Thursday, April 30, 2020

Win–win Denial: The Psychological Underpinnings of Zero-sum Thinking

Johnson, Samuel G. B., Jiewen Zhang, and Frank Keil. 2020. “Win–win Denial: The Psychological Underpinnings of Zero-sum Thinking.” PsyArXiv. April 30.

Abstract: A core proposition in economics is that voluntary exchanges benefit both parties. We show that people often deny the mutually beneficial nature of exchange, instead espousing the belief that one or both parties fail to benefit from the exchange. Across 4 studies (and 7 further studies in the Supplementary Materials), participants read about simple exchanges of goods and services, judging whether each party to the transaction was better off or worse off afterwards. These studies revealed that win–win denial is pervasive, with buyers consistently seen as less likely to benefit from transactions than sellers. Several potential psychological mechanisms underlying win–win denial are considered, with the most important influences being mercantilist theories of value (confusing wealth for money) and naïve realism (failing to observe that people do not arbitrarily enter exchanges). We argue that these results have widespread implications for politics and society.

Check also The politics of zero-sum thinking: The relationship between political ideology and the belief that life is a zero-sum game. Shai Davidai, Martino Ongis. Science Advances Dec 18 2019, Vol. 5, no. 12, eaay3761.

The Fallacy of an Airtight Alibi, Understanding Human Memory: Strong evidence that participants confuse days across weeks; in addition, people often confused weeks in general and also hours across days

Laliberte, Elizabeth, Hyungwook Yim, Benjamin Stone, and Simon Dennis. 2020. “The Fallacy of an Airtight Alibi: Understanding Human Memory for Where Using Experience Sampling.” PsyArXiv. April 30.

Abstract: A primary challenge for alibi generation research is establishing the ground truth of the real world events of interest. We used a smartphone app to record data on adult participants for a month prior to a memory test. The app captured their accelerometry continuously and their GPS location and sound environment every ten minutes. After a week retention interval, we asked participants to identify where they were at a given time from among four alternatives. Participants were incorrect 36% of the time. Furthermore, our forced choice procedure allowed us to conduct a conditional logit analysis to assess the relative importance of different aspects of the events to the decision process. We found strong evidence that participants confuse days across weeks. In addition, people often confused weeks in general and also hours across days. Similarity of location induced more errors than similarity of sound environments or movement types

Although generally very pessimistic, a substantial proportion of individuals believes that national & global economy will be doing worse than their household (a financial ”better-than-average effect”)

Barrafrem, Kinga, Daniel Västfjäll, and Gustav Tinghög. 2020. “Financial Well-being, COVID-19, and the Financial Better-than-average-effect.” PsyArXiv. April 30.

Abstract: At the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak we conducted a survey (n=1000) regarding how people assess the near future economic situation within their household, nation, and the world. Together with psychological factors related to information processing we link these prospects to financial well-being. We find that, although generally very pessimistic, a substantial proportion of individuals believes that national and global economy will be doing worse than their household, what we call a financial ”better-than-average effect”. Furthermore, we find that private economic outlook and financial ignorance are linked to financial well-being while financial literacy and the (inter)national situation are not.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Using Sex Toys and the Assimilation of Tools into Bodies: Can Sex Enhancements Incorporate Tools into Human Sexuality?

Using Sex Toys and the Assimilation of Tools into Bodies: Can Sex Enhancements Incorporate Tools into Human Sexuality? Ahenkora Siaw Kwakye. Sexuality & Culture, Apr 29 2020.

Abstract: The use of vibrators, dildos and other sex toys for sexual stimulation and pleasure is common among women and is growing in popularity. While the phenomenon has positive benefits, it might equally present adverse consequences to users. This research aims to assess the popularity of sex toy use among women from different nations. Furthermore, the study aims to find out if the use of other household items for sexual stimulation is popular among women between the ages of 18 and 50. Finally, the study attempts to discover if sex toy users observe changes arising from the use of various sex toys and if such variations can be attributed to the assimilation of the sex toy used. I employed a convenience sampling in eight countries. The study observed that sex toys are popular among women between the ages of 18 and 50, but sex toy use appears to produce varying effects on users. It was also evident that a majority of participants use vibrating sex toys without a clinician’s recommendation. Some women observe changes in sensitivity levels of their sexual responses after using sex enhancements. It was observed that while there is a crackdown on the use of sex toys in Islamic nations, religion itself has a certain influence on the individual adherent’s desire to explore use of sex enhancements.

Unhappiness & age: Analysis of data from eight well-being data files on nearly 14 million respondents across forty European countries & the United States and 168 countries from the Gallup World Poll

Unhappiness and Age. David G.Blanchflower. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, April 29 2020.

Abstract: I examine the relationship between unhappiness and age using data from eight well-being data files on nearly fourteen million respondents across forty European countries and the United States and 168 countries from the Gallup World Poll. I use twenty different individual characterizations of unhappiness including many not good mental health days; anxiety; worry; loneliness; sadness; stress; pain; strain, depression and bad nerves; phobias and panic; being downhearted; having restless sleep; losing confidence in oneself; not being able to overcome difficulties; being under strain; being unhappy; feeling a failure; feeling left out; feeling tense; and thinking of yourself as a worthless person. I also analyze responses to a further general attitudinal measure regarding whether the situation in the respondent's country is getting worse. Responses to all these unhappiness questions show a, ceteris paribus, hill shape in age, with controls and many also do so with limited controls for time and country. Unhappiness is hill-shaped in age and the average age where the maximum occurs is 49 with or without controls. There is an unhappiness curve.

3. Discussion

There appears to be a midlife crisis where unhappiness reaches a peak in mid-life in the late forties across Europe and the United States. That matches the evidence for a nadir in happiness that reaches a low in the late forties also (Blanchflower, 2020a). In that paper it was found that, averaging across 257 individual country estimates from developing countries gave an age minimum of 48.2 for well-being and doing the same across the 187 country estimates for advanced countries gives a similar minimum of 47.2.
Table 14 summarizes the results obtained by solving out the age at which the quadratic fitted to the data reaches a maximum. There are sixteen without controls that average at 47.4 and twenty-eight with controls with the maxima averaging out to 49.1, and 48.6 years overall for the forty-four estimates. This is very close to the finding in Blanchflower (2020a) that the U-shape in happiness data averaged 47.2 in developed countries and 48.2 in developing. The conclusion is therefore that data on unhappiness and happiness are highly consistent at the age when the low point or zenith in well-being occurs.
I add to the growing list of unhappiness variables that have hump shapes in age with or without controls. I find a broadly similar hill or hump shaped curve in twenty measures of unhappiness including being many not good mental health days; being stressed, unhappy; anxious, sad, sleepless; lonely; tired; depressed, tense, under strain; having bad nerves; phobias and panics and being in pain, feeling left out of society and several more. I also found the hump shape for a more general measure relating to the respondent's belief that the country 'is getting worse'. It doesn't seem to matter much how the question about unhappiness is phrased or coded or which country the question is asked or when we get similar results.
A referee has noted that if you look at the graphs, you see wave-like patterns (sadness, panics), hump-shaped patterns (sleep, stress), and increasing-to-a-plateau-like patterns (pain and worry with limited controls). No matter the exact shape of the plots in the various charts, it is clear that there is a peak somewhere in mid-life. I don't claim the patterns are all identical, but their broad similarity is striking, with a peak in prime age. There is a clear consistent pattern in the unhappiness and age data.
Blanchflower and Graham (2020) showed that the drop in measured happiness from youth to the mid-point low of the U-shape is quantitatively large and was not "trivial" as some psychologists have claimed. Indeed, they show the decline in well-being was about the equivalent of that observed from losing a spouse or a job. The results on unhappiness are similar. For example, in the Gallup USDTP averaged across the years 2008-2017 the probability of depression in the raw data rose from 12% at age 18 to 21% at age 58. The proportion of the employed who were depressed was 12% versus 24% for the unemployed. In addition, 12% of the married were depressed yesterday versus 19% of the widowed. In the raw data from the BRFSS the proportion who said they had 20 or more bad days in a month was 6.6% at age 18 and 8.4 at age 47, the peak. Among the married the rate was 5.5% versus 8% for the widowed. The rise in unhappiness to the mid-life peak, is thus large and comparable in magnitude to major life events.
So, what is going on in mid-life? In Blanchflower and Oswald (2008) we suggested three possibilities. First, that individuals learn to adapt to their strengths and weaknesses, and in mid-life quell their infeasible aspirations. Second, it could be that cheerful people live systematically longer than the miserable, and that the nadir in happiness in mid-life thus traces out in part a selection effect. A third is that a kind of comparison process is at work: I have seen school-friends die and come eventually to value my blessings during my remaining years. Steptoe et al (2010) suggest that "it is plausible that wellbeing improves when children leave home, given reduced levels of family conflict and financial burden" (p.9986, 2010).
The finding of a nadir in well-being in midlife likely adds important support to the notion that the prime-aged, and especially those with less education, are especially vulnerable to disadvantages and shocks.27 The global Covid-19 pandemic, which is disproportionately impacting marginal workers will likely make matters even harder to deal with for many at a well-being low point (Bell and Blanchflower, 2020). Some especially defenseless individuals might face downward spirals as age and life circumstances interact. Many will not be getting the social/emotional support they need as they are isolated and lonely, in addition to the first-order effects of whatever they are coping with in normal times. Lack of health care coverage in the US may well be a compounding factor where there is also an obesity epidemic. A midlife low is tough and made much harder when combined with a deep downturn and a slow and weak recovery. Peak unhappiness occurs in mid-life. There is an unhappiness curve.

The 168 countries are Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Angola; Argentina; Armenia; Australia; Austria; Azerbaijan; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Belarus; Belgium; Belize; Benin; Bhutan; Bolivia; Bosnia Herzegovina; Botswana; Brazil; Bulgaria; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cambodia; Cameroon; Canada; Central African Republic; Chad; Chile; China; Colombia; Comoros; Congo Brazzaville; Congo Kinshasa; Costa Rica; Croatia; Cuba; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Djibouti; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; Egypt; El Salvador; Estonia; Ethiopia; Finland; France; Gabon; Gambia; Georgia; Germany; Ghana; Greece; Guatemala; Guinea; Guyana; Haiti; Honduras; Hong Kong; Hungary; Iceland; India; Indonesia; Iran; Iraq; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Ivory Coast; Jamaica; Japan; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Kosovo; Kuwait; Kyrgyzstan; Laos; Latvia; Lebanon; Lesotho; Liberia; Libya; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Macedonia; Madagascar; Malawi; Malaysia; Maldives; Mali; Malta; Mauritania; Mauritius; Mexico; Moldova; Mongolia; Montenegro; Morocco; Mozambique; Myanmar; Nagorno Karabakh; Namibia; Nepal; Netherlands; New Zealand; Nicaragua; Niger; Nigeria; Northern Cyprus; Norway; Oman; Pakistan; Palestine; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Philippines; Poland; Portugal; Puerto Rico; Qatar; Romania; Russia; Rwanda; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Serbia; Sierra Leone; Singapore; Slovakia; Slovenia; Somalia; Somaliland; South Africa; South Korea; South Sudan; Spain; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Suriname; Swaziland; Sweden; Switzerland; Syria; Taiwan; Tajikistan; Tanzania; Thailand; Togo; Trinidad and Tobago; Tunisia; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Uganda; Ukraine; UAE; UK; USA; Uruguay; Uzbekistan; Venezuela; Vietnam; Yemen; Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Changes in sexual behaviors in young people during COVID-19: 44% of participants reported a decrease in the number of sexual partners & about 37% of participants reported a decrease in sexual frequency

Changes in sexual behaviors of young women and men during the coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak: a convenience sample from the epidemic area. Weiran Li et al. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, April 29 2020,

Background: In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which is caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a pandemic. Currently, data on changes in sexual behavior during the COVID-19 outbreak are limited.

Aim: The present study aimed to obtain a preliminary understanding of the changes in people’s sexual behavior, as a result of the pandemic and explore the context in which they manifest.

Methods: A convenience sample of 270 men and 189 women who completed an online survey consisting of 12 items plus an additional question were included in the study.

Outcomes: The study outcomes were obtained using a study-specific questionnaire to assess the changes in people’s sexual behavior.

Results: While there was a wide range of individual responses, our results showed that 44% of participants reported a decrease in the number of sexual partners and about 37% of participants reported a decrease in sexual frequency. Multiple regression analysis showed that age, partner relationship and sexual desire were closely related to sexual frequency. In addition, we found that most individuals with risky sexual experiences had a rapid reduction in risky sexual behavior.

Clinical Implications: The current findings contribute to identifying another potential health implication associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and report preliminary evidence of the need to provide potential interventions for the population.

Strength & Limitations: This study is the first to perform a preliminary exploration of sexual behavior during the COVID-19 outbreak. The generalizability of the results is limited, given that only a small convenience sample was used.

Conclusion: During the height of the COVID-19 outbreak, overall sexual activity, frequency, and risky behaviors declined significantly among young men and women in China.

Key words: COVID-19Sexual activitiesSexual frequencyRisky sexual behavior


In general, at the height of the COVID-19 epidemic, we found that both sexual activities and sexual satisfaction of young men and women decreased. Low sexual desire and unsatisfying partner relationships were significant factors affecting sexual activities, which is in agreement with previous studies 6.
In addition, we found that most individuals with a history of risky sexual experiences had a rapid reduction in risky sexual behaviors. This may be because the participants may have experienced a great deal of psychological stress during this particular period, such as anxiety, fear, boredom, and disappointment. In addition, it is undeniable that strict physical restrictions have directly impacted the possibility of having new sexual partners and risky sexual behaviors. However, in the supplementary question, 32% of men and 18% of women indicated that they were inclined to increase the number of sexual partners or risky sexual behaviors once the epidemic ended. A significant minority will be engaged in behaviors that could increase the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases7.
There are several potential limitations to our research that should be noted. First, race and ethnic culture appear to have a significant association with the occurrence of sexual problems8. For example, most young Chinese people live with their parents (72% in the current study), which is different from results reported in other countries and may be a significant factor that can limit their sexual behaviors. Therefore, the small sample size from a single ethnicity and the lack of randomization are also limitations for the extrapolation of the results to the global general population. Second, the use of unverified questionnaires and retrospective evaluations of sexual behavior was also a weakness of the study. In addition, we did not collect data form participants who did not complete the questionnaire. Hence, the characteristics of these individuals and their impact on the overall data were not analyzed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Does the devil wear Prada? Luxury product experiences can affect prosocial behavior

Does the devil wear Prada? Luxury product experiences can affect prosocial behavior. Yajin Wang et al. International Journal of Research in Marketing, April 28 2020.

Abstract: Despite the explosive growth of luxury consumption, researchers have yet to examine how the experience of using luxury products affects us both psychologically and behaviorally. In this research, we explore how the experience of using a luxury product can alter a user's perceptions of themselves and their behavior toward other people. We gave women either a luxury product (e.g., Prada handbag) or a non-luxury product (e.g., unbranded handbag) to use, and afterwards, we presented women with opportunities to exhibit either selfish or generous behaviors toward others. We found that, after using a luxury product, women exhibited more selfish behavior, such as sharing fewer resources with others and contributing less money to charity than women who used a non-luxury handbag. We also found this pattern can be reversed, with luxury users exhibiting more generous behavior when the generous behavior can be performed in front of other people. Further, we show that these patterns of selfish and generous behaviors are mediated by changes in perceived status and superiority that are triggered when women experience using a luxury product.

Keywords: LuxuryConsumer experienceProsocial behavior

Not Only Decibels: Exploring Human Judgments of Laughter Intensity

Rychlowska, Magdalena, Gary J. McKeown, Ian Sneddon, and Will Curran. 2020. “Not Only Decibels: Exploring Human Judgments of Laughter Intensity.” PsyArXiv. April 28.

Abstract. Paper presented at the 5th Laughter Workshop, Paris, 27-28 September 2018: While laughter intensity is an important characteristic immediately perceivable for the listeners, empirical investigations of this construct are still scarce. Here, we explore the relationship between human judgments of laughter intensity and laughter acoustics. Our results show that intensity is predicted by multiple dimensions, including duration, loudness, pitch variables, and center of gravity. Controlling for loudness confirmed the robustness of these effects and revealed significant relationships between intensity and other features, such as harmonicity and voicing. Together, the findings demonstrate that laughter intensity does not overlap with loudness. They also highlight the necessity of further research on this complex dimension.

Participants who were told that another person got a better meal than they did liked their own meal less than if they were told that another person received either the same meal as they did

Food-based social comparisons influence liking and consumption. Jennifer S.Mills, Janet Polivy, Ayesha Iqbal. Appetite, April 26 2020, 104720.

Abstract: This study examined the effects of food-based social comparisons on hedonic ratings and consumption of a meal. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions in which they were led to believe that they got a worse meal, a better meal, or the same meal as another participant. They then tasted and rated their own meal. Subsequent liking and ad lib food consumption were measured. Participants who were told that another person got a better meal than they did (upward comparison) liked their meal less than if they were told that another person received either the same meal as they did or a worse meal (downward comparison). Similarly, participants who were in the upward comparison condition ate less food than if they were in the control or downward comparison conditions. Consumption was mediated by liking. The results suggest that being told that someone else is eating a meal that is higher or lower in hedonic value than one's own meal induces hedonic contrast and influences liking and consumption.

Keywords: Social comparisonFood hedonicsHedonic contrastEating behaviour

Emotional empathy is more heritable than cognitive empathy; is affected by environment shared by siblings; found no find evidence for age differences in empathy heritability

The genetic and environmental origins of emotional and cognitive empathy: Review and meta-analyses of twin studies. Lior Abramson et al. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, April 27 2020.

• We meta-analyzed the twin literature of emotional and cognitive empathy.
• Emotional empathy is more heritable than cognitive empathy.
• Cognitive empathy as examined by tests is affected by environment shared by siblings.
• We did not find evidence for age differences in empathy heritability.
• We propose future directions to examine the processes behind genes-empathy relations.

Abstract: Empathy is considered a cornerstone of human social experience, and as such has been widely investigated from psychological and neuroscientific approaches. To better understand the factors influencing individual differences in empathy, we reviewed and meta-analyzed the behavioral genetic literature of emotional empathy- sharing others’ emotions (k=13), and cognitive empathy-understanding others’ emotions (k = 15), as manifested in twin studies. Results showed that emotional empathy is more heritable, 48.3% [41.3%-50.6%], than cognitive empathy, 26.9% [18.1%-35.8%]. Moreover, cognitive empathy as examined by performance tests was affected by the environment shared by family members, 11.9% [2.6%-21.0%], suggesting that emotional understanding is influenced, to some degree, by environmental factors that have similar effects on family members beyond their genetic relatedness. The effects of participants’ age and the method used to asses empathy on the etiology of empathy were also examined. These findings have implications for understanding how individual differences in empathy are formed. After discussing these implications, we suggest theoretical and methodological future research directions that could potentially elucidate the relations between genes, brain, and empathy.

Why are Women More Religious than Men? Do Risk Preferences and Genetic Risk Predispositions Explain the Gender Gap?

Why are Women More Religious than Men? Do Risk Preferences and Genetic Risk Predispositions Explain the Gender Gap? YI LI  ROBERT WOODBERRY  HEXUAN LIU  GUANG GUO. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, April 23 2020

Abstract: Risk preference theory argues that the gender gap in religiosity is caused by greater female risk aversion. Although widely debated, risk preference theory has been inadequately tested. Our study tests the theory directly with phenotypic and genetic risk preferences in three dimensions—general, impulsive, and sensation‐seeking risk. Moreover, we examine whether the effects of different dimensions of risk preferences on the gender gap vary across different dimensions of religiosity. We find that general and impulsive risk preferences do not explain gender differences in religiosity, whereas sensation‐seeking risk preference makes the gender gap in self‐assessed religiousness and church attendance insignificant, but not belief in God, prayer, or importance of religion. Genetic risk preferences do not remove any of the gender gaps in religiosity, suggesting that the causal order is not from risk preference to religiosity. Evidence suggests that risk preferences are not a strong predictor for gender differences in religiosity.

Casual sex is increasingly socially acceptable, but negative stereotypes about women remain; in this paper, both men & women stereotype women (but not men) who have casual sex as having low self-esteem

Krems, Jaimie, Ahra Ko, Jordan W. Moon, and Michael E. W. Varnum, PhD. 2020. “Lay Beliefs About Gender and Sexual Behavior: First Evidence for a Pervasive, Robust (but Seemingly Unfounded) Stereotype.” PsyArXiv. April 27.

Abstract: Although casual sex is increasingly socially acceptable, negative stereotypes toward women pursuing casual sex appear to remain pervasive. Specifically, a common trope in media (e.g., television, film) is that such women have low self-esteem. Despite robust work on prejudice against women who engage in casual sex, little empirical work investigates the lay theories individuals hold about such women. Across six experiments with US participants (N = 1,469), we find that both men and women stereotype women (but not men) who have casual sex as having low self-esteem. This stereotype is held explicitly and semi-implicitly, not driven by individual differences in religiosity, conservatism, or sexism, is mediated by inferences that women having casual sex are unsatisfied with their mating strategy, yet persists when these women are explicitly described as choosing to have casual sex. Finally, it appears unfounded; across experiments, these same participants’ sexual behavior is uncorrelated with their own self-esteem.

Those who acted to benefit others were seen as egalitarian and less selfish, although expressing pride strongly overturned these judgments

McLatchie, Neil, and Jared Piazza. 2020. “The Challenge of Expressing Pride in Moral Achievements: The Advantage of Joy and Vicarious Pride.” PsyArXiv. April 27.

Abstract: Recent findings suggest bodily expressions of pride communicate a person is self-interested and meritocratic. Across two studies (combined N=721), we investigated whether these implications retain when pride is expressed with regards to moral achievements where the activity has benefited others. In Study 1, achievers that attained self-benefiting, competence-based achievements were judged to be self-interested and meritocratic, and expressing pride somewhat enhanced these evaluations. By contrast, those who acted to benefit others were seen as egalitarian and less selfish, although expressing pride strongly overturned these judgments. Study 2 replicated these findings and found that expressions of joy following a moral achievement, and pride expressed by a companion, enhanced the do-gooder’s perceived status without reducing attributions of egalitarianism. Our findings highlight the costs of displaying moral pride, but point to joy and vicarious pride as promising alternative routes for circumventing these costs. Datasets and analysis scripts are available at:

Monday, April 27, 2020

Sweet taste experience improves prosocial intentions and attractiveness ratings

Sweet taste experience improves prosocial intentions and attractiveness ratings. Michael Schaefer, Anne Reinhardt, Eileen Garbow & Deborah Dressler. Psychological Research (2020).

Abstract: Taste-related terms such as bitter or sweet are often used to describe people’s behavior. For example, sweetness metaphors are often used when giving nicknames for romantic partners or when characterizing a friendly person. Previous studies have suggested that sweet taste may be linked to prosocial behavior. Examining a total of 517 participants, we here demonstrate that experiencing sweet taste also seems to have an impact on subsequent attractiveness ratings of faces. Participants were asked to rate pictures of young people and of art. Before this task, they were primed either with sweet candies or with salty snacks. Results revealed that sweet taste increased subsequent attractiveness ratings of faces. In addition, results confirmed earlier findings that sweet taste affected prosocial behavior. Our results suggest that sweetness seems to be more than a mere linguistic metaphor; it influences prosocial behavior as well as attractiveness ratings of faces. We discuss the results with recent findings of physical-to-psychological links to certain figures in speech.

Social class predicts visual perspective taking: Higher-class individuals made more errors than lower-class individuals in a task which requires participants to assume the visual perspective of another person

Social Class Predicts Emotion Perception and Perspective-Taking Performance in Adults. Pia Dietze, Eric D. Knowles. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, April 27, 2020.

Abstract: “Theory of Mind” (ToM; people’s ability to infer and use information about others’ mental states) varies across cultures. In four studies (N = 881), including two preregistered replications, we show that social class predicts performance on ToM tasks. In Studies 1A and 1B, we provide new evidence for a relationship between social class and emotion perception: Higher-class individuals performed more poorly than their lower-class counterparts on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test, which has participants infer the emotional states of targets from images of their eyes. In Studies 2A and 2B, we provide the first evidence that social class predicts visual perspective taking: Higher-class individuals made more errors than lower-class individuals in the Director Task, which requires participants to assume the visual perspective of another person. Potential mechanisms linking social class to performance in different ToM domains, as well as implications for deficiency-centered perspectives on low social class, are discussed.

Keywords: social class, culture, theory of mind, Director Task, Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test

We overestimate the effectiveness of a completely inefficacious drug; diseases that resolve spontaneously boost overestimations; overestimations remain even when participants consider all evidence available

Diseases that resolve spontaneously can increase the belief that ineffective treatments work. Fernando Blanco, Helena Matute. Social Science & Medicine. April 25 2020, 113012.

• Participants overestimate the effectiveness of a completely inefficacious drug.
• Diseases that resolve spontaneously boost overestimations of effectiveness.
•Overestimations remain even when participants consider all evidence available.

Rationale: Self-limited diseases resolve spontaneously without treatment or intervention. From the patient's viewpoint, this means experiencing an improvement of the symptoms with increasing probability over time. Previous studies suggest that the observation of this pattern could foster illusory beliefs of effectiveness, even if the treatment is completely ineffective. Therefore, self-limited diseases could provide an opportunity for pseudotherapies to appear as if they were effective.

Objective: In three computer-based experiments, we investigate how the beliefs of effectiveness of a pseudotherapy form and change when the disease disappears gradually regardless of the intervention.

Methods: Participants played the role of patients suffering from a fictitious disease, who were being treated with a fictitious medicine. The medicine was completely ineffective, because symptom occurrence was uncorrelated to medicine intake. However, in one of the groups the trials were arranged so that symptoms were less likely to appear at the end of the session, mimicking the experience of a self-limited disease. Except for this difference, both groups received similar information concerning treatment effectiveness.

Results: In Experiments 1 and 2, when the disease disappeared progressively during the session, the completely ineffective medicine was judged as more effective than when the same information was presented in a random fashion. Experiment 3 extended this finding to a new situation in which symptom improvement was also observed before the treatment started.

Conclusions: We conclude that self-limited diseases can produce strong overestimations of effectiveness for treatments that actually produce no effect. This has practical implications for preventative and primary health services. The data and materials that support these experiments are freely available at the Open Science Framework (

Keywords: Cognitive biasTreatment effectivenessPseudotherapyPatients' beliefsCausality bias

5.3. General discussion

Pseudotherapies are drugs or other types of treatment that produce no beneficial effect on the likelihood of improving from a disease, such that the contingency between using the pseudotherapy and observing an improvement is null, once potential placebo effects are discounted (Hellmuth et al., 2019). Nevertheless, certain situations can induce illusory beliefs of effectiveness, even for pseudotherapies that are completely ineffective. In particular, diseases with high likelihood of spontaneous remission, P(O), can result in strong overestimations of effectiveness (Matute et al., 2019). Yet in most experiments the P(O) is set to a fixed level during the whole session (Blanco et al., 2014Chow et al., 2019), with only a few studies investigating the effect of changing the P(O) levels as the session proceeds. In this context, self-limited diseases are of interest because, given their natural evolution, they usually produce a pattern of steady increasing probability of remission. According to previous research, an increasing pattern of P(O) could in principle promote strong illusions of effectiveness in a null contingency setting (Ejova et al., 2013Matute, 1995), though sometimes the opposite result (e.g., accurate estimations of non-effectiveness) has been reported (Langer and Roth, 1975). Additionally, none of these previous studies investigated the effect of increasing patterns of P(O) in a medical context. Testing the effect of increasing P(O) using a medical context is important, because this pattern, which is common in self-limited diseases, could represent one of the gaps through which pseudotherapies infiltrate our societies. Given that self-limited diseases are common, if they do favor the use of pseudotherapy by promoting the illusory belief in their effectiveness, then many people could turn to these pseudotherapies uncritically whenever they suffer a more serious health problem.
Our three behavioral experiments align in documenting evidence for the overestimation of effectiveness in self-limited diseases. In this regard, they coincide with results reported in non-medical scenarios (Ejova et al., 2013Matute, 1995), and contradict a classic study (Langer and Roth, 1975). Nevertheless, we note that Langer and Roth's study tapped on a chance situation (coin toss) in which no improvement should be expected with time or practice, which could help to interpret the discrepancy. Additionally, in Ejova et al.'s study, the interpretation of the situation as chance-based was measured and controlled for in the analysis.
In our experiments, trial-by-trial judgments increased gradually with the P(O) in the self-limited group (see Fig. 4Fig. 6). As a result, the participants in this group ended their training session with a strong belief of effectiveness. This contrasts with participants in the control group, who showed a significantly smaller illusion of effectiveness. A possible interpretation is that people assume that patterns of gradual improvement are the typically expected ones when a treatment is actually working. That is, people rarely attribute these gradually improving patterns to the natural course of a self-limited disease, and instead they look for a potential explanation, which in this case is the treatment.
Experiment 2 replicated the results of Experiment 1 (Fig. 4), differing only on the type of response scale used (unidirectional, instead of bidirectional). Although contingency can take on either positive or negative values, it is not obvious how to interpret a negative value in this particular context — a treatment for a disease. Consequently, most previous studies used a unidirectional scale (from 0, ineffective, to 100, perfectly effective). Here we obtain the same results irrespective of the scale. This speaks of the robustness of the general result: regardless of the type of response scale, the tendency to overestimate the effectiveness was higher in the group that mirrored the self-limited disease, compared with the control group.
In Experiment 3, we modeled a self-limited disease in a different way: in addition to the null contingency between taking the treatment and observing a remission of the symptoms, we showed the symptom-occurrence baseline before the treatment starts. This should allow participants to fairly compare the P(O) before and after the treatment, even under the assumption that trials are dependent on each other — that taking the drug on one day can help to improve health days later. Even with this information available, participants overestimated the effectiveness of the pseudomedicine when the pattern of P(O) was increasing, as compared to the control group (Fig. 6). Thus, a different design, resting on different assumptions than those in Experiments 1 and 2, still produced similar results.
Experiment 3 presents an interesting question, as it is designed to work under the assumption of non-independence between trials. Most contingency learning experiments describe trials that can be naturally interpreted as mutually independent: for example, it is common to present a sequence of trials arranged in random order, each one corresponding to a different individual patient (Blanco et al., 2014Blanco and Matute, 2019). Thus, it is unlikely that participants assume that treating one patient could affect subsequent patients. This was probably the case in Ejova et al.'s (2013) experiments, and it certainly was in the case of Matute (1995) and Langer and Roth (1975) studies. Under the assumption of trial independence, it is easy to reproduce the overestimation of effectiveness when a disease has a high probability of spontaneous remission (Blanco et al., 2014Blanco and Matute, 2019). However, in our current procedure, it is possible to interpret the training as a time-series with dependencies between trials: if the patient takes the medicine today, the effects can be seen some days later. As we have argued, assuming that trials can be mutually dependent in this fashion has important consequences, the main one being that contingency, computed as the difference between P(O|C) and P(O|∼C), stops being a useful index. This is a possibility that has been largely overlooked in most research in human contingency learning, with few exceptions (Bramley et al., 2015). In Experiment 3, we replicated the overestimation of effectiveness in these conditions, which extends the results of Ejova et al. (2013) to a new scenario. Future studies could deepen further in the implications of assuming dependency between observations.
Additionally, we collected information about the perceived effectiveness in two moments: on each trial (trial-by-trial judgments) and after the whole session (global judgment). It is well known that trial-by-trial judgments typically show recency effects: they are heavily affected by the information presented in the current or immediately previous trials (Matute et al., 2002). In global judgments, we asked participants to take into account all the information they had seen from the beginning of the session, a strategy that often results in the participants being able to integrate the information from the different phases (Matute et al., 2002). It would be useful to know whether people can be capable of integrating all the information and overcome their biases just by asking them to do so. Thus, we expected that global judgments in the self-limited group would not be so strongly influenced by the last part of the training session, which featured a very high P(O). This should probably reduce the illusion and blur the differences between the groups, given that they received exactly the same frequencies of trials when considering the overall session. However, global judgments in our experiments showed a familiar overestimation trend, with the self-limited group reporting stronger beliefs of effectiveness than the control group, although the effect was less pronounced than in trial-by-trial judgments (in Experiment 1, the difference between groups in the global judgments was just marginal). Therefore, this result is in line with previous studies showing that participants can better integrate all the information seen during the training at the end of the session if requested to do so, while trial-by-trial judgments are strongly affected by the most recent piece of information (Matute et al., 2002). Yet, note that the effect of increasing the P(O) during the training session survives despite the explicit instruction to try to avoid being too biased by the last part of the session. Consequently, the result highlights the view that self-limited diseases can potentially produce strong and resistant beliefs of effectiveness.
There were additional judgments in our task. First, through the Alternative Cause judgments, participants could report whether they felt that outcome occurrences (e.g., symptom remissions) could be attributed to causes other than the pseudomedicine. In Experiments 1 and 2, the results do not indicate any significant difference between groups. People do not tend to attribute health improvement instances to any unspecified alternative cause, irrespective of the group (average answers around 6 out of 10 points). In Experiment 3, in contrast, we found that participants in the self-limited group tended to judge that symptom remissions were due to the treatment more often than participants in the control group, which is in line with the predictions.
Second, our participants estimated the two conditional probabilities, P(O|C) and P(O|∼C) — probability of symptom remission when taking the medicine versus when not taking the medicine. In Experiments 1 and 2, P(O|C) was systematically more overestimated than P(O|∼C). The latter result is compatible with the presence of an illusion of causality, or overestimation of the effectiveness of the drug (Blanco and Matute, 2019), that exists in all groups, since participants seem to judge that improvements are generally more likely when one takes the medicine than when one does not. In fact, the difference between these two probability estimations (which is analogous to computing an estimated contingency) correlates significantly with effectiveness ratings in all six groups across the three experiments. In addition, in Experiment 3 not only this tendency to overestimate P(O|C) was found, but it was significantly stronger in the self-limited group, where effectiveness was judged higher, which also reinforces the idea that people in this group developed strong beliefs of effectiveness.
We can only speculate as to why the additional judgments (global judgment, Alternative Cause judgment, conditional probability judgments) seem to have captured stronger effects in Experiment 3 than in Experiments 1 and 2. One of the most evident reasons is that, by separating the outcome base-rate training in one phase, instead of presenting it in intermixed trials, Experiment 3 made it much easier to grasp the base-rate to which compare the P(O) once the treatment starts. Another, somewhat more trivial, reason is that we started and ended the training using more extreme values of P(O), namely 0 and 1, which might create the impression that the medicine works at the end of the session.
When interpreting Experiment 3, one should be aware that the design does not perfectly control all potential extraneous variables. Of special relevance is the difference in the P(O) during Phase 2 between the two groups: that is, the probability of symptom remission is overall higher in this phase for participants in the self-limited group, P(O) = 0.83, compared to participants in the control group, P(O) = 0.50. This difference could contribute to the effect, as we know from previous literature that higher P(O) levels typically produce higher judgments, such as with outcome-density bias (Chow et al., 2019Musca et al., 2010). Future studies could try to address this problem by including additional controls. For instance, it would be possible to add a stable, high P(O) control condition, in which symptom remissions appear as often as in the last part of the self-limited group. We note, however, that such control would still not be perfect, as it is impossible to fix all relevant parameters (outcome probability, contingency, number of trials, etc.) while one of the groups remains stable and the other increases in P(O).
These experiments can also help us shed some light on the mechanisms underlying the overestimation of causality more generally. Traditionally, these illusory beliefs have been explained by invoking differential “cell-weighting” processes (Kao and Wasserman, 1993). That is, of the four cells in the contingency matrix of Fig. 1, it is possible that people pay more attention to those events that are more salient — typically, cells a, or medicine-remission events — or give them more importance when forming the belief. This proposal could explain both the present experiments as well as other instances of overestimation of effectiveness: even if the number of type a trials (medicine-remission) is the same as type c trials (no medicine-remission), people would weigh the former more heavily, thus strengthening the belief of effectiveness beyond the provided data. Concerning this possibility, we collected conditional probability judgments in addition to effectiveness judgments, and through the three experiments, these conditional probability estimations seem to show a tendency to overestimate the probability of remission conditional on the medicine, compared to when no medicine was taken, such that P(O|C) > P(O|∼C), especially in those individuals who developed stronger beliefs of effectiveness. This could be interpreted as an increased attention/importance given to medicine-present trials, which is in line with previous experiments investigating cell-weighting mechanisms (Kao and Wasserman, 1993).

5.4. Limitations

One obvious shortcoming of our procedure is the limited ecological validity, given that the situation is artificial, and participants must imagine how they would think in real life contexts. On the other hand, it seems difficult to experimentally study these processes of change in the beliefs of effectiveness with real treatments and outcomes. We believe that it would not be feasible for practical and ethical reasons, so our computer-based approach remains a valid candidate.
Another limitation of this research is that only two conditions were compared in each experiment: an increasing pattern of P(O) versus a stable pattern of P(O). Thus, we are not examining the potential role of consistency, but we are always comparing one group in which the outcome changes with another group in which it does not change. A more systematic approach would have included additional conditions: decreasing pattern of P(O), U-shaped pattern, etc. Some of these conditions are studied in previous experiments (Ejova et al., 2013Matute, 1995), but, as they do not correspond well to any meaningful real situation in actual medicine usage, we decided to keep our experiments as simple as possible, by just comparing self-limited diseases with stable diseases. Future studies could put to test additional conditions.
In addition, this research rests on the assumption that the formation of effectiveness beliefs during the experimental session is due to basic processes (e.g., contingency learning) that are general-purpose, and work in similar ways for all people. Thus, we have not considered the potential impact of individual differences based on educational level, age, or attitudes, for example. This could be an interesting field of study for future research, as some studies have suggested that prior beliefs and attitudes can in fact modulate the formation of causal knowledge, leading to overestimations of causality similar to those reported here (Blanco et al., 2018). Moreover, it would be highly interesting to investigate whether unsupported beliefs of effectiveness actually translate into differences in treatment use, and whether this effect is further modulated by individual factors that could help us identify particularly vulnerable individuals or situations.

Homophobia among adolescents & adults in Switzerland & Germany; Males, youths with a migration background & religious respondents have significantly stronger prejudices; upbringing has small influence

Dirk Baier, Maria Kamenowski, Verbreitung und Einflussfaktoren von Homophobie unter Jugendlichen und Erwachsenen. Befragungsbefunde aus der Schweiz und Deutschland (Spread and influence of homophobia among adolescents and adults. Survey findings from Switzerland and Germany). RPsych Rechtspsychologie, Volume 6 (2020), Issue 1, pp 5-35.

Automatic translation:
Abstract: Homophobia, i. e. the devaluation of non-heterosexual people, exists both in Switzerland and in Germany. On the one hand, the article examines the question of how prevalent homophobic attitudes are among the youth and adult population. On the other hand, factors influencing these attitudes are analysed across age groups and countries. Three samples are used for the analyses. The results show that between 10.3 % and 29.9 % of respondents agree with homophobic attitudes, depending on the item of measuring instruments used; same-sex marriages in particular are rejected by respondents. In addition, it can be concluded that male respondents, youths with a migration background and religious respondents (regardless of their religious affiliation) have significantly stronger prejudices against homosexuals.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Heritability of Bullying and Victimization in Children and Adolescents: Moderation by the KiVa Antibullying Program

Heritability of Bullying and Victimization in Children and Adolescents: Moderation by the KiVa Antibullying Program. Ada Johansson et al. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology,
Mar 16 2020.

Objective: Bullying affects approximately a quarter of schoolchildren and is associated with numerous adverse outcomes. Although distinct risk factors for bullying and victimization have been identified, few studies have investigated the genetic and environmental underpinnings of bullying and victimization. The aims of this study were twofold: first, to examine the contributions of genetic and environmental factors to bullying and victimization, and second, to analyze whether the KiVa antibullying program moderated the magnitude of these contributions by comparing estimates derived from the KiVa versus control groups.
Method: The sample comprised students from schools that participated in the evaluation of the KiVa antibullying program in Finland during 2007–2009. Bullying and victimization were measured using peer nominations by classmates. The sample for the twin analyses comprised of 447 twins (107 monozygotic and 340 dizygotic twins) aged 7–15.
Results: Genetic contributions accounted for 62% and 77% of the variance in bullying and in victimization at pre-intervention, respectively. There was a post-intervention difference in the overall role of genetic and environmental contributions between the intervention and the control group for bullying and victimization, with non-shared environmental effects playing a lesser role (and genes a larger role) in the intervention than in the control group context.
Conclusions: This study replicates previous findings on the genetic underpinnings of both bullying and victimization, and indicates that a school-based antibullying program reduces the role of non-shared environmental factors in bullying and victimization. The results indicate that prevention and intervention efforts need to target both environmental and (heritable) individual level factors to maximize effectiveness.


The present study aimed at examining the magnitude of genetic and environmental contributions to bullying and victimization, in a Finnish sample aged 7–15. In addition, the aim was to test whether the KiVa antibullying program would moderate these contributions. As expected, we found significant and substantial genetic contribution for both bullying and victimization in general, as well as a moderation through the antibullying intervention program of the ratio between genetic and non-shared environmental factors.
Broad sense heritability (H2) for bullying was estimated at 62% (A = 23%, D = 39%) for pre-intervention, with non-shared environmental factors accounting for the rest of the variance. The dominance component has not been reported previously, however, twin analyses have limited statistical power to distinguish between additive and non-additive genetic effects, and estimates of the broad sense heritability are more stable (Eaves, 1972). In that sense, the broad sense heritability is very similar to the previous findings by Ball et al. (2008; 61% heritability for bullying), Veldkamp et al. (2019; ~70%), and Dunbar (2018; 55%), even though different informants were used (i.e. combined parents’ and teachers’ ratings in Ball et al., 2008, and teachers’ ratings in Veldkamp et al., 2019). The present study is the first one to have estimated the heritability of bullying using peer nominations. The heritability estimates for bullying are in line with those found for antisocial behavior and aggression more generally (Brendgen et al., 2008; Burt, 2009; Polderman et al., 2015; Porsch et al., 2016).
Broad sense heritability for pre-intervention victimization scores was quite substantial at 77% (A = 50%, D = 27%), with non-shared environmental influences accounting for the rest of the variance. Again, this estimate is in the range of several previous studies (73% for Ball et al., 2008; 71–77% for Bowes et al., 2013; 70% for Connolly & Beaver, 2016; 67% for Törn et al., 2015; ~65% for Veldkamp et al., 2019). Other studies have reported lower heritability estimates: Brendgen et al. (2008) estimated the heritability of victimization to 0% in one study, and 26% in a later study (Brendgen et al., 2011), and Shakoor et al. (2015), Silberg et al. (2016), and Dunbar (2018) reported heritabilities of 35%, 45% and 48%, respectively. However, these variations could be accounted for by a variety of reasons. For instance, both Eastman et al. (2018) and Veldkamp et al. (2019) found that heritability estimates vary depending on the type of victimization; they found higher heritabilities for physical (42% and 70%, respectively) versus social/relational (0% and 55%) and property-related victimization (0%, only in Eastman et al., 2018). In addition, the twin studies also seem to differ, for example, with regards to informants used and age of participants. The use of single informants may give rise to unstable or low estimates (due to larger measurement error), especially for self-ratings in younger children. When multiple informants were used in a latent model of peer victimization and rejection, a significant and substantial contribution of genes was seen for twins from Kindergarten to grade 4 (H2 = 73–94%; Boivin et al., 2013a), which is in line with our results. Eastman et al. (2018) compared the genetic and environmental estimates derived from children (ages 9–14), versus adolescents (ages 15–20), and found differences in the magnitude and structure of genetic influences. The genetic contribution to victimization indicate that heritable characteristics in the child could evoke a negative reaction from peers and thus play a role in the likelihood of being bullied by others, a form of evocative rGE (Boivin et al., 2013a). Such characteristics could include reactive-impulsive aggression (Boivin et al., 2013b), but also depression, ADHD, risk taking, high BMI or low intelligence, as Schoeler et al. (2019) recently showed, through a polygenic risk score approach, that genetic risks for these characteristics were related to victimization. These modest associations need replications, as well as confirming evidence that they work through the mediating role of the putative child characteristics. Further evidence for the rGE hypothesis is also found in twin studies indicating partial overlap between the genes influencing victimization and those for social anxiety (Silberg et al., 2016), as well as depression/anxiety (Connolly & Beaver, 2016).
Significant genetic contributions to victimization and bullying were also found post-intervention, after pre-intervention levels were accounted for. This was true for both the intervention and the control group. Since pre-intervention levels were regressed out from the post-intervention levels, direct comparisons between heritability estimates between the time-points cannot be made. Crucial to the objective of the present study were the findings regarding the moderating role of the KiVa intervention. Moderation by the KiVa program would be indicated if the post-intervention estimates differed between the control and the intervention group after controlling for pre-intervention levels. This was true for both bullying and victimization. For both phenotypes, the general ADE pattern of estimates differed across groups (intervention vs control), essentially reflected by lower E-estimates in the intervention (bullying 42%, victimization 28%) compared to the control group (bullying 64%, victimization 63%), and thus leaving more room for genes to account for the remaining variance. The significantly smaller E-estimates in the intervention group could reflect a possible leveling out of environmental risk due to the KiVa intervention (e.g. through changing the behavior of bystanders and making bullying behavior less acceptable in the school setting), leaving a higher role to genetically influenced individual characteristics in that context. This pattern of findings is in line with the push hypothesis (Raine, 2002), which posits that genes will play a larger role in an environment freer of environmental risk factors. Evidence for such GxE findings have been found, for example, with respect to the moderating role of socioeconomic status on the genetic and environmental etiology of antisocial behavior (Tuvblad, Grann, & Lichtenstein, 2006) and the role of early adversity in physiological stress (Ouellet-Morin et al., 2008).
These results indicate the conditional nature of these environmental and genetic sources of individual differences, but they also point to the importance of providing contexts, through policies (e.g. early education) or intervention (i.e. KiVa), to create a more equitable social and learning environment for all children. When these interventions are successful in leveling out the environmental playing field, they may paradoxically identify individual factors, here genetic factors in the child, as more important for various outcomes. In doing so, they provide useful information in that they point to where the effort for change should be oriented. Specifically, even though the KiVa intervention is amongst the most effective antibullying interventions (Gaffney, Farrington, & Ttofi, 2019), it fails to stop all bullying. Our results indicate that genes play a significant role in accounting for post-intervention variance in bullying and victimization, and that the efficacy of the KiVa program might be enhanced by incorporating components targeting individual heritable characteristics. Previous research indicates that heritable individual characteristics that could evoke victimization from peers include mental health problems such as depression and anxiety (Connolly & Beaver, 2016; Schoeler et al., 2019; Silberg et al., 2016), ADHD, high BMI and low intelligence (Schoeler et al., 2019). Schoeler et al. (2019) suggested that one way to target such individual heritable characteristics with regards to victimization, could be to include components trying to reduce the stigma of mental health problems or other vulnerabilities such as high BMI, or to offer more support to children displaying internalizing or externalizing symptoms. Intervention components could either be universal (targeted at the entire school) such as in components aiming to change the environment to be less discriminatory (e.g., toward people with mental health problems, neuropsychological difficulties, or high BMI), or individual (e.g. support and/or interventions for students at risk). In addition, one should also keep in mind that interventions not specifically aimed at reducing bullying victimization or perpetration, but rather aimed at reducing characteristics that increase the risk for victimization or perpetration could, in turn, also reduce bullying.
With respect to bullying perpetration, less is known about the specific underlying heritable characteristics, but such could include, for example, callous-unemotional traits and/or conduct problems (Viding, Simmonds, Petrides, & Frederickson, 2009; Zych, Ttofi, & Farrington, 2019). It is important to identify at-risk children early, and intervene not only in the school context but also by means of parenting programs (Waller, Hyde, Klump, & Burt, 2018). Further research is needed to identify specific heritable characteristics related to both the risk of victimization and bullying, especially victimization and bullying that persists after intervention efforts. However, as we know that standard interventions are not helpful in all cases (see also Kaufman, Kretschmer, Huitsing, & Veenstra, 2018), school personnel should always follow up after taking action to stop bullying, check whether their intervention was helpful, and to take further action when needed.
A strength of this study is that bullying and victimization were measured with proportion scores derived from peer nominations. In addition to there being multiple reporters, classmates can be considered to be more up to date on what is happening in the school setting (Boivin et al., 2013a; Stassen Berger, 2007), than for instance teachers or parents. Another clear strength of our study is the RCT-design, which effectively controls for potential confounds such as those that might arise from unaccounted rGE. The participating schools can be considered representative of Finnish schools at the time of data collection. In addition, twins did not differ from non-twin individuals on bullying or victimization, suggesting that the results are generalizable to non-twin individuals.
A limitation is the relatively small sample size, especially with regards to the post-intervention comparison between the intervention and the control group. The pre-intervention estimates are likely more robust, as these used data from all twins. We decided to do separate analyses for the pre- and post-intervention data for two reasons. First, even though a multi-group approach is warranted for the post-intervention data, it was preferable to analyze the pre-intervention data in a single group for increased statistical power. Second, an extension of the Cholesky decomposition to a multivariate case (i.e. analyzing both pre- and post-intervention) is problematic in multi-group approaches (Neale, Røysamb, & Jacobson, 2006). A multivariate approach would, however, allow a comparison of the variance components between the time-points, and therefore, replication efforts with larger sample sizes finding a solution to the multivariate approach would be welcome. A possible limitation of the twin method is whether the equal environments assumption holds. It has, however, been tested in a number of studies and appears to be valid (e.g. Derks, Dolan, & Boomsma, 2006; Kendler, Neale, Kessler, Heath, & Eaves, 1993).

Concert, dance, theater, museums, libraries: The Humanities Make Our Lives Richer, Happier, and More Meaningful

Westgate, Erin C. 2020. “Art, Music, and Literature: Do the Humanities Make Our Lives Richer, Happier, and More Meaningful?.” PsyArXiv. April 25. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: For many, there is little more rewarding than the feeling of curling up with a good book, wandering a famous art gallery, or listening to a favorite musician perform live in front of an audience. But do the arts, music, and literature actually make our lives happier, richer, and more meaningful? We suggest they do. In this chapter, we review empirical evidence for the psychological benefits of the humanities, including art, music, and literature, and find that across a wide variety of samples, exposure and engagement is consistently linked to greater well-being. In particular, we suggest that the humanities may increase well-being directly by providing people with enjoyable, rich, and meaningful experiences, as well as indirectly by fostering skills and abilities that contribute to psychological well-being in the long-term. These approaches map onto two mechanisms: 1) direct affective benefits that create enjoyable, rich, and interesting experiences, and 2) indirect cognitive benefits, including social abilities and motivations that promote subjective well-being via interpersonal connection and self- and emotion-regulation. Art, music, and literature may not only provide temporary nourishment for a good life, but teach people lasting skills they can capitalize on to increase long-term well-being.