Thursday, November 26, 2020

We Are What We Watch: Movie Plots Predict the Personalities of Those Who “like” Them

Nave, Gideon, Jason Rentfrow, and Sudeep Bhatia. 2020. “We Are What We Watch: Movie Plots Predict the Personalities of Those Who “like” Them” PsyArXiv. November 26. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: The proliferation of media streaming services has increased the volume of personalized video consumption, allowing marketers to reach massive audiences and deliver a range of customized content at scale. However, relatively little is known about how consumers’ psychological makeup is manifested in their media preferences. The present paper addresses this gap in a preregistered study of the relationship between movie plots, quantified via user-generated keywords, and the aggregate personality profiles of those who “like” them on social media. We find that movie plots can be used to accurately predict aggregate fans’ personalities, above and beyond the demographic characteristics of fans, and general film characteristics such as quality, popularity, and genre. Further analysis reveals various associations between the movies’ psychological themes and their fans’ personalities, indicating congruence between the two. For example, films with keywords related to anxiety are liked more among people who are high in Neuroticism and low in Extraversion. In contrast, angry and violent movies are liked more by people who are low in Agreeableness. Our findings provide a fine-grained mapping between personality dimensions and preferences for media content, and demonstrate how these links can be leveraged for assessing audience psychographics at scale.

Significant gender differences in mental-rotation tests appeared only when male-stereotyped objects (cube figures) were used as rotational material, but not for female-stereotyped material

Influence of the stimulus material on gender differences in a mental-rotation test. Martina Rahe, Vera Ruthsatz & Claudia Quaiser-Pohl. Psychological Research, November 25 2020.

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: Gender differences in mental-rotation tests with cube figures as rotational material are well examined and robust. Besides biological or socialization factors, task characteristics could partly be responsible for men’s advantage in mental rotation. Therefore, we investigated in two studies the influence of different rotational materials on the gender differences in mental-rotation performance. In the first study, 134 undergraduate students (89 women, 45 men) participated using a mental-rotation test with either cube or pellet figures. Significant gender differences in favour of men but no interaction of gender and material were found. In the second study, 189 undergraduate students (110 women, 79 men) solved a mental-rotation test with either male or female-stereotyped objects. Significant gender differences appeared only when male-stereotyped objects were used as rotational material, but not for female-stereotyped material. A significant interaction of gender and material appeared. Hence, some rotational objects seem to have an influence on participants’ mental-rotation performance and the gender differences in this task while others do not affect performances of women and men.

The Heritability of Insomnia Is Approx 40pct: A Meta‐Analysis of Twin Studies

The Heritability of Insomnia: A Meta‐Analysis of Twin Studies. Nicola L. Barclay  Desi Kocevska  Wichor M. Bramer  Eus J. W. Van Someren  Philip Gehrman. Genes, Brain and Behavior, November 21 2020.

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: Twin studies of insomnia exhibit heterogeneity in estimates of heritability. This heterogeneity is likely due to sex differences, age of the sample, the reporter, and the definition of insomnia. The aim of the present study was to systematically search the literature for twin studies investigating insomnia disorder and insomnia symptoms and to meta‐analyse the estimates of heritability derived from these studies to generate an overall estimate of heritability. We further examined whether heritability was moderated by sex, age, reporter and insomnia symptom. A systematic literature search of 5 online databases was completed on January 24th 2020. Two authors independently screened 5,644 abstracts, and 160 complete papers for the inclusion criteria of twin studies from the general population reporting heritability statistics on insomnia or insomnia symptoms, written in English, reporting data from independent studies. We ultimately included 12 papers in the meta‐analysis. The meta‐analysis focussed on twin intra‐class correlations for monozygotic and dizygotic twins. Based on these intra‐class correlations, the meta‐analytic estimate of heritability was estimated at 40%. Moderator analyses demonstrated stronger heritability in females than males; and for parent‐reported insomnia symptoms compared to self‐reported insomnia symptoms. There were no other significant moderator effects, though this is likely due to the small number of studies that were comparable across levels of the moderators. Our meta‐analysis provides a robust estimate of the heritability of insomnia which can inform future research aiming to uncover molecular genetic factors involved in insomnia vulnerability.

Why do so few people share fake news? It hurts their reputation

Why do so few people share fake news? It hurts their reputation. Sacha Altay, Anne-Sophie Hacquin, Hugo Mercier. New Media & Society, November 24, 2020.

Abstract: In spite of the attractiveness of fake news stories, most people are reluctant to share them. Why? Four pre-registered experiments (N = 3,656) suggest that sharing fake news hurt one’s reputation in a way that is difficult to fix, even for politically congruent fake news. The decrease in trust a source (media outlet or individual) suffers when sharing one fake news story against a background of real news is larger than the increase in trust a source enjoys when sharing one real news story against a background of fake news. A comparison with real-world media outlets showed that only sources sharing no fake news at all had similar trust ratings to mainstream media. Finally, we found that the majority of people declare they would have to be paid to share fake news, even when the news is politically congruent, and more so when their reputation is at stake.

Keywords: Communication, fake news, misinformation, political bias, reputation, social media, source, trust

Check also It happened to a friend of a friend: inaccurate source reporting in rumour diffusion. Sacha Altay, Nicolas Claidière and Hugo Mercier. Evolutionary Human Sciences, 22020, e49, November 2020.

Questions are raised regarding the plausibility of certain reports with effect sizes comparable to, or in excess of, the effect sizes found in maximal positive controls

Maximal positive controls: A method for estimating the largest plausible effect size. Joseph Hilgard. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 93, March 2021, 104082.


• Some reported effect sizes are too big for the hypothesized process.

• Simple, obvious manipulations can reveal which effects are too big.

• A demonstration is provided examining an implausibly large effect.

Abstract: Effect sizes in social psychology are generally not large and are limited by error variance in manipulation and measurement. Effect sizes exceeding these limits are implausible and should be viewed with skepticism. Maximal positive controls, experimental conditions that should show an obvious and predictable effect, can provide estimates of the upper limits of plausible effect sizes on a measure. In this work, maximal positive controls are conducted for three measures of aggressive cognition, and the effect sizes obtained are compared to studies found through systematic review. Questions are raised regarding the plausibility of certain reports with effect sizes comparable to, or in excess of, the effect sizes found in maximal positive controls. Maximal positive controls may provide a means to identify implausible study results at lower cost than direct replication.

Keywords: Violent video gamesAggressionAggressive thoughtPositive controlsScientific self-correction

5. General discussion

Maximal positive controls can provide a cost-effective way to establish the upper bound of plausible effect sizes in a measure. These upper bounds can be useful in detecting errors in previously published literature. Although implausibly large effect sizes may indicate errors in data collection, errors in analysis, or even possible misconduct, it has been my experience that journals are reluctant to issue expressions of concern for implausibly large results. This reluctance may be caused by the difficulty in determining which results are “too big”—a subjective decision that depends on the judgments and expectations of individual researchers and editors. These individual judgments may be better aligned through the empirical support provided by the collection of maximal positive controls. In this way, maximal positive controls might help identify erroneous reports by providing an empirical estimate of how big is too big.

The three examples provided here revealed some possibly erroneous reports. Study 1 suggests that even the largest effect sizes observed on the story completion task should nevertheless be smaller than those repeatedly reported by Hasan et al., 2012Hasan et al., 2013Hasan et al., 2015. This indicates some manner of confound or error in the study. Because of this likely error, it is not clear that the inferences from Hasan et al. (2013) are correct: Violent video games might not increase hostile-world beliefs and aggressive behavior, hostile-world beliefs might not mediate effects of violent games on aggressive behavior, and effects of violent video games (if any) might not accumulate from day to day. To my knowledge, the only other such long-term experiment was that of Kühn et al. (2019), who observed that two months of Grand Theft Auto V caused an increase in word completion task scores, but no significant increase on a measure of aggressive world view, an aggressive-cognition lexical decision task, or the Buss-Perry aggression questionnaire. New research will be necessary to test these claims.

Study 3 similarly suggests that even the strongest aggressive-emotion Stroop effect should not exceed about 400 ms. A review of the literature finds a few aggression-emotion Stroop differences of comparable or greater magnitude (Smeijers et al., 2018Sun et al., 2019). There may be value in double-checking the accuracy of these reports.

In Study 2, by contrast, no studies using the word completion task approached the large effects found using maximal positive controls. Although individual differences in verbal skill may still represent a source of nuisance variance in this task, such differences do not seem to substantially limit the effect sizes one could obtain on this measure.

Researchers using these tasks may benefit from considering the effect size estimates in this study as benchmarks. For example, in the story completion task, if the difference between a peaceful architect and a mass murderer is d = 2.5, and the difference between that architect and an extreme sports enthusiast is d = 1.3, researchers should expect to find smaller effect sizes when using subtler manipulations and asking about the task's usual generic characters like “Todd” and “Jane.” Similarly, in the aggressive emotion Stroop, researchers should expect to find emotion Stroop effects of no more than 400 ms. When researchers estimate how many trials per participant or participants per study they should collect, reference to these estimates may help to inform power analyses by suggesting firm upper limits on even the most optimistic of effect size estimates. In the future, researchers may be able to develop heuristics about the typical ratio between an effect size observed in maximal positive control and in primary research.

One last practical suggestion can be made regarding the administration of the story completion task. Researchers can benefit from considering the influence of the different story stems, which elicited different mean scores. Although it is desirable to use multiple task stimuli to improve the task's generalizability, failing to model the effects of stimulus will leave those effects as error variance, reducing the effect size and degrading study power. The Condition × Scenario interaction suggests that the car accident scenario may be more sensitive than the other scenarios, perhaps by avoiding a floor effect.

Researchers are encouraged to use maximal positive controls to inspect the plausibility of effect sizes reported in their literatures. Maximal positive controls may be collected at lower cost than direct replications. Because maximal positive controls are deliberately dissimilar from original studies, they may also avoid some concerns common to direct replications such as omitted moderators (Stroebe & Strack, 2014), contextual sensitivity of effects (Van Bavel, Mende-Siedlecki, Brady, & Reinero, 2016), or the presence or absence of researcher “flair” (Baumeister, 2016). These concerns may avoided when there is a strong logical case that the maximal positive control should yield an effect strictly larger than the original work. Through the use of this method, researchers may learn more about the properties of their measurements, the range of plausible effect sizes, and the quality of research data, thereby facilitating faster scientific self-correction and improving the quality of data used in theory development.