Thursday, November 21, 2019

Women that align masturbation stimulation activities with partnered sex are more likely to experience orgasm & enhanced orgasmic pleasure, with sexual relationship satisfaction playing an important role in this process

Rowland DL, Hevesi K, Conway GR, et al. Relationship Between Masturbation and Partnered Sex in Women: Does the Former Facilitate, Inhibit, or Not Affect the Latter? J Sex Med 2019;XX:XXX–XXX.

Introduction: The relationship between masturbation activities and their effect on partnered sex is understudied.

Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the alignment of activities between masturbation and partnered sex, and to determine whether different levels of alignment affect orgasmic parameters during partnered sex.

Methods: 2,215 women completed an online survey about activities during masturbation and reasons for orgasmic difficulty during masturbation, and these were compared with activities and reasons for orgasmic difficulty during partnered sex.

Main Outcome Measure: Degree of alignment between masturbation activities and partnered sex activities was used to predict sexual arousal difficulty, orgasmic probability, orgasmic pleasure, orgasmic latency, and orgasmic difficulty during partnered sex.

Results: Women showed only moderate alignment regarding masturbation and partnered sex activities, as well as reasons for masturbation orgasmic difficulty and reasons for partnered sex orgasmic difficulty. However, those that showed greater alignment of activities showed better orgasmic response during partnered sex and were more likely to prefer partnered sex over masturbation.

Clinical Implications: Women tend to use less conventional techniques for arousal during masturbation compared with partnered sex. Increasing alignment between masturbation and partnered sexual activities may lead to better arousal and orgasmic response, and lower orgasmic difficulty.

Strength & Limitations: The study was well-powered and drew from a multinational population, providing perspective on a long-standing unanswered question. Major limitations were the younger age and self-selection of the sample.

Conclusion: Women that align masturbation stimulation activities with partnered sex activities are more likely to experience orgasm and enhanced orgasmic pleasure, with sexual relationship satisfaction playing an important role in this process.

Check also An Examination of the Sexual Double Standard Pertaining to Masturbation and the Impact of Assumed Motives. Katherine R. Haus, Ashley E. Thompson. Sexuality & Culture, November 2 2019.

Also The majority (94.5%) of women indicated having masturbated at least once in their life; reported masturbating 2 or 3 times a week (26.8%) or once (26.3%); it is not “a partner substitute”, but rather is a stress coping & relaxation strategy:
Masturbatory Behavior in a Population Sample of German Women. Andrea Burri, Ana Carvalheira. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, May 30 2019.


These findings suggest that rising narcissism is not a global trend and not evident even in societies that share many cultural and social commonalities with the US

Narcissism over time in Australia and Canada: A cross-temporal meta-analysis. Takeshi Hamamura, Chelsea A. Johnson, Michelle Stankovic. Personality and Individual Differences, November 21 2019, 109707.

Abstract: The literature on whether narcissism is increasing in the United States has been controversial. The notion of rising narcissism and self-focused culture, however, has shaped the public understanding of generational differences within and outside the United States. The current research examined whether narcissism has increased over time in two Western countries, Australia and Canada. A temporal meta-analysis (k = 102, n = 24,990) found no evidence of rising narcissism. Findings from these two countries showed a different temporal pattern, with narcissism decreasing in Canada particularly after 2008, suggesting the possible effects of economic recession in tempering narcissism. An analysis of the subscale scores performed on a subset of the data, following a measurement equivalent analysis, corroborated this interpretation. These findings suggest that rising narcissism is not a global trend and not evident even in societies that share many cultural and social commonalities with the United States.

The dataset used, the processing code (R language) and references for the data in the CSV file are available at

Assessing U.S. Racial and Gender Differences in Happiness, 1972–2016

Assessing U.S. Racial and Gender Differences in Happiness, 1972–2016: An Intersectional Approach. Jason L. Cummings. Journal of Happiness Studies, November 21 2019.

Abstract: This study assesses trends and differentials in happiness among the U.S. population. Using data from the General Social Survey, 1972–2016 and the intersectionality paradigm to guide this work, I find that happiness differentials across gender and race are generally converging; however, patterns are quite complex and contingent on group membership (i.e. gender, race). Black women for instance, present a consistent pattern of improvement in happiness across decades, while White women display a persistent pattern of decline. In contrast, Black men experienced a discernable pattern of improvement in happiness between the 1970s and 1990s, followed by a leveling off in the early-2000s. White men experienced moderate gains in happiness between the 1970s and 1990s, but after the Great Recession/Obama Era, White male happiness followed a pattern of unprecedented decline, with the “happiness advantage” they once enjoyed (as a group) over Black men and women largely vanishing. In fact, although advantaged White men in the general population (i.e. financially satisfied) were about as happy as their White female and African–American female peers after the Great Recession, disadvantaged White men who were financially dissatisfied were less likely to report the same sentiment when compared to their White female and Black female peers who were similarly disadvantaged. Taking these patterns in account, I conclude with a discussion of what these patterns demonstrate regarding the changing nature of racial and gender inequality in the United States, past and present.

Keywords: Happiness Subjective well-being Intersectionality Race Gender SES Financial satisfaction Great recession Unemployment

Reaching Consensus in Polarized Moral Debates: Consensus was influenced by participants with a moderate view but high confidence

Reaching Consensus in Polarized Moral Debates. Joaquin Navajas et al. Current Biology, November 21 2019.

• We asked two live crowds to deliberate about polarized moral issues (e.g., abortion)
• In small groups, they sought consensus on the acceptability of controversial actions
• Consensus was influenced by participants with a moderate view but high confidence
• Group ratings and changes of mind suggest that people adopted a mediation process

Summary: The group polarization phenomenon is a widespread human bias with no apparent geographical or cultural boundaries [1]. Although the conditions that breed extremism have been extensively studied [2, 3, 4, 5], comparably little research has examined how to depolarize attitudes in people who already embrace extreme beliefs. Previous studies have shown that deliberating groups may shift toward more moderate opinions [6], but why deliberation is sometimes effective although other times it fails at eliciting consensus remains largely unknown. To investigate this, we performed a large-scale behavioral experiment with live crowds from two countries. Participants (N = 3,288 in study 1 and N = 582 in study 2) were presented with a set of moral scenarios and asked to judge the acceptability of a controversial action. Then they organized in groups of three and discussed their opinions to see whether they agreed on common values of acceptability. We found that groups succeeding at reaching consensus frequently had extreme participants with low confidence and a participant with a moderate view but high confidence. Quantitative analyses showed that these “confident grays” exerted the greatest weight on group judgements and suggest that consensus was driven by a mediation process [7, 8]. Overall, these findings shed light on the elements that allow human groups to resolve moral disagreement.

Most People Think They Are More Pro-Environmental than Others: A Demonstration of the Better-than-Average Effect in Perceived Pro-Environmental Engagement

Most People Think They Are More Pro-Environmental than Others: A Demonstration of the Better-than-Average Effect in Perceived Pro-Environmental Behavioral Engagement. Magnus Bergquist. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, Nov 21 2019.

Abstract: People tend to perceive themselves as better than average in various contexts. In this article I test if the better-than-average effect (BTAE) also holds for pro-environmental behavioral engagement. Experiment 1 supported that the majority of participants report to be more pro-environmental than others, using a large representative sample. Experiment 2 validated these findings in 3 additional cultures (United States, United Kingdom, and India) and showed that BTAE held for both abstract (other Americans) and concrete (my friends) comparisons. Experiment 3 found that participants overestimated both how “much” and how “often” they engage in pro-environmental actions. Finally, Experiment 4 found weak support for the hypothesis that inducing BTAE are inhibiting future pro-environmental behaviors.

General discussion

The present research aimed to test if people perceive themselves as more pro-environmental than others, a hypothesis often discussed (e.g., Clayton et al., 2015; Gifford, 2011) yet not previously tested empirically. Four studies consistently demonstrated the BTAE in pro-environmental behaviors, using 4,042 participants. The data clearly support a self-serving bias causing people to overestimate their own climate change mitigation, suggesting that most people perceive themselves as more pro-environmental than others. The BTAE of pro-environmental behaviors was validated in four countries (Sweden, India, United Kingdom, and United States) and was found to hold for nine of 10 pro-environmental behaviors and for both abstract (other Americans) and concrete (my friends) reference groups. Study 4 tested the hypothesis that self-serving biases serve as a barrier for future pro-environmental engagement. Data showed that inducing people to perceive themselves as better than average (in terms of pro-environmental engagement) had negligible effects on pro-environmental obligations and weak effects on intentions for future pro-environmental engagement. Although a weak effect could have important practical implications, as the BTAE in pro-environmental behaviors might be a barrier for future behavior (Gifford, 2011), these results should be interpreted with caution and validated by future research.

Validity and implications of the BTAE
The aim of this research was to test the validity and implications of the BTAE. Studies 1–3 focused on validity: assessing external, internal, and content validity by testing if the BTAE would generalize across countries, pro-environmental behaviors, and reference groups and would hold across operationalization’s and methodological variations. Hence, both applied and theoretical aspects of the BTAE were tested. In the light of the “replication crisis” (Nelson, Simmons, & Simonsohn, 2018; Open Science Collaboration, 2015), replicating well-established effects (such as the BTAE) is important for validity—that is, to gain accumulated knowledge on boundaries, generalizations, and implications of psychological effects.

Variability in the BTAE
The strength of the BTAE varied across countries, showing the strongest effect in India (85.7%) followed by the United Kingdom (72%) and the United States (63.7%). The weakest effect was observed in the Swedish sample (51.3%). One explanation, as discussed in Study 2, is that the interpretation of pro-environmental behaviors differed across cultures. Content analyses comparing the Indian versus the U.S.-American sample support this assumption. Yet it is unclear if and how such differences can explain the variance in the BTAE. Another possible explanation is that the BTAE of pro-environmental behaviors is affected by values and attitudes that might differ between the countries. Yet data from the World Values Survey cannot provide sufficient support for this explanation (Ingelhart et al., 2014), showing no noticeable differences between relevant values (i.e., “Looking after the environment … care for nature and save life resources”) in Sweden (M = 2.46, SD = 1.2) versus India (M = 2.54, SD = 1.6). Similarly, the majority of participants prioritized “protecting the environment” over “economic growth” in both countries (Sweden = 65.2%, India = 69.8%). A third explanation might be linked to cross-cultural differences in response biases. Van de Vijver and Poortinga (1997) warned against interpreting intergroup differences in cross-cultural research without examining equivalence. Indeed, several studies have observed substantial differences in response biases such as extreme response styles and acquiescent responding across countries (e.g., Harzing, 2006; Johnson, Kulesa, Cho, & Shavitt, 2005; Smith, 2004). However, further research is necessary to explore the mechanisms underlying these differences in more detail (Johnson et al., 2005). In sum, although the BTAE of pro-environmental behaviors was validated across countries, it remains unclear why the strength of the BTAE varies between countries.

Reference group
Alicke and Govorun (2005) suggested that the BTAE decreases when comparing oneself to a “real person” rather than a more abstract concept (i.e., “other Swedes”). Past research has shown that the BTAE was reduced when asking students to compare themselves with “the person sitting next to them” rather than “the average college student” (Alicke, Klotz, Breitenbecher, Yurak, & Vredenburg, 1995). Therefore, Study 2 tested two reference groups with different level of abstraction “Americans” (abstract group), and “your friends” (concrete group). Results showed highly similar results of the BTAE in the two reference groups (63.7% vs. 62.1% above average). Given that participants are thinking about different reference groups when being asked about “my friends” versus “other Americans” and that these groups differ in their level of pro-environmental engagement, it is noticeable that people still overestimate their own pro-environmental engagement in relation to their “friends.”

BTAE as a psychological barrier
Study 4 was designed to test the hypothesis that the BTAE is a psychological barrier for climate change mitigation (Gifford, 2011). This hypothesis was derived from the research on negative spillover effects, predicting that a first moral behavior might “license” a subsequent immoral behavior (e.g., Blanken et al., 2015). It should be noted that research has also demonstrated positive spillover effects, where a first pro-environmental action encourages subsequent pro-environmental actions (e.g., Nilsson et al., 2017; Truelove et al., 2014). This hypothesis is also in line with a self-valuation hypothesis, increasing self-efficacy (Bandura, 1977), which has been demonstrated to predict behavioral intentions (Ajzen, 1985, 1991). Therefore, one explanation for the weak negative effect on pro-environmental intention is that a dual-process of both negative and positive spillover effects is at work. It could be that the BTAE is fostering pro-environmental intentions for some people while undermining pro-environmental intentions for others. Another explanation for the weak negative effect on intentions is based on the suggestion that the BTAE is a form of availability heuristics (see the following discussion). More specifically, if performing a behavior with a high frequency makes that behavior cognitively available, and thus increases the BTAE, frequency should also moderate the BTAE as a psychological barrier, making high-frequency behaviors more influential than low-frequency behaviors. Past research has identified a number of potential moderators driving the positive versus negative spillovers (e.g., Nilsson et al., 2017; Truelove et al., 2014). Future research should examine if and which moderators might cause the BTAE to foster versus undermine subsequent pro-environmental engagement.

The mechanisms of the BTAE
What are the psychological mechanism driving the BTAE? When analyzing the data from Study 2, the frequency of behavioral engagement was strongly positively correlated with the BTAE effect size. One interpretation of this finding is that performing a specific behavior with a high frequency is interpreted as also performing that behavior more frequently than others. This suggests that the BTAE is driven by the availability heuristic (Tversky & Kahneman, 1973), as people may be influenced by how cognitively available a certain behavior is when evaluating relative performance. Future research should further examine if the availability heuristic can explain the BTAE.

As a first limitation, cultural comparison was confounded with means of assessing pro-environmental behavior. In the Indian sample, pro-environmental behaviors were assessed by open-ended questions, whereas predefined questions were used in the U.S. and U.K. samples. Could the differences in the BTAE between cultures have been influenced by the measurement method? Although open-ended versus predefined measurements were not used within the same sample, Study 2 reported an effect of 63.7% above the median, which was similar to Study 3 with an effect of 58.7% to 63.2% above the median. Studies 2 and 3 both used a U.S.-American sample, whereas pro-environmental behaviors were assessed by predefined questions in Study 2 and open-ended questions in Study 3, suggesting that the BTAE was not affected by using open-ended compared to predefined questions.

As a second limitation, when testing whether the BTAE affected pro-environmental obligation and intention in Study 4, order effects were not controlled for. Past research has shown that other compensatory behaviors, such as cognitive dissonance reduction strategies, are affected by order (e.g., Fointiat, Somat, & Grosbras, 2011; Gosling, Denizeau, & Oberlé, 2006). It should however be mentioned that these studies find that the first items are more influential than subsequent items. Therefore, in the present study, it would be predicted that obligations are weaker than intention. Yet we observed the opposite pattern, speaking against the influence of order effects. In any case, lack of randomization should be noted as a limitation in Study 4.

Worse than average
There are circumstances moderating or even reversing the effect. The BTAE may be moderated by both desirability and controllability, such as the effect holding for highly desirable traits but not for traits low in desirability, and that the effect is stronger for high controllable than low controllable traits (Alicke, 1985). It has been demonstrated that people view themselves as “worse than average” when evaluating their ability on difficult tasks (Moore, 2007). For example, students’ average rating of the likelihood of winning a trivia contest was 70% when the contest included easy quiz questions, whereas ratings dropped to only 6% for a contest including hard quiz questions (Kruger, 1999). Although we demonstrated the BTAE in nine of 10 pro-environmental behaviors, these were all everyday behaviors that are relatively easy to perform. Future research should test if the BTAE also holds when assessing “harder” pro-environmental actions.

Taken together, this article consistently demonstrates that the BTAE applies to pro-environmental behaviors; nevertheless, the evidence for the BTAE as a psychological barrier for future pro-environmental behaviors is weak and should be explored in future research. BTAE of pro-environmental behaviors was supported across four countries, testing 10 pro-environmental behaviors, and when assessing both closed- and open-ended questions as well as both concrete and abstract reference groups.

An Evolutionary Perspective on Sexual Assault; plus recommendations for improving the effectiveness of sexual assault prevention programs with exercises to reduce the possibility of hostile/reactive aggression in high-risk men

An Evolutionary Perspective on Sexual Assault and Implications for Interventions. Mark Huppin, Neil M. Malamuth, Daniel Linz. Handbook of Sexual Assault and Sexual Assault Prevention pp 17-44, October 19 2019.

Abstract: Interventions to reduce sexual assault at institutions of higher learning often have not been shown to be effective and may actually do more harm than good with men at high risk for sexual aggression. We argue that to design more effective interventions, it is essential to incorporate knowledge about the risk factors increasing the likelihood of sexual aggression. The single best predictor of risk for being a perpetrator is being a male and the best predictor of being a victim is being a female. Understanding why this is so may be aided by an approach incorporating evolved psychological mechanisms calibrated by cultural, social, and developmental factors. We consider hypotheses regarding evolved mechanisms for both males and females. We review evidence supporting the hypothesis of specialized mechanisms in women designed to avoid or limit the costs of forced sex. There is also some supportive evidence for the possibility that for males, evolved mechanisms may be calibrated by factors such as perceived negative experiences with women to increase the likelihood of committing sexual aggression. We illustrate such a mechanism by focusing on sexual arousal to forced sex, which may serve as an approach emotion facilitating sexual aggression. In using both evolutionary and proximate analyses, we address not only the question of what characteristics predict male sexual aggression but also why are these the risk factors. Finally, we outline a series of recommendations for improving the effectiveness of sexual assault prevention programs, including exercises to reduce the possibility of hostile/reactive aggression in high-risk men.

Keywords: Sexual assault Sexual aggression Evolution Psychology Rape Adaptations Specialized mechanisms Hostile masculinity Psychological reactance Prevention programs Interventions

Sexual Aggression in Other Species

Also relevant to EP theories of sexual coercion is evidence of sexual aggression in other species. In fact, physical force, harassment, and other intimidation to obtain sex have been reported in many species. Based on a review of the literature on forced copulation among nonhumans, Lalumière, Harris, Quinsey, and Rice (2005) identified specific characteristics in those species that exhibit sexual coercion. Across all nonhuman species, forced copulation is always perpetrated by males on females. Despite the tendency of females in some species to be assertive in the mating process, the authors could not find one instance of a female forcing sex on a male. Further, males are more likely to target fertile than infertile females for forced copulation, and forced copulation does occasionally result in insemination, fertilization, and offspring. Also, males of most species tend not to engage solely in coercive sexual behaviors. Most males that engage in forced copulation at other times court females. Finally, Lalumière et al. (2005) recognized the role of individual differences in sexual coercion. Certain males are more likely than others to engage in forced copulation, and some males are more successful at sexual coercion than others. They conclude that sexual coercion (particularly in the form of forced copulation) "is a tactic used by some males under some conditions to increase reproduction" (p. 59).

A particularly interesting species to consider is the orangutan, one of the few nonhuman primates for which sexual coercion is common. There is evidence for two distinct classes of orangutan males: large or flanged males, who develop secondary sexual characteristics such as cheek pads and large throat sacs, and small or unflanged males. Both types are sexually mature, though the onset of sexual maturity can be highly variable. Large males typically weigh over 80 kg in the wild, about twice the size of the small males (Knott, 2009; Knott & Kahlenberg, 2007). Although both types resort to forced copulations, they are significantly more often used strategically by small males, who force more than 80% of their total copulations at some orangutan sites (although only about half or fewer of their copulations are forced at other sites, suggesting the role of environmental contingencies such as population density and sex ratio in the incidence of sexual aggression) (Knott, 2009; Knott & Kahlenberg, 2007).

In a study of chimpanzees, our closest genetic relatives, sexual coercion as long-term intimidation was positively associated with paternity, particularly among high-ranking males, suggesting that it is a strategy used to increase reproductive fitness (Feldman et al., 2014). Sexually coercive tactics toward a female also provide delayed mating benefits in chacma baboons, due in part to the fact that male aggression preferentially targets fertile females (Baniel, Cowlishaw, & Huchard, 2017). As the authors explain, .By repeatedly attacking females in the weeks preceding ovulation, males appear to increase their chances of monopolizing sexual access to females around ovulation, which in turn increases their probability of successful reproduction. (p. 2166). The authors were able to rule out several competing hypotheses for male sexual violence perpetration (e.g., cycling females are more aggressive than noncycling females; females prefer to mate with aggressive males).

Summary and Recommendations for Sexual Assault Interventions

7. Interventions that are effective for women and most men may show .boomerang. effects with high-risk males. In order to effectively change the behavior of these men, prevention programs should consider introducing exercises likely to reduce the possibility of hostile/reactive aggression.

To the extent that recurrent ancestral conditions existed such that for some men sexual coercion contributed to overall reproductive success, the psychological architecture of men today who have experienced relevant developmental adversity may be calibrated in a way that helps motivate sexual assault to obtain sex from an unwilling partner. What.s more, there is a real possibility that many current sexual assault prevention programs may be interacting with the psychological makeup of these high-risk males to create boomerang reactance effects.

Many high-risk men may experience current programs on college campuses as both manipulative and provocative. To these young men such intervention efforts are directed at supporting more positive treatment for a group, undergraduate women, who seem to them to already "get all the breaks." These programs may therefore threaten these men.s self-concept and perceived freedoms. Especially if they see intervention messages as condescending and therefore insulting, they may respond in anger and with greater support for aggression. From an EP perspective, if we conceive of sexual strategies within the framework of a coevolutionary "arms race" between men and women, it is unsurprising that messages suggesting or dictating to sexually coercive young men how they should behave toward women will be ineffective, especially if these men feel that they have something to lose from this (Mealey, 2003).

The evaluations of current sexual assault programs generally have not examined the impact on sexually aggressive men. If currently effective programs work at all for such men, they may do so only indirectly. For example, bystander intervention programs may reduce the ability of high-risk men to carry out an assault by changing the responses of the low-risk, less violent people around them. Any net positive effect, however, is most likely due to a change in the environment in which some assaults occur rather than by having an effect on the high-risk male himself.

An extensive critical review of the scientific literature on prevention efforts on U.S. college campuses was recently published by Newlands and O'Donohue (2016). In order to facilitate improvement, the authors made some recommendations for developing more rigorous research programs. Among them is the idea that attending to "differences between participants can elucidate what factors influence or moderate treatment success or failure" (p. 10). In light of growing evidence of boomerang reactance effects described below, whereby interventions may result in an increased probability that relatively high-risk males will endorse sexually violent attitudes and be willing to behave more aggressively after the intervention compared to before, attending specifically to men's individual risk profiles appears highly important.

For many years, based on repeated findings in various areas (e.g., alcohol consumption, home energy use), reviewers of public health campaigns have called attention to the possibility of adverse boomerang effects. As some reviewers have noted, "An obvious implication is that boomerang effects should be taken into account as one of the potential costs of launching a mass communication campaign" (Ringold, 2012, p. 27). Most relevant to the current focus, boomerang effects have been well documented in areas of interventions designed to change antisocial behaviors, including sexual and nonsexual violence (see, e.g., Byrne & Hart, 2016; Wilson, Linz, Donnerstein, & Stipp, 1992). For example, an analysis of the consequences of a domestic violence campaign that included multiple television and newspaper advertisements demonstrated such unintended effects (Keller, Wilkinson, & Otjen, 2010). One of the stated goals of the program was to change the attitudes and behaviors of potential perpetrators. Only women.s perception of the severity of domestic violence (e.g., "Domestic violence is a serious issue that requires government or police involvement") increased after the campaign, however. Perceptions of the severity of domestic violence actually substantially decreased for the men in the study.

Cardaba, Brinol, Brandle, and Ruiz-SanRoman (2016) conducted research on the effects of anti-violence campaigns in different countries with different age populations. In one study, they found that individuals with relatively higher scores in trait aggressiveness showed a boomerang effect of anti-violence messages since they actually increased their favorability of attitudes toward violence. In contrast, the anti-violence campaigns were effective for those with relatively lower trait aggressiveness. In a second study, the intervention campaign again worked for the low trait-aggressive individuals but not for the high trait-aggressive participants. Another study reporting boomerang effects in the area of violence was conducted by Rivera, Santos, Brandle, and Cardaba (2016). The authors randomly assigned a large number of Italian students to participate in an intervention campaign designed to reduce participants. acceptance of violent video games. Participants were classified according to their relational lifestyle, consisting of four groups: e.g., "communicative" adolescents were more highly engaged in "civic values duties! in their communities than other groups; "meta-reflexive" adolescents had the lowest probability of seeking parents. support; whereas .fractured. adolescents had a higher probability of taking drugs than other groups and of engaging in other relatively delinquent behaviors. The group with a "fractured" or problematic lifestyle showed a boomerang effect, increasing their intent to play violent video games, whereas the other participants reduced their desire as a result of the intervention or there was a null effect. This finding is noteworthy as it is consistent with the idea in EP that sexually aggressive men can be "generalists" or "specialists," with implications for how different men might be expected to respond differently to the same sexual assault prevention program based on group membership.

We could not find any studies that specifically examined the impact of any elaborate interventions on high-risk males. The studies we did find all involved some form of intervention of less than one or two hours. One of these was a systematic experiment using a well-validated laboratory analogue of sexual aggression. In a community sample of American men, Bosson, Parrott, Swan, Kuchynka, and Schramm (2015) found that men low in sexism showed less aggressive tendencies following exposure to messages emphasizing norms of gender equality (e.g., most men approve of "men doing half of the housework and childcare"). Conversely, men high in hostile sexist attitudes showed a boomerang effect of increased sexually aggressive tendencies.

In a study of undergraduate men, Stephens and George (2009) examined the impact of a rape prevention intervention on low- vs. high-risk men. Risk level was determined by whether individuals had reported previously engaging in sexually aggressive behavior. The researchers found that men in general showed reductions in rape myth acceptance and an increase in victim empathy at a 5-week follow-up. Subgroup analyses, however, indicated that low-risk men were responsible for these findings. High-risk men showed no reliable attitudinal changes from the intervention. More alarmingly, high-risk men in the intervention group were more likely at follow- up to report higher sexually coercive behaviors than were high-risk men in a control group, although the sample size was small.

In another study that presented men a bystander sexual violence prevention program consisting of multifaceted training and skills development, outcome measures of rape myth acceptance and sexually coercive behavioral intentions were reduced among low-risk men (Elias-Lambert & Black, 2016). The program was relatively ineffective with high-risk men, however, leading the authors to conclude that .high-risk males may require a different type of prevention program that can help change the stubborn attitudes and habits they have developed. (p. 3229).

In order to avoid the possibility of boomerang effects, prevention programs should consider introducing exercises likely to reduce the perception of women as out-group threat. Using techniques such as self-affirmation and identity verification may be effective in this regard. These could be incorporated as part of a more comprehensive program for high-risk males, prior to the introduction of specific educational interventions. By moderating perceptions of out-group threat, these experiences can serve to mitigate hostile reactance.

According to self-affirmation theory (Steele, 1988), individuals have a fundamental motivation to protect their personal image. Self-threatening information is likely to elicit defensive responses such as rejecting the information, presenting counterarguments, or expressing resistance to change in order to restore one.s self-integrity. When one.s self-integrity is supported via self-affirmation, however, one can more carefully consider views and information that otherwise would be too threatening to accept (Cohen & Sherman, 2014; Sherman, 2013).

Self-affirmations have been found to increase positive other-directed feelings (Crocker, Niiya, & Mischkowski, 2008). They have been shown to have physiological bases for their desired effects by buffering neuroendocrine and psychological stress responses (Creswell et al., 2005) and by activating relevant brain-reward systems (Dutcher et al., 2016). By reducing defensive information processing, self-affirmations can increase the effectiveness of educational campaigns (Cohen, Aronson, & Steele, 2000) via how campaigns are framed and embodied. To our knowledge, existing efforts to educate undergraduate students, and high-risk men specifically, about sexual violence prevention have not included these self-image maintenance processes. Because of this, these programs are more likely to have unintended, counterproductive consequences.

Similarly, research on identity verification has found that when the set of meanings in a situation does not match people.s internal standards, and someone else does not confirm or verify their identities, they can experience negative emotional arousal such as hostility (Cast & Burke, 2002). If the lack of verification persists, an individual ultimately may resort to tactics of physical or sexual aggression over others in order to reassert control over the environment (Stets, 1992).

Many current sexual assault prevention programs contain admonishments that may create hostility and lead to a diminished sense of control for high-risk men, such that a resort to sexual violence to compensate for this loss is possible. Identity-verification can serve to reduce or eliminate such backlash responses by creating feelings of positive arousal including high self-esteem and mastery (Burke & Stets, 1999; Cast & Burke, 2002), setting the stage, e.g., for approach behaviors to programmatic information such as increased perspective taking. Research from identity theory suggests that verifying high-risk men in areas affiliated with their aggressive personality, such as masculinity, athletics, or a personal identity related to the degree to which they see themselves as more or less controlling may be most likely to create the conditions for attitudinal and behavioral change (Stets & Burke, 1994), as part of a comprehensive educational program for change.

Bayesian brain theories suggest that perception, action and cognition arise as creatures minimise the mismatch between their expectations and reality

Yon, Daniel, Cecilia Heyes, and Clare Press. 2019. “Beliefs and Desires in the Predictive Brain.” PsyArXiv. November 18. doi:10.31234/ (

Abstract: Bayesian brain theories suggest that perception, action and cognition arise as creatures minimise the mismatch between their expectations and reality. This principle could unify cognitive science with the broader natural sciences, but leave key elements of cognition and behaviour unexplained.

Check also Yon, Daniel, Carl Bunce, and Clare Press. 2019. “Illusions of Control Without Delusions of Grandeur.” PsyArXiv. November 21. doi:10.31234/
Abstract: We frequently experience feelings of agency over events we do not objectively influence – so-called ‘illusions of control’. These illusions have prompted widespread claims that we can be insensitive to objective relationships between actions and outcomes, and instead rely on grandiose beliefs about our abilities. However, these illusory biases could instead arise if we are highly sensitive to action-outcome correlations, but attribute agency when such correlations emerge simply by chance. We motion-tracked participants while they made agency judgements about a cursor that could be yoked to their actions or follow an independent trajectory. A combination of signal detection analysis, reverse correlation methods and computational modelling indeed demonstrated that ‘illusions’ of control could emerge solely from sensitivity to spurious action-outcome correlations. Counterintuitively, this suggests that illusions of control could arise because agents have excellent insight into the relationships between actions and outcomes in a world where causal relationships are not perfectly deterministic.
And  Now you see it: Our brains predict the outcomes of our actions, shaping reality into what we expect. That’s why we see what we believe. Daniel Yon. Aeon Nov 2019.
Why do we do anything at all? In everyday life we tend to explain the behaviour of ourselves and other creatures in terms of beliefs and desires. For example, we might say that a rat pulls a lever or a scientist runs an experiment because they believe that certain outcomes will ensue (i.e., a piece of food or a piece of data) and because these are outcomes they desire (e.g., because they are hungry or curious).

The idea that action is motivated by belief-like and desire-like representations – respectively defining which states of the world are most probable and most valuable (see Box 1) – is also a deep feature of many programmes of work across the cognitive sciences. For example, cognitive models suggest goal-directed action depends on separate associations between actions and outcomes (instrumental beliefs) and outcomes and values (incentives)1,2. A similar distinction is fundamental to models of economic choice, where decisions are thought to reflect a combination of utilities (how good is this option?) and probabilities (how certain am I to obtain it?)3.

However, in recent decades cognitive scientists have been enticed by the possibility that the familiar double act of beliefs and desires can be replaced by theories that explain behaviour using only one kind of internal state – ‘prediction’ (see Fig. 1;4). These predictive processing accounts5 assume that the brain acts as a model of the extracranial world, optimised to fit information arriving at the senses. According to this view, the brain is structured in a hierarchical way such that ‘higher’ cortical areas embody hypotheses about the activity expected in ‘lower’ areas, which in turn send information up the processing hierarchy signalling the mismatch or ‘error’ between prediction and reality. This structure allows the brain to optimise its fit to the outside world through two kinds of process or ‘inference’. The first is perceptual inference, where incoming sensory signals are used to adjust hypotheses at higher levels, such that the hypotheses more closely match the outside world. The second is active inference, where strong top-down predictions engage muscles and organs to drive action, changing states of the body and the world such that they conform with the prior predictions. More simply put, the brain can either revise its predictions to match the world or change the world to make the predictions come true.

Proponents of this view4 suggest that these models leave us with a ‘desert landscape’ view of cognition, where mental states once thought to be crucial in explaining behaviour – such as goals, drives and desires – are boiled down to predictions. Under this view “desired outcomes [are] simply…those that an agent believes, a priori, it will obtain”6. Here, the hungry rat presses the lever because it expects itself to press, since it expects not to be hungry in the future.

One particularly attractive feature of this predictive processing scheme is its potential to integrate cognitive science with other life and social sciences through a common set of principles. For example, it can be shown that any plausible biological system – whether brain, bacterium or birch tree – behaves as though it possesses a predictive model of its environment, and acts in ways that improve the fit between this model and the outside world7,8. More recently, it has been suggested that the same mathematical principles can explain cultural evolution, with ‘cultural ensembles’ equipping their members with shared predictions about the outside world, the contents of which are adjusted in response to cultural prediction errors9. The idea that a range of natural phenomena, on a range of scales, can be understood as prediction-making, error-minimising systems commends predictive processing models to “unity of science” enthusiasts. These models are a boon for scientists who seek continuity between the principles explaining human and animal behaviour and those explaining the rest of the natural world.

However, the unifying potential of predictive processing models may come at a cost to explanatory power. There may still be good reasons for the cognitive scientist to retain concepts of belief-like and desire-like states in their theoretical arsenal. For example, predictive processing models of active inference assume that we act by generating (false) predictions about the states of our body (e.g., my hand is over there) and enslaving peripheral reflexes to make the prediction come true (i.e., move it). While this formulation provides an elegant account of how motor commands are generated and unpacked in the spinal cord, and there would be little dispute that goals are achieved through error minimisation processes, a key ingredient in this scheme is the assumption that agents suspend perception of their actions until their predictions are realised10. This assumption is required because one state plays the role of belief and desire – I cannot simultaneously represent with one state that my hand is by my side and that I would like it to be grasping the mug. Therefore, it would appear that these incarnations of the model are difficult to reconcile with evidence that agents can simultaneously act and perceptually monitor their actions as they unfold – for example, when adapting to unexpected perturbations in a visually-guided reaching movement11 . It is unclear that there is a straightforward solution to this problem. This kind of sensory-guided goal-directed action is compatible with there being some levels in the hierarchy that do not distinguish between belief-like and desire-like information1,11 but not with the absence of this distinction at all levels.

Retaining the distinction between belief-like and desire-like states may also help clinical scientists explain atypical aspects of action. For example, neuropsychiatric work has shown that addicts can expect drugs to be unrewarding, yet still feel strong compulsions to consume them – with expectations about the pleasantness of consumption (‘liking’) and about one’s future actions (‘wanting’) subserved by dissociable mechanisms12. A similar distinction may be important in obsessive compulsive disorder, where patients feel strong urges to perform actions they believe to be causally impotent13. Such experiences are difficult to explain without distinguishing desire-like and belief-like mechanisms (see Box 1).

Intriguingly, some recent predictive processing models may be suggesting rejection of the desert landscape view of cognition, by emphasising that agents like us can act in ways that minimise future prediction errors14. These temporally-deep models entail agents that have separate predictions about states of the world and predictions about plausible actions they could perform. This feature could allow for the reintroduction of the distinction between beliefs and desires. However, if doing so, proponents of predictive processing must also accept that the aim of unifying scientific explanation is only partially achieved. The desert landscape of cognition is not as bare as it seems, and we must accept that there is a discontinuity between different types of mental state, and between error-minimising systems that possess predictions about the future (e.g., animals) and those that do not (e.g., viruses).

In conclusion, prominent predictive processing models have suggested it is possible to do away with traditional concepts of belief and desire, explaining all cognition and behaviour in terms of predictions. This account holds promise for uniting the study of the mind with the study of the natural world, given the diverse number of natural systems that can be thought of as ‘error-minimisers’. However, abandoning these concepts may limit cognitive science’s ability to explain the subtleties of motivated action in health and disease. Though both beliefs and desires could be crafted from the sands of a desert landscape, the cognitive scientist may still find them to be as different as concrete and glass.

-----Full text, graphs, references, etc., at the link above

Higher (vs. lower) status decreased men's attraction to moderately-attractive women, whereas it increased men's attraction to highly-attractive women; women did not exhibit this pattern of reactions to either women or men

Ambivalent attraction: Beauty determines whether men romantically desire or dismiss high status women. Alexandra N.Fisher, Danu Anthony Stinson. Personality and Individual Differences, November 8 2019, 109681.

Abstract: We propose that physical attractiveness determines whether heterosexual men desire or dismiss romance with high-status women. We tested this ambivalent attraction hypothesis in three increasingly realistic experiments – one involving a hypothetical social interaction (N = 214) and two involving potential and actual interactions with confederates (Ns = 332 and 181). In each experiment, heterosexual men encountered a moderately-attractive or highly-attractive woman who aspired to (or held) a low-status or high-status job. Then they rated their attraction to the woman (Experiments 1 to 3) and were given the opportunity to initiate additional social contact with the woman (Experiments 2 and 3). As predicted, a meta-analysis across all three experiments revealed that higher (vs. lower) status decreased men's attraction to moderately-attractive women (d = -0.20), whereas higher (vs. lower) status increased men's attraction to highly-attractive women (d = 0.47). Women did not exhibit this pattern of reactions to either women or men. These results demonstrate the importance of ecological validity and interactive effects in attraction research.

We anticipate greater intrasexual aggression toward women dressed revealingly versus modestly, especially if targets are attractive; & women strategically damp the display of those dresses when aggression risk is greatest

Women’s Strategic Defenses Against Same-Sex Aggression: Evidence From Sartorial Behavior. Jaimie Arona Krems, Ashley M. Rankin, Stefanie B. Northover. Social Psychological and Personality Science, November 20, 2019.

Abstract: Women’s intrasexual competition has received significant attention only in the last decades, with even less work investigating women’s defenses against such aggression. Yet, we should expect that women can (a) grasp which perceptually-salient cues evoke same-sex aggression and (b) strategically damp the display of (some of) those cues when aggression risk is greatest, thereby avoiding the potentially high costs of victimization. Women selectively aggress against women displaying cues of sexual permissiveness (e.g., revealing dress) and/or desirability (e.g., physical attractiveness). We find that (a) women (and men) anticipate greater intrasexual aggression toward women dressed revealingly versus modestly, especially if targets are attractive. Employing behavioral and self-report measures, we also find (b) women create outfits baring less skin, select more modest clothing, and intend to dress less revealingly to encounter other women, flexibly damping permissiveness cues depending on individual features (physical attractiveness) and situational features (being a newcomer) that amplify aggression risk.

Keywords: evolutionary psychology, intrasexual aggression, female sociality, female aggression defenses

General Discussion

In four experiments, we find (1) women (and men) expect
women—and especially physically attractive women—to
evoke greater indirect (but not direct) intrasexual aggression
when revealingly versus modestly dressed; (2) women dress
more modestly for encountering same- versus mixed-sex
groups—across contexts (professional, social); (3) more physically
attractive women, who may be at greater risk of incurring
intrasexual aggression, demonstrate an exaggerated tendency
to do this; and (4) this effect is apparent only when such women
dress to meet a prospective (but not existing) female friend.
Findings are consistent with theorizing that women are not only
aware that certain perceptually-salient cues (e.g., revealing
clothes, physical attractiveness) render them more likely targets
of intrasexual aggression, but also that women might thus
seek to avoid such aggression by strategically manipulating
their appearance—specifically, by damping their outfit provocativeness.
Importantly, this damping is flexibly engaged when
aggression risk is highest: by individuals who may already be
frequent targets (physically attractive women), and in situations
when aggression is more likely (when women are

Our focus on women’s interactions with other women was,
in part, to address the fact that the majority of research on
women’s clothing and consumption has focused on women’s
male audiences and the possible benefits associated with
attracting such audiences (e.g., Buss, 1988; Durante et al.,
2011; Elliott et al., 2013; Haselton et al., 2007; Padza, Elliott,
& Greitemeyer, 2012; Saad, 2013; Sacco, Bermond, & Young,
2016; but see Blake, Fourati, & Brooks, 2018; Hudders, De
Backer, Fisher, & Vyncke, 2014). We would not argue that
other women are always the sole intended audience for
women’s sartorial cues and/or signals, and even when other
women are the intended audience, we would not expect that
women’s sartorial choices are always calibrated only toward
avoiding intrasexual aggression. Rather, because attracting and
maintaining same-sex friends can confer numerous important
benefits for women (e.g., Campbell, 2002), future work could
benefit from exploring how women might manipulate their
appearances to establish and maintain same-sex friendships—
as well as to avoid same-sex aggression. For example, donning
the baggy sorority t-shirts and short shorts common to young
women on some college campuses may communicate not only
the wearer’s on-campus status but also her dedication to her

Similarly, we do not assume that attracting the attention of
male audiences yields only opportunities (and not also threats).
Our data imply that women are attuned to the possible benefits
and costs of male attention, damping provocative dress when
encountering prospective male friends (but not romantic partners),
whose unwanted sexual interest could be threatening.

In all, findings suggest that women’s sartorial behavior is
attuned to multiple factors, including women’s own attractiveness,
the social context, and several audience features (e.g.,
audience gender composition, familiarity with their audience).
Future work might further investigate these and other nuances
(e.g., Glick, Larsen, Johnson, & Branstiter, 2005).
This work adds to literature suggesting that features cuing
women’s intentions to attract men (e.g., provocative dress) can
evoke aggression, but so too can features cuing women’s ability
to attract men (e.g., physical attractiveness). This implies
that some women might attract intrasexual aggression without
having engaged in behavior to prompt it. That is, women might
be aggressed against for being competitive (e.g., for desirable
romantic partners), even if those women were not actively
competing. One might speculate that, in contrast, men are
unlikely to evoke intrasexual aggression without having
actively provoked it. Whereas past work has uncovered sex differences
in tactics of intrasexual aggression, future work might
benefit from systematically exploring possible sex differences
in what features evoke intrasexual aggression.

We also note some limitations. One might speculate that stimulus
effects drove the results of Experiment 1. This is
possible; Experiment 1 used one stimulus per condition, and
this can be problematic for issues of validity and generalizability.
Perhaps somewhat mitigating these concerns, findings were
consistent with previous research examining actual aggression
toward those stimuli (Vaillancourt & Sharma, 2011); women
were more indirectly aggressive to an average-weight, revealingly
(versus modestly) dressed target, and we find that people
expect the average-weight, revealingly dressed target to
receive heightened intrasexual indirect aggression. Additionally,
we knowingly confounded sex composition and social
context in Experiment 2, which could also have suffered from
demand characteristics given its within-subjects design. To
address this, Experiment 3 conceptually replicated Experiment
2, setting sex composition orthogonal to social context,
and using a between-subjects design.

Check also  Women made more negative attributions about, & experienced diminished desire to affiliate with, female targets wearing (vs. not wearing) cosmetics. This penalty was specific to female observers, mediated by decreases in perceived trustworthiness, & driven by less desirable women.
DelPriore, D. J., Bradshaw, H. K., & Hill, S. E. (2018). Appearance Enhancement Produces a Strategic Beautification Penalty Among Women. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences,