Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The more maladaptive forms of narcissism (hypersensitivity, willfulness) declined across life & individual autonomy increased; later-born birth-cohorts were lower in hypersensitivity & higher in autonomy

Chopik, William J. 2019. “Longitudinal Changes and Historic Differences in Narcissism from Adolescence to Older Adulthood.” PsyArXiv. December 10. doi:10.31234/osf.io/bf7qv

Abstract: In the debate about whether or not narcissism has been increasing in recent history, there is a lack of basic information about how narcissism changes across the adult lifespan. Existing research relies on cross-sectional samples, purposely restricts samples to include only college students, or follows one group of individuals over a short period of time. In the current study, we addressed many of these limitations by examining how narcissism changed longitudinally in a sample of 747 participants (72.3% female) from age 13 to age 77 across six samples of participants born between 1923 and 1969. Narcissism was moderately stable across the lifespan (rs ranged from .37 to .52), to a comparable degree as other psychological characteristics. We found that more maladaptive forms of narcissism (e.g., hypersensitivity, willfulness) declined across life and individual autonomy increased across life. More later-born birth-cohorts were lower in hypersensitivity and higher in autonomy compared to earlier-born birth-cohorts; these differences were most apparent among those born after the 1930s. The results are discussed in the context of the mechanisms that drive both changes in narcissism across the lifespan and substantive differences in narcissism between historical periods.


The current study examined changes in narcissism from age 13 to age 77 across six different studies of human development. Narcissism was moderately stable across the lifespan, to a comparable degree as other psychological characteristics (Roberts & DelVecchio, 2000). We found that more maladaptive forms of narcissism (e.g., hypersensitivity, willfulness) declined across life and autonomy increased across life. Later-born birth-cohorts were lower in hypersensitivity and higher in autonomy, which is consistent with one study on historical changes in narcissism (Wetzel et al., 2017) but also in strong contrast to studies suggesting that later-born birth-cohorts are higher in narcissism than earlier-born birth-cohorts (Twenge, 2006; Twenge et al., 2008). The current study is one of the most comprehensive examinations of narcissism changes ever conducted and included data from individuals born throughout a 46-year period (from 1923 to 1969).
The current findings are consistent with tenets of the social investment model of personality development (Roberts et al., 2005). Specifically, although narcissism may serve some protective role for well-being in emerging adulthood (Hill & Roberts, 2012), high levels of maladaptive forms of narcissism are incompatible with the age-graded social roles and expectations that individuals adopt throughout the lifespan. Psychological characteristics are thought to change in response to the complex interplay of individuals functioning within the demands and expectations of increased responsibility and maturity. As a result, maladaptive forms of narcissism that serve as a barrier to success in work, life, and love are abated throughout middle age and older adulthood. Forms of narcissism that enhance successes in these domains are likely to be cultivated. For these reasons, maladaptive forms of narcissism tend to decline across life and adaptive forms of narcissism tend to increase across life.

Birth-cohort Effects on Narcissism

That later-born birth-cohorts were lower in hypersensitivity and higher in autonomy was also perplexing as it goes against a narrative that recent birth-cohorts have experienced a monotonic rise in narcissistic traits across the past century (Twenge et al., 2012a, 2012b; Twenge et al., 2008). It is not necessarily surprising that maladaptive narcissism is declining while autonomy is increasing, as these two are inextricably linked (Deffler, Leary, & Hoyle, 2016). Although some research has found similar (decreasing) levels of maladaptive narcissism, the reasons behind such differences have not been thoroughly examined. There are many substantive and non-substantive differences between birth-cohorts and previous work has tried to identify a number of social indicators for why birth-cohorts might psychologically differ (e.g., technological changes, changes in parenting styles; Konrath et al., 2011). Exactly how these differences translate into mean differences in some forms of narcissism and not others is an exciting direction for future research. Of course, as with gender, the samples were not perfectly comparable with respect to ages distributed across the birth-cohorts. For example, some samples (e.g., the Radcliffe Sample) had only participants who were middle age and older. Other samples (the Block and Block Sample) had only participants who were young adults. Thus, sample/birth year and age are somewhat conflated in the current study. Thus, we interpret caution when drawing conclusions from the birth-cohort analyses.

Limitations and Future Directions

The current study had many strengths. We combined data from six distinct sources to model changes in narcissism over a 59-year period. Nevertheless, there are some limitations that are worth noting.
Why did people change in narcissism over time? Other than the sample imbalance with respect to age and gender (see above), we did not have a consistent set of predictors to model the mechanisms underlying lifespan changes and birth-cohort differences in narcissism over time. Like other traits that function within the social investment framework, there are likely both selection and socialization factors that drive the development of narcissism across the lifespan (Specht et al., 2014; Specht, Egloff, & Schmukle, 2011). For example, people high in autonomy might select environments that are conducive to cultivating their autonomous lifestyle (and avoid situations that dampen it). Likewise, once individuals have selected an environment, there are additional mechanisms that drive stability and change in narcissistic characteristics as these changes are socialized within individuals (Caspi & Roberts, 1999). What are the environments and life circumstances that initiate changes in narcissism? And which environments and life circumstances lead to sustainable changes in narcissism over long periods of time? Although there is a great deal of research highlighting narcissists’ resilience and resistance to critical feedback about themselves (Bushman & Baumeister, 1998), some studies show some promising signs that narcissists can change in response to life events (Grosz et al., 2017). Nevertheless, the mechanisms through which narcissists are able to reflect on their lives in an impartial way and consciously change their thoughts and actions are currently unknown, even though it appears that narcissists do have some accurate self-insight into their personalities (E. N. Carlson, 2013; E. N. Carlson, Vazire, & Oltmanns, 2011). Future research can more formally model individual differences in changes in narcissism and the conditions under which lifespan changes are largest.

* Why do birth-cohorts differ in narcissism over time? Likewise, it is worth noting that our study did find reliable differences in narcissism between birth-cohorts, but in the reverse direction than is typical seen (Wetzel et al., 2017). Just as it is important to examine predictors of lifespan changes in narcissism, it is also important to examine whether changes in narcissism can be attributable to changes in parenting behaviors, shifting demographics and the relative risk of exposure to life events, some broader cultural changes, or another explanation entirely (Konrath et al., 2011; Twenge et al., 2008). Because the studies did not have consistent or, in some cases, any variables to operationalize changes in these variables, we are left with merely descriptive data on how narcissism might change over historical time. We view this as a major limitation to the current report and hope that future researchers can more seriously conceptualize and test why birth-cohorts might be changing in narcissism. That two of the samples were comprised entirely of women is also a considerable limitation, particularly for the birth-cohort analyses. Worth noting, because of the gender differences found in narcissism facets, it is likely that the birth-cohort differences cannot be entirely attributable to the gender composition of the sample. In other words, samples comprising entirely of women were often still higher than samples containing both men and women. Of course, the differences we observed in the current study are likely the combination of substantive changes in psychological and demographic variables. Future research can have more balanced gender designs with respect to gender and other demographic characteristics.

* How do researchers measure narcissism changes in secondary data sources? In the current study, we relied on just one of many models of narcissism—Wink’s (1992a) conceptualization of hypersensitivity, willfulness, and autonomy. The operationalization and measurement history of narcissism is long and controversial, with several alternative models and measures portending to measure narcissism’s core features (Ackerman et al., 2011; Back et al., 2013; Campbell, Bonacci, Shelton, Exline, & Bushman, 2004; Glover, Miller, Lynam, Crego, & Widiger, 2012; Konrath, Meier, & Bushman, 2014; Pincus et al., 2009; Raskin & Terry, 1988; Wink, 1991). Our choice to use Wink’s conceptualization was primarily (and necessarily) driven by an effort to maximize the available data across the six studies.
However, in directly comparing the CAQ scales to more contemporary measures of narcissism (e.g., NPI, NARQ), we found that one facet in particular—autonomy—had relatively small overlap with other measures of narcissism (rs < |.28|). In previous research, the CAQ autonomy scale was often conceptualized as a form of adaptive narcissism (Cramer, 2011a; Wink, 1992a). However, in our very preliminary examinations, it appears that these items capture autonomy as a broader individual difference characteristic than a form of adaptive narcissism per se. Thus, our and others’ necessary reliance on using CAQ autonomy as a form of adaptive narcissism is likely misplaced. This limitation speaks to a larger concern for researchers who use secondary data to examine changes in characteristics that were not intended to be measured in the original data collection. Running additional studies to verify the convergent and criterion validity of researcher-generated scales in the context of secondary data analysis is not particularly expensive; the benefits of adopting such an approach are numerous though. The danger is in liberally using measures form secondary data sources without formally examining their conceptual meaning and empirical validity. Indeed, such ready adoption of measures is likely one of the contributing factors for why some concepts (e.g., adaptive narcissism) might become so broad as to assume related, but technically different concepts (e.g., autonomy)(Haslam, 2016). For hypersensitivity and willfulness, there was substantial overlap with other measures of narcissism, suggesting that these aspects of narcissism may be less problematic to continue using in future research. Nevertheless, more formal efforts to examine how the developmental trajectories of different narcissism inventories vary would be an exciting direction for future research.
Although our use of a quasi-accelerated longitudinal design had many strengths, including measuring changes in narcissism over a 64-year period and across multiple birth-cohorts, its use also presents several unique limitations. For example, no one person was followed from age 13 to age 77, severely limiting our ability to truly isolate lifespan changes in narcissism. Further, because the studies had large gaps in between assessment points, we were limited in our ability to assess more nuanced developmental changes.

European elections & support for governing parties over time: Anticipating being completely satisfied (as compared to completely dissatisfied) is associated with around a 6.5% higher probability of declaring support for such parties

Happiness and Voting: Evidence from Four Decades of Elections in Europe. George Ward. American Journal of Political Science, December 9 2019. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajps.12492

[An earlier working paper version of this article circulated under the title “Is Happiness a Predictor of Election Results?”]

Abstract: There is a growing interest among policy makers in the use of subjective well‐being (or “happiness”) data to measure societal progress, as well as to inform and evaluate public policy. Yet despite a sharp rise in the supply of well‐being‐based policy making, it remains unclear whether there is any electoral demand for it. In this article, I study a long‐run panel of general elections in Europe and find that well‐being is a strong predictor of election results. National measures of subjective well‐being are able to explain more of the variance in governing party vote share than standard macroeconomic indicators typically used in the economic voting literature. Consistent results are found at the individual level when considering subjective well‐being and voting intentions, both in cross‐sectional and panel analyses.


Various countries around the world have recently begun to go “beyond GDP” by measuring subjective well-beingon a large scale and using the data (1) as a general measure of societal success and progress, (2) to guide and inform policy decisions, and (3) to evaluate the outcomes of government programs (Durand 2018; O’Donnell et al.2014). These practices are likely to continue to grow,in part because SWB is able to pick up the benefitsof a great deal of government activity that traditional economic outcomes may struggle to (Krueger and Stone2014).19 

Yet despite the recent sharp rise in the supply of SWB-based public policymaking, an open empiricalquestion is whether there is any electoral demand for it.The findings presented in this article suggest there maybe significant electoral incentives for politicians seeking reelection to consider SWB when deciding upon policypriorities.Global, cognitive evaluations of life are currently themost widely used measure of SWB by researchers inthe economic literature as well as by policy makers, but life satisfaction is only one component of SWB. Large-scale data on the emotional states of citizens are becoming more prevalent and are beginning to provide policymakers with a fuller picture of national SWB (Kahneman et al. 2004; Krueger and Stone 2014). Further research should investigate the extent to which measures of posi-tive and negative affect, as well as eudaemonic measures of purpose, are able to add to our understanding of vot-ing behavior.A further dimension of SWB is temporal: Although the main analysis of this article studies voters’ currentlevels of life satisfaction, it may be that future expectation sof life satisfaction are just as—or even more—important in driving vote choice. In a subset of waves of the German SOEP, respondents were asked about their anticipated life satisfaction in 5 years’ time, using the same 0–10 response scale as with current life satisfaction. In Table A1, I find that people’s future life satisfaction dominates current life satisfaction when it comes to predicting support for governing parties within people over time. Anticipating being completely satisfied (as compared to completely dissatisfied) is associated with around a 6.5% higher probability of declaring support for a governing party.20 

Open to further research is the broader questionof what array of determinants of SWB, and potentiallywhich domains of SWB, drive the link between nationalhappiness and election results—and ultimately what incumbents might do to improve their chances of reelec-tion. Although SWB has been shown to be determinedby a host of policy-relevant yet noneconomic variables,including physical and mental health, environmenta lquality, social cohesion, crime and corruption, quality of government services, and education (see, e.g., Clark et al.2018; Diener et al. 1999; Dolan, Peasgood, and White2008), the analysis of Liberini, Redoano, and Proto (2017)suggests voters may also reward/punish incumbent politicians for boosts and dips in their happiness that arecaused by factors outside of government control. Further research may continue to investigate (1) the extent to which voters are able (or willing) to filter which elementsof their well-being provide useful information about thequality and effort of incumbents, and (2) the theoretical implications of this for our understanding of democratic accountability.21 

Although SWB is a stronger predictor of incumbent vote share in general elections than economic growth, un-employment, or inflation, macroeconomic variables are nevertheless significant predictors of government elec-toral success conditional on national happiness. Equally,at the individual level, SWB and personal finances are in-dependently predictive of voting intentions. This suggests politicians face multiple incentives to improve people’s economic as well as broader non economic well-being.Future theoretical work may look to model these dynam-ics within a multitask political agency framework.22 

The data used here are observational, and it isworth reiterating that it is not possible to interpret thee mpirical associations presented in this article causally. 

Rather, the analysis is focused on determining what bestpredicts the electoral fate of governing parties. Despite this important caveat, however, a causal interpretation of the findings is suggested by Liberini, Redoano, and Proto(2017), who leverage exogenous variation in SWB to demonstrate a causal mechanism between happiness and self-reported incumbent voting intentions. The analysis presented here suggests that this effect is also evident atthe national level, across 15 countries over four decades, in real-world elections.

When male employees are assigned to male managers, they are promoted faster in the following years than they would have been if they were assigned to female managers, due to socialization between employees & managers

The Old Boys' Club: Schmoozing and the Gender GapZoë B. Cullen, Ricardo Perez-Truglia. NBER Working Paper No. 26530, December 2019https://www.nber.org/papers/w26530

Abstract: The old boys’ club refers to the alleged advantage that male employees have over their female counterparts in interacting with powerful men. For example, male employees may schmooze with their managers in ways that female employees cannot. We study this phenomenon using data from a large financial institution. We use an event study analysis of manager rotation to estimate the causal effect of managers’ gender on their employees’ career progression. We find that when male employees are assigned to male managers, they are promoted faster in the following years than they would have been if they were assigned to female managers. Female employees, on the contrary, have the same career progression regardless of the manager’s gender. These differences in career progression cannot be explained by differences in effort or output. This male-to-male advantage can explain a third of the gender gap in promotions. Moreover, we provide suggestive evidence that these manager effects are due to socialization between male employees and male managers. We show that these manager effects are present only if the employee works in close proximity to the manager. We use survey data to show that, after transitioning to a male manager, male employees spend more time with their managers. Finally, we study a shock to socialization within males, based on the anecdotal evidence that employees who smoke tend to spend more time together. We find that when male employees who smoke switch to male managers who smoke, they spend more of their breaks with their managers and are promoted faster in the following years. Moreover, the effects of these smoking manager switches are similar in timing and magnitude to the effects of the gender manager switches.

Dim Ambient Lighting Increases Game Play Duration and Total Spend

Hidden in the Dark: Dim Ambient Lighting Increases Game Play Duration and Total Spend. Jasmina Ilicic, Stacey M. Baxter. Journal of Gambling Studies, December 10 2019. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10899-019-09921-5

Abstract: It has been suggested that much like commercial environments (e.g., retailing), the situational characteristics of gambling environments form an important determinant of gambling behavior. However, no research has examined whether ambient lighting in gaming venues can have unintended consequences in terms of gambling behavior. The results of three experimental laboratory studies show that game play duration and total spend increase when ambient lighting is dim (vs. bright). Process evidence suggests that this phenomenon occurs as ambient lighting influences risk-taking, which in turn increases game play duration and total spend. Further, evidence is provided that the effect of dim (vs. bright) ambient lighting reduces risk-taking and subsequent game play duration and total spend when an individual’s self-awareness is facilitated (i.e., screening between gaming machines is removed). This research has implications in terms of public policy regarding the determination of minimum lighting levels in venues as a means to decrease gambling-related harm. Moreover, while gaming venues can use these insights and their ambient lighting switches to nudge individuals toward reducing their game play duration and total spend, gambling-afflicted consumers can opt for gambling venues with bright ambient lighting and those without screened gaming machines.

Keywords: Gambling Ambient lighting Risk-taking Self-awareness Game play duration Total spend

General Discussion

We introduced ambient lighting in gaming venues as an important sensory situational char-acteristic that can be easily adjusted to influence gambling behavior in terms of game play duration and total spend. Results of this research provide evidence that dim ambient light-ing can cause increased gambling behavior in terms of game play duration and total spend, whereas bright ambient lighting can decrease game play duration and total spend. We pro-vide evidence of the process underlying this effect, which we confirm is risk-taking. Dim ambient lighting, as opposed to bright ambient lighting, enhances risk-taking propensity, increasing subsequent game play duration and total spend. Further, we propose and dem-onstrate that the negative effect of dim ambient lighting on risk-taking and on subsequent game play duration and total spend is attenuated when self-awareness is facilitated through the absence of screening between machines. In other words, risk-taking and subsequent game play duration and total spend is decreased when individuals are made more self-aware through the absence of screening between gaming machines in dim lighting con-ditions. Our results provide insights into reducing gambling-related harm in gaming ven-ues and also provide interesting insights for public policy related to luminance levels and screening in gaming venues.In light of our findings, gaming venue operators could encourage more responsible gambling behaviors by adjusting their ambient lighting levels to reduce gambling-related harm to their customers and to decrease their risk-taking propensity. As such, we suggest the following guidelines be adopted by gaming venues to encourage responsible gambling behavior:1. Ensure that ambient lighting levels are bright.2. Use lighting adjusters to increase the lux within gaming venues or alter the bulbs used to brighter levels.3. Avoid the use of screening between gaming machines, which increases risk-taking and gambling behavior in dim ambient lighting conditions.We also suggest that our findings have important implications for public policy and regulations in the gaming industry. We suggest that public policymakers review the dim-luminance lighting level requirements for gaming venues. Brighter ambient lighting is suggested in order to reduce the harm associated with dim ambient lighting on gambling behavior. Furthermore, public policymakers should incorporate screening requirements into regulations. Specifically, we suggest the removal of screening between machines to create an open space that enhances self-awareness and reduces gambling-related harm.Research has found that lighting plays a significant role in influencing gambling behav-ior (e.g., Stark et al. 1982; Griffiths and Parke 2003; Spenwyn et al. 2010). Researchers have typically examined the effect of lighting in terms of the colors that are emitted from gaming machines themselves. For example, research suggests that individuals take greater risks and bet more frequently when gambling on machines that omit red, rather than blue, light (Stark et al. 1982). However, our research extends this body of work by providing evidence that the situational characteristics of ambient lighting within gaming venues can influence gambling behavior in terms of game play duration and total spend. This is espe-cially important for gaming venue managers in adjusting lighting levels to nudge more responsible gambling behavior.

Limitations and Directions for Future Research

This research is not without limitations. This research was conducted within an artifi-cial environment in a controlled laboratory setting. Although a controlled environment is desirable to be able to make casual inferences regarding the effects of ambient lighting on game play duration and total spend, the laboratory environment did not represent real-life gaming environments that include sounds, smells, flashing and colored lights from gam-ing machines, and a variety of gaming machine options available. We suggest that future research conduct a field study in which the ambient lighting levels are adjusted in real gam-ing venues, collecting data regarding game play duration and total spend, as well as other key gambling-related measures, such as numbers of bets and types of bets. Although it is acknowledged that field studies are difficult to implement, venue operators may be more willing to cooperate if only one smaller room were used as a test. This would minimise the impact of the study on operations.Our research is also limited as it only included a student sample and was conducted in Australia. We argue, however, that adolescents or young adults are particularly susceptible to the harm associated with situational characteristics that may encourage gaming machine use, as research shows that electronic gaming machine players are more likely to be in the 18- to 24-year-old age group (Delfabbro 2012). We also suggest that Australia is a par-ticularly vulnerable country to examine, as it holds the 2016 record in terms of losses per inhabitant; losing on average A$990 per adult resident, half of which is due to gaming machines (Pancani et al. 2019). Future research should explore the effects of ambient light-ing on gambling behavior across a wider sample of individuals, as well as across a variety of countries, to examine whether there are any age-related or cultural differences that may be observed.Furthermore, our study examined only two levels of luminance (i.e., 500 lux (bright) and 40 lux (dim)). Future research should examine varying levels of luminance to identify the point of luminance at which ambient lighting can have negative effects on gambling-related behavior. This would also have important implications regarding the specificity of luminance levels for public policy regulations.

First evidence of the acoustic correlates of cooperative behaviour: Men with lower‐pitched voices & greater pitch variations were more cooperative; however, testosterone did not influence cooperative behaviours

Does he sound cooperative? Acoustic correlates of cooperativeness. Arnaud Tognetti, Valerie Durand, Melissa Barkat‐Defradas, Astrid Hopfensitz. British Journal of Psychology, December 9 2019. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjop.12437

Abstract: The sound of the voice has several acoustic features that influence the perception of how cooperative the speaker is. It remains unknown, however, whether these acoustic features are associated with actual cooperative behaviour. This issue is crucial to disentangle whether inferences of traits from voices are based on stereotypes, or facilitate the detection of cooperative partners. The latter is likely due to the pleiotropic effect that testosterone has on both cooperative behaviours and acoustic features. In the present study, we quantified the cooperativeness of native French‐speaking men in a one‐shot public good game. We also measured mean fundamental frequency, pitch variations, roughness, and breathiness from spontaneous speech recordings of the same men and collected saliva samples to measure their testosterone levels. Our results showed that men with lower‐pitched voices and greater pitch variations were more cooperative. However, testosterone did not influence cooperative behaviours or acoustic features. Our finding provides the first evidence of the acoustic correlates of cooperative behaviour. When considered in combination with the literature on the detection of cooperativeness from faces, the results imply that assessment of cooperative behaviour would be improved by simultaneous consideration of visual and auditory cues.


Several acoustic features influence the perception of how trustworthy and cooperative the speaker is (Belinet al., 2017; Knowles & Little, 2016; Montano et al., 2017; O’Connor& Barclay, 2017; Oleszkiewicz et al., 2017; Ponsotet al., 2018; Tigue et al., 2012; Tsantani et al., 2016). Their influence could stem from the pleiotropic effect of testosterone on both acoustic features and cooperative behaviours (O’Connor & Barclay, 2017). It is unknown, however, whether acoustic features are associated with actual cooperativebehaviour and whether testosterone mediates this association. In this study, we presentevidence that both vocal pitch and its variations are related to cooperative behaviour in anincentivized social-dilemma game: the public good game. However, no effect oftestosterone level on cooperation, or on any of the other acoustic features studied, wasfound. Overall, ourstudy providesthe first evidence of the existence of acoustic correlates of cooperativeness.

Specifically, our results indicate that men’s contributions to the public good aresignificantly and negatively associated with fundamental frequency and significantly andpositively with its variations. When we compared the acoustic traits between conditional cooperators and free-riders (the two main categories as defined in Fischbackeret al.(2001)), we found that conditional cooperators exhibit significantly higher pitch variations than free-riders. Taken together, our results suggest that highly cooperative men have deeper voices and exhibit greater variations in their intonation compared to less cooperative men.The present results are consistent with the only previous study examining jointly the influence of vocal pitchand its variations on the perception of a speaker’s cooperativeness (Knowles & Little, 2016). Indeed, Knowles and Little (2016) found that male voices wereperceived as the most likely to cooperate when they exhibited high pitch variations in combination with a low pitch (although it was found for women’s but not for men’sratings). Vocal pitch and its variation are, thus, associated in the same way with bothcooperative behaviours and perceived cooperativeness. It, therefore, indicates that inferences of cooperativeness from voices might actually facilitate the detection ofcooperative partners. This sets the ground for future research, namely whether particular ombinations of acoustic traits influence ratings of cooperativeness and to which degreethese acoustic cues of cooperativeness are reliable or could be manipulated throughconscious control of the speaker (e.g., by lowering voice pitch or by increasing speech’sintonation).Behavioural decisions in the public good games (contributions to the public good) andin the trust game (amounts sent to the other player) are highly correlated (Galizzi & Navarro-Mart ınez, 2018; Peysakhovich, Nowak, & Rand, 2014), which suggests a strongassociation between cooperativeness and trustworthiness. Hence, similarly to cooper-ativeness, vocalpitchand itsvariationsarealso likelytobe used ascues oftrustworthiness.

In fact, both acoustic features influence perception of how trustworthy a speaker is. For example, lower-pitched male voices and voices with high pitch variations are perceived asmore trustworthy in general (Belinet al., 2017; Oleszkiewicz et al., 2017; Schirmer et al.,2019; Tsantaniet al., 2016) or when trust is linked to the political context (Klofstadet al.,2015, 2012; Tigueet al., 2012). It remains unknown, however, whether these acousticfeatures correlate with actual trustworthiness, and not only with perceived trustworthiness.The existence of vocal cues of cooperativeness could stem from the pleiotropic effectof testosterone on both cooperative behaviours (Burnham, 2007; Diekhofet al., 2014; Reimers & Diekhof, 2015; Takagishiet al., 2011) and vocal pitch (Dabbs & Mallinger,1999; Evanset al., 2008; Putset al., 2012). As testosterone has immunosuppressive effects (immunocompetence handicap hypothesis: Folstad & Karter, 1992; Rantalaet al., 2012;but see: J. Nowak, Pawłowski, Borkowska, Augustyniak, & Drulis-Kawa, 2018), men with(costly) lower pitch might benefit from a higher biological quality (Arnocky, Hodges-Simeon, Ouellette, & Albert, 2018; Hodges-Simeonet al., 2015). In addition, they may also be more socially dominant (Puts et al., 2012; Puts, Gaulin, & Verdolini, 2006; Putset al.,2007). Accordingly, because of their underlying qualities, including access to resources,men with lower pitch would be more cooperative than men with higher pitch becausethey could better afford the costs associated with cooperative behaviours while receiving reputational benefits (Raihani & Smith, 2015; Sylwester & Roberts, 2010; Tognetti,Berticat, Raymond, & Faurie, 2012; Tognettiet al., 2016). This condition-dependent mechanism could ensure the reliability of the vocal cues of cooperativeness. However, in the present study testosterone levels did not seem to affect cooperation or any of theacoustic features studied. Testosterone is a multiple-effect hormone which is influencedby numerous biological and environmental factors and pathways. As such, it is generally difficult to correlate testosterone levels to other biological or behavioural traits. Inaddition, we could only collect one sample of saliva for hormonal assays, which might notaccurately reflect a participant’s basal testosterone level.

Although the present study retains many strengths, it is also subject to several limitations. In particular, it is the first to investigate the existence of acoustic correlates ofcooperativeness in speech production. However, the investigation is restricted to Frenchmen. To provide broader conclusions, it should not only be extended to women, but toother populations as well. In addition, we did not conduct a perceptual study using ourrecordings to examine whether listeners use acoustic features as a social cue in abehavioural economic task. Indeed, we recorded individuals’ free speech due to itsstronger ecological validity (Puts e tal., 2007; Suireetal., 2018), but this type ofrecordingsis not suitable for perceptual studies, as recordings roughly differ in duration and semanticcontent. Finally, we used state-of-the-art methodology in economics to quantify andcategorize individuals according to type (Fischbacheret al., 2001). However, wecompared two categories with unbalanced sample sizes (NFree-rider=11 vs.Nconditionalcooperator=44) and the sample size of the free-riders was limited (although its proportion(18%) mimics the proportion found in the general French population; Frey, 2017). Hence,we cannot exclude the possibility that the acoustic differences found between free-ridersand conditional cooperators arose from this specific and particular sample of 11 free-riders. It seems, nevertheless, unlikely as the results found using this categorization arequalitatively similar to the ones we found using a continuous measure of cooperativeness(i.e., contributions to the public good).

To conclude, the present study provides evidence that at least two acoustic features(vocal pitch and its local variations) could be used as cues of cooperativeness. Facial cuesenable individuals to discriminate between high and low cooperative individuals with anabove chance accuracy (Bonnefon et al., 2013, 2017; Fetchenhauer et al., 2010; Little et al., 2013; Oda, Naganawa, et al., 2009; Reedet al., 2012; Stirrat & Perrett, 2010, 2012;Tognettiet al., 2013) but the accuracy of face-based cooperation detection is rather low (Bonnefon et al., 2017). Hence, by highlighting the fact that cooperativeness is advertisedby several cues across multiple sensory modalities, our findings pave the way for further investigations examining whether the assessment of cooperative behaviour is improved by simultaneous consideration of both visual and auditory cues.

Economic status cues from clothes affect perceived competence from faces — The Habit Does Make The Monk in the End

Economic status cues from clothes affect perceived competence from faces. DongWon Oh, Eldar Shafir & Alexander Todorov. Nature Human Behaviour, December 9 2019. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-019-0782-4

Abstract: Impressions of competence from faces predict important real-world outcomes, including electoral success and chief executive officer selection. Presumed competence is associated with social status. Here we show that subtle economic status cues in clothes affect perceived competence from faces. In nine studies, people rated the competence of faces presented in frontal headshots. Faces were shown with different upper-body clothing rated by independent judges as looking ‘richer’ or ‘poorer’, although not notably perceived as such when explicitly described. The same face when seen with ‘richer’ clothes was judged significantly more competent than with ‘poorer’ clothes. The effect persisted even when perceivers were exposed to the stimuli briefly (129 ms), warned that clothing cues are non-informative and instructed to ignore the clothes (in one study, with considerable incentives). These findings demonstrate the uncontrollable effect of economic status cues on person perception. They add yet another hurdle to the challenges faced by low-status individuals.

Across studies, we found that economic status clothing cues influenced competence judgements of faces. The effect persisted when faces were presented very briefly (that is, 129 ms), when informa-tion was provided related to the person’s profession and income, when formal clothing was replaced by more casual clothing, when participants were advised to ignore the clothing, when they were warned that there was no relationship between clothing and com-petence before choosing rather than rating faces, and when partici-pants were offered a monetary reward for accuracy. These findings support the notion of uncontrollable effects of minor contextual cues in face perception, and are consistent with a large body of research that finds people spontaneously encode the context surrounding a face when making social judgements10,11,13,19 (while our focus has been on competence judgements, similar, if attenuated, effects can be observed for other traits, such as trustworthiness; see Supplementary Results and Supplementary Fig. 8). 

The strong and persistent effects we observed are consistent with theoretical work16,18 and empirical findings16,17, showing a robust tendency for people of lower economic status to be perceived as less competent and to be disrespected20, often leading to social exclu-sion with detrimental effects on physical and emotional health21. Poverty is a place where many challenges—physical, social and psychological—converge: being perceived as of lower competence and disrespected adds to those challenges, and can exacerbate cognitive load and hamper performance, thereby potentially prov-ing self-fulfilling22,23. 

To overcome a bias, one needs not only to be aware of it but to have the time, attentional resources and motivation to counteract the bias24. In our studies, we warned participants about the potential bias, presented them with varying lengths of exposure, gave them additional information about the targets and offered financial incen-tives, all intended to alleviate the effect. None of these interventions were effective, however. While it is possible that higher incentives and greater experience could reduce the bias, its persistence in the face of our various manipulations is impressive. 

The present findings demonstrate that economic status cues from clothes naturally intervene in people’s assessments of compe-tence. This is consistent with research showing that people associ-ate status with competence in stereotypes of social groups16,25. This strong status–competence association suggests that any attempt at independen manipulation of the apparent competence and eco-nomic status of a person may need to resort to explicit and salient manipulations, rather than fairly subtle cues. 

The poor clothing cues in our studies were benign compared to real-world poverty signals. Recent work has shown that people can accurately guess others’ social class from brief exposure to photos or speech recordings26. We might thus expect people wearing truly impoverished clothes or exhibiting other peripheral signs of poverty to encounter substantial low-competence stereotyping, both when perceivers think fast as well as when they have more time to deliberate.Stereotypes about rich and poor individuals are common, prom-inent and consequential. Just as the clothing cues in our studies led to differential disambiguation of facial competence, views about a person’s economic background can lead to notably different inter-pretations of what is otherwise ambiguous performance27. Beyond their immediate impact, an important question for future research concerns the extent to which we might be able to transcend first impressions.