Saturday, August 22, 2020

Does language change what we perceive? Does speaking different languages cause us to perceive things differently?

Lupyan, Gary, Rasha Abdel Rahman, Lera Boroditsky, and Andy Clark. 2020. “Effects of Language on Visual Perception.” PsyArXiv. April 28. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Does language change what we perceive? Does speaking different languages cause us to perceive things differently? We review the behavioral and electrophysiological evidence for the influence of language on perception, with an emphasis on the visual modality. Effects of language on perception can be observed both in higher-level processes such as recognition, and in lower-level processes such as discrimination and detection. A consistent finding is that language causes us to perceive in a more categorical way. Rather than being fringe or exotic, as they are sometimes portrayed, we discuss how effects of language on perception naturally arise from the interactive and predictive nature of perception.

The higher individuals are in trait ambivalence, the smaller their bias towards attributing behavior to a person’s disposition; we find the same for self-serving bias

Schneider, Iris, Sheida Novin, Frenk van Harreveld, and Oliver Genschow. 2020. “Benefits of Being Ambivalent: The Relationship Between Trait Ambivalence and Attribution Biases.” PsyArXiv. August 22. doi:10.1111/bjso.12417

Abstract: Ambivalence refers to the experience of having both positive and negative thoughts and feelings at the same time about the same object, person, or issue. Although ambivalence research has focused extensively on negative consequences, recently, scholars turned their lens to the positive effects of ambivalence, demonstrating beneficial effects on judgments and decision-making processes. So far, this work has focused on state ambivalence, which is ambivalence as a direct response to a specific stimulus. However, there are substantial individual differences in ambivalence: some people are just more ambivalent than others. Taking a first step in understanding how these individual differences relate to judgment and decision-making, we examine the relationship between trait ambivalence and cognitive bias in social judgments tasks. Specifically, we look at two of the most pervasive and consequential attribution biases in person perception: correspondence bias and self-serving bias. We find a negative relationship between trait ambivalence and correspondence bias. The higher individuals are in trait ambivalence, the smaller their bias towards attributing behavior to a person’s disposition (Study 1A and B). We find the same for self-serving bias (Study 2A and B). In sum, we show that trait ambivalence is negatively related to cognitive bias in person perception.

We primarily rely on personal cost rather than social benefit when evaluating prosocial actors; this occurs because sacrifice, but not benefit, is taken as a signal of moral character & an input to reputational judgments

Johnson, Samuel G. B. 2020. “Dimensions of Altruism: Do Evaluations of Prosocial Behavior Track Social Good or Personal Sacrifice?.” PsyArXiv. August 22. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Do we praise prosocial acts because they produce social benefits or because they entail a personal sacrifice? Six studies demonstrate that consumers primarily rely on personal cost rather than social benefit when evaluating prosocial actors. This occurs because sacrifice, but not benefit, is taken as a signal of moral character and an input to reputational judgments (Studies 1 and 2), reflecting a “character = sacrifice” heuristic predicted by costly signaling theory. The studies test four possible boundary conditions, finding that the effects are similar for actions that benefit one’s own country versus foreigners (Study 3), but differ for donations of time (Study 4), when information about personal sacrifice is unavailable (Study 5), and when high-cost but ineffective acts are pitted directly against low-cost but effective acts in joint evaluation (Study 6). These results help to account for the ineffectiveness of many charitable activities but also suggest directions for incentivizing effective charity.

Check also Johnson, Samuel G. B., and Seo Y. Park. 2019. “Moral Signaling Through Donations of Money and Time.” PsyArXiv. September 23.

Depersonalization is common in anxiety disorders; on a trait level, anxiety & depersonalization more frequently co-occur when people catastrophically misinterpret their symptoms or have lower emotional distress tolerance

French, Noah J., Jeremy W. Eberle, and Bethany Teachman. 2020. “Moderators of the Relationships Between State and Trait Anxiety and Depersonalization.” PsyArXiv. July 22. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Depersonalization is common in anxiety disorders, but little is known about the factors that influence co-occurring anxiety and depersonalization. We investigated trait moderators of the relationships between state and trait anxiety and depersonalization to better understand their co-occurrence and to identify potential points of intervention. Adults recruited on Amazon Mechanical Turk (N = 303) completed two computer tasks designed to increase variability in state anxiety and depersonalization as well as several self-report questionnaires. As hypothesized (preregistration:, anxiety positively predicted depersonalization at both a state level, β = 0.43, 95% CI [0.39, 0.47], and a trait level, β = 0.60, 95% CI [0.51, 0.70]. Moreover, as hypothesized, the trait anxiety-trait depersonalization relationship was strengthened by greater anxiety sensitivity, β = 0.25, 95% CI [0.17, 0.34]; distress intolerance, β = 0.15, 95% CI [0.05, 0.25]; and negative interpretation bias for anxiety sensations (inverse transformed), β = -0.21, 95% CI [-0.30, -0.13], and for depersonalization sensations (inverse transformed), β = -0.27, 95% CI [-0.35, -0.19]. None of these hypothesized trait moderators significantly strengthened the state anxiety-state depersonalization relationship. These findings suggest that on a trait level, anxiety and depersonalization more frequently co-occur when people catastrophically misinterpret their symptoms or have lower emotional distress tolerance.

Low Base Rates and a High IQ Selection Threshold Prevented Terman from Identifying Future Nobelists

Low Base Rates and a High IQ Selection Threshold Prevented Terman from Identifying Future Nobelists. Russell T. WarneRoss LarsenJonathan Clark. Aug 22, 2020.

Although the accomplishments of the 1,528 subjects of the Genetic Studies of Genius are impressive, they do not represent the pinnacle of human achievement. Since the early 1990s, commentators have criticized the study because two future Nobelists—William Shockley and Luis Alvarez—were among the candidates screened for the study; but they were rejected because their IQ scores were too low. Critics see this as a flaw of Terman’s methodology and/or intelligence testing. This study simulates the Terman’s sampling procedure to estimate the probability that Terman would have selected one or both future Nobelists from a population of 168,000 candidates. Using simulations, we created a model that reflected the reliability of the IQ scores used to select individuals for the Genetic Studies of Genius and the relationship between IQ and Nobelist status. Results showed that it was unlikely for Terman to identify children who would later earn Nobel prizes, mostly because of the low base rate of earning a Nobel and the high minimum IQ needed to be selected for Terman’s study. Changes to the methodology that would have been required to select one or both Nobelists were not practical. Therefore, future Nobelists’ absence from the Genetic Studies of Genius sample is not a fatal flaw of intelligence testing or Terman’s study. Instead, predicting high levels of eminence requires measuring a variety of relevant cognitive and non-cognitive variables. Simulation code and results and reliability generalization information are available at

Compared with firefighters and soldiers, inmates had more biological- and stepsiblings, experienced their sexual onset earlier, had offspring with more women, and reported lower life expectancy

Do Criminals Live Faster Than Soldiers and Firefighters? A Comparison of Biodemographic and Psychosocial Dimensions of Life History Theory. Monika Kwiek & Przemysław Piotrowski
Human Nature, Aug 22 2020.

Abstract: A high risk of morbidity-mortality caused by a harsh and unpredictable environment is considered to be associated with a fast life history (LH) strategy, commonly linked with criminal behavior. However, offenders are not the only group with a high exposure to extrinsic morbidity-mortality. In the present study, we investigated the LH strategies employed by two groups of Polish men: incarcerated offenders (N = 84) as well as soldiers and firefighters (N = 117), whose professions involve an elevated risk of injury and premature death. The subjects were asked to complete the Mini-K (used as a psychosocial LH indicator) and a questionnaire which included a number of biodemographic LH variables. Although biodemographic and psychosocial LH indicators should be closely linked with each other, the actual connection between them is unclear. Thus, this study was driven by two aims: comparing LH strategies in two groups of men with a high risk of premature morbidity-mortality and investigating the relationship between the biodemographic and psychosocial LH dimensions. The study showed that incarcerated men employed faster LH strategies than soldiers and firefighters, but only in relation to biodemographic variables (e.g., number of siblings, age of sexual initiation, life expectancy). No intergroup differences emerged regarding psychosocial LH indicators. Moreover, the correlation analysis showed a weak association between biodemographic and psychosocial LH indicators. The results strengthen the legitimacy of incorporating biodemographic LH traits into research models and indicate the need for further research on the accuracy of the Mini-K. The possible explanations for the intergroup differences in LH strategies are discussed.


Intergroup Differences in LH Strategies

One of the aims of the current study was to examine differences in LH strategies adopted by incarcerated offenders and men working as firefighters and soldiers. As predicted, the inmates turned out to develop faster LH strategies than men in dangerous professions. However, this dependency occurred only in relation to biodemographic variables. The inmates’ mothers gave birth to their firstborn at a younger age and had shorter intervals between subsequent pregnancies than the soldiers and firefighters’ mothers. Moreover, compared with firefighters and soldiers, inmates had more biological- and stepsiblings, experienced their sexual onset earlier, had offspring with more women, and reported lower life expectancy.
All the differences reported above consistently indicate that incarcerated men employ faster LH strategies both in relation to biodemographic factors of mating/parenting trade-offs and regarding life expectancy. Although we expected such differences in the context of LH strategy pace, it is interesting that soldiers and firefighters, whose exposure to physical threats is often a part of their daily work routine, expected to live longer than inmates who are incarcerated, constantly monitored, and therefore protected from many external morbidity-mortality cues. Such findings suggest that the perceived risk of premature mortality might not be a simple reflection of prevailing conditions but may tell us something more about the person. To shed more light on this matter, it is worth referring to the previously described predictive adaptive response (PAR) hypotheses, according to which an individual makes predictions about future environmental conditions (external PAR) or their own life expectancy (internal PAR) based on the level of adversity experienced early in life (Nettle et al. 2013). Thereby, when it comes to an individual’s expected survival, early-life adversity might be even more important than objective current morbidity-mortality risk.
Admittedly, we did not ask the participants about their backgrounds. However, our results showed that compared with soldiers and firefighters, inmates had more biological siblings and stepsiblings and their parents started their families at an earlier age. Considering that larger family size and becoming a parent at a younger age are commonly associated with a family’s lower socioeconomic status (Mace 2014), lower parental investments (Stulp and Barrett 2016), as well as a higher occurrence of harsh parenting (Lee and Guterman 2010) and child maltreatment (Scannapieco and Connell-Carrick 2016), we assume that the inmates from our study may have grown up in more adverse households than men working as soldiers and firefighters. That could make them more perceptive of mortality cues in their current environment. Since the correlation analyses used in this study prevent us from using causal language, the possibility presented above is a mere speculation that requires further investigation.
The possibility of higher early-life adversity among the inmates could also serve as an explanation for commonly known differences in prosociality between our two study groups. In fact, as a recent study has shown, growing up in a disadvantaged environment tends to be negatively associated with further prosociality by leading to lower levels of Honesty-Humility and dispositional trust in others (Wu et al. 2020).
It also seems to be plausible that intergroup differences in prosociality are not only the result of a more adverse childhood and explain the different LH strategies adopted by the subjects, but might also affect these LH strategies. As soldiers and firefighters engage in risky behaviors in the service of society, their professions are respected in their communities and are a source of recognition, status, and prestige (King and Karabell 2003; Martens 2005). Therefore, their everyday life must be far less hostile than prison reality, which is typically characterized by a high prevalence of male aggressive competition and dominance (Kupers 2005) and inflicts considerable harm on inmates (Irwin and Owen 2005). Living under such hostile conditions might consolidate inmates’ fast LH strategies and partly explain their relatively pessimistic outlook on the future.
Furthermore, starting a family at younger age and having more offspring turned out to be characteristic of the inmates as well as the inmates’ parents. These similarities in biodemographic indicators of LH strategies between participants and their parents might have occurred partly due to genetic influence. In fact, LH traits are considered to be to some extent heritable (Briley et al. 2017; Figueredo et al. 2004; Tielbeek et al. 2018), which makes genetic confounding another hypothetical explanation of our results.
Another issue is the lack of intergroup differences in terms of number of offspring. In addition, there was no association between the number of children reported by the subjects and the other biodemographic variables. Among the inmates, however, the more children they had, the slower the psychometric LH strategy they employed. Similar results were reported by Richardson et al. (2017b), who argued that one of the reasons for the existence of such associations that are inconsistent with LH theory might be the prevalence of contraception use, which makes it easier to prevent unwanted pregnancies among more promiscuous individuals who are not interested in starting a family. As a result, slower LH strategists who intend to be parents can have more offspring than people with faster LH strategies, who usually prefer not to have children (Richardson et al. 2017b). Our findings seem to confirm the above line of reasoning because, although the number of children was not a reliable indicator of the subject’s LH strategy, the intergroup differences in the number of both biological siblings and stepsiblings were consistent with LH theory predictions. Considering the upward trend in using birth control methods over the several past decades (Blanc et al. 2009; Sonenstein et al. 1998), it becomes apparent that around thirty years ago, when the subjects were born, contraception use was not as ubiquitous as it is at present, and greater mating effort was certainly more strongly associated with a higher number of children. In fact, as the recent study has shown, modern industrialized populations adopting a slower LH strategy tend to enjoy increased fertility (Woodley of Menie et al. 2017), which as stated above is most likely a result of the fact that slower LH strategists are more interested in parenting in general (Clutterbuck et al. 2014). Basically, all these findings lead us to the supposition that number of offspring was a more accurate reflection of LH pace in the past than it is currently. In our modern societies, employing a slow LH strategy seems to be related to higher parental investment, which does not always require having fewer offspring. Perhaps when optimized to its fullest potential, a slow LH strategy may actually favor both the quality and the quantity of children. After all, although parental investments influence children’s fitness, the more an individual has invested in their offspring, the more they can lose by employing a fast LH strategy. Thus, at least to some extent, a slow LH strategy might become more and more beneficial with each subsequent child. The association between a slower LH strategy and having more offspring may also be explained by the fact that people with slow LH strategies are typically perceived as higher-quality mates (Dillon et al. 2013), so they are more likely to attract partners interested in long-lasting relationship and starting families.

The Connection between Biodemographic and Psychosocial Indicators of LH Strategy

Compelled by the dispute over the existence and importance of the relations between biodemographic and psychosocial aspects of LH dimension as well as the shortage of research done on this subject, we aimed to examine the associations between the group of traditional biodemographic LH indicators and the psychosocial assessment of LH strategy obtained by using the Mini-K.
In general, higher scores on the Mini-K indicating a slower LH strategy were associated with having parents who had their first child at a greater age, being older when becoming a parent oneself and, counterintuitively, having more offspring (discussed in the previous section). This already weak association between biodemographic and psychosocial LH variables turned out to be even less significant within the groups. Among the inmates, the slower LH strategy measured by the Mini-K was connected with becoming a father at a later age and having slightly more offspring. Among soldiers and firefighters there was no connection between biodemographic and psychosocial LH variables at all. These results seem to suggest a weak and incoherent connection between biodemographic LH variables and psychosocial aspects of LH dimension assessed using the Mini-K. On the other hand, more correlations occurred in the general sample than among the subgroups, which might suggest that some connections may be more likely to occur if the sample sizes were larger.

Limitations and Future Directions

The current study has several limitations. The first is the exclusive use of correlation analyses, which prevents us from making conclusions about any causal dependencies. Admittedly, the use of correlation analyses was justified by the aims of the study, which included investigating intergroup differences and verifying connections between the two groups of LH indicators. In future studies, analyses concerning causal relationships would have to include indicators of the perceived harshness and unpredictability of early and current environments. Incorporating such variables into research projects would provide us with a more holistic perspective on the LH strategies currently being employed. Thus, future studies on the psychosocial LH dimension should include traditional biodemographic variables, on which LH theory is based, as well as indicators of perceived harshness and unpredictability experienced at different stages of life. This could be achieved by carrying out longitudinal studies with repetitive usage of questionnaires regarding personal convictions about other people and their immediate surroundings (e.g., The World Assumptions Scale; Janoff-Bulman 1989).
The use of a nonrandom selection process might be perceived as another limitation in the context of intergroup differences in the Mini-K scores. The study groups were similar in terms of experiencing higher morbidity-mortality rates on average than the general population. Intergroup differences occurred but only in relation to biodemographic LH indicators. However, comparing the study groups to individuals with a lower morbidity-mortality risk (a control group) might provide us with intergroup differences in the Mini-K as well. In fact, when comparing our subjests’ scores on the Mini-K with the results of the study investigated on a sample of university students (Figueredo et al. 2014), we found that the Mini-K average obtained in our research (M = 1.21, SD = .71) was significantly lower than the average result for the students (1.41; t200 = −4.07, p < .001). Same results were obtained separately for inmates (M = 1.15, SD = .73; t83 = −3.25, p = .002) and for soldiers and firefighters group (M = 1.25, SD = .70; t116 = −2.56, p = .012).
Another point, mentioned previously, is that the lack of connection between biodemographic indicators and the Mini-K in the firefighters and soldiers as well as the very weak connections between these variables in the inmates might be partly affected by the relatively small sample sizes.
Also, because inmates are characterized by a high prevalence of ADHD and comorbid conditions (Ginsberg et al. 2010; Rasmussen et al. 2001), we did not want to include too many questionnaires in the study since this could have lowered the inmates’ motivation to participate. As a result, we chose to restrict the psychosocial LH assessment to the Mini-K, which, as mentioned above, is the most popular psychosocial LH measure considered to be an alternative for the ALHB and K-SF-42 and correlated with the HKSS (Dunkel and Decker 2010). Nevertheless, more comprehensive analyses including all psychometric LH measures in relation to traditional LH variables would offer a valuable verification of the results obtained in the current study.
Finally, our study was limited to the LH strategies of male participants only because of our greater access to men in both study groups. Certainly, future studies including female subjects would be welcome.

Trends in anxiety among adults in the United States, 2008-2018: Rapid increases among young adults 18-25 yo; did not significantly increase among individuals 50 years old and older

Trends in anxiety among adults in the United States, 2008-2018: Rapid increases among young adults. Renee D. Goodwin et al. Journal of Psychiatric Research, August 21 2020.

• Anxiety increased from 2008 to 2018 among American adults
• Nearly 7% of adults and 15% of young adults reported anxiety in 2018
• Anxiety increased most rapidly among young adults ages 18-25 years old
• Anxiety did not significantly increase among individuals 50 years old and older

Introduction In a time of global uncertainty, understanding the psychological health of the American public is imperative. There are no current data on anxiety trends among adults in the United States (US) over time. This study aimed to investigate prevalence of anxiety among US adults from 2008-2018.

Methods Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), which is an annual, cross-sectional survey on substance use and mental health in the US, were analyzed in 2020. Prevalence of past-month anxiety was estimated among those ages ≥18, by survey year from 2008 to 2018. Time trends were tested using logistic regression.

Results Anxiety increased from 5.12% in 2008 to 6.68% in 2018 (p<.0001) among adult Americans. Stratification by age revealed the most notable increase from 7.97% to 14.66% among respondents 18-25 years old (p<.001), which was a more rapid increase than among 26-34 and 35-49 year olds (differential time trend p<.001). Anxiety did not significantly increase among those ages 50 and older. Anxiety increased more rapidly among those never married and with some college education, relative to their respective counterparts. Apart from age, marital status and education, anxiety increased consistently among sociodemographic groups.

Conclusions Anxiety is increasing among adults under age 50 in the US, with more rapid increase among young adults. To prepare for a healthier adulthood and given direct and indirect (via 24/7 media) exposure to anxiety-provoking world events, prophylactic measures that can bolster healthy coping responses and/or treatment seeking seem warranted on a broad scale.

Keywords: anxietynervousnessmental healthepidemiologyNSDUH


Overall, our results are consistent with and extend prior findings that mental health has worsened in the US by showing that anxiety, too, has broadly increased among adults in the US over the past decade. Anxiety appears most common among young adults and has increased more rapidly among 18 to 25-year-olds than among any other age group. Anxiety also increased more rapidly among those never married versus married and among those with a high school diploma or some college versus those who did not complete high school. Anxiety increased consistently across racial/ethnic, gender and income subgroups. Adults over age 50 was the only demographic subgroup amongst whom anxiety did not change from 2008 to 2018.
The overall increase in anxiety in the US population was broad and consistent across sociodemographic groups, suggesting that large-scale public health approaches to mitigate anxiety may be needed, in addition to outreach and increasing accessibility of mental health services. In terms of education, the increase in anxiety was slower among those who did not complete high school vs. those with higher formal education. Of all subgroups, unmarried adults and young adults showed the most rapid increases in anxiety. Being married has been consistently associated with health benefits (Curtin and Tejada-Vera, 2019Kaplan and Kronick, 2006Rendall et al., 2011). These findings may relate to many factors including differences in social isolation, social support and financial stability (Cacioppo et al. 2014Holt-Lunstad et al. 2015Petitte et al. 2015). Some data suggest a link between loneliness and anxiety (Igbokwe et al., 2020), though there is little research on the relationship between social isolation and anxiety. Especially considering extended social isolation across the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is an issue that may gain even more salience in protecting the mental health of the country (Elran-Barak and Mozeikov, 2020).
Anxiety is most common and has increased most rapidly among young adults. Anxious temperament and subclinical anxiety earlier in life is associated with increased risk of subsequent onset of anxiety disorders, depression, substance use disorders and physical health problems (e.g., Bittner et al., 2004Goodwin, 2002Goodwin et al., 2004abOlafiranye et al., 2011Ringbäck Weitoft and Rosén, 2005Roy-Byrne et al., 2008Taha et al., 2014Wittchen et al., 2003). Young adulthood is the key period of vulnerability for the onset of these conditions. Therefore, increasing anxiety in this vulnerable group would be expected to have a greater impact on longer-term mental health and functional outcomes than increases in anxiety in older age groups. In addition, anxiety or stress has been shown to influence brain development, which is not completed until approximately age 25 (e.g., McEwen, 2011Piccolo and Noble, 2018Saleh et al., 2017). Increased persistent anxiety among young adults therefore could have long-term impact on academic, psychological and social development. Further, the explosion of social media, which is associated with increased anxiety and depression among young people, may be a contributing factor to the increase in anxiety over time, especially after 2011 (Barthorpe et al., 2020Hollis et al., 2020Riehm et al., 2019).
On a population level, our findings are consistent with recent data from Sweden reporting that adults, and young adults in particular, experienced an increase in poor sleep, stress and poorer general health from 2000 to 2016 (Blom et al., 2020). Data from US adults also suggest increased levels of stress, with work and money articulated as the most common reasons for anxiety (American Psychological Association, 20142016). The time frame of the current study included the 2016 presidential election, which was reported by more than half of US adults, including more than half of Millennials (ages 20 to 35), as a significant source of stress (American Psychological Association, 2017Hoyt et al., 2018Zeiders et al., 2019). No direct relationship between specific events and changes in anxiety can be drawn from this study. Therefore, similar to findings regarding increases in mental health problems and the 2008 financial crisis (e.g., Case and Deaton, 2015), any connection between changes in anxiety and the effect of national events on a population level would be speculative but may be important to consider in individual-level clinical efforts to address and reduce anxiety. Such relationships may be worthy of consideration in both public health and clinical planning to address the increasing anxiety that appears widespread in the US, especially among young adults. Young people are confronting more potentially anxiety-provoking world events than prior generations, and exposure to such events is now pervasive with access to 24/7 media.
While symptoms of anxiety are associated with increased likelihood of subsequent anxiety disorders and depression, treatment for subclinical anxiety has also been shown to reduce the risk of these outcomes (Goodwin and Gorman, 2002Goodwin and Olfson, 2001). The assessment of anxiety in the current study (self-reported nervousness) is not diagnostic of either subclinical or clinical anxiety, but the finding that over 40% of those classified as having anxiety in these analyses (i.e., those reporting nervousness most or all of the time) reported past-year treatment suggests that their anxiety was related to distress or impairment, given that a minority of individuals with anxiety are seen for treatment in the US. Treatment for anxiety is delayed in the vast majority of cases (Iza et al., 2013Kessler et al., 1998), and most anxiety symptoms or disorders go untreated due to various issues including, but not limited to, lack of awareness of symptoms and effectiveness of treatment, stigma, and lack of parity in mental health coverage (Christiana et al., 2000Wang et al., 2004).


Limitations of this study must be considered when interpreting these results. First, although technically synonymous with “anxiety,” “nervousness” is one expression of anxiety and neither encompasses all types of anxiety nor is reflective of a clinically diagnosed anxiety disorder. Yet, in light of the fact that a substantial percentage of respondents with anxiety reported seeking mental health treatment—on par with those with mental health problems who receive specialized treatment—supports the likelihood that this variable is capturing clinically significant anxiety (Olfson et al., 2019). There is a relative paucity of anxiety measures in national surveys assessed consistently over time. To our knowledge, this is the only measure that could be considered an indicator of anxiety that has been assessed consistently over the past decade in a nationally representative sample. Second, it is possible that the increase observed is due to differences in reporting related to decreasing stigma associated with mental disorders. However, it seems less likely that differences in age groups and other sociodemographics would be observed were that the case, and the fact that “nervousness” is not a disorder seems to reduce the likelihood that this is the sole reason for this finding, though it is possible. Third, NSDUH data are repeated cross-sectional samples and longitudinal data would be important for examining changes in anxiety, changes in variables potentially associated with anxiety, and the timing of changes in anxiety and associated variables among individuals. Finally, while this study was designed to examine sociodemographic differences in anxiety over time, there may be other variables associated with anxiety that may be useful to identify vulnerable subgroups.

Echo chambers... Contrary to this prediction, we found that moderate and uncertain participants showed a nonreciprocal attraction towards extreme and confident individuals

Zimmerman, Federico, Gerry Garbulsky, Dan Ariely, Mariano Sigman, and Joaquin Navajas. 2020. “The Nonreciprocal and Polarizing Nature of Interpersonal Attraction in Political Discussions.” PsyArXiv. August 21. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Echo chambers in public debates are thought to emerge because people display greater preference for those holding similar political views. However, this idea requires careful testing because similarity correlates with other quantities which may drive interpersonal attraction, such as differences in political orientation, attitude extremity, and certainty. Here, we tested the attraction-similarity hypothesis in a study with an unprecedentedly large number of ecological one-shot pairwise political discussions. This setting allowed us examining a key prediction implicit in this account: liking should be reciprocal due to the symmetric nature of similarity. Contrary to this prediction, we found that moderate and uncertain participants showed a nonreciprocal attraction towards extreme and confident individuals. These results are explained by an asymmetric model where liking is modulated by the consistency and certainty of political opinions. We provide converging evidence supporting this account from quantitative model-comparison analyses and an empirical replication in an independent study. Overall, these results reject the widely spread view that political homophily drives social interactions and shed light on a principle of interpersonal attraction that may help understanding the polarization of societies.