Friday, July 12, 2019

Psychiatric diagnostic classification: DSM-5 contains heterogeneous diagnostic categories; pragmatic criteria give clinical flexibility but undermine the diagnostic model, which is a disingenious categorical system

Heterogeneity in psychiatric diagnostic classification. Kate Allsopp, John Read, Rhiannon Corcoran, Peter Kinderman. Psychiatry Research, Volume 279, September 2019, Pages 15-22.

•    Theory and practice of diagnostic assessment is central yet contentious in psychiatry.
•    DSM-5 contains heterogeneous diagnostic categories.
•    Pragmatic criteria give clinical flexibility but undermine the diagnostic model.
•    Trauma has a limited causal role in DSM-5, despite research evidence to the contrary.

Abstract: The theory and practice of psychiatric diagnosis are central yet contentious. This paper examines the heterogeneous nature of categories within the DSM-5, how this heterogeneity is expressed across diagnostic criteria, and its consequences for clinicians, clients, and the diagnostic model. Selected chapters of the DSM-5 were thematically analysed: schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders; bipolar and related disorders; depressive disorders; anxiety disorders; and trauma- and stressor-related disorders. Themes identified heterogeneity in specific diagnostic criteria, including symptom comparators, duration of difficulties, indicators of severity, and perspective used to assess difficulties. Wider variations across diagnostic categories examined symptom overlap across categories, and the role of trauma. Pragmatic criteria and difficulties that recur across multiple diagnostic categories offer flexibility for the clinician, but undermine the model of discrete categories of disorder. This nevertheless has implications for the way cause is conceptualised, such as implying that trauma affects only a limited number of diagnoses despite increasing evidence to the contrary. Individual experiences and specific causal pathways within diagnostic categories may also be obscured. A pragmatic approach to psychiatric assessment, allowing for recognition of individual experience, may therefore be a more effective way of understanding distress than maintaining commitment to a disingenuous categorical system.

Ineffective altruism: "Doing the “most good” can actually come to be viewed as less moral when it incurs the opportunity cost of helping someone socially closer in much less severe need."

Law, Kyle F., Dylan Campbell, and Brendan Gaesser. 2019. “Biased Benevolence: The Morality of Effective Altruism.” PsyArXiv. July 11. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: A great deal of work across psychology and philosophy on altruism has been devoted to increasing helping behavior, decreasing social biases, and documenting the positive moral judgments associated with helping others in need. But is altruism always morally good, or is the morality of altruism fundamentally shaped by the social opportunity costs that often accompany helping decisions? Across four studies, we reveal that, although helping both socially closer and socially distant others is generally perceived favorably (Study 1), in cases of realistic tradeoffs in social distance and gains in welfare where helping socially distant others (e.g., strangers in a distant country) necessitates not helping socially closer others (e.g., friends and family) with the same resources, helping is deemed as less morally acceptable (Studies 2-4). Further, making helping decisions at a cost to socially closer others negatively affects judgments of relationship quality, leading one to be perceived as a worse family member, friend, community member, and countryperson (Study 3), and in turn, decreases cooperative behavior with the helper (Study 4). Yet individual differences in identification with humanity consistently attenuated the effect of social distance on people’s moral judgments of helping. Considered together, these findings challenge notions that more helping will always be viewed as more moral and reveal that attempts to decrease biases in helping may have previously unconsidered consequences for moral judgments, relationships, and cooperation.

Parenthood leads to considerable changes in individual risk attitudes over time; risk aversion increase as early as two years before becoming a parent; effects disappear when the child becomes older

Parenthood, risk attitudes and risky behavior. Katja Görlitz, Marcus Tamm. Journal of Economic Psychology, July 11 2019, 102189.

•    Parenthood leads to considerable changes in individual risk attitudes over time.
•    Risk aversion increase as early as two years before becoming a parent.
•    Effects disappear when the child becomes older.
•    Risky labor market behavior remains unaffected by parenthood.

Abstract: This study analyzes how risk attitudes change when individuals experience the major life event of becoming a parent by using longitudinal data for a large and representative sample of individuals from Germany. The analysis uses a survey-based measure of risk aversion. The estimation is based on an individual fixed effects model similar to an event study. On average, men and women experience a considerable increase in risk aversion around the time of first childbirth. This increase already starts as early as two years before they become parents, it is largest shortly after childbirth and it disappears when the child becomes older. When analyzing risky choices, the results indicate that risky labor market behavior remains unaffected by parenthood.

Brain activity and connectivity changes in response to nutritive natural sugars, non-nutritive natural sugar replacements and artificial sweeteners

Brain activity and connectivity changes in response to nutritive natural sugars, non-nutritive natural sugar replacements and artificial sweeteners. Anna M. Van Opstal et al. Nutritional Neuroscience, Jul 10 2019.

Introduction: The brain plays an important regulatory role in directing energy homeostasis and eating behavior. The increased ingestion of sugars and sweeteners over the last decades makes investigating the effects of these substances on the regulatory function of the brain of particular interest. We investigated whole brain functional response to the ingestion of nutrient shakes sweetened with either the nutritive natural sugars glucose and fructose, the low- nutritive natural sugar replacement allulose or the non-nutritive artificial sweetener sucralose.

Methods: Twenty healthy, normal weight, adult males underwent functional MRI on four separate visits. In a double-blind randomized study setup, participants received shakes sweetened with glucose, fructose, allulose or sucralose. Resting state functional MRI was performed before and after ingestion. Changes in Blood Oxygen Level Dependent (BOLD) signal, functional network connectivity and voxel based connectivity by Eigenvector Centrality Mapping (ECM) were measured.

Results: Glucose and fructose led to significant decreased BOLD signal in the cingulate cortex, insula and the basal ganglia. Glucose led to a significant increase in eigen vector centrality throughout the brain and a significant decrease in eigen vector centrality in the midbrain. Sucralose and allulose had no effect on BOLD signal or network connectivity but sucralose did lead to a significant increase in eigen vector centrality values in the cingulate cortex, central gyri and temporal lobe.

Discussion: Taken together our findings show that even in a shake containing fat and protein, the type of sweetener can affect brain responses and might thus affect reward and satiety responses and feeding behavior. The sweet taste without the corresponding energy content of the non-nutritive sweeteners appeared to have only small effects on the brain. Indicating that the while ingestion of nutritive sugars could have a strong effect on feeding behavior, both in a satiety aspect as well as rewarding aspects, non-nutritive sweeteners appear to not have these effects.

KEYWORDS: MRI, energy ingestion, brain activity, eigen vector centrality, functional network connectivity, nutritive sweeteners, non-nutritive sweeteners, artificial sweeteners

Analyzed over 1 million posts from over 4,000 individuals, several social media platforms: Human behavior qualitatively and quantitatively conforms to the principles of reward learning (like rats)

Lindström, Björn, Martin Bellander, Allen Chang, Philippe N. Tobler, and David M. Amodio. 2019. “A Computational Reinforcement Learning Account of Social Media Engagement.” PsyArXiv. July 11. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Social media has become the modern arena for human life, with billions of daily users worldwide. The intense popularity of social media is often attributed to a psychological need for social rewards (“likes”), which turns the online world into a “Skinner Box” for the modern human. Yet despite such common portrayals, empirical evidence for social media engagement as reward-based behavior remains scant. We applied a computational approach to directly test whether reward learning mechanisms contribute to social media behavior. We analyzed over one million posts from over 4,000 individuals on several social media platforms, using computational models based on reward reinforcement learning theory. Our results consistently show that human behavior on social media qualitatively and quantitatively conforms to the principles of reward learning. Results further reveal meaningful individual differences in social reward learning on social media, explained in part by variability in users’ tendency for social comparison. Together, these findings support the social reinforcement learning view of social media engagement and offer key new insights into this emergent mode of modern human behavior on an unprecedented scale.

Urban Civility: City Dwellers Are Not Less Prososcial Than Their Rural Counterparts

Urban Civility: City Dwellers Are Not Less Prososcial Than Their Rural Counterparts. Grace Westlake, David Coall. Evolutionary Psychological Science, July 11 2019.

Abstract: Urban living is often thought to promote incivility, but the existing sociological evidence paints a mixed picture. We aimed to examine the urban incivility phenomenon from an evolutionist’s perspective. Small communities are expected to show a higher incidence of helping because the applicability of theories such as kin selection, direct reciprocity and indirect reciprocity to acts of cooperative behaviour is augmented in small-scale demographic settings. Smaller communities have a reduced total pool of individuals to interact with, increasing the likelihood of encountering any given individual multiple times. This makes it easier for individuals to form cooperative relationships with one another, which may facilitate prosociality within smaller communities. Using the lost letter technique, our results show that city dwelling, compared with rural residence, per se does not negatively influence prosociality. This contradicts the expected erosion of cooperative behaviour in anonymous cities and adds to our understanding of the interplay between human macroecology and individual behavioural tendencies.

Keywords: Cooperation Prosociality Lost letter experiment Urban incivility

Those who possess extreme political views are also found to report higher levels of happiness

Happy partisans and extreme political views: The impact of national versus local representation on well-being. Jeremy Jackson. European Journal of Political Economy, Volume 58, June 2019, Pages 192-202.

Abstract: The political party of elected officials can affect the happiness of the voting public through several different channels. Partisan voters will be happier whenever a member of their party controls political office regardless of the policies implemented. It is hypothesized that congruence between individual party identity and state politician affiliations should have a greater impact on citizen happiness than congruence with politicians at the national level due to results from the literature on Tiebout sorting. It is further hypothesized that individuals with extreme ideological views may report greater happiness as their ideology fulfills basic psychological needs for certainty and structure. Using data from the Generalized Social Survey the effect of party congruence of individuals with national and state politicians on happiness is estimated. The effect of extreme ideological political views on happiness is also estimated. Results find that congruence with presidential party affiliation has a much greater impact on happiness than congruence with national legislative affiliation, gubernatorial, or state legislative affiliation contradicting the hypothesis. Those who possess extreme political views are also found to report higher levels of happiness.

Check also Political Extremity, Social Media Use, Social Support, and Well-Being for Emerging Adults During the 2016 Presidential Election Campaign. Dana C. Leighton, Mark J. Brandt, Lindsay A. Kennedy. Emerging Adulthood, January 1, 2019.
Abstract: The 2016 U.S. presidential election was marked by hostile political discourse, often on social media, where users were exposed to divergent, and potentially distressing, political discourse. This research explores the effects of this election on the well-being of emerging adults who receive the majority of their news via social media. Using data from the Emerging Adulthood Measured at Multiple Institutions 2 Study, we expected greater social media use to be associated with greater perceived stress, and lower well-being, among emerging adults who are more politically extreme, and expected these relationships would be moderated by social support and social media use. Our preregistered analysis did not support our hypotheses. Although there were some effects of extremity on stress and well-being, overall the direction of the effects were inconsistent and neither social media use nor social support was found to moderate the effects of extremity on stress and well-being.

Keywords: political ideology, political extremity, social media, well-being, health, social support, emerging adults, elections