Saturday, August 29, 2020

Humans in specific instances are psychologically prepared to prioritize misinformation over truth to, inter alia, mobilize the ingroup against the outgroup & signal commitment to the group to fellow ingroup members

Petersen, Michael Bang, Mathias Osmundsen, and John Tooby. 2020. “The Evolutionary Psychology of Conflict and the Functions of Falsehood.” PsyArXiv. August 29. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Truth is commonly viewed as the first causality of war. As such the current circulation of fake news, conspiracy theories and other hostile political rumors is not a unique phenomenon but merely another example of how people are motivated to dispend with truth in situations of conflict. In this chapter, we theorize about the potentially evolved roots of this motivation and outline the structure of the underlying psychology. Specifically, we focus on how the occurrence of intergroup conflict throughout human evolutionary history has built psychological motivations into the human mind to spread information that (a) mobilize the ingroup against the outgroup, (b) facilitate the coordination of attention within the group and (c) signal commitment to the group to fellow ingroup members. In all these instances, we argue, human psychology is designed to select information that accomplishes these goals most efficiently rather than to select information on the basis of its veracity. Accordingly, we hypothesize that humans in specific instances are psychologically prepared to prioritize misinformation over truth.

Check also Echo Chambers Exist! (But They're Full of Opposing Views). Jonathan Bright, Nahema Marchal, Bharath Ganesh, Stevan Rudinac. arXiv Jan 30 2020. arXiv:2001.11461.

And: The rise in the political polarization in recent decades is not accounted for by the dramatic rise in internet use; claims that partisans inhabit wildly segregated echo chambers/filter bubbles are largely overstated:
Deri, Sebastian. 2019. “Internet Use and Political Polarization: A Review.” PsyArXiv. November 6.

And Testing popular news discourse on the “echo chamber” effect: Does political polarisation occur among those relying on social media as their primary politics news source? Nguyen, A. and Vu, H.T. First Monday, 24 (5), 6. Jun 4 2019.

Check also
Why Smart People Are Vulnerable to Putting Tribe Before Truth. Dan M Kahan. Scientific American, Dec 03 2018.

Baum, J., Rabovsky, M., Rose, S. B., & Abdel Rahman, R. (2018). Clear judgments based on unclear evidence: Person evaluation is strongly influenced by untrustworthy gossip. Emotion,

The key mechanism that generates scientific polarization involves treating evidence generated by other agents as uncertain when their beliefs are relatively different from one’s own:

Scientific polarization. Cailin O’Connor, James Owen Weatherall. European Journal for Philosophy of Science. October 2018, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 855–875.

Polarized Mass or Polarized Few? Assessing the Parallel Rise of Survey Nonresponse and Measures of Polarization. Amnon Cavari and Guy Freedman. The Journal of Politics,

Tappin, Ben M., and Ryan McKay. 2018. “Moral Polarization and Out-party Hate in the US Political Context.” PsyArXiv. November 2.

Forecasting tournaments, epistemic humility and attitude depolarization. Barbara Mellers, PhilipTetlock, Hal R. Arkes. Cognition,

Does residential sorting explain geographic polarization? Gregory J. Martin & Steven W. Webster. Political Science Research and Methods,

Liberals and conservatives have mainly moved further apart on a wide variety of policy issues; the divergence is substantial quantitatively and in its plausible political impact: intra party moderation has become increasingly unlikely:

Peltzman, Sam, Polarizing Currents within Purple America (August 20, 2018). SSRN:

Does Having a Political Discussion Help or Hurt Intergroup Perceptions? Drawing Guidance From Social Identity Theory and the Contact Hypothesis. Robert M. Bond, Hillary C. Shulman, Michael Gilbert. Bond Vol 12 (2018),

All the interactions took the form of subjects rating stories offering ‘ammunition’ for their own side of the controversial issue as possessing greater intrinsic news importance:

Perceptions of newsworthiness are contaminated by a political usefulness bias. Harold Pashler, Gail Heriot. Royal Society Open Science,

When do we care about political neutrality? The hypocritical nature of reaction to political bias. Omer Yair, Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. PLOS,

Democrats & Republicans were both more likely to believe news about the value-upholding behavior of their in-group or the value-undermining behavior of their out-group; Republicans were more likely to believe & want to share apolitical fake news:

Pereira, Andrea, and Jay Van Bavel. 2018. “Identity Concerns Drive Belief in Fake News.” PsyArXiv. September 11.

In self-judgment, the "best option illusion" leads to Dunning-Kruger (failure to recognize our own incompetence). In social judgment, it leads to the Cassandra quandary (failure to identify when another person’s competence exceeds our own): The best option illusion in self and social assessment. David Dunning. Self and Identity,

People are more inaccurate when forecasting their own future prospects than when forecasting others, in part the result of biased visual experience. People orient visual attention and resolve visual ambiguity in ways that support self-interests: "Visual experience in self and social judgment: How a biased majority claim a superior minority." Emily Balcetis & Stephanie A. Cardenas. Self and Identity,

Can we change our biased minds? Michael Gross. Current Biology, Volume 27, Issue 20, 23 October 2017, Pages R1089–R1091.
Summary: A simple test taken by millions of people reveals that virtually everybody has implicit biases that they are unaware of and that may clash with their explicit beliefs. From policing to scientific publishing, all activities that deal with people are at risk of making wrong decisions due to bias. Raising awareness is the first step towards improving the outcomes.

People believe that future others' preferences and beliefs will change to align with their own:
The Belief in a Favorable Future. Todd Rogers, Don Moore and Michael Norton. Psychological Science, Volume 28, issue 9, page(s): 1290-1301,

Kahan, Dan M. and Landrum, Asheley and Carpenter, Katie and Helft, Laura and Jamieson, Kathleen Hall, Science Curiosity and Political Information Processing (August 1, 2016). Advances in Political Psychology, Forthcoming; Yale Law & Economics Research Paper No. 561. Available at SSRN:
Abstract: This paper describes evidence suggesting that science curiosity counteracts politically biased information processing. This finding is in tension with two bodies of research. The first casts doubt on the existence of “curiosity” as a measurable disposition. The other suggests that individual differences in cognition related to science comprehension - of which science curiosity, if it exists, would presumably be one - do not mitigate politically biased information processing but instead aggravate it. The paper describes the scale-development strategy employed to overcome the problems associated with measuring science curiosity. It also reports data, observational and experimental, showing that science curiosity promotes open-minded engagement with information that is contrary to individuals’ political predispositions. We conclude by identifying a series of concrete research questions posed by these results.

Facebook news and (de)polarization: reinforcing spirals in the 2016 US election. Michael A. Beam, Myiah J. Hutchens & Jay D. Hmielowski. Information, Communication & Society,

The Partisan Brain: An Identity-Based Model of Political Belief. Jay J. Van Bavel, Andrea Pereira. Trends in Cognitive Sciences,

The Parties in our Heads: Misperceptions About Party Composition and Their Consequences. Douglas J. Ahler, Gaurav Sood. Aug 2017,

The echo chamber is overstated: the moderating effect of political interest and diverse media. Elizabeth Dubois & Grant Blank. Information, Communication & Society,

Processing political misinformation: comprehending the Trump phenomenon. Briony Swire, Adam J. Berinsky, Stephan Lewandowsky, Ullrich K. H. Ecker. Royal Society Open Science, published on-line March 01 2017. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.160802,

Competing cues: Older adults rely on knowledge in the face of fluency. By Brashier, Nadia M.; Umanath, Sharda; Cabeza, Roberto; Marsh, Elizabeth J. Psychology and Aging, Vol 32(4), Jun 2017, 331-337.

Stanley, M. L., Dougherty, A. M., Yang, B. W., Henne, P., & De Brigard, F. (2017). Reasons Probably Won’t Change Your Mind: The Role of Reasons in Revising Moral Decisions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Science Denial Across the Political Divide — Liberals and Conservatives Are Similarly Motivated to Deny Attitude-Inconsistent Science. Anthony N. Washburn, Linda J. Skitka. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 10.1177/1948550617731500.

Biased Policy Professionals. Sheheryar Banuri, Stefan Dercon, and Varun Gauri. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 8113.

Dispelling the Myth: Training in Education or Neuroscience Decreases but Does Not Eliminate Beliefs in Neuromyths. Kelly Macdonald et al. Frontiers in Psychology, Aug 10 2017.

Individuals with greater science literacy and education have more polarized beliefs on controversial science topics. Caitlin Drummond and Baruch Fischhoff. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 114 no. 36, pp 9587–9592, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1704882114,

Expert ability can actually impair the accuracy of expert perception when judging others' performance: Adaptation and fallibility in experts' judgments of novice performers. By Larson, J. S., & Billeter, D. M. (2017). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43(2), 271–288.

Public Perceptions of Partisan Selective Exposure. Perryman, Mallory R. The University of Wisconsin - Madison, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2017. 10607943.

The Myth of Partisan Selective Exposure: A Portrait of the Online Political News Audience. Jacob L. Nelson, and James G. Webster. Social Media + Society,

Echo Chamber? What Echo Chamber? Reviewing the Evidence. Axel Bruns. Future of Journalism 2017 Conference.

Fake news and post-truth pronouncements in general and in early human development. Victor Grech. Early Human Development,

Consumption of fake news is a consequence, not a cause of their readers’ voting preferences. Kahan, Dan M., Misinformation and Identity-Protective Cognition (October 2, 2017). Social Science Research Network,

Twitter: While partisan opinion leaders are certainly polarized, centrist/non-political voices are much more likely to produce the most visible information; & there is little evidence of echo-chambers in consumption
Mukerjee, Subhayan, Kokil Jaidka, and Yphtach Lelkes. 2020. “The Ideological Landscape of Twitter: Comparing the Production Versus Consumption of Information on the Platform.” OSF Preprints. June 23.

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.

The likelihood of having had first sex with an older partner is also higher (25% higher) for females with at least one older brother if compared to females without older brothers

The “dating game”: age differences at first sex of college students in Italy. Maria Carella, Thaís García-Pereiro, Roberta Pace and Anna Paterno. Genus Genus (2020) 76:23.

Abstract: Researchers have devoted much attention both to the analysis of the first sexual experience and to how the couple was established, but little is still known about age differences of partners at their first sexual relationship. The availability of two highly comparable waves of a survey on the sexual behavior of college students in Italy (SELFY—Sexual and Emotional LiFe of Youth) carried out in 2000 and 2017 allowed us to study the predictors of age differences between partners at first sex, filling the existing gap on recent research. Results of multivariate analyses show important gender differences on mate selection: women tend to choose an older partner for having their first sexual experience and are less likely as men to be involved in age discordant first sex relationships with a younger partner. Age gaps between partners also influence age at sexual debut, which tends to occur earlier in a relationship with an older partner and later if having first sex with a younger partner. Another important predictor of the age gap is the type of relationship that linked the respondent to its partner at first sex. Our estimations indicate a lower likelihood of having had an older first sex partner for students who had their first sexual experience with the own boy/girl-friend or with a friend compared to those who  have had it with a stranger. Finally, we have found a higher likelihood of first sex relationships among same-age partners relative to older partners through SELFY waves and small changes on variables influencing such relationships.

Keywords: Age differences, Mate matching, First sexual intercourse, College students, Italy

A Mental Winner Effect? Competitive Mental Imagery Impacts Self-Assurance but not Testosterone in Women

A Mental Winner Effect? Competitive Mental Imagery Impacts Self-Assurance but not Testosterone in Women. Jennifer M. Gray, Emilie Montemayor, Meggan Drennan, Marlaina Widmann & Katherine L. Goldey. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology (2020). August 24 2020.

Objective: In humans and other species, winning or losing a competition elicits changes in testosterone that may influence engagement or performance in subsequent competitive events. Furthermore, anticipating or observing competition can change mood and testosterone, suggesting that cognitions surrounding competitive events may at least partially drive specific physiological and emotional responses. In the present study, we investigated the effect of imagined competition on mood and testosterone in women.

Methods: Participants (62 women) were randomly assigned to one of four conditions (high-investment win, high-investment loss, low-investment win, low-investment loss) and were asked to imagine and write about experiencing both the competition and its outcome. Salivary testosterone levels and self-reported mood were assessed before and after the competitive cognition task.

Results: Although imagining a competitive scenario was not salient enough to elicit significant changes in testosterone, imagining a high-investment competition and imagining a win each significantly increased feelings of self-assurance. Participants were more likely to write about their motivation to compete again when imagining a loss than when imagining a win, but testosterone did not predict including content about competing again.

Conclusions: Visualizing oneself winning a contest of personal importance increased feelings of self-assurance in the absence of a testosterone response in women. Future research is needed to determine how the combination of positive mental imagery and physical competition could influence mood and testosterone, and whether self-assurance induced by mental imagery can increase the chance of future victories.

Predictive processing in sensory hierarchies may be well-modeled as (folded, sparse, partially disentangled) variational autoencoders, with beliefs discretely-updated via the formation of synchronous complexes

Safron, Adam. 2020. “Integrated World Modeling Theory (IWMT) Implemented: Towards Reverse Engineering Consciousness with the Free Energy Principle and Active Inference.” August 28. doi:10.31234/ Accepted for presentation at the 1st International Workshop on Active Inference (IWAI 2020)

Abstract: Integrated World Modeling Theory (IWMT) is a synthetic model that attempts to unify theories of consciousness within the Free Energy Principle and Active Inference framework, with particular emphasis on Integrated Information Theory (IIT) and Global Neuronal Workspace Theory (GNWT). IWMT further suggests predictive processing in sensory hierarchies may be well-modeled as (folded, sparse, partially disentangled) variational autoencoders, with beliefs discretely-updated via the formation of synchronous complexes—as self-organizing harmonic modes (SOHMs)—potentially entailing maximal a posteriori (MAP) estimation via turbo coding. In this account, alpha-synchronized SOHMs across posterior cortices may constitute the kinds of maximal complexes described by IIT, as well as samples (or MAP estimates) from multimodal shared latent space, organized according to egocentric reference frames, entailing phenomenal consciousness as mid-level perceptual inference. When these posterior SOHMs couple with frontal complexes, this may enable various forms of conscious access as a kind of mental act(ive inference), affording higher order cognition/control, including the kinds of attentional/intentional processing and reportability described by GNWT. Across this autoencoding heterarchy, intermediate-level beliefs may be organized into spatiotemporal trajectories by the entorhinal/hippocampal system, so affording episodic memory, counterfactual imaginings, and planning.

Public understanding & perception of sensory experience & scientific understanding: Even in a sample with fairly high educational attainment, many respondents were unaware of fairly common forms of sensory variation

Cuskley, Christine, and Charalampos Saitis. 2020. “What Do People Know About the Senses? Understanding Perceptions of Variation in Sensory Experience.” PsyArXiv. August 28. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Academic disciplines spanning cognitive science, art, and music have made strides in understanding how humans sense and experience the world. We now have a better scientific understanding of how human sensation and perception function both in the brain and in interaction than ever before. However, there is little research on how this high level scientific understanding is translated into knowledge for the public more widely. We present descriptive results from a simple survey and compare how public understanding and perception of sensory experience lines up with scientific understanding. Results show that even in a sample with fairly high educational attainment, many respondents were unaware of fairly common forms of sensory variation. In line with the well-documented under representation of sign languages within linguistics, respondents tended to under-estimate the number of sign languages in the world. We outline how our results represent gaps in public understanding of sensory variation, and argue that filling these gaps can form an important early intervention, acting as a basic foundation for improving acceptance, inclusivity, and accessibility for cognitively diverse populations.

How People Know Their Risk Preference: We recount diagnostic behaviours & experiences, focusing on voluntary, consequential acts & experiences from which we seem to infer our risk preference

Arslan, Ruben C., Martin Brümmer, Thomas Dohmen, Johanna Drewelies, Ralph Hertwig, and Gert Wagner. 2019. “How People Know Their Risk Preference.” PsyArXiv. December 12. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-72077-5

Abstract: People differ in their willingness to take risks. Recent work found that revealed preference tasks (e.g., laboratory lotteries)—a dominant class of measures—are outperformed by survey-based stated preferences, which are more stable and predict real-world risk taking across different domains. How can stated preferences, often criticised as inconsequential “cheap talk,” be more valid and predictive than controlled, incentivized lotteries? In our multimethod study, over 3,000 respondents from population samples answered a single widely used and predictive risk-preference question. Respondents then explained the reasoning behind their answer. They tended to recount diagnostic behaviours and experiences, focusing on voluntary, consequential acts and experiences from which they seemed to infer their risk preference. We found that third-party readers of respondents’ brief memories and explanations reached similar inferences about respondents’ preferences, indicating the intersubjective validity of this information. Our results help unpack the self perception behind stated risk preferences that permits people to draw upon their own understanding of what constitutes diagnostic behaviours and experiences, as revealed in high-stakes situations in the real world.

Fluctuations in Grandiose and Vulnerable Narcissistic States: A Momentary Perspective

Edershile, Elizabeth A., and Aidan G. Wright. 2019. “Fluctuations in Grandiose and Vulnerable Narcissistic States: A Momentary Perspective.” PsyArXiv. April 10. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Theories of narcissism emphasize the dynamic processes within and between grandiosity and vulnerability. Research seeking to address this has either not studied grandiosity and vulnerability together or has used dispositional measures to assess what are considered to be momentary states. Emerging models of narcissism suggest grandiosity and vulnerability can further be differentiated into a three-factor structure – Exhibitionistic Grandiosity, Entitlement, and Vulnerability. Research in other areas of maladaptive personality (e.g., borderline personality disorder) has made headway in engaging data collection and analytic methods that are specifically meant to examine such questions. The present study took an exploratory approach to studying fluctuations within and between grandiose and vulnerable states. Fluctuations – operationalized as gross variability, instability, and lagged effects – were examined across three samples (two undergraduate and a community sample oversampled for narcissistic features; Total person N = 862; Total observation N = 36,631). Results suggest variability in narcissistic states from moment to moment is moderately associated with dispositional assessments of narcissism. Specifically, individuals who are dispositionally grandiose express both grandiosity and vulnerability, and vary in their overall levels of grandiosity and vulnerability over time. On the other hand, dispositionally vulnerable individuals tend to have high levels of vulnerability and low levels of grandiosity. Entitlement plays a key role in the processes that underlie narcissism and narcissistic processes appear unique to the construct and not reflective of broader psychological processes (e.g., self-esteem). Future research should consider using similar methods and statistical techniques on different timescales to study dynamics within narcissism.

Language Is Less Arbitrary Than One Thinks: Iconicity and Indexicality in Real-world Language Learning and Processing

Murgiano, Margherita, Yasamin Motamedi, and Gabriella Vigliocco. 2020. “Language Is Less Arbitrary Than One Thinks: Iconicity and Indexicality in Real-world Language Learning and Processing.” PsyArXiv. August 29. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: In the last decade, a growing body of work has convincingly demonstrated that languages embed a certain degree of non-arbitrariness (mostly in the form of iconicity, namely the presence of imagistic links between linguistic form and meaning). Most of this previous work has been limited to assessing the degree (and role) of non-arbitrariness in the speech (for spoken languages) or manual components of signs (for sign languages). When approached in this way, non-arbitrariness is acknowledged but still considered to have little presence and
purpose, showing a diachronic movement towards more arbitrary forms. However, this perspective is limited as it does not take into account the situated nature of language use in face-to-face interactions, where language comprises categorical components of speech and signs, but also multimodal cues such as prosody, gestures, eye gaze etc. We review work concerning the role of context-dependent iconic and indexical cues in language acquisition and processing to demonstrate the pervasiveness of non-arbitrary multimodal cues in language use and we discuss their function. We then move to argue that the online omnipresence of multimodal non-arbitrary cues supports children and adults in dynamically developing situational models.