Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Are some first dates easier to read than others? Although it may be more difficult to form accurate impressions on first dates, targets higher in well-being may make the task easier

Are some first dates easier to read than others? The role of target well-being in distinctively accurate first impressions. Lauren Gazzard Kerra, James Borenstein-Laurie, Lauren J. Human. Journal of Research in Personality, September 8 2020, 104017. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2020.104017

• People can form accurate first impressions of personality on speed dates.
• Accuracy on speed dates tends to be lower than in platonic first impressions.
• Dates vary substantially in how accurately they are perceived.
• Dates higher in well-being are generally easier to read.

Abstract: Some people are open books, with their distinctive personalities being accurately perceived after a brief interaction, whereas others are harder to read. Such open books have in turn been found to have greater well-being, at least within lower-stakes, platonic getting-acquainted interactions. Do individual differences in expressive accuracy emerge in higher-stakes settings, such as first dates, and are people higher in well-being still easier to read? Using a speed-dating paradigm (N = 372; Ndyads = 4723), accuracy on average was significant but relatively low. Nevertheless, strong individual differences in expressive accuracy emerged and were associated with well-being. In sum, although it may be more difficult to form accurate impressions on first dates, targets higher in well-being may make the task easier.

Keywords: Accuracyfirst impressionswell-beingspeed datinginterpersonal perception

Older brothers increase the odds of same-sex preference in pedohebephiles & teleiophiles; also replicated the recent finding that older sisters have a similar but weaker statistical association with the odds of homosexuality

Meta-Analyses of Fraternal and Sororal Birth Order Effects in Homosexual Pedophiles, Hebephiles, and Teleiophiles. Ray Blanchard, Klaus M. Beier, Francisco R. Gómez Jiménez, Dorit Grundmann, Jurian Krupp, Scott W. Semenyna & Paul L. Vasey. Archives of Sexual Behavior (2020). Sep 7 2020. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-020-01819-3

Abstract: This study investigated the relations between numbers of older brothers, numbers of older sisters, and the odds of homosexuality in later-born males, including males who are most attracted sexually to prepubescent or early pubescent children (pedohebephiles) and males who are most attracted sexually to adults (teleiophiles). The authors meta-analyzed data from 24 samples of homosexual and heterosexual men, originally reported in 18 studies, and totaling 18,213 subjects. The results confirmed that older brothers increase the odds of same-sex preference in pedohebephiles as they do in teleiophiles. They also replicated the recent finding that older sisters have a similar but weaker statistical association with the odds of homosexuality. These findings have two theoretical implications. First, the findings for older brothers and older sisters indicate some commonality in the factors that influence sexual preference in teleiophiles and those that influence sexual preference in pedohebephiles. Second, the finding for older sisters confirms a prediction stemming from the hypothesis that male fetuses stimulate maternal antibodies that increase the odds of homosexuality in later-born males. Such immunization could result from miscarried as well as full-term fetuses, and number of older sisters should correlate with number of male fetuses miscarried before gestation of the subject.

In this research, the minds of men with overt erection (but not of men with flaccid penises) were perceived similarly to the minds of animals

An Experiencer, An Animal or An Object? Erection Salience Decreases Men’s Perceived Agency. Paulina Górska, Magdalena Budziszewska, Marta Marchlewska, Anna Stefaniak, Katarzyna Malinowska & Olga Kuzawińska. Archives of Sexual Behavior (2020). Sep 7 2020. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-020-01800-0

Abstract: Three experiments investigated the influence of penile erection on ascriptions of mental capabilities to men. Drawing on sexual objectification literature and the distinction between agency and experience in mind perception, three competing predictions were formulated. The mind redistribution hypothesis assumed that penile erection would lower agency and heighten experience attributions, the animalistic dehumanization hypothesis predicted the decrease in agency, but not experience, and the literal objectification hypothesis implied the simultaneous decrease in both agency and experience. In Experiment 1 (N = 219; 128 females), erection salience lowered agency, but not experience capabilities ascribed to male targets. Experiment 2 (N = 201, 113 females) replicated the negative effect of erection salience on perceived agency (but not experience) and revealed that erection salience lowered intentions to hire a male target. This effect was explained with the loss of perceived agency. Experiment 3 (N = 203, 98 females) verified the causal relationship between penile erection, agency and hiring intentions. Taken together, these results supported the animalistic dehumanization hypothesis.


This research provides evidence that erection salience can influence how the mind of a male target is perceived. Across different domains (art and social media) and diverse cultural contexts (British and Polish), high erection salience decreased targets’ perceived agency, but did not affect their perceived experience. High erection salience had practical consequences: It translated to lower intentions to hire a target. Among female (but not male) participants, this effect was explained by the loss of perceived agency.
To the best of our knowledge, the present research is the first to examine the relation between erection salience and mind perception. While previous studies (e.g., Mautz, Wong, Peters, & Jennions, 2013) revealed that penis size determined a target’s attractiveness, they utilized solely flaccid penis stimuli and did not investigate other dimensions of social perception.
Our findings contribute to the sexual objectification and mind perception studies. Past results allowed for the formulation of three competing predictions for the influence of penile erection on agency and experience attributions. In the present research, the minds of men with overt erection (but not of men with flaccid penises) were perceived similarly to the minds of animals: as high in experience and low in agency capacities (Gray et al., 2007). As such, the effects of erection salience resemble the animalistic type of dehumanization, which denies uniquely human traits (e.g., self-control, civility, refinement, moral sensibility, logic and maturity), but not traits reflective of human nature (e.g., emotional responsiveness; see Haslam, 2006).
At the same time, the current results did not support the other two phenomena discussed in the literature. First, penile erection did not lead to literal objectification, which would involve a simultaneous decrease in agency and experience (Heflick & Goldenberg, 2014). Being a signal of sexual desire (an experience-related aspect of mind), erection seems to prevent perceiving men as emotionless objects. This result is congruent with the claim that literal objectification may be specific to female targets (e.g., Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997; Heflick & Goldenberg, 2014). Second, high erection salience did not lead to mind redistribution (Gray et al., 2011b). The decrease in target’s agency was not accompanied by an increase in experience. The lack of effects on experience may originate from the specific meaning attached to penile erection. As a symbol of power (Friedman, 2001), an erect penis may preclude seeing its owner as a harm-sensitive experiencer (Gray et al., 2011). In summary, the present research suggests that the belief expressed in the literature and conventional wisdom requires some qualifications: In the eye of the beholder, sexual arousal strips men of their agentic, but not their experiential mind.
Current results have practical implications. Whereas past research (Rollero & Tartaglia, 2013) revealed that objectification decreases men’s perceived suitability for certain (i.e., high status or stereotypically feminine) professions, the exact process underlying this effect has not been investigated. The present research adds to this line of inquiry by showing that, at least among female perceivers, this effect may be mediated by lowered agency ascribed to objectified male targets. Furthermore, as suggested by the results of Experiments 2 and 3, strong cues such as high erection salience may lower intentions to hire a target in general, regardless of profession. The current research does not, however, allow us to rule out alternative reasons for lower hiring intentions (e.g., target’s non-normative behavior as exemplified by exercising despite a visible erection).
Although the present research consisted of three experimental studies conducted with the use of different methods (computer-assisted Web interview in Experiment 1 and Experiment 3; paper and pencil method in Experiment 2) and among participants of different nationalities (British in Experiment 1 and Polish in Experiments 2 and 3), it nonetheless has some limitations. First of all, some of the reported effects may seem quite small, which may likely be a consequence of underpowered samples. This is the case, for example, in the analysis of the effect of agency manipulation in Experiment 3. Besides recruiting more participants, it would be possible to increase the effect sizes by using more powerful experimental manipulations (e.g., manipulating erection salience with the use of video stimuli). Second, our research utilized solely self-report measures, which may raise doubts related to social desirability bias or ecological validity of our questionnaires. Thus, future research is also needed to understand the influence of erection salience on men’s perceived agency in more realistic settings, which would ideally use behavioral, rather than self-report indicators. Third, future research should examine whether the pattern of results would be similar among people coming from different cultural and demographic backgrounds. Finally, when it comes to demographic variables, Experiment 2 demonstrated that the effect of erection salience on hiring intentions was mediated via target’s perceived agency. However, this effect was only significant among female participants which may suggest that male participants preferred not to hire a target with a visible erection because of reasons other than his alleged intellectual inferiority (e.g., intrasexual competition; Puts, Bailey, & Reno, 2015). Future research should explore the perception of social norms violation by the target as well as potential moderators and mediators of the described relation between erection salience and hiring intentions (among both males and females).
Adverse consequences faced by the targets of objectification are dire. They include social acceptability of violence and harassment directed at them (Loughnan et al., 2013), a tendency to self-objectify among the targets, as well as internalization of body focus and unrealistic body standards, lowered self-esteem, and in extreme cases depression, eating disorders and other serious psychological difficulties (e.g., Loughnan, Baldissarri, Spaccatini, & Elder, 2017, Loughnan et al., 2010). These negative effects are particularly strong if targets belong to low-status groups (e.g., sexual minorities; see Heimerdinger-Edwards et al., 2011; Rohlinger, 2002, Wiseman, & Moradi, 2010). Therefore, it seems especially important to identify the outcomes and processes related to sexual objectification. The present research was intended to serve this broader goal.

Biasing effect of advocacy: Not controllable but automatic, even in highly stable beliefs, when people were financially incentivized to form true beliefs & among lawyers (trained to prevent advocacy from biasing their judgements)

The automatic influence of advocacy on lawyers and novices. David E. Melnikoff & Nina Strohminger. Nature Human Behaviour (2020). Sep 7 2020. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-020-00943-3

Abstract: It has long been known that advocating for a cause can alter the advocate’s beliefs. Yet a guiding assumption of many advocates is that the biasing effect of advocacy is controllable. Lawyers, for instance, are taught that they can retain unbiased beliefs while advocating for their clients and that they must do so to secure just outcomes. Across ten experiments (six preregistered; N = 3,104) we show that the biasing effect of advocacy is not controllable but automatic. Merely incentivizing people to advocate altered a range of beliefs about character, guilt and punishment. This bias appeared even in beliefs that are highly stable, when people were financially incentivized to form true beliefs and among professional lawyers, who are trained to prevent advocacy from biasing their judgements.

It may be no coincidence that, when describing biased thinking, psychologists reach for the metaphor of the advocate32–34. Our findings run counter to Gorgias’s assertion that one can advocate for a cause while remaining impartial. Instead, they support the Socratic view that advocacy induces an automatic cognitive bias, one that inevitably distorts the beliefs of those who merely assume the role of advocate.

In addressing whether the biasing effect of advocacy is uncontrollable, our findings leave open the question of whether this effect is unintentional, efficient or unconscious. Though all of these processing features fall under the umbrella of automaticity, the presence or absence of one cannot be inferred from the presence or absence of another8,10,11. Accordingly, additional work is needed to determine whether the biasing effect of advocacy can occur in the absence of a goal to advocate (unintentionally), under cognitive load (efficiently) or without the advocate’s awareness (unconsciously). Controllability, however, stands out among the various processing features as the most important for advocacy. The question of whether advocates can resist bias sparked the debate between Gorgias and Socrates, and the belief that they can continues to inform legal systems around the world4–7. That this belief may well be wrong has major implications for the law and beyond.

Lawyers are trusted to give their clients guidance based on objective, unbiased assessments of the evidence. When they cannot remain impartial, their advice will be of lower quality. For instance, a defence attorney who underestimates the likelihood of a guilty verdict may be less likely to advise his or her client to accept a plea bargain. Besides lawyers, many scientists aim to marry advocacy and impartiality by using their own research to influence policy decisions. Entrepreneurs have a vested interest in simultaneously pursuing the interests of their shareholders while retaining a realistic view of their company’s prospects.

The possibility remains, of course, that a means to control the biasing effect of advocacy will yet be discovered. Only through further investigation can the probability of finding such a strategy be so reduced that the biasing effect of advocacy can be declared, with practical certainty, uncontrollable. Until then, decision makers are advised that this bias seems remarkably difficult to overcome, and a reliable strategy for doing so remains elusive. Optimizing advocacy may depend not on controlling biased thinking but on external systems and structures that keep such thinking from shaping decisions.

Check also Everybody argues and everybody wins: Overestimation of success as a driver of debate Logg, Jennifer M.; Berg, Logan A.; Minson, Julia A. Presented at the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, The 2019 40th Annual Conference. Montréal, Canada
November 15–18, 2019. http://www.sjdm.org/programs/2019-program.pdf

Abstract: We examine why people argue despite limited success in persuading others. In 10 experiments (N=2,911), our participants overclaim past argument success (Experiment 1) and mispredict future success (Experiments 2-6). Mispredicting future success results in higher entry into arguments and a greater willingness to bet money on predicted success (Experiment 2). Such biased assessments are robust to constrained definitions of winning (Experiments 3A-3D) and increases when the definition is based on logic (Experiment 4). Biased assessments of argument success seem to stem more from overconfidence in the "correctness" of individual's views than in debate skills (Experiment 5 & 6).

Men's frequently invoked tendency to predominate in mixed-gender political discussions failed to materialize

Who dominates the conversation? The effect of gender, discussion medium, and controversy on political discussion. Mary Herring, Jennie Sweet-Cushman, Elizabeth Prough & Fred Vultee. Feminist Media Studies, Aug 31 2020. https://doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2020.1808036

ABSTRACT: Previous research finds that when citizens discuss political topics, men tend to predominate. In this study, we investigate how discussion of political issues changes in different settings, using a design in which male and female participants discussed two political topics—one controversial, the other not—in in a variety of settings. We examine two aspects of discussion: the extent of participation and the style of participation. We find that women participate more extensively than men in general, but that this difference is conditioned on the gender composition of and the size of the group, and whether a topic is controversial. The discussion medium (online or face-to-face) exerts no impact on the extent of participation. Alternatively, whether discussants are agreeable in their comments is most influenced by the topic of discussion and, for men, whether the discussion occurs online or face-to-face.

KEYWORDS: Gender, political discussion, conversational dynamics, gender differences, discussion format

No Evidence for a Relationship between Intelligence and Ejaculate Quality

No Evidence for a Relationship between Intelligence and Ejaculate Quality. Tara DeLecce, Bernhard Fink, Todd K. Shackelford, Mohaned G. Abed [in press, Evolutionary Psychology, September 2020]. http://www.toddkshackelford.com/downloads/Delecce-et-al-EP-sept.pdf

Abstract: Genetic quality may be expressed through many traits simultaneously, and this would suggest a phenotype-wide fitness factor. In humans, intelligence has been positively associated with several potential indicators of genetic quality, including ejaculate quality. We conducted a conceptual replication of one such study (Arden, Gottfredson, Miller, & Pierce, 2009) by investigating the relationship between intelligence (assessed by the Raven Advanced Progressive Matrices Test – Short Form) and ejaculate quality (indexed by sperm count, sperm concentration, and sperm motility) in a sample of 41 men (ages ranging 18 to 33 years; M = 23.33; SD = 3.60). By self-report, participants had not had a vasectomy, and had never sought infertility treatment. We controlled for several covariates known to affect ejaculate quality (e.g., abstinence duration before providing an ejaculate) and found no statistically significant relationship between intelligence and ejaculate quality; our findings, therefore, do not match those of Arden, Gottfredson, Miller, and Pierce (2009) or those of previous studies. We discuss limitations of this study and the general research area and highlight the need for future research in this area, especially the need for larger data sets to address questions around phenotypic quality and ejaculate quality.

Check also No Evidence for a Tradeoff between Competitive Traits and Ejaculate Quality in Humans. Tara DeLecce, Todd K. Shackelford, Bernhard Fink, Mohaned G. Abed. [in press, Evolutionary Psychology, June 2020]. https://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2020/07/no-evidence-for-tradeoff-between.html

Aphantasia (subjective impairment of face recognition and autobiographical memory): The current study provides tentative support for a link between aphantasia and autistic spectrum features

Milton, Fraser, Jon Fulford, Carla Dance, James Gaddum, Brittany Heuerman-Williamson, Kealan Jones, Matthew MacKisack, et al. 2020. “Behavioral and Neural Signatures of Visual Imagery Vividness Extremes: Aphantasia Vs. Hyperphantasia.” PsyArXiv. September 4. doi:10.31234/osf.io/j2zpn

Abstract: Although Galton recognised in 1880 that some individuals lack visual imagery, this phenomenon was largely neglected over the following century. We recently coined the terms ‘aphantasia’ and ‘hyperphantasia’ to describe visual imagery vividness extremes, unlocking a sustained surge of public interest. Aphantasia is associated with subjective impairment of face recognition and autobiographical memory. Here we report the first systematic, wide-ranging neuropsychological and brain imaging study of people with aphantasia (n=24), hyperphantasia (n=25) and mid-range imagery vividness (n=20). Despite equivalent performance on standard memory tests, there were marked group differences on measures of autobiographical memory and imagination, participants with hyperphantasia outperforming controls who outperformed participants with aphantasia. Face recognition difficulties were reported more commonly in aphantasia. The Revised NEO Personality Inventory highlighted reduced extroversion in the aphantasia group and increased openness in the hyperphantasia group. Resting-state fMRI revealed stronger connectivity between prefrontal cortices and the visual network among hyperphantasic than aphantasic participants. In an active fMRI paradigm, there was greater anterior parietal activation among hyperphantasic and control than aphantasic participants when comparing visualisation of famous faces and places with perception. These behavioral and neural signatures of visual imagery vividness extremes validate and illuminate this significant but neglected dimension of individual difference.