Saturday, October 31, 2020

Gender gap in organizations of excellence... Studying an organized criminal network shows women occupying structural positions generally associated with a lack of power; overall, women are less present in the network

A Man’s world? Comparing the structural positions of men and women in an organized criminal network. Tomáš Diviák, James A. Coutinho & Alex D. Stivala. Crime, Law and Social Change volume 74, pp 547–569.

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: The crime gender gap is the difference between the levels of participation of men and women in crime, with men responsible for more crime than women. Recent evidence suggests that the crime gender gap is closing, both in crime in general and in organized crime. However, organized crime differs from other forms of criminal activity in that it entails an organizational structure of cooperation among offenders. Assessing whether the gender gap in organized crime is narrowing is not only about the overall levels of involvement of women, but about their roles and positions within the organized criminal structure, because the involvement of women does not mean that they are in influential positions, or that they have power or access to resources important for the commission of organized crime. This paper uses a social network approach to systematically compare the structural positions of men and women in an organized criminal network. We use a dataset collected by Canadian Law Enforcement consisting of 1390 individuals known or suspected to be involved in organized crime, 185 of whom are women. Our analysis provides evidence for an ongoing gender gap in organized crime, with women occupying structural positions that are generally associated with a lack of power. Overall, women are less present in the network, tend to collaborate with other women rather than with men, and are more often in the disadvantageous position of being connected by male intermediaries. Implications for theory and law enforcement practice are discussed.


The results of our analysis are surprising in the sense that where previous research on the role of gender in criminal contexts suggests that there ought to be numerous structural differences between men’s and women’s networks, we found relatively few significant differences between the structural positions of men and women in our observed network. A number of differences between men and women’s networks suggested by the descriptive statistics were contradicted or clarified by the modelling results (ALAAM). While descriptive analysis shows that women on average have lower betweenness centrality in the collaboration network than men, the results of the ALAAM indicate no significant tendency towards lower betweenness centrality for women. Further, while the descriptive statistics show weak support for gender homophily, the modelling results indicate a significant positive tendency towards homophily in the collaboration network. Finally, while women have more pre-existing ties on average than men, modelling results indicate that women do not tend to have a greater tendency to collaborate with one another via pre-existing ties than men do. These results demonstrate the importance of comparing men and women’s criminal network positions using methods such as ALAAM that account systematically for network tie dependencies, and that acknowledge the fact that lower-order network configurations are nested within higher-order configurations. Thus the interpretations of particular structural features of a network may be explained or strengthened when we account for lower-order and other theoretically-relevant configurations.

However, our modelling results indicate that women are overall less likely to participate in the network, when they participate they associate significantly more frequently with other women, and they tend to be on the potentially less advantageous ends of open brokerage structures. These results provide evidence for an ongoing gender gap in organized crime. Research in legitimate contexts has found evidence for a ‘structural perspective’, where gender differences in networks are explained by opportunities and constraints in network formation presented by men and women’s differential positions in the broader economic and societal structure [91031]. On this view, the observation that women are both less present and less active in the network of organized criminals connected to the Canadian province of Alberta may reflective of a systemic lack of opportunities for women to participate in organized crime, or systemic constraints preventing women from joining the network. For example, women may lack opportunities to form network ties because they are excluded from convergence settings such as dive bars where criminal collaborations arise and crimes are planned [11] and so they are unable to learn about criminal opportunities or become involved in criminal conspiracies [10]. Constraints may include a relative lack of the resources required to be of use to criminal organizations, or a cultural perception among criminals that women should not or cannot participate in criminal activities [9]. Furthermore, gender stereotypes operating in wider society may affect the positions of women in criminal networks. Societal expectations and gender relations are geared towards men holding positions of influence and power [1920], and as such men may work to keep women excluded from powerful positions within criminal networks. For instance, some research suggests that male criminals’ perceptions that women are untrustworthy, unreliable, or weak is a barrier to women’s entry into, and acquisition of advantageous positions within, organized crime [67].

Our finding that when women do participate they tend to occupy the potentially disadvantageous ends of open brokerage structures, with men occupying the broker position, suggests that women may be ‘used’ by men for what resources they have, without exercising true power in the form of the coordination or orchestration of criminal activities. While in other contexts brokerage behaviour has been viewed mainly as a source of performance advantages for individuals and groups [5354], in criminal networks it has also been seen as a source of covertness [56] or as a niche role in the organization of criminal activity [57]. Combining these functions of brokerage, occupying brokerage positions may be a source of potential power in criminal collaboration networks in that it could allow individuals to control information and resources while maintaining concealment and allowing the accumulation of advantage. Thus the fact that women tend to be brokered between by men in our data evidences their systematic lack of power in comparison to men. The observation that women tend to ‘flock together’ [43] also implies that when women do participate in organized crime it may be in niche activities or segments of the criminal supply chain [26] that are open to women, such as sex or human trafficking. Taken together, these findings provide evidence that women tend to participate in organized crime either in peripheral, low-power positions or in groups with other women, in accordance with some previous findings (cf. [910]).

Finally, the finding that there is no tendency towards heterophily in women’s network ties, alongside women’s minority position in the network in terms of overall numbers, might speak to a lack of opportunities by which women are able to form ties with and access resources from important men in the network. In contrast, research on legitimate organizations has found that women tend to violate homophily preferences in order to access resources from powerful actors, and this may be a mechanism by which women who are in a minority position increase their power [73].

In sum, while our findings do not accord fully with previous research regarding differences in the structural positions of men and women in criminal networks, they do provide evidence for an ongoing gender gap in involvement in organized crime. In other words, it appears that organized crime continues to be predominantly ‘a man’s world’.

Conclusions and future research directions

We formulated our hypotheses and specified our model based on previous research on the positions of men and women in organized crime and on the differences in positions between men and women in legitimate networks. Most of the former studies are qualitative case studies on different criminal groups focusing specifically on what women do within these groups. This provides great detail and the contextual information on women’s roles in organised crime and how women acquire certain positions. This depth is, however, perhaps achieved at the expense of systematic comparison between men and women. The social network perspective and specific models such as ALAAM offer a way to make such a comparison. Statistical models for social networks allow us to show that in our specific case, we do not find evidence for the differences in the structural positions of women compared with men in organized crime, as apparent structural differences may be due to structural social processes that are not gender-specific and are not accounted for by simple descriptive network analysis. However, further research is necessary in order to say whether our findings differ from previous research because of the use of our statistical models or because our case itself is different from other cases. The present study provides an insight into differences between men and women in organized crime in one large network, albeit in a particular societal, geographic and temporal context. In order to gain a more solid picture of the gender differences in organized crime, it is necessary to study other criminal networks and accumulate findings on consistently appearing patterns concerning gender therein, which provide systematic evidence of the roles women play in organised crime.

One avenue for further research would be the investigation of how the activities of criminal groups affect the involvement and structural positions of women within the groups. There may be differential rates of involvement in different types of organized criminal activities or groups [6]. We might expect that women are less involved in those types of organized crime which require more “professional” involvement, and where stakes and risks are higher (Steffensmeier and Allan [2]) (although there are counterexamples in the trafficking industry). Some researchers hypothesize that women are less likely to be involved in violent activities, a hypothesis sometimes referred to as the gendered market hypothesis [3646]. Connell’s [1920] social theory of gender argues that violence is a means by which men maintain power over women – violence is regarded as ‘natural’ for men, but not for women – so there are ways that broader social theory may be informative here as well. Answering these questions will likely prove valuable in understanding organized crime.

Another avenue for future research is the dynamics of criminal networks. Our study provides a static picture of positions of men and women in one criminal network, but in order to better understand the differences between genders it is important to consider the evolution of these differences over time. In other words, an important issue is whether the crime gender gap is narrowing or widening over time and in what aspects – in the sheer involvement of women, in their structural positions or in both? A longitudinal perspective would also allow us to better understand the mechanisms behind the formation of criminal networks. For example, given that we observe that women tend to be brokered between by men, we may wonder if there is a high rate of ‘churn’ of women occupying this structural position in the network. If so this would suggest that women play a relatively dispensable role in criminal networks, where they are used for their resources and then discarded. There has been vigorous development of longitudinal models for networks in SNA [74] which are capable of separating the influence of endogenous network effects, attribute effects, and exogenous dyadic effects on the evolution of the network as well as attributes over time. Thus far these models have been relatively little-used in criminal network research. Combining longitudinal network data with qualitative or ethnographic data about broader social, economic, and political context would also be a fruitful avenue in studying how changes at the societal level translate into individual positions of men and women in the structures of organized crime.

The study of both the different activities within criminal networks and network dynamics require suitable data. As we have noted above, collection of complete and reliable data is probably the largest challenge in the study of criminal networks [2627] and it also presents the greatest limitation of our present study. It is impossible to know whether the observed differences between men and women in our network are a true reflection of the phenomenon of organized crime, or whether they are an artefact of data collection, recording and collation methods. For example, women may appear less present in the observed network because law enforcement tend to focus attention on male criminals while paying less attention to the kinds of crime that women are involved in. In addition, we found no evidence that women are more likely to be connected by pre-existing ties in the network. However, the way in which our data was collected and collated means that the number of pre-existing ties may be underestimated and their temporal precedence to collaboration ties is uncertain. Time-stamped data, indicating the precise temporal order of tie formation, would provide further evidence on interrelationships among types of ties in criminal networks. However, as more and more studies reveal interesting and valuable insights, law enforcement practitioners collect more valuable data and are increasingly interested in the field of criminal network analysis. Researchers may take advantage of this momentum and propagate good practices for collecting and processing data on covert populations to further advance the area of inquiry.

Egocentrism shapes moral judgements; those judgements appear to people as objective, impartial & morally right; the biases are not easily overcome, even when presented with morally relevant information

Egocentrism shapes moral judgements. Konrad Bocian  Wieslaw Baryla  Bogdan Wojciszke. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, October 24 2020.

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: We review past and recent literature on how egocentrism shapes moral judgements. We focus on mechanisms by which egocentric evaluations appear to people as objective, impartial and morally right. We also show that people seem to be unaware of these biases and suggest that understanding how egocentrism impacts moral judgements demands studying morality embedded in a specific social context rather than the social void created in a laboratory. Finally, we argue that egocentric biases in moral judgements are not easily overcome and persist even if people deliberately try to omit attitudes in their judgements or if morally relevant information is present. We conclude that egocentric evaluations triggered by such factors as personal and group interests or attitudes may lay at the core of moral judgements of others because they help maintain a strategic social and personal relationships.


Identifying strategies that could eliminate egocentric biases in moral judgements might help modern societies change the disruptive nature of moral disagreements. However, to date, research on effective strategies for reducing egocentric biases has been limited to studies on conflict or fairness but has returned inconclusive results and are thus unable to advise which specific strategies are successful (see Epley & Caruso, 2004). For example, one line of studies found that a commonly advised strategy of considering the perspective of others (perspective taking) did reduce egocentric judgements (people claimed that it was fair for them to take less) but also strengthened egoistic (selfish) behaviour, as participants in the end allocated more resources to themselves (Epley, Caruso, & Bazerman, 2006). Therefore, egocentric evaluations might be challenging to overcome because of their automatic and affective nature and because attempts to mitigate them might lead to a discrepancy between moral judgements (what people judge as fair distribution of resources) and moral behaviour (how people distribute the resources; Epley et al., 2006). This discrepancy was also found in research that showed that people's imaginary moral judgements differed significantly from their behavioural moral judgements (Bocian & Wojciszke, 2014b; Wojciszke & Bocian, 2018).

Recently, Bocian, Baryla, and Wojciszke (2020a) tested which strategies might be successful in eliminating the biasing impact of interpersonal attitudes on attributions of moral character. The results of three experiments revealed that only accountability (i.e., the prospect of giving justification for one's moral judgements) was strong enough to block the bias. However, neither a deliberate attempt to ignore personal attitudes nor the presence of morally relevant information about past unethical behaviour of a judged (and well‐liked) person could de‐bias moral judgement. Overall, these results suggest that the influence of attitude‐driven egocentric interpretations on moral character perception can be either eliminated or limited through specific cognitive factors. Future research should focus on testing which deliberate (e.g., moral image) and automatic (e.g., time pressure) factors weaken or reinforce egocentric evaluations in judgements of moral character.


Egocentric evaluations are fast, automatic, affective and strategically motivated. Because they do not require effort and resources to operate, they can serve as a default basis for moral judgements. Therefore, egocentric evaluations subjectively seem objective and accurate perceptions of the social world, thereby making people unaware of their biasing power in moral evaluations. However, even though strategies such as attitude evading or increased motivation could help people correct their biased egocentric perspective, the evidence presented in this study suggests that these strategies are frequently insufficient since they require effort and conscious attention.

Knowledge that egocentric evaluations are predominantly automatic helps understand why people judge outcomes as fair or moral when they are positive for them and unfair or immoral when they are negative. Moreover, it also clarifies why the same people perceive others as self‐interested or egoistic. People overestimate the impact of self‐interest on others' attitudes and behaviours (Miller & Ratner, 1998) and probably assume that others judge positive outcomes as fair and negative outcomes as unfair because of their selfish and egoistic nature. That might be plausible because people are not aware that the egocentric perspective automatically influences their evaluations. Hence, instead of accusing people of being selfish or self‐interested, we should understand how egocentrism shapes the way people talk about morality.

This can be done by bringing egocentric biases into moral judgement paradigms to make them more ecologically valid and, thus, more socially relevant. However, to understand how egocentrism biases moral judgements, we should recognize that while recent theories of moral psychology explain morals through the self, most of the empirical work regarding morality does not take the self into account. Therefore, moral judgements are typically studied in a sort of social vacuum by placing people in decontextualized and often imagined situations when they are asked to act as omniscient moral judges. These methods raise concerns about the value of moral judgements in moral behaviour predictions. For example, recent evidence confirms that responses to hypothetical moral dilemmas cannot predict responses to real‐life dilemmas (Bostyn, Sevenhant, & Roets, 2018), moral decisions (Patil, Cogoni, Zangrando, Chittaro, & Silani, 2014) or moral actions (Francis et al., 2016).

The mismatch between studied and experienced morality may be resolved by embedding moral judgements in a specific context. Specifically, scholars may contextualize actors (e.g., manipulating personal relationships; Waytz, Dungan, & Young, 2013), actions (e.g., studying the unique context of war; Watkins & Goodwin, 2020), judges (e.g., participant's subjective experience; Royzman, Kim, & Leeman, 2015) and values (e.g., how do people prioritize them; Dungan, Young, & Waytz, 2019; for the review see Schein, 2020). Based on the reviewed theories and empirical evidence, we argue that scholars should contextualize attitudes and personal or group interests as well. In this way, future research would narrow the gap between the egocentrism centrality in theory and its underrepresentation in empirical work, bringing moral judgements closer to moral behaviour.

We might need to accept that egocentric biases in moral judgements are inevitable. Social, justice and moral psychology offer ample evidence against our naïve confidence in humans as impartial judges, despite the strong confidence in the objective nature of our moral judgements and collective denial they could be influenced by such egocentric factors as personal benefits, attitudes or group interests.

Exposure to extremely partisan news from the other political side shows scarce boomerang effects (there is scarce attitude exacerbation or affective polarization)

Exposure to extremely partisan news from the other political side shows scarce boomerang effects. Andreu Casas, Ericka Menchen-Trevino, Magdalena Wojcieszak. Oct 2020.

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: Research shows that a narrow information diet may be partly to blame for the growing political divides in the United States, suggesting exposure to dissimilar views as a remedy. These efforts, however, could be counterproductive, exacerbating attitude and affective polarization. Yet findings on whether such boomerang effect exists are mixed and the consequences of dissimilar exposure on other important outcomes unexplored. To resolve this debate, we designed an experiment, in which one should certainly observe boomerang effects. We incentivized liberals to read political articles on extreme conservative outlets (Breitbart, The American Spectator, and The Blaze) and conservatives to read extreme left-leaning sites (Mother Jones, Democracy Now, and The Nation). We explored the effects on attitude and affective polarization, as well as on perceptions of the political system, support for democratic principles, and well-being. Overall we find little evidence of boomerang effects, suggesting they are an exception rather than the norm.

7 Discussion

In the US, greater harmony between different political factions is needed more than ever. To achieve this ever-eluding goal, scholars and practitioners encourage exposure to dissimilar political views, with the hope that encountering views that challenge one’s beliefs will minimize extremity and interparty hostility. Although some scholars caution against this approach, suggesting that dissimilar exposure can increase polarization, the findings about the existence of such boomerang effects are mixed and limited in scope. Given the crucial societal and political implications of this largely inconclusive debate, we set out to solve it with an innovative experimental design combining incentivized over time exposure to extreme news domains from across the political aisle (Breitbart, TheAmerican Spectator, and The Blaze for liberals; and Mother Jones, Democracy Now, and The Nation for conservatives), pre-, post-, and intermediate surveys, and trace data on actual online exposure of the participants. Although this design is highly counterfactual (after all, most liberals are unlikely to regularly visit Breitbart), it was well suited to detecting boomerang effects if these are in fact a likely outcome of exposure to dissimilar views. The design also allowed us to test whether the studied dissimilar exposure has effects on broader societal outcomes and on individual well-being, and also among those for whom these effects emerge (attending to a systematic set of political predispositions to ascertain potential heterogeneous treatment effects). In short, despite the over time nature of the treatment (i.e., fourteen days), accounting for intended treatment effects as well as the levels of compliance (see Bail et al. (2018)), and testing attitude polarization on a range of salient political issues and affective polarization with several indicators and toward various outgroups, we show that dissimilar exposure is unlikely to intensify political conflict or have any discernible effects on the societal and individual outcomes tested. After going to extreme news sites of the opposing ideology every second day for a twoweek period, people did not radicalize their issue attitudes nor their feelings towards the out-party and the supporters o the opposing ideology. Although we did find that people slighlty polarized their perceptions of those holding opposing views on a few political issues (such as climate change and immigration), these effects were not systematic across different measurements and did not generate a pattern that would suggest the existence of relevant boomerang effects ( < 0.2 standard deviation changes). Furthermore, although many observers fear that strong partisans are most likely to radicalize and drive political conflict (Garrett et al., 2014) and the work on motivated reasoning suggest that individuals with strong priors are most likely to counter-argue dissimilar information and become more extreme as a result (Taber and Lodge, 2006), we do not find pronounced heterogeneous effects. Because we tested party-, ideology-, and political identity strength as relevant covariates, we are confident that these largely null effects are not due to any specific measurement. In a similar vein, our treatment did little to influence participants’ perceptions of the political system, in terms of their support for interparty compromise, attributing malevolent intentions to the outparty, or seeing the polity as polarized. It also did not shift their support for key democratic principles, such as freedom of speech or freedom of press (even though our pre-registered expectation was that those exposed to our treatment would be more inclined to ban their political opponents from the media and to have search engines and social media platforms avoid displaying or promoting articles from some media outlets). Relatedly, extreme dissimilar exposure also did not significantly worsen participants’ wellbeing, even though – again – we predicted that it would make them feel more anxious or dissatisfied or increase negative or unhealthy behaviors. It is crucial to emphasize that apart from not being statistically significant, all the observed average effects are of a very small magnitude (¡ .2 and ¡ .1 standard deviation changes). The findings are a great contribution to the existing literature and theorizing on the potential negative effects of exposure to counter-attitudinal information. Contrary to some evidence, which finds exposure to opposing views to exacerbate attitude and affective polarization (Levendusky, 2013; Bail et al., 2018; Garrett et al., 2014), and in line with other existing work (Guess and Coppock, 2018; Wood and Porter, 2019), we conclude that these types of boomerang effect are the exception rather than the norm (and of a very small magnitude if they do emerge). Extending past work by incorporating people’s evaluations of the outlets and accessed articles (based on both short surveys and also their open-ended thoughts and emotions), we conclude that this consistent lack of boomerang effects may be due to people’s largely neutral or even positive reactions to the outlets and their content. We wanted to test the effect of an extreme counter factual and selected these 6 news sites because they are located at the extreme of each ideological side (with the exception of very minor fringe/niche sites). Nevertheless, despite representing the extreme of each ideological side, and despite often being vilified by one’s partisan group, the partisans we studied often valued the information they consumed in them. In addition, this study also makes a relevant contribution to the growing body of work that uses trace data to study people’s attitudes and behavior. Rather than relying on a forced exposure experiment that shows people mock sites with counter-attitudinal news articles, we incentivized exposure, accounted for compliance, and exposed them to real news stories that actually appeared in news outlets of the opposing ideology. The trace data donated by the participants some weeks later additionally allowed us to assess compliance using precise behavioral data, complementing the self-reported compliance measures we collected. Furthermore, because we analyzed the rich qualitative data contributed by the participants in response to the news they read, we are able to shed important insight into participants’ thoughts and feelings generated by extreme exposure to the other side, insight that was previously unavailable as virtually all existing work on boomerang effects relies on close-ended survey responses. It is designs like ours (combining online traces, systematic experimental treatments, self-reports at several time points, and unrestricted reactions to content) that are most apt to accurately portraying the existence (or rather lack thereof) of boomerang effects. At a time where key stakeholders such as social media companies (Farr, 2018-10-16; Wood and Ethan, 2020), news organizations (Goodman and Chen, 2010), and governments (Rendall, 2015; Commission, 2013) are designing policies decreasing or increasing exposure to dissimilar views in order to reduce mass polarization, we strongly believe that the findings reported here can help inform the decision-making process moving forward.

Misremembering Motives: The Unreliability of Voters’ Memories of the Reasons for their Vote

Misremembering Motives: The Unreliability of Voters’ Memories of the Reasons for their Vote. Gillian Murphy et al. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, October 31 2020.

Abstract: In the aftermath of important votes, people are often asked to report why they voted as they did. In the current study, we assessed the consistency of these reports over a one- year period. Participants reported their reasons for voting Yes or No in the 2018 Irish abortion referendum one week, three months, six months, and 12 months post-referendum. While the top reasons given by Yes and No voting groups remained relatively consistent over time, there was significant individual inconsistency. Furthermore, when presented with a list of possible reasons at the end of the study, many participants failed to select reasons that they had previously reported. The findings suggest that voter memory of factors that influenced their vote can be unreliable. Moreover, reports are influenced by how the reasons are elicited (for example, by open response vs. selection from a list).

Keywords: MemoryDecision- MakingReasoningMetacognitionPolitics

By one view, drug use blunts dopamine neurotransmission, motivating to overcome DA deficiency; the authors support the other view, that drug use enhances DA neurotransmission, producing a sensitized reaction to drugs

Samaha, Anne-Noël, Shaun Khoo, Carrie R. Ferrario, and Terry E. Robinson. 2020. “Dopamine “ups and Downs” in Addiction Revisited” PsyArXiv. October 30. doi:10.31234/

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: Drugs of abuse can change dopamine (DA) function during the development of addiction. But in what direction? By one view, drug use blunts DA neurotransmission, producing a hypodopaminergic state, and drug use is motivated to overcome DA deficiency. Another view is that drug use enhances DA neurotransmission, producing a sensitized, hyperdopaminergic reaction to drugs and drug cues, and continued drug use is motivated by sensitization of drug ‘wanting’. Here we discuss recent studies using intermittent cocaine self-administration procedures that mimic human patterns of use. These studies support the view that addiction-like behaviour involves sensitized DA responses to drugs and drug cues, consistent with human neuroimaging studies. These results have implications for modeling addiction in the laboratory, and for treatment.

Making prosocial and selfish choices does typically not rely on different types of reasoning modes (intuition vs. deliberation) but rather on different types of intuitions

Bago, B., Bonnefon, J.-F., & De Neys, W. (2020). Intuition rather than deliberation determines selfish and prosocial choices. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Oct 2020.

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: Human interactions often involve a choice between acting selfishly (in ones’ own interest) and acting prosocially (in the interest of others). Fast and slow models of prosociality posit that people intuitively favor 1 of these choices (the selfish choice in some models, the prosocial choice in other models) and need to correct this intuition through deliberation to make the other choice. We present 7 studies that force us to reconsider this longstanding corrective dual-process view. Participants played various economic games in which they had to choose between a prosocial and a selfish option. We used a 2-response paradigm in which participants had to give their first, initial response under time pressure and cognitive load. Next, participants could take all the time they wanted to reflect on the problem and give a final response. This allowed us to identify the intuitively generated response that preceded the final response given after deliberation. Results consistently showed that both prosocial and selfish responses were predominantly made intuitively rather than after deliberate correction. Pace the deliberate correction view, the findings indicate that making prosocial and selfish choices does typically not rely on different types of reasoning modes (intuition vs. deliberation) but rather on different types of intuitions. 

Big Five facets and religiosity: Culture is much more important to explain variance in religiosity

Entringer, T. M., Gebauer, J. E., Eck, J., Bleidorn, W., Rentfrow, P. J., Potter, J., & Gosling, S. D. (2020). Big Five facets and religiosity: Three large-scale, cross-cultural, theory-driven, and process-attentive tests. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Oct 2020.

Abstract: How relevant are the Big Five in predicting religiosity? Existing evidence suggests that the Big Five domains account for only a small amount of variance in religiosity. Some researchers have claimed that the Big Five domains are too broad and not sufficiently specific to explain much religiosity variance. Accordingly, they speculated that the more specific Big Five facets should predict religiosity better. Yet, such research has generally been sparse, monocultural, descriptive, process-inattentive, and somewhat contradictory in its results. Therefore, we conducted three large-scale, cross-cultural, theory-driven, and process-attentive studies. Study 1 (N = 2,277,240) used self-reports across 96 countries, Study 2 (N = 555,235) used informant-reports across 57 countries, and Study 3 (N = 1,413,982) used self-reports across 2,176 cities, 279 states, and 29 countries. Our results were highly consistent across studies. Contrary to widespread assumptions, the Big Five facets did not explain substantially more variance in religiosity than the Big Five domains. Moreover, culture was much more important than previously assumed. More specifically, the Big Five facets collectively explained little variance in religiosity in the least religious cultural contexts (4.2%) but explained substantial variance in religiosity in the most religious cultural contexts (19.5%). In conclusion, the Big Five facets are major predictors of religiosity, but only in religious cultural contexts.

Friday, October 30, 2020

The more narcissistic people are, the more they find leadership theories appealing and the more interest they have in learning about the ideas behind particular theories

Steffens, N. K., & Haslam, S. A. (2020). The narcissistic appeal of leadership theories. American Psychologist, Oct 2020.

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: Leadership is one of the most researched topics in psychological and other social and behavioral sciences. It is routinely seen as vital to the success and vitality of various forms of collaborative activity not only in organizations but in society at large. This has provided the stimulus for a massive amount of theoretical and applied research and also supports a huge industry. But to whom does this body of work appeal? More specifically, does it appeal to people with a broad interest in advancing groups and society or to people who are primarily interested in promoting themselves? To answer this question, we explore the extent to which individuals’ narcissism predicts their endorsement of leadership theories. Results provide empirical evidence that the more narcissistic people are, the more they find leadership theories appealing and the more interest they have in learning about the ideas behind particular theories. The predictive power of narcissism also holds when accounting for other variables (including demographic, Big Five traits, and ideological and motivational variables). We conclude that psychological theorizing about leadership can be a double-edged sword in so far as the lionization of leaders(hip) appeals to, and legitimizes, the tastes of a narcissistic audience

In a recent paper, Bloom et al. (2020) find evidence for a substantial decline in research productivity in the U.S. economy during the last 40 years; we replicate their findings for China and Germany

A global decline in research productivity? Evidence from China and Germany. Philipp Boeinga, Paul Hünermund. Economics Letters, October 29 2020, 109646.

Rolf Degen's take:


• Replicates findings in Bloom et al. (2020) for China and Germany.

• Provides evidence for a decline in research productivity in both countries.

• Using firm-level R&D panel data for public and private firms spanning three decades.

• Strong decline in R&D productivity in China due to end of catch-up growth.

• Conclusion: ideas are not only getting harder to find in the U.S.

Abstract: In a recent paper, Bloom et al. (2020) find evidence for a substantial decline in research productivity in the U.S. economy during the last 40 years. In this paper, we replicate their findings for China and Germany, using detailed firm-level data spanning three decades. Our results indicate that diminishing returns in idea production are a global phenomenon, not just confined to the U.S.

Keywords: ProductivityGrowthInnovationR & DTechnological change

Germany: Egalitarianism is more popular than efficiency ideals; females are more egalitarian than men; young and high-educated participants hold different fairness ideals than the rest of the population

Fairness views and political preferences: evidence from a large and heterogeneous sample. Daniel Müller & Sander Renes. Social Choice and Welfare, Oct 29 2020.

Abstract: We elicit distributional fairness ideals of impartial spectators using an incentivized experiment in a large and heterogeneous sample of the German population. We document several empirical facts: (i) egalitarianism is more popular than efficiency- and maxi-min ideals; (ii) females are more egalitarian than men; (iii) men are relatively more efficiency minded; (iv) left-leaning voters are more likely to be egalitarians, whereas right-leaning voters are more likely to be efficiency-minded; and (v) young and high-educated participants hold different fairness ideals than the rest of the population. Moreover, we show that fairness ideals predict preferences for redistribution and intervention by the government, as well as actual charitable giving, even after controlling for a range of covariates. This paper thus contributes to our understanding of the underpinnings of voting behavior and ideological preferences and to the literature that links laboratory measures and field behavior.

Translated instructions

This part of the questionnaire is about four proposals on the distribution of money. The amounts of money are real and can be paid to randomly selected participants of the questionnaire. We kindly ask you to select a proposal on how to divide the money between two other participants of the questionnaire in each of the four [two] decision situations. We will call these two participants person 1 and person 2. All other participants, not only you, will make four such proposals. Not all decisions are going to be paid out for real in the end. Instead, the computer will randomly choose 50 proposals made by the participants for each of the 4 decisions. This means that at the end 4 times 50 that is 200 proposals will be paid out for real. We estimate that 3500 people will take part in this questionnaire (Figs. 67).

For each randomly selected proposal, two randomly chosen participants will be selected who will receive the proposed monetary amounts. One person will be randomly assigned to the role of person 1 and to the other to the role of person 2. Each of the two will then receive the payoff of corresponding to the relevant proposal. Each of the proposals made can be randomly selected for the actual payoff by the computer. So it could be that your proposal will be chosen and that two other participants will receive exactly as much money as you proposed. You could also be selected and receive the payoff that another participant proposed. In this case the money will be directly transferred to your account at the GIP. None of the participants can be chosen more than once to receive money. All decisions made will of course stay anonymous. We will notify the winners.

Below four proposals (A, B, C and D) on how to distribute money between person 1 and person 2 are depicted. We kindly ask you to indicate which of these alternatives you prefer.

  • Alternative A: person 1 should receive 10 Euros; person 2 should receive 9 Euros.

  • Alternative B: person 1 should receive 15 Euros; person 2 should receive 7 Euros.

  • Alternative C: person 1 should receive 8 Euros; person 2 should receive 8 Euros.

  • Alternative D: person 1 should receive 16 Euros; person 2 should receive 2 Euros.

Please pay attention that your decision can affect how much two other (anonymous) randomly selected participants actually receive. Which alternative do you prefer?

Translated wording of relevant GIP questions

Income differences

Now we will deal with a different topic. Please indicate to which extent you agree with the following statement:

The government should take measures to reduce income differences. Keep in mind that these measures must be financed by taxes that would lead to reductions of one’s salary.

You can only give one answer:

  1. 1.

    I strongly agree.

  2. 2.

    I agree.

  3. 3.

    I am indifferent.

  4. 4.

    I disagree.

  5. 5.

    I strongly disagree.

Tax equity

Should people who work more than others and therefore also earn more pay less or more taxes than they currently do?

  1. 1.

    Pay far less taxes than they currently do.

  2. 2.

    Pay slightly less taxes than they currently do.

  3. 3.

    Pay the same amount of taxes that they currently do.

  4. 4.

    Pay slightly more taxes than they currently do.

  5. 5.

    Pay a lot more taxes than they currently do.


Thursday, October 29, 2020

Facial pictures of women & men with higher refined glycaemic loads consumption were preferred by opposite-sex raters, possibly due to an increase in apparent age for men & an increase in femininity for women

Refined Carbohydrate Consumption and Facial Attractiveness. Claire Berticat, Valérie Durand, Michel Raymond. Evolutionary Psychology, October 29, 2020.

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: Since the second half of the 20th century, a massive increase in the consumption of refined carbohydrates has occurred, generating well-described detrimental health effects such as obesity, insulin resistance, type II diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and dental caries. Certain physiological mechanisms involved, particularly through chronic hyperglycaemia and hyperinsulinaemia, suggest that a non-medical trait such as facial attractiveness could also be affected. To explore this possibility, variation in facial attractiveness was evaluated relative to refined carbohydrate consumption. Attractiveness was assessed from facial pictures as judged by raters of the opposite sex. Estimates of refined carbohydrate consumption were based on the glycaemic load of three mealtimes at-higher glycaemic risk (breakfast, afternoon snack and between-meal snack). In the presence of several control variables, facial pictures of women and men with higher between-meal glycaemic loads were preferred by opposite-sex raters. Structural equation modeling suggests that this result is possibly mediated by an increase in apparent age for men and an increase in femininity for women. The different physiological ecologies of the three meals at-higher glycaemic risk are discussed as well as the interpretation of the results in terms of adaptation or maladaptation to the modern and unique dietary environment.

Keywords: refined carbohydrates, sugars, evolutionary diet, dietary switch, facial attractiveness, social trait, glycaemic load

In this study, we investigated whether refined carbohydrate consumption is related to facial attractiveness in healthy women and men. We found that women and men with the highest between-meal glycaemic loads were preferred by opposite-sex raters, result in the opposite direction than the prediction based on known physiological effects for women. This preference was maintained when controlling for potential confounding effects such as age, age departure from actual age, BMI, scholarship level, smoking status, facial femininity/masculinity index, and for women, whether they took the contraceptive pill.

Attractiveness is not independent of the refined carbohydrate content of the food eaten estimated through glycaemic load, although this effect was evidenced from only one (between-meal snack) of the three mealtimes at-higher glycaemic risk considered. This meal is not the one with the higher mean GL, and is not particularly odd for its macronutrient content as well as carbohydrates, protein, fat and fiber (Table 3). A possible explanation is that these three types of meals could correspond to different ecological food habits that affect subjects differently with different physiological consequences. For example, the usual mid-afternoon eating occasion known in France as the “goûter” corresponds (for those who usually have one) to a real dietary need. This meal is associated with a pre-prandial decline in plasma glucose and insulin concentration and a high motivation to eat (Chapelot et al., 2004). In contrast, between-meal snacks are often not associated with physiological hunger and are rather motivated by social or other external stimuli, with few resulting effects on satiety and compensation mechanisms (Bellisle, 2014). Therefore, this meal category could better reflect chronic and acute refined carbohydrate consumption. Finally, it is worthy of note that consumers of the between-meal snack were at a frequency around 40%–50% (Table 2), allowing more statistical power to detect a difference between two groups, relative to the distribution of consumers for the two other meals (ca. 91% for breakfast, and 63%–70% for the afternoon snack).

How Chronic between-Meal Snacks Could Affect Attractiveness

Refined carbohydrate-rich food consumption generates hyperinsulinaemia as a consequence of hyperglycaemia, interfering with growth factors and sex hormones, which themselves modulate morphology and secondary sex characteristics (Cordain et al., 2003). This result occurs because hyperinsulinaemia stimulates androgen synthesis by the ovaries and testes, increasing the quantity of free (and thus active) androgens in the blood. Androgens are the precursors of male and female sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. Hyperinsulinaemia has been linked to diseases associated with significant perturbation of sex hormone levels, such as polycystic ovary syndrome and premature menarche (Cordain et al., 2003). If the influences of a refined carbohydrate-rich diet on other downstream consequences have been poorly studied to date, it is possible that these consequences include the development of secondary sexual traits, typically masculine or feminine facial features. In addition, it has been shown that sex hormones modulate facial femininity/masculinity, which in turn influences attractiveness, with men preferring more feminine faces and women preferring more masculine ones (for a review see Puts et al., 2012). To capture facial secondary sex characteristics, a femininity/masculinity morphological index was computed, for which the difference within each pair was used as a control variable. Structural equation modeling showed that for women, the effect of glycaemic load on attractiveness could be indirectly mediated through a direct effect of the femininity/masculinity index, leading to an increase of femininity. Sexual hormones are possible candidates to explain this effect (Cordain et al., 2003), although, as it is in the opposite direction than expected, further work is required for a better understanding.

Another physiological effect of refined carbohydrate-rich food consumption is hyperglycaemia, which has itself several physiological consequences. For example, hyperglycaemia accelerates glycation, a covalent bonding process that cross-links the amino acids present in the collagen and elastin that support the dermis. Cross-linked collagen fibers are incapable of repair through the usual process of remodeling, directly impacting youthful skin appearance, which relies on flexible and repairable collagen fibers (Danby, 2010). Thus chronic hyperglycaemia generated by chronic between-meal snacks could affect attractiveness because skin aging directly impacts age appearance (Nkengne et al., 2008), and age affects attractiveness (Samson et al., 2010). However, this possible effect was controlled for because apparent age was independently estimated, and the difference in age departure from the chronological age within each pair was used as a control variable. Structural equation modeling suggested that for men, the effect of glycaemic load on attractiveness could be indirectly mediated through a direct effect on age departure from actual age. Indeed, an increase in the age difference (chronological or apparent) within each pair increased attractiveness (Table 4), and thus any skin aging effect, which increases apparent age, also increases attractiveness. This increase in attractiveness with age is generally described for relatively young men in the range 20–50 years old and is classically explained by the correlation between age and characteristics that advertise adequate parental investment in terms of resource and social status (Buss, 1989Jencks & And Others, 1979). For older ages, the correlation between age and attractiveness is reversed, perhaps due to somatic senescence compromising some type of paternal investment, fertility decline, or to higher chances of passing on genetic defects to offspring (Hellstrom et al., 2006Kong et al., 2012). For women, the aging effect is the opposite: an increase in the difference in age departure from actual age within each pair decreased attractiveness, i.e. men preferred women that were perceived to be younger (or compared to women evaluated older) (Table 4). Indeed, age supplies a powerful cue related to female reproductive capacity, and men prefer younger women (Buss, 1989).

Ultimately, Why is an Increase in Refined Carbohydrate Consumption Associated with an Increased Attractiveness?

Traditional foods with a high level of sugar contents are energetically rewarding, although they are typically seasonal or scarce, such as ripened fruit and honey. Because sugar excess generated by hyperglycaemia is stored as fat, traditional foods that generate hyperglycaemia are sometimes used to intentionally increase fat storage, e.g. the case of the food intake of Japanese sumo wrestlers (Nishizawa et al., 1976) or the fattening sessions described in various ethnic groups before an expected general shortage period (Garine & Koppert, 1990Garine & Koppert, 1991). Generally, traditional food, i.e. pre-industrial or non-refined, does not generate hyperglycaemia. This is the case for fresh fruits, legumes, traditionally prepared cereals, etc. although there are counter-examples such as honey. Globally, traditional foods that generate hyperglycaemia were not always readily available because they were scare or expensive. Thus, it is possible that intake of foods that generate hyperglycaemia represents an advantage in certain traditional environments, particularly when food shortages are not uncommon. In such an environment, detection and preference of facial cues that display an ability to find refined carbohydrates sources could constitute an evolutionary advantage for the choice of mating partner. This hypothesis could explain why an increased consumption of such food increases attractiveness. However, in the current industrial dietary environment, foods that generate hyperglycaemia are not limited, and their consumption is not a signal of quality anymore. Therefore, it is possible that the current increased attractiveness associated with the increased consumption of such food is better understood as a maladaptation.

How the Other Control Variables Could Affect Attractiveness

Several other variables potentially affecting attractiveness were controlled for, although only BMI has a significant effect in that a higher BMI decreased facial attractiveness for both men and women (Table 4). Indeed, body weight can be accurately judged from facial images alone (Coetzee et al., 2010), and cues of adiposity affect social judgements of female and male faces (Coetzee et al., 2009Han et al., 2016Re & Perrett, 2014).


The effect of chronic between-meal snacks on attractiveness could be confounded by a variable not considered in this work. One possibility could be physical activity, which could have the effect of both increasing attractiveness (Faurie et al., 2004Stephen et al., 2009) and increasing between-meal snacks (Kerver et al., 2006Ovaskainen et al., 2006). Other diet factors not taken into account could affect facial attractiveness, such as fruit and vegetable known to increase skin yellowness (Appleton et al., 2018Zuniga et al., 2017). Also, the main and more complex meals, i.e. lunch and dinner, were not included, precluding the computation of an overall diet quality index, which could have possibly captured other aspects of diet influencing attractiveness. However, diet quality indexes are correlated with low-GL food (higher values for an increase of low-GL food, see e.g. Azadbakht et al., 2016Jones et al., 2016), and thus are partially described by GL measures. Finally, energy intake of each meal was not controlled for in our model due to the high correlation observed with glycaemic load, but gave qualitatively similar results when integrated alone (Table S1). As a consequence, it is unclear whether the associations observed are due to energy intake or to glycaemic load.