Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Federal housing agencies and enterprises represent 3/4 of bailouts costs in 2009

Measuring the Cost of Bailouts. Deborah Lucas. Rev. Financ. Econ. 2019. 11:85–108, Nov 2019.

Abstract: This review develops a theoretical framework that highlights the principles governing economically meaningful estimates of the cost of bailouts. Drawing selectively on existing cost estimates and augmenting them with new calculations consistent with this framework, I conclude that the total direct cost of the 2008 crisis-related bailouts in the United States was on the order of $500 billion, or 3.5% of GDP in 2009. The largest direct beneficiaries of the bailouts were the unsecured creditors of financial institutions. The estimated cost stands in sharp contrast to popular accounts that claim there was no cost because the money was repaid, and with claims of costs in the trillions of dollars. The cost is large enough to suggest the importance of revisiting whether there might have been less expensive ways to intervene tos tabilize markets. At the same time, it is small enough to call into question whether the benefits of ending bailouts permanently exceed the regulatory burden of policies aimed at achieving that goal.

Keywords: bailouts, financial crisis, government guarantees, contingent claims


Properly measured, the direct costs of bailouts arising from the 2008 US financial crisis totaled
approximately $500 billion. That conclusion rests on many uncertain assumptions, and the estimates
presented here, individually and collectively, should be viewed as having wide error bands.
Nevertheless, the total is large enough to conclude that the bailouts were not a free lunch for
policy makers, as some have claimed. At 3.5% of 2009 GDP, the cost is big enough to raise serious
questions about whether taxpayers could have been better protected.Another point of comparison
consists of the concerns that were raised at the time about the affordability of the $392 billion cost
of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the major stimulus package enacted in 2009 to
combat the recession.
At the same time, the analysis here establishes that assertions of costs to taxpayers in the multiple
trillions of dollars are not true. The estimated cost of $500 billion is small enough to raise
questions about the wisdom of trying to end bailouts without seriously weighing the costs of doing
so. The magnitude suggests the possibility that the costs of financial suppression and regulatory
compliance could exceed those of allowing a small probability of future bailouts. It also suggests
that it would be worthwhile to seriously try to assess the costs and benefits of the regulations put
into place after the crisis, including their more difficult to measure indirect effects.
A novel finding in this analysis is the large size of borrower bailouts involving federal credit
programs, most notably those offered by the FHA, the GSEs after they were taken into conservatorship,
and the federal student loan programs. Also notable are the modest costs found to be
associated with the major actions taken by the Federal Reserve and the FDIC, both of which assumed
large risk exposures, but with protections in place that shielded ordinary taxpayers from
directly bearing most losses.
The unsecured creditors of large financial institutions—most significantly, of Fannie and
Freddie, Citigroup, and AIG—were the largest direct beneficiaries at the time of the bailouts.
The equity holders of those institutions benefited less than the popular perception, as many were
effectively wiped out. However, prior to the bailouts equity prices may have been boosted by
the perceived value to shareholders of being a too-big-to-fail institution. For the bailouts arising
from federal credit programs, the direct beneficiaries were the borrowers who otherwise would
have been unable to obtain funds or would have paid more.
A similar approach to the one here could be used to estimate bailout costs and to identify the
direct beneficiaries for other countries and other historical episodes. For example, it would be useful
to study the European bailouts that occurred around the same time but under quite different
regulatory and political frameworks than those in the United States. The approach could also be
applied to the earlier bailouts in Japan and the wave of bailouts in emerging markets in the 1990s.
A challenging but valuable contribution would be the development and calibration of models that
could begin to quantify the competitive and broader economic effects of bailouts, and that could be
used to evaluate the counterfactual effects of alternative policy actions. Developing credible frameworks
for quantifying benefits is a challenging but important direction for future research as well.

Religion/spirituality have a strong & significant association with sex life satisfaction; higher sexual frequency appear to be limited to more intrinsic, personal forms such as frequency of prayer

The Influence of Religiosity/Spirituality on Sex Life Satisfaction and Sexual Frequency: Insights from the Baylor Religion Survey. Stephen Cranney. Review of Religious Research, Jan 1 2020.

Abstract: Prior literature has generally found either a null or positive association between sex life satisfaction and religiosity. However, different studies have used various measures of religiosity and have focused on different demographics along the dimensions of age, marital status, and gender, limiting what can be determined in terms of moderating and cross-demographic effects. This shortcoming is germane because it may explain the differing findings in the literature. This study drew on the nationally representative 2017 Baylor Religion Survey (N = 1501) to test relationships among sex life satisfaction, sexual frequency, and a variety of different religious measures while testing for demographic moderators. Results suggest that religion and spirituality have a strong and significant association with sex life satisfaction while controlling for basic sociodemographic variables, and that this relationship is consistent across marital status, age, and gender. The positive association between religion and sexual frequency appeared to be limited to more intrinsic, personal forms such as self-rated spirituality and frequency of prayer. This association did not exist for non-married individuals, however, and among non-marrieds those who attend religious services more reported lower sexual frequency. Possible explanations for these results are discussed

Several signifcant themes in the fndings are worth noting. First, the relationship
between sexual satisfaction and religiosity/spirituality is consistent across measures and gender, age, and marital demographic categories. Unlike many of the
prior studies cited (e.g. McFarland et  al. 2011; Perry 2016), these measures of
religiosity are global and widely used. In prior studies where a more generic religion variable was used, the demographic breadth of this survey may have picked
up on efects not found in the prior literature. For example, here religious service attendance is signifcantly related to sexual satisfaction, which difers from
McFarland et al.’s (2011) fnding of no efect for older adults. Similarly, the positive fnding here conficts with Morgan’s (2011) null fnding for college students.
The lack of a signifcant interaction term with marriage was surprising given
the lower sexual frequency reported by unmarried religionists, and the consistent
empirical fnding connecting sexual frequency to satisfaction (e.g. Laumann et al.
1994). However, this result may be explained by some conceptual probing of
what exactly is captured with the “sex life satisfaction” construct. If an unmarried
allosexual religionist is celibate or rarely sexual by choice, then for all intents and
purposes he may be satisfed with his sex life, such as it is, if he has internalized
institutional religious norms and expectations surrounding non-marital sex, and
unmarried religionists may be cognitively comparing their current sexuality to
their ideal sexuality given their current marital status. Of course, this explanation is speculative, but it is a plausible explanation for why unmarried religionists
do not report any less satisfaction with their sex lives despite the fact that they
(according to some measures) are having less sex. Unfortunately, the BRS did
not include any other measures of sexual functioning, and it is possible that other
aspects of sexual functioning such as orgasmic frequency and sexual desire show
difering relationships with religiosity than sex life satisfaction does; this is an
important hole in the literature that future research would do well to investigate.
(However, in one of the few studies that have investigated the religiosity/orgasmic
functioning link, Laumann et  al. (1994) found that conservative protestant and
Catholic women were more likely to indicate that they “always” experience an
orgasm during partnered sex than non-religiously-afliated women.)
While sexual frequency is often intertwined both empirically and conceptually
with sex life satisfaction, sex life satisfaction may more directly tap into more
general, overall life satisfaction and other measures of SWB that religion tends
to be associated with (Dolan et al. 2008). Religious/spiritual people may report
higher sex life satisfaction simply because they tend to be more satisfed in general, without necessarily being more sexual in terms of sexual frequency.
As previously noted, sexual frequency is more complicated across both measures and demographics. Here, only the more intrinsic/personal aspects of spirituality were associated with sexual frequency (supporting McFarland’s et al. 2011
null fnding of sexual frequency and religious service attendance among older
adults), and the efects that are signifcant appeared to be reserved for married
religionists; unmarried individuals who go to services more reported lower sexual
frequency than their less religious services-going unmarried counterparts (providing related, albeit indirect support for the general mitigating efects of religion
on youth sexual activity found in the literature).
In conclusion, prior research on sex life satisfaction and sexual frequency has
often only included religion as a covariate. Recently some studies have attempted to
plumb deeper, but again they have focused on a particular demographic such as college students (Morgan 2011), or have used a very specifc measurement of sexuality
(such as physiological satisfaction of frst intercourse— Higgins et al. 2010) or religiosity (such as religious integration in daily life—McFarland et al. 2011). This study
addressed the baseline sexual satisfaction and sexual frequency/religiosity relationship using a large-N, nationally representative study with broad measures for the
concepts involved, fnding that in general religious people are more satisfed with
their sex lives. In some cases they have more sex, but this fnding is not consistent.
This study has several limitations. First, the relatively broad approach taken here,
while useful for the reasons noted above, may gloss over specifc populations and
sexual modalities for which these efects vary. Unmarried individuals are treated in
the analysis here, but there are other theoretically interesting populations such as
sexual minorities whose experiences are not captured in this broad analysis.
On a related note, the measures used here are conceptually broad, and while this
also has advantages, it limits this analysis’ ability to dive deeper than the interrelations examined here. Now that a broad–stroke relationships are established with a
large, representative sample and general measures, future research will be able to
use these broader fndings as starting points to analyze the sexual satisfaction and
frequency/religion relationships in fner detail. The prior literature cited touched on
some of these issues, but much of it was not focused on sexual satisfaction or frequency/religion per se; consequently the prior literature on this question in particular is relatively piecemeal. Future research should aim to establish a more systematic
body of literature on these particular questions.
It is likely that the sex life satisfaction advantage is of a piece with the broader
infuence of religion on subjective well-being more generally (Dolan et al. 2008).
While this study did not investigate this possibility, future research should explore
the extent to which sexual satisfaction efects are simply extensions of more general
optimism efects from religion. One possible way to do so would be to incorporate
other, more physiological measures such as orgasmic frequenc

The United States as a Developing Nation: Revisiting the Peculiarities of American History

The United States as a Developing Nation: Revisiting the Peculiarities of American History. Stefan Link, Noam Maggor. Past & Present, gtz032, December 24 2019.

Abstract: It has recently been suggested that the economic departure of the United States after the Civil War marked a ‘Second Great Divergence’. Compared to the ‘First’, the rise of Britain during the Industrial Revolution, this Second Great Divergence is curiously little understood: because the United States remains the template for modernization narratives, its trajectory is more easily accepted as preordained than interrogated as an unlikely historical outcome. But why should development have been problematic everywhere but the United States? This Viewpoint argues that a robust explanation for the United States's rise is lacking: it can neither be found in an economic history literature focused on factor endowments nor in internalist Americanist historiography, which often reproduces overdetermined accounts of modernization inspired by Max Weber. The most promising avenue of inquiry, we argue, lies in asking how American political institutions configured what should properly be called an American developmental state. Such a perspective opens up a broad comparative research agenda that provincializes the United States from the perspective of development experiences elsewhere.



But let us return to our starting question: how did the US manage to break from the position it inhabited in the global division of labour during the nineteenth century? That is, how did this nation not only accelerate growth, but also effect a profound structural transformation of the economy, register not only quantitative increases, but qualitative economic change? A framework that persuasively engages with this shift has to go beyond models that associate development, alternately, with territorial consolidation (Maier), competitive markets (Lamoreaux and Wallis), or a well-regulated corporate economy (Novak, Sparrow and Sawyer). It ought to grant political institutions an even more pervasive role than conquering and administering territory, liberalizing economic life and overseeing private firms. The only framework that has extensively dealt with these types of structural shifts in global economic history emerges from the literature on ‘developmental states’. This heterodox literature has drawn its insights from the experience of East Asian ‘catch-up’ developers such as Korea, Japan, Taiwan and, most recently, China.66 Just like the US a century earlier, these nations have managed to pull off something extraordinarily difficult and rare: they radically altered their positions in the global division of labour by way of sustained industrial and technological development. Is there anything to be learnt from this literature that may apply to the US?
At first glance, the core features identified by this literature seem hopelessly at odds with conventional understandings of the US since the nineteenth century that cast it as the quintessential market society.67 East Asian nations developed in direct violation of stylized notions of Anglo-Saxon market dispensations. They were (often authoritarian) states with strong bureaucracies pursuing purposive industrial policies. They defied ‘Washington Consensus’-style liberalization and instead protected and subsidized domestic firms, built up ‘national champions’, and strategically controlled the inflow and outflow of foreign capital. Their governing ideologies arose from the predicament of the late developer.
Nevertheless, the ‘developmental state’ literature can deliver a strong tonic to how we think about development more broadly, including in the American case. That is because the generalizable kernel of this literature does not reside in its empirical descriptions, but in its analytical insights. The most instructive lesson of the literature on ‘developmental states’ is the deconstruction of received dichotomies between state policy and market development.68 Successful developmental states did not create spaces for competitive markets to operate freely, as neoclassical models, or indeed the prescriptions of Northian institutionalism, would expect them to. Instead, they harnessed, managed and manipulated markets. Rather than receding from the flows of supply and demand, developmental state institutions nested themselves in them and channelled them by tinkering with price incentives.69 They cajoled, nudged and pushed private interests in economically desired directions by tying ‘carrots’ — subsidies, protection and incentives – to the ‘discipline’ of demands such as moving investment towards industrial development and technological upgrading, which capitalists, despite their much inflated reputation as ‘risk-takers’, did only reluctantly.70 Successful development, understood as engendering not only ‘growth’ but structural economic transformation, required not institutions that ‘protect’ markets, and ‘encase’71 or ‘preserve’72 them, but rather, development arose from institutions that disciplined and channelled the generative power of markets.
The second important lesson of this literature is about the politics of development. Though developmental states were ‘strong’, they were not aloof, monolithic behemoths but rather regimes with deep support in development-oriented social coalitions.73 Within an overarching ideological and social commitment to development, there was ongoing contestation between bureaucrats and industrialists over resource trade-offs, or over strategy, direction and the speed of economic transformation. Developmental policies involved state institutions and private actors in tense and ongoing confrontations and re-alignments. Nowhere did developmental states arise fully fledged — instead, they grew out of friction-ridden processes of trial and error, of overcoming political antagonisms and creating new institutional compromises.74 From this literature emerges an image that matches neither the Hayekian caricature of an all-powerful and impervious state of planner-bureaucrats nor the Smithian metaphysics of a beehive of self-interested economic actors magically creating superior outcomes. Development, this literature suggests, arose from the politics of institutional wrangling.
Both of these key insights — the emphasis on market-managing institutions and on ongoing political contestation over their precise set-up — offer rich potential for an analysis of development in the US. In contrast to Weberian narratives, which insinuate the inexorable fashion of capitalist development and remove it from the realm of political conflict, the insights of the ‘developmental state’ literature put politics and contestation squarely at the centre. Where Northian institutionalism is interested in political contestation up to an inflection point that gives birth to the ‘highest’ form of institutions — ‘open access’ systems, and the state as parsimonious arbiter of functioning markets — the ‘developmental state’ literature insists on ongoing conflict and the immersion of institutions in creating, shaping and harnessing markets. The US in the late nineteenth century harboured nothing resembling the powerful East Asian state bureaucracies that supervised and orchestrated development. The American state, we contend, nevertheless gained the ‘institutional capacity’ to effect and sustain structural economic change. It gained, that is, the capacities of a developmental state.75
Where might we begin to discern the sources of this institutional capacity? Where did the American state gain the most traction vis-à-vis private actors? Here, we point to the state’s highly decentralized and devolved structure. Contra the territorialists’ emphasis on the federal government’s role in integrating a coherent national market, American institutions in fact engendered remarkable regulatory unevenness and variability. This was not simply a feature of ‘federalism’ as such, but the product of historically specific political arrangements. As Gary Gerstle has recently argued, federal authorities and state governments in the US did not merely differ in terms of geographical scale. The two levels of government deployed fundamentally different — almost contradictory — modes of power. Whereas the liberal Constitution strictly constrained federal authority, state governments were endowed with broad ‘police power’. They enjoyed a much more capacious mandate to proactively shape economic life, a mandate that showed no sign of eroding at the end of the nineteenth century. Collectivist and majoritarian, rather than liberal, state governments also allowed greater space for contentious politics to set priorities, with fewer layers of mediation between electoral outcomes and the formation of policy.76
The majoritarian political drive behind state activism during the critical decades of American industrialization came most forcefully (but of course not exclusively) from rural constituencies, mostly located in the country’s periphery and semi-periphery. As Elizabeth Sanders and Monica Prasad have pointed out, farmers in this period mobilized to advance an aggressive regulatory agenda. They sought broad access to credit, leverage against railroad corporations, and protection from the competitive advantages of monopolies, even at the cost of higher prices for the goods they acquired and consumed.77 They enacted not liberal non-interventionism but an intensely proactive agenda, including progressive taxation, robust anti-trust policies, bankruptcy protections, banking reform, and corporate regulation (of railroad freight rates in particular). These measures were launched in different iterations and configurations by state-level legislation before migrating — only partially and with much difficulty — to the federal level in the twentieth century. The net result was not a level playing field shaped by liberal policy but a dense patchwork of overlapping, unevenly regulated and highly politicized markets. This ‘productive incoherence’ (Hirschman) — disconnected, experimental, even erratic procedures that were forged politically over time — generated a long catalogue of incentives and constraints.78 Cumulatively, we surmise, these policies obstructed the drive towards economic specialization, channelled and disciplined the flows of capital, and nurtured a robust, diverse and technologically sophisticated manufacturing base.
The economic effects of this ‘productive incoherence’ could most readily be observed in the American Midwest. Here, as the literature on the developmental state would predict, the institutional capacity to exert public sway over market forces — by regulating railroad freight charges, combating monopolies and channelling the flow of credit — yielded impressive developmental effects. This frontier region departed from the prevailing patterns in other world peripheries, becoming not simply the site for the extraction and cultivation of primary commodities but also a heavily urbanized industrial market for those commodities. Michigan, to take one important state among many, grew as a resource-rich periphery over the second half of the nineteenth century. It absorbed huge infusions of out-of-state capital to build the necessary infrastructure for the removal of large amounts of lumber, iron and copper. Michigan was no different in this respect from Montana, Wisconsin or Nevada, but, more importantly, no different from Chile, Australia and South Africa. What set apart Michigan’s economic profile by the end of the century was the state’s broad and diverse manufacturing base, which other peripheries struggled to foster. In 1900, Detroit, Michigan, had a broad-based industrial foundation atypical for peripheral settlements, including nearly three thousand different manufacturing establishments of medium size in more than a hundred different industrial categories. On this frontier, Dutch disease was nowhere to be found. But to further magnify this point, Detroit, the largest city in the state, had only half of the wage earners within the overall manufacturing economy of Michigan. It accounted for only half of Michigan’s ‘value added’. The state had at least a dozen other lesser known cities and towns (Lansing, Muskegon, Saginaw, Grand Rapids, and so on), each with its own manufacturing base, ranging from ploughs, wagons and stoves to foundry machine shops, forks and hoes, furniture and chemical works.79
Michigan’s dispersed urban–industrial pattern was representative of the Midwest as a whole. Throughout the nineteenth century, the Midwest fostered home-grown manufacturing in a variety of sectors, beyond the processing of agricultural commodities.80 This pattern accelerated after the Civil War, despite rapid improvements in transportation that drastically lowered the costs of interregional commerce. Midwestern industries like apparel, furniture, printing and publishing, building materials and fabricated metals that sold products in local and regional markets flourished and grew, despite competition from mass producers in the East that had access to national markets and thus, all else being equal, should have enjoyed a competitive advantage. But all things were not equal — state policies tipped the scale in favour of local producers — and so these regional industries continued to grow and employ large numbers of industrial workers, by some measures the majority of workers.81
The same policies also limited the gravitational pull of the region’s largest cities. Despite their prodigious growth, the major metropolises of the Midwest operated as part of a broader territorial production complex that included a dense network of small- and medium-sized cities. Chicago’s meatpackers famously dominated the meatpacking industry but never monopolized it. Its meatpackers worked alongside St. Louis, Omaha, Kansas City, St. Joseph and Sioux City, not to mention smaller centres like Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Ottumwa and Indianapolis. McCormick and Co., also of Chicago, became the most well-known manufacturer of agricultural machinery, but it competed in a diversified industry with producers from Racine, Springfield, Peoria, Decatur, Rockford and South Bend. Overall, about half the industrial workforce of the Midwest, in a very wide range of manufacturing sectors, was employed in smaller cities. Meanwhile, workers in the top eight industrial cities (an unusually dense urban network) — Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Detroit, Louisville and Indianapolis — represented a steady, and perhaps even declining, percentage of the overall Midwestern industrial labour force. The expansion of this multi-layered urban–industrial geography — at odds with the trend towards the growing dominance of single large metropolises in other countries, especially elsewhere in the Americas — continued into the twentieth century.82
What was most remarkable about the economic geography of the region was not the differentiated sizes of its production units or their decentralized locations.83 The regional pattern we observe did not simply enhance, diversify or spatially disperse the familiar arc of American capitalism. Rather, it cut hard against the dominant global trends of the late nineteenth century. Instead of regional specialization, in the Midwest, industry and agriculture intermingled. Instead of an exclusive focus on resource extraction and commercial farming for national and global markets, the Midwestern economic geography ensured that a significant share of accumulation redounded regionally. Instead of corporate behemoths sponsored by metropolitan finance, the region harboured a plethora of mid-sized shops in a wide array of sectors. If the dominant sectors of the age — railroads, steel, coal, resource extraction and food processing — followed the logic of the Great Specialization, the political economy of the Midwest pursued a competing logic of regional development, complementarity and economic diversification.
Not by coincidence, from this institutional and economic landscape arose the industry that encapsulated the ‘second great divergence’ like no other — the automobile industry.84 It is rarely appreciated that automotive mass production was a sharp departure from the extractive focus of corporate-led growth during the late nineteenth century. The automobile emerged from the workshops of the Midwest’s skilled mechanics, who nurtured a particular vision of development, one that advocated growing regional independence from the circuits of Eastern capital and championed a political economy based on popular participation in both production and consumption. Indeed, automotive mass production grew, not from corporate headquarters, but from an eclectic industrial landscape of machine shops deeply embedded in the regional political economy. The product, the affordable automobile, shot across the grain of the specialization economy: neither good for large-scale extraction nor for long-haul transport, the car instead supported short farm-to-market commutes. The automobile’s success took financial elites by surprise, and they attempted to thwart the industry by cornering the patent rights over the gasoline-powered motor car. That scheme foundered upon a legal ruling that rejected a narrow conception of intellectual property rights in favour of the open-source stance towards technological innovation that animated the industry’s mechanics.85 It was not before the 1920s that corporate capitalism began to assimilate automotive mass production, in the process transforming both it and itself.86



This Viewpoint began with a puzzle: how come one of the most momentous shifts of global economic history, America’s second great divergence, has been flying under the radar of historical scrutiny, or at least has not garnered the scholarly attention among historians commensurate to its significance? We traced the reasons back to pervasive patterns of thinking about American development as somehow natural and self-evident, as though situated in a preter-political realm. Transnational economic histories have continued to evade the question. Americanist historiography has not shaken free of modernization templates that, whether Whiggish or not, evacuate a substantive sense of contingency and political contestation from their purview. The literature about the American state, by contrast, offers a promising point of departure. The literature on East Asian developmental states provides a salubrious distancing effect that validates this state-centred approach. It calls for greater attention to markets as thoroughly political institutions, as well as to political contestation over the institutional design of markets. America’s ‘sprawling disarray’ (Novak) of subnational political arrangements, it leads us to believe, had developmental effects that collectively propelled the economic transformation of the US in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
We might conclude by taking a step back and inserting these insights into a genealogy of American development dispensations, from Alexander Hamilton’s mercantilism via Henry Clay’s ‘American system’, to the late-nineteenth-century developmental state identified here, usurped slowly and incompletely by federal institutions in the early twentieth century. This genealogy also shines fresh light on the federal aspirations of the New Deal and the warfare state of the 1940s, which harnessed big business in unprecedented ways to national goals and more closely begins to resemble the ideal-type of the developmental state spelt out in the example of East Asia.87 From there it was but a short step to the defence-related technological upgrading engendered by the post-war military–industrial complex, and the modern, post-1980 ‘networked’ American developmental state whose pervasive mechanisms remained solidly ‘hidden’ behind the deafening noise of free-market incantations.88 Market politics and developmental institutions, in this view, have been the rule, rather than the exception, with far-reaching implications. As we approach the challenges of the twenty-first century — ‘Green New Deal’, climate change, equitable growth — a better understanding of the politics and the institutions of large-scale, qualitative, economic transformations in the context of the US is sorely needed.

Previously unknown tool-use behavior for wild birds, in Wales and Iceland, so far only documented in the wild in primates and elephants

Evidence of tool use in a seabird. Annette L. Fayet, Erpur Snær Hansen, and  Dora Biro. PNAS, December 30, 2019

Abstract: Documenting novel cases of tool use in wild animals can inform our understanding of the evolutionary drivers of the behavior’s emergence in the natural world. We describe a previously unknown tool-use behavior for wild birds, so far only documented in the wild in primates and elephants. We observed 2 Atlantic puffins at their breeding colonies, one in Wales and the other in Iceland (the latter captured on camera), spontaneously using a small wooden stick to scratch their bodies. The importance of these observations is 3-fold. First, while to date only a single form of body-care-related tool use has been recorded in wild birds (anting), our finding shows that the wild avian tool-use repertoire is wider than previously thought and extends to contexts other than food extraction. Second, we expand the taxonomic breadth of tool use to include another group of birds, seabirds, and a different suborder (Lari). Third, our independent observations span a distance of more than 1,700 km, suggesting that occasional tool use may be widespread in this group, and that seabirds’ physical cognition may have been underestimated.

Keywords: tool useseabirdanimal cognition

“We all want justice, but not at the expense of truth” Historian Gordon Wood responds to the New York Times’ defense of the 1619 Project

“We all want justice, but not at the expense of truth” Historian Gordon Wood responds to the New York Times’ defense of the 1619 Project. World Socialist, Published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), Dec 24 2019.

Historian Gordon Wood, author of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize winning book The Radicalism of the American Revolution and the 1970 Bancroft Prize winning The Creation of the American Republic 1776-1787, was one of five signatories to write a letter to the editor of the New York Times asking the paper to correct “factual errors” in the 1619 Project which evinced “a displacement of historical understanding by ideology.” Professor Wood is the leading historian of the American Revolution.

The other signatories were historians Victoria Bynum, James McPherson, Sean Wilentz and James Oakes. The Times responded on December 20 in a letter by editor-in-chief of The New York Times Magazine Jake Silverstein and refused to make any corrections. Wood then wrote the following response.

* * *
Dec. 21 2019

Dear Mr. Silverstein,

I have read your response to our letter concerning the 1619 Project. I have no quarrel with the idea behind the project. Demonstrating the importance of slavery in the history of our country is essential and commendable. But that necessary and worthy goal will be seriously harmed if the facts in the project turn out to be wrong and the interpretations of events are deemed to be perverse and distorted. In the long run the Project will lose its credibility, standing, and persuasiveness with the nation as a whole. I fear that it will eventually hurt the cause rather than help it. We all want justice, but not at the expense of truth.

I have spent my career studying the American Revolution and cannot accept the view that “one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery.” I don’t know of any colonist who said that they wanted independence in order to preserve their slaves. No colonist expressed alarm that the mother country was out to abolish slavery in 1776. If southerners were concerned about losing their slaves, why didn’t they make efforts to ally with the slaveholding planters in the British West Indies? Perhaps some southern slaveholders were alarmed by news of the Somerset decision, but we don’t have any evidence of that. Besides, that decision was not known in the colonies until the fall of 1772 and by that date the colonists were well along in their drive to independence. Remember, it all started in 1765 with the Stamp Act. The same is true of Dunmore’s proclamation of 1775. It may have tipped the scales for some hesitant Virginia planters, but by then the revolutionary movement was already well along in Virginia.

There is no evidence in 1776 of a rising movement to abolish the Atlantic slave trade, as the 1619 Project erroneously asserts, nor is there any evidence the British government was eager to do so. But even if either were the case, ending the Atlantic slave trade would have been welcomed by the Virginia planters, who already had more slaves than they needed. Indeed, the Virginians in the years following independence took the lead in moving to abolish the despicable international slave trade.

How could slavery be worth preserving for someone like John Adams, who hated slavery and owned no slaves? If anyone in the Continental Congress was responsible for the Declaration of Independence, it was Adams. And much of our countrymen now know that from seeing the film of the musical “1776.” Ignoring his and other northerners’ roles in the decision for independence can only undermine the credibility of your project with the general public. Far from preserving slavery the North saw the Revolution as an opportunity to abolish the institution. The first anti-slave movements in the history of the world, supported by whites as well as blacks, took place in the northern states in the years immediately following 1776.

I could go on with many more objections, some of which I mentioned in my interview with the World Socialist Web Site. But for now this may be enough to justify some correction and modification of the project. Again, let me emphasize my wholehearted support of the goal of the project to demonstrate accurately and truthfully to all Americans the importance of slavery in our history.

If you are willing to publish this letter, you may.


Gordon S. Wood

Adolescents reveal a paradoxical effect: Prosocial behaviors which involved either going against the group majority or other personal costs generate less, not more, moral pride

Moral Pride: A Paradoxical Effect Also Present in Young Adults? Aitziber Pascual,Susana Conejero & Itziar Etxebarria. The Journal of Psychology, Interdisciplinary and Applied, Volume 154, 2020 - Issue 1. Sep 16 2019.

Abstract: Moral pride acts as an intrinsic reinforcement of moral behavior. However, a study with adolescents revealed a paradoxical effect: prosocial behaviors which involved either going against the group majority or other personal costs (dedication of time and effort, a possible punishment, etc.) generated less, not more, moral pride, indicating that moral pride is weakened just when it is needed most. Does this effect reflect a specific characteristic of adolescent morality or a relatively stable weakness in moral functioning? The aim of the present study was to determine whether or not this effect continues beyond adolescence. The sample was made up of 152 young adults, 78 women and 74 men. Participants were given 8 scenarios in which someone needed help (two for each combination of the two variables considered: going against the majority and other costs) and were asked how proud they would feel if they helped. Among this age group, the negative effect of other costs was reversed (higher costs, more pride); that of going against the majority had weakened, but had not been reversed. Women scored higher for moral pride than men.

Keywords: Moral pride, moral emotions, young adulthood, group influence, personal costs, gender differences



In relation to the measure of general moral pride (pride in all 8 scenarios, regardless
of whether or not participants said they would actually help), the results revealed that,
among young adults, the negative and paradoxical effect of the other personal costs factor had disappeared altogether. Indeed, our study found the opposite effect, which, in
principle, is more logical from a psychological perspective, namely that more costly
actions generated significantly greater pride. Moreover, the effect size was relevant: g2 ¼
.096 (medium effect size, see Richard, Bond, & Stokes-Zoota, 2003). Nevertheless, the
negative effect of the going against the group majority factor had not disappeared (i.e.
behaviors which involved going against the majority continued to generate significantly
less pride), although it was considerably weaker in the present sample of young adults,
g2 ¼ .120, than in the adolescent sample, g2 ¼ .301 (Etxebarria et al., 2014).
If we analyze the pride felt in situations in which participants said they would actually help (a measure we feel is more appropriate), among the young adults in our sample, the negative effect of the personal costs factor was not only not significant, as
indeed occurred in this measure of pride in the adolescent sample (Etxebarria et al.,
2014), it was again totally reversed. This, more logical, opposite effect was found to be
both significant and large (g2 ¼ .221), indicating that, among young adults, more costly
actions one believes one would actually carry out generate more moral pride. As regards
going against the group majority, a certain amount of progress was observed in comparison with the adolescent sample (Etxebarria et al., 2014), since the negative effect
was no longer found to be significant. In other words, behaviors which involved going
against the majority did not generate significantly less pride among young adults.
Nevertheless, the effect was not completely reversed, since this type of behavior still was
not found to generate significantly more pride.

In sum, we can conclude that, among young adults, and unlike that observed with
adolescents, behaviors which involve a personal cost of some kind do indeed generate
significantly more pride. However, behaviors that involve going against the group
majority do not, although, at least in relation to the pride felt due to actions one thinks
one would take, neither do they generate less pride. In short, the results presented here
indicate that, in this age group, the negative effect of the other personal costs factor has
completely disappeared, to the point of being reversed (the more costly the behavior,
the more pride generated). In contrast, the negative effect of the going against the group
majority factor is considerably weakened, but has not yet been reversed.

The effects outlined above were similar in both men and women, although –as
hypothesized– women scored significantly higher for moral pride (or, more specifically,
authentic moral pride, as specified earlier). This is an interesting result. In the same
context, Etxebarria et al. (2018) found no significant gender differences in authentic
moral pride in four studies focusing on this emotion: two with children aged between 9
and 11, and two with adolescents aged between 14 and 16. They did, however, find significant differences in a fifth study with adolescents aged between 16 and 18. For their
part, Krettenauer and Casey (2015) found significant differences in favor of women
among Canadian adolescents and young adults (M ¼ 17.72 years, SD ¼ 3.65). Taken
together, these findings suggest that gender differences in moral pride may be clearer
from late adolescence onwards. Evidently, further research is required to determine
whether or not this is truly the case and, above all, if it is, to what it is due.

We shall now discuss the most relevant findings of the present study. The total disappearance, and even reversal, of the negative effect of the other personal costs factor
on moral pride among young adults not only supports our initial hypothesis, but actually goes one step further than we ventured to predict. Unlike that observed in adolescents (Etxebarria et al., 2014), among young adults the effect of this factor is positive,
with more costly actions generating more moral pride. This finding is consistent with
the changes that occur during this developmental stage transition in the assessment of
moral actions (Eisenberg, Cumberland, Guthrie, Murphy, & Shepard, 2005; Kohlberg,
1984; Walker, 1989). As regards the weakening of the negative effect of the group opinion on moral pride, this result also supports our original hypothesis and is consistent
with the increase in resistance to peer pressure observed by Steinberg and Monahan
(2007) between the ages of 14 and 18. Also consistent with the results of the aforementioned study is the absence here of interactions between the gender variable and the
going against the group majority variable, since Steinberg and Monahan (2007)
observed that, although women were more resistant to peer pressure than men, the
increase in this resistance between the ages of 14 and 18 was identical for both genders.

Our results reveal that the negative effect of others’ opinion on pride when the
behavior involves going against the group majority is not limited to adolescence, a stage
in which the group opinion carries particular weight (Allen et al., 2005; Berndt, 1979;
Brown, 2004; Hart & Carlo, 2005). Although to a lesser degree, among young adults
also, fear of the group reaction and opinion also undermines the moral pride that may
be expected following a particularly costly moral action (precisely because it goes against
the group majority opinion), thereby preventing a significantly greater level of pride
from being generated in comparison with a behavior that does not involve this difficulty. This is consistent with the work of several authors (Asch, 1951; Suhay, 2015;
Turner, 1991) who have highlighted the fact that group opinion has a major effect on
people’s actions and judgments throughout the entire course of their lives.

The present study has a series of limitations that should be taken into account. In
addition to the measure of pride being based on participants’ own responses, a common
problem in this type of study (Hart & Carlo, 2005), it also uses a fairly low number of
scenarios. An attempt was made to control for the effect of the specific content of the
situations by having various different scenarios for each combination of the variables
studied. Nevertheless, in order to avoid tiring participants (which may have had a detrimental effect on their responses), we opted to include only 2 scenarios for each of the 4
combinations of the two variables analyzed. Future research may wish to include a
higher number of scenarios for each combination, and it would also be useful to replicate this study using different scenarios.

It would also be interesting to analyze what happens after young adulthood. Does the
paradoxical effect observed in adolescence become even weaker? Do older adults feel
significantly more moral pride also when their prosocial actions go against the group
majority? While this would be the ideal outcome, the data do not suggest that this is
indeed the case. In their study, Steinberg and Monahan (2007) found no evidence of
any increase in resistance to peer pressure between the ages of 18 and 30. Alongside age
differences, it would also be interesting to analyze possible cultural differences in this
sense. It may be that this paradoxical effect and its continued presence beyond adolescence are stronger in cultures characterized by an interdependent self than in those with
an independent self (Markus & Kitayama, 2010; Mesquita & Markus, 2004).

We believe that the results of the study by Etxebarria et al. (2014), as well as those
presented here, are vital to attaining a more comprehensive understanding of moral
pride. Moral pride is an emotion that, without doubt, plays a very important regulatory
role in moral action, since it acts as an intrinsic booster of this particular type of behavior (Boezeman & Ellemers, 2007, 2008; Etxebarria et al., 2015; Hart & Matsuba, 2007;
Ortiz et al., 2018). However, it is also a weak emotion, overly influenced by the opinions of others, and often disappears just when it is most needed.

From a practical perspective, the results of these studies highlight the need for resources designed to ensure that not only children and adolescents, but also young people and adults in general, understand that moral action often requires diverging from, or even going against the group majority opinion, and that this should not be a reason to feel shame or embarrassment, but rather should give rise to legitimate feelings of authentic moral pride.

This is an idea that should be promoted at home, at school and in the media, with careful attention being paid in all three contexts to the messages being conveyed. Each context and each age group requires a different approach, but in one way or another, in all cases it is important to underscore the fact that it is ultimately up to the individual him or herself to assess actions ethically and that the goodness of an act cannot be measured simply in terms of the majority opinion. There are (unfortunately) many situations, in both the personal and the social-historical fields, which we could use to illustrate this. In short, from childhood onwards, we need to develop the resources necessary to ensure individuals are capable of withstanding this (often pernicious) group influence and that they understand that, in moral terms, being in the minority does not necessarily invalidate one’s position, but rather, on the contrary, sometimes even increases one’s merit. By doing this, we can help people conserve the legitimate moral pride they feel as a result of actions which justify it, thereby safeguarding the important moral motivation that this emotion generates.

Posting Explicit Images or Videos of Oneself Online Is Associated with Impulsivity and Hypersexuality but Not Measures of Psychopathology in a Sample of US Veterans

Turban JL, Shirk SD, Potenza MN, et al. Posting Sexually Explicit Images or Videos of Oneself Online Is Associated with Impulsivity and Hypersexuality but Not Measures of Psychopathology in a Sample of US Veterans. J Sex Med 2020;17:163–167.

Introduction Sending sexually explicit text messages (“sexting”) is prevalent among US adults; however, the mental health correlates of this behavior among adults have not been studied adequately. Furthermore, there are few studies examining the related but distinct behavior of posting sexually explicit photos or videos of oneself online (posting sexual images [PSI]) and the mental health correlates of this behavior.

Aim To examine associations between sexting, PSI, impulsivity, hypersexuality, and measures of psychopathology.

Methods Using a national convenience sample of 283 US post-deployment, post-9/11 military veterans, we evaluated the prevalence of 2 behaviors: sexting and PSI and the associations of these behaviors with psychopathology, suicidal ideation, sexual behaviors, hypersexuality, sexually transmitted infections, trauma history, and measures of impulsivity.

Main Outcome Measure Measures of psychopathology including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, insomnia, substance dependence, hypersexuality, and suicidal ideation, as well as measures of impulsivity, sexual behavior, and trauma.

Results Sexting was found to be common among post-9/11 veterans (68.9%). A smaller number of veterans engaged in PSI (16.3%). PSI veterans were more likely to be younger, male, less educated, and unemployed. After adjusting for covariates, no associations were detected between PSI or sexting and the examined measures of psychopathology. However, PSI was associated with higher levels of impulsivity and hypersexuality, whereas sexting was not associated with these measures.

Clinical Implications Results from this study suggest that not all digital sexual behaviors are associated with psychopathology. However, PSI was associated with hypersexuality and impulsivity. Those who engage with PSI may benefit from guidance on how to manage their impulsivity to prevent ego-dystonic sexual behaviors.

Strengths & Limitations The strengths of this study include differentiating PSI from sexting broadly, highlighting that digital sexual behaviors are heterogeneous. Limitations include the study's cross-sectional design, which limits causal interpretations. More research is also needed in civilian populations.

Conclusion PSI was less prevalent than sexting in our sample. This behavior was associated with impulsivity and hypersexuality but not with elevated levels of psychopathology. Sexting was not associated with any of these measures.

Erotic target identity inversions (ETIIs) are poorly studied paraphilias that involve sexual arousal by the idea or fantasy of being the object of one’s sexual desires

Brown A, Barker ED, Rahman Q. Erotic Target Identity Inversions Among Men and Women in an Internet Sample. J Sex Med 2020;17:99–110.

Introduction: Erotic target identity inversions (ETIIs) are poorly studied paraphilias that involve sexual arousal by the idea or fantasy of being the object of one’s sexual desires.

Aim: To conduct a large non-clinical online survey to investigate self-reported sexual arousal, behavioral expression, and psychological correlates of 4 proposed ETIIs.

Methods: A total of 736 natal males and 549 natal females responded to items about self-reported sexual arousal to the idea of acting as an animal (autoanthropomorphozoophilia) or the idea of acting as a child or infant (autonepiophilia), natal males reporting arousal to the idea of acting as a woman (autogynephilia), and natal females reporting arousal to the idea of acting as a man (autoandrophilia). Data pertaining to sexual orientation, childhood gender nonconformity, gender identity discomfort, autism, masochism, and humiliation were also collected.

Main Outcome Measures: The main outcome was a measure of self-reported arousal and expression of the ETIIs being explored using 4 items: arousal level (–3 to 3) when imagining being the erotic target exemplar; frequency of engagement in dressing or behaving like their preferred target (0–4); strength of feeling that they would be better off as the target (0–4); and the frequency of consideration of making physical changes to look or function more like the target (0–4).

Results: Mild levels of reported sexual arousal to the idea of being the preferred erotic target were common among the 4 groups, characterizing about half of them. Gender identity discomfort was associated with autogynephilia, autoandrophilia, and autoanthropomorphozoophilia. Greater gender nonconformity was associated with autogynephilia, autoandrophilia, and autonepiophilia. Autism scores were associated with autoandrophilia and autonepiophilia. Masochism was not associated with ETII scores, but humiliation was.

Clinical Implications: Findings suggest that it may be important to distinguish between subgroups of those with different levels and types of ETII arousal/expression.

Strengths & Limitations: Strengths of this study include the large, non-clinical sample of men and women for the investigation of ETIIs and the inclusion of measures of psychological correlates. The use of an Internet sample with self-report measures may be unrepresentative, although the Internet has the advantage of allowing recruitment from stigmatized or unusual groups. The cross-sectional nature limits our conclusions, as no causal inferences can be made.

Conclusion: The results support the concept of ETIIs as a paraphilic dimension in non-clinical samples and the possible role of gender-related psychological factors.

The Power of Bad: How the Negativity Effect Rules Us and How We Can Rule It. John Tierney, Roy F. Baumeister

The Power of Bad: How the Negativity Effect Rules Us and How We Can Rule It. John Tierney, Roy F. Baumeister. December 31, 2019.

Why are we devastated by a word of criticism even when it's mixed with lavish praise? Because our brains are wired to focus on the bad. This negativity effect explains things great and small: why countries blunder into disastrous wars, why couples divorce, why people flub job interviews, how schools fail students, why football coaches stupidly punt on fourth down. All day long, the power of bad governs people's moods, drives marketing campaigns, and dominates news and politics.

Eminent social scientist Roy F. Baumeister stumbled unexpectedly upon this fundamental aspect of human nature. To find out why financial losses mattered more to people than financial gains, Baumeister looked for situations in which good events made a bigger impact than bad ones. But his team couldn't find any. Their research showed that bad is relentlessly stronger than good, and their paper has become one of the most-cited in the scientific literature.

Our brain's negativity bias makes evolutionary sense because it kept our ancestors alert to fatal dangers, but it distorts our perspective in today's media environment. The steady barrage of bad news and crisismongering makes us feel helpless and leaves us needlessly fearful and angry. We ignore our many blessings, preferring to heed—and vote for—the voices telling us the world is going to hell.

But once we recognize our negativity bias, the rational brain can overcome the power of bad when it's harmful and employ that power when it's beneficial. In fact, bad breaks and bad feelings create the most powerful incentives to become smarter and stronger. Properly understood, bad can be put to perfectly good use.

As noted science journalist John Tierney and Baumeister show in this wide-ranging book, we can adopt proven strategies to avoid the pitfalls that doom relationships, careers, businesses, and nations. Instead of despairing at what's wrong in your life and in the world, you can see how much is going right—and how to make it still better.

Relationship Between Masturbation and Partnered Sex in Women: Does the Former Facilitate, Inhibit, or Not Affect the Latter?

Rowland DL, Hevesi K, Conway GR, et al. Relationship Between Masturbation and Partnered Sex in Women: Does the Former Facilitate, Inhibit, or Not Affect the Latter? J Sex Med 2020;17:37–47.

Introduction: The relationship between masturbation activities and their effect on partnered sex is understudied.

Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the alignment of activities between masturbation and partnered sex, and to determine whether different levels of alignment affect orgasmic parameters during partnered sex.

Methods: 2,215 women completed an online survey about activities during masturbation and reasons for orgasmic difficulty during masturbation, and these were compared with activities and reasons for orgasmic difficulty during partnered sex.

Main Outcome Measure: Degree of alignment between masturbation activities and partnered sex activities was used to predict sexual arousal difficulty, orgasmic probability, orgasmic pleasure, orgasmic latency, and orgasmic difficulty during partnered sex.

Results: Women showed only moderate alignment regarding masturbation and partnered sex activities, as well as reasons for masturbation orgasmic difficulty and reasons for partnered sex orgasmic difficulty. However, those that showed greater alignment of activities showed better orgasmic response during partnered sex and were more likely to prefer partnered sex over masturbation.

Clinical Implications: Women tend to use less conventional techniques for arousal during masturbation compared with partnered sex. Increasing alignment between masturbation and partnered sexual activities may lead to better arousal and orgasmic response, and lower orgasmic difficulty.

Strength & Limitations: The study was well-powered and drew from a multinational population, providing perspective on a long-standing unanswered question. Major limitations were the younger age and self-selection of the sample.

Conclusion: Women that align masturbation stimulation activities with partnered sex activities are more likely to experience orgasm and enhanced orgasmic pleasure, with sexual relationship satisfaction playing an important role in this process.

Key Words:Masturbation, Partnered Sex, Orgasm, Women, Orgasmic Difficulty, Orgasmic Pleasure

Check also Women reporting the greatest difficulty reaching orgasm have the longest latencies & are likely to find masturbation more satisfying:
Orgasmic Latency and Related Parameters in Women During Partnered and Masturbatory Sex. David L. Rowland et al. J Sex Med 2018;XX:XXX–XXX.

This analysis afforded an in-depth look at the relationship
between masturbatory and partnered sex activities in a multinational sample of women. In addition, it has, for the first time
to our knowledge, provided an empirically based answer to the
question as to whether and how masturbation affects the experience of partnered sex.

Relationships Between Activities, and Reasons for Orgasmic Difficulty, During Masturbation and Partnered Sex

Most women included clitoral stimulation in masturbatory
activity, and of these women, nearly all included some form of
clitoral stimulation during partnered sex. Although only about
half the women included vaginal stimulation during masturbation, again, of these, nearly all included it during partnered sex.
Thus, for these 2 types of activities (vaginal and clitoral stimulation) during masturbation, there was significant generalization
to partnered sex. However, for other types of stimulation,
transferability from masturbation to partnered sex was much
lower: only about half the women who engaged in anal stimulation or used a particular body position during masturbation
also did so during partnered sex. In addition, the use of aids/
enhancements or sexual fantasies during masturbation often did
not translate to similar activities during partnered sex. Thus, we
found that although more conventional types of sexual activities6
show substantial transferability across sexual activities, those activities that are less common during masturbation, such as anal
stimulation, use of enhancements/aids, and sexual fantasies, did
not readily generalize to partnered sex. In this respect, not only
are the purposes/goals of masturbation and partnered sex quite
different,7,8,10 but the types of sexual stimulation used to achieve
arousal and orgasm (other than vaginal and clitoral) are quite
different as well. Indeed, we surmise that some women use less
conventional activities during masturbation precisely because
such activities may increase sexual arousal and orgasmic capacity,
yet these strong arousal techniques are often not included within
the repertoire of activities with the partner.

A substantial number of women indicated difficulty reaching
orgasm during partnered sex due to “partner” issues, primarily a
lack of a good or sexually satisfying relationship. Beyond such
reasons for orgasmic difficulty during partnered sex, we found
moderate association between women’s reasons for orgasmic
difficulty during masturbation and those for orgasmic difficulty
during partnered sex. Specifically, women attributed their
orgasmic difficulty during both masturbation and partnered sex
to issues such as lack of adequate arousal/time, general or sexualspecific anxiety, medical/medication, and pain/discomfort. That
is, these factors were often invoked to explain general orgasmic
difficulty (whether masturbation or partnered sex) compared
with such factors as insufficient experience or general inhibition/
lack of interest. These latter attributions were used more
frequently to explain orgasmic difficulty during masturbation,
but less frequently during partnered sex. Perhaps most relevant
are the findings that lack of arousal/time and general and sexspecific anxiety were viewed as factors that interfere with
orgasmic response, no matter what the situation—findings that
align with other research identifying factors affecting orgasmic
response in women.36e40

Masturbation Predictors of Partnered Sexual Arousal and Orgasmic Parameters
As indicated in the regression model, individual reasons for,
and stimulation activities during, masturbation had no predictive
value in and of themselves on sexual arousal, orgasmic probability, or orgasmic response (latency, pleasure, and difficulty)
during partnered sex, the exception being that lack of satisfaction
during partnered sex was a reason for masturbation. Not surprisingly, these women typically reported lower orgasmic pleasure during partnered sex. Such findings are generally consistent
with research suggesting that those women who masturbate
enjoy no particular advantage in orgasmic capacity during partnered sex.24,33 Masturbation frequency, on the other hand, did
attenuate sexual arousal difficulties during partnered sex, suggesting that greater experience with masturbation—as is sometimes encouraged for women who struggle to reach orgasm
during partnered sex21—expands women’s sexual repertoire and
helps them identify sexual pleasure points and maximize stimulation efficacy during partnered sex.23 Our methodology, however, does not rule out other possible interpretations, for
example, that women who have less arousal difficulty during
partnered sex are also, for whatever reason, more likely to enjoy
masturbation and, thus, engage in it more frequently.
Regression analysis also affirmed the role of several other
covariates on sexual response during partnered sex, including age
and sexual relationship satisfaction, as had been reported elsewhere,9,41e43 with increasing values generally associated with
greater arousal and better orgasmic experiences (ie, greater
orgasmic probability, greater orgasmic pleasure, and less orgasmic

Alignment of Activities During Masturbation and Partnered Sex
Although masturbation per se does not enhance orgasmic
experience during partnered sex, orgasmic experience during
partnered sex is facilitated by aligning activities across masturbation and partnered sex, with such alignment likely imparting
benefits independent of whether orgasm is experienced as primarily a clitoral or primarily a vaginal phenomenon, a factor that
was not examined in this study. Consistent with our general
findings, de Bruijn29 concluded that sex play during partnered
sex that corresponded with masturbation techniques improved
orgasmic capacity during partnered sex. More recently, Kontula
and Meittinen25 concluded that masturbation activity that
typically included vaginal penetration was associated with better
responsivity during partnered sex. Our findings strongly support
this notion: the greater the alignment between masturbation and
partnered sex activities, the lower the arousal and orgasmic difficulty, the greater the duration of the sex (ensuring adequate
arousal), and the greater the probability of reaching orgasm.
Thus, masturbation can have significant positive effects on the
experience of partnered sex, as long as the types of activities share
at least some common stimulatory pathways. When alignment of
activities exceeded 75%, additional benefits were realized. Not
only, then, does alignment of activities impart positive effects on
the experience of partnered sex, but lack of alignment may be
detrimental to orgasmic likelihood and pleasure during partnered
sex, to the point where nonalignment of activities was more
characteristic of women who preferred masturbation over partnered sex. Although such assumptions by therapists have long
formed the rationale for guided masturbation exercises as a
means to improve sexual pleasure and satisfaction within relationships,44 the current findings are, to our knowledge, the first
to provide clear empirical evidence supporting such strategies in a
large multinational sample of women. Indeed, such findings
recapitulate the importance of addressing women’s sexual issues
within a relational context that stresses the value of sexual
communication, techniques that optimize arousal for women,
and overall relationship quality as important parameters for
sexual satisfaction.33,36,37,45