Saturday, July 25, 2020

Minimal social interactions with strangers—just taking a moment to greet, thank, & express good wishes to strangers—contribute to happiness (subjective well-being) of individuals who initiate these interactions

Minimal Social Interactions with Strangers Predict Greater Subjective Well-Being. Gul Gunaydin, Hazal Oztekin, Deniz Hazal Karabulut & Selin Salman-Engin. Journal of Happiness Studies, July 24 2020.

Abstract: Past empirical work has repeatedly revealed that positive social interactions including expressing gratitude and socializing are associated with greater happiness. However, this work predominantly focused on prolonged interactions with close relationship partners. Only a few studies demonstrated hedonic benefits of forming social connections with strangers. The present research investigated whether minimal social interactions with strangers—just taking a moment to greet, thank, and express good wishes to strangers—contribute to happiness of individuals who initiate these interactions. Study 1 (N = 856) provided correlational evidence that commuters who reported engaging in minimal positive social interactions with shuttle drivers experienced greater subjective well-being (life satisfaction and positive affect). Moreover, hedonic benefits of positive social interactions went beyond relatively more neutral social interactions, Big-Five personality factors, and age, speaking to the robustness of the effect. Study 2 (N = 265) provided experimental evidence that commuters who greeted, thanked, or expressed good wishes to shuttle drivers experienced greater momentary positive affect than those who did not speak with drivers. These findings add to the burgeoning literature on hedonic benefits of interacting with strangers by showing that even very minimal social interactions with strangers contribute to subjective well-being in everyday life.

We test the hypothesis that our social predictions resist change because perceivers place high subjective value on having their expectations of others confirmed

Confirmation of interpersonal expectations is intrinsically rewarding. Niv Reggev, Anoushka Chowdhary, and Jason P. Mitchell. bioRxiv, Jul 19 2020.

Abstract: Despite the inherent sociality of human nature, other people pose some of the most difficult challenges to the mind. To successfully interact with other individuals, we need to predict their future responses, a computationally-vexing problem given the enormous range of behaviors in which other people can engage. Decades of research have demonstrated that to simplify this task, perceivers routinely draw on prior beliefs—that is, rather than wait to construct social predictions solely on relevant incoming information, people regularly use prior knowledge, stereotypes, and other sources of information to proactively predict the traits and behaviors of other people. Such research has also demonstrated that once formed, these predictions strongly influence social interactions even when people attempt to change or ignore them. Here, we test the hypothesis that our social predictions resist change because perceivers place high subjective value on having their expectations of others confirmed. Across four studies, we report data consistent with this hypothesis, both when perceivers’ expectations derive from gender stereotypes and when they derive from knowledge of familiar individuals. Specifically, in two neuroimaging experiments (n = 58), we observed increased activation in brain regions associated with reward processing—including the nucleus accumbens—when social expectations were confirmed. In two additional behavioral experiments (n = 704), we observed that perceivers were willing to forgo money to encounter an expectation-confirming target and avoid an expectation-violating target. Together, these findings suggest that perceivers value having their social expectations confirmed, much like other primary or secondary rewards.

Keywords: Stereotypes, Expectations, Reward, fMRI, NAcc, Value

Female Ejaculation: an update on anatomy, history, and controversies

Female Ejaculation: an update on anatomy, history, and controversies. Felix D. Rodriguez  Amarilis Camacho  Stephen J. Bordes  Brady Gardner  Roy J. Levin  R. Shane Tubbs. Clinical Anatomy, July 18 2020.

ABSTRACT: Female ejaculation is a contentious topic. From a review of the literature, history indicates that it is not a modern concept; some females were aware of it in times past without understanding the role of the fluid or composition of the ejaculate. Over time, scholars experimented, mainly with anatomical studies, in an attempt to identify the source of the ejaculate and explore its physiological and anatomical benefits for the female sexual experience. Despite these studies, views about female ejaculation remain controversial and inconsistent, with no clear conclusion as to its function. This review discusses the history of studies of female ejaculation and presents various hypotheses from an anatomical and physiological perspective. After reviewing forty‐four publications from 1889 to 2019 it became apparent that clinical and anatomical studies conducted during recent decades provide substantial evidence in support of the female ejaculatory phenomenon. Anatomical studies have shown that the ejaculate originates in the paraurethral (Skene's) glands, but its composition has been debated. Female ejaculate differs from urine in its creatinine and urea concentrations. The fluid also contains prostate specific antigen (PSA) and could have antibacterial properties that serve to protect the urethra. While the specific function of female ejaculation remains a topic of debate, there is sufficient evidence to support the existence of the phenomenon.

Dishonesty is affected by BMI status: Obese subjects lie more than lean subjects, and they lie more to avoid the lowest payoff than to get the highest payoff

Dishonesty is more affected by BMI status than by short-term changes in glucose. Eugenia Polizzi di Sorrentino, Benedikt Herrmann & Marie Claire Villeval. Scientific Reports volume 10, Article number: 12170. July 22 2020.

Abstract: There is evidence that human decision-making is affected by current body energy levels and physiological states. There is less clear evidence linking decision-making to long-term changes in energy, as those associated with obesity. We explore the link between energy, obesity and dishonesty by comparing the behaviour of obese and lean subjects when hungry or sated while playing an anonymous die-under-cup task. Participants performed the task either before or after breakfast. We find that short-term switches in energy have only a mild effect on dishonesty, as only lean females lie less when sated. By contrast, obese subjects lie more than lean subjects in both conditions, and they lie more to avoid the lowest payoff than to get the highest payoff. Our findings suggest that the observed patterns are more likely mediated by factors associated with obesity than by short term energy dynamics, and call for a better integration of the psychological, economic and biological drivers of moral behaviour.


This is the first study that investigates the role of short-term energy dynamics, BMI status and their interactions on individuals’ ability to refrain from lying. We found that only a fraction of subjects (specifically, lean females) becomes more honest after consuming breakfast. Major differences in behaviour are instead found between lean and obese subjects, especially under satiation. Such results provide limited support for an effect of short term energetic shifts on moral decision making. Importantly, they reject H1 in favour of H2, as energy dynamics alone cannot explain the observed differences in unethical behaviour. These findings complement the analyses of the economic, psychological and cognitive determinants of small-scale dishonesty. A growing body of research has started to identify the psychological factors underlying unethical behaviour25,42,43, often opposing alternative views about how the integrity of cognitive functions (in particular, self-control) affects the ability for refraining from lying. For example, it has been shown that people are more likely to lie under conditions of reduced self-control29,30,42, while resisting the temptation both requires and depletes self-regulatory resources25. Similarly, sleep-deprivation and time pressure have been shown to increase the likelihood of engaging in unethical behaviour in both work-related27 and lab settings28. Overall, our results fail to support the hypothesis that glucose acts as a general modulator of self-control resources underlying honest behaviour, as obese subjects cheat more despite higher blood glucose levels.
In our study, lean female subjects become more honest when sated, but males fail to do so. Increasing evidence of sex differences in the neural activity related to hunger and satiety44,45 and in cortical areas processing food-related stimuli46,47 supports the hypothesis that women are more sensitive to food-related cues than men and may have a greater sensitivity to humoural signals of hunger and satiation48. Similarly, a heightened malleability and sensitivity of women’s preferences to the context of an experiment has been suggested to explain gender differences in some economic games49. Given the overlap of brain areas (e.g., orbifrontal cortex) involved in processing food rewards and money rewards50,51,52 and evidences showing the reciprocal association between the incentive value of food and of money53, we suggest that a higher sensitivity of women to energetic shifts could facilitate the substitution of a primary reward (e.g., the calories provided by the food) to a secondary reward obtained at the moral cost of lying (e.g., the extra money earned by over-reporting the die outcome). Alterations of physiological state (e.g., hunger) have been suggested to modulate the emergence of gender gaps in economic behaviour54. In line with that, our finding can help interpret the contrasting results on gender and honesty in the past literature55,56,57,58,59.
Major differences in lying behaviour emerge between obese and lean subjects especially after breakfast consumption. Such finding suggests that obesity may be associated to a reduced sensitivity to short-term energetic shifts. In support of this interpretation, it has been shown that the brain’s ability to respond to alterations in glucose metabolism becomes aberrant in both individuals predisposed to become obese (obesity prone) and those already obese and diabetic60. Moreover, while fluctuations in the motivational value of food are thought to contribute to the control of eating behaviour, there is evidence that such processes are impaired in individuals with obesity. For example, Castellanos and colleagues40 show that while lean and obese have similar attentional bias to food-related cues when hungry, obese but not lean keep a high attentional bias even after eating, possibly due to a reward system dysregulation. In support of it, sensitivity to reward devaluation decreases with increasing BMI61. As dishonest behaviour has been linked to heightened responses in specific reward-related brain areas (e.g., nucleus accumbens62), obese subjects’ inability to correctly devaluate rewards in post-meal contexts may possibly contribute to explain the observed levels of dishonest behaviour.
Investigating the nature of lies can help us better characterize the motivations behind dishonest behaviour. We found that obese people’s misreporting behaviour is mainly motivated by the willingness to avoid the lower payoff in the die task. This could be related to loss aversion63, echoing studies showing differential neural responses of obese subjects to monetary losses and to the anticipation of such losses compared to lean people64. If loss aversion is a permanent trait, then it might not be surprising that the estimated percentage of lies to avoid the lower payoff remains the same regardless of their metabolic state. In contrast, the willingness to maximize one’s payoff and the willingness to avoid the lowest payoff have a more similar weight in lean subjects.
Due to the correlational nature of our study, we are not able to infer causality between obesity and moral behaviour. Obesity stems from a complex interaction between behavioural, neuronal and metabolic processes and is associated (but not necessarily causally) to a dysregulation of the mechanisms governing energy homeostasis. In support of this view, recent genetic studies concluded that obesity is less metabolic and more driven by neuro-behavioural disorders65. From an evolutionary perspective, it has been suggested that insulin resistance, a metabolic condition often associated to obesity and type-2 diabetes, might have evolved as a socio-ecological adaptation allowing a shift from muscle-dependent to brain-dependent life strategies, and that the pathological consequences of obesity are likely to be caused by immune chronic inflammation rather than by changes in the homeostatic regulation system66. These studies challenge traditional views supporting the metabolic origins of obesity67 and suggest a more intertwined role of social, hormonal and immunological factors in the emergence of obesity. Given the literature, we may postulate that the same behavioural patterns associated with obesity might be responsible for the observed variation in dishonest behaviour. Importantly, this suggests that although energy shifts might impact honesty, results cannot be explained by energy dynamics alone.
Finally, our study adds novel findings to the growing literature exploring the cognitive and economic determinants of unethical behaviour, and calls for a deeper understanding of the intertwined neurological, physiological and socio-economic factors that shape our ability to comply with moral norms.

Participants made less accurate metacognitive other-judgments than self-judgments; metacognitive other-judgments were also more overconfident than self-judgments

Taking another perspective on overconfidence in cognitive ability: A comparison of self and other metacognitive judgments. Robert Tirso, Lisa Geraci. Journal of Memory and Language, Volume 114, October 2020, 104132.

• Participants made less accurate metacognitive other-judgments than self-judgments.
• Metacognitive other-judgments were also more overconfident than self-judgments.
• This pattern occurred across a variety of contexts and relationships.
• This pattern was not caused by the temporal distance between judgments and testing.
• Possessing a mixed or negative impression of the target eliminated this effect.

Abstract: People are often overconfident in their own cognitive abilities. We investigated whether overconfidence extends to judgments from or about other people, and tested various competing theories of this relationship. Across six studies using various methods and contexts, results showed that people were more confident in others’ cognitive abilities than in their own. This pattern of results occurred in the classroom for grade predictions (Studies 1 and 2), in the laboratory for standard cognitive test predictions (Studies 3–6), when people knew others well or had just met (Study 4), when they liked the other person, but not when they did not like the person (Study 5), and when calibration could be verified and when it could not be verified (Study 6). Results are interpreted in terms of an information-motivation theory, which suggests that people turn to motivational information and thus overpredict others’ performance relative to their own when they lack information about other’s metacognitive states and when they are motivated to see others in a positive light. These findings offer another perspective on overconfidence, both literally and figuratively, by demonstrating that people appear to be more overconfident in others’ cognitive abilities than in their own.

Keywords: OverconfidenceMetacognitionPredictionsSelfOthers