Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Putting the cart before the horse: claims for mirror self-recognition in horses are unfounded

Putting the cart before the horse: claims for mirror self-recognition in horses are unfounded. Gordon G. Gallup Jr. & James R. Anderson. Animal Cognition, Jul 27 2021. https://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10071-021-01538-9

Abstract: The recent article by Baragli, Scopa, Maglieri, and Palagi (Anim Cogn https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-021-01502-7, 2021) that claims to demonstrate mirror self-recognition (MSR) in horses is not based on compelling evidence. We identify problems with their experimental procedures, data, and assertion about “demonstrating MSR at group level.” Examples of these problems include incomplete experimental design, absence of important control conditions, inappropriate terminology, suboptimal mark application procedures and coding of videos, ambiguity of videos presented as supporting evidence, and inconsistencies in data presentation and interpretation. It is not the case that their study “marks a turning point in the analytical technique of MSR exploration.”

Strangers Look Sicker (with Implications in Times of COVID-19)

Bressan, Paola. 2021. “Strangers Look Sicker (with Implications in Times of COVID-19).” PsyArXiv. July 26. doi:10.1002/bies.202000158

Abstract: We animals have evolved a variety of mechanisms to avoid conspecifics who might be infected. It is currently unclear whether and why this “behavioral immune system” targets unfamiliar individuals more than familiar ones. Here I answer this question in humans, using publicly available data of a recent study on 1969 participants from India and 1615 from the USA. The apparent health of a male stranger, as estimated from his face, and the comfort with contact with him were a direct function of his similarity to the men in the local community. This held true regardless of whether the face carried overt signs of infection. I conclude that our behavioral immune system is finely tuned to degrees of outgroupness—and that cues of outgroupness are partly processed as cues of infectiousness. These findings, which were consistent across the two cultures, support the notion that the pathogens of strangers are perceived as more dangerous.

Potential for Collaboration: Differences Between Evolutionary Anthropology and Evolutionary Psychology as Scientific Disciplines

Hahnel-Peeters, Rebecka K. 2021. “Potential for Collaboration: Differences Between Evolutionary Anthropology and Evolutionary Psychology as Scientific Disciplines.” PsyArXiv. July 20. doi:10.31234/osf.io/kp4rc

Abstract: In a review of evolutionary analysis of human behavior, Alden Smith (2000) argues that evolutionary anthropology and evolutionary psychology should not be considered competing disciplines. If evolutionary anthropology and psychology were to become more collaborative, it would aid our understanding of human nature – regardless of the different assumptions and empirical methodology used by the two disciplines. The recent 10th anniversary of “The WEIRDEST people in the world” (Henrich et al, 2010) presents a good opportunity to assess the current state of the evolutionary social sciences. While scholars (e.g., Barrett, 2020) have provided thoughts on the future direction of the evolutionary social sciences, none have explicitly evaluated the degree to which the various subdisciplines within the evolutionary social sciences have moved toward greater collaboration over the past decade. The current study uses content analysis to systematically examine if the disciplines of evolutionary anthropology and psychology are becoming more collaborative by reporting the frequency of coauthored peer-reviewed papers published in Evolution and Human Behavior (EHB), the type of data, and the empirical methodology used in these papers. A total of 737 articles published in EHB between 2009 and 2020 were coded, and no evidence of increased frequency of anthropologist and psychologist collaborations was found. While evolutionary anthropologists and psychologists did not report different types of data or topics of interest, the methods for hypothesis testing were different. I discuss limitations for the current content analysis and review suggested future steps for unification.

Check Rolf Degen's Twitter page to get great summaries of Psychology papers

 Check Rolf Degen's takes! @DegenRolf

Domestic cats (Felis catus) prefer freely available food over food that requires the slightest effort

Domestic cats (Felis catus) prefer freely available food over food that requires effort. Mikel M. Delgado, Brandon Sang Gyuc Han & Melissa J. Bain. Animal Cognition, Jul 26 2021. https://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10071-021-01530-3

Abstract: Contrafreeloading is the willingness of animals to work for food when equivalent food is freely available. This behavior is observed in laboratory, domesticated, and captive animals. However, previous research found that six laboratory cats failed to contrafreeload. We hypothesized that cats would contrafreeload in the home environment when given a choice between a food puzzle and a tray of similar size and shape. We also hypothesized that more active cats would be more likely to contrafreeload. We assessed the behavior of 17 neutered, indoor domestic cats (Felis catus) when presented with both a food puzzle and a tray across ten 30-min trials. Each cat wore an activity tracker, and all sessions were video recorded. Cats ate more food from the free feed tray than the puzzle (t (16) = 6.77, p < 0.001). Cats made more first choices to approach and eat from the tray. There was no relationship between activity and contrafreeloading, and there was no effect of sex, age, or previous food puzzle experience on contrafreeloading. Our results suggest that cats do not show strong tendencies to contrafreeload in the home environment, although some cats (N = 4) ate most food offered in the puzzle or showed weak contrafreeloading tendencies (N = 5). Eight cats did not contrafreeload. Cats who consumed more food from the puzzle, consumed more food in general, suggesting a relationship between hunger and effort. Further research is required to understand why domestic cats, unlike other tested species, do not show a strong preference to work for food.


In this study, we tested for the first time whether domestic cats living in homes would contrafreeload, as has been demonstrated in several captive and domesticated species. We did not find strong evidence for contrafreeloading; instead, cats preferred to eat the food that was freely available with no required additional effort. This was true when looking at both the overall population of cats, and the behavior of individual cats across trials.

We were unable to identify specific individual traits (sex, age and previous experience with a food puzzle) that predicted whether cats would contrafreeload. The four cats who appeared to be contrafreeloaders had one trait in common; they ate most of the food available to them during trials. In fact, the strongest predictor of amount of food eaten from the puzzle was the amount of food eaten from the tray.

The unanswered question is why cats, among multiple species tested, appear to be the only one that does not reliably contrafreeload. This tendency appears to contradict the fact that cats naturally work for food by hunting and will stop eating to hunt additional prey (Adamec 1976; Leyhausen 1979). Some differences in contrafreeloading tendencies among species have been attributed to domestication, such as in one study where white leghorn layers contrafreeloaded less than their ancestral species, jungle fowl (Jensen et al. 2002). Possible explanations included selection for allocation of resources toward reproduction and individual growth, and less need for information gathering when food sources are stable.

The cats in our study were all spayed or neutered and housed indoors only, which might have impacted their behavior. Spaying and neutering decreases the metabolic rate (Fettman et al. 1997) and the physical activity of female cats (Belsito et al. 2009), while simultaneously increasing cats’ food intake (Alexander et al. 2011; Wei et al. 2014). However, the previous study that failed to find evidence of contrafreeloading in cats only included reproductively intact cats (Koffer and Coulson 1971). To date, no studies have directly compared the activity patterns of indoor cats with those who have outdoor access. Thus, it would be premature to predict different results from reproductively intact or outdoor cats.

We also found no relationship between activity and contrafreeloading behavior. This result supports a previous study that found no change in activity level after introducing food puzzles to cats (Naik et al. 2018). Another study found that when two laboratory cats were required to offer an increasing number of touches to a switchplate in exchange for free access to food, they decreased the number of meals per day, and consumed more food at each feeding period (Collier et al. 1997). Studies of free-roaming feral cats suggest they spend almost 90% of their time inactive, with < 1% of their time spent hunting (Hernandez et al. 2018). In general, cats appear to conserve energy to the greatest extent possible, minimizing the amount of time and effort required to meet their caloric requirements, whether by hunting or engaging with enrichment devices in homes.

Our conclusion that cats prefer freely available food over that which requires effort is limited by some aspects of our study, such as a relatively small sample size. It is possible that the appearance of the food puzzle hindered consumption, as food was more visible in the tray. However, the cover of the puzzle was translucent, and several of the compartments face upward, such that the food would be visible from above. Although the novelty or shape of the food puzzle could have been a deterrent to the cats, we controlled for this by presenting all cats with a novel tray of the same shape and size simultaneously. All cats ate from both the puzzle and the tray during the training period, so we do not believe that appearance, novelty, or aversion to the device itself can explain the failure to contrafreeload.

We also did not control for food intake or hunger, as we did not want to increase the stress levels of cats, who can be sensitive to changes in feeding regimens (Stella et al. 2011). Food restriction can also reduce contrafreeloading (Inglis et al. 1997), so we did not want food withheld from cats longer than they were accustomed to. Since the cats ate a large percentage of the freely available food during trials, we cannot blame the failure to contrafreeload on a lack of interest in food. However, as we only gave cats access to the tray and puzzle for 30 min per trial, it is possible that cats would have engaged more with the puzzle if it continued to be available throughout the day.

Interpretation of our results may be dependent on how contrafreeloading is defined. Sometimes contrafreeloading is defined as when an animal will work for any food in the presence of freely available food, whereas some consider it a preference to work for food (Inglis et al., Osborne et al.). Most cats in our study did eat some food from the puzzle but none ate more food from the puzzle than the tray. Thus, although we have evidence for some willingness to work for food when freely available food is present (weak contrafreeloading), there is no evidence that cats preferred to work for food.

Of the species who have been tested for contrafreeloading, few predatory species (chimps, humans, and cats) are included, and most species tested are foragers who use extended search to acquire food (e.g., pigeons, rats, gerbils, Inglis et al. 1997). Sit-and-wait predation is considered low cost and is a common hunting style among felids (Williams et al. 2014). A full discussion of predatory energetics is beyond the scope of this manuscript, but contrafreeloading, which provides information about the quality of food patches, is expected to be weaker in species that do not engage in prolonged search (Inglis et al. 1997). Future studies should investigate whether foraging style is an important factor in contrafreeloading tendencies, and whether energy conservation is influential.

Like other studies, we did not find a statistically significant effect of sex on contrafreeloading (Lindqvist and Jensen 2008; Vasconcellos et al. 2012). However, in the current study, the four cats who did show a tendency to contrafreeload were all males, and the two cats who did not eat any food from the puzzle were both females. Male cats are more prone to obesity (Lund et al. 2005) and may be more food motivated in general. Our findings suggest the sex of the cat should be considered in future studies.

Future research can further explore contrafreeloading in cats by introducing different types of food puzzles or operant behaviors necessary for obtaining food. Changing the value of the food offered may also increase contrafreeloading, as novelty of food items increases the level of reinforcement (Inglis et al. 1997). The effects of foraging enrichment on cat welfare and health indicators should also be assessed. A presentation of case studies found positive effects of food puzzles for domestic cats, such as weight reduction and an improvement of behavioral health (Dantas et al. 2016), but puzzles do not appear to increase overall activity levels (Naik et al. 2018).

Understanding contrafreeloading is important for captive and domestic animal welfare as foraging enrichment is a frequently used tool to provide choice and mental stimulation. The effects of such enrichment on the behavior of captive animals are rarely tested. For domestic cats, the provision of foraging enrichment may depend on the needs and food motivation of the individual animal, and may be best introduced as a choice to enhance welfare, as foraging enrichment has been suggested to do in other species (e.g., Tarou and Bashaw 2007).

Monday, July 26, 2021

Changes in Atlantic major hurricane frequency since the late-19th century

Changes in Atlantic major hurricane frequency since the late-19th century. Gabriel A. Vecchi, Christopher Landsea, Wei Zhang, Gabriele Villarini & Thomas Knutson. Nature Communications volume 12, Article number: 4054. Jul 19 2021. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-24268-5

Abstract: Atlantic hurricanes are a major hazard to life and property, and a topic of intense scientific interest. Historical changes in observing practices limit the utility of century-scale records of Atlantic major hurricane frequency. To evaluate past changes in frequency, we have here developed a homogenization method for Atlantic hurricane and major hurricane frequency over 1851–2019. We find that recorded century-scale increases in Atlantic hurricane and major hurricane frequency, and associated decrease in USA hurricanes strike fraction, are consistent with changes in observing practices and not likely a true climate trend. After homogenization, increases in basin-wide hurricane and major hurricane activity since the 1970s are not part of a century-scale increase, but a recovery from a deep minimum in the 1960s–1980s. We suggest internal (e.g., Atlantic multidecadal) climate variability and aerosol-induced mid-to-late-20th century major hurricane frequency reductions have probably masked century-scale greenhouse-gas warming contributions to North Atlantic major hurricane frequency.


One of the most consistent expectations from projected future global warming is that there should be an increase in TC intensity, such that the fraction of MH to HU increases6,20,21,22,25,26,27,28,29,30,31. This issue has become more pressing with the recent finding of a global increase in this metric since 1979 using homogenized satellite-based data14—a finding to which Atlantic HU contribute. We here build on the methods of refs. 9,10 to build a homogenized record of Atlantic MH frequency and MH/HU ratio since the 19th century. We find here that, once we include a correction for undercounts in the pre-satellite era basin-wide NA HU and MH frequency, there are no significant increases in either basin-wide HU or MH frequency, or in the MH/HU ratio for the Atlantic basin between 1878 and 2019 (when the U.S. Signal Corps started tracking NA HUs35). We suggest that the modestly significant 1851–2019 increase in basin-wide MH frequency and MH/HU ratio that remains after including the HU and MH adjustment reflects data inhomogeneity that our adjustment is unable to correct—rather than an actual increase in these quantities. The homogenized basin-wide HU and MH record does not show strong evidence of a century-scale increase in either MH frequency or MH/HU ratio associated with the century-scale, greenhouse-gas-induced warming of the planet. For example, the temporal evolution of the global mean temperature is not closely reflected in the temporal evolution of adjusted MH/HU ratio shown in Fig. 4.

Does this work provide evidence against the hypothesis that greenhouse-gas-induced warming may lead to an intensification of North Atlantic HUs? Not necessarily. Substantial multi-decadal variability may obscure trends computed over the past century16,17,18,20,21, and recent studies suggest the possibility for an aerosol-driven reduction in NA HU and MH activity over the 1960s–1980s (refs. 19,20,21,22,23,24), which may have obscured any greenhouse induced NA HU and MH intensification over the 20th century. For example, a statistical downscaling of global climate models (GCMs) that were part of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) shows a robust and significant projection for a greenhouse gas-induced 21st century NA hurricane intensification; yet applying that same method to historical simulations the greenhouse-induced intensification over the late-19th and 20th century is masked by the late-20th century aerosol-induced weakening20. Historical simulations show that aerosol forcing may have masked the 19th-20th century greenhouse-gas-induced increase in potential intensity, the theoretical upper bound on tropical cyclone intensity, even though climate models show increases in potential intensity in tropical cyclone regions in response to projected future warming24,25,26. The homogenized MH and HU data developed in the present study serve as a target for century-scale historical simulations with high-resolution dynamical and statistical models that are used for 21st century projections.

The adjusted NA basin-wide MH frequency and MH/HU ratio show substantial multi-decadal variability (Figs. 24), and the adjusted basin-wide MH frequency shows its lowest values over the 1960s–1980s (Fig. 2). These features show at least qualitative consistency with the notion of a strong influence of either internal multi-decadal climate variability and/or late-20th century aerosol-induced weakening of NA HU intensity during that period. Our homogenized records also correspond with document- and proxy-based reconstructions of Antilles and Atlantic HUs, which indicate that substantial variability in HU frequency has been present in the Atlantic, and the inactive period in the late 20th century may have been the most inactive period in recent centuries42,43.

The homogenized hurricane records suggest a consistent and marginally statistically significant decrease in the ratio of basin-wide hurricanes striking the USA as hurricanes (Table 2, row 3). Some models project an eastward shift in the location of NA TCs in response to increasing greenhouse gases (e.g., refs. 27,28), so this observed change may reflect the emerging impact of greenhouse warming on NA TC tracks. However, although there is a nominal decrease in the ratio of basin-wide MH striking the USA as MH (Table 2, row 4), the trends are not significant for any of the time periods explored.

Caution should be taken in connecting recent changes in Atlantic hurricane activity to the century-scale warming of our planet. The adjusted records presented here provide a century-scale context with which to interpret recent studies indicating a significant recent increase in NA MH/HU ratio over 1980–2017 (ref. 14), or in the fraction of NA tropical storms that rapidly intensified over 1982–2009 (ref. 15). Our results indicate that the recent increase in NA basin-wide MH/HU ratio or MH frequency is not part of a century-scale increase. Rather it is a rebound from a deep local minimum in the 1960s–1980s. We hypothesize that these recent increases contain a substantial, even dominant, contribution from internal climate variability16,17,18,20,21, and/or late-20th century aerosol increases and subsequent decreases19,20,21,22,23,24, in addition to any contributions from recent greenhouse gas-induced warming20,22,24,44. It has been hypothesized, for example, that aerosol-induced reductions in surface insolation over the tropical Atlantic since between the mid-20th century and the 1980s may have resulted in an inhibition of tropical cyclone activity19,20,21,22,23,24; the relative contributions of anthropogenic sulfate aerosols, dust, and volcanic aerosols to this signal (each of which would carry distinct implications for future hurricane evolution)—along with the magnitude and impact of aerosol-mediated cloud changes—remain a vigorous topic of scientific inquiry. It has also been suggested that multi-decadal climate variations connected to changes in meridional ocean overturning may have resulted in a minimum in northward heat transport in the Atlantic and a resulting reduction in Atlantic hurricane activity16,17,18,20,21. Given the uncertainties that presently exist in understanding multi-decadal climate variability, the climate response to aerosols and impact of greenhouse gas warming on NA TC activity, care must be exercised in not over-interpreting the implications of, and causes behind, these recent NA MH increases. Disentangling the relative impact of multiple climate drivers on NA MH activity is crucial to building a more confident assessment of the likely course of future HU activity in a world where the effects of greenhouse gas changes are expected to become increasingly important.

Children shared more treats when there was gossiping, regardless of whether the gossip receiver could identify them; this suggests that 4- and 8-year-old children attempt to manage their reputation when they could be a target of gossip

Children manage their reputation by caring about gossip. Asami Shinohara, Yasuhiro Kanakogi, Yuko Okumura, Tessei Kobayashi. Social Development, July 20 2021. https://doi.org/10.1111/sode.12548

Abstract: Individuals engage in reputation management by adjusting their behaviour in front of others. As gossip plays an important role in human society, individuals need to concern themselves with not only a present observer's evaluations but also non-present people's impressions. In this study, we investigated whether 4- and 8-year-old children (N = 144) would adjust their sharing behaviours when presented with the possibility of an observer's gossiping. We manipulated whether the receiver of gossip could identify the child being gossiped about by using real-life group boundaries. The children shared their treats with an anonymous peer in front of an observer under three conditions. In the same-group gossip condition, the observer told the children that she would report their behaviour to their friends. In the different-group gossip condition, the children's behaviours were to be reported to an unknown peer (from a different kindergarten or elementary school). In the no-gossip condition, the observer would not gossip. Children from both age groups shared more treats in the two gossip conditions than in the no-gossip circumstance, regardless of whether the gossip receiver could identify them. These findings suggest that 4- and 8-year-old children attempt to manage their reputation when they could be a target of gossip.

White sclerae in primates are associated with increased cooperative behaviors (determining a conspecifics likely intentions from their gaze direction), & dark sclerae are associated with increased intra-specific lethal aggression

The evolutionary origins of primate scleral coloration. Alex S. Mearing, Judith M. Burkart, Jacob Dunn, Sally E. Street, Kathelijne Koops. bioRxiv Jul 25 2021. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.07.25.453695

Abstract: Primate gaze following behaviors are of great interest to evolutionary scientists studying social cognition. The ability of an organism to determine a conspecifics likely intentions from their gaze direction may confer an advantage to individuals in a social group. This advantage could be cooperative and/or competitive. Humans are unusual in possessing depigmented sclerae whereas most other extant primates, including the closely related chimpanzee, possess dark scleral pigment. The origins of divergent scleral morphologies are currently unclear, though human white sclerae are often assumed to underlie our hyper-cooperative behaviors. Here, we use phylogenetic generalized least squares (PGLS) analyses with previously generated species-level scores of proactive prosociality, social tolerance (both n=15 primate species), and conspecific lethal aggression (n=108 primate species) to provide the first quantitative, comparative test of three complementary hypotheses. The cooperative eye and self-domestication explanations predict white sclerae to be associated with cooperative, rather than competitive, environments. The gaze camouflage hypothesis predicts that dark scleral pigment functions as gaze direction camouflage in competitive social environments. We show that white sclerae in primates are associated with increased cooperative behaviors whereas dark sclerae are associated with reduced cooperative behaviors and increased intra-specific lethal aggression. Our results lend support to all three hypotheses of scleral evolution, suggesting that primate scleral morphologies evolve in relation to variation in social environment.

From 2009... Good-death Beliefs and Cognition in Himalayan Hinduist Pilgrimage

Good-death Beliefs and Cognition in Himalayan Pilgrimage. Andreas Nordin. Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 21 (2009) 402-436. https://www.academia.edu/21820655

Abstract: This article discusses the notions of a good death associated with Hindu pilgrimages in the Nepalese and Tibetan Himalayas. Using theories and concepts from the cognitive anthropology of religion and from the cognitive science of religion—particularly the cultural epidemiological method—my objective is to explain why certain systems of thought and behaviour are favoured over others in cultural transmission. My thesis is that the apprehension of contagion and/or contamination, combined with prevailing cultural representations, exerts selective pressure on the formation of beliefs about good death. Pilgrimage sites are associated with intuitions about contagious and contaminating contact, avert the pollution of death, and provide links to supernatural agents.

Keywords: Hindu pilgrimage, cognition, death, good-death beliefs

We can't handle the truth... From the paper, pp 427-8:

In a summary of pilgrimage sites in the Hindu textual tradition Saraswati refers to such scriptures as the Dharmashastra, in which suicide at pilgrimage sites such as Prayag, Gangasagr och Kashi was morally sanctioned under certain condition (1983: 24). Saraswati’s presentation of the dharmashastra prescribes various forms of sanctioned and meritorious pilgrim suicides for soteriological purposes:

Following are the meritorious modes of suicides: (1) starving; (2) covering oneself with dry cowdung cakes and setting it on fire and consuming oneself therein; (3) burying oneself in snow; (4) to plunge into the water at the sangam, enumerate one’s sins and pray till alligators come and devour the man; (5) hanging with the head down in the stream and feet up and drinking the waters of Ganga; (6) cut one’s own throat, or cutting off one’s flesh and giving it as food to birds; (7) by falling head-long from a cliff, at Amarkantaka, for instance (1983: 24).

Clearly, several sources confi rm that religious suicide at pilgrimage sites has been sanctioned.

This, however, was denied by most of the pilgrims interviewed in this study. Theological norms that sanctioned ritual suicide were rejected by most of the pilgrims who were travelling to Muktinath, Pasupatunath and Mt. Kailash and Manasarovar. The pilgrims’ aversion to suicide in a context that was otherwise declared to be positive may exemplify a “theological correctness-effect” (Barrett 1999) or, more aptly, the tendency towards theological incorrectness (Slone 2004). That is, this aversion may be strengthened by fast, “online-reasoning” (Barrett 1999) associated with social exchange intuitions, rather than a slow matching of theological reflection with religious sources.

Quotations from the dharmashastra were shown to some pilgrims as an example of a scripture that did sanction suicide at pilgrimage sites. But the pilgrims generally had a strong antipathy for suicide and rarely hesitated to condemn it. Some of the pilgrims who saw the excerpts from the dharmashastra claimed they were false even though they were specially trained in the theology of their tradition.

Across cultures, males dominate reputation in most areas, like Cultural group unity, Dominance, Social and material success, & Supernatural healing; women excel in Sexuality (less infidelity)

Garfield, Zachary H., Ryan Schacht, Emily R. Post, Dominique Ingram, Andrea Uehling, and Shane Macfarlan. 2021. “The Content and Structure of Reputation Domains Across Human Societies: A View from the Evolutionary Social Sciences.” OSF Preprints. July 2. doi:10.31219/osf.io/mk4wq

Abstract: Reputations are an essential feature of human sociality, critical for the evolution of cooperation and group living. Much scholarship has focused on reputations, yet typically on a narrow range of domains (e.g., prosociality, aggressiveness), usually in isolation. Humans can develop reputations, however, from any collective information. We conducted exploratory analyses on the content, distribution, and structure of reputation domain diversity across cultures, using the Human Relations Area Files ethnographic database. After coding ethnographic texts on reputations from 153 cultures, we used hierarchical modelling, cluster analysis, and text analysis to provide an empirical view of reputation domains across societies. Findings suggest: 1) reputational domains vary cross-culturally, yet reputations for cultural conformity, prosociality, social status, and neural capital are widespread; 2) reputation domains are more variable for males than females; and 3) particular reputation domains are strongly interrelated, demonstrating a structure consistent with dimensions of human uniqueness. We label these reputational features: Cultural group unity, Dominance, Sexuality, Social and material success, and Supernatural healing. Ultimately, through this work, we highlight the need for future research on the evolution of cooperation and human sociality to consider a wider range of reputation domains, as well as their patterning by social, ecological, and gender-specific pressures.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Greece: Gay people were not less likely than people of other sexual orientations to be in a relationship; gay men but not women experienced longer spells of singlehood than people of other sexual orientations

The effect of sexual orientation on singlehood: Evidence from the Greek cultural context. Menelaos Apostolou. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 183, December 2021, 111150. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2021.111150


• Finds that, homosexual people were not less likely than people of other sexual orientations to be in a relationship.

• Finds that, homosexual people were considerably less likely to be married than people of other sexual orientations.

• Finds that, homosexual men but not women experienced longer spells of singlehood than people of other sexual orientations.

Abstract: The social stigma attached to same-sex attraction, along with the limited availability of same-sex outlets, are likely to cause difficulties to homosexual people in attracting intimate partners. Based on this reasoning, the current study aimed to test the hypothesis that homosexual people would be more likely to be involuntarily single, and would experience longer spells of singlehood than people of other sexual orientations. Evidence from a sample of 10,939 Greek-speaking participants, indicated that homosexual people were not less likely than people of other sexual orientations to be in a relationship than involuntarily single. However, homosexual people were considerably less likely to be married than people of other sexual orientations, with the effect being more pronounce for men than for women. In addition, male homosexuals experienced longer spells of singlehood than men of other sexual orientations, but no such effect was found for women.

Keywords: SinglehoodInvoluntary singlehoodSexual orientationHomosexuality

COVID-19: Across 17 countries with lower fluctuations in births, the number of births fell on average by more than 5% in Nov & Dec 2020 & 8.9% in Jan 21, YoY; Spain births plummeted by 20% in Dec 20 and Jan 21

Sobotka, Tomas, Aiva Jasilioniene, Ainhoa A. Galarza, Kryštof Zeman, Laszlo Nemeth, and Dmitri Jdanov. 2021. “Baby Bust in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic? First Results from the New STFF Data Series.” SocArXiv. March 24. doi:10.31235/osf.io/mvy62

Abstract: Past evidence on fertility responses to external shocks, including economic recessions and the outbreaks of infectious diseases, show that people often put their childbearing plans on hold in uncertain times. We study the most recent data on monthly birth trends to analyse the initial fertility responses to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research, based on new Short-Term Fertility Fluctuations (STFF) data series (https://www.humanfertility.org/cgi-bin/stff.php), embedded in the Human Fertility Database (HFD), shows the initial signs of the expected “birth recession”. Monthly number of births in many countries fell sharply between October 2020 and the most recent month observed, often bringing about a clear reversal of the previous trend. Across 17 countries with lower fluctuations in births, the number of births fell on average by 5.1% in November 2020, 6.5% in December 2020 and 8.9% in January 2021 when compared with the same month of the previous year. Spain sustained the sharpest drop in the number of births among the analysed countries, with the number of births plummeting by 20% in December 2020 and January 2021. The combined effect of rising mortality and falling birth rates is disrupting the balance of births and deaths in many countries, pushing natural population increase to record low levels in 2020 and 2021.

Additional wealth and unearned income effects: An extra dollar of unearned income in a given period reduces pre-tax labor earnings by about 50 cents, decreases total labor taxes by 10 c, & increases consumption by 60 c

How Americans Respond to Idiosyncratic and Exogenous Changes in Household Wealth and Unearned Income. Mikhail Golosov, Michael Graber, Magne Mogstad, and David Novgorodsky. Becker Friedman Institute, Working Paper 2021-76. Jul 2021.  https://bfi.uchicago.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/BFI_WP_2021-76.pdf

Abstract: We study how Americans respond to idiosyncratic and exogenous changes in household wealth and unearned income. Our analyses combine administrative data on U.S. lottery winners with an event study design that exploits variation in the timing of lottery wins. Our first contribution is to estimate the earnings responses to these windfall gains, finding significant and sizable wealth and income effects. On average, an extra dollar of unearned income in a given period reduces pre-tax labor earnings by about 50 cents, decreases total labor taxes by 10 cents, and increases consumption by 60 cents. These effects are heterogeneous across the income distribution, with households in higher quartiles of the income distribution reducing their earnings by a larger amount. Our second contribution is to develop and apply a rich life-cycle model in which heterogeneous households face non-linear taxes and make earnings choices along both intensive and extensive margins. By mapping this model to our estimated earnings responses, we obtain informative bounds on the impacts of two policy reforms: an introduction of UBI and an increase in top marginal tax rates. Our last contribution is to study how additional wealth and unearned income affect a wide range of behavior, including geographic mobility and neighborhood choice, retirement decisions and labor market exit, family formation and dissolution, entry into entrepreneurship, and job-to-job mobility.

JEL Codes: D15, J22, H21, H31, H53

Keywords: income effects; labor supply elasticities; lottery winning; taxation; universal basic income; wealth effects

Historical language records reveal a surge of cognitive distortions in recent decades: Maybe recent socioeconomic changes, new technology, and social media are associated with a surge of those distortions

Historical language records reveal a surge of cognitive distortions in recent decades. Johan Bollen et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 27, 2021 118 (30) e2102061118; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2102061118

Significance: Can entire societies become more or less depressed over time? Here, we look for the historical traces of cognitive distortions, thinking patterns that are strongly associated with internalizing disorders such as depression and anxiety, in millions of books published over the course of the last two centuries in English, Spanish, and German. We find a pronounced “hockey stick” pattern: Over the past two decades the textual analogs of cognitive distortions surged well above historical levels, including those of World War I and II, after declining or stabilizing for most of the 20th century. Our results point to the possibility that recent socioeconomic changes, new technology, and social media are associated with a surge of cognitive distortions.

Abstract: Individuals with depression are prone to maladaptive patterns of thinking, known as cognitive distortions, whereby they think about themselves, the world, and the future in overly negative and inaccurate ways. These distortions are associated with marked changes in an individual’s mood, behavior, and language. We hypothesize that societies can undergo similar changes in their collective psychology that are reflected in historical records of language use. Here, we investigate the prevalence of textual markers of cognitive distortions in over 14 million books for the past 125 y and observe a surge of their prevalence since the 1980s, to levels exceeding those of the Great Depression and both World Wars. This pattern does not seem to be driven by changes in word meaning, publishing and writing standards, or the Google Books sample. Our results suggest a recent societal shift toward language associated with cognitive distortions and internalizing disorders.

Keywords: cognitive distortionsinternalizing disordershistorical language analysis

Check also Individuals with depression express more distorted thinking on social media. Krishna C. Bathina, Marijn ten Thij, Lorenzo Lorenzo-Luaces, Lauren A. Rutter & Johan Bollen. Nature Human Behaviour, February 11 2021. https://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2021/02/individuals-with-depression-express.html

“You don’t believe in God? You ain’t Black”: Identifying as atheist elicits identity denial from Black ingroup members

Howard, S., Kennedy, K. C., & Vine, K. T. (2021). “You don’t believe in God? You ain’t Black”: Identifying as atheist elicits identity denial from Black ingroup members. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, Jul 2021. https://doi.org/10.1037/cdp0000397

Abstract: Objective: Anecdotal narratives and recent qualitative research with Black atheists document experiences of racial identity denial from the target’s perspective. However, no research to date has examined whether Black perceivers perceive Black atheists as being weakly identified with their race. Because belief in God is often inextricably linked with Black racial identity in the Black community, we hypothesized that Black atheists would be perceived as less Black than nonatheists.

Method: Black/African American adults (n = 343) were randomly assigned to view one of three Black individual’s social networking profiles (i.e., a Christian, an atheist, and religion not explicitly mentioned). After, they reported their perceptions of the targets’ perceived racial identity and trustworthiness.

Results: Black participants, regardless of how strongly they identified racially, perceived a Black Atheist as less racially identified than a Black Christian or someone whose religious affiliation was unknown. Additionally, a Black atheist was perceived as less trustworthy than a Black Christian.

Conclusions: Black atheists experience general anti-atheist bias (e.g., perceived as untrustworthy), as well as unique anti-atheist bias in the form of racial identity denial. These findings extend previous research on identity denial and intragroup dynamics and advance our understanding of the relationship between religious identification and racial identity denial within the Black community.