Thursday, September 3, 2020

Men and women reported higher desirability for heroic targets for long-term compared with short-term relationships, although this pattern was more prominent in women

Bhogal, M. S., & Bartlett, J. E. (2020). Further support for the role of heroism in human mate choice. Evolutionary Behavioral, Sep 2020.

Abstract: Although evidence suggests that altruistic behavior can act as a mating signal, little research has explored the role of heroism in mate choice. Previous research has focused on women only, ignoring the role of heroism in male mate choice. Here we extended and replicated previous research on the role of heroism in human mate choice. Participants (N = 276) rated how desirable targets were for a short-term and long-term relationship, which varied in heroism. The findings showed men and women reported higher desirability for heroic targets for long-term compared with short-term relationships, although this pattern was more prominent in women. These findings add support to the role of heroism in mate choice by exploring the role of heroism in male and female mate choice.

Check also The role of altruistic costs in human mate choice. Manpal Singh Bhogal et al. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 160, 1 July 2020, 109939.

And The role of prosocial behaviors in mate choice: A critical review of the literature. Manpal Singh Bhogal, Daniel Farrelly, Niall Galbraith. Current Psychology, May 27 2019.

Discussion The aim of this study was to 1) further explore and extend the role of heroism and mate choice and 2) to explore the role of heroism in men and women’s mate choice. Hypothesis one was supported, as high heroic targets were rated as more desirable than low-heroic targets. Control scenarios were included to anchor the results, as desirability ratings for high heroic targets were higher than desirability ratings for the control condition, and desirability ratings for low heroic targets were lower than desirability ratings for the control condition. Hypothesis two was supported, as women rated heroic targets as more desirable than men. Hypothesis three was explored in two stages. Part (a) was supported as both men and women reported higher desirability ratings for high heroic targets in long-term than short-term relationships. 10 Part (b) was also supported as this effect interacted with the participants’ sex. Women reported higher desirability ratings for high heroic targets than men for both short-term and long-term relationships. The effect sizes were larger in the comparison between men and women than the within-subject comparisons between short-term and longterm relationships. As a result, the findings of this study lend support for the role of mutual mate choice in the desirability of heroism, but the effect is more pronounced in women than men. The findings of this paper provide support for the hypothesis that heroism plays a role in mate choice, consistent with limited research in the area (Margana et al. 2019; Kelly & Dunbar, 2001). The findings of this paper are also consistent with previous research finding that women find prosocial targets (in the form of altruism) to be more desirable compared to non-altruistic targets (Bhogal et al. 2019; Farrelly, 2011). In addition, our finding that men also find high heroic targets as desirable compared to those displaying low heroism is consistent with research showing both men and women find prosociality (again, in the form of altruism) targets desirable, even though desirability ratings tend to be higher for women, particularly when seeking long-term relationships (Bhogal et al. 2019). When looking at the theoretical foundation of this study, this study provides support that heroism could have evolved through mutual mate choice, as higher heroism was desirable to our participants. The fact that participants rated heroic targets as more desirable for long-term relationships compared to short-term relationships is consistent with previous research exploring other forms of prosociality (Bhogal et al. 2019; Farrelly, 2011) due to prosociality signalling good parent/partner quality. Therefore, when examining longterm relationships, heroism (as with other forms of prosociality) could be signalling good parent and partner qualities, for men and women. As the data here are supportive 11 of previous literature exploring altruism and mate choice, it could be argued that heroism is a riskier form of altruism (benefit-provision with added personal risk). Due to the importance of replication in psychology (Earp & Trafimow, 2015), we believe the findings of this study are important in the field, as this paper provides evidence that heroism is important in mate choice, whereby we have replicated and extended the limited research in the area on heroism and mate choice.

Limitations and future research
Although there are strengths to this study, there are also some limitations to note. The scenarios used from Margana et al. (2019) included targets who are displaying extreme forms of heroism, as opposed to subtle forms of heroism. For example, one scenario displaying high heroism related to the climbing Mount Everest, and one of the scenarios depicting low heroism was related to the Ebola outbreak with both scenarios involving an extreme risk of personal injury. Future research could include more subtle, realistic scenarios which we may encounter in our day to day lives. Furthermore, while we know that altruism increases mating success (Arnocky, Piché, Albert, Ouellette, & Barclay, 2017), we do not yet know whether behaving heroically actually increases ones mating success, which could be an avenue for future research.

A Bright Side of Sadness: The Depolarizing Role of Sadness in Intergroup Intractable Conflicts

A Bright Side of Sadness: The Depolarizing Role of Sadness in Intergroup Conflicts. Tamar Gur  Shahar Ayal  Eran Halperin. European Journal of Social Psychology, September 3 2020.

Abstract: Intractable conflicts constitute violent and threatening environments that lead to intense emotions and polarized attitudes. Sadness is one emotion frequently elicited by the price of such conflicts. This investigation characterized the effects of sadness on conflict‐related information processing and attitudes in the Israeli‐Palestinian conflict. Findings from four experimental studies suggest that both incidental and integral sadness can induce a depolarization of political attitudes. In Study 1 (N = 163), sadness reduced the effect of political ideology on conflict‐related decisions. Sadness reduced the effect of political ideology on ingroup bias in resource allocation in Studies 2 (N = 213) and 4 (N = 274), willingness to negotiate in Studies 1 and 3 (N = 174), and openness to information supporting the outgroup's perspective (Study 4). Overall, in addition to its more negative implications, these results suggest that sadness (compared to both the non‐emotional and anger conditions) may have a bright side, since it may induce depolarization of political attitudes in intractable conflicts.

Our findings lend partial support to the prediction that the quality of parenting in gay father families would be higher than in heterosexual parent families

Adoptive Gay Father Families: A Longitudinal Study of Children’s Adjustment at Early Adolescence. Anja L. McConnachie  Nadia Ayed  Sarah Foley  Michael E. Lamb  Vasanti Jadva  Fiona Tasker  Susan Golombok. Child Development, September 3 2020.

Abstract: Findings are presented from the second phase of a UK longitudinal study of 33 gay father, 35 lesbian mother, and 43 heterosexual parent families when their adopted children reached early adolescence. Participants predominantly lived in urban/suburban areas and were mostly white and well‐educated. Standardized interviews, observations, and questionnaires of parental mental health, parent–child relationships, and adolescent adjustment were administered to parents, children, and teachers between 2016 and 2018. There were few differences between family types. However, adjustment problems had increased in all family types, with better parenting quality and parental mental health associated with fewer adjustment problems. The findings contribute to adoption policy and practice, and to theoretical understanding of the role of parental gender in child development.


Our findings lend partial support to the prediction that the quality of parenting in gay father families would be higher than in heterosexual parent families. The only variable that differed between the two family types was reciprocal interaction on the observational measure, with greater levels of reciprocity observed between gay fathers and their children than between heterosexual parents and their children. However, there were no differences between the gay father and heterosexual parent families for the other variables derived from the observational, interview or questionnaire assessment of parenting quality. Moreover, the hypothesis that gay fathers would show more positive mental health than heterosexual parents was not supported by the findings. As predicted, there were no significant differences between the gay father and lesbian mother families for any of the measures of parenting quality or parental mental health.
It seems, therefore, that gay fathers show a similar quality of parenting to both lesbian mothers and heterosexual parents when their adopted children reached adolescence. This finding is consistent with studies of adoptive gay father families with younger children (Farr, 2017; Farr & Patterson, 2013; Farr et al., 2010a2010b; Goldberg & Smith, 2013). Contrary to the view that fathers are less suited to child rearing than are mothers, the only difference in parenting that emerged reflected more positive parenting by gay fathers than by heterosexual parents. Thus, our findings suggest that gay father families continue to provide a positive family environment for their adopted children as they reach early adolescence.
With respect to adolescent adjustment, the hypothesis that adolescents in gay father families would show higher levels of adjustment than adolescents in heterosexual parent families was not supported; there were no differences in externalizing or internalizing problems as measured by the SDQ between adolescents in the two family types. In addition, the proportion of adolescents with total SDQ scores above the cut‐off for psychiatric disorder did not differ between the gay father and heterosexual parent families, irrespective of whether the questionnaire was completed by parents, teachers, or the adolescents themselves, although there was a nonsignificant trend toward a lower proportion of adolescents in the gay father than in the heterosexual parent families obtaining scores above the clinical cut‐off. There was also no difference between adolescents from gay father and heterosexual parent families in the child psychiatrist’s ratings of severity of psychiatric disorder. As expected, the gay father families did not differ from the lesbian mother families for any of the measures of adolescent adjustment.
A large number of adolescents in all family types showed evidence of psychiatric disorder. Around one‐third of children had parent‐rated SDQ scores above the clinical cut‐off point, a proportion that is approximately three times greater than the 10% who obtain SDQ scores in the clinical range according to UK general population norms (Goodman & Goodman, 2012). Moreover, 53.8% of the adolescents was rated as having a psychiatric disorder by a child psychiatrist who was unaware of their family background, and one‐third showed multiple disorders, which illustrates the complexity of adjustment problems that many of the adoptees were experiencing.
These findings are not surprising given the high rates of mental health problems shown by children adopted from the care system (Dozier, & Rutter, 2008; Pinderhughes & Brodzinksy, 2019). Although detailed information on the children’s preadoption histories was not available for the entire sample, the children had all been removed from their birth families because of maltreatment, including neglect, emotional or physical abuse, parental drug or alcohol misuse, and domestic violence, all of which are associated with adolescent mental health problems (Cicchetti & Toth, 2015).
As predicted, both externalizing and internalizing problems increased from Phase 1 to Phase 2 of the study in all family types. Whilst externalizing problems remained higher than internalizing problems at adolescence, which is consistent with the literature on the psychological adjustment of adopted children (Juffer & van IJzendoorn, 2005), there was a greater increase in internalizing than externalizing problems over time. These findings are consistent with Brodzinsky’s psychosocial theory of adjustment to adoption which predicts an increase in psychological difficulties among adopted children at adolescence (Brodzinsky, Radice, Huffman, & Merkler, 1987) and with previous research which has documented an increase in adopted children’s adjustment problems in middle childhood (Brodzinsky, 1993).
As adopted children develop, they become more aware of the complexities associated with adoption, often leading to confusion and uncertainty (Brodzinsky, 1987). Brodzinsky (1987) posits that children’s confusion represents the beginning of the adaptive grieving process, whereby children begin to process the loss of their birth families. Since loss typically involves shock, denial, protest, despair, and eventually recovery and reintegration, Brodzinsky (1987) suggests that the increase in adopted children’s behavior problems is often a reflection of the normal process of adaptive grieving. This adaptive grieving process extends into adolescence where adoptees do not only grieve their birth families, but also the part of themselves they feel is lost (Brodzinsky, 19872011). Adoptees often lack knowledge about their birth family and the reasons for their relinquishment which can make it more difficult to form a complete sense of self. Moreover, for adoptees with adverse early life experiences, such as maltreatment and neglect, making sense of this information can be painful and difficult to integrate into their sense of self (Neil, 2000).
Regarding predictors of adolescent adjustment, we found that, over and above the stability in externalizing problems, lower levels of parental mental health problems at Phase 2, and higher levels of parenting quality at Phase 2, were associated with lower levels of adolescent externalizing problems. Additionally, over and above the stability in internalizing problems, lower levels of parental mental health problems at Phase 2 were associated with lower levels of adolescent internalizing problems. Thus, in line with developmental systems theory (Overton, 2015), parents who develop positive relationships with their children, and who themselves had low levels of mental health problems, were more likely to have adolescents with lower levels of psychological disorder. The cross‐sectional nature of this association precludes any conclusion about the direction of effects; the higher levels of problem behaviors in the children may have contributed toward poorer parental mental health. This finding is in line with the clinical and research literature on predictors of psychological problems in children adopted from the care system, which points to more positive outcomes for families in which adoptive parents are able to cope with their children’s difficult behavior, have realistic expectations of their children’s functioning and behavior, and show high levels of warmth and low levels of hostility toward their children (Ji et al., 2010; Rushton & Dance, 2006).
Parenting quality and parental mental health problems at Phase 1 were not predictive of externalizing and internalizing problems at adolescence. Nevertheless, the measures of positive parenting at Phase 1 and Phase 2 were correlated with each other, as were the measures of parental mental health, indicating that positive parenting and parental mental health problems when the children were young contributed indirectly to the associations between these variables and adolescent adjustment.
The study had a number of limitations. First, differences between family types may not have been detected due to the modest samples sizes. However, to the extent that significant differences between family types were not identified due to insufficient power, these differences would have been small. In addition, we found partial measurement invariance (i.e., configural and metric but not intercept invariance) for our latent factor of positive parenting as rated from the interview at each phase of the study. However, while the lack of strict factorial invariance limited our ability to examine changes in positive parenting over time, it should be noted that studies explicitly testing measurement invariance of parenting typically rely upon questionnaire ratings (Widaman, Ferrer, & Conger, 2010), and, consistent with our findings, those who have examined observational ratings have also demonstrated partial measurement invariance (e.g., Hughes, Lindberg, & Devine, 2018). Although the inter‐rater reliability of the parental responsiveness scale of the observational measure was low, rather than being unreliable in detecting low parental responsiveness, inspection of the data showed that this was due to ceiling effects in these highly functioning families, as most obtained scores at the top of the scale.
Advantages of the study include its longitudinal design, and the use of a multimethod (interview, observation, and questionnaire) and multi‐informant (both parents, child, teacher and child psychiatrist) approach. Because stigmatized groups such as gay fathers may tend to present their families in the best possible light, the use of an observational measure in which it is more difficult to “fake good” (Kerig & Lindahl, 2000), and the collection of data from teachers and the adolescents, provided validation for the parents’ reports, as did the ratings of children’s adjustment by an independent child psychiatrist. A further advantage is the use of analytical techniques that accounted for the lack of independence of data from family members.
Overall, the adolescents in the study showed high levels of adjustment difficulties, irrespective of whether they were being raised by gay fathers, lesbian mothers or heterosexual parents, and in all family types, higher levels of family functioning were associated with lower levels of adolescent adjustment difficulties. Taken together, these findings indicate that adoptive parents and children need to continue to receive support, especially from middle childhood to early adolescence, when identity issues and associated adjustment problems are likely to arise. Furthermore, the association between parent mental health and child adjustment indicates that adoptive parents would benefit from the availability of support services for their own mental health as well as their children’s adjustment problems. As parents and children exert reciprocal influences on each other, supporting adoptive parents’ mental health would be beneficial not only for adoptive parents, but also for adopted children. In line with the growing evidence that family processes are more influential in children’s psychological adjustment than family structure (Golombok, 2015; Lamb, 2012; Patterson, 2009), the findings show that men can be just as competent at parenting as women. Indeed, the only group difference in parenting quality identified between the gay father and heterosexual parent families, reflected more positive functioning in the gay father families. Given the large number of children in need of adoptive families, adoption agencies should give greater consideration to gay couples as prospective adoptive parents.

Is consciousness a continuous stream of percepts or is it discrete, occurring only at certain moments in time? We favor a two-stage discrete model, in which substantial periods of continuous unconscious processing precede discrete conscious percepts

All in Good Time: Long-Lasting Postdictive Effects Reveal Discrete Perception. Michael H. Herzog, Leila Drissi-Daoudi, Adrien Doerig. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, September 3 2020.

. Conscious perception seems to be a continuous stream of percepts. Is this true? Recent research sheds new light on this age-old debate.
. In long-lasting postdictive effects, later events can determine the perception of events that occurred several hundreds of milliseconds earlier.
. Long-lasting postdiction requires high capacity buffers, which store information unconsciously for substantial periods of time. This favors a two-stage model, in which continuous unconscious processing precedes discrete conscious percepts.
. Such a two-stage model solves the problems of both traditional continuous and discrete models.

Abstract: Is consciousness a continuous stream of percepts or is it discrete, occurring only at certain moments in time? This question has puzzled philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists for centuries. Both hypotheses have fallen repeatedly in and out of favor. Here, we review recent studies exploring long-lasting postdictive effects and show that the results favor a two-stage discrete model, in which substantial periods of continuous unconscious processing precede discrete conscious percepts. We propose that such a model marries the advantages of both continuous and discrete models and resolves centuries old debates about perception and consciousness.

Keywords: consciousnessdiscrete versus continuous perceptiontwo-stage modelspostdictionvisual processing

Taking pleasure in pain: How to understand masochistic sexual practices?

Taking pleasure in pain: How to understand masochistic sexual practices?  O. Benhamou. Sexologies, Volume 29, Issue 3, July–September 2020, Pages e85-e92.

Summary: The encounter with a patient who initially came to consult for sleep disorders, which concealed moral suffering linked to masochistic sexual practices with a Domina, was at the origin of this research work. The objective of this research is to try to understand how masochistic sexual fantasies emerge and what these sexual practices represent for their devotees, in terms of their psychological life and their sexuality. Sixteen subjects answered a questionnaire built on two axes: the sexual practices themselves (from the first fantasies to their implementation in sexuality), and the biographical path of the subjects (life history, relations with the family and the environment). This is a qualitative research, the results of which were treated in the form of thematic analysis and portraits of each subject, to reflect the uniqueness of their itinerary. The results of this research indicate that masochistic sexual practices always perform a function for those who choose them. They are most often a solution to an internal conflict linked to early relational modalities that generate suffering and/or traumatic experiences. They can also be a solution to sexual problems.

Keywords: MasochismPainSexual satisfactionViolenceFantasiesSexuality

Check also Physical Pain as Pleasure: A Theoretical Perspective. Cara R. Dunkley, Craig D. Henshaw, Saira K. Henshaw, and Lori A. Brotto. The Journal of Sex Research, Volume 57, 2020 - Issue 4, May 2 2019. Free at
Abstract: Physical pain represents a common feature of Bondage and Discipline/Dominance and Submission/Sadism and Machochism (BDSM) activity. This article explores the literature accounting for how painful stimuli may be experienced as pleasurable among practitioners of BDSM, and contrasting this with how it is experienced as painful among non-BDSM individuals. We reviewed the available literature on pain and on BDSM, and used the findings to postulate a theory accounting for how painful stimuli are experienced as pleasurable. Our theory was then checked with BDSM practitioners. The emotional, physiological, and psychological elements of pain interact to facilitate the experience of pain as pleasure in BDSM. A multitude of interconnected factors was theorized to alter the experience of BDSM pain, including: neural networks, neurotransmitters, endogenous opioids and endocannabinoids, visual stimuli, environmental context, emotional state, volition and control, interpersonal connection, sexual arousal, and memories. The experience of pain in this context can bring about altered states of consciousness that may be similar to what occurs during mindfulness meditation. Through understanding the mechanisms by which pain may be experienced as pleasure, the role of pain in BDSM is demystified and, it is hoped, destigmatized.

Fig. 1:
1. Prior to the experience of pain, there is a preexisting emotional and interpersonal context based on present circumstances, memories of related past experiences, and the extent to which one feels in control. These situational factors may facilitate sexual arousal.
2. The presence of sexual arousal prior to (and/or alongside) the infliction of pain stimuli serves as an analgesic, altering levels of dopamine and oxytocin.
3. Contextual factors and sexual arousal lead to a positive anticipation of pain.
4. Context, sexual arousal, and the positive anticipation of pain set the stage for receiving pain sensations and fostering the experience of pain as pleasure.
5. Once pain is introduced, nociceptor stimulation engages bottom-up/top-down processing and produces changes in levels of dopamine, cortisol, endogenous opioids, and endogenous endocannabinoids, further influencing the psychological and physiological response to pain sensations.
6. These conditions may promote mindfulness and lead to an altered state of consciousness, colloquially called subspace, which contributes to the various mechanisms through which pain is experienced as pleasure in the context of BDSM.