Friday, December 13, 2019

More religious individuals reported higher emotional empathy & were perceived as more empathic by others; the effect was observed specifically for other-oriented feelings of compassion & sympathy

Łowicki, P., & Zajenkowski, M. (2019). Religiousness is associated with higher empathic concern—Evidence from self- and other-ratings. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, Dec 2019.

Abstract: Several empirical investigations have demonstrated a positive association between religiosity and emotional empathy. However, most of these studies relied on self-report measures, and therefore were criticized for reflecting a self-delusion of believers rather than the actual relationship between the two constructs. The current research addressed this methodological limitation by conducting a simultaneous examination of both self- and other-reports on empathy and religiousness. We recruited 236 adult participants and 223 of their close acquaintances (e.g., partners, close friends, or parents). It was found that more religious individuals reported higher emotional empathy and were also perceived as more empathic by others. This effect was observed specifically for other-oriented feelings of compassion and sympathy and remained significant controlling for gender, age, and social desirability. The study contributes to the knowledge on social correlates of religiousness by demonstrating that its relationship with empathy is not spurious but possibly reflects a true phenomenon that can be observed by both participants themselves and by other people

Check also The Interplay Between Cognitive Intelligence, Ability Emotional Intelligence, and Religiosity. Paweł Łowicki, Marcin Zajenkowski, Dimitri Van der Linden. Journal of Religion and Health, November 2019. DOI: 10.1007/s10943-019-00953-0
Abstract: The negative association between cognitive intelligence (CI) and religiosity has been widely studied and is now well documented. In contrast, the role of emotional intelligence (EI) in this context has been poorly investigated thus far. Some available data indicate that EI, unlike CI, correlates positively with religiosity. To date, however, no study has explored the relationship between religiosity and both intelligences simultaneously. In current studies (Ns = 301 and 200), we examined the interplay between all three constructs. The results showed that CI was positively correlated with ability EI and negatively with some measures of religiosity. EI, on the other hand, revealed no direct, significant relationship with religiosity. However, when combined into a single regression model with CI, EI became a significant positive predictor of religiosity. Moreover, Study 2 revealed that the link between EI and religiosity was mediated by empathy. Interestingly, we also found a reciprocal suppression between CI and EI, since both predictors increased their influence on religiosity when analyzed together. Although the suppression was present in both studies, it was observed for different religiosity measures in each case, indicating that this effect is probably dependent on various factors, such as sample structure or type of religiosity.

Interaction, self-presentation, and entertainment on social network sites were associated with better well-being, whereas consuming their content was associated with poorer well-being

Digital Communication Media Use and Psychological Well-Being: A Meta-Analysis. Dong Liu, Roy F Baumeister, Chia-chen Yang, Baijing Hu. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Volume 24, Issue 5, September 2019, Pages 259–273,

Abstract: The puzzle of whether digital media are improving or harming psychological well-being has been plaguing researchers and the public for decades. Derived from media richness theory, this study proposed that phone calls and texting improve well-being, while use of social network sites (SNSs), instant messaging (IM), and online gaming may displace other social contacts and, thereby, impair well-being. To test this hypothesis, a meta-analysis of 124 studies was conducted. The results showed that phone calls and texting were positively correlated with well-being, whereas online gaming was negatively associated with well-being. Furthermore, the relationship between digital media use and well-being was also contingent upon the way the technology was used. A series of meta-analyses of different types of SNS use and well-being was used to elucidate this point: interaction, self-presentation, and entertainment on SNSs were associated with better well-being, whereas consuming SNSs’ content was associated with poorer well-being.


Our results provided some support for all three theoretical positions. Both the stimulation and displacement patterns were found, consistent with the original proposals by Kraut et al. (1998). Moreover, the patterns differed according to the digital medium, consistent with Daft and Lengel’s (1986) media richness theory. Not all results were as predicted. We begin with a summary of the findings, and then elaborate upon their theoretical implications.

Main findings: Digital media and well-being

Across multiple studies, the more often people made and received telephone calls, the better their overall well-being. Texting was also positively correlated with well-being. In contrast, SNS usage and online gaming were negatively related to well-being. IM showed a weak positive correlation with well-being, but it fell short of significance, so no conclusions can be drawn. Recent literature has suggested that mobile IM is a convenient tool for people to instantly address close ties (Cui, 2016). But the literature we analyzed involved studies with traditional IM, rather than mobile messaging.
As one would assume for such a complex variable as well-being, the effects of digital communication were rather small. Three of the effects were nearly identical in size (phoning, texting, and online gaming). SNS usage had a smaller effect size, which was about the same as that of IM, but given the vastly greater number of published studies, the SNS usage effect was significant, unlike the IM effect.
Given the larger amount of data available on SNS usage, as well as the multifunctional complexity of the medium, we performed a second set of analyses that broke SNS usage down into multiple categories. The global weak effect is a bit misleading, because different SNS activities have quite different relationships to well-being (and all but one was larger than the combined overall effect). Interactions and online entertainment had significant, positive links to well-being. Self-presentation also correlated positively with well-being, but the effect was very small. The largest effect we found in our entire meta-analysis was the negative correlation between well-being and SNS content consumption.
Further analyses suggested that the global effects of SNS use (already small) may have been artificially inflated by publication biases. Meanwhile, the effects of telephone calls may have been understated by publication biases. The other effects were apparently not affected by a publication bias, nor did we find any evidence of p-hacking.


Rather than drawing a sweeping conclusion that digital media are generally good or bad for well-being, our results suggest a more nuanced view. They seem most consistent with the reasoning that digital media enhance well-being when they facilitate social interactions with important relationship partners, but detract from well-being when they displace such interactions.
Positive links to well-being were found for the media designed for direct communication, which can include not just verbal content, but also affective communication. Phone calls allow people to talk one-to-one, and phoning is often used to connect with close relationship partners. Callers know not only what the other party says, but can also glean emotional information from the tone of voice and other cues. Although texting lacks the voice tone channel for communicating emotion, a deficit that has, to some extent, been rectified by the proliferation and widespread use of emotion symbols (emojis) and some acronyms (e.g., “lol” for “laughing out loud”), most people still use it to communicate with close relationship partners because of its privacy feature. People who use these media frequently may tend to have closer relationships than those who do not, and so their well-being is better. These results fit the stimulation hypothesis proposed by Kraut et al. (1998), which says that digital communication can strengthen social connections to important people in one’s life. As the first and most obvious example, telephone calls enable people to stay in regular contact with loved ones while traveling far from them.
IM resembles texting but typically uses a computer keyboard, so longer messages are practical. It too may be used for communicating with close others, but it may also be useful for discussions in business and research. Again, people who use it more may have more and better social bonds than other people. The size of the effect was consistent with this analysis, but it was not significant. More research is needed.
Online gaming is not something done primarily with intimate partners. It can be done as a solitary activity or in interaction with a great many people, mostly including strangers and mere acquaintances. We found a significant, negative relationship between online gaming and well-being, consistent with the displacement hypothesis. Spending considerable time playing online games may replace interacting with significant others, thereby being either a result or cause of deficiencies in close relationships.
As we noted, there were far more studies examining the effects of SNSs than any of the other digital media, in terms of well-being. Although there was an overall weak, positive effect, which indeed may have been inflated by a publication bias (so that the overall true effect may be zero), further analyses suggest the overall effect or lack thereof may be misleading. Breaking down SNS usage into different activities revealed multiple effects in different directions. Interacting with others via SNSs was positively associated with well-being, consistent with the view that digital communication can link to happiness by virtue of connecting with other people. Likewise, online entertainment was positively related to well-being. This might also reflect social bonds, insofar as people may watch entertainment with others or, at least, share favorite videos with them. To be sure, it may also be that entertainment directly enhances well-being, because entertainment is designed to be fun. If the entertainment value were the main reason for the positive correlation, however, then presumably playing games would also raise well-being but, as we saw, online gaming was negatively related to well-being.
We found a weak but still significant relationship between SNS self-presentation and well-being, such that posting more information about oneself was associated with greater happiness and self-esteem. Self-presentation is designed for social interaction, but posting content is not itself directly interactive. Still, the positive link to well-being is unsurprising. People probably post more positive than negative information about themselves, so posting more information may boost positive feelings about oneself, and people who already have positive views of themself may be more likely than others to present such information online.
In contrast to these positive effects, SNS content consumption had a negative relationship to well-being; indeed, this was the largest single effect we found. Content consumption, also known as browsing, refers to reading what other people post (but not interacting with them). It is, therefore, highly relevant to what Kraut et al. (1998) identified as displacement. The browsing individual spends time reading about other people online, and this may replace time spent actually interacting with significant other people. Moreover, as we noted, browsing may cause negative feelings because the content posted by others is positively skewed, so that social comparison will make readers feel relatively negative about their own lives (Yang, 2016).

Limitations and future directions

As with any literature review, our conclusions were constrained by the nature of the available evidence. Most obviously, our conclusions are correlational and preclude causal inferences. Digital communication may cause changes in well-being, or different levels of well-being may cause people to change their use of digital media. It may be, as Kraut et al. (1998) hypothesized, that spending time on digital media (especially gaming and browsing) replaces meaningful interactions with significant others, thereby causing a drop in well-being. Alternatively, unhappy people may be more likely than happy ones to spend time browsing and gaming. What limited evidence is available regarding longitudinal patterns suggests bidirectional causality (e.g., Kross et al., 2013), which we think should probably be the default assumption for now. Dienlin, Masur, and Trepte (2017) suggested that the effects of digital media use may not manifest immediately, and may emerge several weeks or months later. The extreme imbalance in the literature in terms of study designs calls for more longitudinal or experimental studies in the future.
Besides, the classifications of media types in the literature reviewed were quite coarse; even breaking SNSs into types of behavior may be insufficiently granular. The media which form the basis of the classifications could be explicitly treated as multidimensional or as composites of behavioral features. In the future, for any medium, research could ask how much interpersonal communication was occurring, how interactive the communication was, how much information about the parties was revealed, how positive the experience was, and so forth.
Last, we note that digital media usage is highly complex, and so generalizations should be tempered with the recognition of many exceptions. To conclude that “phone calls make people happy,” even if broadly correct, would mislead if it failed to acknowledge that undoubtedly many people occasionally make or receive deeply upsetting phone calls. Our effects were generally small, but the effect sizes probably reflect the mixed natures of the effects, rather than the weaknesses of the medium. That is, a weak net impact of phoning on happiness is probably a result of some calls bringing joy while a few others caused anger or sorrow. Presumably there are far more pleasant than unpleasant phone calls, but the bad ones may have stronger effects, consistent with the general pattern that negative events have more psychological impacts than positive ones (Baumeister, Bratslavsky, Finkenauer, & Vohs, 2001).

From 2018... Emotion processing across and within species: A comparison between humans (Homo sapiens) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

From 2018... Emotion processing across and within species: A comparison between humans (Homo sapiens) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Kret, Mariska E.,Muramatsu, Akiho,Matsuzawa, Tetsuro. Journal of Comparative Psychology, Vol 132(4), Nov 2018, 395-409. Dec 2019.

Abstract: For social species, recognizing and adequately yet quickly responding to the emotions of others is crucial for their survival. The current study investigates attentional biases toward emotions in two closely related species, humans and chimpanzees. Prior research has demonstrated that humans typically show an attentional bias toward emotions. We here build on that literature by studying the underlying unconscious mechanisms within and across humans and chimpanzees and aim to gain insight into the evolutionary continuity of expressions. Experiment 1 tested whether chimpanzees show an attentional bias toward the expressions of conspecifics and whether this putative bias is modulated by the stimulus presentation duration, being 33 ms or 300 ms. The stimuli were followed by a visual mask in the form of a neutral body image. This backward-masking procedure eliminated the visibility of the stimuli that were presented for 33 ms, rendering their presentation subliminal. In contrast to our prediction, no attentional bias toward emotions was observed in chimpanzees. The goal of Experiment 2 was to verify this finding and to investigate chimpanzees’ reaction to human stimuli. Replicating Experiment 1, no evidence of an attentional bias toward emotions was observed in chimpanzees. In Experiment 3 we used the same chimpanzee and human expressions in 711 museum visitors and confirmed that humans do have an attentional bias toward emotions. Interestingly, this bias was independent of the stimulus presentation duration and most strikingly, independent of the species that was observed. Implications for theorizing about species differences in attentional mechanisms in processing emotions are discussed, as well as directions for future research, to investigate our preliminary findings and this potential species difference further.

At least 48 mattresses have disappeared from guest rooms in the more than 1,100 4- & 5-star European hotels surveyed by Wellness Heaven; cost worldwide, yearly, is roughly $60 million

People are stealing mattresses from luxury hotels. Megan Cerullo. CBS News' MoneyWatch, December 12, 2019.

Some hotel guests wake so rested at luxury properties that they purchase the same kind of mattress they slept on. Then there are those patrons who steal them.

At least 48 mattresses have disappeared from guest rooms in the more than 1,100 four- and five-star European hotels surveyed by German review site Wellness Heaven. Guests at five-star hotels were 8% more likely to take mattresses, perhaps because they were more comfy, according to the survey.

That's far less than the nearly 900 towels or 753 bathrobes that hotels say went missing. Hangers, pens, cutlery, cosmetics and blankets were among the other most commonly lifted items. Personal electronics and small appliances, including tablet computers, hair dryers, coffee makers and TV sets were also reported missing from hotel rooms across the properties.

How to steal a mattress
Upscale hotels often make their mattresses or pillows available for purchase to guests who've slept soundly during their stays. What's less clear is how thieves escape without paying for the not-so-compact pieces of hotel property. Some hoteliers told the survey company that guests snuck away with mattresses in the dark of night using elevators that led directly to underground parking.

Another guest threw a mattress out of the room's window, according to the site's hotel reviewer, Tassilo Keilmann.


Wellness Heaven pegs the value of a single stolen mattress at a couple thousand dollars. He estimates that roughly $60 million worth of mattresses are lifted from hotels worldwide each year.

Other weird things that go missing
Some hotels say they charge guests for missing property, while others turn a blind eye.

"Especially in the case of towels and bathrobes, they don't do anything, because they don't want to confront the guest and lose repeat visitors," he said. "They also want to avoid calling the police and making a scene."

Others simply factor the anticipated losses into their room rates, or make clear that desirable items are available to purchase through the hotel's shop.

Other unusual — and valuable — items that have gone missing from hotels include a grand piano from a hotel lobby in Italy, bathroom fixtures in Germany, a taxidermied head and guest room numbers from a hotel in England, according to Wellness Heaven. 


Tipping points of change: Everyday fluctuations in oneself and the social world create ambiguities about when people will diagnose lasting, qualitative change (and therefore act)

When Small Signs of Change Add Up: The Psychology of Tipping Points. Ed O’Brien. Current Directions in Psychological Science, December 12, 2019.

Abstract: Things change, but the exact point at which they do is often unknown. After how many loveless nights is a relationship “officially” in trouble? After how many happy days has one’s depression “officially” passed? When do recurring patterns in the climate or economy “officially” warrant a response? When is a person’s identity “officially” accepted? Everyday fluctuations in oneself and the social world create ambiguities about when people will diagnose lasting, qualitative change (and therefore act). Recent research documents these tipping points of change as a psychological process, shaped by individual and situational forces. People judge tipping points asymmetrically across valence and asymmetrically across time. Here, I review discoveries and outline future directions in tipping-points research.

Keywords: tipping points, change perception, self/others over time, evaluative judgment, qualitative and categorical shifts

Downstream behavior

Tipping points imply points when people become more likely to intervene or surrender. Future research should scale to higher-stakes contexts (e.g., changes in health, climate change action, decisions to change jobs or partners). The valence asymmetry suggests uphill battles for appreciating improvement. The temporal asymmetry suggests conflict between parties who experience evidence from different perspectives (e.g., policymakers may predetermine thresholds for reward or punishment that notoriously prove too high for constituents, who demand action at the first salient strike). Indeed, naive realism in change perceptions may stir conflict over identical evidence (Campbell, O’Brien, Van Boven, Schwarz, & Ubel, 2014). Other research should assess intrapersonal costs (e.g., consumers may overpay for lengthy product trials, assuming they will evaluate more than they actually will before drawing conclusions).

Motivated and nonmotivated mechanisms

If the basic process underlying tipping points is responding to evidence salience, there must be motivated sources of salience that interact with tipping points. Alcoholics may view themselves as more “cured” after their first week of sobriety than friends view them, CEOs may quickly view increases in revenue as signals whereas investors view them as noise, voters may dismiss a few days of poor stock returns or rising unemployment if they support the incumbent administration, and a person who goes on one date with an attractive partner may conclude that he or she is “the one.” More research should unpack potential self/other differences, as agents of change likely want to diagnose change. However, this may also reflect nonmotivated differences in accessibility (Klein & O’Brien, 2017; O’Brien, 2013). Only the alcoholic actor knows how effortful that first week felt; he or she actually has a more diagnostic signal. Differences across explicit and implicit change perceptions (Ferguson et al., 2019) may be more informative.

Other boundaries

Beyond self/other differences, testing still other factors that reverse the asymmetries is critical. When do people tip more quickly in response to improvement? Future research should assess additional domain differences (e.g., changes in identity-central features; Strohminger & Nichols, 2014) and individual differences (e.g., trait optimists may flip the valence asymmetry, assuming they reject entropy beliefs). When do people tip more slowly than they think? Extremely emotional events are often rationalized in ways hidden to intuition (Wilson & Gilbert, 2005), and thus may flip the temporal asymmetry; people may assume one horrible fight will forever render a friend a foe, but in reality, friends work to stay friends. For complex stimuli, reacting quickly to initial evidence may itself be mistaken; one may assume that a single reading of a book was enough to form a conclusion, but in reality, rereads may continually reveal new interpretations (Kardas & O’Brien, 2018; O’Brien, 2019). Regardless, the phenomenon appears not easily intuited; future research should assess other ways in which expectations diverge from experiences.

Evidence presentation

Future research should introduce more variance into observations. Variance likely will not affect asymmetries across conditions if it is similarly distributed (e.g., random draws of grades that slowly transition to C+s vs. A+s at equal rates), but extreme draws likely matter; one big shock may disrupt small compounding change. Future research should also integrate the full time course of tipping points. As retrospection and prospection rely on shared lay beliefs (O’Brien, Ellsworth, & Schwarz, 2012; Schwarz, 2012), the temporal asymmetry may stubbornly persist when looking back; people may predict being patient, then quickly make up their minds, yet then later recall being just as patient as imagined. However, other stereotypes about past and future selves (such as past selves seeming emotional and future selves seeming rational: O’Brien, 2015) may interact with tipping-point perceptions over time.

External benchmarks

Some changes are truly instantiated, which can be misperceived because of other attentional demands (Simons & Ambinder, 2005), miscalibrated beliefs (Davidai & Gilovich, 2015; Ross, 1989), and shifting reference points (Levari et al., 2018). An open question is whether tipping-point thresholds can be objectively quantified. Misperceiving genuine tipping points would bear on many real-world outcomes, from doctors who must anticipate when illnesses will manifest to investors who must anticipate when bear markets will return. One could gain traction on this question by comparing perceptions to other benchmarks, such as normative thresholds (e.g., feverish people may think their temperature has crossed 100.4° F before it does) and mathematical probabilities (e.g., testing how quickly people believe drawn outcomes have shifted from pool A to pool B against Bayesian standards; Massey & Wu, 2005). More research is needed, from all approaches, on categorical change perception in the self and others.
A broad study of tipping points is promising. The point when things change may be fiction, but hopefully this article encourages initial change toward these exciting directions.