Tuesday, September 15, 2020

We were more likely to later claim that we knew the answers all along after having the opportunity to cheat to find the correct answers – relative to exposure to the correct answers without the opportunity to cheat

Cheaters claim they knew the answers all along. Matthew L. Stanley, Alexandria R. Stone & Elizabeth J. Marsh. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (2020). Sep 15 2020. https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758/s13423-020-01812-w

Rolf Degen's take: https://twitter.com/DegenRolf/status/1306097666816909312

Abstract: Cheating has become commonplace in academia and beyond. Yet, almost everyone views themselves favorably, believing that they are honest, trustworthy, and of high integrity. We investigate one possible explanation for this apparent discrepancy between people’s actions and their favorable self-concepts: People who cheat on tests believe that they knew the answers all along. We found consistent correlational evidence across three studies that, for those particular cases in which participants likely cheated, they were more likely to report that they knew the answers all along. Experimentally, we then found that participants were more likely to later claim that they knew the answers all along after having the opportunity to cheat to find the correct answers – relative to exposure to the correct answers without the opportunity to cheat. These findings provide new insights into relationships between memory, metacognition, and the self-concept.

Exposure to a seemingly unhealthy consumer increases others' visual attention towards products perceived to be healthy; effect was stronger for products that managed to convey the impression of being healthy

Cereal Deal: How the Physical Appearance of Others Affects Attention to Healthy Foods. Tobias Otterbring, Kerstin Gidlöf, Kristian Rolschau & Poja Shams. Perspectives on Behavior Science volume 43, pages451–468(2020). Feb 19 2020. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40614-020-00242-2

Rolf Degen's take: https://twitter.com/DegenRolf/status/1305871898107142147

Abstract: This eye-tracking study investigated whether the physical appearance of another consumer can influence people’s visual attention and choice behavior in a grocery shopping context. Participants (N = 96) took part in a lab-based experiment and watched a brief video recording featuring a female consumer standing in front of a supermarket shelf. The appearance and body type of the consumer was manipulated between conditions, such that she was perceived as 1) healthy and of normal weight, 2) unhealthy by means of overweight, or 3) unhealthy through visual signs associated with a potentially unhealthy lifestyle, but not by means of overweight. Next, participants were exposed to a supermarket shelf with cereals and were asked to choose one alternative they could consider buying. Prior exposure to a seemingly unhealthy (vs. healthy) consumer resulted in a relative increase in participants’ visual attention towards products perceived to be healthy (vs. unhealthy), which prompted cereal choices deemed to be healthier. This effect was stronger for products that holistically, through their design features, managed to convey the impression that they are healthy rather than products with explicit cues linked to healthiness (i.e., the keyhole label). These results offer important implications regarding packaging design for marketers, brand owners, and policy makers. Moreover, the findings highlight the value of technological tools, such as eye-tracking methodology, for capturing consumers’ entire decision-making processes instead of focusing solely on outcome-based metrics, such as choice data or purchase behavior.

Bias Blind Spot (BBS) is the phenomenon that people tend to perceive themselves as less ‎susceptible to biases than others; these authors could replicate the original findings

Free-will and self-other asymmetries in perceived bias and shortcomings: Replications of the Bias Blind Spot and extensions linking to free will beliefs. Prasad Chandrashekar et al. April 2020. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.19878.16961/2

Rolf Degen's take: https://twitter.com/DegenRolf/status/1305866994122731520

Description: Bias Blind Spot (BBS) is the phenomenon that people tend to perceive themselves as less ‎susceptible to biases than others. In three pre-registered experiments (overall N = 969), we ‎replicated two experiments of the first demonstration of the phenomenon by Pronin, Lin, and ‎Ross (2002). We found support of the BBS hypotheses, with effects in line with findings in the ‎original study: Participants rated themselves as less susceptible to biases than others (d = -1.00 ‎‎[-1.33, -0.67]) and as having fewer shortcomings (d = - 0.34 [-0.46, -0.23] with differences ‎between effects: d = -0.43 [-0.56, -0.29]). Extending the replications, we found that beliefs in ‎own free will were positively associated with BBS (r ~ 0.17-0.22) and that beliefs in both self ‎and general free will were positively associated with self-other asymmetry related to personal ‎shortcomings (r ~ 0.16-0.24). Materials, datasets, and code are available on https://osf.io/3df5s/

Relationship satisfaction mediates the association between perceived partner mate retention strategies and relationship commitment

Relationship satisfaction mediates the association between perceived partner mate retention strategies and relationship commitment. Bruna Nascimento & Anthony Little. Current Psychology (2020). Sep 12 2020. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12144-020-01045-z

Abstract: This study investigated whether relationship satisfaction mediates the association between own and perceived partner mate-retention strategies and commitment. One hundred and fifty individuals (Mage = 23.87, SDage = 7.28; 78.7% women) in a committed relationship participated in this study. We found an association between perceived partner mate-retention strategies and commitment and that relationship satisfaction mediated this link. Similarly, we found that relationship satisfaction also mediated the association between individuals’ own cost-inflicting strategies and commitment. Specifically, perceived partner benefit-provisioning strategies are positively associated with commitment through increased relationship satisfaction and, conversely, both perceived partner and own cost-inflicting strategies are negatively associated with commitment through decreased relationship satisfaction. Additionally, we observed that relationship satisfaction moderated the association between perceived partner cost-inflicting strategies and participants’ own frequency of cost-inflicting strategies. That is, participants’ cost inflicting strategies are associated with their partner’s cost inflicting strategies, such that this association is stronger among individuals with higher relationship satisfaction. The current research extends previous findings by demonstrating that the association between perceived partner and own mate-retention strategies and commitment is mediated by relationship satisfaction. Additionally, we showed that an individual’s expression of mate retention is associated with their perception of the strategies displayed by their partner, which also depends on relationship satisfaction.


This study examined the association between own and perceived partner mate retention, relationship satisfaction, and commitment. Based on the Investment Model (Rusbult 1983) and on the game-theoretic model (Conroy-Beam et al. 2015) and on previous literature (Shackelford and Buss 2000; Dainton 2015), we tested four hypotheses in this study. We anticipated that perceived partner mate-retention strategies were associated with commitment (Hypothesis 1a) and that relationship satisfaction would mediate this association (Hypothesis 1b). Similarly, we anticipated that relationship satisfaction would mediate the association between own mate retention and commitment (Hypothesis 2). We also predicted that relationship satisfaction would moderate the association between perceived partner mate-retention strategies and an individual’s own mate-retention strategies (Hypothesis 3).
Consistent with the first two Hypotheses, perceived partner mate-retention strategies were associated with individual’s commitment to the relationship (Hypothesis 1a), and relationship satisfaction mediated this association (Hypothesis 1b) as suggested by a previous study (Dainton 2015). Consistent with previous literature (Albert and Arnocky 2016; Shackelford and Buss 2000), our study found that benefit-provisioning strategies, such as appearance enhancement and expression of affection, enhance commitment to the relationship by improving relationship satisfaction. In contrast, cost-inflicting strategies, which include monopolising the partner’s time and violence and threats directed to rivals, are detrimental to relationship satisfaction, which in turn, reduces commitment (Dandurand and Lafontaine 2014).
Similarly, we found that relationship satisfaction mediates the association between individuals’ own mate-retention strategies and commitment, but only for cost-inflicting strategies (Hypothesis 2). As suggested by previous literature, we found that individuals who display positive inducements more often tend to be more committed to their relationships (Buss et al. 2008; Dainton 2015), but this association was not explained by relationship satisfaction. On the other hand, our results suggest that individuals who engage in cost-inflicting strategies more frequently tend to experience lower relationship satisfaction, which is in turn associated with lower committed to the relationship (Miguel and Buss 2010). These findings reinforce the idea that cost-inflicting strategies, either performed by the individual or the partner are linked to poorer relationship satisfaction and low commitment.
As demonstrated in this study and supported by previous research, because relationship satisfaction and commitment are strong predictors of relationship dissolution (Le et al. 2010; Rhoades et al. 2010), these findings suggest that the usage of cost-inflicting strategies may negatively influence an individual’s likelihood to stay in the relationship. Although such strategies may be useful to some extent to keep mate poachers away, for example, they may have a negative influence on the quality of the relationship, and if used too often, they may lead to relationship dissolution. On the other hand, benefit-provisioning strategies seem to be the most useful strategies to preserve a relationship by maintaining higher relationship quality, which is associated with increased commitment to the relationship.
In the current study, relationship satisfaction was also associated with individuals’ own reporting of mate-retention strategies. Specifically, those individuals who are satisfied with their relationships tend to engage more often in benefit-provisioning strategies. On the other hand, lower relationship satisfaction is associated with higher frequency of cost-inflicting strategies. These findings are consistent with evolutionary theory, supporting the idea that relationship satisfaction works as a monitor of relationship quality (Conroy-Beam et al. 2015). As shown here, individuals who are happy in their relationships are more committed to the relationship and tend to engage more often in positive mate-retention strategies.
To test our third hypothesis, we examined whether relationship satisfaction moderates the relation between participants’ reporting of their partners’ mate-retention strategies and their own use of mate retention. We found that when individuals perceive their partners to engage more often in benefit-provisioning strategies, they tended to respond by engaging in similar positive strategies too. However, this association does not vary according to the level of relationship satisfaction. Thus, regardless of how happy individuals are with their relationships, if their partners treat them well, they will reciprocate, consistent with previous findings (Shackelford et al. 2005; Welling et al. 2012). It may also be the case that, consistent with homogamy, individuals tend to mate with individuals that perform similar mate-retention strategies to theirs.
Similarly, those participants who perceived their partners to conceal them and monopolise their time, for example, were more likely to engage in such cost-inflicting strategies themselves. However, relationship satisfaction altered this association, such that this association was stronger among individuals with higher relationship satisfaction. Thus, if individuals perceive that their partners are investing more in the relationship even if they do this by using cost-inflicting strategies, they tend to respond in a similar way by increasing their mate-retention efforts, especially if they perceive the quality of the relationship to be high. These findings also give partial support to the assumption that relationship satisfaction monitors relationship quality and as such, results in higher investment in the relationship (Conroy-Beam et al. 2016; Shackelford and Buss 1997). Therefore, Hypothesis 3 was confirmed only for cost-inflicting strategies, but not for benefit-provisioning strategies.
One limitation of this study is that the sex-imbalanced sample that did not allow for comparisons across sexes. Future research could investigate how the patterns found here vary across sexes because men and women use mate-retention strategies differently, such that men tend to engage more often in strategies such as resource display than women do, whereas women tend to engage more often in strategies such as appearance enhancement in comparison to men (Albert and Arnocky 2016). A second limitation is the non-probability and convenience nature (i.e., non-random internet recruitment so participants are self-selected) of the sample, which can limit the generalisability of our findings. Another limitation of note is that we relied on people’s report of their partners’ behaviour, and we have no way of identifying the extent to which their perception corresponds to reality. However, previous literature has demonstrated that individuals’ self-reports of their mate-retention behaviours are congruent with their partners’ reports of their mate-retention behaviours, demonstrating that individuals can provide reliable accounts of their partners’ mate-retention strategies (Shackelford et al. 2005). Moreover, people’s perceptions of their partners’ behaviour may be more important than their actual behaviour in predicting relationship satisfaction and commitment (see Montoya et al. 2008). This is another potential area for future research, where studies could obtain reports from both partners to address this. Finally, the current study only explored mate-retention strategies among heterosexual individuals. Given that sexual orientation influences the performance of mate-retention strategies (Brewer and Hamilton 2014), future studies should address homosexual relationship dynamics.
Despite these limitations, the current research extends previous findings on the association between mate retention, relationship satisfaction and commitment. Additionally, partners’ mate-retention strategies appear to be mutually related, such that partners respond to each other’s strategies, which also depends on relationship satisfaction. Our findings suggest that different mate-retention strategies have different levels of effectiveness, by demonstrating that whereas benefit-provisioning strategies are associated with high relationship satisfaction, which, in turn, is associated with high commitment, cost-inflicting strategies do so negatively. Although our findings suggest that cost-inflicting strategies are damaging for the relationship, individuals may still find them useful in specific situations under the threat of imminent infidelity, for example, otherwise individuals would not rely on them. Despite the existence of cost-inflicting strategies, however, benefit-provisioning strategies appear to be more effective in maintaining stable and satisfying relationships.

For the 2020-2021 graduate admissions cycle, the University of Chicago English Department is accepting only applicants interested in working in and with Black Studies

Department of English Language and Literature, The University of Chicago. Jul 2020. https://english.uchicago.edu/?fbclid=IwAR1vW5HOB42Rf6q5ETmvR9k2iWRFnLtJOKXU7y_BUnBb0GxwIqrdSsMTmck


Faculty Statement (July 2020)

The English department at the University of Chicago believes that Black Lives Matter, and that the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Rayshard Brooks matter, as do thousands of others named and unnamed who have been subject to police violence. As literary scholars, we attend to the histories, atmospheres, and scenes of anti-Black racism and racial violence in the United States and across the world. We are committed to the struggle of Black and Indigenous people, and all racialized and dispossessed people, against inequality and brutality.

For the 2020-2021 graduate admissions cycle, the University of Chicago English Department is accepting only applicants interested in working in and with Black Studies. We understand Black Studies to be a capacious intellectual project that spans a variety of methodological approaches, fields, geographical areas, languages, and time periods. For more information on faculty and current graduate students in this area, please visit our Black Studies page. 

The department is invested in the study of African American, African, and African diaspora literature and media, as well as in the histories of political struggle, collective action, and protest that Black, Indigenous and other racialized peoples have pursued, both here in the United States and in solidarity with international movements. Together with students, we attend both to literature’s capacity to normalize violence and derive pleasure from its aesthetic expression, and ways to use the representation of that violence to reorganize how we address making and breaking life. Our commitment is not just to ideas in the abstract, but also to activating histories of engaged art, debate, struggle, collective action, and counterrevolution as contexts for the emergence of ideas and narratives.

English as a discipline has a long history of providing aesthetic rationalizations for colonization, exploitation, extraction, and anti-Blackness. Our discipline is responsible for developing hierarchies of cultural production that have contributed directly to social and systemic determinations of whose lives matter and why. And while inroads have been made in terms of acknowledging the centrality of both individual literary works and collective histories of racialized and colonized people, there is still much to do as a discipline and as a department to build a more inclusive and equitable field for describing, studying, and teaching the relationship between aesthetics, representation, inequality, and power.

In light of this historical reality, we believe that undoing persistent, recalcitrant anti-Blackness in our discipline and in our institutions must be the collective responsibility of all faculty, here and elsewhere. In support of this aim, we have been expanding our range of research and teaching through recent hiring, mentorship, and admissions initiatives that have enriched our department with a number of Black scholars and scholars of color who are innovating in the study of the global contours of anti-Blackness and in the equally global project of Black freedom. Our collective enrichment is also a collective debt; this department reaffirms the urgency of ensuring institutional and intellectual support for colleagues and students working in the Black studies tradition, alongside whom we continue to deepen our intellectual commitments to this tradition. As such, we believe all scholars have a responsibility to know the literatures of African American, African diasporic, and colonized peoples, regardless of area of specialization, as a core competence of the profession.

We acknowledge the university's and our field's complicated history with the South Side. While we draw intellectual inspiration from the work of writers deeply connected to Chicago's south side, including Ida B. Wells, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lorraine Hansberry, and Richard Wright, we are also attuned to the way that the university has been a vehicle of intellectual and economic opportunity for some in the community, and a site of exclusion and violence for others. Part of our commitment to the struggle for Black lives entails vigorous participation in university-wide conversations and activism about the university's past and present role in the historically Black neighborhood that houses it.

Division of the Humanities, The University of Chicago

Egypt: Employed women report more coital frequency, more occurrence of spontaneous desire and being more able to obtain orgasm than unemployed women

Does Employment Affect Female Sexuality? Enas H. Abdallah, IhabYounis, Hala M. Elhady. Benha University Medical Journal, Sep 2020. DOI: 10.21608/bmfj.2020.18498.1119

Rolf Degen's take: https://twitter.com/DegenRolf/status/1305786559690571777

Introduction: Female sexual dysfunction (FSD) is a multifactorial condition that has anatomical, physiological, medical, psychological and social components. With increasing trend in the participation of women in the work force and due to the competing demands between work and family, the metaphor of work family conflict (WFC) as an increasing pressure in professional life has emerged. WFC seems to be more in women than men due to more overload and stress.

Aim of the work: to compare female sexuality between employed women and unemployed ones. Subjects and methods: The current study was a cross sectional study. The subjects of this study were sexually active married women. The tool of the study was a selfreport questionnaire.

Results: Employed women were higher in coital frequency than unemployed ones (60.2% & 39.4% respectively). Spontaneous desire was reported by 41% of employed women to occur once per week compared to 34.7% of unemployed ones. Among the employed women, 38.2% could reach orgasm in almost all their sexual encounters compared to 12.7% of unemployed ones. Among unemployed women, 10.4% reported sexual pain compared to 3.6% among employed ones.

Conclusion: Employed women have better sexual functioning than unemployed ones. Employed women have more coital frequency, more occurrence of spontaneous desire and are more able to obtain orgasm than unemployed women.

Keywords: employment, sexual dysfunction, women.

In the present study, among unemployed group, 10.4% reported sexual pain compared to 3.6% among employed ones. This is consistent with a study which found that unemployment was a significant risk factor in reporting sexual problems, desire 60%, and pain problems 36.8% [24]. This result disagrees with another study[4] who reported sexual pain in working women to be 26.7% and suggested that there was a strong relation between job stress, anxiety and sexual dysfunction.

In our study, 7.2% of employed women experienced sexual harassment several times at work place. This finding is consistent Cochran and co-workers, [25] who revealed a reporting rate as low as 2%. In contrast, a study based on more than 86,000 respondents in the US, 58% of women reported having experienced potentially harassing behavior and 24% reported having experienced sexual harassment at work [26].

Creative individuals are better than their peers at identifying uncreative products; expert ratings of the quality of a creative product are driven more by the ability to identify low quality work as opposed to high quality work

Are Creative People Better than Others at Recognizing Creative Work? Steven E.Stemler, James C. Kaufman. Thinking Skills and Creativity, September 15 2020, 100727. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tsc.2020.100727

Rolf Degen's take: https://twitter.com/DegenRolf/status/1305757801172684800

• Rating paradigms often focus on identifying the “Best” candidate, product, or solution
• Highly creative individuals are better than their peers at identifying uncreative products
• Rater creativity was not related to the ability to recognizing highly creative products
• Expert ratings of the quality of a creative product are driven more by the ability to identify low quality work as opposed to high quality work
• Ruling out the least creative candidate, product, or solution may be more important – or at least require more creative expertise – than identifying the “Best” of the bunch.

Abstract: It is often assumed that people with high ability in a domain will be excellent raters of quality within that same domain. This assumption is an underlying principle of using raters for creativity tasks, as in the Consensual Assessment Technique. While several prior studies have examined expert-novice differences in ratings, none have examined whether experts’ ability to identify the quality of a creative product is being driven more by their ability to identify high quality work, low quality work, or both. To address this question, a sample of 142 participants completed individual difference measures and rated the quality of several sets of creative captions. Unbeknownst to the participants, the captions had been identified a prior by expert raters as being of particularly high or low quality. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that after controlling for participants’ background and personality, those who scored significantly higher on any of three external measures of creativity also rated low-quality captions significantly lower than their peers; however, they did not rate the high-quality captions significantly higher. These findings support research in other domains suggesting that ratings of quality may be driven more by the lower end of the quality spectrum than the high end.

Keywords: CreativityAssessmentRatingsExpertise

Intelligence, alcohol consumption, and adverse consequences in young Norwegian men: Intelligence was not associated with intoxication frequency at any age

Intelligence, alcohol consumption, and adverse consequences. A study of young Norwegian men. Adrian F. Rogne, Willy Pedersen, Tilmann Von Soest. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, September 11, 2020.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1403494820944719

Rolf Degen's take: https://twitter.com/DegenRolf/status/1305755292236484609

Aims: Research suggests that intelligence is positively related to alcohol consumption. However, some studies of people born around 1950, particularly from Sweden, have reported that higher intelligence is associated with lower consumption and fewer alcohol-related problems. We investigated the relationships between intelligence, alcohol consumption, and adverse consequences of drinking in young men from Norway (a neighboring Scandinavian country) born in the late 1970s.

Methods: This analysis was based on the population-based Young in Norway Longitudinal Study. Our sample included young men who had been followed from their mid-teens until their late 20s (n = 1126). Measures included self-reported alcohol consumption/intoxication, alcohol use disorders (AUDIT), and a scale measuring adverse consequences of drinking. Controls included family background, parental bonding, and parents’ and peers’ drinking. Intelligence test scores—scaled in 9 “stanines” (population mean of 5 and standard deviation of 2)—were taken from conscription assessment.

Results: Men with higher intelligence scores reported average drinking frequency and slightly fewer adverse consequences in their early 20s. In their late 20s, they reported more frequent drinking than men with lower intelligence scores (0.30 more occasions per week, per stanine, age adjusted; 95% CI: 0.12 to 0. 49). Intelligence was not associated with intoxication frequency at any age and did not moderate the relationships between drinking frequency and adverse consequences.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that the relationship between intelligence and drinking frequency is age dependent. Discrepancies with earlier findings from Sweden may be driven by changes in drinking patterns.

Keywords: Intelligence, alcohol, intoxication, Norway, consequences, young adults

In our sample of Norwegian men born in the 1970s, there was no association between intelligence and frequency of alcohol use when participants were in their early 20s. In their late 20s, we observed a positive association. However, we found no significant link between intelligence and intoxication frequency. Our findings are not consistent with findings from neighboring Sweden, which were based on cohorts born in the 1950s. Rather, our findings resemble those from other recent studies showing a positive association between intelligence and alcohol use, but this association is age-dependent and not very strong. One possible explanation may be that alcohol use in Norway changed considerably in the 1990s and early 2000s, when the so-called weekend binge drinking culture was supplemented by more frequent alcohol consumption. If intelligence is more positively associated with alcohol consumption in cultures with more frequent but less intensive drinking, such changes may have led to an emerging positive (or less negative) association between intelligence and drinking frequency. However, to disentangle these relationships, more research into changes in drinking patterns over time in relation to intelligence is necessary.
The positive association between intelligence and drinking frequency in the late 20s, when most men have entered the labor market, is also consistent with the notion that selection into longer educational programs or high-status jobs may be relevant to this association. Our findings also indicated a small, negative association between intelligence and alcohol related problems at around 22 years of age. While one possible interpretation of this finding is that high intelligence may protect against adverse consequences from drinking, additional analyses (not shown) indicate that the negative association is driven solely by higher adverse consequences scores in the two lowest stanines. Finally, our results do not support the notion that intelligence moderates the relationship between drinking frequency and adverse consequences of drinking.
Our study has several limitations. We cannot rule out the importance of selective attrition, measurement error, and similar survey-related issues. If people with greater cognitive abilities are more reflexive of, and concerned with, potentially adverse consequences of their drinking, they may be more likely to report alcohol use and related problems accurately in surveys [6], which may result in systematic measurement error. The group of nondrinkers may be highly diverse, possibly including both former heavy drinkers and lifetime abstainers [15]. Several of the included control variables in models 3 and 4 may also be affected by intelligence, drinking habits, or adverse consequences, and controlling for these may have introduced overcontrol bias. Our results may also be affected by reverse causation, since heavy alcohol consumption in adolescence may adversely affect cognitive ability [32]. Moreover, our data did not enable us to study women.
In conclusion, studying young Norwegian men born in the 1970s, our findings suggest that the association between intelligence and alcohol consumption is only positive when they are in their late 20s, not when they are in their early 20s. In other words, the association appears to be age dependent. This finding also contrasts with Swedish findings from older cohorts, suggesting that the relationship may also be context-dependent. Our results also suggest that intelligence does not moderate the relationship between frequent drinking and adverse consequences.

Seasonality of mood and affect in a large general population sample: Only participants higher on neuroticism showing seasonality

Seasonality of mood and affect in a large general population sample. Wim H. Winthorst ,Elisabeth H. Bos,Annelieke M. Roest,Peter de Jonge. PLoS, September 14, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0239033

Rolf Degen's take: https://twitter.com/DegenRolf/status/1305747281346519041

Abstract: Mood and behaviour are thought to be under considerable influence of the seasons, but evidence is not unequivocal. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether mood and affect are related to the seasons, and what is the role of neuroticism in this association. In a national internet-based crowdsourcing project in the Dutch general population, individuals were invited to assess themselves on several domains of mental health. ANCOVA was used to test for differences between the seasons in mean scores on the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) and Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology (QIDS). Within-subject seasonal differences were tested as well, in a subgroup that completed the PANAS twice. The role of neuroticism as a potential moderator of seasonality was examined. Participants (n = 5,282) scored significantly higher on positive affect (PANAS) and lower on depressive symptoms (QIDS) in spring compared to summer, autumn and winter. They also scored significantly lower on negative affect in spring compared to autumn. Effect sizes were small or very small. Neuroticism moderated the effect of the seasons, with only participants higher on neuroticism showing seasonality. There was no within-subject seasonal effect for participants who completed the questionnaires twice (n = 503), nor was neuroticism a significant moderator of this within-subjects effect. The findings of this study in a general population sample participating in an online crowdsourcing study do not support the widespread belief that seasons influence mood to a great extent. For, as far as the seasons did influence mood, this only applied to highly neurotic participants and not to low-neurotic participants. The underlying mechanism of cognitive attribution may explain the perceived relation between seasonality and neuroticism.


The purpose of this study was to investigate whether mood and affect are related to the seasons. Secondly, we examined the role of neuroticism as a potential moderator of seasonality. The main findings of this study were: on a population level, participants scored higher on positive affect in spring compared to the other seasons, lower on negative affect in spring compared to autumn, and lower on QIDS depressive symptoms in spring compared to the other seasons. The same pattern was visible in the separate “seasonality-related” questions of the QIDS (except for weight change and increased appetite): participants felt less sad, slept less, had more energy, more general interest in spring compared to the other seasons, mainly autumn and winter. In summary, this study shows that participants, in general, feel better in spring compared to the other seasons, but effect sizes were small or very small. The personality factor neuroticism moderated the effect of the season in all three outcomes. There were no within-subject seasonal differences in the scores of positive and negative affect, as shown in the repeated measures analysis in participants who filled out the questionnaires twice. The power of these analyses may have been insufficient to detect significant seasonal differences, due to smaller numbers and the fact that effect sizes were already very small or small in the first group. This may also explain that neuroticism did not moderate within-subject seasonal differences.
The finding that seasonal differences were only seen in the group of high-neurotic participants is in line with our previous study, in which we hypothesised that subjects who score high on neuroticism tend to attribute their symptoms and unhappiness to the seasons [26]. This finding is also in line with the findings of Rosellini and Nooteboom that the symptoms of depression are related to the personality trait neuroticism [5859].
In the crowdsourcing study HND procedure, the general public volunteered to assist in scientific research. In return, participants received feedback on their scores and were able to follow the results of the research on the internet [31]. Brabham described the internet crowdsourcing procedure as a relatively new model for application in public health [60]. Possible advantages mentioned by Bevelander are that by this sampling methodology already existing hypotheses can be reproduced but also that this methodology can generate ideas that are less well-documented or otherwise tend to be overlooked [61]. In previous crowdsourcing studies, the participants recruited were more diverse than in other means of recruitment [62]. Possible disadvantages of this method are selection bias and the impossibility to calculate non-response percentages, as it is not possible to know how many people have heard of the project or visited the website but did not enter the study [6364]. In order to find a group of participants for HND that could be representative for the general population (and thereby attempting to reduce the limitation of selection bias), publicity for HND was sought using several newspaper articles, magazine articles, public lectures, radio interviews, and other media. In order to examine possible selection effects, Van der Krieke et al. [31] compared the HND sample with the governmental data of the general Dutch population (Central Bureau of Statistics) and two large population studies: the Netherlands Mental Health Survey (NEMESIS-2) and the Lifelines population study [32,33]. They confirmed a certain selection bias. Compared to the general Dutch population, the HND participants were more often women (65.2% versus 50.5%; NEMESIS = 55.2%, Lifelines = 57,9%), on average 6 years older (45 versus 39 years; NEMESIS = 44, Lifelines = 42), more often with a partner (74% versus 58%;), more often living together (61 versus 47%; NEMESIS = 68%) and had higher education levels (> 20 years 76% versus 35%; NEMESIS = 35%) [31].
This selection bias clearly is a limitation of the present research. Moreover, in our study, a majority of the participants completed the questionnaires in spring. Although we adjusted for the differences between the seasons due to this selective inclusion by using the demographic variables as covariates, we cannot rule out the possibility that the results were still partly due to some unmeasured confounder. Since our sample was a general population sample, another potential limitation is that the proportion of participants suffering from SAD can be expected to be low (ranging from 3%–10%), implying that the contribution of SAD patients to our study results will be limited[11].
Depressive disorders and anxiety disorders show a high comorbidity [6566]. For this reason, it would have been interesting to include a measure of anxiety. However, in a previous article, we showed that the administered depression scale (QIDS) and the BAI (Becks Anxiety Inventory) showed a correlation of 0.80 [27]. In the HND study, the Anxiety subscale of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS) was used to assess anxiety over the previous week. In our data, there was a correlation of 0.70 between the QIDS and the anxiety scale of the DASS (S1 Table). Since our main objective was to investigate the seasonality of depression and positive and negative affect, we did not include this measure of anxiety as a confounder because it could have masked the seasonal effect on depression.
A strength of this study is its large sample size for the analyses in the entire group and the spring–winter group in the repeated measures analyses. Other strengths are the use of validated instruments, comparability with other Dutch population studies, the use of questionnaires covering a short period guaranteeing a relative absence of memory bias, and the inclusion of a personality factor in the analyses.

The mechanism of cognitive attribution may underlie the relation between (perceived) seasonality and neuroticism [276768]. For future studies on seasonality of mood and behaviour, we recommend including the personality measure neuroticism and a measure to establish the attribution style. Other confounding factors like presence or absence of pre-existing physical or mental health conditions, treatment and stressful life events should be measured as well. The objective then is to further disentangle the relationship between neuroticism, attribution style and (perceived) seasonality of mood and behaviour.