Saturday, October 24, 2020

From 2014... Perceptions of actual sex differences may play a more important role than culturally based gender roles and socialization processes

From 2014... Gender Stereotypes of Personality: Universal and Accurate? Corinna E. Löckenhoff et al. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, January 30, 2014.

Abstract: Numerous studies have documented subtle but consistent sex differences in self-reports and observer-ratings of five-factor personality traits, and such effects were found to show well-defined developmental trajectories and remarkable similarity across nations. In contrast, very little is known about perceived gender differences in five-factor traits in spite of their potential implications for gender biases at the interpersonal and societal level. In particular, it is not clear how perceived gender differences in five-factor personality vary across age groups and national contexts and to what extent they accurately reflect assessed sex differences in personality. To address these questions, we analyzed responses from 3,323 individuals across 26 nations (mean age = 22.3 years, 31% male) who were asked to rate the five-factor personality traits of typical men or women in three age groups (adolescent, adult, and older adult) in their respective nations. Raters perceived women as slightly higher in openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness as well as some aspects of extraversion and neuroticism. Perceived gender differences were fairly consistent across nations and target age groups and mapped closely onto assessed sex differences in self- and observer-rated personality. Associations between the average size of perceived gender differences and national variations in sociodemographic characteristics, value systems, or gender equality did not reach statistical significance. Findings contribute to our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of gender stereotypes of personality and suggest that perceptions of actual sex differences may play a more important role than culturally based gender roles and socialization processes.

Keywords: personality, gender/sex roles, developmental: child/adolescent, developmental: elderly

Heterosexuals that react in a negative manner when pondering or experiencing romantic or sexual overtures from persons of their same sex do so because of sexual prejudice & gender conforming reputation desire

Heterosexual People’s Reactions to Same-Sex Romantic or Sexual Overtures: The Role of Attitudes About Sexual Orientation and Gender. Laurel R. Davis-Delano, Sophie L. Kuchynka, Jennifer K. Bosson & Elizabeth M. Morgan. Archives of Sexual Behavior volume 49, pages 2561–2573, Aug 26 2020.

Abstract: Why do some heterosexual people react in a negative manner when pondering or experiencing romantic or sexual overtures from persons of their same-sex, whereas other heterosexual people react more positively? To answer this question, this cross-sectional, correlational study examined individual difference predictors of heterosexual people’s responses to romantic or sexual overtures from same-sex persons. Our sample comprised 306 men and 307 women, ages 18–35 years, who were recruited from Mechanical Turk and identified as cisgender and heterosexual. Our hypotheses were premised on the theoretical construct of reactive group distinctiveness. Specifically, we explored predictors of heterosexual individuals’ negative perceptions of same-sex overtures. We found that more negative reactions to same-sex overtures were uniquely predicted by old-fashioned sexual prejudice, modern sexual prejudice, and desire to be perceived as gender conforming, via the mediators of social distance from same-sex sexual minority individuals and desire to be perceived as heterosexual. Gender moderated these relationships inconsistently. These findings indicate that two classes of individual differences—sexual prejudice and gender conforming reputation desire—are uniquely associated with heterosexual persons’ reactions to overtures from same-sex persons. We explain how these findings evidence the process of reactive group distinctiveness.

Two samples of male Croatian adolescents: We found no evidence that impersonal sexuality & pornography use increased the odds of subsequently reporting sexual aggression—regardless of participants’ predisposed risk

Testing the Confluence Model of the Association Between Pornography Use and Male Sexual Aggression: A Longitudinal Assessment in Two Independent Adolescent Samples from Croatia. Taylor Kohut, Ivan Landripet & Aleksandar Štulhofer. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Oct 20 2020.

Abstract: According to confluence model theorizing, pornography use contributes to sexual violence, but only among men who are predisposed to sexual aggression. Support for this assertion is limited to cross-sectional research, which cannot speak to the temporal ordering of assumed causes and consequences. To address this issue, we employed generalized linear mixed modeling to determine whether hostile masculinity, impersonal sexuality, and pornography use, and their interactions, predicted change in the odds of subsequently reported sexual aggression in two independent panel samples of male Croatian adolescents (N1 = 936 with 2808 observations; N2 = 743 with 2972 observations). While we observed the link between hostile masculinity and self-reported sexual aggression in both panels, we found no evidence that impersonal sexuality and pornography use increased the odds of subsequently reporting sexual aggression—regardless of participants’ predisposed risk. This study’s findings are difficult to reconcile with the view that pornography use plays a causal role in male sexual violence.

The new enthusiasm with which the media and health authorities are celebrating masturbation may be a desirable step toward further destigmatizing and normalizing solo sex; ditto with sex toys (although robots are excluded)

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Males who frequently engaged in extreme binges had exaggerated deficits on one of the visuospatial tasks, as did their female counterparts on the social-cognitive task, suggesting sex-specific vulnerabilities

Frequency of Recent Binge Drinking Is Associated With Sex-Specific Cognitive Deficits: Evidence for Condition-Dependent Trait Expression in Humans. Liana S. E. Hone et al. Evolutionary Psychology, October-December 2020: 1–13.

Abstract: Evolutionary theory suggests that commonly found sex differences are largest in healthy populations and smaller in populations that have been exposed to stressors. We tested this idea in the context of men’s typical advantage (vs. women) in visuospatial abilities (e.g., mental rotation) and women’s typical advantage (vs. men) in social-cognitive (e.g., facial-expression decoding) abilities, as related to frequent binge drinking. Four hundred nineteen undergraduates classified as frequent or infrequent binge drinkers were assessed in these domains. Trial-level multilevel models were used to test a priori Sex  Group (binge drinking) interactions for visuospatial and social-cognitive tasks. Among infrequent binge drinkers, men’s typical advantage in visuospatial abilities and women’s typical advantage in social-cognitive abilities was confirmed. Among frequent binge drinkers, men’s advantage was reduced for one visuospatial task (delta d = 0.29) and eliminated for another (delta d = 0.75), and women’s advantage on the social-cognitive task was eliminated (delta d = 0.12). Males who frequently engaged in extreme binges had exaggerated deficits on one of the visuospatial tasks, as did their female counterparts on the social-cognitive task. The results suggest sex-specific vulnerabilities associated with recent, frequent binge drinking, and support an evolutionary approach to the study of these vulnerabilities.

Keywords: sex differences, sexual selection, alcohol, binge drinking, cognitive deficits, vulnerabilities


There is now consistent evidence that men generally have better developed visuospatial abilities than women (e.g., Hyde, 2005; Jones et al., 2003; Lawton, 2010; MacDonald & Hewlett, 1999), whereas women generally have better developed socialcognitive skills than men (e.g., Hall, 1984; Merten, 2005; Thompson & Voyer, 2014). The magnitude of these sex differences varies across context, and an evolutionary perspective can situate these contextual influences in the framework of sexual selection (Darwin, 1871). Sexual selection in the context of human evolution includes visuospatial (favoring men) and social-cognitive (favoring women) sex differences that confer advantages in competition for mates or other reproductively important resources and discriminative mate choice under favorable conditions (Geary, 2021). Following Zahavi (1975) and research on condition-dependent trait expression in nonhuman species (Cotton et al., 2004; Johnstone, 1995), Geary (2015, 2019) proposed that these sex differences are condition dependent in humans, such that their development and expression is a reliable indicator of exposure to, and resistance to degradation by stressors. The current study is the first to directly test this hypothesis in humans, and to propose that recent, frequent binge drinking acts as a neurotoxic stressor disrupting cognitive abilities in sex-specific ways. The typical advantages of men in visuospatial abilities (Voyer et al., 1995) and of women in social-cognitive abilities (Hall, 1984; Thompson & Voyer, 2014) were replicated among a group of emerging adults who never or rarely engaged in binge drinking in the past month. These sex differences were greatly attenuated or even reversed in a group of emerging adults who at least occasionally engaged in binge drinking in the recent past. Given the prevalence of binge drinking in this population—current estimates place the percentage of college student binge drinkers at 40%–50% (Croteau & Morrell, 2019; Krieger et al., 2018)—these findings suggest that sex-specific deficits among college students might be widespread. Recent data also indicate that although the prevalence of binge drinking among adolescents has declined in recent years (Chung et al., 2018), emerging and young adults are engaging in more binge drinking than in the past, reflecting a secular shift in the age of peak binge drinking (Patrick et al., 2019). These high prevalence rates and increasing age of peak heavy episodic drinking are especially concerning in light of the current findings, given that mate competition and choice are most intense during this developmental period. During the years that coincide with elevated binge drinking rates, competition for mating-relevant resources peaks and creates a period of high risk and high reward with regard to engaging in mating effort (Hill & Chow, 2002). Indeed, binge drinking may be an attractive risk-taking behavior to emerging adults in part because it serves as a costly social signal with the potential to yield high gain in a competitive mating market (Aung et al., 2019). As would be expected of sexually selected costly signals (Zahavi, 1975), our findings highlight that binge drinking does indeed come with costs. Under natural conditions, condition-dependent traits are vulnerable to chronic malnutrition, disease, or social conflict and appear to be more sensitive to man-made toxins than other traits (see Geary, 2015, 2019). Although heavy episodic exposure to ethyl alcohol might not be as detrimental as chronic exposure to natural stressors or many other toxins, chronic, heavy exposure to alcohol can result in short-term and sometimes longer-term but subtle deficits in memory and cognition (e.g., Goudriaan et al., 2007). Binge drinking might then reveal sex-specific vulnerabilities in visuospatial and social-cognitive abilities. Some previous studies of alcohol use have assessed similar abilities but sex differences are not always reported (Folgueira-Ares et al., 2017). When they are reported, the pattern of sex-specific deficits is mixed (Haut et al., 1989; Weissenborn & Duka, 2003). These prior studies often have been based on relatively small samples and have used standard neuropsychological measures that typically are not optimal for assessing sex-specific deficits. For instance, there are often small sex differences in spatial working memory and pattern recognition (tasks found in the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery; CANTAB), but sex differences on these tasks are smaller than those found for tasks used in the current study. The difference is important because from an evolutionary perspective, sex-specific vulnerabilities generally will be more evident for traits with larger sex differences (Geary, 2017). Our results provide preliminary evidence in support of this hypothesis. Men’s advantage on both visuospatial tasks was smaller among frequent binge drinkers than among infrequent binge drinkers and non-drinkers. Moreover, there was evidence for a dose-response effect for mental rotation, whereby very high and frequent exposures to ethyl alcohol (extreme binges) were related to worse performance, but only among men. At the same time, these same men did not show exaggerated deficits in the speed of identifying emotions displayed in facial Hone et al. 9 expressions. In judging line angles and position, binge drinking women were more accurate than were binge drinking men, a reversal of the standard sex difference in visuospatial abilities and of our findings for infrequent binge drinkers. We did not, however, find evidence for a dose-response effect for this measure. It is possible that men’s performance on this spatial measure is disrupted by more moderate levels of alcohol exposure with no further deficits emerging with added exposures, but this remains to be determined. In contrast, women who recently engaged in frequent binge drinking did not show visuospatial deficits relative to women who had not engaged in binge drinking, but they were slower at identifying emotions displayed in facial expressions, especially the expressions of other women. Men often display an advantage, relative to women, in judging anger on the faces of other men (see Geary, 2015). Here, this effect did not emerge for facial-expression decoding accuracy, or for reaction time. It is possible that the task used here did not include a sufficient number of angry male faces to provide a powerful test of this effect (which was not a primary focus of this study). There also was evidence of a dose-response effect in this measure, restricted to women. That is, women who frequently engaged in extreme binges were slower at emotion detection than were other women, but these same extreme binge drinking women did not show exaggerated deficits for mental rotation. This pattern is essentially a mirror image of that observed among men who frequently engaged in extreme binges. Nevertheless, follow-up studies with larger sample sizes of binge drinkers are need to determine if there are indeed sex-specific doseresponse effects for visuospatial and social-cognitive abilities. The overall pattern of sex-specific deficits found here is consistent with the expression of condition-dependent traits in other species (Cotton et al., 2004; Johnstone, 1995), and supports the more general hypothesis that the sex differences in visuospatial and social-cognitive abilities stem from different patterns of intrasexual competition among our male and female ancestors, respectively (Geary, 2015; Geary et al., 2014). Although this study was designed based on established predictions (Geary, 2015, 2019) that provided for a priori hypothesis testing based on well-established patterns in nonhuman species, the study provides only a quasi-experimental test of those predictions. It is possible that the differences we observed across frequent and infrequent binge drinkers preceded recent drinking episodes, as suggested by modestly lower vocabulary scores among the binge drinkers. If there were broader cognitive differences across the drinking groups, however, then the frequent binge drinkers should have performed more poorly than infrequent binge drinkers on all cognitive tasks, independent of sex and not in a sex-specific manner. Moreover, because vocabulary is a good indicator of general intelligence, any binge drinking group differences on the visuospatial and social-cognitive tasks should have disappeared with statistical control of vocabulary scores, but they did not. Different psychopathologies can also affect cognitive performance, for instance psychomotor slowing of responding in subjects with depression and anxiety (Bennabi et al., 2013; Gualtieri & Morgan, 2008). While we did not measure this in our study, and therefore could not fully control for this potential third variable, it is an interesting hypothesis to pursue in future studies. Concomitant drug use was also not measured, but can still influence cognitive performance (Davis et al., 2002; Quednow, 2017). It is currently unknown if drug use mitigates the interactive effects found here, or has an additive effect along with binge drinking frequency. Additionally, and as always, readers should interpret the results presented here with care in terms of multiple comparisons and post-hoc contrasts. Future research would benefit from the use of a longitudinal design that would permit assessment of changes in performance on measures of purported sexually selected traits over time, as a function of changes in binge drinking frequency. Although also not an experimental design, this kind of approach would permit stronger inferences regarding the role of recent binge drinking frequency by accounting for any preexisting differences across participants in their baseline levels of performance. Findings from such a study would further advance understanding of the extent to which exposure to this very common neurocognitive stressor specifically impairs abilities that evolutionary theory posits to be critical for sexual selection success. Despite these caveats, our results are unique and speak to the utility of using sexual selection as a means to identify and study sex-specific vulnerabilities, not just those associated with binge drinking but with exposure to myriad other potential stressors and toxins. 

Behavioral gender differences are reinforced during the COVID-19 crisis

Behavioral gender differences are reinforced during the COVID-19 crisis. Tobias Reisch et al. arXiv Oct 8, 2020.

Abstract: Behavioral gender differences are known to exist for a wide range of human activities including the way people communicate, move, provision themselves, or organize leisure activities. Using mobile phone data from 1.2 million devices in Austria (15% of the population) across the first phase of the COVID-19 crisis, we quantify gender-specific patterns of communication intensity, mobility, and circadian rhythms. We show the resilience of behavioral patterns with respect to the shock imposed by a strict nation-wide lock-down that Austria experienced in the beginning of the crisis with severe implications on public and private life. We find drastic differences in gender-specific responses during the different phases of the pandemic. After the lock-down gender differences in mobility and communication patterns increased massively, while sleeping patterns and circadian rhythms tend to synchronize. In particular, women had fewer but longer phone calls than men during the lock-down. Mobility declined massively for both genders, however, women tend to restrict their movement stronger than men. Women showed a stronger tendency to avoid shopping centers and more men frequented recreational areas. After the lock-down, males returned back to normal quicker than women; young age-cohorts return much quicker. Differences are driven by the young and adolescent population. An age stratification highlights the role of retirement on behavioral differences. We find that the length of a day of men and women is reduced by one hour. We discuss the findings in the light of gender-specific coping strategies in response to stress and crisis.

Tightwads (those who rank themselves as tightwads, laptop users who sit long hours over a single cup of coffee, cab drivers who fail to turn on air-conditioning on a hot day) cheat more than other people to avoid spending money

Do tightwads cheat more? Evidence from three field experiments. Yossef Tobol, Erez Siniver, Gideon Yaniv. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Volume 180, December 2020, Pages 148-158.


• Three field studies are designed to explore a connection between tightwads and cheating.

• The 1st study views tightwads as mall shoppers who rank themselves as tightwads.

• The 2nd study views tightwads as laptop users who sit long hours over a single cup of coffee.

• The 3rd study views tightwads as cab drivers who fail to turn on air-conditioning on a hot day.

• All three studies find that tightwads cheat more than other people to avoid spending money.

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: The paper reports the results of three field experiments designed to inquire whether tightwads, defined in the eco-psych literature as people who feel intense pain at the prospect of spending money, are more likely to cheat than other people in order to avoid paying. In the first experiment, passersby at a Tel-Aviv shopping mall were asked to answer a questionnaire that determined their pain of paying level. They were thereafter invited to perform an "inverse" version of the die-under-the-cup (DUTC) task that incentivized under-reporting of the actual die outcome to avoid paying money. In the second experiment, laptop users at Tel-Aviv coffee shops, who may unabashedly work long hours over a single cup of coffee, were offered to perform the inverse DUTC task upon leaving the shop and after recording the time and money they spent there. The third experiment was conducted with Jerusalem cab drivers, many of whom avoid turning on their air conditioning systems on hot summer days. The experiment involved riding both air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned cabs in Jerusalem and offering drivers, at the end of the ride, to perform the inverse DUTC task. In all three experiments, tightwaddism was found to have a statistically significant positive effect on cheating. The experimental findings are supported by a rational-choice model that predicts that cheating increases with the pain of spending money.

Key words: TightwadsPain of payingCheatingDie-under-the-cup task

Subjects in a Milgram experiment who were asked to shock the “learner” with high voltage straight away were more obedient than those who reached high voltage gradually, refuting the "foot-in-the-door" interpretation

Multiple Feet-in-the-Door and Obedience. Tomasz Grzyb & Dariusz Dolinsk. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, Oct 22 2020.

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: Gilbert’s hypothesis regarding the possible effect of the feet-in-the-door procedure on obedience to an authority figure in Milgram’s paradigm was tested in the course of two studies. Neither the first experiment, conducted in a laboratory (N = 80), which was a true copy of the model proposed by Milgram, nor the second study, conducted online (N = 485), validated Gilbert’s hypothesis. Actually, the results demonstrated the opposite–fewer of those subjects who were asked to shock the “learner” with high voltage straight away refused to follow the order than those who reached the same voltage level gradually. In Study 2, we also tested the hypothesis regarding the role of a postponement as a factor in decreasing one’s obedience.

Participants were generally dismissive of general rules that prioritize more socially beneficial individuals, such as doctors instead of unemployed people but were more supportive of decisions to save a single more beneficial person

Caviola, Lucius, Stefan Schubert, and Andreas Mogensen. 2020. “Should You Save the More Useful? the Effect of Generality on Moral Judgments About Rescue and Indirect Effects.” PsyArXiv. October 23. doi:10.31234/

Rolf Degen's take: 

Abstract: Across eight experiments (N = 2,310), we studied whether people would prioritize rescuing individuals who may be thought to contribute more to society. We found that participants were generally dismissive of general rules that prioritize more socially beneficial individuals, such as doctors instead of unemployed people. By contrast, participants were more supportive of one-off decisions to save the life of a more socially beneficial individual, even when such cases were the same as those covered by the rule. This generality effect occurred robustly even when controlling for various factors. It occurred when the decision-maker was the same in both cases, when the pairs of people differing in the extent of their indirect social utility was varied, when the scenarios were varied, when the participant samples came from different countries, and when the general rule only covered cases that are exactly the same as the situation described in the one-off condition. The effect occurred even when the general rule was introduced via a concrete precedent case. Participants’ tendency to be more supportive of the one-off proposal than the general rule was significantly reduced when they evaluated the two proposals jointly as opposed to separately. Finally, the effect also occurred in sacrificial moral dilemmas, suggesting it is a more general phenomenon in certain moral contexts. We discuss possible explanations of the effect, including concerns about negative consequences of the rule and a deontological aversion against making difficult trade-off decisions unless they are absolutely necessary.