Friday, June 28, 2019

Do Women Give Up Competing More Easily? Evidence from the Lab and the Dutch Math Olympiad

Do Women Give Up Competing More Easily? Evidence from the Lab and the Dutch Math Olympiad. Thomas Buser and Huaiping Yuan. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. Jul 2019, Vol. 11, No. 3: Pages 225-252.

Abstract: We use lab experiments and field data from the Dutch Math Olympiad to show that women are more likely than men to stop competing if they lose. In a math competition in the lab, women are much less likely than men to choose competition again after losing in the first round. In the Math Olympiad, girls, but not boys, who fail to make the second round are less likely to compete again one year later. This gender difference in the reaction to competition outcomes may help to explain why fewer women make it to the top in business and academia. (JEL C90, D82, D91, J16)

Freudian Slip? The Changing Cultural Fortunes of Psychoanalytic Concepts

Freudian Slip? The Changing Cultural Fortunes of Psychoanalytic Concepts. Nick Haslam and Lotus Ye. Front. Psychol., June 28 2019.

Abstract: It is often argued that psychoanalysis has declined in prominence since its ascendance in the mid-20th century. To assess this claim we examined the trajectory of psychoanalytic concepts from 1900 to 2008 in the massive Google Books database. The changing relative frequency of a sample of English-language psychoanalytic terms was explored and compared to a sample of terms in French. The frequency of the English terms was further explored from 2008 to 2017 using the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA). The English terms rose steeply from the 1940s and declined steeply from the early 1990s. In contrast, the French terms rose steeply from the 1960s and plateaued from the 1970s. In addition, psychoanalytic terms were markedly more prominent in French since the 1960s. The findings are discussed in the context of historical trends in the reception of psychoanalysis in the Anglophone and Francophone worlds.


Psychoanalysis is often said to be in retreat as an intellectual tradition, a clinical practice, and a cultural phenomenon. Its supposed decline, celebrated by some and mourned by others, has been attributed to a variety of causes. The intellectual merit of psychoanalysis has been repeatedly challenged on scientific and political grounds. Its value as a clinical approach has been undermined on the one hand by the rise of pharmacological treatments and on the other hand by the advent of shorter-term and more “evidence-based” forms of psychotherapy. Its internal frictions have contributed to a growing marginalization and fragmentation of the psychoanalytic community (Stepansky, 2009). Culturally, the influence of psychoanalysis may have lost ground to other perspectives on mind and behavior, such as cognitivism or positive psychology.

Often missing in discussions of the apparent decline of psychoanalytic ideas is the recognition that these ideas may have different trajectories in different cultural contexts. The supposed eclipse of psychoanalysis may only be partial, and largely restricted to the Anglophone world, where many of the fiercest philosophical, psychological, and cultural critiques have been made. Any attempt to assess the changing historical fortunes of psychoanalysis must look beyond the Anglosphere.

The situation in the Francophone world is a case in point. Psychoanalysis came relatively late to France, Freud noting in his 1914 history of the psychoanalytic movement that it was the least receptive to his ideas of the European countries. The first French translation of his work only appeared in 1921 (Mangan, 1950). Despite these late beginnings, psychoanalysis experienced a rapid “blossoming” in the third quarter of the century (Cournut, 1990) and became a touchstone of intellectual life that extended into popular culture and the news media. As Turkle (1992) remarked, in the 1960s “the French attitude toward psychoanalysis swung from denigration and resistance to infatuation” (p.4). Psychoanalytic ideas also became prominent in psychiatry and clinical psychology, Botbol and Gourbil (2018) observing that large proportions of French psychiatrists conduct psychotherapy and describe themselves as psychoanalysts at a time when these proportions are small and diminishing in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Several reasons have been put forward for the continuing prominence of psychoanalysis in Francophone cultures. These include the high value traditionally placed on intellectuals, the tradition of secularism, the emergence of a distinctive French approach to psychoanalysis in the second half of the 20th century, and the centrality of this approach with the cultural revolution of the late 1960s. Whatever its cause, the enduring influence of psychoanalytic ideas in the Francophone world appears to stand in sharp contrast to the decline in the Anglosphere. Indeed, the fate of psychoanalysis in the two worlds appears to be quite distinct, a conclusion supported by a recent analysis showing very low rates of mutual citation of articles published in Anglo-American and French psychoanalytic journals (Potier et al., 2016).

Although the claim that psychoanalytic ideas have had different trajectories of cultural influence in English and French is credible, it has yet to be examined systematically. One way to do so is to use the tools of “culturomics” (Michel et al., 2011) to explore cultural trends by tracking changes in the frequency of words in massive text corpora. Although it lacks the capacity of more qualitative approaches to language analysis to examine detail and complexity, culturomic methods allow historical changes to be precisely quantified using massive text corpora. Using the Google Books corpus, which contains 500 billion words from 5 million digitized books, for instance, changes in the relative frequency of words (as a function of all words) can be examined as an index of their cultural salience. Researchers have used culturomic methods to explore shifts in individualist and collectivist values (Twenge et al., 2012; Hamamura and Xu, 2015; Zeng and Greenfield, 2015), concepts of happiness (Oishi et al., 2013), and concepts of morality (Wheeler et al., 2019), among others.

The present study explored historical changes in the cultural prominence of psychoanalysis by examining shifts in the frequencies of a large set of English and French psychoanalytic terms in two text corpora. The primary corpus was book-based (Google Books) because no comparably large, systematic, multi-lingual, and historically extended language corpus exists, although in principle the analyses could be conducted using newspapers, journal articles, or other sources of text. The English corpus was compared to a French corpus rather than a different language because of the often-remarked difference in the currency of psychoanalytic ideas in the two cultural contexts. (Further research might profitably extend this comparison to additional languages, such as German, Italian, and Spanish.) Contrasts were not attempted within the Anglosphere because widespread joint publication of books in different countries (e.g., the United States and the United Kingdom) obscures any national differences and our primary focus was on cross-linguistic comparison.

This research is not the first to employ a corpus methodology in the psychoanalytic context. For instance, Cariola (2014a, b) has used a computerized dictionary to assess body boundary imagery and to explore psychodynamic themes in Mein Kampf, and Salvatore et al. (2017) have used automated text analysis to examine psychotherapy transcripts. However, our study is the first to examine psychoanalytic discourse itself and employs a vastly larger corpus to do so.

The study was descriptive in nature rather than testing hypotheses. Nevertheless, based on historical considerations we anticipated that the trajectories of psychoanalytic terms in English and French would differ in predictable ways. In particular, we expected that English terms would rise in prominence earlier, decline more in recent decades, and be less salient overall in recent decades relative to their French equivalents.

No Personality Change Following Unemployment: A Registered Replication of Boyce, Wood, Daly, and Sedikides (2015)

No Personality Change Following Unemployment: A Registered Replication of Boyce, Wood, Daly, and Sedikides (2015). Timo Gnambs, Barbara Stiglbauer. Journal of Research in Personality, June 28 2019.

•    We aimed to replicate previous findings on job loss and personality change.
•    Latent change analyses revealed significant general changes in the Big Five traits.
•    There was no evidence for an effect of unemployment on changes in personality.
•    Analyses accounting for potential selection effects led to comparable results.
•    The results reported by Boyce et al. (2015) could not be replicated.

Abstract: The involuntary loss of paid employment represents an adverse life event that has been suggested to lead to personality change. However, previous research has reported highly contradictory findings. Therefore, a replication of Boyce et al. (2015) is presented. These authors originally identified nonlinear changes in openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. Using data from the German National Education Panel Study (N = 5,005), we examined the impact of unemployment on personality change across three years. Latent change analyses indicated no effect of job loss on any Big Five trait. Moderating effects of unemployment duration or gender were not found. Even analyses accounting for potential selection effects led to comparable results. Thus, personality seemed invariant despite changes in employment status.

Female sexual desire during courtship & newlywed phases is often followed by a loss of sexual desire; men may be gullible in terms of entering into a long-term commitment based on false assumptions about the amount of sex involved

The Mask of Love and Sexual Gullibility. Roy F. Baumeister, Jessica A. Maxwell, Geoffrey P. Thomas. SSSP 2018,

Abstract: Many people describe the time of being newly in love as one of life’s peak experiences. Years later, many are dismayed by the choices they made during love, and many people divorce after thinking they were to be married for life. How did they make such a grievous mistake? Traditional theory assumes that lovers are biased in judgments about their partners. This largely speculative essay suggests that evolution has shaped people to fall in love, not just in judging their partners, but in becoming more lovable themselves. Recent data indicate that female sexual desire during courtship and newlywed phases is often followed by a loss of sexual desire that undermines both spouses’ marital satisfaction.Men may therefore be gullible in terms of entering into a long-term commitment based on false assumptions about the amount of sex involved. This may serve as a useful model for the hypothesis that people become more lovable when in love.

An examination of psychosocial factors associated with malicious online trolling behaviors: Taken together, these results provide new information that may help to identify those at risk of engaging in trolling behavior

An examination of psychosocial factors associated with malicious online trolling behaviors. Krista Howard et al. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 149, 15 October 2019, Pages 309-314.

Objective: Trolling, that is, triggering disruption and conflict for one's own amusement, is a malicious online behavior that causes substantial, negative consequences for its victims. Research is needed to better understand, and ultimately to prevent, trolling behavior. To this end, the current study examined potential demographic and psychosocial predictors of social media trolling behavior in a collegiate population.

Methods: College students (N = 504; 82% female) completed an online survey in which they provided demographics, information about their social media habits, and responses to validated personality and psychosocial assessment instruments. Participants were categorized as positive or negative for trolling behavior based on their self-reported social media habits.

Results: Based on the final regression model, significant predictors of trolling included male gender, greater need for participation in social media, and greater likelihood to make downward social comparisons on social media.

Conclusions: Taken together, these results provide new information that may help to identify those at risk of engaging in trolling behavior. These findings contribute to a developing literature that may lead to prevention and intervention strategies to reduce negative outcomes and to improve online experiences for everyone.

Gay Asian Americans Are Seen as More American Than Asian Americans Who Are Presumed Straight

Gay Asian Americans Are Seen as More American Than Asian Americans Who Are Presumed Straight. Mika Semrow et al. Social Psychological and Personality Science, June 27, 2019.

Abstract: Four studies investigate whether gay Asian Americans are stereotyped as more American than Asian Americans who are presumed straight. Gay Asian American men (Study 1) and women (Study 2) were rated as more American than their counterparts whose sexual orientation was unspecified. However, sexual orientation did not influence judgments of Whites’ American identity. The relationship between Asian Americans’ sexual orientation and perceptions of their American identity was mediated by a belief that American culture is relatively more accepting of gay people than Asian culture (Studies 3 and 4). Manipulating how accepting of gay people a target’s country of origin is relative to the United States altered ratings of American identity for gay but not straight targets (Study 4). Using an intersectional approach, these studies demonstrate that sexual orientation information comes together with race to influence who is likely to be perceived as American.

Keywords: race, sexual orientation, intersectionality, foreign stereotypes, acceptance