Saturday, September 28, 2019

Italy: 75% of immigrants integrate into the majoritarian culture over a generation; interestingly, a lower cultural intolerance of Italians towards minorities would lead to slower cultural integration

Marriage, Fertility, and Cultural Integration in Italy. Alberto Bisin, Giulia Tura. NBER Working Paper No. 26303, September 2019.

We study the cultural integration of immigrants, estimating a structural model of marital matching along ethnic dimensions, exploring in detail the role of fertility, and possibly divorce in the integration process. We exploit rich administrative demographic data on the universe of marriages formed in Italy, as well as birth and separation records from 1995 to 2012. We estimate strong preferences of ethnic minorities' towards socialization of children to their own identity, identifying marital selection and fertility choices as fundamental socialization mechanisms. The estimated cultural intolerance of Italians towards immigrant minorities is also substantial. Turning to long-run simulations, we find that cultural intolerances, as well as fertility and homogamy rates, slow-down the cultural integration of some immigrant ethnic minorities, especially Latin America, East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Nonetheless, 75% of immigrants integrate into the majoritarian culture over the period of a generation. Interestingly, we show by counterfactual analysis that a lower cultural intolerance of Italians towards minorities would lead to slower cultural integration by allowing immigrants a more widespread use of their own language rather than Italian in heterogamous marriages. Finally, we quantitatively assess the effects of large future immigration inflows.

Women & men perception of breasts: The bigger, the higher the reproductive efficiency, lactational efficiency, sexual desire, promiscuity attributed; & perceived as less faithful & less intelligent

Stereotypical and Actual Associations of Breast Size with Mating-Relevant Traits. Krzysztof Kościński, Rafał Makarewicz, Zbigniew Bartoszewicz. Archives of Sexual Behavior, September 27 2019.

Abstract: Breast size varies substantially among women and influences perception of the woman by other people with regard to her attractiveness and other characteristics that are important in social contexts, including mating. The theory of sexual selection predicts that physical criteria of partner selection should be markers of the candidate’s desirable properties, mainly biological quality. Few studies, however, have examined whether breast size really signals biological quality or its components and whether observers accurately interpret these signals. Our first study encompassed 163 young women and aimed to establish actual correlates of breast size. The aim of the second study was to determine preferences and stereotypes related to breast size: 252–265 women and men evaluated female digital figures varying in, among other characteristics, breast size. Breast size (breast circumference minus chest circumference) was negatively associated with body asymmetry and positively associated with infections of the respiratory system, but did not correlate with infections of the digestive system, openness to casual sex, and testosterone and estradiol level. Women and men perceived breasts in a similar way to each other: the bigger the breasts the higher the reproductive efficiency, lactational efficiency, sexual desire, and promiscuity attributed to the woman. Nevertheless, large breasts were not regarded more attractive than average ones, though small breasts were the least attractive. In addition, big-breasted women were perceived as less faithful and less intelligent than women with average or small breasts. We discuss our results from the perspectives of evolutionary psychology, perceptual biases, and social stereotypes.

Keywords: Breast size Physical attractiveness Sexual selection Biological signal Social perception

A mindset of optimism is associated with lower cardiovascular risk and that promotion of optimism and reduction in pessimism may be important for preventive health

Association of Optimism With Cardiovascular Events and All-Cause Mortality - A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Alan Rozanski et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(9):e1912200. September 27, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.12200

Key Points
Question  Is a mindset of optimism associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality?

Findings  In this meta-analysis of 15 studies including 229 391 individuals, optimism was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular events and pessimism was associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular events; the pooled association was similar to that of other well-established cardiac risk factors.

Meaning  The findings suggest that a mindset of optimism is associated with lower cardiovascular risk and that promotion of optimism and reduction in pessimism may be important for preventive health.

Importance  Optimism and pessimism can be easily measured and are potentially modifiable mindsets that may be associated with cardiovascular risk and all-cause mortality.

Objective  To conduct a meta-analysis and systematic review of the association between optimism and risk for future cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality.

Data Sources and Study Selection  PubMed, Scopus, and PsycINFO electronic databases were systematically searched from inception through July 2, 2019, to identify all cohort studies investigating the association between optimism and pessimism and cardiovascular events and/or all-cause mortality by using the following Medical Subject Heading terms: optimism, optimistic explanatory style, pessimism, outcomes, endpoint, mortality, death, cardiovascular events, stroke, coronary artery disease, coronary heart disease, ischemic heart disease, and cardiovascular disease.

Data Extraction and Synthesis  Data were screened and extracted independently by 2 investigators (A.R. and C.B.). Adjusted effect estimates were used, and pooled analysis was performed using the Hartung-Knapp-Sidik-Jonkman random-effects model. Sensitivity and subgroup analyses were performed to assess the robustness of the findings. The Meta-analysis of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (MOOSE) reporting guideline was followed.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Cardiovascular events included a composite of fatal cardiovascular mortality, nonfatal myocardial infarction, stroke, and/or new-onset angina. All-cause mortality was assessed as a separate outcome.

Results  The search yielded 15 studies comprising 229 391 participants of which 10 studies reported data on cardiovascular events and 9 studies reported data on all-cause mortality. The mean follow-up period was 13.8 years (range, 2-40 years). On pooled analysis, optimism was significantly associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular events (relative risk, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.51-0.78; P < .001), with high heterogeneity in the analysis (I2 = 87.4%). Similarly, optimism was significantly associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality (relative risk, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.80-0.92; P < .001), with moderate heterogeneity (I2 = 73.2%). Subgroup analyses by methods for assessment, follow-up duration, sex, and adjustment for depression and other potential confounders yielded similar results.

Conclusions and Relevance  The findings suggest that optimism is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality. Future studies should seek to better define the biobehavioral mechanisms underlying this association and evaluate the potential benefit of interventions designed to promote optimism or reduce pessimism.


Extensive evidence has demonstrated an association between negative emotions, social factors, and certain chronic stress conditions and adverse cardiac outcomes.1 Less well studied has been the potential association between positive and negative mindsets and cardiac risk. Such research is of interest because mind-sets are potentially modifiable, thus making them a novel relevant target for clinical intervention. One such mindset is an individual’s level of optimism, commonly defined as the tendency to think that good things will happen in the future.2 Empirical studies have long indicated that more optimistic individuals are more likely to succeed at work and in school, sports, politics, relationships, and other forms of life endeavors.3,4 A more recent study also reported positive associations between optimism and a range of favorable physical health outcomes.5 Nevertheless, the assessment of optimism and pessimism in cardiac medical practice is uncommon. In 2001, Kubzansky and colleagues6 reported the first study, to our knowledge, to find an association between higher optimism and a lower risk for specific cardiac outcomes, including angina, myocardial infarction, and cardiac death. They showed effects of optimism beyond those of depression or other forms of psychological distress, a critical finding because a concern about such findings is that they simply reflect the absence of depression rather than active effects of optimism. Since then, similar findings have been described in other studies,7-20 and most studies considered depression or distress as a potential confounder. To consider these findings more systematically, we conducted a meta-analysis of studies that have assessed the association between optimism and pessimism and adverse cardiac outcomes. Our goals were to evaluate the magnitude of this association, the consistency of results among reported studies, the influence of potential confounders, and the quality of the reported literature.

Vegetarian diets may be perceived as inadequately nutritious, inadequately tasty, socially stigmatizing, too expensive, unfamiliar, inconvenient; dominant factors are the two first

Taste and health concerns trump anticipated stigma as barriers to vegetarianism. Daniel L.Rosenfeld, A. JanetTomiyama. Appetite, Volume 144, 1 January 2020, 104469.

Abstract: Meat-eaters report that a number of barriers inhibit them from going vegetarian—for example, perceiving vegetarian diets to be inadequately nutritious, too expensive, unfamiliar, inconvenient, inadequately tasty, and socially stigmatizing. However, research identifying which barriers uniquely predict meat-eaters’ openness to going vegetarian is lacking from the current literature. In the present research, accordingly, we conducted a highly powered, preregistered study (N = 579) to identify which barriers uniquely predict openness to going vegetarian. We focused specifically on anticipated vegetarian stigma, given recent qualitative evidence highlighting this attitude as an influential barrier. That is, do meat-eaters resist going vegetarian because they fear that following a vegetarian diet would make them feel stigmatized? Being of younger age, more politically conservative, White, and residing in a rural community predicted greater anticipated vegetarian stigma among meat-eaters. Frequentist and Bayesian analyses converged, however, to suggest that anticipated vegetarian stigma was not a significant predictor of openness to going vegetarian. The strongest predictors of openness were perceived tastiness and perceived healthfulness of vegetarian dieting. These factors—but not anticipated stigma—furthermore explained why men (compared to women) and political conservatives (compared to liberals) were particularly resistant to going vegetarian.

Bullshitting frequency was positively associated with overclaiming and negatively associated with sincere self-presentation, honesty, cognitive ability, open-minded cognition, & self-regard

Littrell, Shane, Evan Risko, and Jonathan A. Fugelsang. 2019. “The Bullshitting Frequency Scale: Development and Psychometric Properties.” PsyArXiv. September 27. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Recent psychological research has identified important individual differences associated with receptivity to bullshit which has greatly enhanced our understanding of the processes behind susceptibility to pseudo-profound or otherwise misleading information. However, the bulk of this research attention has focused on cognitive and dispositional factors related to bullshit (the product), while largely overlooking the influences behind bullshitting (the act), leaving several important theoretical questions thus far unanswered. Here, we present results from three studies focusing on the construction and validation of a new, reliable scale measuring the frequency with which individuals engage in bullshitting in everyday situations. Overall, bullshitting frequency was positively associated with overclaiming and negatively associated with sincere self-presentation, honesty, cognitive ability, open-minded cognition, and self-regard. These results represent an important step forward by demonstrating the utility of the Bullshitting Frequency Scale as well as highlighting certain individual differences that may play important roles in the extent to which individuals engage in everyday bullshitting.


“One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share.” – Harry Frankfurt (1986)

Given the increasing prevalence of misleading information and “fake news” on the internet and society at large (Lewandosky, Ecker, & Cook, 2017), a growing body of work has emerged that focuses on better understanding the nature of bullshit and bullshitting. Some has been more descriptive, highlighting the use of bullshit in politics (Kristansen & Kaussler, 2018), business organizations (Martin & Wilson, 2011; Spicer, 2013), academic settings (Cohen, 2012), and everyday life (Frankfurt, 1986). Other research, in psychology, has taken a more empirical approach, examining individual differences associated with receptivity to bullshit and the production of bullshit (i.e., bullshitting). For instance, multiple studies have linked bullshit receptivity (i.e., the propensity to rate vacuous, randomly-generated statements as profound) to factors such as decreased engagement in analytic thinking (Pennycook, Cheyene, Barr, Koehler, & Fugelsang, 2015) and biased pattern perception (Walker, Turpin, Stolz, Fugelsang, & Koehler, 2019). Other work has examined the functions of bullshit production (i.e., bullshitting) as a strategy for managing impressions and attitude change in areas from simple social interactions to assessments of abstract art (Petrocelli, 2018; Turpin et al., 2019).

Bullshitting, broadly defined

Philosopher Harry Frankfurt (1986) is perhaps best known for his seminal piece, On Bullshit, in which he described a “bullshitter” as a person who deliberately conveys a false/phony impression of himself or his intentions in a way that is unconcerned with the truth. In other words, the veracity of what the bullshitter is saying does not matter, as his or her primary concern is whether others are persuaded by it. Frankfurt contrasts this from lying in that the liar is deliberately attempting to get others to believe a falsehood. A key distinction is in the motivation; a liar’s goal is to deceive whereas a bullshitter’s goal is often to impress.

Though this explication of bullshitting is generally well-regarded, some have critiqued it as capturing “just one flower in the lush garden of bullshit” (Cohen, 2012). Indeed, several have modified or expanded on his definitions to provide a more comprehensive view of bullshitting in daily life. For instance, Cohen (2012) highlighted that the aim of some bullshitters is to impress using discourse constructed with “unclarifiable unclarity”; that is, relying on vacuous, confusing buzzwords which obscure the fact that the statements, while superficially impressive, contain no discernible meaning. An example cited is the arguably impenetrable, jargon-heavy writing found in some academic publications. For Cohen, this type of bullshit is distinct from Frankfurtian bullshit in that the Cohen-bullshitter is unconcerned with the lucidity of what he says, rather than unconcerned with its truth-value (Cohen, 2012).

Another proposed type of bullshit/bullshitting is evasive bullshitting, which involves speech aimed at avoiding answering questions one does not want to answer, as giving direct answers may be harmful to oneself or others (Carson, 2016). For instance, a politician may be motivated to use evasive bullshitting when questioned by a member of the press if, for instance, a direct answer could potentially cost votes (harm to self) or jeopardize national security (harm to others). An equally common example might be one’s romantic partner asking if their new haircut or outfit makes them look unattractive. In some cases, a frank response might result in undesirable social costs for either party (or both).

Finally, some have attempted to refine Frankfurt’s assertion that bullshitting, by definition, is unconnected to a concern for the truth (Frankfurt, 1986, p. 90). For instance, Stokke and Fallis (2017) characterize bullshitting as speech that is unconcerned with the truthful advancement of an honest discourse, rather than unconcerned with the veracity of individual statements. Put another way, the bullshitter is not indifferent toward the truth-value of the content of each thing he says. Rather, he is indifferent toward whether his statements create an impression that the overall discourse leads to an honest representation of the truth. Meibauer (2018) describes bullshitting as having a “misrepresentational intent” that is based on “a loose concern for the truth” (p. 366). That is, the bullshitter may not know the truth-value of his statements, yet he is often aware of his unawareness, and asserts himself with a sense of certainty that his statements are true regardless. Indeed, the bullshitter’s goal is not to communicate an objective truth, but to instill a particular belief or impression in another person – regardless of whether the bullshitter also believes it – and can be accomplished through misleading exaggeration or implicature (Stokke & Fallis, 2017; Webber, 2013).

Claims for mirror self-recognition have been made for numerous species ranging from dolphins and elephants to fish and ants; reproducible experimental evidence is avaialable only for some great apes

Gallup, G. G., Jr., & Anderson, J. R. (2019). Self-recognition in animals: Where do we stand 50 years later? Lessons from cleaner wrasse and other species. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice, Sep 2019.

Abstract: Claims for mirror self-recognition have been made for numerous species ranging from dolphins and elephants to fish and ants. But based on rigorous, reproducible experimental evidence only some great apes and humans have shown clear, consistent and convincing evidence that they are capable of correctly deciphering mirrored information about themselves. In this article we critique some of the recent claims for self-recognition in other species and summarize some of the cognitive implications of the capacity to become the object of your own attention. Recent neurobiological evidence now appears to validate the connection between self-recognition and self-awareness.

Check also A Killer Whale’s (Orcinus orca) Response to Visual Media. Pepper Hanna et al. International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 30.