Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Loosening the GRIP (Gender Roles Inhibiting Prosociality) to Promote Gender Equality

Loosening the GRIP (Gender Roles Inhibiting Prosociality) to Promote Gender Equality. Alyssa Croft. Personality and Social Psychology Review, December 1, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1177/1088868320964615

Abstract: Prosociality is an ideal context to begin shifting traditional gender role stereotypes and promoting equality. Men and women both help others frequently, but assistance often follows traditional gender role expectations, which further reinforces restrictive gender stereotypes in other domains. We propose an integrative process model of gender roles inhibiting prosociality (GRIP) to explain why and how this occurs. We argue that prosociality provides a unique entry point for change because it is (a) immediately rewarding (which cultivates positive attitude formation), (b) less likely to threaten the gender status hierarchy, and therefore less susceptible to social backlash (which translates into less restrictive social norms), and (c) a skill that can be learned (which leads to stronger beliefs in one’s own ability to help). Using the GRIP model, we derive a series of hypothesized interventions to interrupt the self-reinforcing cycle of gender role stereotyping and facilitate progress toward broader gender equality.

Keywords: gender roles, gender stereotypes, gender equality, prosocial behavior, helping

We show that family background matters significantly for children’s accumulation of wealth and investor behavior as adults, even when removing the genetic connection between children and the parents raising them

Why do wealthy parents have wealthy children? Andreas Fagereng, Magne Mogstad, and Marte Rønning. Journal of Political Economy, Jun 2020. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.1086/712446

Abstract: We show that family background matters significantly for children’s accumulation of wealth and investor behavior as adults, even when removing the genetic connection between children and the parents raising them. The analysis is made possible by linking Korean-born children who were adopted at infancy by Norwegian parents to a population panel data set with detailed information on wealth and socio-economic characteristics. The mechanism by which these Korean-Norwegian adoptees were assigned to adoptive families is known and effectively random. This mechanism allows us to estimate the causal effects from an adoptee being raised in one type of family versus another.

Reward valuation in social contexts is made relatively in reference to others; socially relative reward valuation triggers various ‘other-regarding’ emotions

Socially relative reward valuation in the primate brain. Masaki Isoda. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, Volume 68, June 2021, Pages 15-22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.conb.2020.11.008

Rolf Degen's take: https://twitter.com/DegenRolf/status/1336322948244762624


• Reward valuation in social contexts is made relatively in reference to others.

• Socially relative reward valuation triggers various ‘other-regarding’ emotions.

• Socially relative reward valuation is mediated by social and reward neural networks.

• Medial prefrontal cortex and dopamine-related subcortical areas are mainly involved.

• Shared neural networks mediate this valuation in humans and nonhuman primates.

Abstract: Reward valuation in social contexts is by nature relative rather than absolute; it is made in reference to others. This socially relative reward valuation is based on our propensity to conduct comparisons and competitions between self and other. Exploring its neural substrate has been an active area of research in human neuroimaging. More recently, electrophysiological investigation of the macaque brain has enabled us to understand neural mechanisms underlying this valuation process at single-neuron and network levels. Here I show that shared neural networks centered at the medial prefrontal cortex and dopamine-related subcortical regions are involved in this process in humans and nonhuman primates. Thus, socially relative reward valuation is mediated by cortico-subcortically coordinated activity linking social and reward brain networks.


In social contexts, valuation of one's own reward is often made in reference to others’ rewards. This form of reward valuation readily invokes complex other-regarding emotions depending on the context at hand, ranging from those that can hinder interpersonal relations, such as envy and schadenfreude, to those that can promote productive social exchanges, such as empathy, reciprocity, and vicarious happiness. Although socially relative reward valuation is mediated by multiple brain regions, core components are centered in social and reward neural networks. These findings invite an interesting hypothesis that it is not a single brain region, but the combination of regions within the distributed neural networks and their coherent interaction that determine the type of other-regarding emotions and subsequent social decisions. Thus, a critical next step is to better understand fine-grained mechanisms underlying social rewards and emotions at the pathway level via electrophysiological decoding and pathway-selective intervention using well-controlled social task paradigms, the strategy of which has been developed in macaque monkeys [60]. Currently, the domain of comparisons between self and other is confined to rewards in monkey studies. However, other domains, such as the status and performance ability, would also be testable given that monkeys are sensitive to hierarchical relationships [61] and are equipped with metacognitive capability [62, 63, 64]. 

Considerate altruists were perceived to be more intelligent, easy going, creative, cooperative, sympathetic, wealthy and thought to be better parents

Norman, Ian (2020) Distinguishing between altruistic behaviours: the desirability of considerate and heroic altruism and their relationship to empathic concern. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia. Dec 2 2020. https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/77870/

Abstract: Debate exists within the fields of evolutionary and social psychology around the concept of Altruism. From an evolutionary perspective, this relates to how a behaviour that is costly to the fitness of the altruist but beneficial to the recipient has evolved, particularly when the recipient is a stranger. From a psychological perspective the debate surrounds whether the motivations for altruism are instrumental to helping the altruist achieve a selfish goal (egoism) or whether motivations can be ultimate goals, with the purpose of improving the wellbeing of the recipient (altruism). Altruism within both of these perspectives has been operationalised in numerous ways but without consideration that different behaviours that fit the respective definitions of altruism could impact upon the ultimate evolutionary function of altruism or the psychological mechanisms that motivate altruism. Study 1, a qualitative content analysis of altruistic behaviour within newspaper articles examined the extent to which different altruistic behaviours are presented distinctly. The findings demonstrated that there are three broad categories of altruism; considerate, heroic and philanthropic. Study 2 examines whether participants display intra-individual variation in their altruistic intentions as determined by the operationalisation of altruism. A principal components analysis of participant responses to an altruistic intentions questionnaire demonstrated that there were two stable altruistic components that reflected considerate altruism and heroic altruism. The altruistic intentions questionnaire was validated in studies 3 and 4, to show that intentions do correlate with behaviours for each component. Within study 2, predictor models were also created through regression analyses, which demonstrated that whilst communal orientation and prior altruistic behaviour were predictive of both considerate and heroic altruistic intentions, disinhibition, social dominance and emotional reactivity were uniquely predictive of considerate altruistic intentions and agreeableness and openness were uniquely predictive of heroic altruistic intentions. The finding that emotional reactivity, a factor of the Empathy Quotient, was predictive of considerate but not heroic altruistic intentions was examined further in study 5, using a laboratory experiment. It was found that empathic concern was predictive of considerate altruistic behaviour but not heroic altruistic behaviour. Study 5 also found that agreeableness was not predictive of heroic altruistic behaviour, unlike study 2; this suggests that considerate helping behaviours may be more likely to be motivated by altruistic ultimate goals. Studies 6 through 10 explore the desirability of considerate and heroic altruists, as costly signalling theory suggests that altruism acts as a costly signal of a desirable underlying quality which increases opportunities to form cooperative and reproductive relationships, which offset the cost to the altruist. The findings were mixed, providing no clear evidence that considerate or heroic altruists are more desirable. However, study 10 demonstrated that whilst considerate and heroic altruists had similar desirability ratings, participants associated different underlying qualities to each type of altruist. Considerate altruists were perceived to be more intelligent, easy going, creative, cooperative, sympathetic, wealthy and thought to be better parents. Heroic altruists were perceived to be kinder, healthier, more understanding, more competitive, more physically attractive and have more exciting personalities. Overall, the evidence suggests that critical consideration of how altruism is operationalised is required to facilitate cross study comparisons so that researchers can construct a better understanding of what altruism signals and what the underlying motivations of altruism are.

The participants evaluated smiling faces as older in direct evaluations, regardless of the facial stimuli culture or their nationality, although they believed that smiling makes people look younger

Yoshimura, Naoto, Koichi Morimoto, Mariko Murai, Yusaku Kihara, Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos, Veit Kubik, and Yuki Yamada. 2020. “Age of Smile: A Cross-cultural Replication Report of Ganel and Goodale (2018).” PsyArXiv. December 4. doi:10.31234/osf.io/dtx6j

Rolf Degen's take: https://twitter.com/DegenRolf/status/1336236855386365952

Abstract: Smiling is believed to make people look younger. Ganel and Goodale (2018) proposed that this belief is a misconception rooted in popular media, based on their findings that people actually perceive smiling faces as older. However, they did not clarify whether this misconception can be generalized across cultures. We tested the cross-cultural validity of Ganel and Goodale’s findings by collecting data from Japanese and Swedish participants. Specifically, we aimed to replicate Ganel and Goodale’s study using segregated sets of Japanese and Swedish facial stimuli, and including Japanese and Swedish participants in groups asked to estimate the age of either Japanese or Swedish faces (two groups of participants × two groups of stimuli; four groups total). Our multiverse analytical approach consistently showed that the participants evaluated smiling faces as older in direct evaluations, regardless of the facial stimuli culture or their nationality, although they believed that smiling makes people look younger. Further, we hypothesized that the effect of wrinkles around the eyes on the estimation of age would vary with the stimulus culture, based on previous studies. However, we found no differences in age estimates by stimulus culture in the present study. Our results showed that we successfully replicated Ganel and Goodale (2018) in a cross-cultural context. Our study thus clarified that the belief that smiling makes people look younger is a common cultural misconception.

Compliance with gender roles in risky behavior may be exacerbated in Western countries, where the level of road safety is higher and the need for compliance with traditional social roles is less emphasized

Effect of Culture on Gender Differences in Risky Driver Behavior through Comparative Analysis of 32 Countries. Marie-Axelle Granié et al. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board. December 1, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1177/0361198120970525

Abstract: This study examines the effect of culture on gender differences in road user risky behaviors. With the hypothesis that gender differences are not solely because of biological factors, and that the existence and magnitude of differences between gender groups vary according to cultural context, because of differentiated social expectations in relation to gender roles, a secondary analysis was made of the E-Survey of Road Users’ Attitudes (ESRA) 2018 database, comprising 25,459 car drivers (53% male) surveyed by an online questionnaire in 32 countries distributed in eight cultural clusters. The interactions between gender and culture in reported behavior, and personal and social acceptability of four violations were analyzed: drinking and driving, speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, and the use of a cellphone while driving. The results show significant gender differences on risky behaviors and attitudes and complex interactions between gender and culture, with men valuing crash-risk behaviors more than women do in all cultural clusters observed. Interactions between gender and culture are more frequent on declared behaviors and personal acceptability than on perceived social acceptability, and on drinking and driving, and not wearing a seatbelt, more than on speeding and the use of a cellphone while driving. In addition, gender differences are greater in Western countries than in the Global South. These gender differences in road user behaviors, attitudes, and perceptions as results of an interaction between biological and evolutionary factors and cultural and social factors are discussed. These results could be useful to better tailor road safety campaigns and education.

While men and women are both susceptible to motivated reasoning in general, men find it particularly attractive to believe that they outperformed others and distort information processing to favor their performance

Gender Differences in Motivated Reasoning. Michael Thaler. arXiv Dec 2 2020, https://arxiv.org/abs/2012.01538

Men and women systematically differ in their beliefs about their performance relative to others; in particular, men tend to be more overconfident. This paper provides support for one explanation for gender differences in overconfidence, performance-motivated reasoning, in which people distort how they process new information in ways that make them believe they outperformed others. Using a large online experiment, I find that male subjects distort information processing to favor their performance, while female subjects do not systematically distort information processing in either direction. These statistically-significant gender differences in performance-motivated reasoning mimic gender differences in overconfidence; beliefs of male subjects are systematically overconfident, while beliefs of female subjects are well-calibrated on average. The experiment also includes political questions, and finds that politically-motivated reasoning is similar for both men and women. These results suggest that, while men and women are both susceptible to motivated reasoning in general, men find it particularly attractive to believe that they outperformed others.

Those worried about getting ill in the epidemic made harsher moral judgments than those who were not worried, effect not restricted to transgressions involving purity, but also to those involving harm, fairness, authority, & loyalty

Henderson, Robert K., and Simone Schnall. 2020. “Disease and Disapproval: COVID-19 Concern Is Related to Greater Moral Condemnation.” PsyArXiv. December 7. doi:10.31234/osf.io/7szaw. Evolutionary Psychology, June 10, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1177/14747049211021524

Abstract: Prior research has indicated that disgust, a manifestation of the behavioral immune system, is associated with harsher moral condemnation. However, the link between physical disgust—an evolved signal of risks to one’s health—and morality has been contentious. We investigated the role of a specific health concern, namely the spread of the coronavirus, and associated COVID-19 disease, on moral condemnation. We hypothesized that individuals who report greater subjective worry about COVID-19 would be more sensitive to moral transgressions. Across 3 studies (N = 913), conducted March-May 2020 as the pandemic started to unfold in the United States, we found that individuals who were worried about contracting the infectious disease made harsher moral judgments than those who were not worried. This effect was not restricted to transgressions involving purity, but extended to transgressions involving harm, fairness, authority, and loyalty, and remained when controlling for political orientation. We furthermore observed suggestive evidence that even relatively unconcerned individuals became more judgmental as the epidemic wore on. These findings add to the growing literature that concrete threats to health can play a role in abstract moral considerations, supporting the notion that judgments of wrongdoing are not based on rational thought alone.

This research tested the role of situational concerns about an infectious disease on judgments of wrongdoing. Across three studies we consistently found that people who were worried about COVID-19 condemned moral wrongdoers more harshly than those who were less worried. This finding adds to emerging work on the role of disease threat on moral judgment. In Studies 1 and 2 controlling for individual differences in contamination disgust left the effect of coronavirus worry and moral judgment intact. In contrast, in Study 3, we found that this relationship was no longer significant after accounting for contamination disgust, indicating that fear of contamination was responsible for the effect. We interpret this finding to be the result of a generally heightened concern about the virus at the time. Indeed, contamination disgust has been described as bearing a “striking similarity” to disease avoidance (Olatunji et al., 2009). An intriguing possibility is, therefore, that variables that are typically considered to reflect stable individual differences, such as disgust sensitivity, may change as a function of coronavirus concerns that became relatively universal across the world. Indeed, recent theorizing has suggested that topics within the field of of psychology, and the scientific approaches to study them, may change in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic (Rosenfeld et al., in press). Given the current findings, apart from contamination and disease concerns, other relevant traits such as neuroticism or conscientiousness may also have changed over the course of the pandemic as a function of constantly having been engaged in disease-prevention behavior to alleviate related worries. Future research would be needed to explore this possibility.

Our findings align with a growing body of research demonstrating that individual differences in the propensity to experience disgust are linked to moral considerations (Chapman & Anderson, 2014Karinen & Chapman, 2019Liuzza et al., 2019Murray et al., 2019Robinson et al., 2019Wagemans et al., 2018). Furthermore, the results are consistent with recent work showing a positive association between germ aversion and moral condemnation across the moral foundations (Murray et al., 2019). Our findings contribute to this line of research by demonstrating that subjective worry about a real-world contagious disease is associated with harsher moral judgments, and, moreover, that this relationship held even after accounting for differences in political orientation. Thus, converging evidence supports Haidt’s (2001) suggestion that morality is shaped by various emotions and intuitions, of which concerns about health and safety are prominent.

There are limitations within these findings. Though we obtained large samples with consistent results across all three studies, we used a single item to measure “worry,” which may have reduced sensitivity in capturing participants’ level of concern about COVID-19. Another qualification to these results is the difference in the relationships between the trait-like measures of COVID-19 worry and moral judgments, and the effects of the experimental manipulation in Study 1. That is, although dispositional worry about contracting the illness was consistently related to moral condemnation, experimentally manipulating the salience of COVID-19 had no effect on moral judgment, relative to a neutral condition. One possibility for why is by the time of Study 1 on March 17, news about COVID-19 was already highly salient, and thus the experimental manipulation did not have the intended effect. The dispositional association, however, might be explained by a generalized overreaction to potential harm. It is possible that those who are prone to chronic worry about contracting an infectious illness are also more sensitive to moral violations in disease-relevant domains as well as other moral infractions. That is, fear of disease may overlap with an overgeneralized reaction of increased sensitivity to potential harm, including moral wrongdoers who commit not only purity violations, but other unfavorable acts as well. Indeed, worried participants produced harsher judgments than less worried participants, and there was no moderating effect of moral foundation. This is consistent with previous research, indicating that disease threat concerns are associated with conformity to moral proscriptions that are not specific to disease (e.g., Murray et al., 2011Tybur et al., 2016Wu & Chang, 2012). Lack of moderation by foundation type is likewise consistent with error management, such that the more costly error is to be under-vigilant about moral violations that are not disease relevant than to be over-vigilant solely for disease-relevant violations (Haselton et al., 2015Murray et al., 2019). Further research is needed to more carefully explore these dispositional versus experimental differences.

Additionally, we did not test whether other variables, such as personality, might have played a role in our results. Disease avoidance has been associated with both neuroticism and conscientiousness (Oosterhoff et al., 2018), while openness, conscientiousness, and agreeableness have been associated with sensitivity to moral violations (Hirsh et al., 2010Smillie et al., 2020). Thus, considering the overlap between disease avoidance, moral judgments, and conscientiousness, this personality trait may account for some of the variance between worry about a highly salient communicable disease and assessments of moral wrongdoing.

Our research raises the possibility that during a period of widespread concern about infectious disease, people may become more judgmental overall. In other words, people’s actions and intentions might be under more scrutiny, and when ambiguous, may be interpreted uncharitably, potentially resulting in misunderstandings, or interpersonal conflicts. Indeed, in the early days of the unfolding COVID-19 crisis, there were media accounts of mistrust in public officials, the press, and health organizations. The current findings suggest that we may see further instances of uncharitable evaluations as people are especially concerned for their physical health. Thus, the ongoing pandemic presented an ecologically relevant way of examining the role of disease prevalence on an issue of critical applied importance.