Sunday, December 20, 2020

Why are Bats a Reservoir of Virulent Zoonotic Diseases? Inter alia, colonies can reach densities of 3000 bats/sq.m., in populations of up to a million individuals per roost

On the Evolution of Virulent Zoonotic Viruses in Bats. Frans L. Roes. Biological Theory volume 15, pages223–225(2020).

Abstract: Ideas formulated by Paul Ewald about the “evolution of virulence” are used to explain why bats, more often than other mammals, are a reservoir of virulent viruses, and why many of these viruses severely affect other mammals, including humans, but are apparently less pathogenic for bats. Potential factors contributing to bat viruses often being zoonotic are briefly discussed.

Why are Bats, More Than Other Mammals, a Reservoir of Virulent Zoonotic Diseases?

Bats harbor a significantly higher proportion of zoonotic viruses than all other mammalian orders (Olival et al. 2017, p. 646; disputed by Mollentze and Streicker 2020; see also Watson 2020). This is remarkable because, for instance, there are about twice as many species of rodents as there are species of bats, and rodents are more closely related to humans than bats are. Why are bats a reservoir of virulent viruses?

Many bat species are gregarious, some living in dense aggregations. Colonies can reach densities of 3000 bats per square meter, in populations of up to a million individuals per roost (Luis et al. 2013, p. 2). The theory of virulence implicates the close quarters of bats as a factor favoring increased virulence because bats roost so closely to each other that they can transmit infections to other bats even if they are immobilized by illness. A more virulent variant, making more copies of itself, will therefore spread. Note that it is not closeness per se that favors virulent diseases, but closeness favors transmission from animals that are not mobile.

To summarize: the extreme closeness of bats in many roosting sites allows the transmission of viruses from very sick hosts, favoring the more virulent variants in the population.

Why are many bat viruses also zoonotic? Several characteristics of bats seem to facilitate transmission to other host species. Bats are the only mammals with the capability of powered flight. This enables them to have a longer radius of action compared to terrestrial mammals and to have more direct or indirect contact with other animal species at different geographical locations. The mobility of bats probably allows bat viruses to be dispersed to humans and other mammals.

Whereas rodent species typically do not share communal nesting sites, roosting sites of bats can house diverse assemblages of multiple bat species (Luis et al. 2013, p. 3). This also may favor zoonosis. In the words of Ewald (pers. comm.): “The important point here is that multispecies populations may favor infection mechanisms that are not species specific and may thus allow for more frequent transmission across species including zoonotic transmission to humans.”

Finally, bats enjoy remarkable longevity for their body size. Some insectivorous bats can live up to 35 years (Wang et al. 2011, p. 650). Persistent infections may allow for prolonged release of viruses and thus greater exposure of humans (or other species) to the viruses.

Sixteen facial expressions occur in similar contexts worldwide

Sixteen facial expressions occur in similar contexts worldwide. Alan S. Cowen, Dacher Keltner, Florian Schroff, Brendan Jou, Hartwig Adam & Gautam Prasad. Nature, Dec 16 2020.

Abstract: Understanding the degree to which human facial expressions co-vary with specific social contexts across cultures is central to the theory that emotions enable adaptive responses to important challenges and opportunities1,2,3,4,5,6. Concrete evidence linking social context to specific facial expressions is sparse and is largely based on survey-based approaches, which are often constrained by language and small sample sizes7,8,9,10,11,12,13. Here, by applying machine-learning methods to real-world, dynamic behaviour, we ascertain whether naturalistic social contexts (for example, weddings or sporting competitions) are associated with specific facial expressions14 across different cultures. In two experiments using deep neural networks, we examined the extent to which 16 types of facial expression occurred systematically in thousands of contexts in 6 million videos from 144 countries. We found that each kind of facial expression had distinct associations with a set of contexts that were 70% preserved across 12 world regions. Consistent with these associations, regions varied in how frequently different facial expressions were produced as a function of which contexts were most salient. Our results reveal fine-grained patterns in human facial expressions that are preserved across the modern world.

It is argued that when cultural values provide a rationale for ostracism, this can eliminate ostracism distress

Can cultural values eliminate ostracism distress? Erez Yaakobi. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, Volume 80, January 2021, Pages 231-241.

Abstract: Ostracism has negative psychological and behavioral outcomes, thus making it crucial to better understand how these effects can be mitigated. Two experiments tested whether cultural values can moderate immediate as well as delayed reactions to ostracism in two populations with very different values concerning interactions with the opposite sex. The Ultra-Orthodox population in Israel constitutes a specific subculture whose values differ considerably from those of secular Jews in Israel. In particular, Ultra-Orthodox Jews adhere to strict separation between genders, which is enforced by Ultra-Orthodox men. It was hypothesized that being ostracized by the opposite gender on a computer game would be less distressing in particular for Ultra-Orthodox men than for secular men and women who cultural values have no such prohibition. In both experiments, Jewish secular and Ultra-Orthodox men and women played Cyberball, a virtual ball-toss game against two ostensible players (half same gender, half opposite, but all with their in-groups). The findings showed that whereas secular men and women were more distressed when ostracized by a member of the opposite sex, Ultra-Orthodox males reported lower distress on both the needs satisfaction and mood measures after they were ostracized by ostensible Ultra-Orthodox female players than when receiving fewer ball tosses from ostensible Ultra-Orthodox male players. It is argued that when cultural values provide a rationale for ostracism, this can eliminate ostracism distress. The discussion centers on ways cultural and other embedded values can mitigate the negative outcomes of ostracism.

Keywords: OstracismCultureSocial exclusionValuesReligious observance

General discussion

These two experiments explored whether cultural values moderate ostracism effects on needs satisfaction and mood immediately after participants were ostracized on the Cyberball game as well as after a short delay in a culture where gender ostracism is intrinsic. The findings support these hypotheses. Specifically, when Ultra-Orthodox Jewish males were ostracized by ostensible Ultra-Orthodox Jewish females, they reported significantly lower distress than when ostracized by ostensible Ultra-Orthodox male players. On the mood measure, these cultural values not only alleviated the ostracism effects but eliminated ostracism distress altogether in the reflective stage. Thus, robustly embedded cultural values appear to influence even immediate responses that require fewer cognitive efforts to process this experience. The results also provide empirical evidence that may help account for one of the mechanisms that may mitigate distress after being ostracized by showing that cultural worldview can mediate ostracism distress when this cultural worldview is not threatened, and that cultural values provide a “reasonable explanation” for being ostracized.

Future research should examine whether other mechanisms can eliminate ostracism distress by exploring other strongly embedded factors. Fiske and Yamamoto (2005) as well as Pfundmair, Graupmann, Frey, and Aydin (2015) showed that members of collectivistic cultures tend to focus on belonging securely and trusting more narrowly (primarily in-group members; Yamagishi, 1988) and hence may exhibit more cautiousness in their responses when ostracized by out-group members. The findings also respond to the call by Uskul and Over (2017) to examine whether socially interdependent individuals might be more negatively affected when ostracism comes from in-group members or close others that matter to them. It is thus important to explore whether being ostracized within a group contradicts or is consistent with the cultural values and inherited worldviews of this group. The current experiments showed that ostracism was mitigated when the group's cultural values considers gendered ostracism to be "normal". The current research also provides insights into the way cultures vary along multiple dimensions, since responses to ostracism are likely to be influenced by different social factors including social norms and values (Gelfand, 2012).

These findings have practical implications as well. If the target of an ostracism experience comes from a culture where social distance is a value or is valued in some defined circumstances, reminders of this value could shield victims from its negative emotional effects or lessen them. The results also provide a better understanding of how to allocate limited resources to people who are being ostracized by better identifying, at least initially, who will be more prone to be affected by an ostracism experience. If someone is ostracized, interventions could make clear that there could be reasons such as cultural values that may have nothing to do with the ostracizer's attitude towards the ostracized. Facilitating the value of participation and collaboration plays an important role in augmenting one's wellbeing since values have significant effects on ostracism distress. Thus, making cultural values more salient in one's mind may serve as an intervention mechanism for buffering ostracism distress.

The current research also has limitations that deserve mention. It implemented an experimental design that restricts the generalizability of the findings. Future work should test the moderation model on a broader range of populations. Future experiments could also explore whether the desire to adhere to cultural values is heightened as a function of ostracism and use instruments beyond self-report measures to test the effects of ostracism and the moderation model. Furthermore, future research should replicate this study in other cultures with similar values in terms of strict gender rules. It could be argued that the response of Ultra-Orthodox males when playing Cyberball against Ultra-Orthodox women was related to the incongruity of the situation for them. However, this possible reaction was taken into consideration prior to conducting the experiment. All participants were told that the other "players" were sitting in different rooms on campus and that the "computer" chooses the people taking part in each game. The research assistant was specifically instructed to present the choice of the "other players" as a random assignment by the computer. This also eliminated alternative explanations for the results. In addition, these studies used a repeated-measure design where participants completed questionnaires twice (immediate and delayed responses). This was done to better capture when moderation would occur. However, potential order effects may have occurred. Thus, future studies should also use a between-subject research design to reexamine these effects. Finally, other differences that may also moderate this mediation effect should be explored since they are embedded in the ways individuals perceive social connections.

Not only individuals overestimate their intelligence & do so particularly for domains in which they perform poorly; estimates given by others are equally accurate or sometimes even more accurate than self-estimates

Chp 49 - Self- and Other-Estimates of Intelligence. Aljoscha C. Neubauer, Gabriela Hofer. In The Cambridge Handbook of Intelligence, Edited by Robert J. Sternberg, 2020, pp 1179-1200.

Summary: It is a widely held view that “nobody knows you better than yourself.” However, the low validity of self-estimates of intelligence and other abilities indicated by a considerable body of research does not support this notion. Individuals overestimate themselves and do so particularly for domains in which they perform poorly (the so-called Dunning-Kruger effect). Interestingly, intelligence estimates given by others are equally accurate or sometimes even more accurate than self-estimates. This chapter provides an overview of research on self- and other-estimates of intelligence and potential moderators of their accuracy. It also aims to bring the research lines on self- and other-estimates of intelligence together within the framework of the self-other knowledge asymmetry (SOKA) model proposed by Simine Vazire. The ability to predict for which intelligence subfactors one of the two perspectives might provide more accurate estimates has implications for both research and practical fields like vocational counseling.

Gender Differences in Competition & Evidence From a Matrilineal & a Patriarchal Society: Maasai men opt to compete at roughly twice the rate as Maasai women; Khasi women choose the competitive environment more often than men

From 2009... Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence From a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society. Uri Gneezy  Kenneth L. Leonard  John A. List. Econometrica, October 6 2009.

Abstract: We use a controlled experiment to explore whether there are gender differences in selecting into competitive environments across two distinct societies: the Maasai in Tanzania and the Khasi in India. One unique aspect of these societies is that the Maasai represent a textbook example of a patriarchal society, whereas the Khasi are matrilineal. Similar to the extant evidence drawn from experiments executed in Western cultures, Maasai men opt to compete at roughly twice the rate as Maasai women. Interestingly, this result is reversed among the Khasi, where women choose the competitive environment more often than Khasi men, and even choose to compete weakly more often than Maasai men. These results provide insights into the underpinnings of the factors hypothesized to be determinants of the observed gender differences in selecting into competitive environments.

Rolf Degen summarizing... The personality trait that keeps people most strongly from infidelity is the "dutifulness" component of conscientiousness

The five factor model and infidelity: Beyond the broad domains. C.J.J. van Zyl. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 172, April 2021, 110553.

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: Several studies have explored the association between personality and infidelity, but our understanding of this relationship is arguably underdeveloped. The fact that most research only examined domain-level effects may have contributed to the situation, as facet-level and item- level information have not sufficiently been taken into consideration. This paper argues that it is an unwarranted assumption that domain-level associations reveal all there is to know about the relationship between personality and infidelity, and proceeds to examine this claim. The present study investigates the association between personality and infidelity but goes beyond the Big Five domains to examine facet and item-level associations in a sample of 685 participants. Bayesian logistic modeling with comprehensive indicators of uncertainty are provided for all models predicting infidelity. Results suggest that two facets in particular are associated with infidelity and that facet and item models contains additional predictive information compared to the broad domains. Findings further suggest that facets and items provide more nuanced information than can be gleaned from domain-level effects, which in turn, could advance our understanding of personality and its association with infidelity.

Keywords: Five-factor modelPersonalityInfidelityCheatingDomainsFacetsNuances

COVID-19 until Aug 2020: Overall, we find that fear steadily decreased after a peak in April 2020; elevated fear was predicted by region (i.e., North America), anxious traits, and media use

Mertens, GaĆ«tan, Stefanie Duijndam, Paul Lodder, and Tom Smeets. 2020. “Pandemic Panic? Results of a 6-month Longitudinal Study on Fear of COVID-19.” PsyArXiv. December 18. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Fear is an evolutionary adaptive emotion that serves to protect the organism from harm. Once a threat diminishes, fear should also dissipate as otherwise fear may become chronic and pathological. While threat (i.e., number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths) during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has substantially varied over time, it remains unclear whether fear has followed a similar pattern. To examine the development of fear of COVID-19 and investigate potential predictors for chronic fear, we conducted a large online longitudinal study (N = 2000) using the Prolific platform. Participants represented unselected residents of 34 different countries. The Fear of the Coronavirus Questionnaire (FCQ) and several other demographic and psychological measures were completed monthly between March and August 2020. Overall, we find that fear steadily decreased after a peak in April 2020. Additional analyses showed that elevated fear was predicted by region (i.e., North America), anxious traits, and media use.

Bisexual disclosure was positively associated with well-being after accounting for the contribution of sexual minority disclosure

Brownfield, J. M., & Brown, C. (2020). The relations among outness, authenticity, and well-being for bisexual adults. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, Dec 2020.

Abstract: Outness, a proximal minority stressor for sexual minority people, consists of 2 subconstructs (disclosure and concealment) and demonstrates relationships with mental health outcomes such as well-being. Newly studied, authenticity may be related to outness and to mental health outcomes, potentially influencing the outness-well-being relationship. Additionally, a majority of research has examined minority stressors for lesbians and gay men, and few studies have investigated the unique experiences of bisexual individuals. The present study examined the associations of 2 subconstructs of outness—disclosure and concealment (as a sexual minority and specifically as bisexual)—with bisexual adults’ well-being and whether authenticity mediated the relationship between these subconstructs of outness and well-being. Four-hundred and 47 bisexual participants completed an online survey. Analyses revealed that bisexual disclosure was positively associated with well-being after accounting for the contribution of sexual minority disclosure, whereas bisexual concealment was not associated with well-being when accounting for the contribution of sexual minority concealment. Authenticity mediated the relationship between bisexual disclosure and well-being, and it mediated the relationship between bisexual concealment and well-being. Results further our understanding of bisexual individuals’ mental health, particularly in regards to bisexual disclosure and concealment.

Thus, we cannot conclude from this study that lies always travel faster than the truth

Bruns, Axel & Keller, Tobias (2020) News diffusion on Twitter: Comparing the dissemination careers for mainstream and marginal news. In International Conference on Social Media and Society, 2020-07-22 - 2020-07-24. (Unpublished).

Description: Current scholarly as well as mainstream media discussion expresses substantial concerns about the influence of ‘problematic information’ (Jack 2017) from hyperpartisan and downright fraudulent news sources on public debate and public opinion formation (e.g., Humprecht 2018). Often encapsulated by the imprecise term ‘fake news’, the publishers of such content seek to exploit network effects, that is, the absence of echo chambers and filter bubbles in social media spaces (Bruns 2019) to maximise the visibility and dissemination of their content. They do so for a combination of political and commercial reasons (Wardle & Derakhshan 2017). Some recent studies – most prominently an article by Vosoughi et al. (2018) in Science, examining story dissemination on Twitter – present evidence that such marginal, hyperpartisan and propagandist sites are outpacing their more mainstream counterparts in the dissemination of content: put simply, ‘fake news’ content seems to spread more quickly across social networks than ‘real news’. The generalisability of such findings is limited, however, by the source data: for instance, to establish a comparison between ‘real’ and ‘fake’ news, Vosoughi et al. (2018) consider only news stories that were evaluated by a fact-checking organisation. But this introduces a systematic bias: news stories that were dubious or controversial enough to warrant fact-checking may well disseminate in entirely different ways from stories that are more obviously truthful or incorrect. Uncontroversially truthful stories from mainstream news outlets could well disseminate across Twitter with greater speed than the ‘fake news’ content observed by Vosoughi et al., but such stories would not have been included in their analysis unless they had been fact-checked. Thus, we cannot conclude from this study that lies always travel faster than the truth.