Wednesday, June 30, 2021

While many behaviors emerge at similar ages in chimpanzees, human infants develop behavioral traits underpinning our prosocial and ultra-cooperative nature at a much accelerated rate

Becoming uniquely human? Comparing chimpanzee to human infancy. Tobias Grossmann. Developmental Science, June 28 2021. https://doi.org/10.1111/desc.13142

Abstract: Does comparing behavioral development between chimpanzees and humans during infancy hold the key to understanding what is uniquely human? Recent work shows that while many behaviors emerge at similar ages in chimpanzees, human infants develop behavioral traits underpinning our prosocial and ultra-cooperative nature at a much accelerated rate.


Those of a left-wing orientation are more likely to use affiliative & aggressive humor styles; a general interest in politics is associated with the use of affiliative & self-enhancing styles of humor & a rejection of aggressive styles

The politics of being funny: Humor styles, trait humorousness, and political orientations. Marisa L. Kfrerer, Edward Bell, Julie Aitken Schermer. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 182, November 2021, 111073. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2021.111073

Abstract: Previous research has shown that the use and appreciation of humor are related to various political phenomena. However, to date very little has been done to examine the association between specific styles of humor and left-right political orientations, the relationship between humor styles and political engagement, or the issue of whether political orientations predict the degree to which one has the ability to appreciate and create humor in everyday life. Data on humor styles, personality, and political attitudes gathered from an adult, community sample (N = 452; 70 men and 382 women) were analyzed to address this gap in the literature. The results indicate that people with a left-wing orientation are more likely to use affiliative and aggressive humor styles, that a general interest in politics is associated with the use of affiliative and self-enhancing styles of humor and a rejection of an aggressive humor style, and that those on the political left are not inherently more humorous than those on the right. These findings suggest that disparagement theories of humor may be more applicable to liberals and those less likely to take an interest in politics, and that an examination of how humor is used and perceived can broaden our understanding of left-right political differences and political participation.

Keywords: Humor stylesHumorPoliticsLeft-wingRight-wingLiberalConservativePolitical engagementPolitical participation


When a sexist statement is followed by a brief silence that disrupts the flow of the conversation, observers think that it is contentious and that sexism is neither shared nor normative

Koudenburg, N., Kannegieter, A. Postmes, T., Kashima, Y. (2020). The subtle spreading of sexist norms. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, Oct 2020. https://doi.org/10.1177/1368430220961838

Abstract: Even when overt sexism and prejudice become rarer, social norms that perpetuate inequality are remarkably persistent. The present research lays out one of the subtle ways in which sexist norms may spread through society, by pointing to the role of responses to sexism. We investigate how third parties infer social norms about sexism when observing social interactions. In three studies among male students (Studies 1 and 2) and male and female students (Study 3), we demonstrate that subtle variations in how people respond to a sexist statement can have a substantial influence on inferences third parties make about sexist norms. Specifically, when a sexist statement is made and the conversation continues in a smoothly flowing fashion, third parties infer that this opinion is shared among interaction partners, perceived as appropriate, and that sexism is normative among them. However, when a sexist statement is followed by a brief silence that disrupts the flow of the conversation, observers think that it is contentious and that sexism is neither shared nor normative. Importantly, the effects of the manipulation generalized to the perception of sexist descriptive norms among male students in general. We conclude that social and cultural norms are not just inferred from conversation content, but also from conversational flow.

Many concerns have been raised about the perpetuation of social and cultural norms that promote inequality between social groups. The present research lays out one of the subtle ways in which sexist norms may spread through society, by pointing to the role of responses to sexism. Findings suggest that humans are very adept at interpreting social interactions, attending not just to what is said, but also to the subtle ways in which others respond. Even in the absence of explicit responses, sexist expressions are being evaluated by reference to the consensus that is inferred from the microdynamics of the conversational flow.

Across three studies, we demonstrated that subtle variations in conversational responses to a sexist statement influence the inference of sexist norms among passive observers. Specifically, when a sexist statement in a conversation (“Most women don’t have those natural leadership capacities”) was followed by the smooth continuation of the conversation, without objection to the statement, passive observers inferred that this opinion was socially accepted among interaction partners, and thus considered normative. Not only did observers feel this opinion was more shared among interaction partners (reflecting a descriptive norm shift, moderate to large effect), a meta-analysis across the three studies also suggests that participants feel the sexist statement is more appropriate to express in the conversation (reflecting an injunctive norm shift, moderate to large effect). Studies 2 and 3 demonstrated that the sexist norms inferred from a single conversation between male students were generalized to perceptions of increased endorsement of sexist ideas in the general population of male students.

The three studies further provide converging evidence on what could nullify the effect of a sexist statement on norm perception. In line with Hypothesis 2, when a sexist statement was followed by a brief silence that disrupted the flow of the conversation, observers were likely to take this as a sign that the statement was contentious and perceived the descriptive norm to be less sexist than in a conversation that continued as if nothing unusual had been said. Indeed, in the disrupted flow condition, the norm was seen to be no more sexist than in a control condition where no sexist statement was made. This demonstrates that brief disruptions of the flow of a conversation send a subtle but very powerful signal. Extending previous research that showed that speakers and observers experienced a relational threat after being exposed to a pause of less than 4 seconds in a 4-minute conversation (Koudenburg et al., 20112013b2014), the present research suggests that these relational inferences are intimately tied to the content of what is being discussed. As a result, conversational flow (or its disruption) can be a highly influential gauge of the degree of consensus within a group.

Study 3 further demonstrates that these inferences are not specific to male observers; female observers are just as likely to pay attention to conversational microdynamics when inferring sexist norms among male students. These findings point to the importance of subtle conversational cues in shaping social norms within specific groups and society in general.

Exploration of the effects on participants’ personal attitudes regarding sexism (Study 1) and their support for gender equality policies (Studies 2 and 3) revealed a somewhat different pattern. Here, we did not find a systematic effect of the responses to the sexist statement. The meta-analysis across studies, moreover, showed that observing a sexist statement, in itself, had only a small and marginally significant effect on sexist attitudes among participants. Thus, overall, there were medium to large effects on norms, and zero to small effects on attitudes. Similar effects have previously been found in within-group discussions about immigration, where strong normative shifts can occur without any corresponding attitude change (Smith & Postmes, 2011). This experimental evidence aligns with opinion polls, which show that despite substantial normative changes in the debate about, for instance, immigration in the US, attitudes on this topic have remained rather stable (e.g., Fussell, 2014). Norm perceptions, as our research confirms, are more subject to change, and important to study considering their influence on, for instance, people’s behaviour and voting (Ahler, 2014Miller et al., 2000).

The meta-analysis across studies suggests that a single instance of sexism that does not disrupt conversational flow can induce in observers the perception of sexism among the male student population in general. Apparently, inferences about perceived sexism from a small group discussion generalize to inferences about sexism in the wider population (although not to inferences about the appropriateness of such views among the population as a whole). Although we can only speculate about why descriptive population norms might be more affected than injunctive population norms, it could be that the current climate following the #metoo discussions provides many examples for people to imagine situations in which sexism may be inappropriate. The presence of an effect on the generalized descriptive norm, however, suggests that despite the obvious inappropriateness of these sexist views, observers still infer that male students may personally share them.

Whereas our previous research has focused on how flow disruptions signal disagreements, the present research reveals a potentially negative consequence of people’s natural tendency to preserve good and uninterrupted conversational flow. Oftentimes, people are motivated to maintain good relations even when they disagree with their conversation partner. When faced with a sexist expression, receivers may smoothly change topic to avoid further discussion of the sensitive issue, all the while preserving conversational flow. Interestingly, the present findings suggest that such behaviour may encourage the formation and maintenance of sexist norms. Indeed, in the absence of explicit information on receivers’ opinions on the issue, observers may infer that, in fact, the information is consensual and therefore grounded among conversation partners.

Social interactions that are observed by many people, such as those displayed on television, may be particularly influential in transmitting gender norms (Bandura, 2001Cialdini & Trost, 1998Signorielli, 1989) simply because they are observed by a large audience (Bandura, 2001Bryant & Zillmann, 1991). A substantial number of studies has documented the disproportionately high prevalence of gender stereotypic role models and sexist expressions on television (see Furnham & Paltzer, 2010, for a review). Although not much research has focused on the responses to such instances of sexism, the one study that did, documented very clear results: in many cases on prime-time television, bystanders did not respond (39% of the cases) or even responded positively to sexism (27% of the cases; Grauerholz & King, 1997). Without engaging with the consequences of the positive responses, the present research suggests that even the absence of responses could communicate social acceptance of sexist statements on prime-time television.

These findings are particularly interesting when considering that both victims and bystanders are often reluctant to confront sexism (for reviews, see Becker et al., 2014Drury & Kaiser, 2014). This reluctance is understandable given the consequences that such confrontation (vs. ignoring) may have for female victims, for instance in terms of liking (Dodd et al., 2001) or being viewed as oversensitive, interpersonally cold, or troublemakers (Czopp & Monteith, 2003Kutlaca et al., 2019). Although research suggests that confronting sexism may be less consequential for male bystanders (Gulker et al., 2013), their fear and stress of negative consequences—such as being disliked—often also lead them to refrain from confrontation (Kawakami et al., 2009). Whereas more research is needed before drawing conclusions about the role of microdynamics within all female, or mixed-gender conversations about sexism, our research is specifically engaged with the consequences of a lack of confrontation among these advantaged, male bystanders (see also Cihangir et al., 2014). In this group, the present study extends the insights into confronting discrimination in two ways: (a) it shows that a failure to confront may not just maintain the status quo, it may shift norms to become even more sexist, (b) but it also provides a relatively noncostly “tool” to prevent such change by communicating one’s disagreement with a brief conversational pause. Disrupting the flow can be a subtle, but quite effective way to signal that a sexist comment may threaten the relationship between speaker and listener, without having to engage in explicit confrontation (Koudenburg, 2018).

Variability in Infants' Functional Brain Network Connectivity Is Associated With Differences in Affect and Behavior

Variability in Infants' Functional Brain Network Connectivity Is Associated With Differences in Affect and Behavior. Caroline M. Kelsey, Katrina Farris and Tobias Grossmann. Front. Psychiatry, June 9 2021. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.685754

Abstract: Variability in functional brain network connectivity has been linked to individual differences in cognitive, affective, and behavioral traits in adults. However, little is known about the developmental origins of such brain-behavior correlations. The current study examined functional brain network connectivity and its link to behavioral temperament in typically developing newborn and 1-month-old infants (M [age] = 25 days; N = 75) using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). Specifically, we measured long-range connectivity between cortical regions approximating fronto-parietal, default mode, and homologous-interhemispheric networks. Our results show that connectivity in these functional brain networks varies across infants and maps onto individual differences in behavioral temperament. Specifically, connectivity in the fronto-parietal network was positively associated with regulation and orienting behaviors, whereas connectivity in the default mode network showed the opposite effect on these behaviors. Our analysis also revealed a significant positive association between the homologous-interhemispheric network and infants' negative affect. The current results suggest that variability in long-range intra-hemispheric and cross-hemispheric functional connectivity between frontal, parietal, and temporal cortex is associated with individual differences in affect and behavior. These findings shed new light on the brain origins of individual differences in early-emerging behavioral traits and thus represent a viable novel approach for investigating developmental trajectories in typical and atypical neurodevelopment.

Discussion

The current study examined functional connectivity in brain networks using fNIRS and behavioral temperament using parental report in young infants. Our results show that functional connectivity in long-range cortical brain networks (FPN, DMN, and HIN) can be identified in very young infants and that functional connectivity in these networks varied considerably among infants. This supports the suitability of fNIRS in assessing functional connectivity and its variability in newborn infants. Importantly, our results also show that such variability in functional brain network connectivity systematically maps onto individual differences in infant behavioral temperament. Overall, the current findings provide novel insights into the brain origins of individual differences in affect and behavior, pointing to the early perinatal foundation of human temperament.

In line with our hypothesis, functional connectivity within the three brain networks (FPN, DMN, and HIN) was significantly greater than in the control network and significantly greater than a zero-value, indicating the existence of these long-range cortical brain networks in young infants. This provides further evidence that functional brain networks exist from early in ontogeny and are detectable in young infants (121771). To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate long-range functional connectivity in FPN and DMN in young infants, suggesting a remarkably early emergence of long-range connectivity in higher-order brain networks linked to cognitive control and self-referential processes, respectively. The current findings are noteworthy also in regard to the fact that both networks involve regions in prefrontal cortex, providing new evidence from newborns and 1-month-old infants supporting the view that prefrontal cortex plays a critical role in human brain function from very early in development (147275).

In addition to the general difference in connectivity between the functional and the (non-functional) control network, we also found that activity in the FPN was significantly greater than in the DMN and HIN (whereas there was no difference in connectivity levels found between the DMN and HIN). One possible interpretation of this finding is that functional connectivity in the FPN might have been enhanced when compared to the other functional networks because, like other resting-state studies with infants, the participants were presented with a video accompanied by music during the fNIRS measurement (37). In other words, the FPN might have been more engaged because infants were attending to external audio-visual stimuli [note that all infants were exposed to the same video (audio-visual) stimulus]. Here, it is important to mention that prior work with adults using fMRI shows that functional connectivity in higher-order cortical resting-state networks can be reliably acquired during the presentation of videos and corresponds to functional connectivity acquired in the absence of any stimulus (476). Nonetheless, based on recent work showing that preterm infants display enhanced functional connectivity in higher-order cognitive networks in response to music (55), we speculate that enhanced functional connectivity in FPN might at least be partly explained by having newborn infants listen to music in the current study. Clearly, future research with infants which systematically compares stimulation protocols is needed to examine whether and how functional connectivity is influenced by the measurement context and the stimulation protocol used. Overall, our functional connectivity analysis supports the notion that intrinsic functional connectivity in cortical brain networks and its variability can be effectively mapped in newborn infants using fNIRS.

Having established functional connectivity in these brain networks as variable and distinct from a (non-functional) control network then allowed for the examination of specific associations between brain network connectivity and infant behavioral temperament. Our results confirmed our hypothesis and showed that infants' regulation/orienting behaviors were associated with functional connectivity in the FPN with greater connectivity in this network being associated with enhanced regulation and orienting. This result is in line with prior work linking functional connectivity in FPN to cognitive control of attention and behavior in adults (248) and more recent work with infants (43). The current results further showed the opposite pattern of association for functional connectivity in DMN, with greater connectivity associated with reduced regulation and orienting, which is in agreement with our hypothesis based on the DMN previously being linked to self-referential, stimulus-independent thought and mind-wandering in adults (248) and infants (43). To obtain such opposing effects of functional connectivity in FPN and DMN is reminiscent of seminal findings supporting the existence of anti-correlated brain networks in adults (77) and may suggest that similar organizational principles are at play in newborn infants. However, it should be emphasized that functional connectivity in the FPN and DMN in the current study was not anticorrelated as such, but rather had opposing effects on infants' behavioral and attentional regulation.

Our results concerning behavioral and attentional regulation and their functional connectivity correlates in infants are principally in line with prior research showing hyperconnectivity in the DMN and hypoconnectivity in the FPN in adults with negative emotionality and related mental health outcomes (333448). Moreover, our data show that infants' functional connectivity in the HIN was associated with negative emotionality. Contrary to prior work with adults indicating that hypoconnectivity is associated with negative emotionality and depression (333536) and work with infants indicating that corpus callosum length (thought to underly the HIN) is negatively associated with later emotion regulation abilities (45), the current infant data show that greater connectivity between homologous brain regions in both hemispheres was associated with greater negative affect. It is unclear why the direction of the association (positive vs. negative) would differ as a function of age (newborn infants in the current study and preschool aged and adults in previous work), but it is worth noting that the experience and display of negative affect only gradually emerges during infancy and may thus not be fully present in newborn infants (53).

Taken together, the current findings demonstrate specific associations between functional brain network connectivity and behavioral temperament in newborn infants. This suggests a remarkably early emergence of functional networks with behavioral relevance and highlights the importance of evaluating individual differences reflected in intrinsic brain connectivity. Although there are many advantages in the current approach of using fNIRS to examine functional brain connectivity, including its cost-effective and non-confining application, there are some limitations that need to be mentioned. First, because fNIRS is limited in monitoring activity from (superficial) cortical structures (78), our approach did not allow us to measure activity from deeper cortical and subcortical regions and include those in our network analyses. Second, from a developmental perspective, it should be noted that our analysis is limited to only one age group and comprised of very young infants. It is thus critically important to further assess the development of variability in these brain networks and their associations with behavioral temperament over developmental time to determine its long-term effects and the robustness of these associations (69). Third, it is important to note that these associations were assessed in a population of healthy infants, meaning there were no known birth or health complications at the time of the visit. Therefore, given the breadth of work examining how preterm birth and other medical complications (e.g., hypoxia) impact brain development, it will be important to test whether or not these associations generalize to other populations (167980).

In conclusion, the current study provides novel insights into the use of fNIRS in identifying neural endophenotypes—variability in functional brain network connectivity—linked to behavioral temperament traits in early human development. The present findings support the notion that functionally distinct neural networks are implicated in regulatory and emotional behaviors already in newborn infants, adding a critical developmental component to efforts directed at mapping how the individual functional connectome links to affective, cognitive, and behavioral traits. The current findings shed light on the brain origins of individual differences in early-emerging behavioral traits and provide the basis for future research examining the genetic and environmental factors contributing to and the long-term developmental consequences of this brain-behavior correlation. More generally, the current study provides early ontogenetic evidence for the idea that studying functional brain network connectivity is an effective way in helping bridge the gap between brain and behavior.

Less attractive & less intelligent-looking individuals seemed less human; attractiveness better predicted humanness attributions to women, perceived intelligence better predicted humanness attributions to men

Alaei, R., Deska, J. C., Hugenberg, K., & Rule, N. O. (2021). People attribute humanness to men and women differently based on their facial appearance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Jun 2021. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000364

Abstract: Recognizing others’ humanity is fundamental to how people think about and treat each other. People often ascribe greater humanness to groups that they socially value, but do they also systematically ascribe social value to different individuals? Here, we tested whether people (de)humanize individuals based on social traits inferred from their facial appearance, focusing on attractiveness and intelligence. Across five studies, less attractive and less intelligent-looking individuals seemed less human, but this varied by target gender: Attractiveness better predicted humanness attributions to women whereas perceived intelligence better predicted humanness attributions to men (Study 1). This difference seems to stem from gender stereotypes (preregistered Studies 2 and 3) and even extends to attributions of children’s humanness (preregistered Study 4). Moreover, this gender difference leads to biases in moral treatment that confer more value to the lives of attractive women and intelligent-looking men (preregistered Study 5). These data help to explain how interpersonal judgments of individuals interact with intergroup biases to promote gender-based discrimination, providing greater nuance to the mechanisms and outcomes of dehumanization. 


Gay men earned less than heterosexual men; gay women earned more than heterosexual women, while bisexual men earned less than heterosexual men; bisex women earned less than heterosexual women

Sexual Orientation and Earnings. A Meta-Analysis 2012-2020. Nick Drydakis. Global Labor Organization Discussion Paper No. 862. Jun 2021. http://hdl.handle.net/10419/235027

Abstract: This meta-analysis utilizes 24 papers published between 2012-2020 that focus on earnings differences by sexual orientation. The papers cover the period between 1991 and 2018, and countries in Europe, North America and Australia. The meta-analysis indicates that gay men earned less than heterosexual men. Lesbian women earned more than heterosexual women, while bisexual men earned less than heterosexual men. Bisexual women earned less than heterosexual women. According to the meta-analysis, in data sets after 2010, gay men and bisexual men and women continue to experience earnings penalties, while lesbian women continue to experience earnings premiums. Τhe meta-regression estimates indicate relationships between study characteristics and the estimated earnings effects for sexual minorities. For instance, regions, sexual minority data set sizes, and earnings classifications influence the outcomes. The persistence of earnings penalties for gay men and bisexual men and women in the face of anti-discrimination policies represents a cause for concern and indicates the need for comprehensive legislation and workplace guidelines to guarantee that people receive fair pay and not experience any form of workplace inequality simply because of their sexual orientation.


Considering narcissism and particularly psychopathy and sadism when investigating individual male preferences for outdoor sex services that are being offered by particularly vulnerable women

Darker Deals? Male Dark Tetrad preferences for female sex worker services. Sara Hughes, Joanna Adhikari, Katharine Goulding. Heliyon, June 24 2021, e07389. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2021.e07389

Abstract: The present study explored links between male Dark Tetrad personality traits (psychopathy, Machiavellianism, narcissism, sadism) and preferences for using outdoor and indoor female sex worker services. We also investigated the mediating effects of perceiving sex workers as deviant and as victims. Heterosexual males ( N = 347) were recruited to take part in an online survey investigating personality and attitudes towards female sex workers. Path analyses revealed that psychopathy and sadism positively predicted preferences for outdoor but not indoor female sex services. Sex worker choice mediated positive links between narcissism and outdoor female sex worker preferences. Compared to indoor, outdoor sex services are associated with increased aggression and violence. Our findings highlight the importance of considering narcissism and particularly psychopathy and sadism when investigating individual male preferences for outdoor sex services that are being offered by particularly vulnerable women.

Keywords: Female sex servicesDark tetradPsychopathyNarcissismMachiavellianismSadism

4. Discussion

We explored links between male Dark Tetrad personality traits and outdoor/indoor female sex worker preferences, and the mediating effects of perceptions of sex worker choice and deviancy. Psychopathy and sadism positively predicted preferences for outdoor sex services only. It is perhaps not surprising that exploitative individuals with skills for identifying vulnerability reveal stronger preferences for particularly vulnerable women offering outdoor sex. Individuals high in psychopathy may prefer outdoor services for obtaining power (Kajonius et al., 2015 & Hare, 2006), and to achieve certain goals (Filipkowski & Derbis, 2020 & Hare, 1996), whereas opportunities to behave aggressively towards others may induce pleasure for sadistic individuals (Russell et al., 2017 & Lee, 2019). Such pleasure and successful goal achievements are less likely when using indoor sex services due to set rules and increased protection usually provided via third-party organisations.

Sex worker choice mediated positive relations between narcissism and preferences for outdoor sex services only. As narcissists exert increased efforts in impression management (Bastian, 2019 & Steinmetz et al., 2017), believing sex workers choose their profession may offer narcissistic justifications for using outdoor sex services. Perceiving sex workers as deviant mediated the negative relations between narcissism and psychopathy and indoor services. Relatedly, male perceptions of female deviance are a form of hostile sexism, referring to male preferences to maintain power over women. Women are perceived as deviant if they pose a threat to male dominance and power (de Zavala and Bierwiaczonek, 2020). As psychopathy and narcissism relate to increased desires for power and dominance (Waddell et al., 2020 & Hare, 1996), indoor sex workers may pose additional threats due to protection from third-party involvement. Whereas outdoor sex workers largely work in isolation. Future research could explore whether Dark Tetrad males perceive indoor sex workers as more deviant than outdoor sex workers.

Machiavellianism did however emerge as a non-significant predictor of preferences for outdoor and indoor sex services. Although Machiavellianism is commonly linked with exploitative mating strategies, these individuals demonstrate assortative mating preferences for social status and wealth when seeking short and long-term partners (Iná ncsi et al., 2016Marcinkowska et al., 2021 & Birkas et al., 2020). Status and wealth are external characteristics rarely associated with female sex workers. Furthermore, Machiavellian males report longer-term mating orientations, take fewer risks, and report higher levels of sexual disgust. (Burtaverde et al., 2021 & Karandikar et al., 2019), possibly resulting in reduced interests in engaging with either form of sex services. Additionally, Machiavellianism did not predict negative attitudes towards sex workers. Machiavellian males may therefore be less interested in using female sex services compared to fellow Dark Tetrad males.

Limitations and future research

Several limitations from our study should be addressed, however. First, we asked participants to rate their preferences for sex services, rather than obtain actual behavioural measures. Previous research has however reported positive relations between the original Dark Triad preferences and behavioural outcomes (Gott & Hetzel-Riggin, 2018). Second, we cannot infer causal conclusions due to the cross-sectional nature of our research, thus future research would benefit from using more objective behavioural methods. Finally, as 90% of our sample were aged between 18 and 38 years, we cannot really account for Dark Tetrad traits in older men who may reveal increased preferences for indoor services (Milrod & Monto, 2017) for companionship. Future research could address this as well as explore motivations behind preferences, including whether services are preferred for companionship or casual sex.

5. Conclusion

Overall, we contribute towards the existing literature on male Dark Tetrad personality traits by providing novel findings in relation to female sex worker services. Females who offer outdoor compared to indoor sex services report increased incidences of aggression and violence and are recognised as being particularly vulnerable to exploitative individuals who are adept at recognising vulnerability. Consequently, it is important to identify individual preferences for using outdoor sex services, so that awareness can be increased for these particularly vulnerable women. Our results highlight the importance of considering males high in Dark Tetrad narcissism and particularly sadism and psychopathy, who reported increased preferences for outdoor compared to indoor female sex worker services. We found no evidence linking Machiavellianism to either form of female sex worker preferences. As these findings are preliminary in nature, it would be beneficial for future research to determine the replicability of our results.

The finding that bisexuals are the sexual orientation group with the most pronounced Dark Triad profiles is opposite to what would be predicted by the prosociality hypothesis of same-sex sexual attraction

The dark side of the rainbow: Homosexuals and bisexuals have higher Dark Triad traits than heterosexuals. Peter K. Jonason, Severi Luoto. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 181, October 2021, 111040. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2021.111040

Abstract: Research on the Dark Triad traits—psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and narcissism—reveals malevolent, transgressive, and self-centered aspects of personality. Little is known about the Dark Triad traits in individuals differing in sexual orientation, with some studies showing that non-heterosexual individuals have Dark Triad profiles resembling those of opposite-sex heterosexual individuals. In a cross-national sample (N = 4063; 1507 men, 2556 women; Mage = 24.78, SDage = 7.55; 90.58% heterosexual, 5.74% bisexual, 2.83% homosexual) collected online via student and snowball sampling, we found in sex-aggregated analyses that bisexuals and homosexuals were more Machiavellian than heterosexuals. Bisexuals were more psychopathic and narcissistic than heterosexuals. The only significant findings in within-sex comparisons showed that self-identified bisexual women scored higher on all Dark Triad traits than heterosexual women. The findings support the gender shift hypothesis of same-sex sexual attraction in bisexual women, but not in lesbians nor in men. The finding that bisexuals are the sexual orientation group with the most pronounced Dark Triad profiles is opposite to what would be predicted by the prosociality hypothesis of same-sex sexual attraction. The life history and minority stress implications of these findings are discussed as alternative hypotheses to the gender shift hypothesis.

Keywords: HomosexualityBisexualitySexual orientationDark TriadGender shift hypothesis


Donations of time are seen as more virtuous than donations of money, despite people’s (correct) belief that money-donations help more people; this is due to the perception that time-donors are more emotionally invested

Moral signaling through donations of money and time. Samuel G.B. Johnson, Seo Young Park. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Volume 165, July 2021, Pages 183-196. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.obhdp.2021.05.004

Highlights

• Donations of time are seen as more virtuous than donations of money.

• This occurs despite people’s (correct) belief that money-donations help more people.

• The effect is driven by the perception that time-donors are more emotionally invested.

• These judgments influence interpersonal attraction and donor behavior.

• The findings support reputation-signaling accounts of prosocial behavior.

Abstract

Prosocial acts typically take the form of time- or money-donations. Do third-parties differ in how they evaluate these different kinds of donations? Here, we show that people view time-donations as more morally praiseworthy and more diagnostic of moral character than money-donations, even when the resource investment is comparable. This moral preference occurs because people perceive time-donations as signaling greater emotional investment in the cause and therefore better moral character; this occurs despite the (correct) belief that time-donations are typically less effective than money-donations (Study 1). This effect in turn is explained by two mechanisms: People believe that time-donations are costlier even when their objective costs are equated, which happens because people rely on a lay theory associating time with the self (Study 2). The more signaling power of time-donations has downstream implications for interpersonal attractiveness in a dating context (Study 3A), employment decisions (Study 3B), and donor decision-making (Study 3). Moreover, donors who are prompted with an affiliation rather (versus dominance) goal are likelier to favor time-donations (Study 4). However, reframing money-donations in terms of time (e.g., donating a week’s salary) reduced and even reversed these effects (Study 5). These results support theories of prosociality that place reputation-signaling as a key motivator of moral behavior. We discuss implications for the charity market and for social movements, such as effective altruism, that seek to maximize the social benefit of altruistic acts.

Keywords: Prosocial behaviorAltruismMoral psychologyReputation signalingCharitable giving


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The probability of shifting from an omnivore diet to a vegetarian or vegan diet over a one-year period was low, & veganism was the least stable dietary category; being men & conservatism predicted lower transitioning to no-meat diets

To meat, or not to meat: A longitudinal investigation of transitioning to and from plant-based diets. Taciano L. Milfont et al. Appetite, June 29 2021, 105584. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2021.105584

Abstract: Concerns over potential negative effects of excessive meat consumption on both the environment and personal health, coupled with long-standing debates over animal rights, have motivated research on the prevalence and predictors of plant-based versus meat-based diets. Yet few studies have examined longitudinal trends in dietary behaviours using large national samples. We address this gap by examining the prevalence, predictors, and annual change in the self-reported dietary behaviour of a large national probability sample of New Zealand adults (categorised as omnivore, vegetarian, or vegan; Ns = 12,259–50,964). Consistent with our pre-registered hypotheses, omnivore was the most prevalent dietary category (94.1%). Moreover, higher levels of conservative ideologies (i.e., political conservatism, Right-Wing Authoritarianism, and Social Dominance Orientation), lower disgust sensitivity, and lower subjective health predicted having an omnivore (vs. vegetarian or vegan) diet. Longitudinal analyses further revealed that the probability of shifting from an omnivore diet to a vegetarian or vegan diet over a one-year period was low, and that veganism was the least stable dietary category. Both gender (men) and political conservatism predicted lower probabilities of transitioning from meat to no-meat diets over time.

Keywords: Dietary preferencesMeat eatingOmnivoreVegetarianismVeganismTransitionLongitudinal


A neural circuit for spirituality and religiosity derived from patients with brain lesions: There is a common brain circuit in a region previously implicated in fear conditioning, pain modulation, and altruistic behavior

A neural circuit for spirituality and religiosity derived from patients with brain lesions. Michael A. Ferguson et al. Biological Psychiatry, June 29 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2021.06.016

Abstract

Background: Over 80% of the global population consider themselves religious with even more identifying as spiritual, but the neural substrates of spirituality and religiosity remain unresolved.

Methods: In two independent brain lesion datasets (N1=88; N2=105), we apply lesion network mapping to test whether lesion locations associated with spiritual and religious belief map to a specific human brain circuit.

Results: We found that brain lesions associated with self-reported spirituality map to a brain circuit centered on the periaqueductal grey. Intersection of lesion locations with this same circuit aligned with self-reported religiosity in an independent dataset, as well as prior reports of lesions associated with hyper-religiosity. Lesion locations causing delusions and alien limb syndrome also intersected this circuit.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that spirituality and religiosity map to a common brain circuit centered on the periaqueductal grey, a brainstem region previously implicated in fear conditioning, pain modulation, and altruistic behavior.


I will present research and theory connecting the intersecting evolution of sex chromosomes, the placenta, and pregnancy, and how those combine to result in sex differences in many human diseases

Sex-biased genome evolution. Melissa Wilson. Human Behavior & Evolution Society HBES 2021, Jun-Jul 2021. https://www.hbes.com/hbes-2021-wilson/

Abstract: I will present research and theory connecting the intersecting evolution of sex chromosomes, the placenta, and pregnancy, and how those combine to result in sex differences in many human diseases . I will propose how changes in industrialized society (e.g., having fewer pregnancies, and potentially even that the age at first reproduction is later) may be exacerbating these sex differences. In particular, we hypothesize that, ancestrally, sex-specific immune modulation evolved to facilitate survival of the pregnant person in the presence of an invasive placenta and an immunologically challenging pregnancy – an idea we term the ‘pregnancy compensation hypothesis’ (PCH). Further, we propose that sex differences in immune function are mediated, at least in part, by the evolution of gene content and dosage on the sex chromosomes, and are regulated by reproductive hormones. Finally, we propose that changes in reproductive ecology in industrialized environments exacerbate these evolved sex differences, resulting in the increasing risk of autoimmune disease observed in females, and a counteracting reduction in diseases such as cancer that can be combated by heightened immune surveillance. The PCH generates a series of expectations that can be tested empirically and that may help to identify the mechanisms underlying sex differences in modern human diseases. I will also discuss how the potentially confounding observations of male-biased disease severity and death due to COVID-19, and the female-bias of severe response to the SARS-CoV2 vaccines are consistent with the PCH.


Favorite and least favorite colors are different in the digital age: Now Black, Pink Yarrow, and Blazing Yellow are the favorite ones, before they were the traditional red-green-blue

Exploring color attractiveness and its relevance to fashion. Kodzoman Duje, Hladnik Ales, Pavko Cuden Alenka, Cok Vanja. Color Research & Application, June 28 2021. https://doi.org/10.1002/col.22705

Abstract: Many studies have been conducted on the phenomenon of color preference, with the aim of identifying the key color preferences. Most of the previous studies have been placing blue in the most preferred position and green-yellow in the least preferred position. This study was conducted online and aims to showcase new color preference trends in the digital age. The colors selected for this study were based on the colors most frequently mentioned in previous color studies. Here, we show an evaluation using 14 Pantone colors as stimuli on the sample of (N = 146) participants based on pairwise adjectives (attractive-unattractive). Principal component analysis and other multivariate statistics were used to examine participants' color attractiveness. In addition, gender and age were examined to determine if they had an impact on color attractiveness ratings. Results show that participants tend to prefer distinctive colors (black, pink, yellow), but there are slight differences in preferences that could be related to the influence of gender and age.


5 CONCLUSION

This study examined color preferences in relation to attractiveness across all decades of the 20th century. Both ends of the preference spectrum (unattractive and attractive) were measured, and (N = 146) subjects were used. The study was conducted online with the goal of revealing color preference trends in the digital age. The following conclusions were indicated in the results, and can be used to guide future research:
  • Three most unattractive colors were: Caramel Cafe (brown), Desert Sage (gray), and Sulfur Spring (green-yellow). These results are consistent with the findings of previous studies showing that we are repelled by colors associated with negative connotations because of experiences we have had with them.
  • Three most attractive colors were: Black, Pink Yarrow, and Blazing Yellow. These results did not replicate previous findings, but provided new findings in the literature. Subjects did not report that their most preferred color combination matched those found in the literature (blue, red, or green). This is because the stability of preferences depends on the time period and era we live in—all influenced by age, gender, and likely education.
  • Some differences in color perception were found depending on the age of the respondent. We found a statistically significant age difference in relation to Black, Caramel Cafe, and Ultra Violet. Caramel Cafe and Ultra Violet were perceived as the most attractive colors by far in the 45 to 54 age group, while the same age group rated black as the least attractive.
  • Some differences were also found between the two genders in color preference. The study found statistically significant gender differences in relation to yellow, white and green-yellow. All three colors were perceived as more attractive by women than by men.
  • Results from our study show that chromatic colors have been perceived as more attractive than achromatic, with exception for black.

Limitation of our study is that not all colors were included. Our results are limited to exploring attractiveness of colors that are defined to be trendy in season autumn/winter 2020/2021 in the fashion industry. Future research should focus more on the development of new technologies and digital influences regarding color preferences and their effects. Current sustainable ways of thinking should also be considered as it is evident that color preference trends are shifting due to positive sustainability trends.

Hadza with greater exposure to other cultures (schooling or participating in the market economy) shared more preferentially with campmates they ranked higher on generosity; the others showed no preference to sharing with generous campmates

Hadza hunter-gatherers with greater exposure to other cultures preferentially share with generous campmates. Kristopher M Smith. Human Behavior & Evolution Society HBES 2021, Jun-Jul 2021. https://osf.io/p9kmt

Abstract: Researchers hypothesize that we have an evolved partner choice psychology that tracks the cooperative reputations of others and motivates us to compete for access to cooperative partners, such as by sharing more with them. However, recent models and evidence suggest cultural institutions shape this partner choice psychology. Here we test Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania similarly share more with people perceived as cooperators and whether this is moderated by exposure to other cultures. Ninety-two Hadza ranked eight of their campmates on generosity and foraging ability and then played a game in which they could direct finite resources to those campmates. We found that Hadza with greater exposure to other cultures, such as via schooling or participating in the market economy, shared more preferentially with campmates they ranked higher on generosity, whereas Hadza with lower exposure showed no preference to sharing with generous campmates. However, this moderating effect was specific to generosity—regardless of exposure, Hadza did not share more preferentially with campmates ranked higher on foraging ability. These results suggest that cultural institutions shape Hadza partner choice psychology.


Hedonism is defined as valuing the personal experience of pleasure and comfort as a guiding principle in one’s life; There is no Temporal Relationship Between Hedonic Values And Life Satisfaction

There is no Temporal Relationship Between Hedonic Values And Life Satisfaction: A Longitudinal Study Spanning 13 Years. Mohsen Joshanloo. Journal of Research in Personality, June 29 2021, 104125. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2021.104125

Highlights

• The present study used a Dutch sample collected across 5 waves over 13 years.

• There is no longitudinal relationship between hedonism and life satisfaction.

• Hedonism declines over time.

Abstract: Hedonism is defined as valuing the personal experience of pleasure and comfort as a guiding principle in one’s life. Cross-sectional research shows null or weak positive associations between hedonism and life satisfaction. To examine the longitudinal associations between hedonism and life satisfaction, the present study used a nationally representative sample of Dutch adults (N = 7,199), collected across 5 waves during about 13 years. The lagged within-person associations between the 2 variables indicated that hedonism and life satisfaction are not longitudinally linked. The results also showed that whereas hedonism steadily decreased over time, life satisfaction showed a quadratic trend over the course of the study.

Keywords: hedonismlife satisfactionlongitudinalRI-CLPMgrowth


Sexual Language Use in U.S. College Students: Few terms were perceived as degrading or aggressive today (unlike 20 years ago); students believe that societal changes (sex education & #MeToo) are responsible for changes

Sexual Language Use in U.S. College Students Across Twenty Years. Sarah K. Murnen, Paige E. Bullock, Eleanor J. Tetreault, Sydney A. Matteson & Lauren Redman. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Jun 28 2021. https://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-021-02022-8

Abstract: Study 1: Students (N = 256 women, 129 men, and 13 nonbinary individuals, 61.8% heterosexual) from the same college campus studied 20 years ago (Murnen, 2000) reported on terms they used to refer to male genitals, female genitals, and “having sex” either within the context of an intimate partnership, talking with friends of their gender, or talking with friends in a mixed-gender group. Terms for genitals were coded as degrading or not, and terms for sex as aggressive or not, based on the previous study. Whereas in the past almost three-quarters of men used a degrading term for female genitals, that amount decreased to about one-quarter in the present sample. On the other hand, among women there was a significant increase in the use of a degrading term for women’s genitals in the intimate partner context, particularly among sexual minority women. Degrading and aggressive language use was predicted by pornography use and endorsement of gender stereotyped sexual attitudes. Study 2: Interpretations of sexual terms were studied among 29 sexual minority women, 81 heterosexual women, 16 sexual minority men, and 54 heterosexual men. We found that few terms were perceived as degrading or aggressive today (unlike 20 years ago) and that students believe that societal changes such as sexual education and the #MeToo movement were perceived as responsible for changes in sexual language use.


Researchers seem surprised... Image Recognition Systems: Images of women received three times more annotations related to physical appearance; women in images are recognized at substantially lower rates in comparison with men

Schwemmer, Carsten, Carly Knight, Emily Bello-Pardo, Stan Oklobdzija, Martijn Schoonvelde, and Jeffrey W. Lockhart. 2018. “Diagnosing Gender Bias in Image Recognition Systems.” SocArXiv. September 21. doi:10.1177/2378023120967171

Abstract: Image recognition systems offer the promise to learn from images at scale without requiring expert knowledge. However, past research suggests that machine learning systems often produce biased output. In this article, we evaluate potential gender biases of commercial image recognition platforms using photographs of U.S. members of Congress and a large number of Twitter images posted by these politicians. Our crowdsourced validation shows that commercial image recognition systems can produce labels that are correct and biased at the same time as they selectively report a subset of many possible true labels. We find that images of women received three times more annotations related to physical appearance. Moreover, women in images are recognized at substantially lower rates in comparison with men. We discuss how encoded biases such as these affect the visibility of women, reinforce harmful gender stereotypes, and limit the validity of the insights that can be gathered from such data.



Why Has Personality Psychology Played an Outsized Role in the Credibility Revolution?

Atherton, Olivia E., PhD, Joanne M. Chung, Kelci Harris, Julia M. Rohrer, David M. Condon, Felix Cheung, Simine Vazire, et al. 2021. “Why Has Personality Psychology Played an Outsized Role in the Credibility Revolution?” PsyArXiv. June 28. doi:10.31234/osf.io/h45yn

Abstract: Personality is not the most popular subfield of psychology. But, in one way or another, personality psychologists have played an outsized role in the ongoing “credibility revolution” in psychology. Not only have individual personality psychologists taken on visible roles in the movement, but our field’s practices and norms have now become models for other fields to emulate (or, for those who share Baumeister’s (2016) skeptical view of the consequences of increasing rigor, a model for what to avoid). In this article we discuss some unique features of our field that may have placed us in an ideal position to be leaders in this movement. We do so from a subjective perspective, describing our impressions and opinions about possible explanations for personality psychology’s disproportionate role in the credibility revolution. We also discuss some ways in which personality psychology remains less-than-optimal, and how we can address these flaws.


Infants look longer at impossible or unlikely events than at possible events: Stable individual differences in infants’ responses to violations of intuitive physics

Stable individual differences in infants’ responses to violations of intuitive physics. Jasmin Perez and Lisa Feigenson. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences July 6, 2021 118 (27) e2103805118; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2103805118

Abstract: Infants look longer at impossible or unlikely events than at possible events. While these responses to expectancy violations have been critical for understanding early cognition, interpreting them is challenging because infants’ responses are highly variable. This variability has been treated as an unavoidable nuisance inherent to infant research. Here we asked whether the variability contains signal in addition to noise: namely, whether some infants show consistently stronger responses to expectancy violations than others. Infants watched two unrelated physical events 6 mo apart; these events culminated in either an impossible or an expected outcome. We found that infants who exhibited the strongest looking response to an impossible event at 11 mo also exhibited the strongest response to an entirely different impossible event at 17 mo. Furthermore, violation-of-expectation responses in infancy predicted children’s explanation-based curiosity at 3 y old. In contrast, there was no longitudinal relation between infants’ responses to events with expected outcomes at 11 and 17 mo, nor any link with later curiosity; hence, infants’ responses do not merely reflect individual differences in attention but are specific to expectancy violations. Some children are better than others at detecting prediction errors—a trait that may be linked to later cognitive abilities.

Keywords: cognitive developmentinfantspredictionsurpriseindividual differences


Monday, June 28, 2021

Divisions of labor within & between pathways of the human immunological & central nervous systems dictate without conscious perception the allocation of energy into somatic growth, somatic maintenance, reproduction, & social capital

The Human Colony: Origins and Function. Magdalena Hurtado. Human Behavior & Evolution Society HBES 2021, Jun-Jul 2021. https://www.hbes.com/hbes-2021-hurtado/

The “Human Colony” is a term I use to refer to the universal blueprint of the inputs, flows, and outputs of the built environments that humans invent. The Human Colony’s blueprint is universal and adaptable, taking on different dynamics as it changed the very conditions it started from 100,000 years ago in Africa, and as it adapted to the conditions it created anew since that time. The blueprint consists of observable physical and behavioral extensions of fertility- and survival-work modules and the tacit rules that produce them. These tacit rules give life to the Human Colony, but what are they, and what function do they serve? There are more rules than we can ever know, so I looked for the essential few. They are divisions of labor working together in different sub-systems of the Colony. Susceptibility-based divisions of labor dictate individuals’ fertility and survival work schedules. Divisions of labor within and between pathways of the human immunological and central nervous systems dictate without conscious perception the allocation of energy into somatic growth, somatic maintenance, reproduction, and social capital. Taken together, the Human Colony’s blueprint and tacit rules serve one function: to improve human population health through horizontal and vertical replication of its sub-systems. The most important implication of the Human Colony paradigm for the 21st Century is that the production of population health is the centerpiece of our species’ natural history and expansion. Ignoring this conclusion, if accurate, while increasing our reliance on artificial intelligence within the narrow scope of public health disciplines may stymie the hope of a better life for all.


Male biathletes improve their performance in conditioning task (skiing) but deteriorate in coordination task (shooting) in the presence of an audience; female athletes show the reverse pattern

Selection bias in social facilitation theory? Audience effects on elite biathletes' performance are gender-specific. Amelie Heinricha et al. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, Volume 55, July 2021, 101943. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2021.101943

Highlights

• Social facilitation effects in elite biathlon are task- and gender-specific

• Male biathletes improve their performance in conditioning task (skiing) but deteriorate in coordination task (shooting) in the presence of an audience; female athletes show the reverse pattern

• Sample selection bias in past research (<1/3 female) may explain the results, thereby questioning the generalizability of social facilitation theory

Abstract: Social facilitation proves robust in conditioning tasks (e.g., running), yet in coordination tasks (e.g., rifle-shooting) some studies report performance deterioration. Recent Biathlon World Cup data offered the unique opportunity to test this task-specificity (conditioning = cross country skiing, coordination = rifle-shooting). Audience restrictions due to COVID-19 allowed to compare athletes' performance in the absence (2020) and presence (season 2018/2019) of an audience. Gender-specific regulations (e.g., course length) necessitated the inclusion of gender as additional factor. Results of 83 (sprint competition) and 34 (mass start competition) biathletes revealed that task-specific social facilitation is moderated by gender: In the presence of an audience male biathletes showed performance improvements in the conditioning task and performance deteriorations in the coordination task; female biathletes showed the reverse pattern. This gender dependency may have gone unnoticed in the past due to sample selection bias (<1/3 female), thereby questioning the generalizability of social facilitation theory.

Keywords: Social facilitationMotor performancePresence of othersRifle shootingCross country skiing


Why Do People Watch Porn? An Evolutionary Perspective on the Reasons for Pornography Consumption

Why Do People Watch Porn? An Evolutionary Perspective on the Reasons for Pornography Consumption. Vlad Burtaverde et al. Evolutionary Psychology, June 28, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1177/14747049211028798

Abstract: We investigated the reasons for pornography consumption using a bottom-up approach (i.e., open-ended questionnaire) and proposed that those reasons would reflect a short-term mating orientation of individuals that watch pornography and a strategy that should help them to attract or maintain potential mates easier (i.e., a fitness increasing strategies) by enhancing their sexual knowledge through pornography watching. In Study 1 (N = 276), relying on an open-ended questionnaire and a content analysis, we identified 78 reasons for why people claim to consume pornography. In Study 2 (N = 322), we grouped those reasons into categories using a series of factor analyses, resulting in four dimensions of reasons for watching pornography: (1) increased sex drive, (2) enhancing sexual performance, (3) social and instrumental reasons, and (4) lack of relational and emotional skills. The content of these factors supported the idea that the reasons for consuming pornography are reflections of a short-term mating orientation and a way to enhance their sexual knowledge and performance. Individuals with higher scores on the dimensions of reasons for pornography consumptions had higher scores on the Dark Triad traits and sociosexuality, mate-value and slow life history strategies (in the case of enhancing sexual performance dimension). In Study 3 (N = 327), we tested to what extent the factorial structure of the reasons for pornography consumption can be confirmed via Confirmatory factor analysis and tested the convergent validity of the reasons to consume pornography.

Keywords: pornography consumption, evolutionary psychology, dark triad traits, sex differences, sociosexuality

In this study, we examined the self-reported reasons people consume pornography, as well as the personality correlates of those reason. In Study 1, we identified 78 reasons for watching pornography that we clustered in four broad dimensions in Study 2: increased sex drive, enhancing sexual performance, social and instrumental reasons, and lack of relational and emotional skills. These dimensions were associated with individual differences in the Dark Triad traits, sociosexuality, mate value, and life history strategies. Apart from “enhancing sexual performance”, men endorsed the reasons for pornography consumption more strongly. Finally, psychopathy mediated the relationship between sex and several reasons to consume pornography. In Study 3, we confirmed the factorial structure of the reasons to watch pornography using Confirmatory factor analysis, obtaining a final version of the questionnaire, consisting of 27 items. Also, we inspected the convergennt validity of the questionnaire, showing that the four dimensions are related to sexual disgust and sexual fantasies.

Regarding the identified reasons to watch pornography, our findings are partially aligned with other studies. Some of the most important reasons to consume pornography identified in other research include sexual exploration and learning about sexual health, coping, pleasure and enhancing offline sexuality (e.g., comfort when in a bad mood), emotional avoidance, and social reasons (Bolshinsky & Gelkopf, 2019Franc et al., 2018Hare et al., 2015Reid et al., 2011). As we relied on an a bottom-up approach (i.e., open-ended questions), while other studies used a top-down approach that relied on content specified a priori, the similarity of the findings suggests a high degree of universality of the reasons for pornography consumption.

We contend that researchers could benefit from an evolutionary framework to better understand why people consume pornography. As such, we considered that the identified reasons could be understood as a reflection of a short-term mating orientation (e.g., high sociosexuality) and a fitness increasing strategy to enhance the probability of attracting a mate, and, implicitly, the probability of reproducing. We can see that the first identified dimension of pornography consumption reasons (i.e., sex drive) was composed of items such as “because sexual thoughts come to my mind”, and “for the pleasure of seeing other people’s bodies”. Individuals with high scores on this dimension had high levels of the Dark Triad traits and were more interested in casual sex (i.e., high sociosexuality) sociosexuality. Therefore, considering the content of this dimension and its correlates, we can assume that it reflects a short-term mating orientation. Individuals characterized by short-term mating may choose to engage in watching pornography to satisfy their increased sex drive, in contexts and situations when they cannot engage in casual sex. As such, the increased sex drive dimension of reasons for watching pornography should not be understood as an adaptation, but as a by-product that clusters around adaptations such as short-term mating orientation.

The second dimension of the reasons for watching pornography was enhancing sexual performance. We argued that, besides a reflection of a short-term mating orientation, reasons to watch pornography might be understood as a tactic that enhances the probability of attracting a mate, and, implicitly, the probability of reproducing. This second dimension was represented by items such as “to learn new sex positions” and “to understand the sexual pleasures of people of the opposite sex, being called “enhancing sexual performance.” Individuals high on this dimension had higher scores on the Dark Triad traits and sociosexuality, but, more interestingly, on mate value and slow life history strategy. Therefore, we can argue that people who perceive themselves as having high mate value and who are characterized by a slow life history strategy (i.e., high-K)—which is characterized by preferences for long-term mating—try to perfect their sexual skills through gathering new knowledge from pornographic movies. Doing so may enable them to better signal their “value” to their partners during sexual intercourse, meaning that they pay attention to the first impression they make on new mates, as the first impression is important in human relationships (Harris & Garris, 2008).

The third dimension of the reasons for pornography consumption was represented by items like “because all my friends are watching”, and “I paint nudes, and it is my source of inspiration”; we called this dimension “social and instrumental reasons”. Individuals with high scores on this dimension also had high levels of Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sociosexuality. It seems that this category of reasons for watching pornography reflects reasons that refer to watching pornography mainly because of seeking the acceptance of social groups, such as friends. This may be explained by the fact that watching pornography is a common habit (Hald, 2006). It is well known that young people (such as those from our samples) place great importance in their reputation and social acceptance more than older people (Marshall, 2001) and watching pornography may facilitate social approval among peers, especially college-aged ones.

The fourth factor of the reasons for pornography consumption (i.e., lack of relational and emotional skills) was composed of items like “due to the absence of a romantic relationship” and “it helps me drive away from my stressful thoughts”. People high on this dimension had lower scores on Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sociosexuality. The reasons encompassed by this factor suggest that individuals who score high on them watch pornography to regulate their mood and deal with negative emotions. This is congruent with other findings that showed that one of the reasons for pornography consumption is mood regulation (e.g., comforting when in a bad mood; Franc et al., 2018). It seems that people use pornography to alleviate negative emotions, which may be explained by the fact that pornography consumption induces psychological moods and emotions (e.g., pleasure, satisfaction) as those elicited during casual sex and sexual intercourse (Hald & Malamuth, 2008).

We found that men had higher scores on the dimensions of reasons for pornography consumption, except for the of enhancing sexual performance. That was to be expected, as men usually have a higher sex drive and more sexual fantasies than women (Baughman et al., 2014), being more oriented to short-term mating (Jonason et al., 2009). The fact that there were no sex differences on the dimension enhancing sexual performance is congruent with the idea that both men and women struggle with skills for mate retention (Apostolou, 2007). In traditional societies, parents used to choose the partners for their children (Apostolou et al., 2018). Therefore, both men and women engage in strategies to increase their fitness to attract mates and enhancing their sexual knowledge and performance, is one of them.

Psychopathy mediated the relationship between sex and the reasons to consume pornography (excepting the dimension of enhancing sexual performance, as there were no sex differences). This may be because men are more interested in casual sex than women (Jonason et al., 2009), have a wider array of sexual fantasies (Baughman et al., 2014), and men high on psychopathy have frequent sexual fantasies (Baughman et al., 2014), and may use pornography to satisfy this need. Therefore, psychopathy represents an explicative mechanism of the indirect relationship between sex and the reasons to consume pornography.

The findings of this research materialized on a psychometric measure that should be useful in assessing the reasons for pornography consumption in both research and practice settings, showing very good psychometric properties. The measure was developed using both qualitative and quantitative approach which should maximize the probability of tapping the most important reasons for pornography consumption, enhancing the internal validity of future research.

Limitations and Conclusions

Even though this research is, to our knowledge, the first to propose an evolutionary perspective on the reasons for watching pornography, it has some important limitations. First, our samples consisted mostly of young individuals, who are, in general, more interested, but less experienced in sex than older people (Buckingham & Bragg, 2004). Second, our samples consisted mostly of women. Because research has consistently shown that men seem to be more interested in sex than women (e.g., Jonason et al., 2009), further studies should use more balanced samples in terms of sex ratio when examining these factors. Third, we relied on non-probabilistic convenience samples and our findings are sample-dependent (e.g., WE.I.R.D. participants; Henrich et al., 2010) which may affect the generalizability of the research. Although many studies in psychology use convenience student samples, future studies should include more heterogeneous participants to increase the generalizability of the findings.

Despite these limitations, we showed that the reasons for pornography consumption are varied and can be understood from an evolutionary perspective. They represent reflections of a short-term mating orientation and fitness-increasing strategies—tactics that enhance the probability of maintaining a mate. We also proposed a psychometric measure for researchers and practitioners interested in pornography consumption reasons.