Saturday, October 12, 2019

Random effects meta-analyses showed that social media use was significantly & positively related to affective empathy; effects were generally small in size and do not establish causality

Social Media Use and Empathy: A Mini Meta-Analysis. Shu-Sha Angie Guan, Sophia Hain, Jennifer Cabrera, Andrea Rodarte. Computer Science & Communications, Vol.8 No.4, October 2019, pp. 147-157. DOI: 10.4236/sn.2019.84010

ABSTRACT: Concerns about the effects of social media or social networking site (SNS) use on prosocial development are increasing. The aim of the current study is to meta-analytically summarize the research to date (k = 5) about the relationship between general SNS use and two components of empathy (i.e., empathic concern and perspective-taking). Random effects meta-analyses showed that SNS use was significantly and positively related to affective empathy though only marginally related to cognitive empathy. These effects were generally small in size and do not establish causality. Future research should explore how specific behaviors are related to different forms of empathy.

KEYWORDS: Social Media, Empathic Concern, Perspective-Taking

4. Discussion
Despite the decreases in empathy coupled with increases in media use at the societal level [13] , individual social media use in terms of frequency or time spent per day appears to be related to higher levels of empathy, particularly affective empathy. Even though the associations were small, they trended positive. However, there may be some online behaviors that cultivate empathy (e.g., sharing emotions, expressing support [21] ) more than others (e.g., updating profile photos [20] ). In combination with emerging longitudinal evidence that social media use at one time point is predictive of higher levels of cognitive and affective empathy one year later among adolescents [42] and experimental work that shows that interdependent Facebook use can promote relational orientation [37] , this study contributes to the growing literature on how social media can facilitate positive psychosocial development.
Although promising, there are limitations of the current meta-analysis to consider. This study aimed to look only at global measures of social media use in everyday life and, because of this inclusion parameter, includes a small sample of studies and effect sizes. This likely limits the generalizability of the results and our ability to detect differences by moderators (gender, age). Also, the results are correlational and do not establish causality. Previous research suggests that individuals who are prosocial offline are often prosocial online [29]. Despite our attempts to narrow the scope, there remained variability in the measures of media use and study parameters as indicated by the heterogeneity index. Given the wide range of online activities, future studies should explore how specific behaviors are related to different forms of empathy (e.g., helping strangers vs. family or friends [25] ). Additionally, the social media landscape is constantly evolving and this study captures media use as assessed by recent studies in one moment in time. Cultural psychologists suggest that changes in technology use, as part of larger shifting sociodemographic and ecological changes, can shape cultural values and learning environments in ways that directly affect human development across time [43].
It is also important to note that all of the studies included, and much of media research in general, have been conducted in industrialized, individualistic countries like the United States. This limited our ability to detect cultural differences. On the one hand, the most popular SNSs are often developed in Western cultures and can reflect the highly individualistic values of their developers and users [37] [44]. On the other hand, the Internet is a “global village” of individuals from various nationalities and cultural backgrounds with nearly 60% of the online population residing outside of the U.S. [44]. These diverse offline cultural values can be reflected in the online [45] - [52]. Additionally, there may be values and goals specific to the SNS context outside of the values that users bring with them [53]. Previous meta-analyses suggest that the effects of media use may be stronger in non-Western countries [26]. Future research should explore how cultural values in the online and offline interact in shaping development.
Although limited, this meta-analysis provides useful insights into the media-empathy paradox [13]. Additionally, it may be informative in better understanding growing generations of adolescents and young adults who have become the first generations to have grown up fully immersed in digital media (i.e., “digital natives”) having been born around or after the 1990s when the Internet was first commercially launched. This may mean that psychosocial development for these “digital natives” differs from prior generations of “digital immigrants” [9]. For example, greater face-to-face communication with family members, close friends, and acquaintances was associated with higher levels of psychological well-being (e.g., life meaning, relationship quality) for older adults age 35 - 54 but not for young adults age 18 - 34 [54]. As technology transforms society, social relationships, and media landscapes, it will become ever important to track how these changes affect individuals and their development.

Is intense pleasure necessary for intense beauty? If so, the inability to experience pleasure (anhedonia) should prevent the experience of intense beauty

Intense beauty requires intense pleasure. Aenne A. Brielmann1 and Denis Pelli. Front. Psychol., Oct 11 2019 (provisionally accepted, no full text available). doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02420

Abstract: At the beginning of psychology, Fechner (1876) claimed that beauty is immediate pleasure, and that an object’s pleasure determines its value. In our earlier work, we found that intense pleasure always results in intense beauty. Here, we focus on the complementary question: Is intense pleasure necessary for intense beauty? If so, the inability to experience pleasure (anhedonia) should prevent the experience of intense beauty. We asked 757 participants to rate how intensely they felt beauty from each image. We used 900 OASIS images along with their available valence (pleasure vs. displeasure) and arousal ratings. We then obtained self-reports of anhedonia (TEPS), mood, and depression (PHQ-9). Across images, beauty ratings were closely related to pleasure ratings (r = 0.75), yet unrelated to arousal ratings. Only images with an average pleasure rating above 4 (of a possible 7) often achieved (> 10%) beauty averages exceeding the overall median beauty. For normally beautiful images (average rating > 4.5), the beauty ratings were correlated with anhedonia (r ~ -0.3) and mood (r ~ 0.3), yet unrelated to depression. Comparing each participant’s average beauty rating to the overall median, none of the most anhedonic participants exceeded the median, whereas 50% of the remaining participants did. Thus, both general and anhedonic results support the claim that intense beauty requires intense pleasure. In addition, follow-up repeated measures showed that shared taste contributed 19% to beauty-rating variance, only one third as much as personal taste (58%). Addressing age-old questions, these results indicate that beauty is a kind of pleasure, and that beauty is more personal than universal, i.e., 1.7 times more correlated with individual than with shared taste.

Keywords: beauty, aesthetics, Pleasure, Anhedonia, Depression

Effects of heroin on rat prosocial behavior: They stopped freeing the trapped cagemate, continued to self-administer the drug

From 2018... Effects of heroin on rat prosocial behavior. Seven E. Tomek  Gabriela M. Stegmann  M. Foster Olive. Addiction Biology, May 4 2018.

Abstract: Opioid use disorders are characterized in part by impairments in social functioning. Previous research indicates that laboratory rats, which are frequently used as animal models of addiction‐related behaviors, are capable of prosocial behavior. For example, under normal conditions, when a ‘free’ rat is placed in the vicinity of rat trapped in a plastic restrainer, the rat will release or ‘rescue’ the other rat from confinement. The present study was conducted to determine the effects of heroin on prosocial behavior in rats. For 2 weeks, rats were given the opportunity to rescue their cagemate from confinement, and the occurrence of and latency to free the confined rat was recorded. After baseline rescuing behavior was established, rats were randomly selected to self‐administer heroin (0.06 mg/kg/infusion i.v.) or sucrose pellets (orally) for 14 days. Next, rats were retested for rescuing behavior once daily for 3 days, during which they were provided with a choice between freeing the trapped cagemate and continuing to self‐administer their respective reinforcer. Our results indicate that rats self‐administering sucrose continued to rescue their cagemate, whereas heroin rats chose to self‐administer heroin and not rescue their cagemate. These findings suggest that rats with a history of heroin self‐administration show deficits in prosocial behavior, consistent with specific diagnostic criteria for opioid use disorder. Behavioral paradigms providing a choice between engaging in prosocial behavior and continuing drug use may be useful in modeling and investigating the neural basis of social functioning deficits in opioid addiction.

From 2001... Need to hire a private certified arborist at a cost of $500-$2,000 to take pictures, prepare a report & perhaps to recommend protective pruning or other measures before a tree can be cut

From 2001... The (Almost) Untouchables of California. Todd S. Purdum. , Aug. 29, 2001, Section A, Page 1.

'Anything that's going to happen under this tree has to be addressed,' said Mr. Sartain, a third-generation arborist, surveying the tree's 90-foot canopy with the cheerful, clinical detachment of your favorite pediatrician. 'There's a lot of issues.'

Indeed, Mr. Sartain's visit is only the first step in a process that will require the homeowner, who asked not to be named, to hire a private certified arborist at a cost of $500 to $2,000 to take pictures, prepare a report and perhaps to recommend protective pruning or other measures before a permit is issued and construction can proceed. Penalties for removing a tree like this, worth perhaps $100,000 under city guidelines because of its size and age, could force an offender to plant trees worth an equivalent amount.

Santa Clarita is not alone.

In the past 30 years, as development pressures increased, scores of California cities and counties from Thousand Oaks in the south to Santa Rosa in the north have passed ordinances protecting not only various species and sizes of oaks, but also sycamores, walnuts, eucalyptus and other trees with a zeal that might make the poet Joyce Kilmer blush.

The specifics vary widely, but the ordinances have one goal in common: protecting trees that are almost as storied in California as its redwoods and that have long been threatened by ranching, wine-making, suburban sprawl and, more recently, mysterious diseases.

Children from Namibia and Germany: Being observed increases overimitation in three diverse cultures

Stengelin, R., Hepach, R., & Haun, D. B. M. (2019). Being observed increases overimitation in three diverse cultures. Developmental Psychology, Oct 2019.

Abstract: From a young age, children in Western, industrialized societies overimitate others’ actions. However, the underlying motivation and cultural specificity of this behavior have remained unclear. Here, 3- to 8-year-old children (N = 125) from two rural Namibian populations (Hai||om and Ovambo) and one urban German population were tested in two versions of an overimitation paradigm. Across cultures, children selectively imitated more actions when the adult model was present compared to being absent, denoting a social motivation underlying overimitation. At the same time, children’s imitation was not linked to their tendency to reengage the adult in a second, independent measure of social motivation. These results suggest that, across diverse cultures, children’s imitative behavior is actuated by the attentive state of the model.