Thursday, September 5, 2019

We avoid asking sensitive questions; we significantly overestimate the interpersonal costs of asking those, but individuals formed similarly favorable impressions of partners who asked non-sensitive & sensitive questions

Hart, Einav and VanEpps, Eric and Schweitzer, Maurice E., I Didn’t Want to Offend You: The Cost of Avoiding Sensitive Questions (June 24, 2019). SSRN:

Abstract: Within a conversation, individuals balance competing concerns, such as the motive to gather information and the motives to avoid discomfort and to create a favorable impression. Across three pilot studies and four experimental studies, we demonstrate that individuals avoid asking sensitive questions, because they fear making others uncomfortable and because of impression management concerns. We demonstrate that this aversion to asking sensitive questions is both costly and misguided. Even when we incentivized participants to ask sensitive questions, participants were reluctant to do so in both face-to-face and computer-mediated chat conversations. Interestingly, rather than accurately anticipating how sensitive questions will influence impression formation, we find that question askers significantly overestimate the interpersonal costs of asking sensitive questions. Across our studies, individuals formed similarly favorable impressions of partners who asked non-sensitive (e.g., “Are you a morning person?”) and sensitive (e.g., “What are your views on abortion?”) questions, despite askers’ reticence to ask sensitive questions.

Keywords: Conversation; Questions; Strategic Information Exchanges
JEL Classification: D01, D03, D74, D81, D84

Masculinity in heterosexual women & femininity in both hetero- & homosexual men are related to higher sociosexuality; in men, this may reflect female preferences for feminine characteristics in men

Femininity in men and masculinity in women is positively related to sociosexuality. Klára Bártová et al. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 152, 1 January 2020, 109575.

•  Higher masculinity in heterosexual women is related to higher sociosexuality.
•  Higher femininity in heterosexual men is associated to higher sociosexual desire.
•  Higher femininity in homosexual men is linked to higher sociosexual behavior.
•  Cross-cultural differences were found in men but not in women.

Abstract: Sociosexuality, i.e. individual's willingness to engage in uncommitted sex, is systematically higher in men than in women, and can be considered a male typical trait. However, intrasexual variation in sociosexuality is considerable, with individual femininity/masculinity being one of the factors influencing sociosexuality. The aim of our study was to test, in heterosexual and homosexual men and women from Brazil and the Czech Republic, whether childhood gender nonconformity (CGN) and continuous gender identity in adulthood (CGI) are associated with individual sociosexual orientation (SOI-R). A sample of 1336 heterosexual and homosexual men and women completed questionnaires on CGN, CGI, and SOI-R. In general, correlations show that higher masculinity in heterosexual women and higher femininity in both heterosexual and homosexual men are related to higher sociosexuality. Higher sociosexuality in masculine women can be explained by prenatal or actual androgen effects on sexual libido and can reflect a fast life history strategy. In feminine men, this result might reflect female preferences for feminine characteristics in men and an overall shift towards male femininity which can increase individual fitness. Also, gender nonconforming individuals can be more liberal adopting behaviors which are considered as non-traditional. This study challenges the widely association between masculinity and unrestricted sociosexuality.

Keywords: SociosexualityGender nonconformitySexual orientationCross-cultural research

Online comment sections: Those who hold strong opinions are more likely to comment when they perceive the opinion climate to be oppositional rather than supportive to their worldview

Staying silent and speaking out in online comment sections: The influence of spiral of silence and corrective action in reaction to news. Megan Duncan et al. Computers in Human Behavior, Volume 102, January 2020, Pages 192-205.

•  Homogenous opinion climates shifted opinions more than mixed climates.
•  Comments most effect the opinion those with ambiguous initial opinions.
•  Most comments were generated by those with strong opinions.
•  Corrective action seems to motivate polarized audiences to comment.
•  Comment sections may distort audiences' perceptions of public opinion.

Abstract: Through the lenses of Spiral of Silence Theory, the Corrective Action Hypothesis, and peer influence research, we conducted an online experiment to identify the influence of varying opinion climates on opinion expression about a news controversy. This study expands the corrective action literature by manipulating the perceived opinion climate and measuring opinion change and subsequent expression. After all participants (N = 415) read the same news story, they were randomly assigned to one of five opinion climate conditions (supportive, oppositional, mixed, uncertain or polarized) operationalized through user comments following the story. The experiment allowed participants to reply, comment, do both, or not further engage in an attempt to mirror real-world expression behavior. The results suggest that the opinion climate formed by news comments influenced the opinions and comments of participants, providing evidence that those who hold strong opinions are more likely to comment when they perceive the opinion climate to be oppositional rather than supportive to their worldview.

Keywords: News audienceOpinion climateNews comment sectionsCorrective actionSpiral of silencePeer influenceExperimentMedia effects

Linkages between violence‐associated attitudes and psychological, physical, and sexual dating abuse perpetration and victimization among male and female adolescents

Linkages between violence‐associated attitudes and psychological, physical, and sexual dating abuse perpetration and victimization among male and female adolescents. Michele L. Ybarra, Jennifer Langhinrichsen‐Rohling, Aggressive Behavior, August 25 2019.

Abstract: Attitudes about violence and sex in dating relationships were related to psychological, physical, and sexual teen dating abuse perpetration and victimization. Data from Wave 4 of the national, randomly selected, Growing up with Media cohort (n = 876 adolescents aged 14‐19 years), collected in 2011, were analyzed. Dating youth perceived more peer pressure to have sex and were more accepting of sex in brief or nonmarital relationships than pre‐dating youth. Boys had higher levels of rape‐supportive attitudes than girls. Among dating youth, the relative odds of involvement in teen dating abuse as a perpetrator or a victim were generally associated with greater acceptance of relationship violence, perceived peer pressure to have sex, and acceptance of sex in brief and/or nonmarital relationships. Rape‐supportive attitudes were not significantly associated with any type of teen dating abuse involvement. Programs aimed at preventing dating abuse might benefit from targeting attitudes associated with sexual activity as well as relationship violence.

A small, but not insignificant proportion of women, act aggressively beyond self-defense; focus on why and when women engage in sexual harassment and domestic abuse

Douglass, Melanie Dawn, D'Aguanno, Sofia and Jones, Sophie (2019) Women as Active Agents: Female Perpetrators of Sexual Harassment and Domestic Abuse. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences. (In Press).

Abstract: Beginning with Darwin’s theory of sexual selection, evolutionary psychology has been dominated by the view that women are the “choosy sex” and, through intrasexual competition, males the “aggressive sex”. This view was supported by seminal works (e.g. Buss et al., 1990; Clark & Hatfield, 1989), which formed the basis of a considerable body of work. Moreover, they lent credence to the popular view that women are less interested in the sexual side of human relationships, instead being focused on protection and stability. Combined with the notion that males are the dominant/aggressive sex, the literature has therefore insufficiently examined female aggression. When female aggression does occur, it is often viewed as a retaliation against male aggression (i.e. self-defence), rather than an as active strategy used by a small, but not insignificant proportion of women. The focus on male aggression and female self-defence not only deprives women of agency, it also means that their victims are not taken as seriously, and rehabilitation programmes for female offenders are scarce. This paper will discuss evidence that women act aggressively, focusing on why and when women engage in sexual harassment and domestic abuse. It will seek to establish the underlying mechanisms for such strategies (e.g. the personality traits associated with increased aggression in women), which future research should explore. Moreover, because, historically, the evolutionary literature has taken a heteronormative approach, female aggression will be examined in the context of diverse human relationships.

Keywords: Evolution, Women, Domestic Abuse, Sexual Harassment

How strong the tendency among Finns still is to form only one, life-long relationship? Changes in how many partners they have, same-sex experiences, masturbation, etc.

Monogamy vs Polygamy. Osmo Kontula. SexuS Journal, Winter-2019, Volume 04, Issue 11, Pages 959-978.

Abstract: The focus of this chapter is to evaluate how strong the tendency among Finns still is to form only one, life-long relationship. We will also take a look at the number of sexual partners that those who enter relationships without being in love have had. In addition, we will discuss same-sex sexual experiences and analyze what unites those who have had numerous sexual relationships. Finally, we will summarize the practical significance of love in relationship formation.

KEY WORDS: Sexuality, Sexual Health, Sex Research, Finland, Monogamy, Polygamy, Polyamory, Single

Same author: Between Sexual Desire and Reality. Väestöliitto/The Population Research Institute 2009. Chapter 5

Enormous increase in masturbation activity

Over the last decades, the rate of Finnish people who masturbate has truly exploded. The proportion of male respondents jumped from 74 to 97 percent, and of women, from 51 percent to a whopping 93 percent. The figures for the youngest respondents are actually somewhat higher. In 1971, only approximately 60 percent of middleaged men and approximately 30 percent of middle-aged women had occasionally experimented with masturbation. Thereafter the experimentation and practice of masturbation has progressed rapidly from one generation to the next.

Masturbation frequency is still substantially higher among men than women. The latest research has found that, in the group of young adults, 70 percent of men and 33 percent of women had masturbated in the week preceding the survey. The figures for the preceding month were 85 percent and 59 percent. Among the middle-aged, nearly half of men and more than one-fifth of women  had masturbated in the course of the preceding one-week period. The figures for the last one-month period were two-thirds of men and half of women. In the oldest age group, the figures for the past week were one-fifth for men and less than one-tenth for women, and for the past month, half of men and one-fifth of women.

Relatively unrestricted sociosexuality was associated with an increased probability of relationship dissolution through declines in marital satisfaction over time; more sex & more sexual satisfaction weaken this association

The Implications of Sociosexuality for Marital Satisfaction and Dissolution. Juliana E. French, Emma E. Altgelt, Andrea L. Meltzer. Psychological Science, September 4, 2019.

Abstract: Most people will get married, and maintaining a quality marriage is critical to well-being. Nevertheless, many intimates experience declines in marital satisfaction, and a substantial proportion of marriages dissolve. Drawing from functional perspectives of human mating, we argue that one source of marital discord and dissolution is that people vary in their motivations to pursue uncommitted sex—that is, sociosexuality. We examined this possibility using data from two independent longitudinal studies of 204 newlywed couples and used actor–partner interdependence growth-curve modeling. Results demonstrated that relatively unrestricted (vs. restricted) sociosexuality was associated with an increased probability of relationship dissolution through declines in marital satisfaction over time. Additional exploratory analyses provided preliminary evidence suggesting that frequent sex, high sexual satisfaction, and low stress weaken this association. These primary findings suggest that strong motives to pursue uncommitted sex may interfere with marital success, and the latter findings suggest potential buffers for these negative outcomes.

Keywords: sociosexuality, marriage, evolutionary psychology, marital satisfaction, divorce, open materials

Economists & Ideological Bias: Are critics of conventional views better economists or even persons? Remembering Krugman's The Conscience of a Liberal.

Mohsen Javdani & Ha-Joon Chang, Who Said or What Said? Estimating Ideological Bias in Views Among Economists (August 1, 2019). SSRN:

Abstract: There exists a long-standing debate about the influence of ideology in economics. Surprisingly, however, there is no concrete empirical evidence to examine this critical issue. Using an online randomized controlled experiment involving economists in 19 countries, we examine the effect of ideological bias on views among economists. Participants were asked to evaluate statements from prominent economists on different topics, while source attribution for each statement was randomized without participants’ knowledge. For each statement, participants either received a mainstream source, an ideologically different less-/non-mainstream source, or no source. We find that changing source attributions from mainstream to less-/non-mainstream, or removing them, significantly reduces economists’ reported agreement with statements. This contradicts the image economists have of themselves, with 82% of participants reporting that in evaluating a statement one should only pay attention to its content. Using a framework of Bayesian updating we examine two competing hypotheses as potential explanations for these results: unbiased Bayesian updating versus ideologically-/authority-biased Bayesian updating. While we find no evidence in support of unbiased updating, our results are consistent with biased Bayesian updating. More specifically, we find that changing/removing sources (1) has no impact on economists’ reported confidence with their evaluations; (2) similarly affects experts/non-experts in relevant areas; and (3) has substantially different impacts on economists with different political orientations. Finally, we find significant heterogeneity in our results by gender, country, PhD completion country, research area, and undergraduate major, with patterns consistent with the existence of ideological bias.

Keywords: ideology, ideological bias, authority bias, Bayesian updating, views among economists
JEL Classification: A11, A14

5.4.2. Heterogeneity by Gender
[...]. In addition, we find that the estimated ideological bias is 44% larger among male economists as compared to their female counterparts (24% of a standard deviation reduction in agreement level versus 14%, respectively), a difference that is statistically significant at 0.1%. These results are consistent with studies from psychology which suggest that women exhibit less confirmation bias than men (Meyers-Levy 1986, Bar-Tal and Jarymowicz 2010). Gordon and Dahl (2013) also find evidence that suggests that male economists are less cautious in expressing an opinion. This seems to be consistent with stronger ideological bias among male economists found in our results, since ideological bias and assigning higher levels of certainly to our own views usually work hand in hand. Finally, these results are consistent with van Dalen (2019) who finds that female economists are more likely to believe that economic research is not affected by one’s political views, perhaps because they more strongly aspire to be less ideologically biased.

Just a few quick low-quality comments/reminders:

0  First of all, Lee C Bollinger: The Idea of a University. The Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2003,,,SB106617939829836100,00.html
[...] universities at their best have nurtured a distinctive intellectual atmosphere in which one is forced to live in a world of seemingly infinite complexity, while holding onto the natural but quixotic hope that someday it all will be resolved. If the pursuit of understanding is your mission, you simply cannot avoid confronting the immense variety of perspectives out there and, ultimately, how much we don't know, our sheer ignorance. You cannot rely on the comforts of common sense and of having a point of view. Learning to live comfortably in this very uncomfortable mental environment, with all its confusions and disorder and possibilities, defines the intellectual character of the modern university. 
And this has great significance for shaping the intellectual and emotional character of open, democratic societies. Just as instilling an entrepreneurial spirit is difficult and takes time, so does the creation of a democratic personality. The instinctive impulse in the marketplace of ideas is to stick with what we think we know, to find others who think similarly so we can mutually reassure ourselves of the correctness of our beliefs, to avoid situations where we might have to justify our ideas and to resort more and more to certitude as the best defense when under attack. These impulses, natural as they may be, are of course devastating to society. With all the pressures toward the closing of our minds that come with conflict in the public arena, it's not a bad idea to have special communities like universities distinctly dedicated to the open intellect.

1  Care must be taken with some of the writing... We see at the beginning "We find that the estimated ideological bias among female economists is around 40 percent less than their male counterparts" and later the different formulation and figures "the estimated ideological bias is 44% larger among male economists as compared to their female counterparts." Several times they make two uses of some comments, and there are substantial, IMHO, differences among those invocations.

As Tyler Cowen says, "It is a wordy and poorly written paper, and they don't consider the possibility that deference to authority perhaps is the rational Bayesian move, not the contrary.  Still, it has numerous results of interest." (Sep 5 2019,

2  It says that "there already exists strong evidence that, compared to various other disciplines, students in economics stand out in terms of views associated with greed, corruption, selfishness, and willingness to free-ride," and a note adds to this that "Even if this relationship is not strictly casual, it suggests that there exists something about economic education that leads to a disproportionate self-selection of such students into economics."

All this goes mainly for the boys (see section 3 below). It adds nothing about possible (or lack of) better insights, better theories, more economic geniuses among the greedy, corrupt, selfish, or free-riders, and many other possible ideas to be explored. We are left with the doubt that maybe they are as they say, but that makes them better economists, maybe this makes them better at computing while modeling, maybe they see better the economic agents' motivations, aspirations, etc. But they are not interested in going deeper, only in correcting the bad traits, bad habits, etc.

3  If anyone thinks it is a good thing to believe "that economic research is not affected by one’s political views," they are wrong; and that belief and that wish do not make the girls better economists.

4  I think that it transmits biased information, besides its being hilarious, to make mention of Dani Rodrik saying this:
"there are powerful forces having to do with the sociology of the profession and the socialization process that tend to push economists to think alike. Most economists start graduate school not having spent much time thinking about social problems or having studied much else besides math and  economics. The incentive and hierarchy systems tend to reward those with the technical skills rather than interesting questions or research agendas. An in-group versus out-group mentality develops rather early on that pits economists against other social scientists."
or Joseph Stiglitz's pearl:
"[economics as taught] in America’s graduate schools … bears testimony to a triumph of ideology over science."
, as if they were less biased than the others, or were not part of powerful forces of good intentions, or we could ask them to re-organize economics teaching in America, or biases and group think are worse now than when they were students, or ideology trumping science were now a bigger problem than time ago.

They are as bad as we all, and it is likely that worse than many, since they succumb to the feeling-good double pressure in greater degree than the truly modest learners: the pressure of having a good image outside themselves (reputation of being compassionate, economists with a heart) and the pressure of having a good internal reputation, so to speak (good image of oneself).

The pontifex himself, P Krugman, author of The Conscience of a Liberal, said:
On election night 2016, I gave in temporarily to a temptation I warn others about: I let my political feelings distort my economic judgment. A very bad man had just won the Electoral College; and my first thought was that this would translate quickly into a bad economy. I quickly retracted the claim, and issued a mea culpa. (Being an old-fashioned guy, I try to admit and learn from my mistakes.) [Can the Economy Keep Calm and Carry On? Paul Krugman. The New York Times, Jan 01 2018,]

Being he, it happened only that day and it was temporary. But we the great unwashed sin frequently and, being not old-fashioned guys, we do not "try to admit and learn from" our mistakes, and are "testimony to a triumph of ideology over science."

Fortunately for us, Messrs. Javdani & Chang mentioned those three economists, three that are less of a role model than others much more modest and conscious of their human limitations.