Monday, July 15, 2019

Americans appear to be in greater pain than citizens of other countries, and most sub-groups of citizens have downwardly trended happiness levels

Unhappiness and Pain in Modern America: A Review Essay, and Further Evidence, on Carol Graham's Happiness for All? David G. Blanchflower, Andrew Oswald. NBER Working Paper No. 24087, November 2017. https://www.nber.org/papers/w24087

In Happiness for All?, Carol Graham raises disquieting ideas about today’s United States. The challenge she puts forward is an important one. Here we review the intellectual case and offer additional evidence. We conclude broadly on the author’s side. Strikingly, Americans appear to be in greater pain than citizens of other countries, and most sub-groups of citizens have downwardly trended happiness levels. There is, however, one bright side to an otherwise dark story. The happiness of black Americans has risen strongly since the 1970s. It is now almost equal to that of white Americans.

Humans go through a dramatic developmental shift during the second year of life in the way they evaluate individuals based on the outcomes of conflict

Infants prefer those who 'bow out' of zero-sum. conflicts. Ashley J. Thomas, Barbara W. Sarnecka. Human Behavior and Evolution Society 31st annual meeting. Boston 2019. http://tiny.cc/aa1w6y

Abstract: Cooperation and conflict are basic to human social life. From early infancy, humans seem to recognize cooperation and to prefer cooperative individuals. They also seem to recognize conflict, expecting larger individuals or those with more allies to prevail. The present paper asks how infants feel about others who either win or lose (by yielding) in a conflict. We present a total of nine experiments. In four of the experiments, infants ages 10 to 16 months watched vignettes showing two puppets in a conflict. Infants preferred (reached for) the puppet that yielded to another puppet, rather than the puppet who was yielded to. Five more experiments ruled out alternative explanations for the main findings, including that the infants preferred the yielding puppet because it helped the other puppet achieve its goal. These results are striking in light of earlier findings showing that only five months later, at age 21 months, children emphatically prefer the winner (non-yielding puppet) in such conflicts. These results suggest that humans go through a dramatic developmental shift during the second year of life in the way they evaluate individuals based on the outcomes of conflict

Rational, impartial, dispassionate, neutral, above-human scientists to whom the lawmaker must hear: “More scientists are bringing their emotions and hearts to the forefront of their work”

It’s the End of the World as They Know It: The distinct burden of being a climate scientist. David Corn; Photos by Devin Yalkin. Mother Jones, July 8, 2019. https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2019/07/weight-of-the-world-climate-change-scientist-grief

“More scientists are bringing their emotions and hearts to the forefront of their work—getting bolder, more impassioned, more provocative”

Selection of emotional, sorry, objective statements:
“I’m tired of processing this incredible and immense decline”

”[...] knows of a looming catastrophe but must struggle to function in a world that does not comprehend what is coming and, worse, largely ignores the warnings of those who do.”

“it’s deep grief—having eyes wide open to what is playing out in our world”

“I lose sleep over climate change almost every single night”

“Climate change is its own unique trauma. It has to do with human existence.”

“I have no child and I have one dog, and thank god he’ll be dead in 10 years.”

Infants map pyramidal position to social dominance as soon as they associate it with relative physical size, suggesting that infant concepts of dominance are formed akin to human dominance hierarchies.

The structure of dominance: Preverbal infants map pyramidal position to social dominance. Lotte Thomsen, Erik Kjos Fohn, Joakim Haugane Zahl, Oda Eidjar, Susan Carey. Human Behavior and Evolution Society 31st annual meeting. Boston 2019. http://tiny.cc/aa1w6y

Abstract: The learnability problem of the social world suggests that evolution may have built core relational concepts (Thomsen & Carey, 2013). Indeed, preverbal infants represent social dominance (Thomsen et al, 2011). Across cultures and language families, UP-DOWN is mapped to social hierarchies such that higher-ranked superiors are placed and spoken metaphorically as above lowly inferiors (Fiske, 1992; Lakoff & Johnson,1980). However, human dominance hierarchies are pyramidal, such that more people are at the bottom than at the top. Consistent with this, adults across cultures readily interpret a pyramidal structure as hierarchy, but not a vertical line (Thomsen, 2010). Here, we demonstrate that 11-16 month-olds, after watching six same-size agents “flying” in a pyramidal structure, expect the top agent to prevail in a subsequent right-of-way conflict, looking significantly longer if it yields to a bottom one than vice versa. Study 2 replicated these effects among 9-10 month-olds. A control study instead familiarized infants to an inverted pyramid. These results demonstrate that infants map pyramidal position to social dominance as soon as they associate it with relative physical size, suggesting that infant concepts of dominance are formed as pyramidal structures, akin to human dominance hierarchies.

Coalitions compete in a collective, zero-sum fashion for status (relative entitlement to determine outcomes); lack of support for inflammatory representations, however inaccurate, is seen as immoral & disloyal

Tableaux, camera angles and outrage lock: the political cognition and cultural epidemiology of group-relevant events. John Tooby. Human Behavior and Evolution Society 31st annual meeting. Boston 2019. http://tiny.cc/aa1w6y

Abstract: Coalitions compete in a collective, zero-sum fashion for status (relative entitlement to determine outcomes). This selected for an evolved, group-directed motivational system that is designed to link individuals together to act as a unit to enhance, defend or repair their status, or initiate aggression in the interest of exploitive supremacism. The status of the group is a public good to its members. Hence, harms (“outrages”) to one or more members of the ingroup (or proxy members) by one or more members of an outgroup advertise potentially undeterred mistreatment as a new public precedent for tolerated mistreatment and low status. Typically, joint attention on outrages triggers collective responses, and so representations of outrages and grievances function as group-mobilizing resources, and are nurtured, embroidered, and exaggerated for their utility in advancing the group’s interests, including in subordinating outgroup members. Lack of support for inflammatory representations, however inaccurate, is treated as immoral and disloyal, leading to outrage lock, where extreme representations maintain themselves in the group long after whatever underlying reality has dissipated. The cultural epidemiology of representations of significant outrages and emblematic events become cognitively stylized imagery—what might be called tableaux—built out of underlying evolved systems of situation representation.