Monday, August 31, 2020

Positive relationship between intolerance & perceived homosexuality; The more a given gender-role violation is thought to implicate homosexuality, the more negatively/less positively people tend to react to the violation

Differential Reactions to Male and Female Gender-Role Violations: Testing the Sexual Orientation Hypothesis. Ursula A. Sanborn-Overby & Kimberly K. Powlishta. Archives of Sexual Behavior (2020). Aug 31 2020.

Abstract: Previous research has found that gender-atypical males are evaluated more negatively than gender-atypical females. According to the sexual orientation hypothesis, this asymmetry in evaluations occurs because the feminine characteristics taken on by males when they violate gender roles are more closely tied to perceived sexual orientation than are the masculine characteristics of gender-atypical females. The current series of studies were designed to confirm the existence and generality of the asymmetry phenomenon (Study 1), the preconditions for testing the sexual orientation hypothesis (Study 2), and then to test the hypothesis itself (Study 3). Study 1 found that, as predicted, adults (N = 195, females = 97) displayed more intolerance of males than of females committing gender-role violations across a wide variety of characteristics within multiple domains, although the existence of asymmetry varied somewhat depending on the domain. Study 2 revealed that, as predicted, adults (N = 196, females = 117) believed that gender-role violations indicate homosexuality more so for males than for females overall and across all four domains studied (occupation, activity, trait, and appearance). Study 3 directly tested the sexual orientation hypotheses by examining the relationship between intolerance of specific gender-role violations (scores from Study 1) and the perceived homosexuality associated with those violations (scores from Study 2). Overall, there was a positive relationship between intolerance and perceived homosexuality, indicating that the more a given gender-role violation is thought to implicate homosexuality, the more negatively/less positively people tend to react to the violation, consistent with the sexual orientation hypothesis.

We find a ‘good-looking giver’ effect–that more physically attractive people are more likely to engage in giving behaviors, and vice versa

The Good-looking Giver Effect: The Relationship Between Doing Good and Looking Good. Sara Konrath, Femida Handy. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, August 28, 2020.

Abstract: Evidence exists that beautiful is seen as good: the halo effect wherein more physically attractive people are perceived to be good, and the reverse halo that good is seen as beautiful. Yet research has rarely examined the evidence linking the beautiful with the good, or the reverse, without the halo effect. We examine the relationship between physical attractiveness (beauty) and giving behaviors (good), where ratings of attractiveness are independent of giving behaviors. We use three U.S. datasets: (a) a nationally representative sample of older adults (NSHAP), (b) a nationally representative longitudinal study of adolescents (ADD Health), and (c) the 54-year Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS), to present evidence that these two characteristics (attractiveness and giving) are indeed correlated without the halo effect. We find a ‘good-looking giver’ effect–that more physically attractive people are more likely to engage in giving behaviors, and vice versa. Thus, in ecologically valid real-world samples, people who do good are also likely to look good.

Keywords: physical attractiveness, halo effect, beauty, prosocial behavior, giving behaviors

Expressions of Sexual Deviance in Black Serial Killers: The number of Black serial killers has increased, but empirical studies have not focused on this unique population

Expressions of Sexual Deviance in Black Serial Killers. Lucia J. Weatherall. PhD Thesis, Walden Univ, 2020.

Abstract: The number of Black serial killers (BSKs) has increased, but empirical studies have not focused on this unique population, including their expressions of sexual deviance. The purpose of this case study was to understand the common socialization experiences and the expressions of sexual deviance in BSKs. Two conceptual frameworks were used to identify the concepts to explore: Bandura’s social learning theory of aggression and Agnew’s general strain theory. Data collected came from archival court and police records in Texas. A content-analysis approach was used to analyze the archival data, organized by criminal background, sexual deviance, familial data, and social development. The results identified rape and sadism as the primary expressions of sexual deviance in BSKs. The level of aggression and trauma experienced during childhood was consistent across all cases. The results, while limited by the lack of interviews with family and law enforcement, indicated that BSKs present a social problem and have an adaptive skill not hindered by mental impairments or limited education. The results suggested empirical research needs to explore aggression and strain on African American children, the possible connection to the lack of paternal involvement, and expressions of sexual deviance in BSKs. Future research on BSKs can help create an accurate profile to assist law enforcement agencies identify predators.


The unique and consistent findings offer a meaningful contribution to the forensic
psychology community and adding to the literature on BSKs. The common theme of
negative parental support (and associated strain) with childhood trauma indicates a
potential connection to aggression, sexual deviance, and serial murder as an adult. The
data confirmed the presence of aggression during social development of the 14 BSKs
either during childhood or expressed at an adult. I plan to use the result for presentations
to law enforcement agencies at the local, state, and federal level. Providing law
enforcement with additional data could assist with the pursuit and capture of this
population. I plan to give presentations, discussing the negative familial exposure and
strain during childhood, focused at the juvenile justice system.
Furthermore, the implications of this study can assist various law enforcement
agencies. Presentations can assist agencies with investigation practices and techniques to
help identify victims of BSKs, who would otherwise go unnoticed or unidentified as
victims of a serial killer. For example, law enforcement agencies should review the
procedures in place when responding to missing persons reports or deaths of the missingmissing
population. Far too often, agencies dismiss the reports as a voluntary choice
when the individual lives a transient lifestyle, allowing BSKs longer crime sprees. The
lack of a comprehensive investigations into the cause of deaths for the missing-missing,
as in Case #14, suggested a dismissive approach in providing closure for the victims and
their families. Law enforcement agencies, using systems to capture forensic evidence and
search DNA profiles compared to cold cases, increased the number of BSKs identified.
The lack of communication between law enforcement agencies in sexual assaults,
missing persons, and murders allowed BSKs to prey upon women, elderly, and the
missing-missing. Additional implication included increased communications between
jurisdictions, and sharing of information on criminal activities, to identify patterns more


In summary, the purpose of the study described the expressions of sexual
deviance in BSKs. The study determined BSKs rape their victims as the most common
expression in sexual deviance. The study also suggested BSKs do not always murder the
victims they rape, and instead express sexual deviance through sadistic acts. The results
of the study determined BSKs remain out of the social spotlights and off the radar of law
enforcement agencies. The study suggested that BSKs prey upon all levels of society, and
across racial demographics. Although the missing-missing remain a vulnerable and easily
forgotten victims, BSKs kills women, children, and men. BSKs who committed murders
over extended time used various methods to kill their victims as an adaptive method to
avoid detection.
The results of the study suggested BSKs have a common pattern during
childhood. BSKs exposed to abuses, aggression, and violence within their families and
social development did not receive attention or a proper outlet. The underreporting of
psychological interventions of African American boys could result from the belief
systems that do not encourage weakness (Lester & White, 2014; Voison et al., 2013).
BSKs with a limited education or intellect demonstrated an adaptability to aid with their
criminal activities. The socially adaptive behaviors and criminally adaptive skills
demonstrated by BSKs with lower IQ suggested a level of planning, premeditation, and
deception. The finding conflicted with profiles on serial killers. This misconception
benefited the BSKs population as they continued to navigate below the radar; until DNA
matches (found by computers) caught up to them. The potential for a connection in
expressions of sexual deviance and a lack of paternal figures during childhood requires
the consideration of future studies.
The research on WSKs provided law enforcement agencies and researchers with a
vast pool of data to profile perpetrators and reduce the number of their victims.
Documentaries on WSKs (i.e. Ted Bundy, Jeffery Dahlmer, and Todd Kohlhepp)
provided intrigued audiences hours of information into their lives, motives, and victims.
Meanwhile, BSKs (like their White counterparts) also have the appearance of normalcy
(Arndt et al., 2004; Beasley, 2004; Hickey, 2015; Kraemer et al., 2004) and continued to
thrive undetected by law enforcement, family, friends, and co-workers. Case #11 lived a
normal life, working as a waiter and taking care of his family. His common-law wife
found it hard to believe she lived with a serial murderer; until DNA evidence linked him
to a series of rapes and murders near their home. Case #14 methodically and with malice
murdered almost 100 women, for almost four decades, across the United States.
Black men commit serial murder. BSKs present a social problem that requires
more research and law enforcement consideration. Empirical research needs to explore
the effects of exposure to aggression, violence, and strain during childhood on African
American. Additionally, studies on the expressions of sexual deviance in BSKs, and the
possible connection to paternal involvement. The results of the case study demonstrated
BSKs possess an adaptive skill, a flexibility with victim selection, and variation of
expressions in sexual deviance; not hindered by mental impairments or limited education.
Last, research on BSKs would allow for a more accurate profile to assist law enforcement
agencies. The social aggression and strain experienced during childhood manifest into
actions, including rape and sadistic violence. Additional research on BSKs would provide
beneficial information to develop interventions for at risk youths. Addressing the
aggression and strain experienced during childhood might provide a healthy outlet. Left
unaddressed we have a society at risk of finding a place on the carrousel of victims,
spinning in the mind of a predator.

Imagination, the Brain’s Default Mode Network, and Imaginative Verbal Artifacts

Carroll J. (2020) Imagination, the Brain’s Default Mode Network, and Imaginative Verbal Artifacts. In: Carroll J., Clasen M., Jonsson E. (eds) Evolutionary Perspectives on Imaginative Culture. Springer, August 29 2020.

Abstract: The purpose of this chapter is to explain how imaginative verbal artifacts are produced by the imagination and in turn influence the imagination. Assimilating recent neuroscientific research on the evolution of modern brain shape and on the brain’s default mode network, we can now say with confidence that the imagination is a neurological reality, that it is lodged in specific parts of the brain, that it consists of an identifiable set of components and processes, that these components and processes have adaptive functions, and that in fulfilling its functions imagination has been a major causal factor in making Homo sapiens the dominant species on earth. The first section of the chapter defines the main terms in this argument. The second section describes the evolution of modern brain shape and suggests the role imagination has played in producing the complex of behaviors that characterize neurologically modern Homo sapiens. The third section describes the current neuroscientific understanding of the brain’s default mode network—the neurological locus of imagination. The fourth section describes three core processes of imagination used in constructing imaginative verbal artifacts: simulation, mental time travel, and perspective taking (also known as “Theory of Mind” and “mentalizing”). The three processes are illustrated with reference to a modern American novel, Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose. The fifth section describes four specialized forms of imagination that deploy the core processes: dreaming, mind-wandering, autobiographical narratives, and counterfactual thinking. That section explains how these forms are involved in writing or reading literature and identifies a few literary works that illustrate them. The final section sums up the argument for the adaptive functions of literature.

Keywords: Imagination Globular brain Default mode network Literature Simulation Mental time travel Perspective taking Spontaneous thought Literary theory

The Role of Aesthetic Style in Alleviating Anxiety About the Future

Carney J. (2020) The Role of Aesthetic Style in Alleviating Anxiety About the Future. In: Carroll J., Clasen M., Jonsson E. (eds) Evolutionary Perspectives on Imaginative Culture. Springer, August 29 2020.

Abstract: Though few would dispute that aesthetic style is a vehicle for cognitive effects, there is little systematic work that views style from anything other than a historical perspective. This chapter will outline how style, broadly conceived, can be understood as an attempt to avoid anxiety by gaining predictive traction on the future. The central claim will be that style evolved as complexity reduction device, to the extent that it is a predictive scheme that balances explanatory simplicity against model accuracy. I shall show that every given style achieves this by saturating the perceptual environment with evidence for a particular model of the world. This account of style explains several features of its target phenomenon, including its normative character, its polemical nature, and its transitory duration. It also allows for style to be seen as continuous with other complexity reduction strategies on the part of biological agents more generally. The discussion will be supported by a historical appreciation of how style has been theorized in the past, but my overall framework will be provided by information theory.

Keywords: Anxiety Style Prediction Aesthetics Cognition Model building

Women's wellbeing and fertility in rural Tanzania: Overall, women's wellbeing was highest in husband-older marriages, but among women married to older men, spousal age gap was unrelated to wellbeing

Shared interests or sexual conflict? Spousal age gap, women's wellbeing and fertility in rural Tanzania. David W. Lawson et al. Evolution and Human Behavior, August 29 2020.

• We explore whether husband-older spousal age gaps are costly or beneficial to women.
• Women frequently married older men than their stated ideal spousal age gaps.
• Spousal age gap was unrelated to the risk of divorce or to women's fertility.
• Overall, women's wellbeing was highest in husband-older marriages.
• However, among women married to older men, spousal age gap was unrelated to wellbeing.

Abstract: The marriage of older men to younger women is common across cultures. On one hand, husband-older marriage may serve the interests of both sexes, a conclusion broadly consistent with reported gender differences in mate preferences. On the other hand, men alone may benefit from such marriages at a cost to women if seniority enables men to exert dominance in conflicts of interest. Indeed, in public health large spousal age gaps are generally deemed “pathological”, both a cause and consequence of gender inequalities harmful to women. We investigate these alternative models of spousal age gap using data from a cross-sectional survey of women in Mwanza, northwestern Tanzania (n = 993). Consistent with the notion that spousal age gaps are a product of sexual conflict, women typically married with a larger age gap than stated ideals. However, adjusting for potential confounds, spousal age gap was not associated with fertility or the risk of divorce. Furthermore, women's mental health and autonomy in household decision-making was higher in husband-older marriages compared to rare cases of same-age or wife-older marriage. Beyond this comparison, the magnitude of spousal age gaps was unrelated to either measure of women's wellbeing among the overwhelming majority of marriages where the husband was older. Together these findings suggest husband-older marriage does not influence marital stability, relatively large spousal age gaps are neither especially costly nor beneficial to women, and that alternative sociodemographic factors are more important in driving variation in women's wellbeing and reproductive success in this context. Our results support neither a model of mutual benefits, nor a “pathological” conceptualization of spousal age gaps. We conclude by both encouraging evolutionary human scientists to engage more fully with models of sexual conflict in future studies of marriage and mating, and suggesting that public health scholars consider more neutral interpretations of spousal age differences.

Keywords: Spousal age differenceEmpowermentMental healthMarriageTanzaniaSexual conflict

Kin-Avoidance in Cannibalistic Homicide

Kin-Avoidance in Cannibalistic Homicide. Marlies Oostland and Michael Brecht. Front. Psychol., August 31 2020.

Abstract: Cannibalism in the animal kingdom is widespread and well characterized, whereas the occurrence of human cannibalism has been controversial. Evidence points to cannibalism in aboriginal societies, prehistory, and the closely related chimpanzees. We assembled a non-comprehensive list (121 offenders, ~631 victims) of cannibalistic homicides in modern societies (since 1900) through internet-searches, publications, and expert questioning. Cannibalistic homicides were exceedingly rare, and often sex-related. Cannibalistic offenders were mainly men and older than offenders of non-cannibalistic homicides, whereas victims were comparatively young. Cannibalistic offenders typically killed manually (stabbing, strangulating, and beating) rather than using a gun. Furthermore, they killed more strangers and fewer intimates than conventional offenders. Human cannibals, similar to cannibalism in other species, killed and ate conspecifics, occasionally vomited and only rarely (2.5% of victims) ate kin. Interestingly, cannibalistic offenders who killed their blood relatives had more severe mental problems than non-kin-cannibals. We conclude that cannibalistic homicides have a unique pattern of murder methods, offenders, and victims.


Cannibalistic homicides were very rare, often violent, manual and sex-related crimes. Victims were younger and offenders were older than in conventional homicide offenses. Cannibalistic offenders only rarely consumed kin and most who did suffered from serious mental problems.
Our data set consists of 121 offenders with approximately 631 victims. This is a very large number of victims, but note that we are dealing with the entirety of easily accessible cannibalism cases in modern societies since 1900. The case numbers in the US and Germany might be of particular relevance, because, in these two countries, we made a special attempt for a complete coverage of cases. Unsurprisingly, cannibalistic homicide is an exceedingly rare crime, accounting for a minute fraction of homicides. For the US in the period 1960–2018, we estimated the fraction of cannibalistic homicides, being the number of cannibalistic homicides divided by the total homicides [Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2020], to be 0.01%.
The cannibalistic homicides described here had many hundreds of victims but included only one cannibalized neonate. The two other children 2 years or younger killed by cannibalistic offenders were not cannibalized. Since in non-cannibalistic homicides the killing of children 2 years or younger is quite common (accounting for ~2.6% of homicides as reported in FBI data), it appears that this victim population is largely missing in cannibalistic offenses, i.e., we would have expected >15 cases. From a biological perspective, the absence of cannibalistic neonaticide in humans is surprising. Human neonaticide shares many features of cannibalistic neonaticide in rodents and lagomorphs (Sawin et al., 1960DeSantis and Schmaltz, 1984). In humans, neonaticide, as defined by the killing of a neonate on the day of its birth by his/her own mother, incidence varied from 0.07 to 8.5 per 100,000 births (Tanaka et al., 2017). This behavioral pattern is strongly promoted by maternal stress and intrusion by novel partners or detection of predators. Thus, even though neonaticide has been suggested to be a prototypical “biologically” predetermined behavior (Hausfater and Hrdy, 2017), it still shows differences between rodents and humans.
Our data suggest kin-avoidance in cannibalistic homicide. About 97.5% of the victims were non-kin, a statistical difference to occurrence of kin-homicides in conventional homicides (Figure 6). The consanguinity of victim-offender pairs was very low. This conclusion agrees with findings from two other large-scale studies on cannibalistic homicides (Rajs et al., 1998Lester et al., 2015). A diverging result with a large fraction of kin-cannibalism was only observed in one study with only five cases (Raymond et al., 2019). We think these discrepancies reflect different sampling of cases, i.e., while our internet search sampled mostly cases by news coverage, Raymond et al. (2019) focused on psychiatric patients. Indeed, in our sample the cannibalistic offenders with the most obvious mental problems killed more kin (Figure 6D). This reduced kin avoidance in offenders with mental problems might not be limited to cannibalistic homicides. Offenders of conventional homicides in Scotland targeted three times more kin when they had a psychiatric diagnosis at the time of trial. The fraction of kin victims for offenders with a psychiatric diagnosis at the time of trial was 30.9%, compared to a kin victim rate of 11.3% for mentally healthy offenders (Gillies, 1976).
The fact that mental problems can reduce kin-selectivity in cannibalistic homicides does not argue against the existence of strong anti-kin-ingestion mechanisms, whether such mechanisms are a result of nature, nurture, or a combination of both. In rats, there are kin-responsive neurons in the lateral septum (Clemens et al., 2020), which might point to a possible biological basis of kin recognition at least in rodents. Humans use stable psychosocial cues to distinguish different types of kin from non-kin, and the cues used for kin detection depends on the specific dyad (Lieberman et al., 2007Tal and Lieberman, 2008Antfolk et al., 2018Billingsley et al., 2018). One such cue is early co-residence between purported siblings as suggested by Westermarck (i.e., the hypothesis of Westermarck, 1922). It might be that this system of kin detection is affected in offenders with a psychiatric diagnosis and thereby prevents the offenders from recognizing and avoiding kin.
Spitting out conspecifics or parts of them is a characteristic behavior of cannibalistic animals and humans. We found five such throwing up /spitting out events, which may not sound like a lot in 631 victim cases, but our documentation is not comprehensive and it is important to keep in mind that many humans may eat a thousand meals a year without any one such throw up event. In sticklebacks, a strongly cannibalistic fish species, spitting out of newly hatched fish has been carefully documented and referred to as “testing” (Bruijn and Sevenster, 1982). Similarly, the cannibalistic spadefoot tadpoles have been seen to nip at and spit out conspecifics (Pfennig et al., 1993), a behavior referred to as “tasting”. Our observations on humans and a review of the animal literature suggest, however, that it is very unlikely that spitting out meat from cannibalistic events indeed reflects a sensory discriminatory behavior or gustatory “tasting”. The reasons, why we reject the tasting/testing hypothesis are the following: (i) Stickleback, spadefoot tadpoles, and humans have potent non-gustatory kin-discrimination mechanisms. In stickleback (Mehlis et al., 2008) and in salamander tadpoles (Pfennig et al., 1994), such mechanisms are olfactory in nature and in humans and apes (Parr and de Waal, 1999) such mechanisms are presumably visual; (ii) when tested intadpoles by nare occlusion, olfactory mechanisms were necessary for kin discrimination, whereas the remaining gustatory mechanism (after nare occlusion) were insufficient for kin-discrimination (Pfennig et al., 1994); (iii) human gustatory kin-discrimination appears highly implausible from our screening of cannibalism reports. On numerous occasions, human meat was sold (and probably eaten) by cannibals as ostrich, pork, horse, or tenderloin, mostly without any customer complaints reported. For instance, J.R.M. sold meat of his victims as special barbecue meat in a stand next to his trailer. He mixed the meat together with pork, which he claims tastes very similar to human meat, so that nobody could tell the difference (Serial killer who “cut up victims and sold them as BBQ” dies, 2017). If humans cannot discriminate human meat from beef, how could humans or animals taste kin? (iv) “Testing” behavior in stickleback is strongly dependent on the state of satiation (Bruijn and Sevenster, 1982); it is not obvious why a sensory discriminatory behavior should strongly depend on the state of satiation; and (v) in interviews with human cannibalistic offenders, they do not report that kin had a bad taste. We propose an alternative explanation for cannibalistic spitting-out: We suggest that this behavior is driven by internally generated repulsion and reflects a conflict between kin-protective, anti-cannibalistic drives, and predatory/consumptive systems. This explanation makes sense, because (i) we do not assume gustatory kin-discrimination, (ii) it is consistent with strong dependence on internal variables like hunger, and (iii) it fits with reports from cannibalistic offenders. In our explanation we explain a contradictory behavior (spitting out, a reversion of the decision to ingest), by an internal contradiction (preying vs. protection of potential kin).
Forensic awareness could be another explanation for the kin-avoidance observed in our study. Accordingly, cannibalistic offenders would avoid eating kin in order to escape prosecution, which is conceivably more likely for kin offenses. While we think forensic awareness is an important consideration, we do not think this hypothesis can fully explain our data. In particular, we do not see any evidence for a differential “forensic awareness” of cannibalistic and conventional offenders. Instead, many cannibalistic offenders enjoyed the celebrity emanating from their deeds; indeed, cannibal P.K. sends a letter to the press detailing the whereabouts of the grave of one of his victims, an action not speaking to forensic awareness. Also, other considerations do not align with the forensic awareness hypothesis. Offenders of cannibalistic crimes who showed forensic awareness were excluded from this study. For example, it is thought that the “confession” of cannibalism by E.K. is the result of forensic awareness, and he is, therefore, excluded from this study on the grounds of not enough evidence for cannibalism (Supplementary Data Sheet 3). However, we cannot exclude that other offenders still included in our study had a similar tactic unknown to us. It could be that offenders with forensic awareness will target strangers more often than family to dismiss any suspicions which might fall on them. In that case, one might argue that a reduced mental health also likely reduces the forensic awareness and that that could explain our finding that offenders with reduced mental health targeted kin more often. While we can not exclude this theory, we deem it unlikely because (i) this would then also be true for non-kin relatives such as intimate partners, and this is not the case (Figure 6E), and (ii) we excluded cases with suspicions of forensic awareness, and in first-hand reports by cannibals included in this study, they claim to really kill and eat for the purpose of pleasure, and (iii) cannibalistic offenders, who had enough forensic awareness to never be detected, are also not included in this study for the obvious reason that they are unknown. According to the theory above, uncaught cannibalistic offenders would target strangers more often than family, and those cannibals are missing from our study. Thus, if this is true, we are missing more strangers victims but we are not missing as many kin victims, in which case the actual effect size would be even larger than reported here.
War and hunger related cases of cannibalism appear to share features of cannibalistic homicide identified here. In war crimes, it is often the enemy which is cannibalized (Tanaka, 2018). In hunger-related cannibalism there are also indications of kin-avoidance. In the famous Uruguayan Air Force flight 571 incident, where starving victims of the plane crash fed on meat from deceased co-passengers to survive, it is said that at least some survivors made efforts to avoid eating kin (Arijón, 2008). Specifically, when one of them could only eat his kin for survival, he decided to cross the Andes to search for help instead (Parrado and Rause, 2013), which is the journey which eventually led to their rescue. Internally generated disgust is evident in such cases, i.e., the plane crash victims were appalled by eating human meat.
To achieve a correct interpretation of the results reported here, it is necessary to consider the limitations of our data set. Cannibalistic homicide is a secretive crime and our study is based on second hand and potentially distorted information. Thus, despite the best of our efforts, some errors are inevitable and we expect that our data set may contain mistakes about homicides, offenders, victims, and victim-offender relationships. The case of cannibalistic offender J.K. provides a warning. No less than five putatively innocent people were arrested for his crimes (three of whom committed suicide and a fourth was wrongly convicted of murder). Furthermore, some homicide offenders may give a calculated “confession” of cannibalism in order to use an insanity plea, as is suspected to be the case with E.K. (who for this reason has been excluded from this study, see Supplementary Data Sheet 3). In anthropology, the mere existence of human cannibalism in, for example, aboriginal cultures has been questioned on grounds of sensationalistic reporting in travelogs (Arens, 2004). Does this mean that one can dismiss our evidence about cannibalistic homicides, because these crimes seldom have eyewitnesses or video evidence and, without exception, incidents have been hyped by the press? We think the answer is a resounding no. The hundreds of cases documented in our report leave no room for doubt. We acknowledge, however, that our worldwide collection of cases is subject to a variety of sampling biases.

Limitations of Our Approach

The value of the data provided in our study might be limited by the following weaknesses:
1. The secretive nature of cannibalistic homicide. Cannibalistic homicide is nothing that can be openly performed in modern societies. The vast majority of cannibalistic homicides described here have been performed secretively and often there have been considerable efforts by offenders to destroy evidence. Hence, this paper largely describes deeds that nobody witnessed and cannibalism – the defining characteristic of what is talked about here – has rarely been directly established.
2. The need for estimates. Given the secretive nature of cannibalistic homicide, many details of the offenses described here can only be estimated. Many of these estimates are based on excellent evidence such as confessions, post-mortem examinations, or strongly suggestive circumstance (a child’s hand cooking in salted water on the stove), but nevertheless the evidence remains inferential.
3. Sampling biases. Perhaps the biggest problem of the data presented here is that our “news-based” search for cannibalistic incidents is subject to sampling biases. In particular, the data presented here will be biased towards particularly newsworthy cases with high victim numbers or gruesome case details.
4. Outright distortions. Sensationalism in the press might also lead to inflated presentation of evidence and distortion of the facts.
5. Reliance on second hand information. Our data set relies largely on web and newspaper reports and less so on official documents (original verdicts, interviews, letters and notes from the cannibal offender, autobiographies by offenders, and the like). Hence, verification of incident details is largely indirect.
6. Unintentional mistakes. Our data set is very large and unquestionably contains mistakes. Such mistakes would happen less in official documents double-checked and based on primary crime evidence but are unavoidable in our type of analysis.
7. Language barriers. We decided for a worldwide search of cannibalism cases, which allowed us amassing a large sample, but led us to encounter language problems. In several instances we used tools such as Google Translate to check local news sources. Such tools are powerful, but imperfect.

Strengths of Our Approach

1. Numbers. The biggest strength of the worldwide internet-based search for cannibalistic homicides is the sheer number of cases it returns.
2. Substantial coverage. The news coverage of cannibalistic cases is substantial. In a contemporary society, it is therefore simply unlikely that a cannibalistic homicide is not covered, unless (a specific detail of) a case is prohibited to be covered by the press.
3. Rich detail. Our data set contains very detailed information about cannibalistic homicides.
4. Good estimates. A lot of the evidence presented here is inferential, but many of the estimates presented here are good estimates. In modern societies an immense amount of effort is made to clear up homicides. Thus, a lot of the estimates about the deeds of serial murderers presented come from police investigators, who spent years of their life chasing the perpetrators; such detailed police work entitles to estimates about the deeds of offenders.
5. Documentation effort in internet-data sets. A lot of our searches and results rely on pages like and lists of cannibalistic incidents. Many of these data sets do not comply with strict scientific standards of referencing; nevertheless, it would be a mistake to underestimate the effort and expertise that went into aggregating these data sets.
6. Access to rare cases. Cannibalistic homicides are rare and if one wants to investigate subclasses of such cases (i.e., very rare cases) the comprehensive search strategy is indispensable.
7. Informal cross validation. Whenever possible we informally cross-validated data sets against each other.
Our results indicate that cannibalistic homicide is a distinctive offense with a special pattern of murder methods, a strong relation to sexual acts, distinctive patterns of victims and offenders, and unique victim-offender relationships. There is a seemingly high amount of kin-avoidance in such crimes, in particular, if offenders do not suffer from serious mental health problems. We suggest that kin-avoidance and spitting out of conspecifics might be triggered by internally generated disgust against kin-ingestion.

Social status is a universal and consequential dimension of variation within human groups; multiple prominent theories have been proposed to explain how status is allocated

Psychological foundations of human status allocation. Patrick K. Durkee, Aaron W. Lukaszewski, and David M. Buss. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 18, 2020.

Significance: Social status is a universal and consequential dimension of variation within human groups. Multiple prominent theories have been proposed to explain how status is allocated, but extant evidence is insufficient to adjudicate between their conflicting predictions. Here we show that distinctions between each theory hinge on the relative importance of four key affordance dimensions: benefit-generation ability, benefit-generation willingness, cost-infliction ability, and cost-infliction willingness. Each theory makes a different prediction about the role of each affordance in status allocation. We test these competing predictions to explain status allocations across 14 nations. We found that benefit-generation affordances uniquely predicted status allocations across nations, whereas cost-infliction affordances were weak or null competing predictors.

Abstract: Competing theories of status allocation posit divergent conceptual foundations upon which human status hierarchies are built. We argue that the three prominent theories of status allocation—competence-based models, conflict-based models, and dual-pathway models—can be distinguished by the importance that they place on four key affordance dimensions: benefit-generation ability, benefit-generation willingness, cost-infliction ability, and cost-infliction willingness. In the current study, we test competing theoretical predictions about the relative centrality of each affordance dimension to clarify the foundations of human status allocation. We examined the extent to which American raters’ (n = 515) perceptions of the benefit-generation and cost-infliction affordances of 240 personal characteristics predict the status impacts of those same personal characteristics as determined by separate groups of raters (n = 2,751) across 14 nations. Benefit-generation and cost-infliction affordances were both positively associated with status allocation at the zero-order level. However, the unique effects of benefit-generation affordances explained most of the variance in status allocation when competing with cost-infliction affordances, whereas cost-infliction affordances were weak or null predictors. This finding suggests that inflicting costs without generating benefits does not reliably increase status in the minds of others among established human groups around the world. Overall, the findings bolster competence-based theories of status allocation but offer little support for conflict-based and dual-pathway models.

Keywords: statushierarchyaffordancesdominanceprestige

Nostalgia is a bittersweet emotion, but more sweet than bitter

The Hedonic Character of Nostalgia: An Integrative Data Analysis. Joost Leunissen et al. Emotion Review, August 30, 2020.

Abstract: We conducted an integrative data analysis to examine the hedonic character of nostalgia. We combined positive and negative affect measures from 41 experiments manipulating nostalgia (N = 4,659). Overall, nostalgia inductions increased positive and ambivalent affect, but did not significantly alter negative affect. The magnitude of nostalgia’s effects varied markedly across different experimental inductions of the emotion. The hedonic character of nostalgia, then, depends on how the emotion is elicited and the benchmark (i.e., control condition) to which it is compared. We discuss implications for theory and research on nostalgia and emotions in general.

Keywords: ambivalence, integrative data analysis, negative affect, nostalgia, positive affect

Ambivalence and the Function of Nostalgia

The ambivalent hedonic character of nostalgia can provide
clues to its functional value. The dynamic model of affect
(Zautra et al., 2000) and the coactivation model of health (J. T.
Larsen et al., 2003) point to the resilience and coping functions
of ambivalent affect. According to the dynamic model of affect,
positive and negative affect function to provide information
about one’s immediate environment that is relevant to one’s
well-being. In calm and predictable times, positive and negative
affect are relatively independent. However, during times of
stress, an attentional shift occurs where negative affect gains
priority, resulting in a stronger inverse association between positive
and negative affect (Davis et al., 2004; Zautra et al., 2002).
The key to maintaining psychological well-being during times
of stress is the “uncoupling” of positive and negative affect
(Reich et al., 2003, p. 77). This uncoupling allows one to experience
positive and negative affect simultaneously, and this emotional
complexity is a key driver to cope with stressful life
circumstances. For example, dispositional resilience is positively
associated with emotional ambivalence (Ong &
Bergeman, 2004), emotional ambivalence is positively associated
with resilience during bereavement (Coifman et al., 2007),
and emotional ambivalence is positively associated with psychological
well-being during psychotherapy (Adler &
Hershfield, 2012). The coactivation model of health similarly
proposes that ambivalent affect facilitates coping with stressful
life events (J. T. Larsen et al., 2003). The results of a 10-year
longitudinal study are consistent with the idea that ambivalent
affect is positively associated with well-being (Hershfield et al.,
2013). The ability to tolerate and harness emotional ambivalence,
then, is a resource for coping with stressful life experiences
(Lindquist & Barrett, 2008; Ong et al., 2009).

Research on the psychological functions of nostalgia dovetails
with the demonstrated benefits of emotional ambivalence.
Ambivalent affect could influence cognitive flexibility (Mejía &
Hooker, 2017; Rothman & Melwani, 2017). Ambivalent affect
facilitates contradictory appraisals of a situation (e.g., certain
and uncertain, under control and not under control). This, in turn,
may activate a wider range of (atypical) information, give awareness
to new priorities, and encourage the pursuit of novel options
(Mejía & Hooker, 2017; Rothman & Melwani, 2017). Indeed,
emotional ambivalence (e.g., recalling an event such as a graduation)
fosters creativity (Fong, 2006). This literature is in line
with findings illustrating that nostalgia boosts inspiration
(Stephan et al., 2015) and creativity (van Tilburg et al., 2015). In
addition, emotional ambivalence (i.e., the blend of positive and
negative emotions) enhances judgmental accuracy (Rees et al.,
2013). Nostalgia may do the same. By extrapolation, nostalgia
may also aid in decision making by reducing susceptibility to
biases such as anchoring, escalation of commitment (Rothman &
Melwani, 2017), or risk aversion (Zou et al., 2019).

Nostalgia is triggered by stressful experiences, such as loneliness
(Zhou et al., 2008), meaninglessness (Routledge et al.,
2011), and identity discontinuity (Sedikides, Wildschut,
Routledge, & Arndt, 2015). In turn, nostalgia restores a sense of
social connectedness (Sedikides & Wildschut, 2019; Wildschut
et al., 2011), meaningfulness (Leunissen et al., 2018; Sedikides
& Wildschut, 2018), and identity continuity (Sedikides et al.,
2016; van Tilburg, Sedikides, et al., 2019). Nostalgia has a similar
function in the workplace, counteracting the deleterious
effects of low procedural justice on cooperation (van Dijke
et al., 2015), and the detrimental effects of low interactional justice
on intrinsic motivation (van Dijke et al., 2019). In all, the
extant literature supports the notion that nostalgia acts as a coping
resource for stressful life experiences. A key direction for
future research is to substantiate the postulated role of affective
ambivalence in mediating nostalgia’s capacity to enhance cognitive
flexibility and foster resilience to adversity. Testing such
mediational models poses theoretical and methodological challenges
(Spencer et al., 2005), not least because the effect of nostalgia
on affective ambivalence was relatively small, even at its
strongest point (i.e., in ERT experiments). Nevertheless, even
small, short-term effects can produce larger, long-term benefits
(Cohen & Sherman, 2014; Walton & Wilson, 2018).