Friday, November 6, 2020

Within-person grade variability was largely unstable across subjects & ages & not associated with any of 15 variables that typically explain between-person differences in school performance (e.g. IQ, socioeconomic status, personality traits)

Wright, Megan, and Sophie von Stumm. 2020. “Within-person Variability in School Performance.” PsyArXiv. November 6. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Although thought to be substantial, within-person variability in school grades has not been systematically studied. Here we analysed data from the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS; Nmax = 11,132) to describe within-person variability across grades in English, maths, and science from age 7 to 16 years. We found that within-person grade variability was largely unstable across subjects and ages. Within-person grade variability at age 16 was not associated with any of 15 variables that typically explain between-person differences in school performance (e.g. IQ, socioeconomic status, and personality traits). Also, within-person grade variability did not predict later educational outcomes at ages 18 and 21. Our findings suggest that within-person grade variability is an observable, but not meaningful psychological construct. We conclude that understanding the causes and consequences of within-person grade variability is of limited epistemological value.

Fukushima Daiichi: Each standard deviation increase in the influx of temporarily relocated survivors within 100 m of a resident’s home address was associated with a decrease in their trust in both people from their community and outside of it

Evaluation of Trust Within a Community After Survivor Relocation Following the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Krisztina Gero et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(11):e2021166. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.21166

Key Points

Question  How is the movement of internally displaced survivors in the aftermath of a disaster associated with perceived trust towards others within a host community?

Findings  In this cohort study that included 3250 adults aged 65 years or older, each standard deviation increase in the influx of temporarily relocated survivors within 100 m of a resident’s home address was associated with a decrease in their trust in both people from their community and outside of it.

Meaning  The findings of this study suggest that opportunities for social interaction between old and new residents of host communities may be crucial for maintaining social trust.


Importance  Trust is a core component of social cohesion, facilitating cooperation and collective action in the face of adversity and enabling survivors to remain resilient. Residential stability is an important prerequisite of developing trusting relations among community members. However, little is known about whether the movement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) after a disaster might change community relations.

Objective  We explored perceived changes in trust within 1 community directly impacted by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This prospective cohort study examined survey data from 3594 residents of Iwanuma City, Japan, aged 65 years or older. Data were obtained from the Iwanuma Study—part of the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study, a nationwide cohort study established in 2010—approximately 7 months before the disaster. All Iwanuma City residents age 65 years or older (8576 residents) were eligible to participate in 2010. The response rate was 59.0% (5058 residents). A follow-up survey was conducted in 2013, approximately 2.5 years after the disaster. Of the 4380 remaining participants who answered the baseline survey, 3594 were recontacted (follow-up rate, 82.1%). Data analysis was performed from July 1, 2019, to January 9, 2020.

Exposures  The number of temporarily relocated Iwanuma City survivors within 100 m and 250 m of a nonrelocated resident’s home address.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Perceived changes in particularized trust (ie, trusting people from the same community) and generalized trust (trusting people from other communities) measured on a 5-point Likert scale.

Results  Among 3250 nonrelocated residents (1808 [55.6%] women; mean [SD] age, 76.5 [6.2] years) of Iwanuma City included in the analytic sample, multivariable-adjusted multinomial logistic regression analyses found that each standard deviation increase in the influx of internally displaced persons (1 SD = 11 IDPs) within 250 m of a resident’s home address was associated with higher odds of a decrease in the resident’s particularized and generalized trust (odds ratio, 1.17; 95% CI, 1.04-1.32).

Conclusions and Relevance  The influx of IDPs in the host community appeared to be associated with an erosion of trust among locals. To avoid the erosion of social cohesion after a disaster, it may be crucial to provide opportunities for social interaction between old and new residents of communities.


Our study found that after the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, the influx of IDPs to another community was associated with weakening of both generalized and local trust, suggesting that the concentration of IDPs within a temporary shelter village (as happened in Iwanuma) may have a particularly detrimental effect on social cohesion.

Building trust between residents of a community depends on repeated social interactions over an extended period of time, whereas exposure to outsiders or out-groups can trigger conflict and mistrust.20 In a 2007 study, Putnam26 found that the influx of immigrants in communities can spur perceived competition over scarce resources (eg, housing, schools), ultimately resulting in reduced community cooperation and altruism, as well as lower trust not only in people perceived as different, but also in those who are perceived as similar. This study found that internal forced migration after a disaster, even within the same city from 1 district to another, might also lead to the erosion of the trust of nonrelocated residents in people from other communities as well as in people from the same community.

Previously, we reported that relocating IDPs together as a group, as opposed to randomly housing them throughout the community, can be an effective means of preserving social connections and strengthening the resilience of disaster survivors.10 However, the same policy may also inadvertently promote erosion of trust between older residents of the host community and newcomers.

We have therefore identified a potential dilemma in postdisaster resettlement. Our previous studies10,27,28 have reported that the resettlement of survivors needs to take into account the preexisting social ties within a disaster-effected community in order to prevent the loss of communality associated with widespread housing destruction. In Iwanuma, the city offered 2 different means of relocation to temporary housing to survivors. People could choose between individual relocation—moving to public housing by a random lottery or seeking housing in the open rental market—or group relocation, in which whole communities would be moved together as a group into prefabricated temporary housing villages (resembling FEMA-style trailer parks in the US). Families who wanted to escape the emergency shelters as soon as possible selected the individual option, so they could leave the shelters as soon as their number came up on the lottery. However, this mode of resettlement had the unintended consequence of disrupting existing social connections in the community and scattering the residents randomly throughout the trailer settlement. We previously found that people selecting the lottery option reported lower levels of social participation and social support.10,28 By contrast, people selecting group resettlement were even more likely to be engaged in informal social participation 3 years after the disaster compared with before the disaster.10 However, as the result of our present analysis suggests, the option of moving large numbers of IDPs together and concentrating them into 1 location may lead to greater friction with established residents of host communities.


Several limitations need to be considered while interpreting the findings of this study. First, although we controlled for socioeconomic status, depressive symptoms, and personal disaster experiences, there may be residual confounders that we failed to take into account. Second, the number of nonrelocated participants reporting much weaker trust after the earthquake is quite small (12 participants), resulting in relatively wide 95% CIs around the point estimates. Therefore, the results have to be interpreted with caution. Third, because of the uneven distribution of displaced survivors in the community, we were unable to determine the precise threshold between 8 and 21 IDPs when the erosion of trust began to occur. The results suggest that the resettlement of a few scattered individuals in a community was not associated with changes in on local trust. The erosion of trust seemed to appear when larger numbers of people moved in. Fourth, we do not have information on the residential movements of people younger than 65 years, which might not be correlated with the movement of people aged 65 years or older. On the other hand, two-thirds of the population of the city of Iwanuma were aged 65 years or older before the disaster, and the age structure of IDPs was similar. Fifth, it is not clear how participants define people from their community and people from other communities. By 2013, when the question was asked, IDPs had spent approximately 2.5 years in their new environment. Thus, the respondents may have perceived the displaced population as either people from their own community or as outsiders. Hence, the 2 questions about trust might not have distinguished between particularized and generalized trust, which would also explain the similarity of the corresponding OR estimates. Also, perceived change in trust was measured based on 1 question instead of a multi-item scale, which hindered a more precise assessment of trust levels among the respondents. Sixth, the question of the generalizability of our results needs to be considered due to the relatively low response rate (59%) on the baseline survey. However, previous reports based on the JAGES study confirmed that the demographic profile of the participants is similar to the rest of the residents aged 65 years or more in Iwanuma City.7,10 Moreover, a 59% response rate is comparable with other studies on community-dwelling respondents.29

Confidence is sexy and it can be trained: Examining male social confidence in initial, opposite‐sex interactions

Confidence is sexy and it can be trained: Examining male social confidence in initial, opposite‐sex interactions. Norman P. Li  Jose C. Yong  Ming‐Hong Tsai  Mark H. C. Lai  Amy J. Y. Lim  Joshua M. Ackerman. Journal of Personality, June 8 2020.


Objective: We investigated whether men's social confidence in an initial, opposite‐sex chatting context can be improved through a video tutorial and the extent to which being perceived as socially confident results in being seen as more romantically desirable and worthy of future contact.

Method: Women chatted with men who had received or not received a tutorial on how to handle speed‐dating chats (Study 1: N = 129; Study 2: N = 60) or with male targets selected for having high versus moderate confidence in handling initial, opposite‐sex encounters (Study 3: N = 46).

Results: Tutorial‐trained men felt more confident going into the chats and they, as well as male targets selected for their confidence, were perceived by female chat partners to be higher in social confidence, status, and dominance. However, only perceptions of social confidence were further associated with being perceived as more romantically desirable (as a short‐term mate) and worthy of future contact.

Conclusions: Findings indicate that social confidence is trainable and that other‐perceived social confidence can impact the outcomes of social interactions.

That humans are the rational animal may be overstated; we're not so much rational animals but rather the rationalizing animal

Yong, J. C., Li, N. P., & Kanazawa, S. (2020). Not so much rational but rationalizing: Humans evolved as coherence-seeking, fiction-making animals. American Psychologist, Nov 2020.

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: The evidence for biased perceptions and judgments in humans coupled with evidence for ecological rationality in nonhuman animals suggest that the claim that humans are the rational animal may be overstated. We instead propose that discussions of human psychology may benefit from viewing ourselves not so much as rational animals but rather as the rationalizing animal. The current article provides evidence that rationalization is unique to humans and argues that rationalization processes (e.g., cognitive dissonance reduction, post hoc justification of choices, confabulation of reasons for moral positions) are aimed at creating the fictions we prefer to believe and maintaining the impression that we are psychologically coherent and rational. Coherence appears to be prioritized at the expense of veridicality, suggesting that distorted perceptions and appraisals can be adaptive for humans—under certain circumstances, we are better off understanding ourselves and reality not so accurately. Rationalization also underlies the various shared beliefs, religions, norms, and ideologies that have enabled humans to organize and coordinate their actions on a grand scale, for better or worse. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of this unique human psychological trait.

Human neonates prefer colostrum to mature milk; there is evidence for an olfactory bias toward the “initial milk”

Human neonates prefer colostrum to mature milk: Evidence for an olfactory bias toward the “initial milk”? Magali Klaey‐Tassone  Karine Durand  Fabrice Damon  Katrin Heyers  Nawel Mezrai  Bruno Patris  Paul Sagot  Robert Soussignan  Benoist Schaal  the MILKODOR Consortium. American Journal of Human Biology, November 5 2020.

Rolf Degen's take:


Objectives: Colostrum is the initial milk secretion which ingestion by neonates warrants their adaptive start in life. Colostrum is accordingly expected to be attractive to newborns. The present study aims to assess whether colostrum is olfactorily attractive for 2‐day‐old newborns when presented against mature milk or a control.

Methods: The head‐orientation of waking newborns was videotaped in three experiments pairing the odors of: (a) colostrum (sampled on postpartum day 2, not from own mother) and mature milk (sampled on average on postpartum day 32, not from own mother) (n tested newborns = 15); (b) Colostrum and control (water; n = 9); and (c) Mature milk and control (n = 13).

Results: When facing the odors of colostrum and mature milk, the infants turned their nose significantly longer toward former (32.8 vs 17.7% of a 120‐s test). When exposed to colostrum against the control, they responded in favor of colostrum (32.9 vs 16.6%). Finally, when the odor of mature milk was presented against the control, their response appeared undifferentiated (26.7 vs 28.6%).

Conclusions: These results indicate that human newborns can olfactorily differentiate conspecific lacteal fluids sampled at different lactation stages. They prefer the odor of the mammary secretion ‐ colostrum ‐ collected at the lactation stage that best matches the postpartum age of their own mother. These results are discussed in the context of the earliest mother‐infant chemo‐communication. Coinciding maternal emission and offspring reception of chemosignals conveyed in colostrum may be part of the sensory precursors of attunement between mothers and infants.

Expanding the Measurement of Culture with a Sample of Two Billion Humans: Facebook users across 225 jurisdictions, data on 60,000 topics

Obradovich, Nick, Ömer Özak, Ignacio Martín, Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín, Edmond Awad, Manuel Cebrián, Rubén Cuevas, et al. 2020. “Expanding the Measurement of Culture with a Sample of Two Billion Humans.” SocArXiv. September 9. doi:10.31235/

Abstract: Culture has played a pivotal role in human evolution. Yet, the ability of social scientists to study culture is limited by currently available measurement instruments. Scholars of culture must regularly choose between scalable but sparse survey-based methods or restricted but rich ethnographic methods. Here, we demonstrate that massive online social networks can advance the study of human culture by providing quantitative, scalable, and high-resolution measurement of behaviorally revealed cultural values and preferences. We employ publicly available data across nearly 60,000 topic dimensions drawn from two billion Facebook users across 225 countries and territories. The data capture preferences inferred by Facebook from online behaviours on the platform, behaviors on external websites and apps, and offline behaviours captured by smartphones and other devices. We first validate that cultural distances calculated from this measurement instrument correspond to survey-based and objective measures of cultural differences. We then demonstrate that this measure enables insight into the cultural landscape globally at previously impossible resolution. We analyze the importance of national borders in shaping culture and explore unique cultural markers that identify subnational population groups. The global collection of massive data on human behavior provides a high-dimensional complement to traditional cultural metrics, potentially enabling novel insight into fundamental questions in the social sciences. The measure enables detailed investigation into the countries’ geopolitical stability, social cleavages within both small and large-scale human groups, the integration of migrant populations, and the disaffection of certain population groups from the political process, among myriad other potential future applications.

US: Females are now more likely to report drinking and getting drunk in the past month than their male peers for the first time since researchers began measuring such behaviors

Gender Differences in the Epidemiology of Alcohol Use and Related Harms in the United States. Aaron White. American Academy of Anti-Aging, Preventative, and Regenerative Medicine, Nov 5 2020.

Over the past century, differences in alcohol use and related harms between males and females in the United States have diminished considerably. In general, males still consume more alcohol and experience and cause more alcohol-related injuries and deaths than females do, but the gaps are narrowing. Among adolescents and emerging adults, gaps in drinking have narrowed primarily because alcohol use among males has declined more than alcohol use among females. Among adults, alcohol use is increasing for women but not for men. Rates of alcohol-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths all have increased among adults during the past 2 decades. Consistent with the changing patterns of alcohol use, increases in these outcomes have been larger for women. Recent studies also suggest that females are more susceptible than males to alcohol-induced liver inflammation, cardiovascular disease, memory blackouts, hangovers, and certain cancers. Prevention strategies that address the increases in alcohol consumption and unique health risks for women are needed.


For at least a century, differences in the prevalence and amount of alcohol consumption between males and females in the United States have been narrowing.73-76 As a result, so have rates of alcohol-related harms, including DUIs, ED visits, hospitalizations, and deaths. Although men still account for more total alcohol consumption and the negative outcomes that follow, the gaps are slowly disappearing. In fact, among adolescents and emerging adults, females are now more likely to report drinking and getting drunk in the past month than their male peers for the first time since researchers began measuring such behaviors.

Importantly, it is not the case that women in the U.S. are simply drinking more like men. Instead, women and men appear to be moving toward one another in terms of drinking patterns and harms. Among adolescents and emerging adults, narrowing gaps are being driven primarily by faster declines in alcohol use by males than females. Among adults, gaps are narrowing primarily because women are drinking more while men are either drinking less or maintaining their levels.

Knowledge of the unique risks that alcohol poses for women—including an increased likelihood of memory blackouts and hangovers and a faster progression of liver disease and AUD—makes recent increases in alcohol use by women more concerning.77 Although alcohol use by pregnant women has declined, research regarding the impact of prenatal alcohol exposure has accelerated and suggests that relatively small amounts of alcohol can produce detectable changes in morphology and deficits in cognitive and motor function. It is important to consider the unique factors that might influence alcohol use among women, and the unique direct and secondhand health effects that alcohol poses for women, when developing prevention strategies to address alcohol use and related harms.