Saturday, August 31, 2019

Do People Want to Be More Moral? They reported a lower desire to change more morally-relevant traits (e.g., honesty, compassion), compared to less morally-relevant traits (e.g., anxiety, sociability)

Sun, Jessie, and Geoffrey Goodwin. 2019. “Do People Want to Be More Moral?” PsyArXiv. August 26. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Most people want to change some aspects of their personality, but does this phenomenon extend to moral character, and to close others? Targets (N = 800) and well-acquainted informants (N = 958) rated targets’ personality traits and reported how much they wanted the target to change each trait. Targets and informants reported a lower desire to change more morally-relevant traits (e.g., honesty, compassion), compared to less morally-relevant traits (e.g., anxiety, sociability). Moreover, although targets and informants generally wanted targets to improve more on traits that targets had less desirable levels of, targets’ moral change goals were less calibrated to their current levels. Finally, informants wanted targets to change in similar ways, but to a lesser extent, than targets themselves did. These findings shed light on self–other similarities and asymmetries in personality change goals, and suggest that the general desire for self-improvement may be less prevalent in the moral domain.

10% Less Democracy: Why You Should Trust Elites a Little More and the Masses a Little Less

10% Less Democracy: Why You Should Trust Elites a Little More and the Masses a Little Less. Garett Jones.

"During the 2016 presidential election, both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders argued that elites were hurting the economy. But, drawing together evidence and theory from across economics, political science, and even finance, Garett Jones says otherwise. In 10% Less Democracy, he makes the case that the richest, most democratic nations would be better off if they slightly reduced accountability to the voting public, turning up the dial on elite influence.
To do this, Jones builds on three foundational lines of evidence in areas where he has personal experience. First, as a former staffer in the U.S. Senate, he saw how Senators voted differently as elections grew closer. Second, as a macroeconomist, Jones knows the merits of "independent" central banks, which sit apart from the political process and are controlled by powerful insiders. The consensus of the field is that this detached, technocratic approach has worked far better than more political and democratic banking systems. Third, his previous research on the effects of cognitive skills on political, social, and economic systems revealed many ways in which well-informed voters improve government.

Discerning repeated patterns, Jones draws out practical suggestions for fine-tuning, focusing on the length of political terms, the independence of government agencies, the weight that voting systems give to the more-educated, and the value of listening more closely to a group of farsighted stakeholders with real skin in the game―a nation's sovereign bondholders. Accessible to political news junkies while firmly rooted and rigorous, 10% Less Democracy will fuel the national conversation about what optimal government looks like."

"How can we rescue democracy from the slough of despond into which it has fallen? In this lucidly written book, Garett Jones makes the case for a surprising answer: the best way to improve democracy is to have a bit less of it. It's only by handing power to technical experts, lengthening congressional terms, staggering elections, and reducing direct democracy that we can save the invaluable core of democracy from self-destruction." (Adrian Wooldridge co-author of Capitalism in America: An Economic History)

"10% Less Democracy is a joy to read. If you liked Freakonomics or Predictably Irrational, you'll love this book. It deserves to be read widely, widely discussed―and acted upon. A tour de force combining the best economic insight with real-world, practical applications. Every chapter demonstrates ways in which reducing democratic control over certain decisions reliably results in better outcomes for all. We should jettison our religious attachment to democracy and see it for what it is: a tool good only in moderation." (Jason Brennan, author of Cracks in the Ivory Tower)

Garett Jones is Associate Professor of Economics at the Center for Study of Public Choice, George Mason University. He also holds the BB&T Professorship for the Study of Capitalism at the Mercatus Center. Garett's research and commentary have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Forbes, and Businessweek. His first book, Hive Mind: How Your Nation's IQ Matters So Much More Than Your Own (Stanford, 2015) was a Gold Medalist in the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards.

The Honeymoon Is Over: Sex-differentiated Changes in Sexual Desire Predict Marital Dissatisfaction

The Honeymoon Is Over: Sex-differentiated Changes in Sexual Desire Predict Marital Dissatisfaction. James K. McNulty, Jessica A. Maxwell, Andrea L. Meltzer, Roy F. Baumeister. In press in Archives of Sexual Behavior,

Abstract: Sex is critical to marriage. Yet, there are several reasons to expect spouses to experience declines in the desire for sex over time, and the rates of any declines in sexual desire may differ for men and women. We used two multi-wave, longitudinal studies to test whether male and female members of newlywed couples experienced different rates of change in sexual desire, whether any such changes were accentuated by childbirth, and whether any such changes had implications for marital satisfaction. In both studies, spouses provided multiple reports of sexual desire, marital satisfaction, and childbirth. Results demonstrated that women’s sexual desire declined more steeply over time than did men’s sexual desire, which did not decline on average. Further, childbirth accentuated this sex difference by partially, though not completely, accounting for declines in women’s sexual desire but not men’s. Finally, declines in women’s but not men’s sexual desire predicted declines in both partners’ marital satisfaction. These effects  held controlling depressive symptoms and stress, including stress from parenthood. The current findings offer novel longitudinal evidence for sex-differentiated changes in sexual desire and thereby suggest an important source of marital discord.

Key words: marriage; sexual desire; sex differences; gender differences; sexuality; passion

People high in neuroticism & extraversion were the most vulnerable to rumors; women are more vulnerable to rumors than men (could it be to protect the offspring???)

Who falls for rumor? Influence of personality traits on false rumor belief. Kaisheng Lai et al. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 152, 1 January 2020, 109520.

• High extraversion and neuroticism predicted vulnerability to false rumor belief.
• Women were more likely to believe rumors than men.
• Lower education predicted higher rumor belief.
• Extraversion positively predicted rumor belief for men, but not for women.

Abstract: While social media makes information easily accessible, it also breeds unprecedented quantities of false rumors that individuals frequently fall prey to. There have been increasing efforts to combat rumors, yet the first battle in this war would be targeting the most vulnerable people. However, systematic understanding of associations between individual characteristics and rumor belief is still lacking. With a national survey in China (N = 11,551), we investigated relationships between individuals' big five personality traits and their beliefs in false rumors circulating on social media. Correlations and multiple regression models showed that people high in neuroticism and extraversion were the most vulnerable to rumors. Furthermore, demographic characteristics, such as being female and having less education were associated with higher rumor belief. The findings enhance understanding of dispositional factors associated with people's information decisions and provide guidance for anti-rumor campaigns.

Keywords: Rumor Big five Social media Information decision

Room for agreement: Policies that make the poorest wealthier, while keeping the status of the wealthiest, are seen as fair by both Democrats & Republicans & among high- and low–income individuals

Toni Rodon and Marc Sanjaume, "How fair is it? An experimental study of perceived fairness of distributive policies," The Journal of Politics, accepted,

Abstract: How do people evaluate fairness of redistributive policies when redistribution is considered as multidimensional? We estimate the effect of distributive policies on the top- and bottom-income group, as well as the general wealth, social mobility and the origin of wealth on people’s perceived fairness towards them. Findings reveal that policies that encourage upwards social mobility, an increase in general wealth and reward effort and upward mobility are seen as fair. Yet, what is seen as fair or unfair differs substantially across party and income groups. Policies that promote an increase of the status of the wealthiest, as well as policies that do not change or deteriorate the status of the poorest, generate different fairness perceptions. But there is also some room for agreement, as policies that make the poorest wealthier, while keeping the status of the wealthiest, are seen as fair by both Democrats and Republicans and among high- and low–income individuals.

Keywords: Redistribution, Conjoint, Fairness, Multidimensionality, Rawls, Ideology, Income