Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Mental Health Impact of COVID-19: A Global Study of Risk and Resilience Factors

Plomecka, Martyna, Susanna Gobbi, Rachael Neckels, Piotr Radziński, Beata Skórko, Samuel Lazzeri, Kristina Almazidou, et al. 2020. “Mental Health Impact of COVID-19: A Global Study of Risk and Resilience Factors.” PsyArXiv. May 5. doi:10.31234/osf.io/zj6b4

Abstract: This study anonymously screened 13,332 individuals worldwide for psychological symptoms related to Corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic from March 29th to April 14th, 2020. A total of n=12,817 responses were considered valid with responses from 12 featured countries and five WHO regions. Female gender, pre-existing psychiatric condition, and prior exposure to trauma were identified as notable risk factors, whereas optimism, ability to share concerns with family and friends like usual, positive prediction about COVID-19, and daily exercise predicted fewer psychological symptoms. These results could aid in dynamic optimization of mental health services during and following COVID-19 pandemic

It's possible to have a psychedelic experience from placebo? Most psychedelic studies find few effects in the placebo control group, yet these effects may have been obscured by the study design, setting, etc.

Tripping on nothing: placebo psychedelics and contextual factors. Jay A. Olson, Léah Suissa-Rocheleau, Michael Lifshitz, Amir Raz & Samuel P. L. Veissière. Psychopharmacology volume 237, pages1371–1382. March 7 2020. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-020-05464-5

Rationale: Is it possible to have a psychedelic experience from a placebo alone? Most psychedelic studies find few effects in the placebo control group, yet these effects may have been obscured by the study design, setting, or analysis decisions.

Objective: We examined individual variation in placebo effects in a naturalistic environment resembling a typical psychedelic party.

Methods: Thirty-three students completed a single-arm study ostensibly examining how a psychedelic drug affects creativity. The 4-h study took place in a group setting with music, paintings, coloured lights, and visual projections. Participants consumed a placebo that we described as a drug resembling psilocybin, which is found in psychedelic mushrooms. To boost expectations, confederates subtly acted out the stated effects of the drug and participants were led to believe that there was no placebo control group. The participants later completed the 5-Dimensional Altered States of Consciousness Rating Scale, which measures changes in conscious experience.

Results: There was considerable individual variation in the placebo effects; many participants reported no changes while others showed effects with magnitudes typically associated with moderate or high doses of psilocybin. In addition, the majority (61%) of participants verbally reported some effect of the drug. Several stated that they saw the paintings on the walls “move” or “reshape” themselves, others felt “heavy… as if gravity [had] a stronger hold”, and one had a “come down” before another “wave” hit her.

Conclusion: Understanding how context and expectations promote psychedelic-like effects, even without the drug, will help researchers to isolate drug effects and clinicians to maximise their therapeutic potential.

Red color supposedly affects cognitive functioning in achievement situations & impairs test performance; this review casts doubt on the existence of a robust color priming effect in achievement situations

Gnambs, Timo. 2020. “Limited Evidence for the Effect of Red Color on Cognitive Performance: A Meta-analysis.” PsyArXiv. May 5. doi:10.31234/osf.io/a4qdv

Abstract: Red color supposedly affects cognitive functioning in achievement situations and impairs test performance. Although this has been shown for different cognitive domains in different populations and cultural contexts, recent studies including close replications failed to corroborate this effect. Reported here is a random-effects meta-analysis of 67 effect sizes (38 samples) that compared test performance after viewing red or a control color. For anagram tests and knowledge tests no significant difference between color conditions was found (Cohen’s d of -0.06 and -0.04); for reasoning tests the pooled effect of d = -0.34, 95% CI [-0.61, -0.06] indicated significantly lower scores in the red condition. Substantially larger effects were found in initial studies as compared to subsequent research. After correcting for publication bias no evidential value for an effect of red color on intellectual performance was available. The review casts doubt on the existence of a robust color priming effect in achievement situations.

Seller Reputation and Price Gouging: Evidence from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Seller Reputation and Price Gouging: Evidence from the COVID-19 Pandemic. Luis Cabral, Lei Xu. May 2020. http://leixu.org/xu_price_gouging.pdf

Abstract: We test the theory that seller reputation moderates the effect of demand shocks on a seller’s propensity to price gouge. From mid January to mid March 2020, 3M masks were priced 2.72 times higher than Amazon sold them in 2019. However, the difference(in price ratios) between a post-COVID-19 entrant and an established seller is estimated to be about 1.6 at times of maximum scarcity, that is, post-COVID-19 entrants price at approximately twice the level of established sellers. Similar results are obtained for Purell hand sanitizer. We also consider cumulative reviews as a measure of what a seller has to lose from damaging its reputation and, again, obtain similar results. Finally, we explore policy implications of our results.

Keywords: price gouging, COVID-19, Amazon
JEL codes: D01

High Esteem and Hurting Others Online: Contrary to Common Views, There Can Be High Self-Esteem In Trollers; Trait Sadism Moderates the Relationship Between Self-Esteem & Trolling

High Esteem and Hurting Others Online: Trait Sadism Moderates the Relationship Between Self-Esteem and Internet Trolling. Evita March and Genevieve Steele. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, May 4 2020. https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2019.0652

Abstract: Internet trolling is commonly defined as disruptive online behavior, intended to provoke and distress others for amusement. Previous research has shown that gender (specifically, male), trait psychopathy, and trait sadism significantly predict engaging in trolling. In this study, we sought to replicate and extend previous research by exploring the role of self-esteem in predicting trolling, and possible interactions between self-esteem and personality. Participants (n = 400, 67.5 percent women, average age = 24.97 years [SD = 8.84]) completed an online questionnaire, including measures of psychopathy, sadism, self-esteem, and trolling behaviors. Results corroborated previous research showing gender (male) to be a significant predictor of trolling, and trait psychopathy and sadism to be significant positive predictors. Although self-esteem had no additional value on top of trait psychopathy and sadism in explaining trolling, there was a significant interaction between self-esteem and trait sadism. A moderation analysis indicated a positive relationship between self-esteem and trolling, but only when trait sadism was high. These results portray the troll as a callous individual may enjoy causing psychological harm, particularly if their self-esteem is high. These results contribute to building the psychological profile of trolls and provide future directions for research exploring trolling behaviors.

Women: When pleasuring themselves, more frequent pornography use predicted lower arousal difficulty & orgasmic difficulty, greater pleasure, & more masturbatory events leading to orgasm

Effects of Pornography Use and Demographic Parameters on Sexual Response during Masturbation and Partnered Sex in Women. Sean M. McNabney, Krisztina Hevesi and David L. Rowland. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(9), 3130; April 30 2020. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17093130

Abstract: The effect of pornography on sexual response is understudied, particularly among women. A multinational, community-based sample of 2433 women at least 18 years of age completed a 42-item, opt-in questionnaire collecting information on demographic and sexual history characteristics, use of pornography during masturbation, frequency of pornography use, and sexual response parameters. Pornography use and average frequency were compared across demographic variables. We also examined how pornography frequency predicted differences in self-reported arousal difficulty; orgasmic difficulty, latency, and pleasure; and the percent of sexual activities ending in orgasm during both masturbation and partnered sex. On average, women using pornography were younger, and reported more interest in sex. Pornography frequency differed significantly by menopausal status, sexual orientation, anxiety/depression status, number of sexual partners, and origin of data collection. During masturbation, more frequent pornography use predicted lower arousal difficulty and orgasmic difficulty, greater pleasure, and a higher percentage of masturbatory events leading to orgasm. Frequency of pornography use predicted only lower arousal difficulty and longer orgasmic latencies during partnered sex, having no effect on the other outcome variables. Pornography use frequency did not predict overall relationship satisfaction or sexual relationship satisfaction. Overall, more frequent pornography use was generally associated with more favorable sexual response outcomes during masturbation, while not affecting most partnered sex parameters. Several demographic and relationship covariates appear to more consistently and strongly predict orgasmic problems during partnered sexual activity than pornography use.

Keywords: pornography; masturbation; partnered sex; sexual activity; sexual response; arousal; orgasm; orgasmic difficulty; orgasmic pleasure