to preference and valuation (Studies 8A-8B), but do extend to other preference measures, such as willingness-to-wait (Studies 9-10). Finally, consistent with a core representation explanation, explicitly prompting people to consider the entire distribution of others’ preferences significantly reduced or eliminated the bias (Study 11). These findings suggest that social judgments of others’ preferences are not only largely biased, but they also ignore how others make trade-offs between evaluative metrics.

Keywords: overestimation bias, comparative judgments, valuation, preferences, paradox