Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Less Sex, but More Sexual Diversity: Changes in Sexual Behavior during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Less Sex, but More Sexual Diversity: Changes in Sexual Behavior during the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic. Justin J. Lehmiller et al. Leisure Sciences, Jun 26 2020. https://doi.org/10.1080/01490400.2020.1774016

Abstract: Recreational sex is a popular form of leisure that has been redefined by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. “Social distancing” rules have imposed limits on sex for leisure while also creating new opportunities. We discuss results from an online survey of 1,559 adults who were asked about the pandemic’s impact on their intimate lives. While nearly half of the sample reported a decline in their sex life, one in five participants reported expanding their sexual repertoire by incorporating new activities. Common additions included sexting, trying new sexual positions, and sharing sexual fantasies. Being younger, living alone, and feeling stressed and lonely were linked to trying new things. Participants making new additions were three times more likely to report improvements in their sex life. Even in the face of drastic changes to daily life, many adults are adapting their sexual lives in creative ways.

Keywords: coronavirus, COVID-19, sexual behavior, sexual novelty, social distancing

Reasons for females to feign death, inter alia: To ward off unwanted suitors & to select a persistent, strong male that fights best risks (like predators or drowning under too many males at mating)

Reproductive behaviour of the European Common Frog (Rana temporaria). Carolin Dittrich. Humbold University at Berlin, Dissertations, Jun 26 2020. DOI: 10.18452/21476

Abstract: In my thesis, I examine the mating and reproductive behaviour of the European Common Frog (Rana temporaria) in an evolutionary context. I aim to understand which mechanisms lead to the formation of pairs, if mate choice shapes the patterns of mating that we can observe and if there are benefits derived from pairing with a specific mate. The search and competition for mating partners lead to the evolution of various mating systems, strategies and tactics to increase lifetime reproductive success. The mating behaviour is influenced by natural and sexual selection, whereby both could act in different directions. For most individuals, survival is essential in order to reproduce as often as possible to increase lifetime reproductive fitness. On the other hand, reproduction could increase predation risk due to conspicuous behaviour and risks associated with mating itself. Sexual selection could favour specific secondary sexual traits, either due to advantages in intrasexual competition, or by specific preferences of the choosy sex (intersexual selection). For mate choice to evolve, there need to be benefits associated with the chosen mating partner, because choosiness involves costs in terms of energy and time constraints during mating. As an explosive breeder, the European Common Frog has to deal with time constraints during the short breeding season. The males are competing for the access to females and it is assumed that females are passive during breeding due to a high male-biased operational sex ratio. However, from an evolutionary perspective females should be the choosy sex and should decide with whom to mate, as they invest more energy into the production of eggs.

We find that participants self-report higher disgust and have stronger physiological responses to pictures of out-party leaders compared to in-party leaders

Yikes! Are we disgusted by politicians? Bert N. Bakker, Gijs Schumacher, and Maaike D. Homan. Jun 2020. https://osf.io/cp3tb/

Abstract: In the political domain disgust is primarily portrayed as an emotion that explains individual differences in pathogen avoidance.1We hypothesized that political rhetoric that accuses opponents of moral transgressions also elicits disgust responses. In this registered report, we present results from a laboratory experiment. We find that participants self-report higher disgust and have stronger physiological responses to pictures of out-party leaders compared to in-party leaders. Participants reported higher disgust in response to moral violations of in-party leaders. There is more suggestive evidence that in-party leaders evoke more labii activity when they commit moral violations than when out-party leaders do. The impact of individual differences in moral disgust and partisanship strength is very limited to absent. Intriguingly, on average the physiological and self-reported disgust responses to the treatment are similar, but individuals differ in whether their response is physiological or cognitive. This motivates further theorizing regarding the concordance of emotional responses.

Keywords:Moral violation; disgust; physiology; self-report, registered

Happy Planet, Happy People? No Impact of Pro-Environmental Behaviour on Psychological Well-Being

Happy Planet, Happy People? The Impact of Pro-Environmental Behaviour on Psychological Well-Being . Samuel Elliott van Ginkel. Carleton University Master's Thesis. Jun 2020. https://doi.org/10.22215/etd/2020-14079

Abstract: The present study was the first (to our knowledge) to experimentally manipulate pro-environmental behaviour in order to assess its causal effects on affect and meaning in life. Participants (N = 343) were randomly assigned to either 1) a group who chose and engaged in a pro-environmental behaviour from a provided list of options; or 2) a control group who found and photographed public art from a provided list of options. The analyses found that there were no significant differences between the pro-environmental group and the control group, and all pre-registered hypotheses were unsupported. Exploratory analyses revealed a within-participants effect, whereby both conditions produced a significant effect on positive and negative affect, as well as meaning in life when compared to participants' average over the last four weeks. However, given that all findings were exploratory, the results should be considered speculative and can serve as direction for future research.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Those asked to report their experiences at romance noticed this increase in admirers, and approximately half reported being more attracted to a person who recently entered a new relationship

Burch, R. L., Moran, J. B., & Wade, T. J. (2020). The reproductive priming effect revisited: Mate poaching, mate copying, or both? Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, jun 2020. https://doi.org/10.1037/ebs0000232

Abstract: According to the reproductive priming effect, an individual who enters into a romantic relationship tends to see an increase in admirers. To further understand the mechanisms underlying this effect and its relationship with mate poaching and copying, 560 undergraduates were asked to report their experiences of being a romantic target (i.e., experiencing more admirers when in a new relationship) or an admirer (having greater attraction for someone in a relationship). Over two thirds of respondents noticed this increase in admirers, and approximately half reported being more attracted to a person who recently entered a new relationship. Many of the responses indicated that this increased interest was a result of “jealousy” and reported that they wanted what they couldn't have. Behavioral changes were varied and correlated only weakly with the effect (both as admirer and target), which suggests that the attraction is mainly due to the target’s relationship status. Men were found to be seeking out other opportunities when in a new relationship, indicating a unique mating strategy.

The Wall: Construction reduces migration by up to 35% from non-border municipalities; disproportionately deters low-skilled migrants, & reduces the number of undocumented Mexicans in the US

Fenced Out: The Impact of Border Construction on US-Mexico Migration. Benjamin Feigenberg. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 2020, 12(3): 106–139. https://doi.org/10.1257/app.20170231

Abstract: This paper estimates the impact of the US-Mexico border fence on US-Mexico migration by exploiting variation in the timing and location of US government investment in fence construction. Using Mexican survey data and data I collected on fence construction, I find that construction in a municipality reduces migration by 27 percent for municipality residents and 15 percent for residents of adjacent municipalities. In addition, construction reduces migration by up to 35 percent from non-border municipalities. I also find that construction induces migrants to substitute toward alternative crossing locations, disproportionately deters low-skilled migrants, and reduces the number of undocumented Mexicans in the United States. (JEL J15, J24, J61, K37, O15)

VI. Conclusion
My analysis demonstrates that fence construction significantly reduces migration from Mexico to the United States. I find that there are spillover effects of construction, as border municipality residents are deterred by construction in both their home municipalities and in adjacent ones, and as migrants from the interior of Mexico adjust the crossing locations chosen based on fence construction patterns. Non-border municipality residents, especially those who historically relied on particularly low-cost crossing locations, are significantly less likely to migrate to the United States after the start of fence construction. I argue that these findings are not consistent with a model in which fence construction simply increases mean migration costs by increasing the expected distance that each migrant must travel to cross the border. I do not find that the stock of potentially undocumented Mexicans residing in the United States immediately responds to fence construction, but I do identify a significant decline in the stock of potentially undocumented Mexicans over a longer (six-year) horizon. Lastly, I show that border fence construction reduces the extent of negative selection of migrants based on both pre-migration earnings and educational attainment.  Evidence on dynamic selection patterns has important welfare implications for both sending and receiving communities and implies that lower-skilled prospective migrants experienced the largest increase in crossing costs in response to fence construction.

This paper raises several policy-relevant avenues for future research. I have shown that the deterrent effect of the fence is driven by its impact on those with lower earnings and lower educational attainment, and this compositional change may have implications for local economic activity. In ongoing research, I find that fence construction significantly reduces earnings of border municipality residents, seemingly due to the contraction of local migration-related economic activity. This negative impact on local economies may increase instability in a region that already represents a significant security threat to communities on both sides of the border.  In an era when international migration flows have motivated destination country governments to enact policies aimed at deterring migration by raising its cost, a greater research emphasis on the mechanisms and subpopulations driving estimated impacts (and the costs imposed on non-migrants) can help shed light on the efficacy of such efforts.

Scarring Body and Mind: The Long-Term Belief-Scarring Effects of COVID-19

Scarring Body and Mind: The Long-Term Belief-Scarring Effects of COVID-19. Julian Kozlowski, Laura Veldkamp, Venky Venkateswaran. NBER Working Paper No. 27439, June 2020. https://www.nber.org/papers/w27439

Abstract: The largest economic cost of the COVID-19 pandemic could arise from changes in behavior long after the immediate health crisis is resolved. A potential source of such a long-lived change is scarring of beliefs, a persistent change in the perceived probability of an extreme, negative shock in the future. We show how to quantify the extent of such belief changes and determine their impact on future economic outcomes. We find that the long-run costs for the U.S. economy from this channel is many times higher than the estimates of the short-run losses in output. This suggests that, even if a vaccine cures everyone in a year, the Covid-19 crisis will leave its mark on the US economy for many years to come.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Distorted perceptual face maps: Face width is substantially overestimated, whereas face height is not

Distorted perceptual face maps. Matthew R.Longo, Marie Holmes. Acta Psychologica, Volume 208, July 2020, 103128. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2020.103128

• Studies have found highly distorted perceptual maps of the hand.
• Here, we report similarly distorted perceptual maps of the face.
• Face width is substantially overestimated, whereas face height is not.
• These results show that distortions of perceptual maps are not specific to hands.

Abstract: Recent research has shown that proprioception relies on distorted representations of body size and shape. By asking participants to localise multiple landmarks in space, perceptual body maps can be constructed. Such maps of the hand and forearm is highly distorted, with large overestimation of limb width compared to length. Here, we investigated perceptual maps of the face, a body part central to our sense of self and personal identity. Participants localised 19 facial landmarks by pointing on a board covering their face. By comparing the relative location of judgments, we constructed perceptual face maps and compared them to actual face structure. These maps were massively distorted, with large overestimation of face width, but not length. This shows that distortions in perceptual body maps are not unique to the hand, but widespread on the body, including parts like the face at the core of our personal identity.

Keywords: Body imageProprioceptionFaceBody representationSelf

Why does DARPA work?

Why does DARPA work? Ben Reinhardt. June 2020. https://benjaminreinhardt.com/wddw

How can we enable more science fiction to become reality?

If you want to do something, it usually pays to study those who have done that thing successfully in the past. Asking ‘what is this outlier’s production function?’ can provide a starting point.

DARPA is an outlier organization in the world of turning science fiction into reality. Since 1958, it has been a driving force in the creation of weather satellites, GPS, personal computers, modern robotics, the Internet, autonomous cars, and voice interfaces, to name a few. However, it is primarily limited to the domain of defense technology – there are DARPA-style ideas that are out of its scope.  Which emulatable attributes contributed to DARPA’s outlier results? What does a domain-independent “ARPA Model” look like? Is it possible to build other organizations that generate equally huge results in other domains by riffing on that model?

Gallons of ink have been spilled describing how DARPA works1, but in a nutshell here is how DARPA works. Around 100 program managers (PMs) with ~5 year appointments create and run programs to pursue high-level visions like “actualize the idea of man-computer symbiosis.” In these programs they fund researchers at universities and both big and small companies to do research projects of different sizes. Collectively, groups working on projects are called performers. Top-level authority lies with a Director who ultimately reports to the Secretary of Defense.

DARPA has an incredibly powerful model for innovation in defense research, and I believe an abstract ‘ARPA Model’ could yield similar results in other domains. In this piece I’ll explain in detail why DARPA works. I’ll use that description to feel out and describe to the best of my ability a platonic ARPA Model.  I’ll also distill some of the model’s implications for potential riffs on the model. Incidentally, I’m working on just such an imitator, and in future essays, I’ll explain why this model could be incredibly powerful when executed in a privately-funded context.

How to use this document
This document acts more like a collection of atomic notes than a tight essay – a DARPA-themed tapas if you will. The order of the sections is more of a guideline than a law so feel free to skip around. Throughout you will come across internal links that look like this. These links are an attempt to illustrate the interconnectedness of the ARPA Model.

There are two stand-alone pieces to accomodate your time and interest: a distillation, and the full work. The distillation is meant to capture and compress the main points of the full work. Each section of the distillation internally links to the corresponding section one level deeper so if you want more info and nuance you can get it.

I would rather this be read by a few people motivated to take action than by a broad audience who will find it merely interesting. In that vein, if you find yourself wanting to share this on Twitter or Hacker News, consider instead sharing it with one or two friends who will take action on it. Thank you for indulging me!

Program Managers
At the end of the day the ARPA Model depends on badass program managers. Why is this the case? PMs need to think for themselves and go up and down the ladder of abstraction in an unstructured environment. On top of that they need to be effective communicators and coordinators because so much of their jobs is building networks. There’s a pattern that the abstract qualities that make “great talent” in different high-variance industries boils down to the ability to successfully make things happen under a lot of uncertainty. Given that pattern, the people who would make good DARPA PMs would also make good hedge fund analysts, first employees at startups, etc. so digging into people’s motivations for becoming a PM is important. More precise details about what makes a PM good prevent you from going after the exact same people as every other high-variance industry. When ‘talent’ isn’t code for ‘specialized training’ it means the role or industry has not been systematized. Therefore, despite all the talk here and elsewhere about ‘the ARPA Model’ we must keep in mind that we may be attributing more structure to the process than actually exists.

DARPA program managers pull control and risk away from both researchers and directors. PMs pull control away from directors by having only one official checkpoint before launching programs and pull control away from performers through their ability to move money around quickly. PMs design programs to be high-risk aggregations of lower-risk projects. Only 5–10 out of every 100 programs successfully produce transformative research, while only 10% of projects are terminated early. Shifting the risk from the performers to the program managers enables DARPA to tackle systemic problems where other models cannot.

The best program managers notice systemic biases and attack them. For example, noticing that all of the finite element modeling literature assumes a locally static situation and asking ‘what if it was dynamic?’ “The best program managers can get into the trees and still see the forest.” Obviously, this quality is rather fuzzy but leads to two precise questions:

How do you find people who can uncover systemic biases in a discipline?
How could you systematize finding systemic biases in a discipline?
The first question suggests that you should seek out heretics and people with expertise who are not experts. The second question suggests building structured frameworks for mapping a discipline and its assumptions.

A large part of a DARPA program manager’s job is focused network building. DARPA PMs network in the literal sense of creating networks, not just plugging into them. PMs meet disparate people working on ideas adjacent to the area in which they want to have an impact and bring them together in small workshops to dig into which possibilities are not impossible and what it would take to make them possible. The PMs host performer days — small private conferences for all the people working on different pieces of the program where performers can exchange ideas on what is working, what isn’t working, and build connections that don’t depend on the PM. J.C.R. Licklider2 is a paragon here. He brought together all the crazy people interested in human-focused computing. On top of that,  he also helped create the first computer science lab groups. PMs also build networks of people in different classes of organizations – government, academia, startups, and large companies. These connections smooth the path for technologies to go from the lab to the shelf.

DARPA PMs need to think for themselves, be curious, and have low ego. Why does this matter? When you are surrounded by smart, opinionated people the easy option is to either 100% accept what they’re saying because it’s eloquent and well-thought through or reject it outright because it sounds crazy or goes against your priors. Thinking for yourself allows you to avoid these traps. PMs need to be curious because building a complete picture of a discipline requires genuine curiosity to ask questions nobody else is asking. A large ego would lead to a program manager imposing their will on every piece of the program, killing curiosity and the benefits of top down problems and bottom up solutions.

DARPA is incredibly flexible with who it hires to be program managers. There are legal provisions in place that let DARPA bypass normal government hiring rules and procedures. Hiring flexibility is important because PMs are the sort of people who are in high demand, so they may be unwilling to jump through hoops. Bureaucracies ensure consistency through rules – minimal bureaucracy means there are no safeguards against hiring a terrible program manager so the principle that ‘A players hire A players and B players hire C players’ is incredibly important. 

DARPA Program managers have a tenure of four to five years. This transience is important for many reasons. Transience can inculcate PMs against the temptation to play it safe or play power games because there’s only one clear objective – make the program work. You’re out regardless of success or failure. Explicitly temporary roles can incentivize people with many options to join because they can have a huge impact, and then do something else. There’s no implicit tension between the knowledge that most people will leave eventually and the uncertainty about when that will be. Regular program manager turnover means that there is also turnover in ideas.

Why do people become DARPA Program managers? From a career and money standpoint, being a program manager seems pretty rough. There are unique benefits though. It offers an outlet for people frustrated with the conservative nature of academia. The prospect of getting to control a lot of money without a ton of oversight appeals to some people. Patriotism is definitely a factor, and hard to replicate outside of a government. Being a PM can gain you the respect of a small, elite group of peers who will know what you did. Finally, there may be a particular technological vision they want to see out in the world and DARPA gives them the agency to make it happen in unique ways.

[complete text, lots of links, at the URL above]

Those who had brushed were more verbally confident (spoke louder, over-talked more), showed less nonverbal nervousness (fidgeted less), & were more often perceived as being “someone similar to me” in speed dating

Oral hygiene effects verbal and nonverbal displays of confidence. Paul Taylor et al. The Journal of Social Psychology, Jun 27 2020. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224545.2020.1784825

ABSTRACT: Although oral hygiene is known to impact self-confidence and self-esteem, little is known about how it influences our interpersonal behavior. Using a wearable, multi-sensor device, we examined differences in consumers’ individual and interpersonal confidence after they had or had not brushed their teeth. Students (N = 140) completed nine one-to-one, 3-minute “speed dating” interactions while wearing a device that records verbal, nonverbal, and mimicry behavior. Half of the participants brushed their teeth using Close-Up toothpaste (Unilever) prior to the interactions, whilst the other half abstained from brushing that morning. Compared to those who had not brushed their teeth, participants who had brushed were more verbally confident (i.e., spoke louder, over-talked more), showed less nonverbal nervousness (i.e., fidgeted less), and were more often perceived as being “someone similar to me.” These effects were moderated by attractiveness but not by self-esteem or self-monitoring.

KEYWORDS: consumer behavior, confidence, priming

Lack of the effects of ideology on vaccines in European context is related to the fact that vaccines have not become a strongly politicized issue as in the US.

Czarnek, Gabriela, Paulina Szwed, and Małgorzata Kossowska. 2020. “Political Ideology and Attitudes Toward Vaccination: Study Report.” PsyArXiv. June 27. doi:10.31234/osf.io/uwehk

Abstract: As the relationship between ideology and attitudes towards vaccinations is usually analysed on data coming from the US context, in our analysis we analysed European data with special focus on Poland. The current findings show that the effects of ideology on vaccine are insignificant, when European context is considered. Even if there is an interactive impact of ideology and political interest, the effects are not very strong and, furthermore, they do not provide support for the “liberal bias” against vaccination. We suggest that it lack of the effects of ideology on vaccines in European context is related to the fact that vaccines have not become a strongly politicized issue as in the US.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Dietary Behaviors of Participants in UK-Based meat reduction and vegan campaigns – Planned abstainers (i.e. vegans and vegetarians) were more likely to meet dietary goals than were meat reducers

The Dietary Behaviors of Participants in UK-Based meat reduction and vegan campaigns – A longitudinal, mixed-methods study. Trent Grassian. Appetite, June 26 2020, 104788. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2020.104788

• Examination of dietary changes revealed reduction and abstention hierarchies that prioritize reducing/eliminating red meat consumption.
• Findings supports tendency toward gradual dietary changes.
• Planned abstainers (i.e. vegans and vegetarians) were more likely to meet dietary goals than were meat reducers.
• Increased consumption most commonly reported for seafood or eggs, least commonly for red meat.

Abstract: Meat reduction, vegetarianism, and veganism have greatly increased in popularity during the 21st century, particularly in the United Kingdom. Yet, little is known about the process of reducing or abstaining. Through the use of focus groups and a longitudinal, web-based survey delivered over a twelve-month period, this project provides insights into the reported dietary habits and trends of participants in UK-based meat reduction and vegan campaigns (n = 1539). Drawing on Michie, Atkins, et al. (2014) and Michie, West, et al. (2014)'s Behavior Change Wheel to better understand the process of dietary transition, findings reveal key opportunities for policymakers and non-profit organizations to better understand and support the process of dietary change. Reported planned dietary changes suggest a tendency for gradual transitions, with planned and achieved transitions generally reflecting proposed reduction and abstention hierarchies. Planned reductions were most likely to include red meat and least likely to include seafood or eggs, while seafood abstention was more common than that of dairy or eggs. Those seeking to abstain from the consumption of some or all animal-derived foods were the most likely to report meeting their anticipated dietary changes, while meat reducers were generally unlikely to indicate that they were achieving planned reductions.

Keywords: VeganismVegetarianismMeat reductionMeat eatingFood choice

Iceland: There is a difference between men and women when it comes to masturbation habits. Men masturbate much more frequently than women

Differences in masturbation habits among men and women in Iceland. Katrín Ragnarsdóttir. Reykjavík Univ., Psychology Dept, Jun 23 2020. http://hdl.handle.net/1946/36441

Abstract: This study examined differences in masturbation habits, including the frequency of masturbation and pornography use, amongst men and women in Iceland. Participants in the study were university students, 18 years of age and older, who answered an anonymous online questionnaire sent to their university email address. A total of 245 students participated; 126 males and 119 females. Most of the participants were married or in a relationship (N = 145) and 91.4% of the participants were heterosexual. For statistical analysis, a t-test, independent samples t-test and a chi-square test was used. The results of this study revealed that there is a difference between men and women when it comes to masturbation habits. Men masturbate much more frequently than women. However, majority of the participants had masturbated at some point in their lives.

Keywords: Masturbation, masturbation habits, gender differences, pornography, and sexual pleasure

Investigating whether some people desire a psychologically rich life more so than two well-established ideal lives: a happy life and a meaningful life

Happiness, Meaning, and Psychological Richness. Shigehiro Oishi, Hyewon Choi, Minkyung Koo, Iolanda Galinha, Keiko Ishii, Asuka Komiya, Maike Luhmann, Christie Scollon, Ji-eun Shin, Hwaryung Lee, Eunkook M. Suh, Joar Vittersø, Samantha J. Heintzelman, Kostadin Kushlev, Erin C. Westgate, Nicholas Buttrick, Jane Tucker, Charles R. Ebersole, Jordan Axt, Elizabeth Gilbert, Brandon W. Ng, Jaime Kurtz & Lorraine L. Besser . Affective Science volume 1, pages107–115, Jun 23 2020. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s42761-020-00011-z

Abstract: What kind of life do people want? In psychology, a good life has typically been conceptualized in terms of either hedonic or eudaimonic well-being. We propose that psychological richness is another neglected aspect of what people consider a good life. In study 1 (9-nation cross-cultural study), we asked participants whether they ideally wanted a happy, a meaningful, or a psychologically rich life. Roughly 7 to 17% of participants chose the psychologically rich life. In study 2, we asked 1611 Americans and 680 Koreans what they regret most in their lives; then, if they could undo or reverse the regretful event, whether their lives would have been happier, more meaningful, or psychologically richer as a result. Roughly 28% of Americans and 35% of Koreans reported their lives would have been psychologically richer. Together, this work provides a foundation for the study of psychological richness as another dimension of a good life.

General Discussion

Recent research has found that a psychologically rich life is distinct from a happy or meaningful life in terms of personality predictors (Oishi et al., 2019), life experiences (Oishi, Choi, Heintzelman, et al., 2020), and political orientations Oishi, Westgate, Heintzelman, et al., 2020). We conducted the current research with the goal of investigating whether some people desire a psychologically rich life more so than two well-established ideal lives: a happy life and a meaningful life.
In study 1 (a 9-nation study), we found that most people’s self-described ideal lives were psychologically rich. When forced to choose, however, the majority favored a happy life (49.7 to 69.9%) or a meaningful life (14.2 to 38.5%). Even so, a substantial minority of participants still favored a psychologically rich life, even at the expense of a happy life or a meaningful life, ranging from 6.7% (Singapore) to 16.8% of participants (Germany). In studies 2a and 2b, we found that these numbers were even higher when desire for a psychologically rich life was measured indirectly. Roughly 28% of Americans and 35% of Koreans reported that their lives would have been psychologically richer, if they could undo the most regretted event of their lives. These data suggest that most people’s ideal lives are not just happy or meaningful but also psychologically rich, and that when forced to pick one, a non-trivial number of people desire a rich life more than a happy or a meaningful life. When measured indirectly, just as many people wish their lives were richer as do wish their lives were happier or more meaningful.
As discussed above, well-being research has been dominated by two concepts: hedonic and eudaimonic well-being (Diener et al., 1999; Vittersø, 2016). Our present research suggests a broader view. Namely, that a psychologically rich life is another type of a good life that some individuals lead and desire, and one that is not captured by current empirical conceptions of a good life. Importantly, unlike happiness or meaning, our conception of richness includes moments of discomfort and unpleasant emotion. Understanding that a good life may not always be pleasant or sacrificial—that there is value to individuals in leading lives that investigate truth, knowledge, and deep encounters with the world around them—may help us understand why people sometimes seek out such experiences (e.g., studying abroad, reading James Joyce’s Ulysses) at the expense of their own comfort and security. The ability to make sense of such behaviors is a benefit of conceptualizing a psychologically rich life as another type of a good life that people value and seek out.
Indeed, people with psychologically rich lives experience both positive and negative emotions more intensely, whereas those leading happy or meaningful lives experience positive emotions more intensely but negative emotions less intensely (Oishi, Westgate, Heintzelman, et al., 2020). It will be fruitful to explore how a psychologically rich life is associated with other important dimensions of emotional experiences such as the diversity of emotional experiences (Quoidbach et al., 2014), affect valuation (Tsai, 2007), and emotion differentiation and regulation (Barrett, Gross, Christensen, & Benvenuto, 2001).
Importantly, although we tested the relative importance of three types of the ideal life, we do not claim there cannot be others. Based on Schwartz’s (1992) value theory, Tamir and colleagues (Tamir et al., 2016; Tamir, Schwartz, Oishi, & Kim, 2017) recently examined four types of desired and experienced emotions: self-transcendence (e.g., love), self-enhancement (e.g., pride), openness (e.g., interest), and conservation (e.g., contentment). A psychologically rich life corresponds well to openness-related emotions, whereas a happy life corresponds well to conservation and self-enhancement emotions; a meaningful life appears to match well with self-transcendent emotions. Given that the literature suggests that there are at least 11 universal human values (Schwartz, 1992), and that values are guiding principles in life, there may be many more than the three ideal lives presented here.
We also acknowledge the limitations of the current research. Most critically, we did not examine the potential consequences of leading a psychologically rich life. It is crucial to test whether the consequences of a psychologically rich life are indeed different from a happy or meaningful life—and whether these consequences are a good thing. Second, while study 1 included diverse cross-cultural samples, study 2 was limited to the USA and Korea. It is important to explore what it means to live a psychologically rich life (and whether doing so is desirable) in other non-Western, non-democratic, relatively poor societies.

Men do not need attentional resources when processing female faces, but need them with male ones; in contrast, women need attentional resources to process the attractiveness of opposite as well as same-sex faces

Automaticity of facial attractiveness perception and sex-specific mating strategies. Lisa Klümper et al. Cognition, Volume 204, November 2020, 104379. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2020.104379

• The perception of facial attractiveness is not automatic (capacity-free) in general.
• Men show an automatic (capacity-free) processing of females' facial attractiveness but not of males' facial attractiveness.
• Women show no automatic (capacity-free) processing of males' or females' facial attractiveness.
• This pattern makes sense from an evolutionary perspective on different mating strategies of men and women.

Abstract: The current literature shows mixed results regarding whether the perception of facial attractiveness is automatic, i.e. that it operates independently from attentional resources. We argue that an evolutionary perspective on mating strategies provides a comprehensive account of the findings. In two studies, we used the locus-of-slack logic in a psychological refractory period paradigm. Task 1 was a speeded judgment of tone pitch (low vs. high), and Task 2 was a speeded judgment of whether a face was attractive or unattractive on two difficulty levels. Male and female participants judged the attractiveness of opposite-sex faces (Study 1, n = 73) or same-sex faces (Study 2, n = 94) in this paradigm. Results indicate that men do not need attentional resources when processing female faces (Study 1), but require attentional resources when processing same-sex faces (Study 2). In contrast, women need attentional resources to process the attractiveness of opposite as well as same-sex faces.

Keywords: Facial attractivenessAutomaticitySex differencesPRP paradigmLocus-of-slack logic

Conversations about experiences (vs. objects) are more substantive, allowing listeners to build stronger social connections with tellers and, in turn, gain more happiness from the interaction

Want to Make Me Happy? Tell Me about Your Experiences but Not Your Objects. Wilson Bastos. Journal of Consumer Affairs, June 22 2020. https://doi.org/10.1111/joca.12321

Abstract: Evidence indicates that experiences bring greater benefits to consumers than objects. Extending this research beyond the actual purchaser, this work examines individuals who experience the purchase only indirectly via a conversation—listeners. It explores how conversations about experiential versus material purchases affect listeners socially and emotionally. Results show that hearing about others’ experiences (vs. objects) advances listeners’ happiness more. This finding shows that the scope of experiential purchases’ advantage is wider than previously known. Further, this work identifies a sequential mechanism: Conversations about experiences (vs. objects) are more substantive, allowing listeners to build stronger social connections with tellers and, in turn, gain more happiness from the interaction. Critically, this mechanism explains the effect above and beyond a previously‐advanced mechanism via perceived motivation (Van Boven, Campbell, and Gilovich 2010). Additionally, this work identifies a boundary of the model: purchase valence. Theoretical and practical implications for managers, consumers, and policymakers are discussed.

Social media: More frequent & extreme upward comparisons resulted in immediate declines in self-evaluations as well as cumulative negative effects on individuals’ state self- esteem, mood, & life satisfaction

Midgley, Claire, Sabrina Thai, Penelope Lockwood, Chloe Kovacheff, and Elizabeth Page-Gould. 2020. “When Every Day Is a High School Reunion: Social Media Comparisons and Self-esteem.” PsyArXiv. June 26. doi:10.31234/osf.io/zmy29

Abstract: Although past research has shown that social comparisons made through social media contribute to negative outcomes, little is known about the nature of these comparisons (domains, direction, and extremity), variables that determine comparison outcomes (post valence, perceiver’s self- esteem), and how these comparisons differ from those made in other contexts (e.g., text messages, face-to-face interactions). In four studies (N=798), we provide the first comprehensive analysis of how individuals make and respond to social comparisons on social media, using comparisons made in real-time while browsing news feeds (Study 1), experimenter- generated comparisons (Study 2), and comparisons made on social media vs. in other contexts (Studies 3-4). More frequent and more extreme upward comparisons resulted in immediate declines in self-evaluations as well as cumulative negative effects on individuals’ state self- esteem, mood, and life satisfaction after a social media browsing session. Moreover, downward and lateral comparisons occurred less frequently and did little to mitigate upward comparisons’ negative effects. Furthermore, low self-esteem individuals were particularly vulnerable to making more frequent and more extreme upward comparisons on social media, which in turn threatened their already-lower self-evaluations. Finally, social media comparisons resulted in greater declines in self-evaluation than those made in other contexts. Together, these studies provide the first insights into the cumulative impact of multiple comparisons, clarify the role of self-esteem in online comparison processes, and demonstrate how the characteristics and impact of comparisons on social media differ from those made in other contexts.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Investors’ risk attitudes in the pandemic: Stock markets are less sensitive in jurisdictions that have restricted mobility less and that have enacted other containment measures against the pandemic

Investors’ risk attitudes in the pandemic and the stock market: new evidence based on internet searches. Marlene Amstad, Giulio Cornelli, Leonardo Gambacorta and Dora Xia. BIS Bulletin No. 25. https://www.bis.org/publ/bisbull25.htm

Key takeaways
• The sharp drop and subsequent rebound in global stock markets in the current pandemic focuses attention on changes in investors’ risk attitudes.
• A new Covid-19 risk attitude (CRA) index for 61 markets, based on internet searches in Google and Baidu, does a good job at capturing investors’ attitudes toward pandemic-related risks.
• Stock markets are more sensitive to changes in the CRA index in more financially developed economies. Stock markets are less sensitive in jurisdictions that have restricted mobility less and that have enacted other containment measures against the pandemic.

1. Introduction
The Covid-19 crisis has left a deep mark on stock markets, with a fall in prices similar to those experienced during the Great Depression in 1929, and a subsequent rebound. The observed equity price reaction relates to changes in traditional drivers such as relative price shifts and risk aversion measures, but it could also reflect changes in investors’ attitude towards risk in the pandemic.1 The aim of this Bulletin is to use information on internet searches on Google and Baidu to derive a measure of stock market investors’ concerns about the pandemic and to assess how such a measure could explain the sharp drop and subsequent rebound in stock markets. We focus on the initial period of the Covid-19 pandemic, covering up to end-April 2020.

The role of investors’ risk attitude could be particularly relevant in a time of sudden large shocks and when fundamental drivers suffer from higher uncertainty. The US Economic Policy Uncertainty index has peaked in April 2020 at levels more than twice as high as previous records (Baker et al (2020)). Shiller (2020) even sees Covid-19 as two pandemics – one in the real economy, and the other in the perception of the impact the first one might have. However, while the impact of fundamental drivers on US stock returns during the pandemic has already been studied (Ding et al (2020) and Alfaro et al (2020)), the role of investors’ risk attitudes has received less attention.

The analysis in this Bulletin focuses on mid-February to end-April 2020, including an initial period of severe sell-off in global equity markets (until mid-March), as well as a recovery – in some cases by almost half of the previous drop – from then to end-April. We show that traditional drivers of equity markets – such as changes in the value of the US dollar, oil prices, measures of risk aversion – and the unconventional monetary policy measures adopted are not able to fully capture the evolution of stock market prices during this period. To study the evolution of investors’ risk attitude towards the pandemic, we construct for each market a new “Covid-19 risk attitude” (CRA) index, based on the number of internet searches in different markets. The idea is that web searches for terms related to Covid-19 reflect people’s concern about the pandemic and its economic consequences. Interestingly, during the first months of the pandemic the CRA index foreshadowed the actual number of recorded infections globally. This indicates that for investors the economic effects of the pandemic are globally linked and are not confined to the areas directly affected by the virus. From the last week of March until the end of April, a fall in the CRA index reflects a reduction in investors’ concern and goes hand in hand with the recovery in equity prices.

Results indicate that investors’ risk attitude as captured by internet searches played a significant role in most stock markets over and above what is explained by other more traditional drivers. On average, the CRA index explains an additional 6% of the observed equity price variation in the sample period.2 In particular, stock markets are more sensitive to changes in the CRA index in more financially developed economies. Markets are less sensitive in those jurisdictions that have restricted mobility by less and have enacted other containment measures against the pandemic.

Defensive states driving active escape from immediate danger also facilitate decisions to help others, potentially by engaging neurocognitive systems implicated in caregiving across mammals

Vieira, Joana, Sabine Schellhaas, Erik Enström, and Andreas Olsson. 2020. “Help or Flight? Increased Threat Imminence Promotes Defensive Helping in Humans.” PsyArXiv. May 17. doi:10.31234/osf.io/bckn3

Defensive responses to threatening situations vary with threat imminence, but it is unknown how those responses affect decisions to help others. Here, we manipulated threat imminence to investigate the impact of different defensive states on helping behaviour. Ninety-eight participants made trial-by-trial decisions about whether to help a co-participant avoid an aversive shock, at the risk of receiving a shock themselves. Helping decisions were prompted under imminent or distal threat, based on temporal distance to the moment of shock administration to the co-participant. Results showed that, regardless of how likely participants were to also receive a shock, they helped the co-participant more under imminent than distal threat. Individual differences in empathic concern were specifically correlated with helping during imminent threats. These results suggest defensive states driving active escape from immediate danger also facilitate decisions to help others, potentially by engaging neurocognitive systems implicated in caregiving across mammals.

Polite Speech Emerges from Competing Social Goals

Yoon, Erica J., Michael C. Frank, Michael H. Tessler, and Noah D. Goodman. 2018. “Polite Speech Emerges from Competing Social Goals.” PsyArXiv. December 29. doi:10.31234/osf.io/67ne8

Language is a remarkably efficient tool for transmitting information. Yet human speakers make statements that are inefficient, imprecise, or even contrary to their own beliefs, all in the service of being polite. What rational machinery underlies polite language use? Here, we show that polite speech emerges from the competition of three communicative goals: to convey information, to be kind, and to present oneself in a good light. We formalize this goal tradeoff using a probabilistic model of utterance production, which predicts human utterance choices in socially-sensitive situations with high quantitative accuracy, and we show that our full model is superior to its variants with subsets of the three goals. This utility-theoretic approach to speech acts takes a step towards explaining the richness and subtlety of social language use.

Computational Modeling of Backwards-blocking Reasoning in Human Adults

Benton, Deon T., and David H. Rakison. 2020. “Computational Modeling of Backwards-blocking Reasoning in Human Adults.” PsyArXiv. May 27. doi:10.31234/osf.io/xq8ws

Causal reasoning is a fundamental cognitive ability that enables humans to learn about the complex interactions in the world around them. However, it remains unknown whether causal reasoning is underpinned by a Bayesian mechanism or an associative one. For example, some maintain that a Bayesian mechanism underpins human causal reasoning because it can better account for backward-blocking (BB) and indirect screening-off (IS) findings than certain associative models. However, the evidence is mixed about the extent to which learners engage in both kinds of reasoning. Here, we report an experiment and several computational models that examine to what extent adults engage in BB and IS reasoning using the blicket-detector design. The results revealed that adults’ causal ratings in a backwards-blocking and indirect screening-off condition were consistent with associative rather than a Bayesian computational model. These results are interpreted to mean that adults use associative processes to reason about causal events.

Seeing Our 3D World While Only Viewing Contour-drawings

Farshchi, Maddex, Alexandra Kiba, and Tadamasa Sawada. 2020. “Seeing Our 3D World While Only Viewing Contour-drawings.” PsyArXiv. June 25. doi:10.31234/osf.io/28wmp

Abstract: Artists can represent a 3D object by using only contours in a 2D drawing. Prior studies have shown that people can use such drawings to perceive 3D shapes reliably, but it is not clear how useful this kind of contour information actually is in a real dynamical scene in which people interact with objects. To address this issue, we developed an Augmented Reality (AR) device that can show a participant a contour-drawing of a real dynamical scene in an immersive manner. We found that contour information, alone, is sufficient to perform a variety of run-of-the-mill tasks under natural viewing conditions. This contour information may be sufficient to provide the basis for our visual system to obtain all of the 3D information needed for successful visuomotor interactions in our everyday life.

Illusory Snakes Might Be Due to Asynchronized Respective Field Remapping

Yousef, Ahmad. 2019. “Illusory Snakes Might Be Due to Asynchronized Respective Field Remapping.” PsyArXiv. June 19. doi:10.31234/osf.io/ve4s8

Abstract: In this proposal, we try to virtually navigate inside the human brain to understand the neural mechanism of the perception of illusory snakes. To achieve this mission, we have to imagine the neural network of visual motion perception during spontaneous saccadic eye movements. We had previously discussed that conscious perception generated by the central retina has very different attributes than the visual awareness generated by the peripheral retina. It was clear that the central retina trigger visual perception which decelerates the apparent motion of the cyclic elements, and enlarge the size of these elements, see reference 2. The peripheral retina , however, not only accelerates the apparent motion, but it generates illusory motion reversals, see reference 19. Since there are clear discrepancies in the spatiotemporal characteristics between the central and the peripheral retina in the visual awareness, we hypothesized that the illusory rotating snakes might be due to asynchronized respective field remapping. Namely, the respective field remapping of the central retina has different spatial and temporal feeds to the visual awareness than the retinal peripheries. Interestingly, it had been found that deactivating the retinal peripheries through significant reduction against the contrast of the stimulus (that may stop the retinal peripheries from signaling the brain) eliminates the rotating snakes illusion. Elimination that might evidence the role of active retinal peripheries in creating the perception of illusory snakes. Collectively, we think that illusory snakes is due to a rivalry between the central and the peripheral retina; and their corresponding conscious brains; and the saccades are nothing but to convey parts of the retinal image from the center to the peripheries, and vice versa. Namely, the illusory snakes is generated by a spontaneous saccadic rivalry between the fovea & its corresponding conscious brain competing with the peripheral retina & its corresponding conscious brain. Similarly, peripheral drift illusion that requires peripheral vision to be perceived, may not be generated without the aforementioned saccadic rivalry; namely, we think that the perception of that illusion may not be occurred without spontaneous saccade away from the fixational peripheral visual space, see also reference 1 and 5. That saccade is mostly due to spatial attention which conveys the retinal image from the retinal peripheries (the fixational visual space) to the central retina (the attentional visual space). Namely, we think that without the aforementioned conveyance, the perceived illusion may not be generated because the aforementioned spatiotemporal discrepancies will be terminated. Importantly, we discuss the contribution of the human medial temporal complex in producing the illusory motion conscious perception with three different mechanisms: Cognitive control, deep breathing, and the arrangements of the patterns of the building blocks. The aforementioned processes are found to alter the visual perception of rotating snakes stimulus. Inclusively, we distinguish between two distinct visual awareness, namely, the central versus the peripheral visual and we show how active vision which requires cognitive control but not passive vision can ultimate control the perception the rotating snakes stimulus, namely, alternation between real and illusory visual awareness!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Effects of the characteristic temperament of cats on the emotions and hemodynamic responses of humans

Effects of the characteristic temperament of cats on the emotions and hemodynamic responses of humans. Takumi Nagasawa,Mitsuaki Ohta,Hidehiko Uchiyama. PLoS One, June 25, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0235188

Abstract: Cats positive effects on their owners’ physiological and psychological health, including improved mood and activation of the human prefrontal cortex and inferior frontal gyrus in the brain. However, the association between the health benefits provided by cat ownership and the characteristic behaviors and reactions of cats is unclear. We recruited 29 participants to measure human prefrontal cortex activity, using functional near-infrared spectroscopy, during interactions with a cat. After the experiments, participants subjectively responded to a questionnaire regarding success rates for interactions with the cat, and completed the Self-assessment Manikin—a scale used to measure emotion. Interactions comprised eight types in four categories (touch, play, train, and feed). This study showed that interactions with a cat significantly activated the prefrontal cortex, regardless of interaction type. During training, the integral values of oxygenated hemoglobin in the left inferior frontal gyrus were the highest in all the interaction categories; however, success rates were lower than in the touch and feed interactions. Regarding the Self-assessment Manikin scores, all interaction categories showed a positive correlation between success rate and valence score, especially in the train and play interactions than in the touch and feed interactions. These results indicate that interactions with a cat activate the prefrontal cortex in humans, including the inferior frontal gyrus region. Moreover, cats’ autonomous behaviors and reactions positively influenced the participants. The characteristic temperament of cats may be a key factor influencing the health benefits of owning cats.


Sequential change in Oxy-Hb signal of the PFC

Interactions with a cat activated participants’ PFC, regardless of interaction type. The experiment protocol consisted of interactions typical in cat owners’ homes; therefore, this result suggested that owning a cat enhances the function of the owners’ PFC. Furthermore, PFC controls executive function [12]; therefore, interactions with a cat may improve executive function. This result is consistent with previous studies [10][11]. To our knowledge, this study may be one of the first to explain the mechanism that everyday interaction with cats enhance PFC function.

Integral values of the IFG for the train and play interactions

We focused on the integral values of Oxy-Hb signals in left and right IFG regions. In all interactions, the integral values did not correlate with each success rate individually. However, there was a significant difference among interaction categories. The integral values of the train interaction were larger than those of the other interaction categories. Notably, in the left IFG region, the integral values of the train interaction were significantly larger than those of the other categories. The left IFG controls the mirror neuron system [36] and empathy [37]. This study suggested that performing training interactions with a cat would be an effective way to help develop these brain functions.
There are several possible reasons for significant activation of the IFG during the train interaction. First, participants might have not been accustomed to training a cat; thus, it is possible that unnatural interaction situation promoted Oxy-Hb activation for participants. Training is still not a typical interaction between a cat and its owner in general households. Nevertheless, training using clicker has recently become a standard method to improve cats’ welfare [20] and develop effective relationships between cats and humans [38]. Training a cat should be recognized as a common interaction between cats and their owners.
Second, the characteristic temperament of cats (i.e., not typically displaying obedient behavior) might have been the reason for activation of the IFG. For the train interaction, participants reported significantly lower success rates than for the feed and touch interactions. The cat frequently showed autonomous behaviors and reactions to participants owing to the independent nature of cats. Participants might try to anticipate the cat’s next action and determine how to succeed. This thinking process might have been the reason for the activation of the IFG.
The play interaction also showed a lower success rate than did the feed and touch interactions. Further, the integral values of the IFG during playing with the cat were larger than those during feeding. In the play interaction, it was difficult for participants to attract the cat to play. As with the train interaction, participants might think about the way to succeed in this interaction.
The thinking processes used during the train and play interactions related to fundamental nonverbal communication skills necessary not only for interactions between people and animals but also for interpersonal interactions. Therefore, the train and play interactions with a cat, which induce the activation of the IFG, have potential to treat individuals with ASD, which have impaired function in the IFG region [18]. Previous studies showed that interactions with an animal can improve the social communication skills of children with ASD [39][40]. Although much of the previous research has been performed using therapy dogs [41], a few studies have posited that cats can also be useful for therapy with people with ASD [42][43]. However, the mechanism was still unclear.
It is frequently difficult to speculate on cats’ behaviors, even for their owners. The behaviors and temperament of cats, such as independence, is a unique trait compared to dogs. As cat domestication was shorter than for dogs, and may not even be complete [28], the genes of domestic cats are not distinct from those of wild cats [44]; thus, even household cats frequently display autonomous behaviors like wild animals. The present results suggest that cats’ unique behaviors and reactions are the key factors explaining the mechanism underlying the health benefits that cats can provide to individuals with ASD. However, this study targeted healthy participants, not those with ASD; therefore, further studies are needed to determine whether cats positively effects the treatment of individuals with ASD.

Integral values of the IFG for the feed and touch interactions

During the feed interaction, the integral values were significantly less compared to the other interaction types; however, the success rate was higher than in the train and play interactions. Since feeding is the most fundamental interaction between a human and an animal, the cat relatively obeyed participants during the feed interaction. Participants may have felt it was easy to speculate on the cat’s behavioral reactions during the feed interaction; therefore, the IFG region was not activated.
As with feeding, tactile communication with a cat is a central interaction between a cat and its owner. In this study, the touch interaction showed a higher success rate than either the train or the play interaction; however, the integral values of the IFG were larger than during the feed interaction. This could be the result of tactile stimulation. A previous study showed that the IFG region was activated by touching a cat [13], which is consistent with the findings of this study. Therefore, the current results might show that tactile stimuli, which occur through interaction with a cat, affect IFG activation.


Valence scores from the SAM significantly positively correlated with success rates. The valence dimension in the SAM is the measurement of emotions, such as happiness and satisfaction [32]. In this study, participants felt positive emotion when the cat obeyed them. Moreover, the train and play interactions, which had a significantly lower success rate than the feed and touch interactions, showed a relatively higher correlation coefficient than the feed and touch interactions. Therefore, the present result indicates that the lower the success rate of interaction with a cat, the more likely positive emotions of the participants occurred when the interaction succeeds. As mentioned above, cats and dogs have different temperaments, and cats frequently showed autonomous behavior and reaction for their owners. These characteristic temperaments of cats may be the key factor to enhance human psychological status.
During the play interaction, only the arousal score for the SAM significantly positively correlated with success rates. The arousal dimension in the SAM is the measurement of emotions such as excitement [32]. In the play interaction, the success meant the cat responded to the cat toys using its paws. It is possible that the movement of the cat increased the arousal of the participants. Previous studies claimed that the arousal response is related to enhanced cognitive function [45]. Additionally, exercise, which increases arousal, also improves executive function [46][47]. Therefore, playing with a cat may promotes the development of human cognitive function. Furthermore, 90% of cat owners play with their cats at least once per day [48]; thus, play with cats is a common interaction for their owners. The results of the current study may show the mechanism of an association between owning pets and improved executive functions.


This study had several limitations. First, we used a laboratory cat, not a house cat. This was because of the difficulty of conducting this experiment in cat owners’ homes. Domestic cats are territorial animals [49], and would not behave typically with their owner if an unfamiliar person and apparatus were to be in their territory. Thus, we utilized a laboratory cat. However, the cat had been raised in the laboratory like as a house cat; therefore, the cat had the characteristic temperament of a house cat.
Second, during the experiments, only participants could initiate an interaction, not the cat. Specifically, in the touch interactions, we requested that participants pet the cat. However, cats often display allogrooming (i.e., groom other cats using their tongue) and allorubbing (i.e., rubbing their head and tail toward other cats) behaviors toward humans [50]. If interactions between participants and the cat had been mutual, the results may have varied. In future studies, researchers should design a protocol that allows for free and mutual interactions between cats and participants.
Third, we used Bonferroni’s and Scheffe’s methods for post-hoc analyses; although, we did not use a false discovery rate approach. Therefore, further studies should use false discovery rate to control the proportion of false positives among channels that are significantly detected.

More than smell – COVID-19 is associated with severe impairment of smell, taste, and chemesthesis

More than smell – COVID-19 is associated with severe impairment of smell, taste, and chemesthesis. Valentina Parma et al. Chemical Senses, bjaa041, Jun 20 2020. https://doi.org/10.1093/chemse/bjaa041

Abstract: Recent anecdotal and scientific reports have provided evidence of a link between COVID-19 and chemosensory impairments such as anosmia. However, these reports have downplayed or failed to distinguish potential effects on taste, ignored chemesthesis, and generally lacked quantitative measurements. Here, we report the development, implementation and initial results of a multi-lingual, international questionnaire to assess self-reported quantity and quality of perception in three distinct chemosensory modalities (smell, taste, and chemesthesis) before and during COVID-19. In the first 11 days after questionnaire launch, 4039 participants (2913 women, 1118 men, 8 other, ages 19-79) reported a COVID-19 diagnosis either via laboratory tests or clinical assessment. Importantly, smell, taste and chemesthetic function were each significantly reduced compared to their status before the disease. Difference scores (maximum possible change ±100) revealed a mean reduction of smell (-79.7 ± 28.7, mean ± SD), taste (-69.0 ± 32.6), and chemesthetic (-37.3 ± 36.2) function during COVID-19. Qualitative changes in olfactory ability (parosmia and phantosmia) were relatively rare and correlated with smell loss. Importantly, perceived nasal obstruction did not account for smell loss. Furthermore, chemosensory impairments were similar between participants in the laboratory test and clinical assessment groups. These results show that COVID-19-associated chemosensory impairment is not limited to smell, but also affects taste and chemesthesis. The multimodal impact of COVID-19 and lack of perceived nasal obstruction suggest that SARS-CoV-2 infection may disrupt sensory-neural mechanisms.

Advancing science or advancing careers? Researchers’ opinions on success indicators

Advancing science or advancing careers? Researchers’ opinions on success indicators. Noémie Aubert Bonn, Wim Pinxten. bioRxiv Jun 23 2020. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.06.22.165654

Abstract: The way in which we assess researchers has been under the radar in the past few years. Critics argue that current research assessments focus on productivity and that they increase unhealthy pressures on scientists. Yet, the precise ways in which assessments should change is still open for debate. We circulated a survey with Flemish researchers to understand how they work, and how they would rate the relevance of specific indicators used in research assessments. We found that most researchers worked far beyond their expected working schedule. We also found that, although they spent most of their time doing research, respondents wished they could dedicate more time to it and less time to other activities such as administrative duties and meetings. When looking at success indicators, we found that indicators related to openness, transparency, quality, and innovation were perceived as highly important in advancing science, but as relatively overlooked in career advancement. Conversely, indicators which denoted of prestige and competition were generally rated as important to career advancement, but irrelevant or even detrimental in advancing science. Open comments from respondents further revealed that, although indicators which indicate openness, transparency, and quality (e.g., publishing open access, publishing negative findings, sharing data, etc.) should ultimately be valued more in research assessments, the resources and support currently in place were insufficient to allow researchers to endorse such practices. In other words, current research assessments are inadequate and ignore practices which are essential in contributing to the advancement of science. Yet, before we change the way in which researchers are being assessed, supporting infrastructures must be put in place to ensure that researchers are able to commit to the activities that may benefit the advancement of science.

Overall, the present results indicate that fertility appears to be an important cue for perceived physical attractiveness for both hetero- and homosexual men

Fertility as a cue for attractiveness in homo- and heterosexual men. Robin Rinn et al Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 166, 1 November 2020, 110171. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2020.110171

• Sexual Strategy Theory predicts that men prefer highly fertile women.
• Findings confirm: heterosexual men evaluate highly fertile women as most attractive.
• Homosexual men find both highly over lowly fertile women and men more attractive.
• Mating strategies seem to be closely tied to biological sex not to sexual orientation.

Abstract: According to the sexual strategy theory (SST), men pursue short-term mating strategies to enhance their reproductive fitness. To do so, heterosexual men search for women who signal high reproductive value through multiple fertility cues. We hypothesize that, due to an interplay of mating strategies derived from a person's biological sex and the sexual orientation of a person (which develops independently of biological sex), not only heterosexual but also homosexual men should find high fertility more attractive in others. Accordingly, in Study 1 (N = 124), we found that hetero- as well as homosexual men rated the physical attractiveness of a female stimulus person to be greater when she was portrayed to be of high (versus low) fertility. Interestingly, in Study 2 (N = 224), we found that only homosexual-, but not heterosexual men perceived a male stimulus to be less attractive when information was provided that pointed at his low (versus high) fertility and when no information was given. We discuss these findings against the background of evolved adaptive mating motives in humans. Overall, the present results indicate that fertility appears to be an important cue for perceived physical attractiveness for both hetero- and homosexual men.

Keywords: Physical attractivenessSexual orientationBiological sexFertilitySexual strategy theory

From 2016... Is subversive or feminist the increasing consumption of pornographic content by women in contemporary Japan?

From 2016... Alexandra Hambleton: When women watch: the subversive potential of female-friendly pornography in Japan, Porn Studies, 3:4, 427-442, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23268743.2015.1065203

Abstract: Pornography producers in Japan are finding themselves increasingly struggling to maintain profits as free content becomes ever more easily available online. Within this environment, one niche area is bucking trends and increasing sales – pornography for women. In an industry where a DVD that sells 3000 copies is considered a hit, female-friendly pornography company Silk Labo has been able to not only produce DVDs which sell over 10,000 copies, but also generate publicity about the company and its aims which reaches far beyond neighbourhood DVD rental stores, and contributes to a wider conversation about women, sex, and pleasure in Japan today. This article draws on ethnographic fieldwork, interviews, and critical analysis of Silk Labo films to understand the phenomenon of increasing consumption of pornographic content by women in contemporary Japan, and asks whether the phenomenon is subversive or feminist.

Much as fandom and following pop idols acts as an escape from mundane life for many fans in Japan today (see Galbraith and Karlin 2012), participating in Silk Labo events allows fans of the company’s eromen idols an escape into a fantasy world in which sex is always with an attractive, caring man. The references to popular culture and pornography, and the in-jokes relied upon by Silk Labo are all indicative of its ability to provide an arena for them to engage in fan behaviour.

It is possible to argue that Silk Labo is one example of attempts to control female desires, redirected in such a way as to allow freedom within clearly demarcated heteronormative lines. From a queer studies perspective, Bronski argues that the process of ‘social containment, presenting less threatening forms of social change through commodification’ developed because people both desired and feared new freedoms, viewing them as a threat to the existing social order (2000, 69–70). In the case of host clubs, male sexuality is commodified and Japanese women deploy men as ‘resources’ to create a more woman-friendly lifestyle (Takeyama 2005, 200). As Takeyama argues, this ‘serves as an effective stimulus for women’s greater consumption, while also reinscribing gendered characteristics and hierarchical relations’ (2005, 200). The Silk Labo phenomenon similarly encourages consumption, but it also creates what Gordon (1992, 194) terms ‘the other place’, an arena in which female desire can be manipulated and controlled, and prevented from bleeding into surrounding arenas. However, while Silk Labo’s films may be problematic in many ways, they also offer a chance to move beyond traditional ideas of pornography as a male genre, and create the opportunity for further discussion about what it means to enjoy sex and one’s own sexuality for women in Japan today.

A year after my fieldwork I returned to the Silk Labo set in April 2014 and spent the day watching the cast and crew at work. Makino was still running the show but with a number of younger female crew learning to write, produce, and direct under her tutelage, women who often pour their own sexual fantasies into their productions. Since introducing mobile phone-streaming services earlier in the year, the company had been able to expand its reach, but was also under threat from new management at SOD who believed they could attract more female customers by dumping cheaply produced content onto cute websites under the heading of ‘female-friendly pornography’ and hoping audiences would graduate to purchasing full-length mainstream SOD movies. Having spent many years developing the Silk Labo brand, Makino was frustrated with this approach. However, as Silk Labo’s newest staff rushed to provide the cast with bathrobes after each scene and the crew munched on doughnuts as they revised the script, I realized that, despite constantly facing new challenges, for now at least Silk Labo may be responding to a new generation of women willing to try something different within the pornography industry, and that the quiet boom in female-friendly porn for women might yet spur a quiet revolution.