Sunday, October 11, 2020

Showing people that what is considered masculine and feminine can actually apply beyond people led to a reduction in biological (i.e., essential) attributions for gender differences and thereby reduced gender stereotyping

The Primacy of Gender: Gendered Cognition Underlies the Big Two Dimensions of Social Cognition. Ashley E. Martin, Michael L. Slepian. Perspectives on Psychological Science, June 9, 2020.

Abstract: It is notable that across distinct, siloed, and disconnected areas of psychology (e.g., developmental, personality, social), there exist two dimensions (the “Big Two”) that capture the ways in which people process, perceive, and navigate their social worlds. Despite their subtle distinctions and nomenclature, each shares the same underlying content; one revolves around independence, goal pursuit, and achievement, and the other revolves around other-focus, social orientation, and desire for connection. Why have these two dimensions emerged across disciplines, domains, and decades? Our answer: gender. We argue that the characteristics of the Big Two (e.g., agency/competence, communion/warmth) are reflections of psychological notions of masculinity and femininity that render gender the basis of the fundamental lens through which one sees the social world. Thus, although past work has identified the Big Two as a model to understand social categories, we argue that gender itself is the social category that explains the nature of the Big Two. We outline support for this theory and suggest implications of a gendered cognition in which gender not only provides functional utility for cognitive processing but simultaneously enforces gender roles and limits men and women’s opportunities. Recognizing that the Big Two reflect masculinity and femininity does not confine people to act in accordance with their gender but rather allows for novel interventions to reduce gender-based inequities.

Keywords: gender, gender schema, social cognition, social roles, Big Two

Once romantic relationships have been initiated, the match between ideals and partner traits generally predicts important outcomes, such as relationship quality

Reconsidering “Best Practices” for Testing the Ideal Standards Model: A Response to Eastwick, Finkel, and Simpson (2018). Garth J. O. Fletcher, Nickola C. Overall, Lorne Campbell. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, March 11, 2020.

Abstract: Eastwick, Finkel, and Simpson (2018) advanced recommendations for “best practices” in testing the predictive validity of individual differences in the extent to which perceptions of partners match ideal standards (ideal-partner matching). We respond to their article evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of different tests, presenting new analyses of existing data, and setting out conclusions that differ from Eastwick et al. We (a) argue that correlations between ideal standards for attributes in partners and corresponding partner perceptions are relevant to the ideal standards model (ISM), (b) show that important methodological and statistical issues qualify their interpretations of prior research, (c) illustrate a new analytic approach used in the accuracy literature that tests (and controls for) confounds highlighted by Eastwick et al., and (d) provide evidence that the direct-estimation measure of ideal-partner matching is a valid and useful method. We conclude with a cautionary note on the concept of best practices.

Keywords: ideal standards model, best practices

Women tend to lower their voices when interacting with men they consider as particularly attractive, while they significantly raise their pitch when facing men they are not attracted to

Barkat-Defradas Melissa, Raymond M., Suire A. (2021) Vocal Preferences in Humans: A Systematic Review. In: Weiss B., Trouvain J., Barkat-Defradas M., Ohala J.J. (eds) Voice Attractiveness. Prosody, Phonology and Phonetics. Springer, Singapore. October 11 2020.

Abstract: Surprisingly, the study of human voice evolution has long been conducted without any reference to its biological function. Yet, following Darwin’s original concept, John Ohala was the first linguist to assume the functional role of sexual selection to explain vocal dimorphism in humans. Nevertheless, it is only at the very beginning of the millennial that the study of voice attractiveness developed, revealing that beyond its linguistic role, voice also conveys important psycho-socio-biological information that have a significant effect on the speaker’s mating and reproductive success. In this review article, our aim is to synthesize 20 years of research dedicated to the study of vocal preferences and to present the evolutionary benefits associated with such preferences.

Keywords: Vocal preferences Perception Language evolution Sexual selection Evolutionary biology Acoustics Voice Fundamental frequency Formant dispersion Voice attractiveness 

Check also Speech Acoustic Features: A Comparison of Gay Men, Heterosexual Men, and Heterosexual Women. Alexandre Suire, Arnaud Tognetti, Valérie Durand, Michel Raymond & Melissa Barkat-Defradas. Archives of Sexual Behavior, March 31 2020.

And Male Vocal Quality and Its Relation to Females’ Preferences. Alexandre Suire, Michel Raymond, Melissa Barkat-Defradas. Evolutionary Psychology, September 30, 2019.

Self-reports on the motives of selfishness, duty, altruism, belonging, and social approval: Selfish motives account for only about 15%

What Motivates People to Vote? The Role of Selfishness, Duty, and Social Motives When Voting. Valentina A. Bali, Lindon J. Robison, Richard Winder. SAGE Open, October 10, 2020.

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: This study assesses the relative importance and explanatory power of five fundamental psychological motives for voting. Using United States survey data, we analyze self-reports on the motives of selfishness, duty, altruism, belonging, and social approval in relation to turnout. These motives have precedents in the literature, but they have not yet been evaluated simultaneously. We find that altruism and duty are the most important reported motives for turnout accounting for more than 60% of the allocations; selfish motives account for only about 15%. Turnout behavior responds positively to the motives of duty, altruism, and belonging, but it is dampened by the motive of selfishness. Turning out to vote emerges as an activity largely shaped by an individual’s social concerns and values.

Keywords: individual-level turnout, motives, participation, selfishness, duty, altruism, belonging, social approval, social capital

In what follows, we further probe our study’s findings as well as highlight its limitations. Specifically, we examine issues related to background correlates and spuriousness, nonvoters, further motivations, omitted variables, motives in contexts beyond the United States, and satisficing and social desirability biases from self-reports.

Background Correlates and Spuriousness

We view our hypothesized motives as psychological drivers that can influence behavior, but other personal characteristics could be influencing both reported motivations and behavior. The results presented in Table 2 provide preliminary evidence that this is not the case: the estimated coefficients for the motives remain substantively the same when we compare the motives-only models (2A and 2C) to the models with both motives and personal socioeconomic characteristics (2B and 2D). Furthermore, we estimated models predicting separately each of the motive’s scores as a function of personal socioeconomic characteristics, both for the MT and GFK samples (Supplement B). Out of the 40 coefficients for each sample, 3 were statistically significant in the MT sample and 7 in the GFK sample, suggesting again that spurious linkages are not a significant concern. Variations in motives reflect psychological traits that are not immediately determined by one’s socioeconomic context.

Nonvoters and Voters

All respondents were asked to allocate points across motives—even if they did not vote. This was done explicitly to link motives to turnout and to have the same samples when making comparisons across different activities. Nevertheless, two items remain pending: how do voters and nonvoters differ in terms of motive importance and how do motives impact the propensity to vote when nonvoters are excluded? To address the first question, we re-examined the motive allocation separately for each group (Supplement C). For example, in the MT sample (first column of Supplement C) if we exclude the 150 nonvoting respondents (~15%), we obtain for voters the following mean scores: 12% (selfishness), 25% (duty), 44% (altruism), 18% (belonging), and 2% (social approval). The MT and GFK motive allocations for voters are substantively the same as those obtained with the full sample (Table 1). A key distinction between voters and nonvoters’ allocations is that selfishness trumps personal duty among the latter. With regards to the second query, we re-estimated the models predicting turnout behavior but now excluding nonvoters and adjusting the dependent variable to flag among voters those who vote in every election (1), versus those who vote in very few, some, or most elections (0) (Supplement D). This new specification is getting at the propensity to vote frequently, among those who vote on a somewhat regular basis. For both samples, as in our main analyses (Table 2), we find that duty, altruism, and belonging are positively related to turnout though only belonging (in the MT sample) and personal duty (in the GFK sample) achieve statistical significance. In general, as might be expected by excluding nonvoters the motive effects are reduced.

Further Motivations

To address the possibility that other key drivers are at work, the MT survey allowed for other reasons to be reported, in an open-ended format, after having allocated the 100 points among the five motives. From the MT sample of 990 respondents, 150 (or ~15%) wrote in other reasons; 129 of these 150 add-ins can be recategorized into one of our five existing motives, whereas only 21 of the answers (~2%) seem to be addressing a motive or reason we had not put forth. Of the 129 responses that we can categorize, they include reasons as follows: “to get my voice heard,” which can be assigned to “belonging”; “there is an important issue I would like to see set in place” and “to try and make a difference,” which can be mapped with “altruism”; and “if you don’t vote you have no right to complain” and “I feel bad if I don’t,” which can be assigned to “duty.” Of the 21 responses that do not quite match our motives, a few address reasons related to accountability (three responses) and expressive voting (two responses), but most are related to preemption reasons (16 responses), such as “to keep someone out of office,” “to prevent people I disagree with from being elected,” “I wanted to vote Obama out,” and “I vote to keep Republicans out of office.” Preemption reasons could be linked to motives of “belonging” but through opposition by expressly denying a social bond with an individual, group, or cause. Overall, we did not uncover major unaccounted motives at work.

Omitted Variables

When examining the impact of motives on turnout behavior, we omitted certain variables that have been found in the literature to be consistent factors of influence: residential mobility, voted in previous election, party identification, political interest and knowledge, and media exposure (Smets & van Ham, 2013). Our surveys included three of these factors: residential mobility and voted in the previous election were in the MT survey and partisanship was in the GFK survey. We re-estimated the full models in Table 2 after including these additional variables (Supplement E). In the MT sample, “years in the community” is not statistically significant, whereas “voted in the last election” is statistically significant and, as expected, a very strong predictor, by 0.78 points. The motives variables are dampened and lose their statistical significance except for social approval. However, we view this specification merely as confirmatory rather than as the final model for estimation because motives and past behavior are themselves intertwined and in precisely the ways we are trying to tease out (e.g., habitual behavior can be the result of motives for duty and belonging). Indeed, if we estimate instead a logit model predicting “voted in the last election,” we obtain essentially the same results in terms of significance and size of the motive effects as in Table 2 for the MT sample (Supplement F). In the GFK sample, adding the measure of “strong partisan,” which captures whether a respondent identifies as a strong Republican or a strong Democrat, barely changes the estimated coefficients, statistical significance, and associated probabilities of each motive (Supplement E).

Other Contexts

The two commissioned surveys for this study were based in the United States and only U.S.-based respondents were considered for the analyses. Examining reported motives in a comparative setting, across a full array of countries, would be the basis of an entirely new study. Nevertheless, we sought to obtain preliminary insights by commissioning two small (N ≈ 200) online surveys in Australia and Argentina in early and mid-2014. The surveys were carried by Cint, a global survey enterprise that includes internet crowd-sourcing, like Amazon’s MT services. We chose Australia and Argentina as preliminary cases because both countries have compulsory national voting and apply sanctions if no legitimate reason for abstention has been put forth, including minor financial penalties (International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance [IDEA], 2018). Therefore, we expect both personal duty and selfishness (through concerns for sanctions) to become more relevant for voting in these new samples compared with the U.S. context. We confirm these expectations, in most of the instances as shown in Table 3 (Panels B and C). Personal duty averages 23% in the U.S. sample but increases to 28% in the Australian sample and notably to 42% in the Argentine sample. Selfishness averages 13% in the U.S. sample and increases to 18% in the Australian sample but decreases to 10% in the Argentine sample, which might be the result of less-stringent enforcement in the Argentine context. In general, the increased prominence of duty under compulsory voting conforms with our expectations; however, this does not ensure more engaged political participation. As recent research has shown, compulsory voting can be linked to increases in invalid voting (Kouba & Lysek, 20162019) and invalid voting can at times stem from, among other considerations, lack of interest, and disengagement (Moral, 2016Singh, 2019). It remains to be seen whether and how more duty-driven citizens contribute to invalid voting in different contexts.8 Finally, as in the U.S. case, in the Australian and Argentine samples, we see as expected a decrease in the selfishness motive and increases in the social motives as we move from arm’s length exchanges (purchasing gasoline) to more social activities (recycling and voting).


Our study is, by design, eliciting subjective reports and as such is subject to the common concerns with survey work, namely that the data are hypothetical (i.e., elicited without actual incentives being in place) and subject to potential satisficing and social desirability biases (i.e., people may take cognitive shortcuts when responding and they may report what others socially expect them to). These limitations hold for this study. Nevertheless, several clarifications can be made. First, both surveys were online and anonymous, which, are formats that can help reduce social desirability biases (Holbrook & Krosnick, 2010Larson, 2019) and the voting questions were placed within larger instruments without a concerted focus on politics or political participation. Second, the literature on vote over-reporting, which in part addresses responses being driven by social desirability, has found that high-resource individuals (i.e., those with more education, income, engagement in public affairs, and length in the community) are the types more likely to misreport their vote (Ansolabahere & Hersh, 2012Enamorado & Imai, 2019Silver et al., 1986). When we consider some of these factors as predictors of socially based motives (Supplement B), we do not find consistent associations. Also, this study analyzes multiple surveys—two in the United States for replication purposes and two preliminary ones in settings with distinct incentives (i.e., penalties for failure to vote). The way in which the results are comparable across the U.S. surveys and vary when introducing the non-U.S. surveys support the notion that we are plausibly tapping into these motives. Last, the comparisons of motives across activities, including activities less likely to trigger primed answers such as purchasing gasoline, were in line with our expectations; again, this suggests we may be reasonably eliciting respondents’ motives.

This article examines why people vote and who votes by analyzing reports on five fundamental motives for voting: selfishness, duty, altruism, belonging, and social approval. Each of the motives has precedents in the turnout literature but up until now have not been jointly evaluated. Therefore, we provide a much-needed empirical baseline with regards to their relative standing and influence. In the United States context, if a citizen turns out to vote, we find that altruism and duty are reported as the main psychological motives behind that decision, with more than 60% of the allocation. In one of the study samples, altruism accounts for 44% of the underlying motivation and personal duty accounts for 23%. Meanwhile, selfish motives account for only 13%. Individuals explain their voting motives as centered on doing well by others and their causes and by their own ethical commitments—their selfish consumption concerns play a very minor role.

In terms of behavior, turnout is positively responsive to the duty, altruism, and belonging motives when contrasted to selfish motivations, with personal duty at the lead. That is, the types of individuals who give more importance to these drivers, at the expense of selfishness, are more likely to be frequent voters. One implication is that mobilization efforts could be focused around these socially driven considerations, as already shown in some field experiments (e.g., Gerber et al., 2003Gerber & Rogers, 2009). Such efforts could prove substantial for turnout because the linkages are considerable: ±20% points toggle in the importance of one of these motives can translate into changes in the likelihood of frequent turnout ranging from 0.06 points to 0.21 points. Turnout behavior is negatively associated with selfish considerations. This result might be in line with previous conceptions in the literature that voting in the United States is in general a “low-stakes decision,” or a marginal decision (Aldrich, 1993Blais, 2000). Citizens in the United States context are not heavily invested in voting for the expectation of large personal benefits, as also revealed by their limited willingness to expend resources on this activity. In our MT survey, respondents were willing to wait, on average, only 1 hour to vote and the median respondent would only travel up to 5 miles to do so.

We hope our research encourages follow-up research queries and we identify a few promising ones. First, our study as designed and implemented cannot entirely rule out the presence of social desirability effects in the respondents’ self-reports. Future work could replicate the study but with an additional battery of questions specifically designed to control for desirability biases (see, Larson, 2019) and with improved wording to better capture social approval motives. Also, a design based from more expansive open-ended questions could be the starting step toward a text-analytic study. Next, a follow-up line of inquiry could contrast motive allocations across different forms of political participation, such as for protests (very visible), campaign contributions, and social media commentary (less visible). Finally, expanding these queries in a comparative setting could be promising, by seeking variation in institutional and political context factors. There is previous turnout work that has marked on empirical regularities, such as increased turnout with close elections and stricter compulsory voting laws, increased turnout under proportional systems, and general declining trends in turnout levels (e.g., Abrams et al., 2010Aldrich, 1993Edlin et al., 2007). These regularities should concord with any assumed microfoundation for voting, including its psychological dimensions.

Overall, we have not reintroduced a catchall “taste for voting,” but rather carefully identified and offered evidence for key drivers for voting that stem from some of our most fundamental needs. Our study uncovers that turnout behavior responds similarly to those sentiments we might expect when an exchange involves relational goods. By fleshing out the motives for voting within a broader spectrum of activities, we have also gained a better understanding of what distinctively drives voting.