Saturday, February 29, 2020

Successful entrepreneurs' mean age at founding of successful start-ups for the 1-in-1,000 fastest growing new ventures is 45.0; prior experience in the specific industry predicts much greater rates of success

Age and High-Growth Entrepreneurship. Pierre Azoulay, Benjamin F. Jones, J. Daniel Kim, and Javier Miranda. American Economic Review: Insights. Mar 2020, Vol. 2, No. 1: Pages 65-82. https://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/aeri.20180582

Abstract: Many observers, and many investors, believe that young people are especially likely to produce the most successful new firms. Integrating administrative data on firms, workers, and owners, we study start-ups systematically in the United States and find that successful entrepreneurs are middle-aged, not young. The mean age at founding for the 1-in-1,000 fastest growing new ventures is 45.0. The findings are similar when considering high-technology sectors, entrepreneurial hubs, and successful firm exits. Prior experience in the specific industry predicts much greater rates of entrepreneurial success. These findings strongly reject common hypotheses that emphasize youth as a key trait of successful entrepreneurs. (JEL G24, J14, L26, M13, O31)


A Norwegian analyst is 8.4 %-points more likely to assign a buy rating to a Danish firm than an Austrian analyst; & is 6.7 % points more likely to assign a buy rating to a British firm than a French analyst

Pursiainen, Vesa, Cultural Biases in Equity Analysis (October 21, 2019). SSRN: http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3153900

Abstract: A more positive cultural trust bias by an equity analyst's country of origin toward a firm's headquarter country is associated with significantly more positive stock recommendations, controlling for analyst-month and firm-month fixed effects. The cultural bias effect is stronger for eponymous firms whose names mention their home country. The bias effect varies over time, increasing with negative sentiment. I find evidence of a negative North-South bias emerging during the European debt crisis, a UK-Europe divergence amid Brexit, and a Franco-British bias during the Iraq war. The share price reaction to buy recommendations by more positively biased analysts is weaker.

Keywords: cultural bias, trust, analyst recommendation, salience, sentiment
JEL Classification: A13, G02, G20, G24, D83

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My estimates suggest that a Norwegian analyst is 8.4 %-points more likely to assign a buy rating to a Danish firm than an Austrian analyst. Similarly, a Norwegian analyst is 6.7 %-points more likely to assign a buy-recommendation to a British firm than a French analyst.

[...]

This paper provides evidence that cultural biases have a significant effect on equity analysts’ stock recommendations. I further find that there is substantial time variation in the effect of such biases, and that the strength of the bias effect is highly correlated with the general sentiment. In other words, bad economic times, when the level of pessimism is high and con- sumer confidence low, are also the times when cultural biases have the largest effect. These findings are all the more significant since equity analysts are financial market professionals that are often supposed to be less susceptible to behavioral biases than non-professionals. To the extent that these results generalize to the rest of the population, they suggest a link between times of economic hardship and increased cultural biases. This might contribute to the rise of nationalism and populism during economic downturns.

My finding that the salience of the firm’s nationality affects the strength of analysts’ cultural biases is also novel in the finance literature. While there is a vast literature on priming effects in psychology literature and, to a lesser extent, in experimental economics, my results suggest that there might be interesting new applications in financial markets and in non-experimental settings that have not been fully explored.

Finally, I find evidence that significant political events can introduce new cultural biases that are strong enough to affect stock recommendations. The much-discussed North-South divide in Europe and the stereotypes of lazy Mediterraneans invoked during the European debt crisis created a clearly visible negative bias in the stock recommendations of North European analysts on South European companies. Similarly, the diplomatic rifts between the UK and the rest of Europe amid the Brexit process, as well as between France and the UK over the Iraq war can be seen in analyst stock recommendations.

Human mate choice: Individuals displaying moderate levels of altruism were rated as more desirable than those displaying higher levels (and both more so than non-altruistic individuals)

The role of altruistic costs in human mate choice. Manpal Singh Bhogal et al. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 160, 1 July 2020, 109939. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2020.109939

Abstract: There is a large body of research exploring the role of altruism in mate choice, showing altruism is a mating signal. However, it is still unclear whether these traits signal good genetic quality, due to their costly nature, or good partner/parenting qualities. We report the findings of three experiments that aimed to address this, by comparing the desirability of individuals who displayed either moderate or high levels of altruistic behaviour, and non-altruistic behaviour in dictator games and hypothetical social scenarios. These experiments adopted a variety of experimental designs to test our hypotheses. We consistently found that individuals displaying moderate levels of altruism were rated as more desirable than those displaying higher levels (and both more so than non-altruistic individuals). Our findings offer strong evidence for the underlying characteristics displayed by altruistic behaviour, rather than their absolute costs, being more important in mate choice. To our knowledge, this is the first paper to report a suite of experiments providing strong support that the cost of an altruistic act is more important than the act itself in a mate choice context. These findings go beyond and extend previous literature on altruism and mating by unpacking the role of prosociality in mate choice.


Experimentally reducing free will beliefs might affect how individuals evaluate others’ behavior; but professional judges manipulated to soften belief in free will won't recommend more lenient sentences

Genschow, Oliver, Davide Rigoni, Heinz Hawickhorst, Ellen Aschermann, and Marcel Brass. 2020. “Professional Judges’ Disbelief in Free Will and Punishment.” PsyArXiv. February 28. doi:10.31234/osf.io/4ucd3

Abstract: There is a debate in psychology and philosophy on the societal consequences of casting doubts about individuals’ belief in free will. Research suggests that experimentally reducing free will beliefs might affect how individuals evaluate others’ behavior. Past research has demonstrated that reduced free will beliefs decrease laypersons’ tendency towards retributive punishment. This finding has been used as an argument for the idea that promoting anti-free will viewpoints in the public media might have severe consequences for the legal system, because it may move judges towards softer retributive punishments. However, actual implications for the legal system can only be drawn by investigating professional judges. In the present research, we investigated whether judges (N = 87) are affected by reading anti-free will messages. The results demonstrate that although reading anti-free will texts reduces judges’ belief in free will, their recommended sentences are not influenced by their (manipulated) belief in free will.

Check also Freeing or freezing decisions? Belief in free will and indecisiveness. Michail D. Kokkoris, Roy F. Baumeister, Ulrich Kühnen. Processes, Volume 154, September 2019, Pages 49-61. https://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2019/09/belief-in-free-will-is-associated-with.html

Men had stronger preferences for risky behaviors than their partner’s ideal preference; relationship length was associated with a decline in women’s preference for their partner’s risk‐taking, but not men’s

Individual differences in preference for risky behaviors during courtship. Pavol Prokop  Adam Pazda. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, February 27 2020. https://doi.org/10.1111/sjop.12628

Abstract: Engaging in risky behaviors is a sexual signalling strategy that men use to procure mates. The present study investigates men’s preferences for engaging in risky behaviors (along with women’s preferences for their male partner’s risky behavior) within dating couples. We investigated associations between relationship length, self‐perceived attractiveness, sociosexuality orientation, and preference for risky behaviors in a sample of 256 couples. Results indicated that men had stronger preferences for risky behaviors than their partner’s ideal preference. Furthermore, relationship length was associated with a decline in women’s preference for their partner’s risk‐taking, but not men’s preference for their own risk‐taking. Self‐perceived attractiveness was negatively associated with risk preference, and sociosexuality orientation was not directly related to risk preference. Female preferences for less intense male risky behaviors could reflect the need of paternal investment which is required for offspring care. Decreased male sexual signalling could account for lower preferences of risky behaviors in females who are involved in longer lasting romantic relationships.



Friday, February 28, 2020

Women were more likely than men to report falling asleep after sexual intercourse, with or without orgams; postcopulatory somnolence was also enhanced by orgasm in both women & men

Gallup, G. G., Jr., Platek, S. M., Ampel, B. C., & Towne, J. P. (2020). Sex differences in the sedative properties of heterosexual intercourse. Evolutionary Behavioral SciencesFeb 2020. https://doi.org/10.1037/ebs0000196

Abstract: Based on a sample of 128 female and 98 male college students, there were significant sex differences in the sedative properties of vaginal intercourse. Consistent with predictions derived from an evolutionary model of sperm retention and human bipedalism, women were more likely than men to report falling asleep after sexual intercourse. Postcopulatory somnolence was also enhanced by orgasm in both women and men. However, with or without orgasm, women were more likely than men to report falling asleep after sex. Consistent with the possibility that seminal fluid may contain sedative-like properties, women who were being inseminated were also more likely to fall asleep after sex. There was no evidence for sex differences in the sedative properties of masturbation

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Women who were inseminated were also more likely to fall asleep... that raises the possibility that human semen may contain sedative properties... the so-called missionary position may have evolved to promote sperm retention, and anything that postpones the sumption of an upright posture after insemination would function to increase the likelihood of sperm retention and impregnation as a consequence.

The perception of attractiveness, fertility, health, and age were influenced by size, cleft distance, ptosis, and hostile sexism; individual differences in life history and self-perceived mate value also influenced preferences

Effects of Breast Size, Intermammary Cleft Distance (Cleavage) and Ptosis on Perceived Attractiveness, Health, Fertility and Age: Do Life History, Self-Perceived Mate Value and Sexism Attitude Play a Role? Farid Pazhoohi, Ray Garza & Alan Kingstone. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, February 28 2020. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40750-020-00129-1

Abstract
Unlike other mammals, human females have evolved so that their breasts remain enlarged. Previous research has related the size and shape of women’s breasts with women’s reproductive potential and attractiveness.

Objective: To provide a more complete picture of these issues, the current study extended previous research by investigating the effects of breast size, intermammary cleft distance, and ptosis on perceived attractiveness, health, fertility, and age while also measuring individual differences in life history, self-perceived mate value, and sexism.

Method: Participants (men and women) viewed images of women’s breasts that were manipulated for size, ptosis, and intermammary cleft; and participants rated the breasts for their perceived attractiveness, fertility, health, and age.

Results: Results showed that the perception of attractiveness, fertility, health, and age were influenced by size, cleft distance, ptosis, and hostile sexism. Individual differences in life history and self-perceived mate value also influenced preferences.

Conclusion: Our results show that perceived attractiveness of breasts is associated with perceptions of fertility, health, and age. The findings from the current study represent an important step toward achieving a comprehensive account on how women’s breasts influence perception on traits associated with mate preferences, fertility, and reproductive value.

Participants were faster at detecting target faces with conspicuous sclera (white sclera or sclera colored lighter than the iris color) compared to faces with inconspicuous sclera (sclera colored similar to the iris color or darker)

Sclera color enhances gaze perception in humans. Jessica L. Yorzinski, Jacob Miller. PLOS, February 27, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0228275

Abstract: Gaze perception is an essential behavior that allows individuals to determine where others are directing their attention but we know relatively little about the ways in which eye morphology influences it. We therefore tested whether eyes with conspicuous morphology have evolved to facilitate gaze perception. During a visual search task, we recorded the eye movements of human participants (Homo sapiens) as they searched for faces with directed gaze within arrays of faces with averted gaze or the reverse; the faces were large and upright, small and upright, or large and inverted. The faces had sclera that were conspicuous (white or colored lighter than the iris color) or inconspicuous (colored the same or darker than the iris color). We found that participants were fastest and most accurate in finding the faces with conspicuous sclera versus inconspicuous sclera. Our results demonstrate that eyes with conspicuous morphology facilitate gaze perception in humans.


Discussion

Our results support the hypothesis that eyes with conspicuous morphology have evolved to facilitate gaze perception. We found that eyes with conspicuous morphology are necessary for rapid gaze perception in humans: adult participants were faster at detecting target faces with conspicuous sclera (white sclera or sclera colored lighter than the iris color) compared to faces with inconspicuous sclera (sclera colored similar to the iris color or darker). These results demonstrate that conspicuous sclera, in contrast to the camouflaged sclera observed in most other primate species [6], are critical for rapid gaze perception in humans.

Human participants rapidly fixated target faces with conspicuous sclera. Regardless of whether participants were searching for the face with directed gaze among faces with averted gaze or the face with averted gaze among faces with directed gaze, they quickly found the target face with conspicuous sclera. In contrast, when the sclera was inconspicuous, participants spent more time searching for those faces compared to the faces with conspicuous sclera. These patterns were similar for the large faces, which simulated close-up interactions, as well as small faces, which simulated distant interactions. They were also similar for the inverted faces, which preserved low-level visual properties (such as luminance) but disrupted facial configuration [26]. Because visual attention can be strongly influenced by bottom-up processes (such as contrast; [27,28]), it is not necessarily surprising that participants were fast to fixate target faces with conspicuous sclera that exhibit high contrast. Importantly, participants were equally rapid at fixating faces with naturally-colored sclera and faces with sclera color that were lighter than the iris color; this demonstrates that digitally manipulating sclera color does not necessarily alter fixation latencies. We also found that participants were quicker to fixate target faces with light versus dark colored irises; future experiments can assess how iris color interacts with sclera color to influence gaze perception.

After participants fixated target faces with conspicuous sclera, they were quick to manually indicate that they had found the target faces (via a key press). However, when the sclera was inconspicuous, participants were much slower to manually indicate that they had found the target faces; their manual response times were especially slow for the small faces with sclera color that were darker than the iris color. These slower manual responses likely indicate that the participants were less certain of their decisions and therefore taking more time to indicate their responses. Their manual response times for faces with naturally-colored sclera and faces with sclera color that were lighter than the iris color were similar, indicating that digitally manipulating sclera color does not necessarily alter manual response latencies.

Participants were highly accurate in selecting the target faces. With the exception of the small faces with sclera that were darker than the iris color, participants were over 98% accurate in finding the correct target face. Therefore, even though participants spent more time searching for the target face when the face had inconspicuous sclera (see above), they were accurate in ultimately identifying the correct face. The only target faces that participants had difficulty in correctly identifying were the small faces with dark sclera color: they were 90% accurate in finding these target faces. Previous work found that humans are only 52% accurate in gaze perception when the sclera are darker than the iris (black sclera, white pupil, and white iris [7]). In contrast, we found that accuracy in gaze perception was over 90% regardless of sclera color. Rather than presenting stimuli in which the sclera and iris color were polar opposites [7], our stimuli only adjusted sclera color (rather than simultaneously adjusting sclera, pupil and iris color) and we did so relative to the natural iris color. Given that most primate species have sclera that closely match their iris color [6], our stimuli in which the sclera color matched the iris color closely simulated the eye morphology of these other primate species. Furthermore, our study used a gaze search task while previous work used a gaze discrimination task, which could also account for differences in accuracy levels.

Surprisingly, search efficiency was generally similar for faces with naturally-colored sclera and faces with sclera that matched the iris color. When the faces were large and upright as well as large and inverted, participants were equally efficient at searching for these faces. However, participants were less efficient at searching for faces with sclera that matched the iris color versus naturally-colored sclera when the faces were small, suggesting that sclera color in gaze perception may be especially important during distant interactions. The ability of humans to communicate with each other over large distances is likely critical to many types of interactions. This ability may be especially useful during a hunt when silent communication is critical for a successful outcome [5,29]. Previous work has shown that humans are able to reliably detect gaze direction from as far away as 10 meters [30,31] and our results suggest that sclera color contributes to this ability.

Our results support the gaze enhancement hypothesis by demonstrating that eyes with conspicuous morphology facilitate gaze perception. Humans are fastest and most accurate in gaze perception when faces have naturally-colored sclera (or sclera that are lighter than the iris color). When faces are modified so that eye morphology is less conspicuous (sclera that match the iris color or are darker than the iris color), gaze perception is slower. Given that 99% of nonhuman primates have eye morphology that is less conspicuous (with sclera color that closely matches their iris color; [6]), future experiments that examine nonhuman primates’ ability to perceive gaze would be informative. Our results demonstrate that eye morphology plays a critical role in human gaze perception and therefore impacts the evolution of social cognition.

Lottery participation increased the happiness of participants before the draw; winning a small prize had no effect on happiness; people may not only care about the outcomes of the lottery, but also enjoy the game




The joy of lottery play: evidence from a field experiment. Martijn J. Burger, Martijn Hendriks, Emma Pleeging & Jan C. van Ours. Experimental Economics, February 27 2020. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10683-020-09649-9

Abstract: Buying lottery tickets is not a rational investment from a financial point of view. Yet, the majority of people participate at least once a year in a lottery. We conducted a field experiment to increase understanding of lottery participation. Using representative data for the Netherlands, we find that lottery participation increased the happiness of participants before the draw. Winning a small prize had no effect on happiness. Our results indicate that people may not only care about the outcomes of the lottery, but also enjoy the game. Accordingly, we conclude that lottery participation has a utility value in itself and part of the utility of a lottery ticket is consumed before the draw.


Discussion and conclusions

From a financial point of view buying a lottery ticket is not a rational investment as the average ex-post value of a ticket is just over half the price of that ticket. Nevertheless, many people participate in lotteries. There are two popular explanations in the economics literature for this: (1) low cost opportunities to improve one’s financial position if there are few opportunities to do this otherwise and (2) prospect theory according to which people overweight the small probability of winning a lottery. The first explanation suggests that participation would be predominantly among lower social classes which is not the case since lottery play takes place across the whole income distribution. The second explanation is at odds with the finding that most lottery participants have quite accurate expectations about the probability to win a prize. Although there is some empirical support for both the Friedman–Savage theory and prospect theory, these theories only partly explain people’s propensity to gamble.
We studied lottery participation using a field experiment in which some participants of a regular household survey received a state lottery ticket for free, while other participants had no ticket or only a purchased ticket, or both a free and a purchased ticket. This allows us to investigate to what extent participating in a lottery increases momentary happiness. If so, this supports a third explanation of lottery participation, i.e. people deriving non-monetary utility from participating in a lottery play. This could be because of the hope of winning a large prize, the fun and excitement of the game, or because of social bonding activities when playing the lottery together with family or friends.
In our field experiment, momentary happiness is measured at three moments in time, i.e. before free lottery tickets are issued, after providing some individuals with a free lottery ticket but before the draw, and after the draw. We study the change in momentary happiness between the first two moments to investigate whether playing in the lottery increases momentary happiness, regardless of whether the ticket was bought or free. We also study the change in momentary happiness between the first and third moment to investigate to what extent winning a small lottery prize matters.
Our main finding is that participants in a lottery derive procedural utility from playing the game. This is irrespective of whether the lottery ticket was bought or received for free due to the experiment. On a scale from 1 to 10, participating in a lottery increases momentary happiness with 0.25–0.40 (approximately 1/5–1/3 standard deviation increase). These results may be driven by the hope and expectations about financial gains, the thrill of a potential win, and social bonding when playing as a group. However, the procedural utility that players derive from winning a small prize is limited. In sum, we conclude that lottery participation seems to be at least partly driven by the joy of lottery play, i.e. lottery participants may be hoping for financial gains but gamble for fun. More generally, our research shows the importance of taking in procedural utility in modeling decisions of consumers since consumers do not only care about outcomes, but also about the process. Accordingly and in line with previous work, seemingly irrational decisions such as lottery play could be considered rational from the perspective of procedural utility (see also Benz 2005).
It is important to note that our results are related to the probability of winning which is about 50% in the State Lottery. For lotteries with a smaller winning probability the magnitude of the happiness effects are smaller. It is also important to note that our article has focused on the short-term positive impact on lottery play through procedural utility and does not pay attention to the potential negative long-term effects of lottery play, especially in the case of problem and pathological gambling (Lorenz 1990). In this regard, lottery gambling has been associated with psychological, social, and economic problems. Hence, procedural utility may induce sub-optimal decision-making in the long-run. At the same time, the number of problem lottery gamblers among the population is relatively small (Hendriks et al. 1997) and the overall long-term effects of lottery play on overall well-being or experienced quality of life seem to be limited (Burger et al. 2016). However, more research on the consequences of lottery play are needed to examine the long-term effects of lottery play.

Bias in Bias Recognition: People View Others but Not Themselves as Biased by Preexisting Beliefs and Social Stigmas

Wang, Qi, and Hee J. Jeon. 2020. “Bias in Bias Recognition: People View Others but Not Themselves as Biased by Preexisting Beliefs and Social Stigmas.” PsyArXiv. February 27. doi:10.31234/osf.io/d38rt

Abstract: Biases perpetuate when people think that they are innocent whereas others are guilty of biases. We examined whether people would detect biased thinking and behavior in others but not themselves as influenced by preexisting beliefs (myside bias) and social stigmas (social biases). The results of three large studies showed that, across demographic groups, participants attributed more biases to others than to themselves and that this self-other asymmetry was particularly salient among those who hold strong beliefs about the existence of biases (Study 1 and Study 2). The self-other asymmetry in bias recognition dissipated when participants made simultaneous predictions about others’ and their own thoughts and behaviors (Study 3). People thus exhibit bias in bias recognition and this metacognitive bias may be remedied by highlighting to people that we are all susceptible to biasing influences.

The Sexual Victimization Experiences of Men Attending College: A Mixed Methods Investigation

The Sexual Victimization Experiences of Men Attending College: A Mixed Methods Investigation. Heather Littleton, Emily Downs & Kelly Rudolph. Sex Roles, February 27 2020. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11199-020-01133-1

Abstract: Emerging research supports that men attending college are at elevated sexual assault risk. However, research is limited by assessment issues as well as a lack of examination of how men conceptualize their experiences. The current study sought to expand our understanding of college men’s sexual assault experiences via a mixed methods study. Fifty-eight U.S. college men (11.2% of a sample of 518 men) reported a sexual assault history since age 14 and completed measures of their assault characteristics, psychological adjustment, and alcohol use. A total of 44 also provided a written narrative of the assault. Results supported that men’s assaults often occurred in party/drinking contexts and that many were impaired from substances. Over two-thirds were assaulted by a female perpetrator, with the most common form of assault involving “mismatched intentions” where a perpetrator engaged in nonconsensual sexual behavior during an initially consensual encounter. Substance use interfered with effective resistance for many, and some also stated that they did not resist even though they were able. A total of 43% (n = 19) said the assault had a long-term negative impact, whereas 52% (n = 23) reported a minimal or neutral impact. Overall, findings support a need for sexual assault interventions tailored for male survivors.


Discussion

Like prior studies, the current study supported that men attending college are vulnerable to sexual assault, with over 11% of men reporting a history of some form of sexual assault, either in high school or college (or both). Further, over 5% of men reported a history of completed rape. Notably, this prevalence is higher than found in prior U.S. epidemiologic studies, with these studies finding a prevalence of attempted or completed rape among men ranging from 1.4% to 3.0% (International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, Sexual Violence Briefing Paper Working Group 2018). In contrast, our findings are generally in line with prior studies of sexual assault among men attending college, which similarly find an elevated prevalence of sexual assault when compared to the general population (Forsman 2017). Sexual minority men were also more likely than heterosexual men to report a sexual assault history, like prior research findings (Coulter et al. 2017; Edwards et al. 2015; Ford and Soto-Marquez 2016; Hines et al. 2012; Navarro and Clevenger 2017). However, no differences in sexual assault history were found among White and racial minority men, unlike what was found by Tewksbury and Mustaine (2001). Findings also supported that men with a sexual assault history reported much higher levels of current depression than men with no sexual assault history and were more likely to report problematic current alcohol use. Finally, 28% scored above the cut-off for sexual assaultrelated PTSD. Thus, men attending college who have experienced sexual assault are at elevated risk of adjustment difficulties, including clinically elevated depression and PTSD. Further, the frequency with which men in the current sample reported a history of multiple assaults (62%) and their high rates of current hazardous drinking support that many men with sexual assault histories attending college are vulnerable to experiencing additional assaults while enrolled.

Examination of both our quantitative and qualitative data supported that men’s sexual assaults frequently occurred in party contexts and during the course of casual sexual encounters. Many participants were impaired or incapacitated by alcohol and/or other substances during the assault. Participants were also more likely to report that the perpetrator was a woman than a man, with all survivors of impaired and incapacitated assaults reporting a female perpetrator. Overall, findings support that participating in a party subculture while in high school and college not only normalizes and encourages sexual aggression and victimization of women, but also sexual aggression targeting men, including that perpetrated by women. Until now, this risk associated with participating in the party subculture has gone largely ignored.

Physical force was used in just under half of the assaults. This could be because female perpetrators are less likely to have a size or strength advantage in relation to a male victim and thus may not utilize forceful strategies. Instead, perpetrators frequently took advantage of the victim when he was incapacitated or highly impaired from substances and/or used threats or blackmail (e.g., threatening to spread rumors about the individual) in order to perpetrate the assault. However, it should be noted that men assaulted by male perpetrators more frequently reported that the perpetrator used physical force, with 77% of men assaulted by a man reporting he used physical force, as compared to 36% of men assaulted by a woman.

Men responded to the assault attempt in a variety of ways. Perhaps in part because of their physical size and strength advantage relative to a female perpetrator, a number of men reported that they were able to end the assault through engaging in a verbal refusal or by telling some sort of lie to the perpetrator (e.g., that the police were there, that they were not feeling well). A minority of men also reported using physical resistance to end the assault. In contrast, a number of men stated that they did not engage in physical resistance, with some stating that they did not resist due to fear of what would occur if they resisted or because they dissociated during the assault. However, some survivors seemed unsure as to why they did not resist and asserted that they were capable of ending the assault but did not do so.

There are a number of possible reasons for men’s lack of more assertive resistance, despite their likely superior or equivalent physical size and strength relative to the perpetrator. For one, men may have underestimated the extent to which their ability to recognize risk and resist effectively was impaired from alcohol or drug use. Second, some men may have experienced tonic immobility, defined as an involuntary temporary state of immobility and muscle rigidity in response to threat (Coxell and King 2010). Indeed, prior studies of female sexual assault victims have supported that many reported experiencing tonic immobility during the assault (Coxell and King 2010). Third, men may have been unsure how to respond to a sexual assault attempt because they may not have considered themselves to be vulnerable to sexual assault. Finally, social norms that dictate that it is not acceptable for a man to be physically aggressive toward a woman may have inhibited men’s use of physical resistance in the case of female-perpetrated assaults (Basow et al. 2007).

Men also reported a range of responses following the assault. Just over 40% reported the assault had a significant and lasting negative impact on their mental health and well-being. Additionally, several men reported feelings of emasculation and questioning of their sexuality after the assault. Conversely, slightly over half the men reported that the assault had no long-term impact on them and regarded the assault as not a serious event. Perhaps because their assaults frequently did not involve physical force as well as an oftentimes physically smaller perpetrator, some men did not experience fear and helplessness during and after the assault, which could have facilitated their successful adjustment post-assault. Also, of note, only 27.5% of men acknowledged the assault as some type of sexual victimization, as compared to nearly 40% of female sexual assault victims on average (Wilson and Miller 2016). Additionally, only slightly over half the men had ever disclosed the assault, whereas approximately 80% of college women who experienced sexual assault have disclosed (Orchowski et al. 2013). It is likely that male rape myths in part contributed to men’s lack of acknowledgment and disclosure. Thus, male assault victims experiencing distress may face additional barriers to acknowledgment, disclosure, help seeking, and recovery.

Limitations
Limitations of our study should be noted. First, the overall sample size was small and primarily made up of White, firstyear, U.S. college students. As such, it is unclear the extent to which the current findings are representative of the experiences of men attending college more broadly. Additionally, not all men provided an assault narrative, with racial minority men as well as those who never disclosed the assault less likely to do so. Men also were identified as sexual assault victims using a screening measure. Although this measure was designed to be gender-neutral and utilized behaviorally specific terms, it has not been extensively used to screen for sexual assault experiences among men. As a result, it is possible that the items may not have comprehensively captured men’s sexual assault experiences. Likewise, some men may have reported experiences on the screening measure that did not constitute sexual assault. However, because only two men provided narratives of consensual experiences, false positives to this screening appeared uncommon. Finally, although participants were encouraged to provide a detailed narrative of their assault, narratives varied in the level of detail provided. This resulted in some inconsistencies between participants’ responses on the ACQ and their narratives. For example, two survivors who provided a narrative reported that the perpetrator used severe force on the ACQ, but their narratives did not include a description of severe force by the perpetrator.

Future Research Directions
Bearing these limitations in mind, findings support an urgent need for more work focused on the experiences of men attending college who have experienced sexual assault. There is a need for research focused on the experiences of diverse groups, particularly racial and sexual minority men, who may be more likely to experience sexual assault. Future studies should utilize a longitudinal methodology to evaluate the impact of sexual assault among men over time, as well as men’s risk for re-victimization. Qualitative methods should also be utilized in future research to elucidate men’s conceptualizations of, and responses to, their assault experiences. Additional work exploring beliefs about sexual assault and acceptance of rape myths is also likely important to understand factors impeding disclosure, acknowledgment, and help-seeking among men experiencing adjustment difficulties.

Practice Implications
Results support a critical need for the development of tailored interventions for men who have experienced sexual assault which are designed to address issues including feelings of emasculation, rape myth adherence, and lack of disclosure and support-seeking. Clinicians working with male college students should routinely screen men for sexual assault histories. Further, clinicians working with male survivors should probe for the aforementioned issues among sexual assault survivors and provide survivors with psycho-education about these issues (e.g., that erections can be triggered via a spinal reflex) as a first step. More broadly, it is clear that sexual assault prevention interventions at the high school and college level should be gender-inclusive by focusing on issues related to obtaining clear consent for all sexual activities and emphasizing that both men and women can be victims and perpetrators of sexual assault. Prevention programs should also include tailored content addressing the needs of vulnerable groups, such as sexual minorities.

Depression appears characterised by a homogenously pro-inflammatory state: Patients show increases in pro-inflammatory immune markers mean levels, and reductions in anti-inflammatory IL-4

Inflammatory Markers in Depression: a Meta-Analysis of Mean Differences and Variability in 5,166 Patients and 5,083 Controls. Emanuele F. Osimo et al. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, February 27 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2020.02.010

Highlights
• Patients with depression show reduced variability in pro-inflammatory immune measures.
• Patients with depression show increases in pro-inflammatory immune markers mean levels, and reductions in anti-inflammatory IL-4.
• Depression appears characterised by a homogenously pro-inflammatory state.

Abstract
Importance: The magnitude and variability of cytokine alterations in depression are not clear.

Objective: To perform an up to date meta-analysis of mean differences of immune markers in depression, and to quantify and test for evidence of heterogeneity in immune markers in depression by conducting a meta-analysis of variability to ascertain whether only a sub-group of patients with depression show evidence of inflammation.

Data Sources: Studies that reported immune marker levels in peripheral blood in patients with depression and matched healthy controls in the MEDLINE database from inception to August 29th 2018 were examined.

Study Selection: Case-control studies that reported immune marker levels in peripheral blood in patients with depression and healthy controls were selected.

Data Extraction and Synthesis: Means and variances (SDs) were extracted for each measure to calculate effect sizes, which were combined using multivariate meta-analysis.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Hedges g was used to quantify mean differences. Relative variability of immune marker measurements in patients compared with control groups as indexed by the coefficient of variation ratio (CVR).

Results: A total of 107 studies that reported measurements from 5,166 patients with depression and 5,083 controls were included in the analyses. Levels of CRP (g=0.71; 95%CI: 0.50-0.92; p<0.0001); IL-3 (g=0.60; 95%CI: 0.31-0.89; p<0.0001); IL-6 (g=0.61; 95%CI: 0.39-0.82; p<0.0001); IL-12 (g=1.18; 95%CI: 0.74-1.62; p<0.0001); IL-18 (g=1.97; 95%CI: 1.00-2.95; p<0.0001); sIL-2R (g=0.71; 95%CI: 0.44-0.98; p<0.0001); and TNFα (g=0.54; 95%CI: 0.32-0.76; p<0.0001) were significantly higher in patients with depression. These findings were robust to a range of potential confounds and moderators. Mean-scaled variability, measured as CVR, was significantly lower in patients with depression for CRP (CVR=0.85; 95%CI: 0.75-0.98; p=0.02); IL-12 (CVR=0.61; 95%CI: 0.46-0.80; p<0.01); and sIL-2R (CVR=0.85; 95%CI: 0.73-0.99; p=0.04), while it was unchanged for IL-3, IL-6, IL-18, and TNF α.

Conclusions and Relevance: Acute depression is confirmed as a pro-inflammatory state. Some of the inflammatory markers elevated in depression, including CRP and IL-12, show reduced variability in patients with depression, therefore supporting greater homogeneity in terms of an inflammatory phenotype in depression. Some inflammatory marker elevations in depression do not appear due to an inflamed sub-group, but rather to a right shift of the immune marker distribution.

Keywords: DepressionInflammationMeta-analysisHeterogeneityCytokineCRP

4. Discussion

Our meta-analysis finds evidence that mean-scaled variability, measured as CVR, is reduced in patients with depression for CRP, IL-12 and sIL-2R, while it is unchanged for IL-3, IL-6, IL-18 and TNF α. In the same sample, we also find that blood levels of CRP, IL-3, IL-6, IL-12, IL-18, sIL-2R and TNF α are significantly elevated in patients with depression with medium-large effect sizes (range 0.54-1.97), and that these findings are robust to a range of potential confounds and moderators. See Table 1 for a summary of our findings.
Our study is, to our knowledge, the first meta-analysis of variability of immune parameters in individuals with depression compared to matched controls. Mean differences in inflammatory markers in depression have been meta-analysed before (Howren et al., 2009Dowlati et al., 2010Haapakoski et al., 2015Goldsmith et al., 2016Köhler et al., 2017). However, as shown in Supplementary Table 1, this study is by far the largest meta-analysis of immune markers in depression, including a sample 1.48 times larger than the largest previous one. In addition to this, this is one of the first studies to systematically consider the effect on immune markers of excluding patients not experiencing an active depressive episode (previously only considered in a much smaller study by Goldsmith et al), duration of illness (previously only considered descriptively), study quality (previously only considered in a smaller study by Haapakoski et al), and smoking (previously only considered by Kohler et al). Furthermore, our findings of increased mean levels of CRP, IL-6, IL-12 and TNF α in depression replicate previous meta-analytical findings; the same can be said of no changes in levels of TGF β (Table 2). Reductions in IL-4, found in our study with an effect size of -0.73 and resistant to most sensitivity analyses, were not significant in Kohler et al, 2017 nor in (Dowlati et al., 2010), however both these studies were based on considerably smaller samples, which could explain the difference. More controversial is the result for IFNγ, which we find not significantly altered in our main analysis and increased in patients when excluding studies not matched for smoking levels between cases and controls. Given that previous, smaller meta-analyses were also non-concordant with regards to IFNγ (Dowlati et al., 2010Goldsmith et al., 2016Köhler et al., 2017), we believe therefore that more research is needed to establish the relationship between IFNγ levels and depression.

4.1. Interpretations and Implications

4.1.1. Meta-analysis of Heterogeneity

In a previous study we have shown that patients with depression show a proportion of high CRP levels at different cut-offs (CRP >1mg/L, >3mg/L and >10mg/L) that is similar to matched controls (Osimo et al., 2019); this supported the hypothesis that the shape of the CRP distribution curve is similar in patients and controls. In this study we find that mean-scaled variability of CRP and of a number of other immune markers is either reduced or unchanged in patients with depression as compared to healthy controls. A reduced variability implies a narrower distribution in patients than in controls, and possibly even a greater homogeneity in the inflammatory phenotype in depression. Therefore, the findings to date, at least for markers that show elevations of the mean and reductions in heterogeneity such as CRP, support a narrower distribution that is shifted to the right in depression. This is important as in the past there have been suggestions that inflammation in depression could be due to a sub-group of “inflamed and depressed” subjects, who might potentially be part of a separate sub-group of the depressed population (Miller and Cole, 2012). Our findings, instead, point in the direction of a continuous distribution of inflammatory markers in the depressed population, which is more homogenous than the healthy population.
The reduction in variability in CRP is worthy of a special mention here, as CRP is the main inflammatory marker routinely measured in clinical practice (Yeh, 2004;109(21_suppl_1):), and it is commonly used to stratify patients based on peripheral inflammatory levels in immunopsychiatric studies. Activation of the inflammatory system is thought to underlie antidepressant resistance (Chamberlain et al., 2018Benedetti et al., 2002Lanquillon et al., 2000Carvalho et al., 2013), highlighting a potential involvement in treatment response (Carvalho et al., 2013Maes et al., 1997O’Brien et al., 2007Yoshimura et al., 2009). Therefore, whether targeting inflammatory cytokines could provide therapeutic benefit for patients with depression is a key question that is being investigated in ongoing trials (e.g. NCT02473289; ISRCTN16942542). Our findings will be relevant for future studies assessing inflammation in depression, especially those recruiting patients based on their baseline inflammatory status.

4.1.2. Meta-analysis of mean differences

We found increases in the average levels of type I and other pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-3, IL-6, IL-12, IL-18 and TNF α; we also found reductions in IL-4, one of the main anti-inflammatory and immune-modulatory cytokines; finally, we found mean increases in CRP, which is one of the best characterised inflammatory markers in medical (Danesh et al., 2000Visser et al., 1999) and psychiatry conditions (Fernandes et al., 2016von Känel et al., 2007Fernandes et al., 2016). Taken together, these results confirm that acute depression is associated with a pro-inflammatory state.
CRP is one of the best studied inflammatory markers in the field of medicine. Higher levels of CRP have been consistently found in cross-sectional studies and in population-based longitudinal studies of depression, often preceding the onset of illness (Gimeno et al., 2009Khandaker et al., 2014Wium-Andersen et al., 2013Zalli et al., 2016), suggesting that inflammation could be a cause rather than simply a consequence of the illness; supporting this hypothesis, recently Mendelian randomization analyses of the UK Biobank sample found that IL-6 and CRP are likely to be causally linked with depression (Khandaker et al., 2019). Furthermore, elevated peripheral CRP levels have been found to correlate with its level in the central nervous system, with a strong correlation between plasma and CSF CRP (r = 0.855, p < 0.001) (Felger et al., 2018).
TNF α is one of the major pro-inflammatory cytokines; it is produced by dendritic cells and macrophages and is a major activator of downstream inflammatory cascades with multiple effectors (Abbas et al., 2014). During acute infection dendritic cells and macrophages also produce IL-6 and IL-12; both are type I cytokine family members, secreted in response to an acute inflammatory stimulus (Abbas et al., 2014). IL-12 plays a central role in responses to active infection promoting Th1 responses and, hence, cell-mediated immunity (Stern et al., 1996). TNF α, IL-6 and IL-12 increases in current depressive episodes underline the systemic nature of the inflammatory status, showing some similarity to the immune reaction to an active infection.
For markers found to be overall not different between patients and controls, but with variable results in sensitivity analyses (IL-5, IFNγ and TGF β), our results encourage further research, aiming to disentangle their potential tole in mediating effects of treatment (IL-5), smoking (IFNγ) or BMI differences (TGF β).
Finally, IL-2 and IL-8 were found to be increased in patients in our main analysis, but produced discordant results in sensitivity analyses due to the effect of BMI-matching; future studies should carefully match participants for BMI as this appears to be a particularly relevant factor affecting immune status.

4.2. Strengths and Limitations

The main strength of this work is the use of the largest sample of studies of inflammatory markers in depression to date; the same large sample was used to study heterogeneity and mean differences in patients as compared to controls. Even if we could not make inferences on the shape of the distribution, such as modality, as this would require individual subject data, we were able to obtain the first measure to date of the variability of inflammatory markers in depression.
A further strength of this paper is the employment of a systematic approach to the analysis of potential confounds. Given the large number of studies that focussed on inflammatory markers in depression, we were able to investigate the effect of potential psychiatric (e.g. treatment status, current depressive episode at time of sampling and duration of illness) and lifestyle confounds (e.g. age, BMI and smoking status), as well as statistical and sampling confounds (e.g. data skew and study quality). Sensitivity analyses focussing on studies with strict environmental and physiological matching provided us with greater confidence that depression is associated with the elevation of some immune parameters. Use of a multivariate meta-analytic approach to reduce the influence of multiplicity is a further strength.
Among our limitations, we included cross-sectional studies which used different tools to diagnose depression, even if only studies using ICD or DSM diagnostic criteria were included. Inconsistency between studies was moderate to high. This could reflect methodological factors, e.g. differences in assay sensitivity. However, the random-effects model used is robust to inconsistency, and would not explain our variability findings, because these reflect within-study variation (with methodologic factors common to patient and control groups in any given study). Due to data unavailability, some sensitivity analyses might be subject to type II error, i.e. false negatives; for example, BMI-matched sensitivity analyses often included samples much smaller than that of the main analysis. Furthermore, sensitivity analyses of antidepressant naïve and treatment resistant patients were not possible owing to insufficient studies.
Although all studies included in analyses used well validated quantification techniques, insufficient assay sensitivity may have limited the ability to detect subtle differences in immune parameters between patients and controls, particularly for titres beneath the limit of assay detection. Unfortunately, very few studies (2 out of 106) reported the number of samples below the limit of assay detection, so this factor could not be taken into account. Positive data skew can inflate standard deviation due to outliers within the ‘tail’ of the data (Fayers, 2011). However, we demonstrated no significant difference in the proportion of skewed data sets between patients and controls, suggesting that influence of skew was equal. Thus, excessive skew in healthy controls compared with patients was not likely contributing to results.
We excluded papers that only included patients and controls presenting the same co-morbidity or physiological state in addition to depression (such as studies in autoimmune disorders or pregnancy) to reduce the risk of bias. Most included studies excluded participants with co-morbid medical conditions, and the presence of co-morbidity in participants was assessed as one of the items of our quality assessment of papers. It was not possible to exclude all co-morbidity due to original data quality, but we are confident this issue is not going to significantly affect results as a) we used random effect models to account for additional variation; b) co-morbidity is likely to be equally distributed between cases and controls; and c) our large sample (the largest to date) allows for more individual variation without affecting results.
A very limited number of studies on CRP excluded participants presenting with an acute infection (CRP >10 mg/L); we decided to include these studies because we previously found that the odds ratio of inflammation in patients vs controls is very similar if considering all patients (OR=1.46) or excluding patients and controls with CRP >10 mg/L (OR=1.44) (Osimo et al., 2019), thus suggesting that an equal proportion of patients and controls present with acute inflammation.

4.3. Conclusions and future directions

In this study we found a reduction in mean-scaled variability in CRP, IL-12 and sIL-2R. We found increases in the mean levels of CRP, IL-3, IL-6, IL-12, IL-18, sIL-2R and TNF α in patients with depression. These results survived sensitivity analyses for psychiatric and lifestyle predictors, influence of skew, influence of poor-quality studies and publication bias.
Our results confirm that acute depression is a pro-inflammatory state, and lend support to the hypothesis that inflammatory marker elevations in depression are not due to an inflamed sub-group, but rather to a right shift of the immune marker distribution. However, future research should specifically address the inflammatory sub-group hypothesis of depression, which can only be directly tested in an individual-patient meta-analysis.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Compared to resumes that list no study abroad experience, resumes that list study abroad experience are 20-35pct less likely to receive any callback or callback for interviews

Cheng, Albert and Florick, Laura, The Value of Study Abroad Experience in the Labor Market: Findings from a Resume Audit Experiment (February 7, 2020). EDRE Working Paper No. 2020-02. http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3538269

Abstract: Conventional wisdom and some empirical research suggests that study abroad programs enhance skills and personal growth in ways that translate into success in the labor market. However, this research is limited by its inability to address sources of selection bias that may confound the positive relationship between study abroad experience and labor-market success. We conduct a field experiment to overcome these limitations. Using a resume audit, we estimate the causal relationship between participation in study abroad experience and the likelihood of receiving a callback from a potential employer. We also tested for potential heterogeneities by the location (i.e., Asia versus Europe) and length (i.e., two weeks versus one year) of the study abroad experience. Compared to resumes that list no study abroad experience, resumes that list study abroad experience in Asia regardless of length are about 20 percent more likely to receive a callback for an interview if the resume studied. The differences in rates increases to 25 percent when comparing resumes without study abroad experience to those that list two-week programs in Asia. Resumes that list study abroad experience in Europe for one year are 20 percent less likely to receive any callback and 35 percent less likely to receiving a call back for an interview, relative to resumes that do not list study abroad experience. Implications about the value of study abroad are discussed.

Keywords: Study abroad, Employment, Resume Audit

Bright mind, moral mind? Intelligence is unrelated to consequentialist moral judgment in sacrificial moral dilemmas

Bright mind, moral mind? Intelligence is unrelated to consequentialist moral judgment in sacrificial moral dilemmas. D. H. Bostyn, J. De Keersmaecker, J. Van Assche & A. Roets. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, Jan 2 2020. https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758/s13423-019-01676-9

Abstract: The dual-process model of moral cognition suggests that outcome-focused, consequentialist moral judgment in sacrificial moral dilemmas is driven by a deliberative, reasoned, cognitive process. Although many studies have demonstrated a positive association of consequentialist judgment with measures of cognitive engagement, no work has investigated whether cognitive ability itself is also related to consequentialist judgment. Therefore, we conducted three studies to investigate whether participants’ preference for consequentialist moral judgment is related to their intelligence. A meta-analytic integration of these three studies (with a total N = 675) uncovered no association between the two measures (r = – .02). Furthermore, a Bayesian reanalysis of the same data provided substantial evidence in favor of a null effect (BFH0 = 7.2). As such, the present studies show that if consequentialist judgments depend on deliberative reasoning, this association is not driven by cognitive ability, but by cognitive motivation.

Cultural items that use more second-person pronouns are liked & purchased more: Rather than addressing the audience, communicating norms, or encouraging perspective taking, second-person pronouns help us think of someone in our lives

Thinking of You: How Second-Person Pronouns Shape Cultural Success. Grant Packard, Jonah Berger. Psychological Science, February 26, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797620902380

Abstract: Why do some cultural items succeed and others fail? Some scholars have argued that one function of the narrative arts is to facilitate feelings of social connection. If this is true, cultural items that activate personal connections should be more successful. The present research tested this possibility in the context of second-person pronouns. We argue that rather than directly addressing the audience, communicating norms, or encouraging perspective taking, second-person pronouns can encourage audiences to think of someone in their own lives. Textual analysis of songs ranked in the Billboard charts (N = 4,200), as well as controlled experiments (total N = 2,921), support this possibility, demonstrating that cultural items that use more second-person pronouns are liked and purchased more. These findings demonstrate a novel way in which second-person pronouns make meaning, how pronouns’ situated use (object case vs. subject case) may shape this meaning, and how psychological factors shape the success of narrative arts.

Keywords: language, pronouns, psychological foundations of culture, arts and entertainment, open data, open materials, preregistered





The neural bases of visual mental imagery are the object of intense debate; in patients with acquired brain damage, the consensus model predicts a systematic co-occurrence of perceptual and imaginal deficits; however...

Visual mental imagery engages the left fusiform gyrus, but not the early visual cortex: A meta-analysis of neuroimaging evidence. Alfredo Spagna, Dounia Hajhajate, Jianghao Liu, Paolo Bartolomeo. bioRxiv, Feb 7 2020. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.02.06.937151

Abstract: The neural bases of visual mental imagery (VMI) are the object of intense debate. Their identification is central to define the brain substrates our conscious experience, and can be clinically important to reveal consciousness in non-communicating patients. The dominant model of VMI stipulates a functional and anatomical equivalence between visual mental imagery and visual perception. In patients with acquired brain damage, the model predicts a systematic co-occurrence of perceptual and imaginal deficits. However, patients with lesions restricted to the occipital cortex often experience vivid mental images, even in case of cortical blindness resulting from bilateral V1 damage. Instead, patients with extensive left temporal damage are more likely to have impaired VMI. On the other hand, some neuroimaging and neuromodulatory evidence does suggest an implication of striate cortex in VMI. To address this discrepancy, we conducted an activation-likelihood-estimation-based large-scale meta-analysis of 52 functional magnetic resonance imaging experiments to map the extent of cortical activation associated with three contrasts: (1) all studies combined; (2) VMI versus Control, (3) VMI versus Perception, and (4) Motor Mental Imagery versus Control. Results from the VMI versus Control contrast demonstrated an association between VMI and activation increase in the frontoparietal and cingulo-opercular networks bilaterally, as well as of the left fusiform gyrus. Results from the VMI versus Perception contrast showed the association between VMI and activation increase of areas lateralized to the left hemisphere, including the superior and inferior frontal gyri, as well as the fusiform gyrus. Conjunction analyses between the VMI versus Control and the VMI Mental Imagery versus Perception contrasts showed the activation of the left anterior insular cortex. Results from the Motor Mental Imagery versus Control contrast showed that mental motor imagery increases the activation of the cerebellum bilaterally, of the precentral gyrus bilaterally, of the left supplementary motor area, and of the left fusiform sulcus. Conjunction analyses between the VMI versus Control and the Motor Mental Imagery versus Control contrasts showed the activation of the right superior frontal gyrus. Thus, the results stress the importance for VMI of brain networks associated with attentional control and working memory functions, together with rostral portions of the cortical ventral visual stream. Bayesian analysis confirmed the lack of evidence for an activation of the early visual areas in VMI, consistent with the evidence from brain-damaged patients. Our evidence suggests a revision of the VMI model. A Fusiform Imagery Node in the area FG3 of the left fusiform gyrus might act as a hub retrieving visual information from long-term semantic memory in the anterior temporal lobe, in connection with the medial temporal lobe, important for a vivid VMI episodic experience. Fronto-parietal networks subserving attention and working memory initiate, modulate and maintain activity of the core VMI network in the left temporal lobe. The revised model of VMI reconciles findings from neuroimaging with the reports of patients with brain damage.


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

We conclude that antitrust restrictions seeking to limit intra-industry common ownership are not currently warranted

Koch, Andrew and Panayides, Marios A. and Thomas, Shawn, Common Ownership and Competition in Product Markets (February 6, 2020). 29th Annual Conference on Financial Economics & Accounting 2018; Journal of Financial Economics (JFE): http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2965058

Abstract: We investigate the relation between common institutional ownership of the firms in an industry and product market competition. We find that common ownership is neither robustly positively related with industry profitability or output prices nor robustly negatively related with measures of non-price competition, as would be expected if common ownership reduces competition. This conclusion holds regardless of industry classification choice, common ownership measure, profitability measure, non-price competition proxy, or model specification. Our point estimates are close to zero with tight bounds, rejecting even modestly-sized economic effects. We conclude that antitrust restrictions seeking to limit intra-industry common ownership are not currently warranted.

Keywords: Common Ownership, Governance, Competition, Horizontal Merger
JEL Classification: G34, L13, L41

Not as cold as a fish... Relationships between the Dark Triad personality traits and affective experience during the day

As cold as a fish? Relationships between the Dark Triad personality traits and affective experience during the day: A day reconstruction study. Irena Pilch. PLOS, February 25, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0229625

Abstract: The Dark Triad of personality is a cluster of three socially aversive personality traits: Machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy. These traits are associated with a selfish, aggressive and exploitative interpersonal strategy. The objective of the current study was to establish relationships between the Dark Triad traits (and their dimensions) and momentary affect. Machiavellianism, grandiose narcissism, vulnerable narcissism and the dimensions of the Triarchic model of psychopathy (namely, boldness, meanness and disinhibition) were examined. We used the Day Reconstruction Method, which is based on reconstructing affective states experienced during the previous day. The final sample consisted of 270 university students providing affective ratings of 3047 diary episodes. Analyses using multilevel modelling showed that only boldness had a positive association with positive affective states and affect balance, and a negative association with negative affective states. Grandiose narcissism and its sub-dimensions had no relationship with momentary affect. The other dark traits were related to negative momentary affect and/or inversely related to positive momentary affect and affect balance. As a whole, our results empirically demonstrated distinctiveness of the Dark Triad traits in their relationship to everyday affective states. These findings are not congruent with the notion that people with the Dark Triad traits, who have a dispositional tendency to manipulate and exploit others, are generally cold and invulnerable to negative feelings. The associations between the Dark Triad and momentary affect were discussed in the contexts of evolutionary and positive psychology, in relation to the role and adaptive value of positive and negative emotions experienced by individuals higher in Machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy.

Discussion

The aim of the present study was to examine relationships between affective states in everyday life and dark personality traits. The associations between momentary affect and the Dark Triad were investigated using the DRM, a well-validated instrument for the measurement of daily life experience. This method enables assessing affective states within natural situations during a chosen day of one’s life. In the current study, it was assumed that narcissism and psychopathy were multidimensional constructs. The results provide evidence about the relationships of the Dark Triad with momentary affect, supporting the majority of the predictions.
According to the results, dark traits or their dimensions showed specific associations with momentary affect: momentary PA was positively related to boldness and negatively related to vulnerable narcissism, meanness and Machiavellianism; momentary NA was positively related to vulnerable narcissism, disinhibition and Machiavellianism, and also inversely related to boldness. Affect balance showed associations with boldness (positive) and with vulnerable narcissism, Machiavellianism, disinhibition and meanness (negative). These and other results of the present study are discussed below separately for Machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy using evolutionary theory and adaptationist approach to emotions.

Machiavellianism

When formulating the hypothesis on the association of Machiavellianism with momentary affect, we pointed out the inconsistency between the “cool syndrome” (traditionally considered a main feature of high Machs’ emotionality; [50]) and the results of many studies that revealed the positive correlations of Machiavellianism with neuroticism [e.g., 52]. In the current study, we obtained the predicted positive associations between Machiavellianism and momentary NA, and the negative associations of Machiavellianism with momentary PA and affect balance. These results did not support the conviction about “cold” and “smart” Machiavellians who can control successfully their emotions and “get what they want” form other people (see [50]).
In fact, in the description of the Machiavellian personality made in a classic work by Christie and Geis [50], there seems to be a discrepancy between the above features of high Machs and their very pessimistic view of the world where people are susceptible to manipulation, but they are also cunning and constantly lurking for someone’s mistake or a moment of inattention to achieve their goals at his or her expense. Such a worldview may create constant pressure on Machiavellians who (in their opinion) have to continuously defend themselves against other people. Because the Mach IV scale (in which at least 1/3 of items concerns views on people in general, e.g., “Most people are basically good and kind,” inversely scored) is still used as a measure of Machiavellianism, these negative beliefs are crucial to the assessment although the descriptions of the construct sometimes emphasize only manipulation, not views. On the other hand, one should not be surprised that the inhabitants of the Machiavellian, “dog-eat-dog” world tended to feel more negative and less positive emotions in everyday life, which appeared in our study. According to an evolutionary approach to emotions, “negative emotions motivate the organism to avoid misfortune by escaping, attacking, or preventing harm or by repairing damage” [124] (p. 132), so these emotions seem useful for Machiavellians, constantly surrounded by “enemies.” At the same time, such a tendency may be characterized as lower emotional well-being, which is in line with the results of many studies [e.g., 19,20].
Several current studies have provided arguments supporting the assumption about some kind of emotional vulnerability of people higher in Machiavellianism. In a study by Szijjarto & Bereczkei [39], Machiavellianism was connected with difficulties to express and understand one’s own emotions, but also with emotional instability and ability to experience strong emotions. Inability to express feelings can favor a manipulator. It is due to the fact that it is more difficult for others to catch them. However, it may also cause some costs for a Machiavellian. For instance, this inability can be an obstacle to communication in different situations (not only in close relationships). The recent study [125] has demonstrated the unexpected results, contradictory to the idea of “cold” Machiavellians: Machiavellianism positively predicted break-up distress in romantic relationships. Findings of some other studies may be reinterpreted when the assumed Machiavellian “vulnerability” is taken into account. For example, high Machs tended to engage in cheating only when the risk of being caught is small [126], which can be an effect of high levels of negative emotions experienced. The relationship between Machiavellianism and anxiety sensitivity to social concerns (concern of being rejected by others; [127]) may be partly a result of a Machiavellian view of social life and fear of retaliation. Jonason et al. [17] hypothesized that long-term strategizing (e.g., a delay of gratifications) may be an additional source of stress for Machiavellians, which can be associated with poor health outcomes. The negative relationship between Machiavellianism and various psychological and physical health indicators [17,128,129] is also in line with our hypothesis of Machiavellian vulnerability. In general, negative emotions (conceptualized as defensive mechanisms) can protect Machiavellian individuals from danger and increase their individual fitness. At the same time, this may generate considerable costs for persons higher in Machiavellianism in terms of health and emotional well-being.

Narcissism

Grandiose narcissism is connected with traits that can promote experiencing positive emotions, such as high self-esteem, extraversion and low neuroticism [46]. However, in our study this dimension of narcissism showed no relationships with momentary affect. Also none of the facets of grandiose narcissism was a significant predictor of affect.
In the present study participants were asked to state whether they were alone or with others in a given situation. Starting from the assumption that being with other people, who can give attention, respect, or admiration, may be more rewarding for the participants with higher grandiose narcissism than for those with lower grandiose narcissism (see [123]), we tested the prediction that grandiose narcissism may serve as a moderator of the association between positive affect and the type of social situation (alone vs. with others). The results provided some support for this prediction: Grandiose Exhibitionism, which is good indicator of narcissistic grandiosity [112], was responsible for this moderation.
The specificity of grandiose narcissism is that narcissistic individuals prefer other people’s company because they constantly seek attention and admiration of others in order to maintain their grandiose self-views [130]. Grandiose narcissists can benefit from experiencing positive affective states in the presence of others because it can help them to avoid catching signals of criticism, a lack of acceptance, or other potential sources of ego threats and enhance the effectiveness of self-presentation (see [131]). Positive affect may help narcissists maintain positive illusions about their own attractiveness, which “may compel narcissists to indiscriminately pursue short-term mating strategy beyond their realistic prospects” [132] (p. 213). Positive emotions shared by individuals build friendship, alliances and family bonds [133]. Moreover, persons who express more positive emotions are rated more positively and people generally prefer interacting with those who have a good mood [134]. Thus, it seems that a tendency to feel more positive emotions while with others can be adaptive for individuals higher in narcissism and increase the effectiveness of the narcissistic strategy.
There has been an unresolved discussion in psychology on whether grandiose narcissism should be treated as an adaptive or maladaptive trait. Our results do not support any conclusions regarding this issue. However, the lack of a main effect of grandiose narcissism (and its sub-dimensions) on momentary PA and momentary NA and a moderating effect of grandiose narcissism (and Grandiose Exhibitionism) on the relationship between being alone or with others and momentary PA encourage us to consider other possible contextual moderators, such as types of situation, communication or interpersonal relationships.
Vulnerable narcissism is defined by such features as neuroticism, anxiety and a tendency to feel high negative affect and low positive affect, and these relationships were replicated in many cross-sectional studies [e.g., 46]. The results of our study provided support to the idea that these tendencies are also observed in everyday life. When considered alone, vulnerable narcissism was relatively the strongest predictor of momentary NA. Additionally, unfavorable affect balance was observed. Since affect is regarded as an important component of subjective well-being, this pattern of relationships prompted the conclusion that this type of a narcissist may pay the highest personal costs related to the emotional aspect of well-being out of all dark personalities due to the emotional vulnerability. On the other hand, narcissistic behavioral strategy is based on exploitation of others; however, vulnerable narcissism is associated with experiencing difficulties in establishing and maintaining interpersonal relationships [135]. Thus, some of these negative emotional states can result in inhibiting the unrealistic aspirations and demands in the name of security (e.g., to prevent the loss of a partner), which can be viewed as adaptive.

Psychopathy

The triarchic model of psychopathy [73], which was adopted in the current study, proposes boldness (“fearless dominance”,) defined as more “positive” phenotypic expression of fearless temperament, as a dimension of psychopathy. According to the findings of the present study, boldness was the only component of psychopathy (and the only dark trait) that turned out to be positively related to momentary PA and affect balance and negatively related to momentary NA. In other words, only boldness exhibited a pattern of relationships with momentary affect that can be considered psychologically beneficial for a “bold” individual, and that can also be interpreted in terms of higher subjective well-being. The possible biologically adaptive value of positive emotions is also important. Positive emotional states communicate that an individual is safe, healthy, full of energy, so he or she is able to take more risks and make good use of to gain valuable resources. This finding is consistent with earlier studies that demonstrated similar relationships between boldness and a trait positive/negative affect, resiliency [92,89], and well-being [90]. Although boldness is also considered to be connected with diminished physiological and emotional responsiveness [91], our study did not confirm this in relation to positive affective states.
According to our results, disinhibition was associated with momentary NA and negatively with affect balance, so it predicted more negative affective states and unfavorable affect balance. However, momentary PA was not related to disinhibition. The relationship between disinhibition and momentary NA was relatively strong and remained significant after controlling for all the Dark Triad traits. Disinhibition embodies this type of psychopathy that is not related to blunted emotional reactivity [91] but is associated with poor emotional control and irresponsible and impulsive behavior [e.g., 136]. This can lead to situations resulting in distress and negative feelings. However, even persistent negative emotional states can be understood as “an adaptive response to unfavorable circumstances” ([137] p. 100). Thus, taking into account evolutionary functions of emotions, these negative emotional states experienced by disinhibited individuals could prevent them from too risky behavior, which can be beneficial for them (i.e., improve their fitness).
Contrary to the predictions, meanness was not associated with momentary NA. The prediction about negative association between meanness and momentary NA was made based on the characteristics of meanness as callous-unemotional aspect of psychopathy and taking into account the results of previous studies on relationships between this dimension and trait negative affectivity. Meanness as a “callous-unemotional” dimension of psychopathy was connected with deficits in experiencing fear and some other negative emotions [e.g., 138]. However, the findings of other studies on triarchic psychopathy showed different patterns of correlations between meanness and some characteristics associated with negative affectivity. For example, in a study by Brislin et al. [139] no relationship was obtained between trait negative affect and meanness in an incarcerated group, and in a community group this relationship was positive. In a recent meta-analysis [89], despite the fact that triarchic meanness was strongly associated with other models of psychopathy and relevant criteria, it was also positively related to neuroticism, Negative Affectivity as measured by the Personality Inventory for the DSM-5, and internalizing symptoms (anxiety and depression). Additionally, the findings regarding internalizing symptoms turned out highly overlapping for meanness and disinhibition [89]. These meta-analytic findings allow believing that the lack of negative associations between meanness and momentary NA in the current study may be partly the effect of the specificity of measurement of the triarchic meanness. It is also possible that the levels of participants’ meanness were not large enough to demonstrate the expected effects in our group or that the indicators of momentary NA used in the current study were not optimal in the case of meanness as correlations between this psychopathy dimension and particular negative emotional states may be different (e.g., negative for fear and positive for anger).
Meanness turned out to be a negative predictor of momentary PA, which was not anticipated, and remained significant when the Dark Triad traits were considered together. Deficits in experiencing positive emotions are rather not assigned to psychopathy, but some studies showed deficient processing of positive emotional stimuli [138]. The negative relationship between meanness and PA may be also associated with the above-mentioned overlap between triarchic meanness and disinhibition. Overall, our results are in line with the idea that meanness can be connected with poverty of emotional experience, however, our evidence is weak.
A different way to interpret the differences regarding emotions is to analyze more basic personality elements that are behind the particular dark traits and their dimensions [140]. The traits which are shared by all the DT constructs constitute the so-called “dark core” [141,142] that includes Honesty-Humility, disagreeableness [8,143145], callousness [146], and antagonism [141]. These common features, in themselves, cannot be responsible for differences in emotions. Nevertheless, both the behavior components and other traits may be specific for particular dark personalities. For example, disinhibition, vulnerable narcissism and, to a lesser degree, Machiavellianism are associated with higher neuroticism and introversion [45,52,73], which promotes experiencing negative emotions. Conversely, boldness and grandiose narcissism are related to extraversion, agency, social dominance and high self-esteem [68,73], which can promote positive emotions on different ways [147,148]. However, in the current study, it was the case only for boldness.

Conclusions and limitations

In summary, we investigated the relationships between the Dark Triad and momentary affective states utilizing an ecologically valid method. Our findings contribute to the literature by clarifying how the Dark Triad traits are related to everyday emotional experience. Different patterns of relationships of momentary PA, momentary NA and affect balance with the dark personality constructs were obtained. The two dimensions of narcissism demonstrated different relationships with daily affectivity and the same was true for the three dimensions of psychopathy and Machiavellianism. The Dark Triad traits explained together a noticeable part of momentary NA variance (21%), but their associations with PA were weaker.
On the basis of our results, only boldness was associated with positive affective states, which seems beneficial to an individual. The participants with higher levels of vulnerable narcissism, disinhibition and Machiavellianism were predisposed to more negative and less positive affect and their affect balance may be seen as unfavorable to them in a given situation. These results can be interpreted in the framework of evolutionary psychology. We speculate that the differences in momentary affect obtained in the current study reflect different behavioral strategies used in daily life by individuals. A tendency to feel negative emotions that was observed in Machiavellian and disinhibited persons and vulnerable narcissists may be conducive to achieving their goals by increasing caution and mistrust in dealing with others, which may reduce the risk of being disclosed and protect against risking too much. In turn, the positive emotions of bold individuals can make it easier to take risks when the situation is favorable whereas the positive emotions of grandiose narcissists (experienced in the presence of others) can make it easier to gain attention, acceptance or admiration.
The current study was the first that investigated everyday affective states in relation to narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy simultaneously. The results confirmed the existence of different patterns of relationships between the Dark Triad traits and momentary affect. The significant overlap between the Dark Triad traits, found in numerous research studies, triggers a discussion whether there is a need of considering all these traits. It is especially important in the case of Machiavellianism and psychopathy because of the “dark dyad” hypothesis [20,149,150] that emphasizes the importance of the similarity between these constructs and their separateness from narcissism. Our results do not support this hypothesis and the idea that Machiavellianism and psychopathy measure the same construct (see [151]) because of the lack of similarity between Machiavellianism and the dimensions of triarchic psychopathy with reference to momentary affect. The relationships of Machiavellianism with momentary affect were congruent with the results for vulnerable narcissism rather than those for psychopathy dimensions. In reference to triarchic psychopathy, the current findings provided support for theory and previous research, confirming the distinctiveness of the three dimensions of psychopathy and the specificity of boldness (as a “positive” psychopathic trait) in the domain of affective functioning. Taken as a whole, the current findings seem to support the appropriateness of multidimensional approach to investigating psychopathy and narcissism as elements of the Dark Triad as a way to deal with the excessive overlap of Machiavellianism and unidimensional psychopathy.
The present study has several limitations. Firstly, it relies on data from a convenience sample of university students, which limits the generalization of the results.
Secondly, all data were obtained from self-report, which has some disadvantages. Personality constructs are commonly measured using self-report questionnaires [152]. To minimize common method biases we applied several techniques recommended by Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Lee and Podsakoff [153]. Well-established and valid questionnaires were chosen to reduce statement ambiguity. Each questionnaire was placed separately with a separate instruction. Participants’ anonymity was preserved in the data collection process, which could reduce social desirability bias. However, multi-method assessment could be valuable for future studies and self-report data should be complemented by informant ratings or behavioral observation [154]. Thirdly, to minimize participants’ burden and increase the accuracy of completing the “diary,” only a few emotional words have been used to assess momentary affect. Future studies should address this issue by using a larger and more representative set of emotional words. Moreover, a dimensional perspective on emotional experience, which was adopted in our study, is only one of the possible perspectives. From an evolutionary point of view, emotions can be understood as solutions to specific ecological problems. Therefore, it would be recommended for future studies to examine relationships between the Dark Triad traits and the particular emotional states using the categorical approach to emotions [155,156]. Fourthly, the relatively low reliability coefficients (Cronbach’s alphas) were obtained for the HSNS and NPI, which can reduce statistical power. Nevertheless, in the current study, the relationships between vulnerable narcissism (HSNS) and affect were significant and consistent with the predictions. Generally, the HSNS is regarded as a well-established and valid measure of narcissistic vulnerability. However, it cannot be excluded that lower reliability of the NPI could attenuate the relationships between the NPI and affect. Fifthly, despite the fact that the DRM was developed to reduce memory biases, it cannot be excluded that such biases could occur and influence the result of the current study [157].
To summarize, in this study relationships between the Dark Triad traits and daily emotional experience were investigated. In general, dark traits (except boldness) were not related to momentary positive affect, but most of them were associated with higher levels of momentary negative affect. In particular, persons higher in Machiavellianism, vulnerable narcissism and disinhibition share a tendency to experience more negative affect during a day. This tendency may lower their subjective well-being, but it can also be interpreted as a defense mechanism protecting them from taking (too) risky actions and decisions.