Thursday, September 30, 2021

Our moral successes are exceeded by our moral failures; one influential reason for such failure is that compliance with moral norms is motivated not by an intrinsic interest in being moral, but by an interest in appearing moral

Moral failure and the evolution of appearing moral. Scott M. James. Philosophical Psychology, Sep 29 2021.

Abstract: Standard adaptationist accounts of our moral psychology are motivated largely by our moral successes—empathy, altruism, cooperation, and so on. But a growing body of social psychology research indicates that our moral successes are, if anything, exceeded by our moral failures. One influential reason for such failure, according to the findings, is that compliance with moral norms—when it occurs—is motivated not by an intrinsic interest in being moral, but by an interest in appearing moral. I argue, first, that such research represents a dilemma for standard adaptationist accounts. On the one hand, if the standard account asserts that moral judgment evolved to regulate behavior by ensuring moral compliance even when tempted by egoistic gain, then we should observe regular moral compliance even when tempted by egoistic gain. But this is precisely what the data do not show. On the other hand, if the standard account asserts that moral judgment evolved simply to make moral compliance [more]* likely, then this puts the standard account in direct competition with other, more modest, accounts, ones that limit evolution’s role to what I call social compliance. 

Keywords: Evolutionary ethicsmoral failureBatsonJoyce

* Original says "moral"

Juvenile zebrafish: Some environmental enrichment paradigms produce anxiolytic-like effects and improve immunity

Different Influences of Anxiety Models, Environmental Enrichment, Standard Conditions and Intraspecies Variation (sex, personality and strain) on Stress and Quality of life in Adult and Juvenile Zebrafish: A Systematic Review. Jhon Buenhombre et al. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, September 27 2021.


• Some environment>al enrichment paradigms produce anxiolytic-like effects and improve immunity.

• Unpredictable chronic stress and aquarium-related stressors induce anxiogenic-like effects.

• Developmental, social, intraspecies variation and test-related factors affect environmental manipulations.

• Comparison of different levels of stress would define optimal ranges of husbandry, standardisation and stress resilience.

Abstract: Antagonist and long-lasting environmental manipulations (EM) have successfully induced or reduced the stress responses and quality of life of zebrafish. For instance, environmental enrichment (EE) generally reduces anxiety-related behaviours and improves immunity, while unpredictable chronic stress (UCS) and aquarium-related stressors generate the opposite effects. However, there is an absence of consistency in outcomes for some EM, such as acute exposure to stressors, social enrichment and some items of structural enrichment. Therefore, considering intraspecies variation (sex, personality, and strain), increasing intervention complexity while improving standardisation of protocols and contemplating the possibility that EE may act as a mild stressor on a spectrum between too much (UCS) and too little (standard conditions) stress intensity or stimulation, would reduce the inconsistencies of these outcomes. It would also help explore the mechanism behind stress resilience and to standardise EM protocols. Thus, this review critically analyses and compares knowledge existing over the last decade concerning environmental manipulations for zebrafish and the influences that sex, strain, and personality may have on behavioural, physiological, and fitness-related responses.

Keywords: Stress resiliencezebrafishenvironmental enrichmentstrainsexpersonalityneurophysiologybehaviour


EE can be housing conditions promoting social interactions, sensory-motor and cognitive stimulation with novel stimuli and physical exercise

Human mortality at extreme age: Power calculations make it implausible that there is an upper bound below 130 years

Human mortality at extreme age. Léo R. Belzile, Anthony C. Davison, Holger Rootzén and Dmitrii Zholud. Royal Society Open Science, Volume 8, Issue 9, September 29 2021.

Abstract: We use a combination of extreme value statistics, survival analysis and computer-intensive methods to analyse the mortality of Italian and French semi-supercentenarians. After accounting for the effects of the sampling frame, extreme-value modelling leads to the conclusion that constant force of mortality beyond 108 years describes the data well and there is no evidence of differences between countries and cohorts. These findings are consistent with use of a Gompertz model and with previous analysis of the International Database on Longevity and suggest that any physical upper bound for the human lifespan is so large that it is unlikely to be approached. Power calculations make it implausible that there is an upper bound below 130 years. There is no evidence of differences in survival between women and men after age 108 in the Italian data and the International Database on Longevity, but survival is lower for men in the French data.

7. Discussion

The results of the analysis of the newly available ISTAT data agree strikingly well with those for the IDL supercentenarians and for the women in the France 2019 data. Once the effects of the sampling frame are taken into account by allowing for truncation and censoring of the ages at death, a model with constant hazard after age 108 fits all three datasets well; it corresponds to a constant probability of 0.49 that a living person will survive for one further year, with 95% confidence interval (0.47, 0.50). Power calculations make it implausible that there is an upper limit to the human lifespan of 130 years or below.

Although many fewer men than women reach high ages, no difference in survival between the sexes is discernible in the ISTAT and the IDL data. Survival of men after age 108 is lower in the France 2019 data, but it seems unlikely that this reflects a real difference. It seems more plausible that this is due to gender imbalance, some form of age bias or is a false positive caused by multiple testing.

If the ISTAT and France 2019 data are split by birth cohort, then we find roughly constant mortality from age 105 for those born before the end of 1905, whereas those born in 1906 and later have lower mortality for ages 105–107; this explains the cohort effects detected by [13]. Possibly the mortality plateau is reached later for later cohorts. The plausibility of this hypothesis could be weighed if further high-quality data become available.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Psychology Within and Without the State

Psychology Within and Without the State. H. Clark Barrett. Annual Review of Psychology, September 21, 2021.

Abstract: Psychological research in small-scale societies is crucial for what it stands to tell us about human psychological diversity. However, people in these communities, typically Indigenous communities in the global South, have been underrepresented and sometimes misrepresented in psychological research. Here I discuss the promises and pitfalls of psychological research in these communities, reviewing why they have been of interest to social scientists and how cross-cultural comparisons have been used to test psychological hypotheses. I consider factors that may be undertheorized in our research, such as political and economic marginalization, and how these might influence our data and conclusions. I argue that more just and accurate representation of people from small-scale communities around the world will provide us with a fuller picture of human psychological similarity and diversity, and it will help us to better understand how this diversity is shaped by historical and social processes.

Effective incentives for increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake

Effective incentives for increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake. Gul Deniz Salali, Mete Sefa Uysal. Psychological Medicine, September 20 2021.

Abstract: In this study, we examined the relative effectiveness of prestige-based incentives (vaccination of an expert scientist/president/politician/celebrity/religious leader), conformist incentives (vaccination of friends and family) and risk-based incentives (witnessing death or illness of a person from the disease) for increasing participants' chances of getting vaccinated with respect to their coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine intention. We conducted a cross-cultural survey using demographically representative samples from the UK (n = 1533), USA (n = 1550) and Turkey (n = 1567). The most effective incentives in all three countries were vaccination of an expert scientist, followed by vaccination of friends and family members and knowing someone dying from the disease. Vaccination of an expert scientist was significantly more effective at increasing vaccine intention than any other incentive. Vaccine incentives, regardless of the incentive type, were much less effective for those who originally refused the COVID-19 vaccine than for those who were hesitant to receive the vaccine. Although the percentage of vaccine-hesitant participants was highest in Turkey, the mean effectiveness scores of incentives were also the highest in Turkey, suggesting that an informed vaccine promotion strategy can be successful in this country. Our findings have policy applicability and suggest that positive vaccination messages delivered by expert scientists, vaccination of friends and family and risk-based incentives can be effective at increasing vaccine uptake.

Industrial policy in Korea: Although output, input use, & labor productivity of the targeted industries/regions grew significantly faster, the misallocation of resources within them got significantly worse, so TFP did not increase

The Plant-Level View of an Industrial Policy: The Korean Heavy Industry Drive of 1973. Minho Kim, Munseob Lee & Yongseok Shin. NBER Working Paper 29252, September 2021.

Abstract: Does industrial policy work? This is a subject of long-standing debates among economists and policymakers. Using newly digitized microdata, we evaluate the Korean government's policy that promoted heavy and chemical industries between 1973 and 1979 by cutting taxes and building new industrial complexes for them. We show that output, input use, and labor productivity of the targeted industries and regions grew significantly faster than those of non-targeted ones. While the plant-level total factor productivity also grew faster in targeted industries and regions, the misallocation of resources within them got significantly worse, especially among the entrants, so that the total factor productivity at the industry-region level did not increase relative to the non-targeted industries and regions. In addition, we provide new evidence on how industrial policy reshapes the economy: (i) The establishment size distribution of targeted industries and regions shifted to the right with thicker tails due to the entry of large establishments and (ii) the targeted industries became more important in the economy's input-output structure in the sense that their output multipliers increased significantly more. 


Summary in Other Countries’ Industrial Policies Don’t Justify Our Own. Scott Lincicome. Cato, Sep 2021.


First, labor productivity and output did indeed rise faster in the Korean factories targeted by the HCI policies, but total factor productivity (i.e., how efficiently and intensely all inputs are utilized in production) in those industries actually declined during the HCI period. In particular, Korean government policies led to a severe misallocation of resources in targeted industries, thus negating any plant‐​level gains. As the authors put it, “resource allocation across plants within the targeted industries/​regions worsened substantially, to the point where the gains in plant‐​level productivity are completely undone by the worsened misallocation.” This misallocation was most severe among new establishments that had sprung up during the HCI period, suggesting that the government subsidies buoyed big, new, inefficient firms, not particularly nimble or productive ones. And even though Korea’s industrial policies ended in 1979, productivity in the targeted industries continued to decline through the 1980s.

Second, the same misallocation of resources did not occur in non‐​targeted industries in the 1970s. Thus, the authors conclude, productivity at targeted Korean industries would have been 40 percent higher in 1980 had no industrial policies been implemented. “In other words, the exacerbated misallocation within the targeted industries/​regions relative to the non‐​targeted ones had the effect amounting to a 2.8-percent-per-year loss in total factor productivity during this period.”

Third, Korean industrial policies increased business concentration in targeted industries, with potentially damaging implications. For example, the average size of a targeted firm more than quadrupled between 1967–1980, while the average size of a non‐​targeted firm increased to a much lesser degree over the same period (see Figure 1). Many of the ballooning establishments in the targeted industries were new entrants with the greatest misallocation of resources.

The authors speculate that Korea’s HCI drive may therefore have been instrumental in empowering the large family‐​run conglomerates, known as Chaebols, whose outsized political and economic influence has for decades been a big problem for South Korea. (Many new HCI establishments with the highest misallocation of resources were in fact owned by these Chaebols.)

Perceivers’ impressions of others are largely dictated by their individual characteristics and local environment, rather than their cultural background... it's mostly not them, nor your culture, it's mostly just you

Hester, Neil, Sally Y. Xie, and Eric Hehman. 2021. “Little Between-region and Between-country Variance When Forming Impressions of Others.” PsyArXiv. September 28. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: To what extent are perceivers’ first impressions of others dictated by cultural background versus personal idiosyncrasies? To address this question, we analyzed a globally diverse dataset containing 11,481 adult participants’ ratings of 120 targets across 45 countries (2,597,624 total ratings). Across ratings of 13 traits, we find that perceivers’ idiosyncratic differences accounted for ~29% of variance and impressions on their own and ~16% in conjunction with target characteristics. However, country- and region-level differences, here a proxy for culture, accounted for on average 3.2% (i.e., both alone and in conjunction with target characteristics). We replicated this pattern of effects in a pre-registered analysis on an entirely novel dataset containing 7,007 participants’ ratings of 100 targets across 41 countries (24,886 total ratings). Together, this work suggests that perceivers’ impressions of others are largely dictated by their individual characteristics and local environment, rather than their cultural background.

Supplemental Materials

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Men in same-sex relationships reported less frequent public displays of affection & greater display-related vigilance than women, while women reported greater overall variability in their gender expression

The feminine target: Gender expression in same-sex relationships as a predictor of experiences with public displays of affection. Lauren Matheson et al. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, June 08, 2021.

Abstract: The extent to which sexual minority individuals present publicly as masculine, feminine, or both has been associated with their perceptions of threat and safety in public spaces. The current study investigates the role of gender expression in men and women’s experiences of public displays of affection (PDAs) in same-sex relationships. Participants (N = 528) reported their own gender expression as well as that of their partner, perceptions of support for PDAs, PDA-related vigilance, general vigilance and overall PDA frequency. Men in same-sex relationships reported less frequent PDAs and greater PDA-related vigilance than women, while women reported greater overall variability in their gender expression than men. Multiple regression analyses show femininity within the participant (for men) or their partner (for both men and women) was associated with greater general and PDA-related vigilance. These findings align with previous research on femmephobia, in which femininity is described as making individuals feel ‘targeted’ for other forms of oppression (e.g., homophobia, sexism, transphobia; Hoskin, 2019). Although femininity was associated with greater vigilance, the association between masculinity within a same-sex relationship and vigilance was more tenuous, demonstrating evidence of masculinity serving as both a potential target for homophobic violence as well as a source of protection. The dual nature of masculinity was particularly salient among women in same-sex relationships, where masculinity tempered by femininity was associated with greater perceived support for PDAs but for women with partners low in femininity, the more masculine their partner, the greater their reported levels of vigilance.

Keywords: Affection, displays of affection, femininity, masculinity, public displays of affection, same-sex relationships, sexual minority

Induced appearance comparisons predicted increased envy, which in turn predicted greater willingness to spread negative (but not positive) gossip about an attractive woman

Envy Mediates the Relationship Between Physical Appearance Comparison and Women’s Intrasexual Gossip. Rachael Morgan, Ashley Locke & Steven Arnocky. Evolutionary Psychological Science, Sep 27 2021.

Abstract: Physical attractiveness is a central component of women’s mate value. However, the extent to which women possess attractive physical traits varies between individuals, placing less attractive women at a mating disadvantage. Researchers have suggested that envy may have evolved as an emotion that promotes intrasexual competition in response to unfavorable social comparisons on important mate value traits, such as physical attractiveness. Previous research has shown that envy mediates links between unfavorable appearance comparisons and women’s intended appearance-enhancement behavior. In the current research, we extended this framework to examine the link between upward appearance comparisons and women’s intrasexual gossip. Women were assigned to either an appearance comparison or control advertisement rating task, and subsequently completed measures of state envy and gossip toward a same-sex rival. Results found that induced appearance comparisons predicted increased envy, which in turn predicted greater willingness to spread negative (but not positive) gossip about an attractive woman. Two cross-sectional survey studies (online supplement) replicated the model whereby more self-reported upward appearance comparisons predicted more self-reported gossip (Supplemental Study 1) and indirect aggression toward other women (Supplemental Study 2), and these links were mediated by dispositional envy. These results support the hypothesis that envy is an adaptation that promotes intrasexual competition using social aggression in response to unfavorable social comparisons on important mate value traits.

Why do people eat the same breakfast every day? Goals and circadian rhythms of variety seeking in meals

Why do people eat the same breakfast every day? Goals and circadian rhythms of variety seeking in meals. Romain Cadario, Carey K. Morewedge. Appetite, September 28 2021, 105716.

Abstract: People exhibit a circadian rhythm in the variety of foods they eat. Many people happily eat the same foods for breakfast day after day, yet seek more variety in the foods they eat for lunch and dinner. We identify psychological goals as a driver of this diurnal pattern of variety seeking, complementing other biological and cultural drivers. People are more likely to pursue hedonic goals for meals as the day progresses, which leads them to seek more variety for dinners and lunches than breakfasts. We find evidentiary support for our theory in studies with French and American participants (N = 4481) using diary data, event reconstruction methods, and experiments. Both endogenously and exogenously induced variation in hedonic goal activation modulates variety seeking in meals across days. Hedonic goal activation predicts variety seeking for meals when controlling for factors including time devoted to meal preparation and eating, the presence or absence of other people, and whether people ate a meal inside or outside their home. Goal activation also explain differences in time spent on meals, whereas increasing time spent on meals does not increase variety seeking. Finally, we observed that a similar increase in hedonic goal activation enacts a larger increase in variety seeking at breakfast than at lunch than at dinner, suggesting a diminishing marginal effect of hedonic goal activation on variety seeking.

Keywords: BreakfastVariety seekingHedonic goalEatingCircadian rhythm

The Best Years of Older Europeans’ Lives: The likelihood of living the happiest period in life exhibits a concave relationship with age, with a turning point at about 30–34 years and a decreasing trend from that point onward

The Best Years of Older Europeans’ Lives. Begoña Álvarez. Social Indicators Research, Sep 25 2021.

Abstract: This paper offers new evidence on the life-cycle pattern of happiness. A novelty of the analysis is that it exploits information on the period individuals recall as the happiest in their lives. Data come from SHARELIFE 2008/09, a retrospective life survey conducted in 13 European countries among individuals aged 50 or more. Using this information, I build a longitudinal data set that extends across the whole lifespan of respondents. The probability of living a happiest year in life at each age is estimated through a conditional fixed effects logit model. Results show that the likelihood of living the happiest period in life exhibits a concave relationship with age, with a turning point at about 30–34 years and a decreasing trend from that point onward. Retrospectively, midlife is not perceived as the least likely happiest period in life. These patterns persist even after controlling for usual correlates of subjective well-being, and they are rather stable across cohorts and genders despite presenting certain variability across European countries.


There is no perfect measure of subjective well-being. Each measure embodies distinct information and comes with its own drawbacks (Frijters et al., 2020; Stone & Krueger, 2018). It is therefore necessary to explore alternative indicators to fully understand the processes that drive individuals’ welfare.

This paper has explored the informational content of older Europeans’ memories on their happiest period in life to address—using a new approach—an old question: How does happiness evolve with age? The analysis exploits retrospective information elicited from a sample of Europeans aged 50 or older. After reshaping the data into a life panel that spans from respondents’ childhood to the moment of the interview, I find that the probability of achieving the happiest period in life evolves systematically with age. The probability increases sharply from childhood to the ages of 30–34, when it reaches the maximum. At this point it is important to remark that individuals’ happiest periods are long on average: for half of respondents this period lasts two decades or longer. Therefore, a more precise reading of the previous finding is that the early 30s is the stage of life with the highest chances of belonging to the happiest period in life, though the probability also remains relatively high at adjacent ages and declines as individuals grow older. The best years in life are strongly explained, on average, by changing personal and family circumstances that are defined throughout young adulthood. Controlling for these and other contextual experiences reduces the age differentials sizably but preserves the pattern.

Retrospectively, individuals recall the decade between the mid-40s and mid-50s (usually identified as the nadir of happiness) as neither the most nor the least likely happiest ages in life. This finding does not contradict the existence a “midlife crisis” because, in fact, the probability of living the happiest period in life decreases at those ages. Yet the age gradient changes across cohorts. In particular, respondents from the younger cohort perceive lower declines in the probability of achieving their happiest period at midlife—with respect to ages at which this probability peaks—than do respondents from older cohorts who judge that life stage from later ages. In other words, individuals who grew up or were already adults through war and postwar periods display higher variability in the probability of living the happiest period in life than do individuals who grew up during more prosperous decades.

After midlife, the average probability of living a happiest period in life does not experience any significant recovery. More specifically, the estimates show cross-country heterogeneity in the happiness trajectories between midlife and the oldest ages recalled by older individuals. A complementary exploration reveals that, in countries with stronger welfare states, individuals’ probability of living the happiest period declines more slowly with age than it does in countries with weaker welfare states.

Overall, the results presented in this paper—and, in particular, the comparison with studies based on individuals’ reports of current levels of happiness or life satisfaction—support the idea that individuals’ judgements of their own SWB depend on the reference they use for comparisons and may experience some systematic revision over time. An advantage of life retrospective accounts on the happiest period in life is that individuals use the same reference across all periods, which facilitates the identification of within-individual changes in happiness. However, reports on the past may be distorted by recall and cognitive biases, especially when the time lapse is large. In addition, it is difficult to disentangle whether individuals’ recall of the happiest period in life reflects an accurate emotional recall of what they lived or, as Easterlin (2002) states, it rather indicates the happiness status that, according to present preferences, individuals should have had, given the restrictions and circumstances they faced in the past. If Easterlin’s statement is true, then previous findings would inform us about how respondents perceive ageing. From this perspective, we should infer that older people elaborate their life trajectory of happiness as an inverted-U curve that decreases from 30 to 34 onward. Even though individuals in their late 60s and 70s may not consider themselves unhappy at present (as the U-curve of happiness implies), in retrospect, they judge this stage of life as having a low probability of being the happiest in life.

Is this information interesting from a policy point of view? The ageing process in Europe has increased the relevance of older people in policy-makers agenda. Exploring how they remember the past and how they associate subjective well-being to different circumstances may help to understand their present decisions and policy preferences (Pudney, 2011). Older people tend to support policies related to their own position in the life cycle—higher spending on pensions and health care—over policies that would benefit younger generations, like education or protecting the environment (De Mello et al. 2017). The findings shown in this paper suggest that these welfare state preferences cohere with the life cycle pattern of happiness presented above and, in particular, with the perceived shrinking of well-being at older ages.

Despite the large body of literature on the life-cycle pattern of SWB, new avenues remain open to contribute to this issue through alternative approaches, data and measures. This paper has illustrated the potential of retrospective surveys such as SHARELIFE for exploring the events and circumstances that have shaped the well-being of the oldest European generations.

It is known that heat & cold can influence a person’s productivity and performance in simple tasks; with respect to social cognition, it has also been suggested that temperature impacts on relatively high-level forms of decision-making

The Role of Temperature in Moral Decision-Making: Limited Reproducibility. Ryunosuke Sudo et al. Front. Psychol., September 28 2021.

Abstract: Temperature is one of the major environmental factors that people are exposed to on a daily basis, often in conditions that do not afford control. It is known that heat and cold can influence a person’s productivity and performance in simple tasks. With respect to social cognition, it has also been suggested that temperature impacts on relatively high-level forms of decision-making. For instance, previous research demonstrated that cold temperature promotes utilitarian judgment in a moral dilemma task. This effect could be due to psychological processing, when a cool temperature primes a set of internal representations (associated with “coldness”). Alternatively, the promotion of utilitarian judgment in cold conditions could be due to physiological interference from temperature, impeding on social cognition. Refuting both explanations of psychological or physiological processing, however, it has been suggested that there may be problems of reproducibility in the literature on temperature modulating complex or abstract information processing. To examine the role of temperature in moral decision-making, we conducted a series of experiments using ambient and haptic temperature with careful manipulation checks and modified task methodology. Experiment 1 manipulated room temperature with cool (21°C), control (24°C) and hot (27°C) conditions and found only a cool temperature effect, promoting utilitarian judgment as in the previous study. Experiment 2 manipulated the intensity of haptic temperature but failed to obtain the cool temperature effect. Experiments 3 and 4 examined the generalizability of the cool ambient temperature effect with another moral judgment task and with manipulation of exposure duration. However, again there were no cool temperature effects, suggesting a lack of reproducibility. Despite successful manipulations of temperature in all four experiments, as measured in body temperature and the participants’ self-reported perception, we found no systematic influence of temperature on moral decision-making. A Bayesian meta-analysis of the four experiments showed that the overall data tended to provide strong support in favor of the null hypothesis. We propose that, at least in the range of temperatures from 21 to 27°C, the cool temperature effect in moral decision-making is not a robust phenomenon.

General Discussion

The present study examined in detail the effect of ambient and haptic temperature on social judgment, focusing on the effect of cold temperature in a moral dilemma task, following on from earlier work by Nakamura et al. (2014). In one of the four experiments here, we found a cool temperature that promoted utilitarian judgment, similar to the previous study. The remaining experiments, however, produced weak effects in the opposite direction or no effect of temperature on moral judgment. This occurred despite the fact that our temperature manipulations elicited reliable differences in perceptions of coldness, feelings of comfort, and physiological measurements of skin temperature.

A meta-analysis of the normalized data from all experiments, using Bayesian testing, provided firm evidence in favor of the null hypothesis. Taken together, our findings trace the limited reproducibility of effects from temperature on moral judgment and thus serve to caution against overinterpretation when psychologizing about the embodied “cold-heartedness” or “cool-headedness.”

One important caveat here is that we worked within a safe range of temperatures, between 21°C and 27°C, in line with the ethical guidelines at the universities where the experiments were carried out. In this setting, we followed temperature studies of social judgments that set cold temperature in the range of approximately between 20°C and 22°C (e.g., Gockel et al., 2014Wang, 2017). However, the 21°C here reflects a cool temperature within the range used in this study, and could be interpreted as a relatively warm temperature in terms of general temperature. While this range allowed us to effectively elicit both psychological and physiological responses to the temperature conditions, it might not be strong enough to turn temperature into a salient stressor or trigger that could induce an effect on moral judgment. Thus, our findings suggest that the onset of psychological and physiological signatures of temperature does not co-occur with influences on moral judgment. Awareness of cold does not lead to a change in moral judgment. However, it is still possible that influences in the moral dilemma task arise outside the range of 21°C and 27°C, when temperature works as a more salient stressor. Especially, temperatures of less than 21°C should be examined to inspect the relationship between more salient cold temperature and moral judgment.

Hancock et al. (2007) suggested an inverse U-shaped relationship between the effect size and temperature intensity. The effects would be relatively weak in the comfort zone and rapidly become stronger outside this zone. Yeganeh et al. (2018) indicated that the direction of the effect becomes more stable and stronger as the temperature difference increases. From this perspective, the question remains open how an extreme cold temperature would affect performance in the moral dilemma task.

As a limitation of the present experimental procedures, we note that we conducted the manipulation checks several times in each experiment. Moreover, the participants were informed during the initial briefing toward obtaining informed consent that the study related to temperature. One interpretation of the present lack of effects from temperature, then, could be that our participants were on their guard and therefore less susceptible to any effects from temperature on moral judgment. Future studies should consider using deception, as employed by Nakamura et al. (2014), in order to examine how the awareness of temperature may modulate any effect on moral judgment.

The process of moral judgment in moral dilemma situations is explained from dual-process theory (Greene, 2007Greene, 2009). In this theory, the decision in dilemma could be predicted according to whether automatic emotion or cognitive control predominates. Studies of moral dilemma revealed that manipulations that induce negative emotions like stress lead to the dominance of automatic emotion processing, and this would lead to suppressing utilitarian judgment (Starcke et al., 2012Youssef et al., 2012). In our study, the cool conditions consistently elicited unpleasant emotions. Nevertheless, to the extent one might discern an effect of cool temperature in certain conditions (our Experiment 1 and the work by Nakamura et al., 2014), the tendency would be for cold to promote utilitarian judgment.

On the other hand, it should be noted that the moral dilemma task involves just one type of moral judgment and arguably a rather unusual case of decision-making in which participants are faced with a choice of life or death for multiple people. In particular, the option to save more people by sacrificing one victim in the moral dilemma task is called utilitarian judgment; however, this does not accurately reflect utilitarian thought in the strict sense. Specifically, it was pointed out that the “the greater good” aspect of the genuine idea of utilitarianism may not be reflected in the tendency to answer utilitarian judgments in the moral dilemma task (Kahane et al., 2015Crone and Laham, 2017). Two separable dimensions have been identified regarding utilitarian thought in moral psychology (Kahane et al., 2018). One dimension reflects the essence of utilitarianism with impartial concern for “the greater good,” and the other dimension involves permissiveness toward instrumental harm. Strictly speaking, the moral judgments measured in this study may not have reflected a utilitarian tendency, but the acceptability of actively sacrificing victims to save others.

Data from 9,319 adult Finnish twins and siblings of twins: Abstention from meat (i.e., vegetarianism/veganism) was 75% heritable

Çınar, Çağla, Laura Wesseldijk, Annika Karinen, Patrick Jern, and Joshua M. Tybur. 2021. “Sex Differences in the Genetic and Environmental Underpinnings of Meat and Plant Preferences.” PsyArXiv. September 27. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: People vary in the degree to which they enjoy eating meats versus plants. This paper examines the genetic and environmental roots of this variation, as well as the genetic and environmental roots of meat neophobia, plant neophobia, and vegetarianism/veganism. Using data from 9,319 adult Finnish twins and siblings of twins (551 MZ, 861 DZ complete; 783 MZ, 2,692 DZ incomplete twin pairs), we examine the degree to which recalled childhood exposure to meats and plants relates to adult preferences for the same meats and plants. We also investigate sex differences in the heritability of 1) meat and plant preferences, 2) childhood meat and plant consumption, 3) meat and plant neophobia, and the heritability of 4) vegetarianism/veganism. For both men and women, recalled childhood meat consumption correlated more strongly with current meat preferences than current plant preferences, and recalled childhood plant consumption correlated more strongly with current plant preferences than current meat preferences. We detected sex differences in the heritability of childhood meat consumption (h2men= .31, h2women= .11) and current meat preferences (h2 men = .26, h2women =.51), but not childhood plant consumption (h2men= .41, h2women =.17), current plant preferences (h2men = .45, h2women =.53), meat neophobia (h2men = .48, h2women = .55) or plant neophobia (h2men = .56, h2women = .54). Further, different genes undergirded men’s and women’s meat preferences. Abstention from meat (i.e., vegetarianism/veganism) was 75% heritable. These results have implications for hypotheses of the developmental origins of dietary patterns and hypotheses for sex differences in meat consumption.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Personality traits, immune function, and health are related: Inflammatory processes may be the mechanistic driver in these relationships; personality traits predict both in vivo and in vitro measures of inflammation

Exploring the links between personality and immune function. Summer Mengelkoch, Jeff Gassen, Emily K. Corrigan, Sarah E. Hill. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 184, January 2022, 111179.


• Personality traits, immune function, and health are related.

• Inflammatory processes may be the mechanistic driver in these relationships.

• Genetic polymorphisms known to impact cytokine release predict personality traits.

• Personality traits predict both in vivo and in vitro measures of inflammation.

• Relationships between personality and inflammation are sex and cytokine specific.

Abstract: Decades of research finds associations between personality traits and health. In recent years, it has become clear that the activities of the immune system play a key role in linking these variables. In the current work, we add to this research by exploring the relationship between Big Five personality traits and (Study 1) polymorphisms known to impact cytokine release and (Study 2) immunological parameters measured in vivo (differential white blood cell counts, plasma proinflammatory cytokine levels) and in vitro (proinflammatory cytokine release by peripheral blood mononuclear cells, S. aureus growth in plasma). Results provide insights into potential mechanistic drivers of the links between personality and immune function and the possibility that, in some cases, relationships between personality and immune function may be sex differentiated.

Keywords: PersonalityCytokinesInflammationExtraversionNeuroticismOpenness to experienceAgreeablenessConscientiousness

4. General discussion

Results of the current research provide continued support for links between personality traits and immune function (e.g., Allen & Laborde, 2017Armon et al., 2013D'Acquisto, 2017Lopes, 2017Segerstrom, 2000), some of which differed by sex. For example, results of Study 1 revealed that high TNF-α producers were more extraverted than low-producers and that men who were high IL-6 producers were less extraverted than low-producers, suggesting that the links between health-relevant variables and personality may be sex-, context-, and cytokine-dependent. Study 1 also revealed that high IL-10 producers were more open to experience than low-producers. This is consistent with animal research that finds IL-10 may have anxiolytic properties (Martinez et al., 2018Mesquita et al., 2008Munshi et al., 2019Nava et al., 1997).

One particularly striking result from Study 1 was the regularity with which intermediate IFN-γ producers were found to differ from high- and low-producers across personality traits. Intermediate-producers, overall, reported being less agreeable, more neurotic, and, compared low-producers only, less conscientiousness and less extraverted. While we did not predict these results a priori, it is possible that this relationship could have emerged in response to these individuals' heightened risk for infectious disease. Researchers find that intermediate IFN-γ producers have an increased risk of certain infectious diseases relative to high- or low-producers (e.g., leishmaniasis: Kalani et al., 2019tuberculosisAmim et al., 2008). Accordingly, although the participants in the current study are unlikely to have come into contact with these infectious agents, it is possible that genetic predisposition to disease risk influences the development of personality traits (e.g., Bilbo & Schwarz, 2009). Additionally, separate research suggests that women with metabolic syndrome who are intermediate-producers of IFN-γ exhibit altered tryptophan metabolism compared to high- or low-producers (Szkup et al., 2019), which may influence personality traits. Although these interpretations are speculative, they raise interesting possibilities for future research.

Study 2 revealed additional associations between personality and immune measures. For example, higher extraversion was related to greater LPS-induced proinflammatory cytokine release by PBMCs in vitro, while higher conscientiousness was associated with lower levels of plasma IL-6, a result that is consistent with the results of previous research (e.g., Sutin et al., 2010). While similar results were found for the effect of conscientiousness on the remaining measures of inflammation, these effects were sex-differentiated with higher conscientiousness predicting lower levels of plasma TNF-α and diminished proinflammatory cytokine release by PBMCs in men and women, respectively. Results also revealed that higher levels of extraversion were associated with lower numbers of eosinophils and basophils (the latter in women only), potentially suggesting a skew towards Th1 over Th2 immunity in individuals high on this trait (Sokol et al., 2009Spencer & Weller, 2010). This possibility is further supported by the finding that men high in extraversion had higher counts of monocytes than did men low in extraversion. Th1 immunity is primarily involved in the body's response to intracellular pathogens, like viruses, while Th2-biased responses are typically observed during macroparasite infection, such as with helminths, and also play a role in allergies (Romagnani, 2000). Interestingly, due to growing population density and urbanization, most modern human populations are exposed to much higher numbers of viruses than parasitic worms (Amoroso & Nunn, 2021). Accordingly, the heightened sociality associated with high extraversion likely increases one's exposure to viruses, specifically, which may lead to a Th1 skew.

Additionally, high levels of extraversion, and for women, high levels of agreeableness, were found to predict increased S. aureus growth in plasma in vitro. Additional research is needed to determine the exact differences in plasma composition that contribute to differences in rates of S. aureus growth (e.g., minerals: Cross et al., 2015, complement proteinsWalport, 2001); however, previous research has found lower S. aureus growth in the plasma of individuals whose PBMCs exhibit greater proliferation in response to antigen stimulation (Gassen, Leyva, et al., 2019), suggesting that this measure is related to well-characterized immunological parameters.

The current research finds certain personality traits are more consistently related to aspects of immune function than others. Across studies, conscientiousness and extraversion appear to be reliably related to levels of inflammation (although the directions of these relationships sometimes differ, e.g., Allen & Laborde, 2017Armon et al., 2013Sutin et al., 2010), while agreeableness is not. For example, the current research finds conscientiousness to be negatively related to plasma IL-6 levels, a pattern which is also reliably observed in others' work (e.g., Chapman et al., 2011Luchetti et al., 2014Sutin et al., 2010). Repeated replication of this result suggests that these two variables are likely interconnected in a meaningful way. For example, one possibility is that those with low IL-6 levels tend to utilize behavioral strategies, such as avoiding individuals who may be sick, visiting the doctor regularly for check-ups, washing hands often, etc., to compensate for their low levels of inflammation by avoiding pathogens in their environments. In this way, aspects of conscientiousness may develop as a strategy for managing infectious disease risk in a state of low inflammation or lack of immunological preparedness. Alternatively, it is also possible that the relationship between inflammation and conscientiousness primarily operates in the other direction. That is, individuals high in conscientiousness (compared to those lower in conscientiousness) may be more careful with their health and avoid circumstances that elicit inflammatory responses, such as eating unhealthy food or engaging in unsafe sexual practices. Future research is needed to test these, as well as other, hypotheses about the causal links between these variables.

The consistent relationships observed between inflammation and extraversion, both in the current work and in the work of others, further underscore that individual differences in human tendencies for behavior may be shaped by one's immunological vulnerabilities. For example, over human history, levels of extraversion would have been reliably linked to exposure to infectious diseases. That is, because humans are vectors for transmissible disease, increased sociality would have increased one's likelihood of coming in to contact with pathogens; however, elevated inflammation could be protective, rather than reactive, in this context, preventing an individual from becoming ill after encountering pathogens. Based on the results of Study 1, in which extraversion was associated with being a high-producer of TNF-α, our results suggest that differences in extraversion may be borne out of different immunological profiles, rather than the differences in levels of inflammation being exclusively the result of greater contact with others. Future research should explore this possibility, along with the threshold of inflammatory levels extraverted individuals must experience before exhibiting social withdrawal, one facet of inflammation-induced sickness behavior (Dantzer, 2001Dantzer & Kelley, 2007), in response to elevated inflammation. While the levels of elevated inflammation explored in the current work are likely lower than what would be necessary to induce intense sickness behavior, it is possible that those high in extraversion require a larger release of proinflammatory cytokines before exhibiting social avoidance in response to inflammation compared to those lower in extraversion, given the potential for generally elevated inflammation and heightened stimulated proinflammatory cytokine release to buffer those high in extraversion from the somatic costs of elevated sociality. Identifying these thresholds would yield novel insights into the dynamic relationship between cytokines and the motivation to socially engage and withdraw.

The current work makes an important contribution to the literature by taking a step towards disentangling the directionality relationships between personality and immune function (Study 1), examining relationships between personality and novel measures of immunological functioning (Study 2), and examining sex differences in these effects (Studies 1 & 2). While Study 1 was cross-sectional, preventing us from drawing strong conclusions regarding causal directions, it is far more likely that one's genotype would predict their personality than vice versa. Relationships observed between cytokine genotypes and personality therefore provide initial support for the idea that immunological variables may impact aspects of personality in addition to personality having an impact on immune function, specifically in the case of extraversion. Further, Study 2 assessed the relationship between personality measures and novel measures of immunological functioning, including bacterial growth in plasma and stimulated proinflammatory cytokine release in PBMCs, both of which measure immune responses in the face of an immunological challenge. A better understanding of how personality relates to immunological responses to overt challenges will be informative for understanding how personality relates to immune function in the context of disease. Finally, this work also stands out from existing studies examining links between personality and immune function by reporting sex differences in these relationships. Much of the extant personality and health literature has not investigated sex differences, which may be important to consider as men and women consistently exhibit differences in immune function (e.g., Fish, 2008Klein et al., 2015) and personality (e.g., Schmitt et al., 2008). This study was the first – to our knowledge – to investigate sex differences in relationships between personality traits and a comprehensive set of immune measures (e.g., bacterial growth in plasma, stimulated cytokine release, WBC composition, etc.).

The current studies do, however, have limitations to consider. First, the sample of participants in Study 2 was relatively homogenous and small, limiting the generalization of these results to all populations. Additionally, the measure used to assess personality was brief, and while validated in previous research (Gosling et al., 2003), the TIPI is not the most comprehensive measure of personality available. In light of these limitations, further research should include larger, more diverse samples of participants and administer a more comprehensive personality questionnaire, while also including a wide variety of immune measures capturing facets of immunity not assayed in the current research (e.g., adaptive immunity). A larger sample size would also allow for greater power to test for interactions between personality traits, sex, and immune function.

Furthermore, despite the hypothesized bi-directional nature of relationships between personality and health, in Study 1, we utilized genomic measures, and as such, investigated the impact of TNF-α, IL-10, IL-6, and IFN-γ genotypes on personality traits. In Study 2, we limited our analyses to the impact of personality on immune function to preserve power and limit the number of analyses ran. While this allowed us to test for relationships in both directions, we are nevertheless limited in the causal claims that can be made about the relationships found. Future longitudinal or experimental studies are warranted to provide a stronger test of directionality in relationships between personality and immunity.

Despite limitations, the current studies provide important data bearing on relationships between personality and immune function. The present results lend support for the growing body of theory and research suggesting covariation between psychological traits, like personality, and immunity. This research lays the foundation for future work that may provide groundbreaking insights into complex relationships between health, immune function, and behavior.

Trait charisma (having the ability to influence people, making people feel comfortable) is a trait linked with higher sexual communal motivation, associated with higher desire & sexual satisfaction in romantic relationships

Leading Better Sex Lives: Is Trait Charisma Associated with Higher Sexual Desire and Satisfaction in Romantic Relationships? Eric Tu, Stephanie Raposo & Amy Muise. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Sep 17 2021.

Abstract: Sexuality is a key predictor of relationship satisfaction, but sexual desire and satisfaction can be difficult to maintain over time. Past research has investigated who might be more likely to experience higher (compared to lower) levels of desire and sexual satisfaction in their relationships. Certain aspects of personality, such as extraversion, have been associated with sexual satisfaction and desire, but evidence linking personality to sexual outcomes has generally been mixed, meaning there is a lot left to learn about how personality is associated with sexual well-being. A promising, yet unexplored, trait that could be associated with higher sexual desire and satisfaction is charisma—a combination of influence and affability that has been identified as a desirable trait when people are selecting a romantic or sexual partner. Across two studies—a cross-sectional study of individuals in relationships (N = 413) and a 21-day dyadic daily experience study (N = 121 couples)—people higher in charisma reported being more communal during sex and reported higher sexual desire and satisfaction. Through higher sexual communal strength, people with a charismatic partner also reported higher daily sexual desire and sexual satisfaction. The effects were largely retained above and beyond general communal strength and Big Five personality dimensions, although in Study 1, charisma was no longer associated with sexual desire and satisfaction when controlling for extraversion. The current findings provide initial evidence that charismatic people tend to be responsive to their partner’s sexual needs, which is associated with higher desire and sexual satisfaction in romantic relationships.

Do Racial Differences in Coping Resources Explain the Black–White Paradox in Mental Health? (better mental health than whites despite experiencing greater stress exposure)

Do Racial Differences in Coping Resources Explain the Black–White Paradox in Mental Health? A Test of Multiple Mechanisms. Patricia Louie et al. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, September 22, 2021.

Abstract: A central paradox in the mental health literature is the tendency for black Americans to report similar or better mental health than white Americans despite experiencing greater stress exposure. However, black Americans’ higher levels of certain coping resources may explain this finding. Using data from the Nashville Stress and Health Study (n = 1,186), we examine whether black Americans have higher levels of self-esteem, social support, religious attendance, and divine control than white Americans and whether these resources, in turn, explain the black–white paradox in mental health. In adjusted models, the black–white paradox holds for depressive symptoms and any DSM-IV disorder. Findings indicate that black Americans have higher levels of self-esteem, family social support, and religiosity than white Americans. Causal mediation techniques reveal that self-esteem has the largest effect in explaining black–white differences in depressive symptoms, whereas divine control has the largest effect in explaining differences in disorder.

Keywords: coping resources, depression, disparities, mental disorder, race

Are people willing to pay to reduce others' income when inequalities are based on individual performance or based on arbitrary decisions?

Disadvantageous inequalities, effort and money burning: are people willing to pay to reduce others' income when inequalities are based on individual performance or based on arbitrary decisions? Jeremy Celse. Economics Bulletin, 2021, vol. 41, issue 3, 1719-1726, Sep 17 2021.

Abstract: Are people more or less willing to burn others' income if others deserve their advantage in the sense of having expended some efforts to get it? We investigated the impact of effort on burning decisions. To fulfil our research question, we conducted two experimental conditions: one in which participants received endowments randomly and another in which participants received endowments based on their performance in a real-effort task. Then participants could reduce others' income through incurring a cost. We found burning rates to be similar across conditions but participants cut a significantly larger fraction of others' income when endowments are attributed through effort rather than randomly.

Keywords: Money burning; Inequalities; Desert; Envy; Interdependent preferences

JEL-codes: C9 D6

Rather than being structurally unconscious, many higher mental processes might instead be victims of internal inattentional blindness: missing an otherwise consciously-accessible internal event because your attention was elsewhere

Morris, Adam. 2021. “Invisible Gorillas in the Mind: Internal Inattentional Blindness and the Prospect of Introspection Training.” PsyArXiv. September 26. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Much of high-level cognition appears inaccessible to consciousness. Countless studies have revealed mental processes -- like those underlying our choices, beliefs, judgments, intuitions, etc. -- which people do not notice or report, and these findings have had a widespread influence on the theory and application of psychological science. However, the interpretation of these findings is uncertain. Making an analogy to perceptual consciousness research, I argue that much of the unconsciousness of high-level cognition is plausibly due to internal inattentional blindness: missing an otherwise consciously-accessible internal event because your attention was elsewhere. In other words, rather than being structurally unconscious, many higher mental processes might instead be "preconscious", and would become conscious if a person attended to them. I synthesize existing indirect evidence for this claim, argue that it is a foundational and largely untested assumption in many applied interventions (such as therapy and mindfulness practices), and suggest that, with careful experimentation, it could form the basis for a long-sought-after science of introspection training.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

After 2 years, gaming positively impacted intelligence, but socializing had no effect, consistent with cognitive benefits documented; unexpectedly, watching videos also benefited intelligence, contrary to prior research on watching TV

Sauce, Bruno, Magnus Liebherr, Nicholas Judd, and Torkel Klingberg. 2021. “The Impact of Digital Media on Children’s Intelligence While Controlling for Genetic Differences in Cognition and Socioeconomic Background.” PsyArXiv. September 26. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Digital media defines modern childhood, but its cognitive effects are unclear and hotly debated. We estimated the impact of different types of screen time (watching, socializing, or gaming) on children’s intelligence while controlling for genetic differences in cognition and socioeconomic background. We analyzed 9855 children from the ABCD dataset with measures of intelligence at baseline (ages 9-10) and after two years. At baseline, time watching and socializing were negatively correlated with intelligence, while gaming had no correlation. After two years, gaming positively impacted intelligence, but socializing had no effect. This is consistent with cognitive benefits documented in experimental studies on video gaming. Unexpectedly, watching videos also benefited intelligence, contrary to prior research on the effect of watching TV. Broadly, our results are in line with research on the malleability of cognitive abilities from environmental factors, such as cognitive training and the Flynn effect.

Lower socioeconomic status harms psychological well-being, effect assumed to weaken as nations develop economically; evidence is opposite to this assumption; lower national religiosity explains the burden

National religiosity eases the psychological burden of poverty. Jana B. Berkessel et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Sep 20 2021.

Abstract: Lower socioeconomic status (SES) harms psychological well-being, an effect responsible for widespread human suffering. This effect has long been assumed to weaken as nations develop economically. Recent evidence, however, has contradicted this fundamental assumption, finding instead that the psychological burden of lower SES is even greater in developed nations than in developing ones. That evidence has elicited consternation because it suggests that economic development is no cure for the psychological burden of lower SES. So, why is that burden greatest in developed nations? Here, we test whether national religiosity can explain this puzzle. National religiosity is particularly low in developed nations. Consequently, developed nations lack religious norms that may ease the burden of lower SES. Drawing on three different data sets of 1,567,204, 1,493,207, and 274,393 people across 156, 85, and 92 nations, we show that low levels of national religiosity can account for the greater burden of lower SES in developed nations. This finding suggests that, as national religiosity continues to decline, lower SES will become increasingly harmful for well-being—a societal change that is socially consequential and demands political attention.

Keywords: socioeconomic status | well-being | religiosity | economic development 

Het women: Masculinized faces were perceived as slightly more attractive, slightly healthier, & much more formidable; pathogen prevalence lowered the preference for masculinized faces while resource scarcity weakly elevated it

Differential Effects of Resource Scarcity and Pathogen Prevalence on Heterosexual Women's Facial Masculinity Preferences. S. Adil Saribay et al. Evolutionary Human Sciences, September 16 2021.

Abstract: The present research focused on how environmental harshness may affect heterosexual women's preferences of potential male mates’ facial characteristics, namely masculinity-femininity. The evidence on this issue is mixed and mostly from Western samples. We aimed to provide causal evidence using a sample of Turkish women and Turkish male faces. A video-based manipulation was developed to heighten environmental harshness perceptions. In the main experiment, participants were primed with either resource scarcity, pathogen prevalence, or neither (control). They then saw masculinized versus feminized versions of the same faces and indicated the face they would prefer for a long-term relationship and separately rated the faces on various dimensions. In general, masculinized faces were perceived as slightly more attractive, slightly healthier, and much more formidable. A multilevel Bayesian model showed that pathogen prevalence lowered the preference for masculinized faces while resource scarcity weakly elevated it. The overall drop of attractiveness ratings in cases of high perceived pathogen prevalence, one of the strongest effects we observed, suggests that during epidemics, formation of new relationships is not a favourable strategy. Implications for evolutionary theories of mate preference are discussed.


It takes just ninety seconds to make women prefer less masculine faces: Video about the epidemic is the key! Petr Tureček

There are several studies which investigated how environmental harshness influences mate choice, in particular whether masculine or feminine faces are perceived as more attractive when the environment is harsh. Their results were inconsistent, probably because environmental harshness is not a monolithic concept: it is rather a set of unfavourable conditions which can, in principle, lead to opposing predictions regarding the preference for masculinity. Perhaps when resources are scarce, masculinity might be preferred, while when pathogens are prevalent, feminine faces could become more appealing because of the hypothesised immunosuppressive effect of testosterone. We used a video-based manipulation to tackle this issue. We recruited about 300 women and showed them videos to highten their awareness of a specific kind of environmental harshness. They viewed either a video about an impending economic crisis or a video about a dangerous bird flu. (The data were collected before the current pandemic.) Participants in the control condition were presented with a neutral video about space (planets and such). After video viewing, we presented our volunteers with photographs of men manipulated to be either 50% more masculine or 50% more feminine. We showed the manipulated photographs side by side and asked volunteers to indicate which of the two looks like a more suitable long-term partner. Then we showed the participants all photographs again, one by one, and asked them to rate their attractiveness, formidability, and health (in a random order). Because we were interested in potential mediating effects, we used an analysis comprised of several multiple regressions. We observed how the video influenced the level of perceived resource scarcity and pathogen prevalence, how these variables influenced the attractiveness, formidability, and healthiness ratings of the masculinised and feminised faces, and how the differences between ratings together with all the other predictors affected the outcome of the forced choice between a masculinised and feminised face. We included the effect of presentation laterality, because it is well known that people often select the face on the right even where the two displayed photographs are identical. Wherever suitable, we also included varying effects of targets, raters, and target-rater interactions. We confirmed our hunch! Masculinised faces were selected more often under the control and resource scarcity conditions, while the pathogen prevalence condition shifted the balance slightly in favour of the feminised face. The effect was small but clearly there! Although the videos did not change the perceived environmental harshness dramatically, the effect did turn out to be partly mediated by perceived pathogen prevalence and resource scarcity. Higher perceived pathogen prevalence indeed predicts a lower likelihood of selecting a masculinised face variant as a more suitable long-term partner, while the opposite holds of perceived resource scarcity. We had a few other notable findings. Masculinised faces are perceived as much more formidable, slightly healthier, and slightly more attractive. Under the condition of pathogen prevalence this difference becomes smaller, which is consistent with the higher preference for feminised faces under that condition. What is also interesting is that overall attractiveness ratings drop if perceived pathogen prevalence is high. This makes sense. During epidemics, when each contact poses a risk, formation of new relationships is just not so attractive: it is not a sensible strategy. Also, people seem very finetuned to assessments of attractiveness. There is a massive consensus between participants on target attractiveness (but not on their formidability and health). Still, there is space for perceived pathogen prevalence to influence attractiveness ratings and thereby also mate choice. When ninety seconds of a bird flu video can conclusively shift the preference of certain facial features, just imagine what the current pandemic is doing to them.

Petr Tureček is a poet who works as an evolutionary biologist (currently for Charles University and at the Center for Theoretical Study, both in Prague) because his poems suck. 

Facial structure and perception of sexual orientation: Research with face models based on photographs of real people

Facial structure and perception of sexual orientation: Research with face models based on photographs of real people. Julio González-Alvarez, Rosa Sos-Peña. International Journal of Psychology, September 25 2021.

Abstract: Some evidence suggests that lay persons are able to perceive sexual orientation from face stimuli above the chance level. A morphometric study of 390 heterosexual and homosexual Canadian people of both sexes reported that facial structure differed depending on the sexual orientation. Gay and heterosexual men differed on three metrics as the most robust multivariate predictors, and lesbian and heterosexual women differed on four metrics. A later study verified the perceptual validity of these multivariate predictors using artificial three-dimensional face models created by manipulating the key parameters. Nevertheless, there is evidence of important processing differences between the perception of real faces and the perception of artificial computer-generated faces. The present study which composed of two experiments tested the robustness of the previous findings and extended the research by experimentally manipulating the facial features in face models created from photographs of real people. Participants of the Experiment 1 achieved an overall accuracy (0.67) significantly above the chance level (0.50) in a binary hetero/homosexual judgement task, with some important differences between male and female judgements. On the other hand, results of the Experiment 2 showed that participants rated the apparent sexual orientation of series of face models created from natural photographs as a continuous linear function of the multivariate predictors. Theoretical implications are discussed.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Replication is positive: We All Believe Ourselves Less Risky and More Skillful Than Our Fellow Drivers

Koppel, Lina, David Andersson, Gustav Tinghög, Daniel Västfjäll, and Gilad Feldman. 2021. “We Are All Less Risky and More Skillful Than Our Fellow Drivers: Replication and Extension of Svenson (1981)‎.” PsyArXiv. September 25. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: The better-than-average effect refers to the tendency to rate oneself as better than the average ‎person on desirable traits and skills. In a classic study, Svenson (1981) asked participants to rate ‎their driving safety and skill compared to other participants in the experiment. Results showed ‎that the majority of participants rated themselves as far above the median, despite the statistical ‎impossibility of more than 50% of participants being above the median. We report a ‎preregistered, well-powered (total N = 1,203), very close replication and extension of the ‎Svenson (1981) study. Our results indicate that the majority of participants rated their driving ‎skill and safety as above average. We added different response scales as an extension and ‎findings were stable across all three mesaures. Thus, our findings are consistent with the ‎original findings by Svenson (1981). Materials, data, and code are available at ‎