Friday, August 23, 2019

Credibility and Incredulity in Milgram’s Obedience Experiments: A Reanalysis of an Unpublished Test By Milgram’s assistant, Taketo Murata

Credibility and Incredulity in Milgram’s Obedience Experiments: A Reanalysis of an Unpublished Test. Gina Perry et al. Social Psychology Quarterly, August 22, 2019.

Abstract: This article analyzes variations in subject perceptions of pain in Milgram’s obedience experiments and their behavioral consequences. Based on an unpublished study by Milgram’s assistant, Taketo Murata, we report the relationship between the subjects’ belief that the learner was actually receiving painful electric shocks and their choice of shock level. This archival material indicates that in 18 of 23 variations of the experiment, the mean levels of shock for those who fully believed that they were inflicting pain were lower than for subjects who did not fully believe they were inflicting pain. These data suggest that the perception of pain inflated subject defiance and that subject skepticism inflated their obedience. This analysis revises our perception of the classical interpretation of the experiment and its putative relevance to the explanation of state atrocities, such as the Holocaust. It also raises the issue of dramaturgical credibility in experiments based on deception. The findings are discussed in the context of methodological questions about the reliability of Milgram’s questionnaire data and their broader theoretical relevance.

Keywords: dramaturgical credibility, experimental deception, methodological dilemmas in assessing obedience, obedience to authority, Stanley Milgram

Both men and women found heroic targets to be more desirable than targets low in heroism, although the main effect of sex was stronger for women than men

Bhogal, Manpal S., and James E. Bartlett. 2019. “Further Support for the Role of Heroism in Human Mate Choice.” PsyArXiv. May 19. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Previous research has explored the role of prosociality in mate choice, predominantly focusing on the role of altruism. Although there is ample evidence to suggest altruism has evolved via mate choice, little research has unpacked prosociality by exploring the role of heroism in mate choice. Limited studies have been conducted in this area, and no studies have explored men’s desirability towards heroic targets. The aim of this study was to replicate and extend the limited research on the role of heroism in mate choice. Participants (n=276, 101 men and 175 women) rated several scenarios varying in heroism, whereby they were asked to rate how desirable targets were for a short-term and long-term relationship. The findings show that both men and women found heroic targets to be more desirable than targets low in heroism, although the main effect of sex was stronger for women than men. Furthermore, high heroic targets were rated as more desirable for long-term compared to short-term relationships, thus replicating and extending previous research. The findings add support to the adaptive role of heroism in human mate choice by exploring the role of heroism in both male and female mate choice. Data, materials, and the preregistered hypotheses/protocol are available on the Open Science Framework (

However, keeping pets, especially cats, and even more being injured by pets, were strongly negatively associated with many facets of quality of life

Friends with malefit. The effects of keeping dogs and cats, sustaining animal-related injuries and Toxoplasma infection on health and quality of life. Jaroslav Flegr, Marek Preiss. bioRxiv, August 21, 2019.

Abstract: Many studies show that keeping cats and dogs has a positive impact on humans’ physical and mental health and quality of life. The existence of this “pet phenomenon” is now widely discussed because other studies performed recently have demonstrated a negative impact of owning pets or no impact at all. The main problem of many studies was the autoselection – participants were informed about the aims of the study during recruitment and later likely described their health and wellbeing according to their personal beliefs and wishes, not according to their real status. To avoid this source of bias, we did not mention pets during participant recruitment and hid the pet-related questions among many hundreds of questions in an 80-minute Internet questionnaire. Results of our study performed on a sample of on 10,858 subjects showed that liking cats and dogs has a weak positive association with quality of life. However, keeping pets, especially cats, and even more being injured by pets, were strongly negatively associated with many facets of quality of life. Our data also confirmed that infection by the cat parasite Toxoplasma had a very strong negative effect on quality of life, especially on mental health. However, the infection was not responsible for the observed negative effects of keeping pets, as these effects were much stronger in 1,527 Toxoplasma-free subjects than in the whole population. Any cross-sectional study cannot discriminate between a cause and an effect. However, because of the large and still growing popularity of keeping pets, the existence and nature of the reverse pet phenomenon deserve the outmost attention.

Frequency of internet use was not associated with lower subjective well-being, although higher levels of direct (face-to-face plus phone) social contact predicted greater life satisfaction

A longitudinal study of the effects of internet use on subjective well-being. Dario Paez et al. Media Psychology, Aug 22 2019.

ABSTRACT: This study examined how internet use is related to subjective well-being, using longitudinal data from 19 nations with representative online samples stratified for age, gender, and region (N = 7122, 51.43% women, Mage= 45.26). Life satisfaction and anxiety served as indices of subjective well-being at time 1 (t1) and then six months later (t2). Frequency of internet use (hours online per day) at t1 correlated with lower life satisfaction, r = – .06, and more anxiety, r = .13 at t2. However, after imposing multivariate controls, frequency of internet use (t1) was no longer associated with lower subjective well-being (t2). Frequency of social contact by internet and use of internet for following rumors (t1) predicted higher anxiety (t2). Higher levels of direct (face-to-face plus phone) social contact (t1) predicted greater life satisfaction (t2). In multivariate analyses, all effect sizes were small. Society-level individualism-collectivism or indulgence-restraint did not show a direct effect on outcomes nor moderate individual-level associations. Results are discussed in the framework of the internet as a displacement of social contact versus a replacement of deficits in direct contact; and as a source of positive and negative information.

Autoerotic practices (mostly strangulation) can be fatal

Bunzel L, Koelzer SC, Zedler B, et al. Non-Natural Death Associated with Sexual Activity: Results of a 25-Year Medicolegal Postmortem Study. J Sex Med 2019; XX:XXX–XXX.. August 22 2019.

Introduction: Non-natural deaths associated with sexual activity may occur either with or without the involvement of other persons.
Aim: The present study provides an overview of cases of non-natural death related to sexual activities as well as recommendations of how to handle these cases and to identify potentially dangerous pleasure-enhancing techniques.
Methods: This medicolegal, postmortem, retrospective, and prospective study is based on data of autopsies performed at the Institute of Legal Medicine at University Hospital, Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany.
Main Outcome Measure: Identification of circumstances, sexual practices, and gender distribution of cases of non-natural death in this context.
Results: Between 1993 and 2017 (25 years), 16,437 medicolegal autopsies were performed, of which 74 cases (43 males, 31 females) of non-natural death were found to relate to sexual activities (0.45%). One female and 21 males had died in the course of autoerotic practices (group I, n = 22). Nine males and 14 females had performed sexual practices with mutual consent (group II, n = 23), and 13 males and 16 females without mutual consent (group III, n = 29). The average age in group I was 45.4 years; in group II, 40.6 years; and in group III, 39.2 years. Most of the deceased were found in their own apartments. Forms of stimulation included vaginal, anal, and oral intercourse; insertion of foreign bodies; use of chemical substances; and tools for respiratory depression/hypoxia. Three cases of death occurred during sexual activities involving bondage and discipline, sadism, and masochism (BDSM). Death due to strangulation was the main cause in group I, whereas intoxications were predominant in group II. Sharp force (eg, knife) was mainly responsible for death in group III. Anogenital injuries were documented in all groups in approximately equal percentages.
Clinical Implications: The cases presented show a high variety of circumstances in which non-natural death connected to sexual activity may occur.
Strengths & Limitations: This study presents a large postmortem collection of non-natural death cases with associated sexual activity. As the main limiting factor, it must be stated that mutual consent for a sexual practice or consumption of substances was presumed based on the information provided and a lack of evidence against this assumption.
Conclusion: In cases of death associated with sexual activity, medical staff should perform thorough unbiased examinations and documentations. Strangulation and the consumption of stimulants should be classified as life-threatening, pleasure-enhancing techniques. Patients and young people should be informed about these risks.

Key Words: Non-Natural Death Sexual Activity Autopsy Anogenital Injury Autoerotic BDSM Forensic Sexual Homicide