Thursday, April 18, 2019

Visualization of male and female superheroes: Males were on average “obese” whereas females were uniformly thin and hyperfeminine; these bodies can be thought of as exaggerations of what is attractive

Burch, R. L., & Johnsen, L. (2019). Captain Dorito and the bombshell: Supernormal stimuli in comics and film. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, Apr 18, 2019.

Abstract: We examined the visualization of male and female superheroes, paying attention to physical dimensions and costuming that accentuated hyper-masculine or hyper-feminine features such as shoulder-to-waist ratio, jawlines, upper body muscularity, waist-to-hip ratio, and breast morphology. Body mass index (BMI) data were collected for 3,752 Marvel comic characters. Males were on average “obese” whereas females averaged at the low end of normal weight. The male higher body mass was caused by extreme upper body muscularity, with male shoulder-to-waist ratios far above human limits. This is in stark contrast to low weight female superhero bodies with far lower waist-to-hip ratios than average humans. The endocrine markers that are exaggerated in these depictions create supernormal sexual stimuli for each sex.

Public Significance Statement—An examination of over 3,000 comic book characters and hundreds of drawings found that male characters were huge and well beyond the normal range for shoulder-to-waist ratio, resembling and exaggerating the Captain Dorito meme (the concept that Captain America, as played by Chris Evans, has the shoulder-to-waist ratio of a triangular Dorito corn chip). Female bodies were uniformly thin and hyperfeminine, with waist-to-hip ratios smaller than the most sought-after porn actresses. These bodies can be thought of as supernormal stimuli; exaggerations of what humans have long found attractive.

A majority of people believe that, as pedestrians, they make eye contact with the driver of an approaching vehicle when making their crossing decisions; this widely held belief is false

Eye Contact Between Pedestrians and Drivers. Dina AlAdawy, Michael Glazer, Jack Terwilliger, Henri Schmidt, Josh Domeyer, Bruce Mehler, Bryan Reimer, Lex Fridman. To appear in Proceedings of 2019 Driving Assessment Conference, submitted Apr 8 2019.

Abstract: When asked, a majority of people believe that, as pedestrians, they make eye contact with the driver of an approaching vehicle when making their crossing decisions. This work presents evidence that this widely held belief is false. We do so by showing that, in majority of cases where conflict is possible, pedestrians begin crossing long before they are able to see the driver through the windshield. In other words, we are able to circumvent the very difficult question of whether pedestrians choose to make eye contact with drivers, by showing that whether they think they do or not, they can't. Specifically, we show that over 90\% of people in representative lighting conditions cannot determine the gaze of the driver at 15m and see the driver at all at 30m. This means that, for example, that given the common city speed limit of 25mph, more than 99% of pedestrians would have begun crossing before being able to see either the driver or the driver's gaze. In other words, from the perspective of the pedestrian, in most situations involving an approaching vehicle, the crossing decision is made by the pedestrian solely based on the kinematics of the vehicle without needing to determine that eye contact was made by explicitly detecting the eyes of the driver.

The long-lasting effects of family and childhood on adult wellbeing: Evidence from British cohort data

The long-lasting effects of family and childhood on adult wellbeing: Evidence from British cohort data. SarahFlèche, Warn N. Lekfuangfu, Andrew E. Clark. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, April 18 2019.

Abstract: To what extent do childhood experiences continue to affect adult wellbeing over the life course? Previous work on this link has been carried out either at one particular adult age or for some average over adulthood. We here use two British birth-cohort datasets (the 1958 NCDS and the 1970 BCS) to map out the time profile of the effect of childhood experiences on adult outcomes, including life satisfaction. We find that the effects of many aspects of childhood do not fade away over time but are rather remarkably stable. In both birth-cohorts, child non-cognitive skills are the strongest predictors of adult life satisfaction at all ages. Of these, emotional health is the strongest. Childhood cognitive performance is more important than good conduct in explaining adult life satisfaction in the earlier NCDS cohort, whereas this ranking is inverted in the more recent BCS.

6. Conclusions

There is now increasing interest in not only the contemporaneous correlates of subjective well-being but also the distal correlates. We here use two UK birth cohorts, the 1958 NCDS and the 1970 BCS, to show how family background and childhood variables are related to life satisfaction measured at a variety of adult ages.

There are first a number of similar findings across the two cohorts. Perhaps the most important one is that there is little evidence that the distal determinants of adult well-being change over time: the childhood factors that predict life satisfaction in the 20s predict it just as well in the 40s and beyond. The effect of childhood and family does not then fade away over time. In both cohort datasets, it is childhood emotional health that is the strongest predictor of adult life satisfaction.

The predictors of adult life satisfaction are not entirely the same in the BCS and NCDS, however. In particular, the role of childhood intellectual performance is weaker in the later cohort, while the effect of childhood behaviour is stronger (childhood behaviour is not significantly correlated with adult life satisfaction in the NCDS).

When we add adult outcomes, we find that adult emotional health has the largest correlation with adult life satisfaction at all ages in both datasets, but there is little independent role for education. There are again some notable differences: family is more important in the NCDS than in the BCS (although the family effect is notably larger in the latter for respondents in their 30s). Physical health is less important in general in the NCDS, but its coefficient does increase sharply for the respondents at age 50.

The adult outcomes mediate the effect of childhood. Almost all of the effect of childhood intellectual performance works via these adult outcomes, and over half that of childhood emotional health. The figure for childhood behaviour is smaller.

Our results underline the importance of emotional health, both in adulthood and childhood, in determining adult life satisfaction. More broadly, they show that interventions that affect adult outcomes, given childhood and family background, can improve adult well-being, and so can interventions that target the childhood outcomes themselves. There is thus a role for policy all through the lifetime.

The correlations that we find here are similar for our two UK cohorts. But we still only know how to predict the life satisfaction of middle-aged British respondents. That the correlations are similar over adult ages is a useful finding, but one that we would like to extend to older ages. Equally, these results refer to only one country, and their replication elsewhere is part of a current broad international effort to use cohort datasets to inform policy about the causes of well-being throughout life.

More likely to engage in prosocial behavior when they want to improve success in unrelated future situations (“karmic bargaining”), & more frequently when in a situation they wanted to turn out well

Belief in karma: How cultural evolution, cognition, and motivations shape belief in supernatural justice. Cindel J.M.White, Ara Norenzayan. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, April 17 2019.

Abstract: Karma is believed to be a source of supernatural justice through which actions lead to morally congruent outcomes, within and across lifetimes. It is a central tenet of many world religions and appears in the social evaluations expressed by religious and non-religious individuals across diverse cultural contexts. Despite its prevalence, research directly investigating belief in karma is currently underrepresented in psychological studies of religion, morality, and justice. In this chapter, we situate karma within existing theories of religious cognition and justice beliefs, while highlighting how it is related to, but distinct from, belief in moralizing gods, beliefs about justice that lack religious or supernatural connotations, and magical thinking. We first describe two prominent explanations for the cross-cultural prevalence of supernatural justice beliefs: These beliefs arise as the by-products of other, more general cognitive mechanisms, and these beliefs are supported by core motivations for sense-making, meaning maintenance, and psychological control. We then consider how questions left unresolved by these cognitive and motivational perspectives, regarding the cross-cultural variability in explicit supernatural justice beliefs, can be explained through a cultural evolutionary perspective on religious cognition. Finally, we describe how these supernatural justice beliefs affect causal judgments and elicit norm-adherence and prosociality among believers.

2.2 Karma, justice, and fairness
[...] Additionally, North American participants are often willing to make immanent justice attributions, such as admitting that an uncontrollable misfortune is caused by a salient past moral transgressions, while strongly rejecting that misfortune is caused by morallyirrelevant past actions (Callan, Ellard, & Nicol, 2006; Callan, Sutton, & Dovale, 2010; Young et al., 2011). Even people who explicitly deny immanent justice attributions show evidence of intuitive reactions consistent with fairness principles. Reaction time studies indicate that French participants, who explicitly rejected causal attributions for misfortune, still showed evidence of immanent justice intuitions that required effortful suppressions: Participants were slower to reject causal attributions when misfortune followed proportionate bad deeds, and quicker to reject causal attributions when misfortune followed good actions and when misfortune was disproportionate to misdeeds [...].

Similar expectations appear among North Americans when making predictions about the future: People who engage in immoral behavior are expected to have a greater likelihood of bad experiences in the future, at the hands of other people (e.g., being betrayed by a friend, being treated rudely by other people) and forces of nature (e.g., getting a serious illness, having their home damaged by a natural disaster, White, Schaller, & Norenzayan, 2019). Even when not explicitly endorsed, this expectation has been found in North American children and adults who are more likely to engage in prosocial behavior when they want to improve success in unrelated future situations, a strategy known as “karmic bargaining” (Banerjee & Bloom, 2017; Converse, Risen, & Carter, 2012).

In Western samples, karmic bargaining is especially prevalent when belief in a just world is combined with uncertainty about the future. Converse et al. (2012) found greater prosocial behavior among American students and adult online samples after they wrote about a personally relevant ongoing situation that they wanted to turn out well (e.g., important test, job interview, or medical procedure), compared to participants who wrote about their daily routine. This effect was replicated in the context of a job fair, where job-seekers donated more money to charity when they were reminded about the uncertainty of their employment opportunities, compared to when they felt secure in their prospects. Subsequently, those who donated money felt more optimistic about their future.

8. Conclusion
In this chapter, we have described how belief in karmic causality can be studied as a psychological construct that is rooted in core cognitive, motivational, and cultural processes that are central to social psychology. We discussed karma alongside beliefs about morally-concerned gods and expectations about non-supernatural justice, to highlight how common cognitive tendencies and motivations can give rise to a variety of different beliefs. Individual differences (e.g., reliance on intuitive thinking, being “spiritual but not religious”) and situational factors (e.g., uncertainty, a need for structure, and salient past misdeeds followed by misfortune) could similarly encourage belief in karmic causality, morally-concerned gods, and secular justice. Similarly, different concepts can have comparable effects on behavior, such as when Christians reminded of God, or Hindus, Buddhists, and non-religious Americans reminded of karma, become more likely to engage in normative behavior. Karmic beliefs in non-Western, non-Christian cultural contexts provide an important testing ground of theories of religion, morality, and justice across different cultural contexts, extending prevailing research largely tested in Western samples.

Furthermore, many people believe only in a subset of all possible supernatural justice concepts. Cognitive biases and motivational factors are insufficient to explain this variability. The cultural transmission of commitment to particular beliefs is necessary to explain the intertwining of supernatural causality and morality, the presence of agentic vs. nonagentic supernatural entities, and whether causation is believed to happen within interpersonal relationships, within one lifetime, or across lifetimes. In this chapter, we have provided preliminary evidence that belief in karma reflects a unique constellation of these elements and that variability in supernatural justice beliefs can shape causal attributions and behavior in particular belief-consistent ways. Many open questions remain about how cognitive, motivational, and cultural factors interact to shape supernatural justice beliefs, and how the particular beliefs that people hold exert unique effects on cognition and behavior. Throughout this chapter, we have raised several novel hypotheses worthy of future research and described how existing theories of religion and justice can fruitfully be extended to explain a variety of worldviews that are prevalent in diverse cultures around the world.