Friday, January 8, 2021

Ageing in Better Mental Health

Ageing in Better Mental Health. Marisa Cordella, Aldo Poiani. Fulfilling Ageing pp 201-354, January 5 2021.

Abstract: This develops the topic of Ageing in better health. Here we return to the biology of ageing, that was first introduced in Chap. 1, but with a special emphasis on brain plasticity, a very important topic that is the focus of a fast-developing research program, and we also review psychological health in old age. Initially mentally healthy persons may be at risk of experiencing serious deterioration of their mental capacities as they age; therefore, we devote a section in this chapter to review mental pathologies in the elderly. Special emphasis is given to the analysis of the various forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. From there we proceed to address those aspects of ageing that affect sexual behaviour. The challenges experienced by people with a disability (mental or physical) who are becoming older are also the topic of a section in this chapter. We conclude the chapter with a section devoted to older people who reach very advanced ages: the centenarians, semi-supercentenarians, and supercentenarians.

From 1999... Availability cascade is a belief formation process by which an expressed perception triggers a chain reaction that gives the perception of increasing plausibility through its rising availability in public discourse

Kuran, Timur and Sunstein, Cass R., Availability Cascades and Risk Regulation. Stanford Law Review, Vol. 51, No. 4, 1999, U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 181, U of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 384,

Abstract: An availability cascade is a self-reinforcing process of collective belief formation by which an expressed perception triggers a chain reaction that gives the perception of increasing plausibility through its rising availability in public discourse. The driving mechanism involves a combination of informational and reputational motives: Individuals endorse the perception partly by learning from the apparent beliefs of others and partly by distorting their public responses in the interest of maintaining social acceptance. Availability entrepreneurs - activists who manipulate the content of public discourse - strive to trigger availability cascades likely to advance their agendas. Their availability campaigns may yield social benefits, but sometimes they bring harm, which suggests a need for safeguards. Focusing on the role of mass pressures in the regulation of risks associated with production, consumption, and the environment, Professor Timur Kuran and Cass R. Sunstein analyze availability cascades and suggest reforms to alleviate their potential hazards. Their proposals include new governmental structures designed to give civil servants better insulation against mass demands for regulatory change and an easily accessible scientific database to reduce people's dependence on popular (mis)perceptions.

Keywords: availability heuristic, informational cascades, reputational cascades, cost-benefit analysis

JEL Classification: L51, K23

Previous research has found that women at peak fertility show greater interest in extra-pair sex; however, recent replications have failed to detect this effect

Current Fertility Status Does Not Predict Sociosexual Attitudes and Desires in Normally Ovulating Women. Andrew G. Thomas.  Evolutionary Psychology,January 8, 2021.

Abstract: Previous research has found that women at peak fertility show greater interest in extra-pair sex. However, recent replications have failed to detect this effect. In this study, we add to this ongoing debate by testing whether sociosexuality (the willingness to have sex in the absence of commitment) is higher in women who are at peak fertility. A sample of normally ovulating women (N = 773) completed a measure of sociosexuality and had their current fertility status estimated using the backward counting method. Contrary to our hypothesis, current fertility was unrelated to sociosexual attitudes and desires, even when relationship status was included as a moderator. These findings raise further doubts about the association between fertility and desire for extra-pair sex.

Keywords: ovulatory shift hypothesis, sociosexuality, menstrual cycle, mate preferences, extra-pair mating

The purpose of this study was to test the idea, derived from the ovulatory shift and dual-mating hypotheses (Gangestad & Thornhill, 1998Penton-Voak et al., 1999), that women’s mating strategies change in accordance with fluctuations in fertility across the menstrual cycle. To do so we used a between-subjects sample of normally ovulating women to examine whether current fertility status could predict sociosexual desires and attitudes. Our hypothesis was not supported. No relationship was found between fertility status and attitude or desire subscales of the SOI-R. In fact, the β observed in the regression predicting sociosexual desire was in the opposite direction to that predicted (β = −.04). Exploratory analyses showed that the null effect of fertility persisted when relationship status was added to the models as a moderator. We did find that older women reported higher numbers of past partners and acts of uncommitted sex, but only if they were currently high in fertility. We did not predict this weak association and see no theoretical reason for it. Given that this effect also disappeared when covariates were added to the model (see Footnote 1) we are inclined to believe this to be a Type I error.

It is possible that the null results obtained in this study are due to the methodological issues outlined previously. The ‘gold standard’ in menstrual cycle research is to use within-subjects designs and to establish fertility status using hormonal measurements (Gangestad et al., 2016). Our study, in contrast, used a between-subjects design with self-reported cycle data and non-verified bleed-dates. Nonetheless, there are several reasons to be confident that our results are not due to a Type II error.

First, the sample size is large and surpasses the minimum requirement set out by both Gangestad et al. (2016) and Jones et al. (2019) for a sufficiently-powered between-subjects study. Second, as recommended by Gangestad et al. (2016), fertility status was not determined using high and low fertility windows, but instead measured along a continuous scale of conception risk (Wilcox et al., 2001). Finally, we employed a backwards-counting method to determine day of cycle. Due to the large degree of variability in the follicular phase compared to the comparatively consistent length of the luteal phase (Fehring et al., 2006), the backwards-counting method is the most reliable way to obtain self-report menstrual cycle data.

The results of this study converge with other recent well-powered between-subject investigations into the ovulatory-shift hypothesis (Dixson et al., 2018Marcinkowska et al., 2018b) and within-subjects studies using hormonal measures (Jünger et al., 2018Marcinkowska et al., 2018a). However, it should be noted that some studies suggest that fertility-related shifts in mating psychology depend on relationship status and on factors within a relationship, such as the attractiveness of one’s current partner (Haselton & Gangestad, 2006Pillsworth & Haselton, 2006). We did not have data about perceived partner attractiveness for partnered women in our dataset, but we were able to include their relationship status in our models. Doing so did not qualitatively alter the role of fertility status. It is worth noting, however, that this exploratory analysis was underpowered. A full understanding of this moderation effect would have required us to examine sub-groups of single and pair-bonded women, effectively halving the sample. The two studies that report an effect of partner attractiveness were also both underpowered (see the calculations of Gangestad et al., 2016Jones et al. (2019). Therefore, future research should investigate the role of relationship moderators on fertility effects in sufficiently large samples to test these hypotheses adequately.

Further consideration should be given to the role of sociosexuality in acquiring extra-pair partners. There is an established relationship between sociosexuality and infidelity (Barta & Kiene, 2005). Thus, it is reasonable to expect that waxing interest in casual sex would facilitate acts of extra-pair infidelity and that this may form part of an ovulatory shift mechanism that functions to shift mating effort away from a primary partner and toward another. However extra-pair liaisons are not exclusively casual and may involve feelings of love and commitment, such as in cases of mate-switching (Buss et al., 2017). To the extent that uncommitted sex is not a strict prerequisite for extra-pair relationships, we cannot rule out the possibility of dual-mating mechanisms in humans based solely on an absence of relationship between within-cycle fertility and SO. Potential future research could consider forgoing sociosexuality for more implicit indicators of relationship commitment, including motivated biases favoring one’s partner (e.g., positive partner illusions) or derogating alternatives (Finkel et al., 2017).

In sum, these null results raise further doubts about the hypothesized association between fertility and desire for extra-pair sex, and more specifically the role of sociosexuality as a potential moderator of this process. Should extra-pair desire change across the menstrual cycle, then this may be context specific and/or facultative. Such changes may be difficult to detect at a general group level, emphasizing the importance of well-powered within-subject designs that both use hormonal verification to reduce measurement error and take relationship context and motivation into account.

Transgender Identity Is Associated With Bullying Involvement Among Finnish Adolescents: Both as victims and as perpetrators

Transgender Identity Is Associated With Bullying Involvement Among Finnish Adolescents. Elias Heino et al. Front. Psychol., January 8 2021.


Background: During adolescence, bullying often has a sexual content. Involvement in bullying as a bully, victim or both has been associated with a range of negative health outcomes. Transgender youth appear to face elevated rates of bullying in comparison to their mainstream peers. However, the involvement of transgender youth as perpetrators of bullying remains unclear in the recent literature.

Objective: The aim of this study was to compare involvement in bullying between transgender and mainstream youth and among middle and late adolescents in a general population sample.

Methods: Our study included 139,829 students in total, divided between a comprehensive school and an upper secondary education sample. Associations between gender identity and involvement in bullying were first studied using cross-tabulations with chi-square statistics. Logistic regression was used to study multivariate associations. Gender identity was used as the independent variable, with cisgender as the reference category. Subjection to and perpetration of bullying were entered each in turn as the dependent variable. Demographic factors, family characteristics, internalizing symptoms, externalizing behaviors, and involvement in bullying in the other role were added as confounding factors. Odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) are given. The limit for statistical significance was set at p < 0.001.

Results: Both experiences of being bullied and perpetrating bullying were more commonly reported by transgender youth than by cisgender youth. Among transgender youth, all involvement in bullying was more commonly reported by non-binary youth than those identifying with the opposite sex. Logistic regression revealed that non-binary identity was most strongly associated with involvement in bullying, followed by opposite sex identity and cisgender identity. Transgender identities were also more strongly associated with perpetration of bullying than subjection to bullying.

Conclusion: Transgender identity, especially non-binary identity, is associated with both being bullied and perpetrating bullying even when a range of variables including internal stress and involvement in bullying in the opposite role are taken into account. This suggests that bullying during adolescence may serve as a mechanism of maintaining heteronormativity.


In this study we analyzed the association of gender minority identity with involvement in bullying among a large population-based sample of adolescents. We analyzed whether the association of gender identity and involvement in bullying differed among opposite sex and non-binary identifying youth or among middle and late adolescents.

We firstly found that in our large, nationally representative sample, being bullied was generally associated with transgender identity, and with non-binary identity in particular. This finding is in line with the existing literature, which indicates that experiences of being bullied are more common among gender minority than mainstream youth (Day et al., 2018Eisenberg et al., 2019Johns et al., 2019Bishop et al., 2020). Various factors could explain this disparity. Transgender youth may differ from their peers in that their behavior or appearance deviates from traditional feminine and masculine roles. This could partly explain elevated rates of being bullied as bullying is often targeted at those perceived to deviate from the mainstream (Jones et al., 2018Price-Feeney et al., 2018). More specifically, relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, bullying sexual and gender minorities could also stem from heterosexism, which refers to efforts to maintain traditional masculine and feminine roles in society (Chesir-Teran, 2003Toomey et al., 2012). On the other hand, internal stress, as described in gender minority stress and resilience theory (Hendricks and Testa, 2012Testa et al., 2015), could result in constant vigilance and anticipation of being victimized through the development of hostile or depressive attribution bias thus predisposing transgender youth to detect victimization by their peers where none was actually intended.

Secondly, we found that transgender identity was generally associated with perpetrating bullying and that the association was stronger than that of transgender identity and being bullied. To the best of our knowledge, past research has not examined perpetration of bullying among gender minority youth, thus rendering comparisons to prior research impossible. In a study by Dank et al. (2014), however, it was reported that the few transgender young people in their study were the ones most likely to perpetrate dating violence among their sample.

Such aggressive behavior could arise from being victimized or having witnessed victimization of other gender or sexual minorities (Eisenberg et al., 2016), as a coping mechanism or avenue through which one could release negative feelings.

On the other hand, adolescence in general is a mentally challenging time (Paus et al., 2008) during which adolescents struggle with a series of developmental tasks such as forming peer relations and coming to grips with their sexuality (Havighurst, 1948Seiffge-Krenke and Gelhaar, 2008). The added complexity due to the emergence and further development of transgender identity could cause extra stress for adolescents. In this context, perpetrating bullying could be seen as sign of acting out, perhaps due to transgender adolescents’ own unresolved developmental issues.

Thirdly, non-binary identity was more strongly associated with involvement in bullying than opposite sex identity. Past research has found elevated rates of being subjected to bullying among youth (Lowry et al., 2020van Beusekom et al., 2020) and transgender youth (Gower et al., 2018) who perceive themselves as more gender non-conforming (i.e., masculine females or feminine males) than youth with no such perception. Non-binary identifying youth particularly may display gender expression that does not conform to either masculine or feminine roles, and this may make them vulnerable to being bullied either due to simply being different from the mainstream, or as a result of heterosexist control. We found, however, that not only being bullied but also engaging in bullying was even more common among non-binary (perception of gender conforms to both or neither sex or it varies) than among opposite sex identifying youth.

It may be that the process of gender identity formation is a more complex process among non-binary youth than those young people identifying with the opposite sex. Such differences could stem from the nature of non-binary identity itself, as perceived gender may fluctuate, or align with both or neither traditional gender roles. This could delay the achievement of so-called transgender identity milestones, or factors associated with the formation of transgender identity, such as first living in the gender role felt within (Wilkinson et al., 2018) as young people struggle with their still unresolved gender identity. This internal turmoil due to uncertainty about one’s own identity, could, for example, impede the formation of peer relationships, a key part of adolescent development (Laursen and Hartl, 2013). This could exacerbate internal stress and predispose non-binary youth to mental health symptoms such as depression, which are known to relate to involvement in bullying (Kaltiala-Heino and Fröjd, 2011).

Finally, regarding age differences, the existing literature shows that as adolescents mature and progress toward adulthood, involvement in bullying decreases (Boulton and Underwood, 1992Liang et al., 2007Coulter et al., 2018). In line with this, involvement in bullying in our data was reported less commonly by the older adolescents in the upper secondary education sample across all gender identities. The association between opposite sex identification and being bullied also leveled out when confounding was controlled for in both samples. However, regardless of lower reported prevalence, the association between non-binary identity and perpetration of bullying was stronger among the older than among the younger adolescents in our study. It might be that those adolescents who still remain involved in bullying at an older age represent adolescents with the most developmental challenges. This finding could be seen to lend support to the notion that among transgender youth the possibly more complex nature of non-binary identity (in comparison to opposite sex identifying or cisgender youth) is indeed related to additional developmental challenges.

Additionally, while involvement in bullying was less prevalent among the older students of our study, the correlation between being bullied and being a bully grew stronger. This is likewise in agreement with the assumption that when involvement in bullying becomes less common as age increases, those who remain involved likely represent adolescents with the most developmental challenges. Being both a bully and a victim (bully-victim) is known to correlate with greatest amount of mental health problems and developmental difficulties (Forero et al., 1999).

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Present Study

Our study has several strengths. Our large sample was an unselected, population-based sample representative of Finnish middle and late adolescents. This enhances the generalizability of our results.

There are indications even between European countries of variation in transgender youth’s peer relationships and psychological functioning (de Graaf et al., 2018van der Star et al., 2018). One could speculate that such differences are even greater between European and North American adolescents. As most research on gender identity and involvement in bullying originates in the United States, we feel our study in a Northern European setting is a useful addition to the existing literature on the important subject of involvement in bullying and transgender identity.

We controlled in our analyses for a wide range of confounding factors closely related to involvement in bullying and gender minority identity. This allowed us to examine more closely the relationship between transgender identity and involvement in bullying. This is a strength of our study.

As has been recommended (Reisner et al., 2014Eisenberg et al., 2017), we identified transgender youth with two separate questions located far apart from each other in the study questionnaire (“two-step method”). Due to the large sample size, we were additionally able to separate opposite sex identifying youth from non-binary youth, rather than grouping all transgender youth as one in our analyses.

Involvement in bullying was elicited using questions derived from WHO’s Youth Study (King et al., 1996). The WHO questions have since then been used in numerous studies across countries (for review see Kaltiala-Heino and Fröjd, 2011) which makes data elicited with them comparable with earlier research. This is a strength of our study.

Our study also has several weaknesses. In spite of our large sample, the number of transgender youth reporting perpetrating bullying was on the smaller side, although we still feel we reached adequate cell sizes for statistical validity.

In the present study, a secondary data was used. The data was not planned nor collected by us, and we were therefore unable to influence the way certain topics of interest were elicited. As a result, the way experiences of bullying were elicited in the study questionnaire made it impossible to distinguish between different types of bullying behavior in which adolescents had been involved, such as traditional school bullying or cyberbullying, or physical and verbal bullying and exclusion.

Additionally, whether respondents were living in their desired gender roles was not elicited in the questionnaire. This inhibited additional comparisons regarding involvement in bullying among those who conceal their gender identity vs. those who do not. The GMSR theory suggests concealment of one’s experienced gender identity (for example not living in the desired gender role) is a stressor that could possibly negatively affect mental health of gender minority people. One could thus speculate that living in the desired gender role could in fact reduce mental health symptoms such as depression, thus decreasing bullying involvement, a behavior associated with mental health issues. On the other hand, living in the desired gender role could manifest as behavior or appearance deviating from traditional masculine and feminine roles (such as natal girls using boys’ restrooms or natal boys having a more feminine appearance) thus predisposing youths to bullying, a behavior commonly directed to those who deviate from the mainstream. Lastly, as the study was a cross-sectional one, caution must be exercised when interpreting the results as causality cannot be determined from such data.

The Stock Market as a Casino: Associations Between Costly Excessive Stock Market Trading and Problem Gambling

Mosenhauer, Moritz, Philip W. S. Newall, and Lukasz Walasek. 2021. “The Stock Market as a Casino: Associations Between Costly Excessive Stock Market Trading and Problem Gambling.” PsyArXiv. January 8. doi:10.31234/

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: The stock market should be a unique kind of casino, where the average person wins money over time. However, previous research shows that excessive stock market trading can contribute to financial losses --- just like in any other casino. While gambling research has documented the adverse consequences of problem gambling, there has been comparatively less behavioral finance research on the correlates of excessive stock market trading. This study aimed to document whether excessive stock trading was positively associated with problem gambling, and whether this hypothesized association was robust to controlling for demographics, and objective measures of overconfidence and financial literacy in a convenience sample of 798 US investors. We found that self-reported relative stock portfolio turnover was positively associated with problem gambling, that this association was robust to controls, and occurred equally over investors of all self-reported portfolio sizes. This study showed that problem gamblers may also make suboptimal risky choices more generally, and that a behavioral dependence explanation for suboptimal investment decisions should be subject to further investigation in the behavioral finance literature.