Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Impatience and savoring versus dread: Asymmetries in anticipation explain consumer time preferences for positive versus negative events

Impatience and savoring versus dread: Asymmetries in anticipation explain consumer time preferences for positive versus negative events. David J. Hardisty  Elke U. Weber. Journal of Consumer Psychology, April 20 2020.

Abstract: For positive experiences (e.g., when to eat a snack) consumers generally prefer to have them immediately, and for negative experiences (e.g., when to pay a bill) consumers often prefer to delay. Yet, across three studies (plus twelve supplemental studies) we find that anticipatory feelings push in the opposite direction, and do so differently for positive versus negative events, leading to different time preferences: the desire for immediate positives is stronger than the desire to delay negatives. For negative events, anticipatory utility is strongly negative, reducing the desire to delay bad things (i.e., consumers want to “get it over with” to minimize the psychological discomfort), but for positive events, overall anticipatory utility is weakly positive, and therefore does little to reduce consumers’ desire to expedite good things. This anticipatory asymmetry happens because when consumers think about a future positive event, they both enjoy imagining it (savoring) while simultaneously disliking the feeling of waiting for it (impatience), but when consumers think about a negative event, they both dislike imagining it (dread) and dislike the feeling of waiting for it. We demonstrate the managerial implications of these findings in a pair of field studies using online advertisements for retirement planning.

Climate assessments misuse scenarios due to competing demands & exploratory & policy relevant pathways, research practices that normalize careless use of scenarios in a vacuum of plausibility, & inherent complexity

Pielke, Roger and Ritchie, Justin, Systemic Misuse of Scenarios in Climate Research and Assessment (April 21, 2020). SSRN:

Abstract: Climate science research and assessments have misused scenarios for more than a decade. Symptoms of this misuse include the treatment of an unrealistic, extreme scenario as the world’s most likely future in the absence of climate policy and the illogical comparison of climate projections across inconsistent global development trajectories. Reasons why this misuse arose include (a) competing demands for scenarios from users in diverse academic disciplines that ultimately conflated exploratory and policy relevant pathways, (b) the evolving role of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – which effectively extended its mandate from literature assessment to literature coordination, (c) unforeseen consequences of employing a nuanced temporary approach to scenario development, (d) maintaining research practices that normalize careless use of scenarios in a vacuum of plausibility, and (e) the inherent complexity and technicality of scenarios in model-based research and in support of policy. As a consequence, the climate research community is presently off-track. Attempts to address scenario misuse within the community have thus far not worked. The result has been the widespread production of myopic or misleading perspectives on future climate change and climate policy. Until reform is implemented, we can expect the production of such perspectives to continue. However, because many aspects of climate change discourse are contingent on scenarios, there is considerable momentum that will make such a course correction difficult and contested - even as efforts to improve scenarios have informed research that will be included in the IPCC 6th Assessment.

Keywords: climate, scenarios, assessment, research integrity

With self-threat assuaged, similarity signals self-relevance, which draws people toward those who are similar to them despite negative characteristics

Can Bad Be Good? The Attraction of a Darker Self. Rebecca J. Krause, Derek D. Rucker. Psychological Science, April 21, 2020.

Abstract: To avoid threats to the self, people shun comparisons with similar—yet immoral, mentally unstable, or otherwise negatively viewed—others. Despite this prevalent perspective, we consider a contrarian question: Can people be attracted to darker versions of themselves? We propose that with self-threat assuaged, similarity signals self-relevance, which draws people toward those who are similar to them despite negative characteristics. To test this general idea, we explored a prevalent context that may offer a safe haven from self-threat: stories. Using a large-scale proprietary data set from a company with over 232,000 registered users, we demonstrated that people have a preference for villains—unambiguously negative individuals—who are similar to themselves, which suggests that people are attracted to such comparisons in everyday life. Five subsequent lab experiments (N = 1,685) demonstrated when and why similarity results in attraction toward—rather than repulsion from—negative others.

Keywords: stories, characters, similarity, interpersonal attraction, self-relevance, open data, preregistered

Also check When Do We Identify with the Bad Guy?

Sexual attraction modulates interpersonal distance and approach-avoidance movements towards virtual agents in males

Sexual attraction modulates interpersonal distance and approach-avoidance movements towards virtual agents in males. Robin Welsch, Christoph von Castell, Martin Rettenberger, Daniel Turner, Heiko Hecht, Peter Fromberger. PLoS, April 21, 2020.

Abstract: How does sexual attraction alter social interaction behavior? We examined the influence of sexual orientation on locomotor approach-avoidance behavior and interpersonal distance. We immersed androphilic and gynophilic male subjects into a virtual environment and presented various male and female virtual persons. In the first experiment, subjects took a step forward (approach) or backward (avoidance) in response to the sex of the virtual person. We measured reaction time, peak velocity, and step size, and obtained ratings of sexual attractiveness in every trial. In the second experiment, subjects had to approach the virtual person as if they were to engage in a social interaction. Here, we analyzed interpersonal distance and peak velocity of the approaches. Our results suggest that sexual attraction facilitates the approach response and reduces the preferred interpersonal distance. We discuss our findings in terms of proxemics, current findings in sex research, and the applicability of our novel task in other fields of psychological research.


Male subjects seem to be attracted towards virtual persons who match their sexual orientation. In the AAT Experiment, subjects initiated approach movements towards avatars of their preferred sex faster than they initiated avoidance movements. No such difference was found for the non-preferred sex. Here, instructed approach and avoidance were initiated in the same manner. Subjects also made larger and faster steps in response to their preferred sex avatar. This pattern of effects can be explained when considering sexual attractiveness. The facilitation of approach steps was related to the individual degree of rated sexual attractiveness.
The IPD Experiment showed that gynophilic males preferred shorter IPDs towards female avatars as compared to male avatars, which is consistent with previous studies [e.g. 20]. However, the effect of avatar sex on IPD was considerably diminished in androphilic males. Furthermore, androphilic subjects preferred shorter overall IPDs compared to gynophilic subjects. Similarly to the sex effect on IPD, the peak velocity of the approach reaction was faster towards female avatars as compared to male avatars in gynophilic subjects. These differences were not present in androphilic subjects.
What fuels this behavior? As proposed by the Dual Control Model and related theories in sex research, sexual arousal caused by sexual attraction promotes approach tendencies (AAT Experiment), which results in shorter and more intimate conversation distances (IPD Experiment). It is remarkable that these effects do carry over to virtual avatars.
In the second Experiment, IPD varied as a function of sexual orientation when interacting with male and female virtual persons. Gynophilic subjects produced the well-known sex effect on IPD, i. e., shorter distances towards females as compared to males; interestingly, this effect was absent in androphilic subjects. The diminished sex effect on IPD in androphilic subjects could be interpreted in light of equilibrium theory [1421]: Sexual attraction to men promotes approach tendencies (see AAT Experiment) towards male avatars, but no avoidance towards female avatars, which merely reduces the preferred IPD to male avatars, thus resulting in equal IPD between male and female avatars. The same reasoning applies to the differential sex effect on peak velocity as effects are largely correlated within the IPD Experiment.
When correlating the step size-bias from the AAT Experiment and preferred distance from the IPD Experiment, we could find a medium-sized correlation between the two aggregates, which again strengthens the hypothesis that IPD is regulated by approach and avoidance forces [1421]. A recent study by Ruggiero, Rapuano [50] lends credibility to this interpretation, i.e. approach motivation promoting smaller IPD. They found that inducing warmth by holding a warm beverage, which was supposed to increase approach motivation, produced smaller IPD than did the induction of coldness.
Note that when controlling for sexual attraction, the sex effect on IPD persisted. Referring to Uzzell and Horne [17], our findings suggest that sexual orientation and thus sexual attraction may partly overshadow the sex effect on IPD. Previous studies investigating sex effects [171920] have presented a small set of targets, have not measured explicit sexual attractiveness and sexual orientation, or did not use an immersive social interaction scenario, which limited the ability to detect sex effects on IPD and disentangle the effect from sexual attractiveness. Furthermore, although Uzzell and Horne [17] did find an effect of sexual orientation on IPD, they could not reveal any differences between androphilic and gynophilic men, probably due to low statistical power and experimental control. Therefore, our study can be considered the first study to show an interaction of sexual orientation and sex of the approached person on IPD in men. Our study can also reveal why sex effects on IPD tend to be heterogeneous. Sexual attractiveness can serve as an important determinant of IPD and may therefore override sex effects. As this depends on the degree of attractiveness, it could explain the heterogeneous results across studies, e.g. when a confederate is particularly attractive in a social interaction task measuring IPD and/or when androphilic subjects make up a proportion of the sample.
Note also that we did not expect on overall difference in IPD between gynophilic and androphilic male subjects. This is in line with Uzzell and Horne [17] who report an overall similar pattern of IPD preferences in their observational study (gynophilic > androphilic males; by about 6 cm). Thus, this difference in preferred IPD between androphilic and gynophilic male subjects deserves to be further investigated with a larger sample powered to study overall between-subjects variability.
This is the first study to investigate a whole-body approach and avoidance movements within a virtual environment. The AAT reliably detected effects on different sets of measurements and converged with the results in the IPD Experiment. Furthermore, we found effects on a range of dependent variables, which adds credibility to the smaller effects found in previous AAT studies [710]. These results indicate that the AAT in combination with the IPD-paradigm may be more ecologically valid than alternative approaches used in previous studies (e. g., using 2D-stimuli and arm-movements). Thus, we believe that these tasks may also be useful in other fields of research with a focus on approach/avoidance-behavior, such as social interaction behavior in psychopathology or forensic research.
In the domain of sex research, our data provide further evidence for the assumption that sexually arousing stimuli do not solely activate sexually specific motor responses but also general locomotor approach behavior [51]. We found that sexually relevant stimuli affect IPD in virtual social encounters. Thus, we assume that the propensity of reacting on stimuli perceived as sexually relevant may influence our every-day social interaction behavior. In this regard, our study points to the potential of using VEs within sex research. Contrary to previous research, we could observe social interaction behavior with respect to sexual attraction in an ecologically more valid and highly controlled fashion. Subjects were instructed to approach a virtual person as if they wanted to ask for directions, which is potentially more ecologically valid than current explicit and implicit measures of sexual interest [for an overview see 52]. For viewing time, an implicit measure of sexual interest, it has already been shown that presenting virtual characters in highly immersive environments can enhance the discriminative validity of viewing time [33].
These findings are also potentially useful for forensic psychology. Sexual motivation is a key component in recent models of sexual offense behavior [5356]. Our results may be applied to a sample of people who have sexually offended, in order to measure the strength of their approach reaction and to distinguish approach- vs. avoidance-oriented individuals who have committed sexual offenses, to allocate treatment resources more appropriately and efficiently. Some limitations must be considered with reference to our sample and to our method. First, we have only studied male western subjects. Future studies should replicate our findings in a female sample and include non-western subjects. This is particularly important considering the variation between nationalities [2930] which could potentially slightly enhance or diminish the sex effect on IPD. Second, we have not controlled for sexual identity [17]. Masculinity or femininity could also influence the sex effect on IPD.
Third, we have confronted subjects with a larger number of trials in a relatively small amount of time (230 trials in 90 minutes). We have also administered the experiments in a fixed order. The IPD Experiment was always followed by the AAT Experiment to minimize potential effects of familiarity in the IPD Experiment. Both factors could have contributed to fatigue, habituation to the stimuli as well as exhaustion due to our request for rapid stepping movement, especially in the AAT Experiment. This could reduce the magnitude of the effects and should be considered in future studies as a possible enhancement. We hypothesize that a randomized order will not change the direction of the reported effects, which may be evaluated in future studies with larger samples. Still, before application of the AAT or the IPD-paradigm in applied forensic contexts, the length of data collection as well as the task demands should be carefully evaluated and reduced. Fourth, administering the AAT in a virtual environment is a new measure that deserves further investigation in terms of reliability and validity.
In conclusion, the recording of IPD-regulation and the approach-avoidance scenario, both implemented in a virtual environment, provide a powerful and rather implicit paradigm to study the effects of sexual attractiveness on behavioral propensities.