Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Inter-subject representational similarity analysis reveals individual variations in affective experience when watching erotic movies

Inter-subject representational similarity analysis reveals individual variations in affective experience when watching erotic movies. Pin-Hao A. Chen, Eshin Jolly, Jin Hyun Cheong, Luke J. Chang. bioRxiv, Aug 6  2019. https://doi.org/10.1101/726570

Abstract: We spend much of our life pursuing or avoiding affective experiences. However, surprisingly little is known about how these experiences are represented in the brain and if they are shared across individuals. Here, we explore variations in the construction of an affective experience during a naturalistic viewing paradigm based on subjective preferences in sociosexual desire and self-control using intersubject representational similarity analysis (IS-RSA). We found that when watching erotic movies, intersubject variations in sociosexual desire preferences of 26 heterosexual males were associated with similarly structured fluctuations in the cortico-striatal reward, default mode, and mentalizing networks. In contrast, variations in the self-control preferences were associated with shared dynamics in the fronto-parietal executive control and cingulo-insula salience networks. Importantly, these results were specific to the affective experience, as we did not observe any relationship with variation in preferences when individuals watched neutral movies. Moreover, these results appear to require multivariate representations of preferences as we did not observe any significant results using single summary scores. Our findings demonstrate that multidimensional variations in individual preferences can be used to uncover unique dimensions of an affective experience, and that IS-RSA can provide new insights into the neural processes underlying psychological experiences elicited through naturalistic experimental designs.


In this study, we used brain imaging to explore the affective experience of heterosexual male participants. We used a naturalistic experimental design (Hasson et al., 2004; Haxby et al., 2011), in which participants watched short clips of erotic and neutral movies in the MRI scanner. These types of designs are ideal for eliciting powerful psychological experiences and creating strong variation in brain activity underlying the experience (Jolly and Chang, 2019). In contrast to the standard practices in emotion research, we did not examine affective experience using self-reported feelings or videos selected to elicit specific emotional states (Coan et al., 2007; Lench et al., 2011; Lindquist et al., 2012; Quigley et al., 2014). Instead, we explored how variation in two distinct preferences (i.e., sociosexual desires and self-control) mapped onto individual variation in brain dynamics while watching the videos using intersubject representational similarity analysis (IS-RSA).

Consistent with our predictions, we found that when individuals watched erotic movies, individuals with similar sociosexual desire preferences showed higher similarities in patterns of neural dynamics in brain regions within the cortico-striatal reward and default mode and mentalizing networks than those with different preferences. In contrast, as individuals became closer in their self-control preferences, we observed greater similarities in patterns of neural dynamics in brain regions within the fronto-parietal executive control and cingulo-insula salience networks. Importantly, when individuals watched neutral movies, inter-subject similarities in sociosexual desire and self-control preferences played no prominent role in accounting for the similarities in patterns of neural dynamics. We used meta-analytic decoding to provide a crude reverse inference of the possible psychological states contributing to the affective experience. Consistent with our expectations, variations in sociosexual desire preferences revealed stronger associations with social and social judgment topics, whereas variations in self-control preferences revealed stronger associations with the executive control, cognitive control, error monitoring and conflict. Together, our results support our hypothesis that variation in individual preferences can be used to explore affective experiences. Though we only specifically examined preferences for sociosexual desire and self-control, we do not believe this to be an exhaustive list of possible preferences and speculate that many other potential measures might also provide insight into this experience. This study provides important conceptual and methodological advances to the investigation of affective experiences. Because there currently exists no objective measure of affective experiences (Chang et al., 2015), the field of emotion has a long history of grappling with measurement issues and has largely relied on self-report (Larsen and Fredrickson, 1999). One issue with trying to have participants map an experience into a high dimensional space of self-reported feelings is that this process requires both introspection (Nisbett and Wilson, 1977) and verbally labeling feelings using shared concepts (Lindquist et al., 2015). It’s possible that this verbal labeling process necessarily reduces the dimensionality of the representational space of the experience by filtering out processes that cannot be measured using this approach, which is why many studies find that 2-5 dimensions can explain the majority of the emotion rating variance (Chikazoe et al., 2014; Kragel and LaBar, 2015; Skerry and Saxe, 2015). In addition, most studies select a few stimuli to elicit a finite set of emotional states. However, this approach assumes that all participants will have a similar experience (Chang et al. 2018) and limits the variation in the emotional experiences (Cowen and Keltner, 2017), which can provide a statistical bias towards a low dimensional representation (Jolly and Chang, 2019). Our study provides an alternative approach to exploring affective experiences. Rather than assuming that participants will have the same response, which provides the basic premise of intersubject correlation (Hasson et al., 2004) and also functional alignment techniques (Guntupalli et al., 2016; Haxby et al., 2011), we assume that participants will have strong variations in their experience, which should correspond to structured variations in measures related to the experience. Importantly, we do not attempt to reduce the dimensionality of these measures to a single summary score, instead, we represent each item from the measure as a separate axis in a multiple-dimensional space and calculated the pairwise distance of each participant in this high-dimensional space. We believe that preserving the richness and complexity of all features in a high-dimensional space is important as there are many ways to answer a questionnaire that will produce an identical single summary score. Consistent with this intuition, we find that our IS-RSA results only hold when using a high dimensional representation and are not present when mapping participants’ distances using summary scores.

Though we believe this IS-RSA approach to be promising, there are several important limitations that should be acknowledged. First, we are using all of the features of each preference measure as an axis to map each participant and weighting the contribution of each feature equally. This means that we currently are unable to determine which features are specifically contributing to the experience. In addition, some of these features could be reflecting pure noise, which would be weighted equally as features that contain pure signal. It’s possible that this might be addressed with future work using multivariate regression techniques (e.g., partial least squares). Second, we are mapping individual position in this multidimensional space to intersubject dynamics of brain activity. This means that we do not know when in time processes specific to the experience occurred. It is possible to use similarity in spatial representations (van Baar et al., 2019), which might provide a way to extend this to which time points show a similar intersubject structure (Chang et al. 2018). However, this will also require accounting for multiple comparisons as well as non-independence in the time-series signals resulting from autocorrelation.

In summary, we have provided a demonstration of how variations in participants’ preferences can be used to uncover unique dimensions of an affective experience based on similarity in the intersubject structure of brain dynamics measured during the experience. This technique has the potential to provide a new approach to studying the neural processes underlying psychological experiences elicited through naturalistic experimental designs. Though this study provides a simple proof of concept, we hope that this work will inspire future innovations in analyzing naturalistic experimental designs, affective science, and psychological experiences.

Intellectual Humility and Perceptions of Political Opponents

Seli, Paul, Ph.D. 2019. “Intellectual Humility and Perceptions of Political Opponents.” PsyArXiv. October 22. psyarxiv.com/h8fy9

Abstract: The epistemic virtue of intellectual humility (IH) refers to the recognition that personal beliefs might be wrong. In four initial studies, we examined the role of IH in predicting how people perceive their sociopolitical opponents, and the role of IH in people’s willingness to befriend their sociopolitical opponents. We found that people lower in IH are more likely to derogate and less likely to befriend their opponents. In two additional studies, we experimentally explored a possible method with which to make people less likely to derogate opponents and more willing to befriend them. After informing participants about the results of our existing studies showing that people who hold opposing positions do not differ in IH, participants were less likely to derogate opponents and somewhat more willing to befriend them. We discuss the implications of these results for sincere, open discussion, and for reducing social extremism and polarization.

General Discussion
In Studies 1a and 1b, we investigated a possible way in which people who are low in IH might be overconfident in their beliefs and particularly unwilling to seriously engage with opponents’ views. For five of the six sociopolitical issues examined, we found that participants lower in IH tended to derogate the intellectual capabilities and moral character of sociopolitical opponents more than participants higher in IH. By believing that opponents are unintelligent and unethical, it may become easier to dismiss others’ views and to believe in the superiority of one’s own views. Studies 2a and 2b examined whether participants lower in IH are less willing to befriend people with opposing views. For both highly-contentious, polarized issues, and less-contentious, polarized issues, those lower in IH were indeed less willing than those higher in IH to befriend people who hold opposing positions. Then, in Studies 3a and 3b, we introduced an experimental manipulation to explore a possible way to render participants less likely to derogate opponents and more willing to befriend opponents. We informed participants that there are actually no differences in IH between people who hold opposing positions on the issues, and we tested whether this information influenced their perceptions of their opponents. For both issues examined, informing participants that opponents do not actually differ on IH made participants derogate opponents less. Moreover, for the standardized testing issue, but not for the concealed carry issue, informing participants that those who hold opposing positions do not differ on IH made them more willing to befriend those with opposing views. The results from these two final studies provide experimental evidence for a simple and effective means of reducing the tendency for people to derogate others who hold different sociopolitical views.
There has been a recent surge of research on IH, much of which has been devoted to IH scale development and validation (e.g., Haggard et al., 2018; Krumrei-Mancuso & Rouse, 2016; Leary et al., 2017). By most psychological accounts, IH is fundamentally a cognitive intrapersonal construct reflecting people’s private assessments of their beliefs and attitudes (Leary et al., 2017). There are, however, important interpersonal consequences of differences in IH. Other research has found that those higher in IH tend to be more forgiving (Lavelock et al., 2014), generous (Exline & Hill, 2012), and empathic (Krumrei-Mancuso & Rouse, 2016). Our research expands upon these findings by identifying an interpersonal consequence of differences in IH, namely that those low in IH tend to both derogate sociopolitical opponents and express an unwillingness to befriend people with opposing sociopolitical views.
Our finding that IH predicts the degree to which people derogate sociopolitical opponents and express an unwillingness to befriend them may have significant implications for social extremism and political polarization. Derogating opponents and being unwilling to befriend them might create cliques of people, with the same views, who collectively seek out and share information that reinforces their shared views (i.e., “echo chambers”). With contemporary social media, there is no shortage of opportunities for people to create and find their desired echo chambers. In fact, echo chambers comprised of people discussing sociopolitical issues and events have been identified on Twitter (Barberá, et al., 2015; Williams, McMurray, Kurz, & Lambert, 2015), Facebook (Del Vicario, et al., 2016), and various blogs (Suhay, Blackwell, Roche, & Bruggeman, 2015). Critically, the results of our final two studies suggest that informing people about actual psychological research on IH has the potential to make them less likely to derogate opponents and more willing to befriend them. This kind of simple intervention might help to minimize social extremism and political polarization—especially for low-IH individuals.
Disagreements over sociopolitical issues can be useful and fruitful. Such disagreements offer the potential for understanding the perspectives of others, generating creative solutions to significant problems, and growing intellectually. However, the extent to which disagreements are useful depends on the willingness of opposing sides to try to understand opposing positions (de Wied, Branje, & Meeus, 2007; Stone, Patton, & Heen, 2010). Promoting IH as an epistemic virtue worth cultivating and informing the public about research on IH has the potential to reduce social extremism, polarization, and the frequency of unresolvable disagreements over time.

On average, men have higher humor production ability than women; the effect is small to moderate; the difference may reflect both evolutionary and environmental influences

Sex differences in humor production ability: A meta-analysis. Gil Greengross, Paul J. Silvi, Emily C.Nusbaum. Journal of Research in Personality, October 22 2019, 103886. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2019.103886

•    On average, men have higher humor production ability than women.
•    Effect is small to moderate.
•    Humor was rated by independent judges assessing the humor produced by both sexes.
•    Difference may reflect both evolutionary and environmental influences.

Abstract: We offer the first systematic quantitative meta-analysis on sex differences in humor production ability. We included studies where participants created humor output that was assessed for funniness by independent raters. Our meta-analysis includes 36 effect sizes from 28 studies published between 1976 and 2018 (N = 5057, 67% women). Twenty of the 36 effect sizes, accounting for 61% of the participants, were not previously published. Results based on random-effects model revealed that men's humor output was rated as funnier than women's, with a combined effect size d = 0.321. Results were robust across various moderators and study characteristics, and multiple tests indicated that publication bias is unlikely. Both evolutionary and cultural explanations were considered and discussed.

4.3. Conclusion
The research presented here focused on one specific aspect of humor that is largely under-investigated in humor research, humor production ability. Despite finding men to have higher humor creation abilities than women on verbal humor, this difference should not be seen as representative of other types of humor, including non-verbal humor production ability. In fact, for most aspects of humor, men and women seem to exhibit many similarities, with relatively few differences (Martin, 2014). In regard to humor 41production abilities, the topic of sex differences is often reduced to blunt assertions such as that “Women are not funny” (e.g.,Hitchens, 2007). We hope that our meta-analysis will help advance a more nuanced discussion on the topic based on a systematic evaluation of the available scientific data. Examination of such data suggest that regardless of the underlying source of variability, men exhibit higher humor ability than women on the kinds of verbal tasks included in our sample of studies. It is important to remember that though robust, these differences are small to medium in size, and are based on averages. They do not reflect individual abilities, as both men and women vary largely in their abilities to produce humor. We tried to illuminate possible sources for the differences in HPA, what they might mean, theoretical implications, considerations for future research, and limitations. Humor is an important experience for most people, one that is largely unique to humans. We hope that our results will further foster the study of humor, advance theories pertaining to understanding and explaining sex differences in humor and other cognitive abilities, as well as foster research on humor ability.

Fruit flies: Sexual conflict is common and sometimes results in sexual aggression; found significant genetic variation in forced copulation success

Genetic variation in sexual aggression and the factors that determine forced copulation success. Carling M. Baxter, Janice L. Yan, Reuven Dukas. Animal Behaviour, October 22 2019. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2019.09.015

• Sexual conflict is common in nature and sometimes results in sexual aggression.
• We found significant genetic variation in forced copulation success.
• We compared behaviour of males from low and high forced copulation success genotypes.
• High-success males were more persistent in pursuit and mounting of teneral females.
• Low- and high-success males differed in their response to female rejection.

Abstract: Sexual conflict is common in nature and sometimes results in sexual aggression. An extreme case is forced copulation, where one individual forcibly mates with another individual who resists the mating. To understand what makes some males sexually aggressive, we established an experimental system that allowed us to quantify the characteristics that contribute to males' forced copulation success. In fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster), sexually mature females can choose to accept or reject courting males; however, males can forcibly copulate with newly eclosed, sexually immature, teneral females. We tested males from 59 genotypes and found significant genetic variation in forced copulation success, with a broad-sense heritability of 0.16. We then chose three genotypes with the lowest and three genotypes with the highest forced copulation success rates and compared the behaviour of males from these two groups. Males from genotypes with high forced copulation success were more persistent in their pursuit of teneral females and mounted them more frequently than did males from the low-success genotypes. Males of the two categories, however, were similar in their attractiveness to both teneral and sexually mature females. Our results suggest that males vary in their pursuit strategies. Some males respond to female rejection signals by giving up and searching for receptive females, while other males persist in pursuit and coercion in spite of female objection. Our work highlights the practicality of using forced copulation in fruit flies as a model for further research on the mechanisms affecting variation in sexual coercion and forced copulation success and their evolutionary consequences.

Keywords aggressioncoercionDrosophila melanogasterforced copulationfruit flygenetic variationheritabilitysexual conflict

Bishop Berkeley suggested that the distance of an object can be estimated if the object’s size is familiar to the observer; authors find that familiarity does not serve as a cue for depth

Mischenko, Elizaveta, Ippei Negishi, Elena Gorbunova, and Tadamasa Sawada. 2019. “Examining the Role of Familiarity in the Perception of Depth.” PsyArXiv. October 22. doi:10.31234/osf.io/wxn4s

Downloadable as a pre-print: https://psyarxiv.com/wxn4s/

Abstract: Bishop Berkeley suggested that the distance of an object can be estimated if the object’s size is familiar to the observer. The distance can be computed by comparing the size of the retinal image of the object to the memorized size of the object. It has been suggested that humans can perceive the distance of the object by using such “familiarity” information. However, prior experiments looking for an effect of familiarity had not been designed to minimize, or eliminate potential influences of: (i) higher cognitive factors on the observers' responses, or (ii) the influences of low-level image features in the visual stimuli. We tested the familiarity effect in two psychophysical experiments that were conducted both in Russia and in Japan. Forty Russian students and forty Japanese students participated in these experiments. The visual stimuli used were images of three coins in Russia and in Japan. The participants' depth perception was measured with a multiple-choice task testing the perceived depth-order of the coins. Our expectation was that any effect of “familiarity” on depth perception would only be observed with the coins of the participant's country. We expected a substantial effect of familiarity based on our meta-analysis of the "familiarity" effects observed in prior experiments. But, our results in both experiments showed that the familiarity effect on depth perception was virtually zero. Our experiments clearly show that familiarity, studied for the first time without any obvious confounds, does not serve as a cue for depth.

Our results also replicated Iyer et al. (2012) previous finding that libertarians think more analytically than both liberals and conservatives

Are neo-liberals more intuitive? Undetected libertarians confound the relation between analytic cognitive style and economic conservatism. Onurcan Yilmaz, S. Adil Saribay, Ravi Iyer. Current Psychology, February 14 2019. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12144-019-0130-x

Abstract: Previous studies consistently showed that analytic cognitive style (ACS) is negatively correlated with social conservatism, but there are mixed findings concerning its relation with economic conservatism. Most tests have relied on a unidimensional (liberal-conservative) operationalization of political orientation. Libertarians tend not only to identify themselves as conservative on this scale but also to score higher on ACS than liberals and conservatives. The presence of libertarians might be the reason for the above-mentioned mixed findings. We investigated the relation between social and economic conservatism and ACS (operationalized using the Cognitive Reflection Test; CRT) in a large, web-based sample. There was a negative correlation between CRT and social conservatism both when libertarians were included and excluded. However, the correlation between CRT and economic conservatism was significantly reduced in magnitude and became non-significant when libertarians were excluded. The results support the argument that the undetected presence of libertarians may confound the ACS-economic conservatism relation.

Keywords: Analytic cognitive style Libertarians Liberals Conservatives Cognitive reflection test

We argued that if a study includes a non-negligible proportion of libertarians and measures political orientation on the single-item self-placement scale, then it might produce misleading results regarding the relationship between cognitive style and economic conservatism. Specifically, such a procedure may produce misleading results because the libertarians tend to score relatively higher on both variables (i.e., ACS and economic conservatism) and they also tend to self-place toward the conservative end of the political spectrum (see Iyer et al. 2012; Talhelm et al. 2015). In other words, the existence of different proportions of libertarians might produce mixed findings across those samples. The current effort is a demonstration of the importance of considering political affiliation (e.g., libertarian) beyond self-placement on the liberal-conservative continuum and, specifically, of the utility of repeating analyses including and excluding libertarians.

The results suggested that the negative (but small) correlation between ACS and social conservatism holds whether libertarians (and other non-mainstream groups) are included or excluded. This is consistent with the previous literature showing that there is a negative correlation between social conservatism and ACS (Deppe et al. 2015; Saribay and Yilmaz 2017; Pennycook et al. 2012; Yilmaz and Saribay 2016, 2017b, 2018). This finding also supports the social orientation hypothesis suggesting that social political orientation is a better predictor of cognitive style differences than economic political orientation (Talhelm et al. 2015). However, our finding also suggests that this relation is weak.

On the other hand, the relation between ACS and economic conservatism differs depending on the inclusion versus exclusion of libertarians (and other non-mainstream groups). The positive correlation between CRT and economic conservatism in the whole dataset lost its significance and was reduced to virtually zero when the non-liberal and non-conservative participants were excluded. The results remained constant when we only excluded libertarian participants (instead of all nonliberals and non-conservatives including BDon’t know/not political,^ and BOther^). Thus, the current findings suggest that the presence of libertarians (and other non-mainstream groups) confounds the relation between ACS and economic conservatism. They clarify why previous findings regarding this relation were mixed. As noted earlier, some previous findings suggested a non-significant relation (Deppe et al. 2015; Pennycook et al. 2012; Yilmaz and Saribay 2016, 2017b), some others showed a negative relation (Sterling et al. 2016), and some others even showed a positive relation (e.g., one of four studies of Deppe et al. 2015). Jost et al. (2017) meta-analyzed these findings and showed a negative—albeit weak—correlation between ACS and economic conservatism (unweighted average r = −.08). Our contention that different proportions of libertarians might determine the direction and size of the correlation regarding ACS-economic conservatism relation is compatible with these findings since the Study 2 of Deppe et al. (2015), where the correlation between ACS and economic conservatism is positive, was arguably the most-representative sample of American population (see Baron 2015). Our results also replicated Iyer et al. (2012) previous finding that libertarians think more analytically than both liberals and conservatives, however, there were no such differences between self-reported liberals and conservatives.

Historically heterogeneous populations have lower levels of outgroup prejudice; some evidence that diversity in the current population was related to increased prejudice

Population Diversity and Ancestral Diversity As Distinct Contributors to Outgroup Prejudice. Ilan Shrira. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, October 21, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167219880190

Abstract: Previous research has shown conflicting findings on how population diversity influences outgroup prejudice. In some cases, prejudice is greater when minority groups make up a larger portion of the population, whereas in other cases, prejudice is lower as diversity increases. This article examined how the diversity of a culture’s ancestry—or its historical heterogeneity—would be related to outgroup attitudes. Historically heterogeneous populations descend from ancestors who have migrated from many parts of the world over the past 500 years and, as a result, have a longer legacy of contact with diverse groups of people. The results of two cross-cultural studies found that greater heterogeneity predicted lower levels of outgroup prejudice, and some evidence that diversity in the current population was related to increased prejudice. The findings suggest that intergroup attitudes have deeply entrenched roots that cannot be fully understood by looking at current indicators.

Keywords prejudice, culture, attitudes, ancestry, values

Socially transmitted placebo effects: Subjective experiences of pain were directly modulated by providers’ expectations of treatment success; the belief manipulation also affected patients’ perceptions of providers’ empathy

Socially transmitted placebo effects. Pin-Hao A. Chen, Jin Hyun Cheong, Eshin Jolly, Hirsh Elhence, Tor D. Wager & Luke J. Chang. Nature Human Behaviour, October 21 2019. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-019-0749-5

Abstract: Medical treatments typically occur in the context of a social interaction between healthcare providers and patients. Although decades of research have demonstrated that patients’ expectations can dramatically affect treatment outcomes, less is known about the influence of providers’ expectations. Here we systematically manipulated providers’ expectations in a simulated clinical interaction involving administration of thermal pain and found that patients’ subjective experiences of pain were directly modulated by providers’ expectations of treatment success, as reflected in the patients’ subjective ratings, skin conductance responses and facial expression behaviours. The belief manipulation also affected patients’ perceptions of providers’ empathy during the pain procedure and manifested as subtle changes in providers’ facial expression behaviours during the clinical interaction. Importantly, these findings were replicated in two more independent samples. Together, our results provide evidence of a socially transmitted placebo effect, highlighting how healthcare providers’ behaviour and cognitive mindsets can affect clinical interactions.

Those of higher scoring on the Cognitive Reflection Test were more discerning in their social media use: They followed more selectively, shared news content from more reliable sources, and tweeted about weightier subjects

Mosleh, Mohsen, Gordon Pennycook, Antonio A. Arechar, and David G. Rand. 2019. “Digital Fingerprints of Cognitive Reflection.” PsyArXiv. October 17. doi:10.31234/osf.io/qaswn

Abstract: Social media is playing an increasingly large role in everyday life. Thus, it is of both scientific and practical interest to understand behavior on social media platforms. Furthermore, social media provides a unique window for social scientists to deepen our understanding of the human mind. Here we investigate the relationship between individual differences in cognitive reflection and behavior on Twitter in a sample of large N = 1,953 users recruited via Prolific Academic. In doing so, we differentiate between two competing accounts of human information processing: an “intuitionist” account whereby reflection plays little role in daily life, and a “reflectionist” account whereby reflection (and, in particular, overriding intuitive responses) does play an important role. We found that people who score higher on the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) – a widely used measure of reflective thinking – were more discerning in their social media use: They followed more selectively, shared news content from more reliable sources, and tweeted about weightier subjects. Furthermore, a network analysis indicated that the phenomenon of echo chambers, in which discourse is more likely with like-minded others, is not limited to politics: we observe “cognitive echo chambers” in which people low on cognitive reflection tend to follow the same set of accounts. Our results help to illuminate the drivers of behavior on social media platforms, and challenge intuitionist notions that reflective thinking is unimportant for everyday judgment and decision-making.

Together, these results paint a fairly consistent picture. People in our sample who engaged in more cognitive reflection were more discerning in their social media use: They followed more selectively, shared higher quality content from more reliable sources, and tweeted about more weighty subjects. These results have numerous implications. Returning to the debate between those who have claimed a limited role for cognitive reflection in determining everyday behaviors (intuitionists) and those who emphasize the importance of the (perhaps distinctly) human capacity to use reflection to override intuitions (reflectionists), the results are plainly more consistent with the latter perspective. We find that reflective thinking (as measured in our survey study) is associated with a wide range of naturally occurring social media behaviors. Furthermore, each of these associations has important theoretical implications in their own right that we will now enumerate – and together, they paint a consistent picture of reflective thinking as an important positive force in judgment and decision-making outside of the laboratory.

One line of prior work which the current results bear on has to do with media truth discernment. Past work has shown that people who are more analytic and reflective are better at identifying true versus false news headlines, regardless of whether the headlines align with their ideology (e.g., (Pennycook and Rand 2019c)). However, these studies have relied entirely on survey experiments, where participant responses may be driven by experimenter demand effects or expressive responding. Additionally, in these experiments, participants judge a comparatively small set of headlines (pre-selected by the experimenters to be balanced on partisanship and veracity). Thus, these prior results may be idiosyncratic to the specific headlines (or approach for selecting headlines) used in designing the survey. Furthermore, these studies have focused on contrasting true headlines with blatantly false headlines (which may be comparatively rare outside the laboratory, (Grinberg et al. 2019, Guess et al. 2019), rather than articles which are misleading but not entirely false (e.g., hyper-partisan biased reporting of events that actually occurred (Pennycook and Rand 2019b)). Thus, the results may not generalize to the kinds of misinformation more typically encountered online. Finally, these studies have focused on judgments of accuracy, rather than sharing decisions. Thus, whether these previously documented associations extended to actual sharing in the naturally occurring social media environment is an open question – particularly given that the social media context may be more likely to active a political identity (as opposed to accuracy or truth) focus (Brady, Crockett and Van Bavel 2019, Van Bavel and Pereira 2018). Yet, despite these numerous reasons to think that prior findings may not generalize outside the survey context, we do indeed find that participants who perform better on the CRT share news from higher quality news sources. This observation substantially extends prior support for a positive role of reasoning in news media truth discernment.

Our results are also relevant in similar ways for prior work regarding the role of cognitive sophistication in political engagement. Prior evidence using survey experiments suggests that people who are more cognitively sophisticated (e.g., higher CRT, more educated, higher political knowledge) show higher rates of engagement with politics (Pennycook and Rand 2019a, Galston 2001). However, it has also been suggested that this relationship may be the result of social desirability bias, such that more cognitively sophisticated people simply over-report political engagement to please the experimenter (Holbrook, Green and Krosnick 2003, Enamorado and Imai 2018). Our results, however, suggest that more reflective people are indeed actually more engaged with politics on social media. This supports the inference that analytic thinking is associated with increased political engagement.

More broadly, cognitive reflection has been associated with lower gullibility – that is, less acceptance of a large range of epistemically suspect beliefs (such as conspiracy theories, paranormal claims, etc. – see (Pennycook et al. 2015b) for a review), including decreased susceptibility to pseudo-profound bullshit (Pennycook et al. 2015a). Again, however, these findings are rooted in survey evidence and not real-world behavior, and could reflect socially desirable responding. Here we find that low CRT is associated with increased following of and tweeting about money-making scams and get-rich-quick schemes. This supports the conclusion that more intuitive people are indeed more gullible.

One of the most intriguing results that we uncovered was the clustering of accounts followed by lower versus higher CRT participants. In particular, there was a cluster of accounts that were predominantly followed by low CRT participants. This observation is particularly interesting in the context of the extremely extensive discussion of partisan echo chambers, in which supporters of the same party are much more likely to interact with co-partisans (Stewart et al. 2019, Barberá et al. 2015, Garimella and Weber 2017). Our network analysis indicates that the phenomenon of echo chambers is not limited to politics: the cognitive echo chambers we observe have potentially profound implications for how information flows through social media. Furthermore, it is likely that cognitive echo chambers are not confined to social media – future work should investigate this phenomenon more broadly.

There are, of course, important limitations of the present work. Most notably, we were only able to consider the Twitter activity of a tiny subset of all users on the platform. Thus, it is important for future work to examine how our results generalize to other sets of users – and in particular, to users who did not opt in to a survey experiment. One potential approach that may be fruitful in this endeavor is training a machine learning classifier to estimate users’ CRT scores based on their social media activity. Relatedly, it will be important to test how the results generalize to other social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn), and to users from non-Western cultures. Future work should also examine how the results obtained here generalize to other measures of cognitive sophistication beyond the CRT.

In sum, here we have shed light on social media behavior using the lens of cognitive science. We have provided evidence that one’s extent of analytic thinking predicts a wide range of social media behaviors. These results meaningfully extend prior survey studies, demonstrating that analytic thinking plays an important role outside the laboratory.

Both sexes prefer individuals who have been faithful in a previous relationship, but men prefer short term relationships with unfaithful individuals more than women; oxytocin increases this sex difference in preference

Oxytocin amplifies sex differences in human mate choice. Lei Xu et al. Psychoneuroendocrinology, October 21 2019, 104483. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2019.104483

•    Both sexes prefer individuals who have been faithful in a previous relationship.
•    But men prefer short term relationships with unfaithful individuals more than women.
•    Oxytocin increases this sex difference in preference for unfaithful individuals.
•    And increases women’s preference for long term relationships with faithful men.

Abstract: Infidelity is the major cause of breakups and individuals with a history of infidelity are more likely to repeat it, but may also present a greater opportunity for short-term sexual relationships. Here in a pre-registered, double-blind study involving 160 subjects we report that while both sexes valued faithful individuals most for short-term and long-term relationships, both single men and those in a relationship were more interested in having short-term relationships with previously unfaithful individuals than women. Oxytocin administration resulted in men rating the faces of unfaithful women as more attractive and likeable but in women rating those of unfaithful men as less attractive and also finding them less memorable. Oxytocin also increased single men’s interest in having short-term relationships with previously unfaithful women whereas it increased single women’s interest in having long-term relationships with faithful men. Thus, oxytocin release during courtship may first act to amplify sex-dependent priorities in attraction and mate choice before subsequently promoting romantic bonds.

Private Wealth And Happiness: Building wealth will typically add to your happiness, though not by very much

Private Wealth And Happiness: A research synthesis using an online findings-archive. Antje Jantsch and Ruut Veenhoven. In: Gaël Brulé & Christian Suter (eds) Wealth(s) and Subjective Well-Being, pp 17-50. https://rd.springer.com/book/10.1007%2F978-3-030-05535-6

Abstract: There is a lot of research on the relationship between income and happiness, but little research into the relationship between wealth and happiness. Knowledge about the effects of wealth on happiness is required for informed decision making in matters of saving and consumption. In order to answer the questions of how and to what extent wealth relates to happiness, we take stock of the available research findings on this issue, covering 119 research findings observed in 72 studies. We use a new method of research synthesis, in which research findings are described in a comparable format and entered in an online ‘findings archive’, the World Database of Happiness, to which links are made from this text. This technique allows a condensed presentation of research findings, while providing readers access to full details. We found mostly positive relationships between assets and happiness, and negative relationships between debt and happiness. The size of the relationships is small, variations in wealth explain typically less than 1% of the variation in individual happiness. The correlations are slightly reduced when controlled for income and socio-demographic factors. The few longitudinal studies suggest a causal effect of wealth on happiness. We found little differences across methods used and populations studied. Together, the available research findings imply that building wealth will typically add to your happiness, though not by very much.

Keywords: life satisfaction, consumption, saving, assets, debt, wealth, research synthesis