Friday, November 13, 2020

The marginalization of children and childhood, it is proposed, has obscured our understanding of how cultural forms emerge and why they are sustained

From 2002... Why Don't Anthropologists Like Children? Lawrence A. Hirschfeld. American Anthropologist, June 2002.

Abstract: Few major works in anthropology focus specifically on children, a curious state of affairs given that virtually all contemporary anthropology is based on the premise that culture is learned, not inherited. Although children have a remarkable and undisputed capacity for learning generally, and learning culture in particular, in significant measure anthropology has shown little interest in them and their lives. This article examines the reasons for this lamentable lacunae and offers theoretical and empirical reasons for repudiating it. Resistance to child‐focused scholarship, it is argued, is a byproduct of (1) an impoverished view of cultural learning that overestimates the role adults play and underestimates the contribution that children make to cultural reproduction, and (2) a lack of appreciation of the scope and force of children's culture, particularly in shaping adult culture. The marginalization of children and childhood, it is proposed, has obscured our understanding of how cultural forms emerge and why they are sustained. Two case studies, exploring North American children's beliefs about social contamination, illustrate these points. 

Keywords: anthropology of childhood, children's culture, acquisition of cultural knowledge, race

David Schmitt summarizing... Very skinny men are viewed as a little more likely to be "kinky" or "prudish" (wait, what?)

The Influence of Body Shape on Impressions of Sexual Traits. Flora Oswald, Amanda Champion & Cory L. Pedersen. The Journal of Sex Research, Nov 12 2020.

David Schmitt's take:

Abstract: The assumptions people make from body shape can have serious implications for the well-being of the individuals inhabiting such bodies. Fat people are subject to pervasive and resilient social stigma and discrimination, leading to negative mental and physical health outcomes, including negative sexuality-related outcomes. Though previous studies have examined the personality traits attributed to, or the sexual attractiveness of, varying body shapes, no research has asked participants to make attributions of sexual traits to varying body shapes. The purpose of this study was thus to examine sexuality-related trait inferences made from body shapes. Participants (N = 891, 70% women, M age = 25.28) were randomly assigned to view 5 computer-generated 3-dimensional body models of varying shapes developed using the skinned multi-person linear model. Participants rated their sexual attraction to each body and the degree to which each of 30 traits (10 personality and 20 sexual) applied. Results demonstrated that larger bodies are generally viewed as less sexually attractive. Further, constellations of sexuality traits were predicted reliably by body shape, demonstrating that people hold sexual stereotypes about a diverse range of body shapes. This study provides an initial comprehensive demonstration of the sexuality-specific traits associated with varying body shapes.

The sexual selection of young American females may have shifted via exposure to media images of extreme male physiques; they seem to prefer mating with better bodies than before, as men already did

Does Exercise Make Me More Attractive? Exploring the Relations Between Exercise and Mate Value. Urska Dobersek, Bridget Stallings, Gabrielle C. Wy, Charleen R. Case & Jon K. Maner. Evolutionary Psychological Science, Nov 13 2020.

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: Sexual selection in human evolution is well-established. Females are relatively more inclined than males to prefer mates that exhibit physical and social dominance (e.g., muscular, financially successful men); whereas males are relatively more inclined than females to seek mates displaying signs of high reproductive potential (e.g., young, attractive women). Given that physical training has the potential to improve traits related to sexual selection in both males and females, we examined if exercise habits altered assessments of mate value in a cross-sectional analysis of 265 undergraduate students. Participants completed a demographic questionnaire, an “Exercise Habits Inventory,” and a “Mate Value Inventory” for the assessment of the characteristics desired in their “ideal” mates and for self-perceptions of intrinsic mate value. Consistent with prior research, females preferred mates who were independent and generous, and both males and females preferred physically attractive mates. Females, independent of exercise frequency, were more selective than males as evidenced by a desire for “ideal” partners with a significantly higher mate value. Moreover, more frequent exercisers, independent of sex, had significantly higher self-perceived mate value than less frequent exercisers. Finally, a pattern consistent with theories of assortative mating was demonstrated via a significant positive relation between self-perceptions and the mate value of “ideal” partners.


Those who had a therapist discuss the possibility of repressed memory were 28.6 times more likely to report recovered memories; of those who reported recovered memories, 60% cut off contact with some of their family

Reports of Recovered Memories in Therapy in Undergraduate Students. Lawrence Patihis et al. Psychological Reports, November 11, 2020.

Abstract: Psychologists have debated the wisdom of recovering traumatic memories in therapy that were previously unknown to the client, with some concerns over accuracy and memory distortions. The current study surveyed a sample of 576 undergraduates in the south of the United States. Of 188 who reported attending therapy or counselling, 8% reported coming to remember memories of abuse, without any prior recollection of that abuse before therapy. Of those who reported recovered memories, 60% cut off contact with some of their family. Within those who received therapy, those who had a therapist discuss the possibility of repressed memory were 28.6 times more likely to report recovered memories, compared to those who received therapy without such discussion. These findings mirror a previous survey of US adults and suggest attempts to recover repressed memories in therapy may continue in the forthcoming generation of adults.

Keywords: Recovered memory, childhood abuse, psychotherapy, memory wars, repressed memory, dissociative amnesia

Moral Outrage and Punishment in Response to (even Minor) Alterations to Rituals

Stein, Daniel, Juliana Schroeder, Nick Hobson, Francesca Gino, and Michael I. Norton. 2020. “When Alterations Are Violations: Moral Outrage and Punishment in Response to (even Minor) Alterations to Rituals.” PsyArXiv. November 12. doi:10.1037/pspi0000352.supp

Abstract: From Catholics performing the sign of the cross since the fourth century to Americans reciting the Pledge of Allegiance since the 1890s, group rituals (i.e., predefined sequences of symbolic actions) have strikingly consistent features over time. Seven studies (N = 4,213) document the sacrosanct nature of rituals: Because group rituals symbolize sacred group values, even minor alterations to them provoke moral outrage and punishment. In Pilot Studies A and B, fraternity members who failed to complete initiation activities that were more ritualistic elicited relatively greater moral outrage and hazing from their fraternity brothers. Study 1 uses secular holiday rituals to explore the dimensions of ritual alteration—both physical and psychological—that elicit moral outrage. Study 2 demonstrates that altering a ritual elicits outrage even beyond the extent to which the ritual alteration is seen as violating descriptive and injunctive norms. In Study 3, group members who viewed male circumcision as more ritualistic (i.e., Jewish versus Muslim participants) expressed greater moral outrage in response to a proposal to alter circumcision to make it safer. Study 4 uses the Pledge of Allegiance ritual to explore how the intentions of the person altering the ritual influence observers’ moral outrage and punishment. Finally, in Study 5, even minor alterations elicited comparable levels of moral outrage to major alterations of the Jewish Passover ritual. Across both religious and secular rituals, the more ingroup members believed that rituals symbolize sacred group values, the more they protected their rituals—by punishing those who violate them.