Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Fifty years ago, Zajonc, Heingartner, and Herman (1969) conducted a famous experiment on social enhancement and inhibition of performance in cockroaches; no evidence of a social-facilitation effect

Replicating Roaches: A Preregistered Direct Replication of Zajonc, Heingartner, and Herman’s (1969) Social-Facilitation Study. Emma Halfmann, Janne Bredehöft, Jan Alexander Häusser. Psychological Science, February 4, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797620902101

Abstract: Fifty years ago, Zajonc, Heingartner, and Herman (1969) conducted a famous experiment on social enhancement and inhibition of performance in cockroaches. A moderating effect of task difficulty on the effect of the presence of an audience, as revealed by impaired performance in complex tasks and enhanced performance in simple tasks, was presented as the major conclusion of this research. However, the researchers did not test this interaction statistically. We conducted a preregistered direct replication using a 2 (audience: present vs. absent) × 2 (task difficulty: runway vs. maze) between-subjects design. Results revealed main effects for task difficulty, with faster running times in the runway than the maze, and for audience, with slower running times when the audience was present than when it was absent. There was no interaction between the presence of an audience and task difficulty. Although we replicated the social-inhibition effect, there was no evidence for a social-facilitation effect.

Keywords: social facilitation, social inhibition, Zajonc, replication, cockroach, open data, open materials, preregistered

Christians’ self‐ratings are consistently lower than what they perceive to be the moral values of other Christians, due to comparison to Christian exemplars (religious leaders), not from a sense of humility

Diverging Perceptions of Personal Moral Values and the Values of One's Religious Group. Travis Daryl Clark  Richard C. Grove  Heather K. Terrell  Casey Swanson. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, February 3 2020. https://doi.org/10.1111/jssr.12644

Abstract: A popular notion in many religions is that less pious individuals are also less moral. We sought to test the self‐described moral values of religious and nonreligious individuals under the framework of Moral Foundations Theory. In Study 1, we found that atheists differ from Christians in some moral domains. We also found evidence that Christians’ self‐ratings are consistently lower than what they perceive to be the moral values of other Christians. This finding contradicts previous findings that suggest that Christians may inflate their positive characteristics relative to their peers in other domains. In Studies 2 and 3, we tested several alternative explanations for this finding. Preliminary evidence suggests that Christians rate their moral values lower in comparison to Christian exemplars such as religious leaders, and not from a sense of humility. In contrast, atheists may not have exemplars for such a comparison.

Why liberal white women pay a lot of money to learn over dinner how they're racist: A growing number of women are paying to confront their privilege – and racism – at dinners that cost $2,500

Why liberal white women pay a lot of money to learn over dinner how they're racist.  Poppy Noor. The Guardian, Feb 3 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/03/race-to-dinner-party-racism-women

A growing number of women are paying to confront their privilege – and racism – at dinners that cost $2,500

Freshly made pasta is drying on the wooden bannisters lining the hall of a beautiful home in Denver, Colorado. Fox-hunting photos decorate the walls in a room full of books. A fire is burning. And downstairs, a group of liberal white women have gathered around a long wooden table to admit how racist they are.

“Recently, I have been driving around, seeing a black person, and having an assumption that they are up to no good,” says Alison Gubser. “Immediately after I am like, that’s no good! This is a human, just doing their thing. Why do I think that?”

This is Race to Dinner. A white woman volunteers to host a dinner in her home for seven other white women – often strangers, perhaps acquaintances. (Each dinner costs $2,500, which can be covered by a generous host or divided among guests.) A frank discussion is led by co-founders Regina Jackson, who is black, and Saira Rao, who identifies as Indian American. They started Race to Dinner to challenge liberal white women to accept their racism, however subconscious. “If you did this in a conference room, they’d leave,” Rao says. “But wealthy white women have been taught never to leave the dinner table.”

Rao and Jackson believe white, liberal women are the most receptive audience because they are open to changing their behavior. They don’t bother with the 53% of white women who voted for Trump. White men, they feel, are similarly a lost cause. “White men are never going to change anything. If they were, they would have done it by now,” Jackson says.

White women, on the other hand, are uniquely placed to challenge racism because of their proximity to power and wealth, Jackson says. “If they don’t hold these positions themselves, the white men in power are often their family, friends and partners.”

It seems unlikely anyone would voluntarily go to a dinner party in which they’d be asked, one by one, “What was a racist thing you did recently?” by two women of color, before appetizers are served. But Jackson and Rao have hardly been able to take a break since they started these dinners in the spring of 2019. So far, 15 dinners have been held in big cities across the US.

The women who sign up for these dinners are not who most would see as racist. They are well-read and well-meaning. They are mostly Democrats. Some have adopted black children, many have partners who are people of color, some have been doing work towards inclusivity and diversity for decades. But they acknowledge they also have unchecked biases. They are there because they “know [they] are part of the problem, and want to be part of the solution,” as host Jess Campbell-Swanson says before dinner starts.

Campbell-Swanson comes across as an overly keen college student applying for a prestigious internship. She can go on for days about her work as a political consultant, but when it comes to talking about racism, she chokes.

“I want to hire people of color. Not because I want to be … a white savior. I have explored my need for validation … I’m working through that … Yeah. Um … I’m struggling,” she stutters, before finally giving up.

Across from Campbell-Swanson, Morgan Richards admits she recently did nothing when someone patronizingly commended her for adopting her two black children, as though she had saved them. “What I went through to be a mother, I didn’t care if they were black,” she says, opening a window for Rao to challenge her: “So, you admit it is stooping low to adopt a black child?” And Richards accepts that the undertone of her statement is racist.

As more confessions like this are revealed, Rao and Jackson seem to press those they think can take it, while empathizing with those who can’t. “Well done for recognizing that,” Jackson says, to soothe one woman. “We are all part of the problem. We have to get comfortable with that to become part of the solution.”

Carbonara is heaped on to plates, and a sense of self-righteousness seems to wash over the eight white women. They’ve shown up, admitted their wrongdoing and are willing to change. Don’t they deserve a little pat on the back?

Erika Righter raises her tattooed forearm to her face, in despair of all of the racism she’s witnessed as a social worker, then laments how a white friend always ends phone calls with “Love you long time”.

“And what is your racism, Erika?” Rao interrupts, refusing to let her off the hook. The mood becomes tense. Another woman adds: “I don’t know you, Erika. But you strike me as being really in your head. Everything I’m hearing is from the neck up.”

Righter, a single mother, retreats before defending herself: “I haven’t read all the books. I’m new to this.”

A lot of people hate Saira Rao.

“The American flag makes me sick,” read a recent tweet of hers. Another: “White folks – before telling me that your Indian husband or wife or friend or colleague doesn’t agree with anything I say about racism or thinks I’m crazy, please Google ‘token,’ ‘internalized oppression’ and ‘gaslighting’.”

She wasn’t always this confrontational, she says. Her “awakening” began recently.

After Rao’s mother died unexpectedly a few years ago, she moved to Denver from New York to be around her best friends – a group of mostly white women from college. She wasn’t new to being the only person of color, but she was surprised to notice how they would distance themselves whenever she’d talk frankly about race.

Then, fuelled by anger at Trump’s election after she’d campaigned tirelessly for Hillary Clinton, Rao ran for Congress in 2018 against a Democratic incumbent on an anti-racist manifesto, and criticized the “pink-pussy-hat-wearing” women of the Democratic party. It was during this campaign Rao met Jackson, who works in real estate. Jackson recalls her initial impressions of Rao as “honest, and willing to call a thing a thing”.

It’s that brashness that led to Race for Dinner. Rao is done with affability. “I’d spent years trying to get through to white women with coffees and teas – massaging them, dealing with their tears, and I got nowhere. I thought, if nothing is going to work, let’s try to shake them awake.”

The genesis of Race to Dinner wasn’t straightforward. Months after a dinner discussion about race with a white friend of Jackson’s went south, Rao bumped into that friend, who had started reading Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race.

“She told me that the dinner had changed everything for her, and asked if we could do another,” says Rao. The friend invited other guests, Rao reluctantly agreed, then hated that second dinner, too. But then white women began flooding her inbox asking her to do it again.

In the beginning, Rao’s dinner-party tone was much more argumentative. But it left her looking less like a human and more like some kind of real-life trolling bot. Women at the dinners were always crying. Some of those dinners got out of hand – attendees have tried to place their hands on Jackson and Rao, and racial slurs have been thrown around.

“My blood pressure went up. I’d work myself up into a frenzy at every dinner. I realized [that] if I walk away feeling I am going to have a stroke, we should try a different tactic,” Rao says.

Susan Brown attended one of those earlier dinners. She says she felt like Rao and Jackson were angry at her the whole time, without ever learning why. She found Rao needlessly provocative and mean-spirited, unaware of her own class privilege, and divisive. She felt the dinner set her up to fail.

Another previous attendee, who did not want to be named, says she found Rao to be dogmatic, and presented a distorted depiction of history, leaving out facts that do not fit her narrative. At one point, she referred to Rao as “the Trump of the alt-left”.

But even for those who complained, something has changed. Brown read White Fragility – a book released last year that posits every person partakes to some degree in racism and needs to confront that – and realized many of the things she was commending herself for needed to be re-evaluated. The book is now assigned reading for women before they can attend a dinner.

The woman who compared Rao to Trump went to a city council meeting to speak up about the death of a young black man in her area. She attributes that specifically to Jackson’s call for solidarity.

In recent months, Jackson and Rao changed the model. They didn’t want to just have women rely on them to shout at them for being racist and then go home.

“We began to expect more of them,” says Rao. That meant asking the women to speak up. To own their racism. It meant getting them to do the required reading, as well as follow-up discussions, where they decide how to do better anti-racist work.

In the conversation that followed the dinner, Campbell-Swanson, who couldn’t get her racist thoughts out, committed to writing a journal, jotting down daily decisions or thoughts that could be considered racist, and think about how to approach them differently.

Lisa Bond, who was hired because Rao and Jackson thought there would be instances when participants would feel more comfortable expressing their feelings to another white woman, says this will help her see how unmonitored thoughts can lead to systemic racism. “If our ability to spot these things increases, our ability to challenge it will increase,” says Bond.

Bond says about 65% of participants engage meaningfully in post-dinner conversations with her. But weren’t these women already doing the work? Don’t they want to speak to those women who have no intention of challenging themselves?

“There are so many people worse than us,” says Bond. “I have gotten to the point where I no longer try to pay attention to what someone else is doing. I don’t talk about the 53% [who voted for Trump] because I’m not one of them.”

What is in her power, she says, is forcing herself to talk to her sister, who did vote for Trump, even when it gets difficult. She emphasizes this work has to continue, no matter who is president.

“If Trump were impeached tomorrow and we got a new president, a lot of white liberal people will go back to living their lives just as before, and that’s what we have to prevent,” she says. “All that’s happened is we can see racism now, while before we could cover it up. That’s why we need these dinners. So when we get a new person in and racism is not as obvious, we won’t just crawl back to being comfortable.”

Japan now plans to build as many as 22 new coal-burning power plants at 17 different sites in the next five years

Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants, Despite the Climate Risks. Hiroko Tabuchi. The New York Times, Feb. 3, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/03/climate/japan-coal-fukushima.html

Just beyond the windows of Satsuki Kanno’s apartment overlooking Tokyo Bay, a behemoth from a bygone era will soon rise: a coal-burning power plant, part of a buildup of coal power that is unheard-of for an advanced economy.

It is one unintended consequence of the Fukushima nuclear disaster almost a decade ago, which forced Japan to all but close its nuclear power program. Japan now plans to build as many as 22 new coal-burning power plants — one of the dirtiest sources of electricity — at 17 different sites in the next five years, just at a time when the world needs to slash carbon dioxide emissions to fight global warming.

“Why coal, why now?” said Ms. Kanno, a homemaker in Yokosuka, the site for two of the coal-burning units that will be built just several hundred feet from her home. “It’s the worst possible thing they could build.”

Together the 22 power plants would emit almost as much carbon dioxide annually as all the passenger cars sold each year in the United States. The construction stands in contrast with Japan’s effort to portray this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo as one of the greenest ever.

The Yokosuka project has prompted unusual pushback in Japan, where environmental groups more typically focus their objections on nuclear power. But some local residents are suing the government over its approval of the new coal-burning plant in what supporters hope will jump-start opposition to coal in Japan.

The Japanese government, the plaintiffs say, rubber-stamped the project without a proper environmental assessment. The complaint is noteworthy because it argues that the plant will not only degrade local air quality, but will also endanger communities by contributing to climate change.

Carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is the major driver of global warming, because it traps the sun’s heat. Coal burning is one of the biggest single sources of carbon dioxide emissions.

Japan is already experiencing severe effects from climate change. Scientists have said that a heat wave in 2018 that killed more than 1,000 people could not have happened without climate change.  Because of heat concerns, the International Olympic Committee was compelled to move the Tokyo Olympics’ marathon events to a cooler city almost 700 miles north.

Japan has used the Olympics to underscore its transition to a more climate-resilient economy, showing off innovations like roads that reflect heat. Organizers have said electricity for the Games will come from renewable sources.

Coal investments threaten to undermine that message.

Under the Paris accord, Japan committed to rein in its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2030 compared to 2013 levels, a target that has been criticized for being “highly insufficient” by climate groups.

“Japan touts a low-emissions Olympics, but in the very same year, it will start operating five new coal-fired power plants that will emit many times more carbon dioxide than anything the Olympics can offset,” said Kimiko Hirata, international director at the Kiko Network, a group that advocates climate action.

Japan’s policy sets it apart from other developed economies. Britain, the birthplace of the industrial revolution, is set to phase out coal power by 2025, and France has said it will shut down its coal power plants even earlier, by 2022. In the United States, utilities are rapidly retiring coal power and no new plants are actively under development.

But Japan relies on coal for more than a third of its power generation needs. And while older coal plants will start retiring, eventually reducing overall coal dependency, the country still expects to meet more than a quarter of its electricity needs from coal in 2030.

“Japan is an anomaly among developed economies,” said Yukari Takamura, an expert in climate policy at the Institute for Future Initiatives at the University of Tokyo. “The era of coal is ending, but for Japan, it’s proving very difficult to give up an energy source that it has relied on for so long.”

Japan’s appetite for coal doesn’t solely come down to Fukushima. Coal consumption has been rising for decades, as the energy-poor country, which is reliant on imports for the bulk of its energy needs, raced to wean itself from foreign oil following the oil shocks of the 1970s.

Fukushima, though, presented another type of energy crisis, and more reason to keep investing in coal. And even as the economics of coal have started to crumble — research has shown that as soon as 2025 it could become more cost-effective for Japanese operators to invest in renewable energy, such as wind or solar, than to run coal plants — the government has stood by the belief that the country’s utilities must keep investing in fossil fuels to maintain a diversified mix of energy sources.

Together with natural gas and oil, fossil fuels account for about four-fifths of Japan’s electricity needs, while renewable sources of energy, led by hydropower, make up about 16 percent. Reliance on nuclear energy, which once provided up to a third of Japan’s power generation, plummeted to 3 percent in 2017.

The Japanese government’s policy of financing coal power in developing nations, alongside China and South Korea, has also come under scrutiny. The country is second only to China in the financing of coal plants overseas.

At the United Nations climate talks late last year in Madrid, attended by a sizable Japanese contingent, activists in yellow “Pikachu” outfits unfurled “No Coal” signs and chanted “Sayonara coal!”

A target of the activists’ wrath has been Japan’s new environment minister, Shinjiro Koizumi, a charismatic son of a former prime minister who is seen as a possible future candidate for prime minister himself. But Mr. Koizumi has fallen short of his predecessor, Yoshiaki Harada, who had declared that the Environment Ministry would not approve the construction of any more new large coal-fired power plants, but lasted less than a year as minister.

Mr. Koizumi has shied away from such explicit promises in favor of more general assurances that Japan will eventually roll back coal use. “While we can’t declare an exit from coal straight away,” Mr. Koizumi said at a briefing in Tokyo last month, the nation “had made it clear that it will move steadily toward making renewables its main source of energy.”

The Yokosuka project has special significance for Mr. Koizumi, who hails from the port city, an industrial hub and the site of an American naval base. The coal units are planned at the site of an oil-powered power station, operated by Tokyo Electric Power, that shuttered in 2009, to the relief of local residents.

But that shutdown proved to be short-lived.

Just two years later, the Fukushima disaster struck, when an earthquake and tsunami badly damaged a seaside nuclear facility also owned by Tokyo Electric. The resulting meltdown sent the utility racing to start up two of the eight Yokosuka oil-powered units as an emergency measure. They were finally shut down only in 2017.

What Tokyo Electric proposed next — the two new coal-powered units — has left many in the community bewildered. To make matters worse, Tokyo Electric declared that the units did not need a full environmental review, because they were being built on the same site as the oil-burning facilities.

The central government agreed. The residents’ lawsuit challenges that decision.

Some new coal projects have faced hiccups. Last year, a consortium of energy companies canceled plans for two coal-burning plants, saying they were no longer economical. Meanwhile, Japan has said it will invest in carbon capture and storage technology to clean up emissions from coal generation, but that technology is not yet commercially available.

Coal’s fate in Japan may reside with the country’s Ministry of Trade, which pulls considerable weight in Tokyo’s halls of power. In a response to questions about the coal-plant construction, the ministry said it had issued guidance to the nation’s operators to wind down their least-efficient coal plants and to aim for carbon-emissions reductions overall. But the decision on whether to go ahead with plans rested with the operators, it said.

“The most responsible policy,” the ministry said, “is to forge a concrete path that allows for both energy security, and a battle against climate change.”

Local residents say the ministry’s position falls short. Tetsuya Komatsubara, 77, has operated a pair of small fishing boats out of Yokosuka for six decades, diving for giant clams, once abundant in waters off Tokyo.

Scientists have registered a rise in the temperature of waters off Tokyo of more than 1 degree Celsius over the past decade, which is wreaking havoc with fish stocks there.

Mr. Komatsubara can feel the rise in water temperatures on his skin, he said, and was worried the new plants would be another blow to a fishing business already on the decline. “They say temperatures are rising. We’ve known that for a long time,” Mr. Komatsubara said. “It’s time to do something about that.”

Written erotica 2000-2016: As in video, found no meaningful increase in either the amount of content with violence, family (incest), or BDSM themes or popularity of any of the three transgressive themes within the erotic narratives

Change in the Popularity of Transgressive Content in Written Erotica between 2000 and 2016. Martin Seehuus, Ariel B. Handy & Amelia M. Stanton. The Journal of Sex Research, Feb 3 2020. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2020.1716206

ABSTRACT: There is a widely held belief that the amount and intensity of transgressive content in pornography have been rising. Reliably assessing for such an increase, however, is complicated by methodological factors including hand-coding content using conflicting a priori definitions of what constitutes transgressive content. In response to those limitations, the present study used the results of a published empirical content analysis of ~250,000 erotic stories written over 16 years to determine if the amount or popularity of transgressive content (stories high in the themes of violence, family (incest), or BDSM) has changed in that timeframe. Results from the present study indicated no meaningful increase in either the amount of content with those themes or popularity (as measured by story views per day) of any of the three transgressive themes within the erotic narratives over the 16-year period of analysis. These results, in addition to recent research presenting similar findings within pornographic video, do not support popular perceptions that erotic material is becoming increasingly transgressive. Rather, such content within internet-based erotic material, and particularly erotic narratives, appears to be relatively consistent.

A primary concern some hold about violent or transgressive
content within erotic material is that consuming such
content may increase the perpetration of sexual violence (for
a comprehensive discussion, see Shor & Seida, 2019). This is
a valid concern. If this were the case, our data and the work of
others would suggest that the rate of sexual violence should be
relatively stable over time. However, a review of US governmental
statistics on violence against women (both reported
and unreported to law enforcement) shows a decline from
a peak rate of 5.0 acts of sexual violence per 1,000 women in
1994 to 1.8 acts of sexual violence per 1,000 women in 2010
(Planty, Langton, Krebs, Berzofsky, & Smiley-McDonald,
2013). This decline, combined with data indicating an increase
in overall viewership of pornography over approximately the
same time period (Gorman et al., 2010; Klaassen & Peter,
2015; Price et al., 2016; Wright et al., 2016), suggests that,
on the macro level, pornography viewership may have no
effect (or even a protective effect, as per Fisher et al., 2013)
on violence. Alternatively, any effect of violent pornography
on sexual violence may have been countered by other societal

Most interestingly, vegetarian eaters’ approach bias towards non-vegetarian food pictures also did not differ from that of the omnivorous group, despite vegetarians rating those pictures as much less pleasant

Fearing the wurst: Robust approach bias towards non-vegetarian food images in a sample of young female vegetarian eaters. Helen C. Knight, Sarah Mowat, Constanze Hesse. Appetite, February 4 2020, 104617. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2020.104617

Abstract: Previous studies have shown that humans show an implicit approach bias toward food related items which is moderated by hunger and properties of the food items displayed (such as their palatability and calorie content). However, little is known about if and how this approach bias is moderated by food preferences and/or diet choices. In this study, we compared approach-avoidance biases in a group of young female omnivore and vegetarian eaters towards images of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food items using a manikin stimulus-response compatibility task. While vegetarian eaters showed a slightly larger approach bias for vegetarian than for non-vegetarian food stimuli, this bias was of similar size to that observed in the omnivorous group. Most interestingly, vegetarian eaters’ approach bias towards non-vegetarian food pictures also did not differ from that of the omnivorous group, despite vegetarians rating those pictures as much less pleasant. Our findings suggest that approach biases towards food items are quite robust and do not rapidly change with dietary practice. However, despite approach biases often guiding behaviour, vegetarian eaters successfully withstand these implicit action tendencies and avoid non-vegetarian produce. Potential implications of this finding for the addiction literature are discussed.

Hyper-realistic Face Masks in a Live Passport-Checking Task: The masks went undetected during live identity checks in large numbers

Hyper-realistic Face Masks in a Live Passport-Checking Task. David J. Robertson. Perception, February 3, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1177/0301006620904614

Abstract: Hyper-realistic face masks have been used as disguises in at least one border crossing and in numerous criminal cases. Experimental tests using these masks have shown that viewers accept them as real faces under a range of conditions. Here, we tested mask detection in a live identity verification task. Fifty-four visitors at the London Science Museum viewed a mask wearer at close range (2 m) as part of a mock passport check. They then answered a series of questions designed to assess mask detection, while the masked traveller was still in view. In the identity matching task, 8% of viewers accepted the mask as matching a real photo of someone else, and 82% accepted the match between masked person and masked photo. When asked if there was any reason to detain the traveller, only 13% of viewers mentioned a mask. A further 11% picked disguise from a list of suggested reasons. Even after reading about mask-related fraud, 10% of viewers judged that the traveller was not wearing a mask. Overall, mask detection was poor and was not predicted by unfamiliar face matching performance. We conclude that hyper-realistic face masks could go undetected during live identity checks.

Keywords: masks, silicone, realistic, face perception, face recognition, passports, identification, fraud, deception

They formulate a plausible evolutionary function, the sexual exploitation hypothesis: Psychopathy exhibits “special design” features for subverting female mate choice, facilitating the induction of favorable impressions & sexual desire

Psychopathy and the Induction of Desire: Formulating and Testing an Evolutionary Hypothesis. Kristopher J. Brazil & Adelle E. Forth. Evolutionary Psychological Science 6, pages 64–81 (2020). https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40806-019-00213-0

Abstract: The problems psychopathic individuals impose on society and in their interpersonal relationships can be held in stark contrast to reports of their appeal and sexual success in some of those relationships. In the current paper, we seek to contextualize this enigma by focusing on the interpersonal dynamics of psychopathic individuals in romantic encounters. We first formulate a plausible evolutionary function, the sexual exploitation hypothesis, that proposes psychopathy exhibits “special design” features for subverting female mate choice, facilitating the induction of favorable impressions and desire in prospective intimate relationships. We then test the hypothesis in two studies with university samples. Study 1 had young men assessed on psychopathy, social intelligence, and sociosexuality engage in a filmed dating interaction. Study 2 had young women view a subsample of the videos, rate them on desirability, and leave voice messages. Results show psychopathy was related to sociosexuality, specific factors of social intelligence, and generating higher desirability ratings from women after controlling for men’s physical attractiveness. Analyses involving comparisons of two men showed women’s ratings increased in favor of the more psychopathic man. Women’s voice pitch also changed, but only in response to different facets of psychopathy. The results provide preliminary support for the sexual exploitation hypothesis and suggest that more dynamic assessment of putative desirability in psychopathy may be required to capture its plausible special design features in prospective dating encounters.

Inequality aversion and altruistic concerns play an important role for redistributive voting that is particularly pronounced for above-median income earners

Other-regarding Preferences and Redistributive Politics. Thomas Epper, Ernst Fehr and Julien Senn (2020), Working paper series / Department of Economics Working Paper No. 339. https://www.econ.uzh.ch/static/release/workingpapers.php?id=1018

Abstract: Increasing inequality and associated egalitarian sentiments have again put redistribution on the political agenda. Support for redistribution may also be affected by altruistic and egalitarian preferences, but knowledge about the distribution of these preferences in the broader population and how they relate to political support for redistributive policies is still scarce. In this paper, we take advantage of Swiss direct democracy, where people voted several times in national plebiscites on strongly redistributive policies, to study the link between other-regarding preferences and support for redistribution in a broad sample of the Swiss population. Based on a recently developed non-parametric clustering procedure, we identify three disjunct groups of individuals with fundamentally different other-regarding preferences: (i) a large share of inequality averse people, (ii) a somewhat smaller yet still large share of people with an altruistic concern for social welfare and the worse off, and (iii) a considerable minority of primarily selfish individuals. Controlling for a large number of determinants of support for redistribution, we document that inequality aversion and altruistic concerns play an important role for redistributive voting that is particularly pronounced for above-median income earners. However, the role of these motives differs depending on the nature of redistributive proposals. Inequality aversion has large and robust effects in plebiscites that demand income reductions for the rich, while altruistic concerns play no significant role in these plebiscites.

Keywords: Social preferences, altruism, inequality aversion, preference heterogeneity, demand for redistribution
JEL Classification: D31, D72, H23, H24

inequality averse individuals (comprising 50% of our population), individuals with altruistic concerns about social welfare and those worse off( 35%) and predominantly selfish individuals ( 15%)

5 Summary and conclusions

Rising inequality in advanced capitalist countries has again put the issue of redistribution on
the political agenda. In this paper, we examined the role of other-regarding preferences for
individuals’ support for redistribution – a question that has so far received relatively scarce
attention in the political economy literature. To answer this question, we took advantage of
Swiss direct democracy where 4 radically redistributive proposals were put to vote in national
plebiscites during the last 10 years. This enabled us to measure people’s support for policy
proposals that were actually put to vote instead of using more general hypothetical questions
related to demand for redistribution.
Previous research suggests that other-regarding preference may have multiple facets –
i.e., individuals may not simply differ in their degree of “other-regardingness”, but that there
may be qualitatively distinct, and in some sense fundamentally incompatible, types of otherregarding
preferences. In our context, this incompatibility concerns, for example, the extent
to which other-regarding individuals are willing to sacrifice their own payoff for the sake of
achieving equality by reducing richer people’s income. Therefore, the first task is to identify
which fundamentally distinct social preference types exist in the broader population and to
assess their quantitative importance.
For this purpose, we designed an experiment that enables us to identify the existence
of distinct social preference types and their quantitative importance in a broad sample of
the Swiss population. Applying a novel Bayesian non-parametric clustering method to the
data of this experiment, we uncover three fundamentally distinct social preference types with
a clear behavioral interpretation: inequality averse individuals (comprising 50% of our
population), individuals with altruistic concerns about social welfare and those worse off
( 35%) and predominantly selfish individuals ( 15%). Interestingly, the individual-level
behavioral variation within types is generally relatively low but within the social welfare type
there are two meaningful subgroups – a strong type that puts more weight on helping those
who are worse off, and a moderate type that puts more weight on joint payoffs.
We link individuals’ type of social preference with their political support for redistribution
and show that both types of other-regarding preference are associated with a significantly
higher support for redistribution compared to the predominantly selfish type. This
association is robust to controlling for additional covariates which includes a large battery of
socio-demographic variables and other important determinants of demand for redistribution
that were previously discussed in the literature. Even after controlling for individuals’ political
identity, other-regarding preferences remain strongly associated with political support
for redistribution. In addition, we also show that social preferences are particularly strong
predictors of support for redistribution among individuals with an income above the median.
Inequality averse above-median income earners are 20 percentage points more likely
to support redistribution than predominantly selfish individuals. Similarly, above-median
income earners with a social welfare concern are 13 percentage points more likely to support
redistribution compared to predominantly selfish individuals. In contrast, for below-median
income earners the discernible effect of social preferences is strongly diluted. Finally, the
identification of two quantitatively important social preference types enables us to examine
their potentially differential role for different types of redistributive policies. It turns out that
inequality averse individuals are substantially more likely to support policies that “reduce the
income of the rich” than those with an altruistic concern for social welfare, while the latter
appear to be (slightly) more supportive of policies that “help the worse off”.
Altogether, these results suggest that one can gain interesting new insights into the political
economy of support for redistribution by taking other-regarding preferences – and the
variety thereof – into account. We therefore believe that the future research in this domain
would benefit from routinely measuring other-regarding preferences like inequality aversion
and concerns for social welfare. To make this possible, we provide a simplified version of our
experimental tool which allows the identification of the different social preference types with
only 5 different budget lines. We hope that this simplified tool will facilitate the application
of the methods used in this paper to examine the distribution of other-regarding preferences
in many more contexts including other cultures, countries and other types of redistributive

Sentencers prefer certain numbers when meting out sentence lengths (in custody and community service) and amounts (for fines/compensation)

Criminal Sentencing by Preferred Numbers. Mandeep K. Dhami et al. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, February 3 2020. https://doi.org/10.1111/jels.12246

Abstract: Criminal sentencing is a complex cognitive activity often performed by the unaided mind under suboptimal conditions. As such, sentencers may not behave according to policy, guidelines, or training. We analyzed the distribution of sentences meted out in one year in two different jurisdictions (i.e., England and Wales, and New South Wales, Australia). We reveal that sentencers prefer certain numbers when meting out sentence lengths (in custody and community service) and amounts (for fines/compensation). These “common doses” accounted for over 90 percent of sentences in each jurisdiction. The size of these doses increased as sentences became more severe, and doses followed a logarithmic pattern. Our findings are compatible with psychological research on preferred numbers and are reminiscent of Weber's and Fechner's laws. The findings run contrary to arguments against efforts to reduce judicial discretion, and potentially undermine the notion of individualized justice, as well as raise questions about the (cost) effectiveness of sentencing.

Physically attractive faces attract us physically; effect is greater with males

Physically attractive faces attract us physically. Robin S.S. Kramer et al. Cognition, Volume 198, May 2020, 104193. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2020.104193

Abstract: When interacting with other humans, facial expressions provide valuable information for approach or avoid decisions. Here, we consider facial attractiveness as another important dimension upon which approach-avoidance behaviours may be based. In Experiments 1–3, we measured participants' responses to attractive and unattractive women's faces in an approach-avoidance paradigm in which there was no explicit instruction to evaluate facial attractiveness or any other stimulus attribute. Attractive faces were selected more often, a bias that may be sensitive to response outcomes and was reduced when the faces were inverted. Experiment 4 explored an entirely implicit measure of approach, with participants passively viewing single faces while standing on a force platform. We found greater lean towards attractive faces, with this pattern being most obvious in male participants. Taken together, these results demonstrate that attractiveness activates approach-avoidance tendencies, even in the absence of any task demand.

How Firm Are the Foundations of Mind-Set Theory? The Claims Appear Stronger Than the Evidence

How Firm Are the Foundations of Mind-Set Theory? The Claims Appear Stronger Than the Evidence. Alexander P. Burgoyne, David Z. Hambrick, Brooke N. Macnamara. Psychological Science, February 3, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797619897588

Abstract: Mind-set refers to people’s beliefs about whether attributes are malleable (growth mind-set) or unchangeable ( fixed mind-set). Proponents of mind-set theory have made bold claims about mind-set’s importance. For example, one’s mind-set is described as having profound effects on one’s motivation and achievements, creating different psychological worlds for people, and forming the core of people’s meaning systems. We examined the evidentiary strength of six key premises of mind-set theory in 438 participants; we reasoned that strongly worded claims should be supported by equally strong evidence. However, no support was found for most premises. All associations (rs) were significantly weaker than .20. Other achievement-motivation constructs, such as self-efficacy and need for achievement, have been found to correlate much more strongly with presumed associates of mind-set. The strongest association with mind-set (r = −.12) was opposite from the predicted direction. The results suggest that the foundations of mind-set theory are not firm and that bold claims about mind-set appear to be overstated.

Keywords: mind-set theory, implicit theories, growth mind-set, fixed mind-set, achievement, open data, open materials, preregistered