Thursday, January 14, 2021

Oxford guys think that, in 2030, Africa total electricity generation will more than double current levels, & fossil fuels will account for 62pct of all generated electricity; of 2,500 power plants, about half will be coal & gas

A machine-learning approach to predicting Africa’s electricity mix based on planned power plants and their chances of success. Galina Alova, Philipp A. Trotter & Alex Money. Nature Energy, Jan 11 2021.

Abstract: Energy scenarios, relying on wide-ranging assumptions about the future, do not always adequately reflect the lock-in risks caused by planned power-generation projects and the uncertainty around their chances of realization. In this study we built a machine-learning model that demonstrates high accuracy in predicting power-generation project failure and success using the largest dataset on historic and planned power plants available for Africa, combined with country-level characteristics. We found that the most relevant factors for successful commissioning of past projects are at plant level: capacity, fuel, ownership and connection type. We applied the trained model to predict the realization of the current project pipeline. Contrary to rapid transition scenarios, our results show that the share of non-hydro renewables in electricity generation is likely to remain below 10% in 2030, despite total generation more than doubling. These findings point to high carbon lock-in risks for Africa, unless a rapid decarbonization shock occurs leading to large-scale cancellation of the fossil fuel plants currently in the pipeline.

When news is repeatedly retold it undergoes a stylistic transformation (disagreeable personalization), wherein original facts are increasingly supplanted by opinions and interpretations, with a slant toward negativity

The Dynamics of Distortion: How Successive Summarization Alters the Retelling of News. Shiri Melumad, Robert Meyer, Yoon Duk Kim. Journal of Marketing Research, January 7, 2021.

Abstract: In this work we advance and test a theory of how news information evolves as it is successively retold by consumers. Drawing on data from almost 11,000 participants across ten experiments, we offer evidence that when news is repeatedly retold it undergoes a stylistic transformation termed disagreeable personalization, wherein original facts are increasingly supplanted by opinions and interpretations, with a slant toward negativity. Specifically, the central thesis of the work is that, when retellers believe that they are more (vs. less) knowledgeable than their recipient about the information they are relaying, they feel more compelled to provide guidance on its meaning, and to do so in a persuasive manner. This enhanced motivation to guide persuasively, in turn, leads retellers to not only select the subset of facts they deem most essential but, critically, to provide their interpretations and opinions on those facts, with negativity being used as a means of grabbing the audience’s attention. Implications of the work for prior research on retelling and consumer information diffusion are explored.

Keywords: word-of-mouth, information diffusion, retelling, social media, natural language processing

Most women do not want a career in STEM and nor do most men; why should the small fraction of women who do want such a career be the same size as the small fraction of men?

Men, women and STEM: Why the differences and what should be done? Steve Stewart-Williams, Lewis G Halsey. European Journal of Personality, January 13, 2021.

Abstract: It is a well-known and widely lamented fact that men outnumber women in a number of fields in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). The most commonly discussed explanations for the gender gaps are discrimination and socialization, and the most common policy prescriptions target those ostensible causes. However, a great deal of evidence in the behavioural sciences suggests that discrimination and socialization are only part of the story. The purpose of this paper is to highlight other aspects of the story: aspects that are commonly overlooked or downplayed. More precisely, the paper has two main aims. The first is to examine the evidence that factors other than workplace discrimination contribute to the gender gaps in STEM. These include relatively large average sex differences in career and lifestyle preferences, and relatively small average differences in cognitive aptitudes – some favouring males, others favouring females – which are associated with progressively larger differences the further above the average one looks. The second aim is to examine the evidence suggesting that these sex differences are not purely a product of social factors but also have a substantial biological (i.e. inherited) component. A more complete picture of the causes of the unequal sex ratios in STEM may productively inform policy discussions.

Keywords: discrimination, equality, gender, sex differences, STEM

Having looked at how our analysis of STEM gender gaps might inform the conversation about policy options, we should step back and ask another, more fundamental question: what should the ultimate goal of these policies be? Should we strive for a 50:50 sex ratio in every area where men currently dominate? Or should we strive instead simply to eliminate bias and equalize people’s opportunities, then let the cards fall where they may?14

If men and women were identical in their aspirations and aptitudes, these would quite possibly amount to the same thing: levelling the playing field would automatically result in a 50:50 sex ratio, or something close to it. However, given that men and women are not identical in their aspirations and aptitudes, we have no reason to expect gender parity, even under conditions of perfect fairness. On the contrary, the natural expectation would be that men and women would not be at parity, but rather that men would be more common in some fields, and women in others, as a result of their freely made choices. To the extent that this is the case, it becomes much more difficult to justify pursuing a 50:50 sex ratio in every field. Most women do not want a career in STEM and nor do most men. Why should the small fraction of women who do want such a career be the same size as the small fraction of men? To put it another way, as long as everyone has the opportunity to pursue a STEM career, and as long as the selection process is fair, why would it be important to get as many women as men into jobs that fewer women want?

The pursuit of happiness

One way to start tackling this question would be to observe that a 50:50 sex ratio in STEM is presumably not a good in itself, but is a good only in as much as that it increases human wellbeing. Importantly, though, to the degree that occupational disparities are a product of men and women acting on their own preferences and pursuing their own best interests, it is doubtful that forcing a 50:50 sex ratio would actually achieve this end.

To begin with, men and women could have different life outcomes, but still be happy with their lives. One longitudinal study found that, among two cohorts of individuals identified as academically gifted as children, men and women had somewhat different aspirations and took somewhat different paths, but ended up similarly happy with their careers, their relationships and their lives overall (Lubinski et al., 2014). In other words, even among those best positioned to achieve their life ambitions, occupational gender parity appears not to be necessary for happiness.

Not only might it not be necessary, but policies that artificially engineer gender parity – financial incentives and quotas, for instance – could potentially lower aggregate happiness. To the extent that these policies work, they necessarily mean that some people will be funnelled into occupations that are less in line with their tastes and talents. To get more women into university physics programmes, for instance, would require persuading at least some women to choose that option when they otherwise would not have done so. (At the same time, unless enrolment numbers were increased, it would also mean turning away some men who otherwise would have.) The women in question would presumably not come from the ranks of housewives or secretaries; more than likely they would be women who would otherwise have gone into other, equally prestigious fields, such as law or medicine. Is there any reason to think that these women would be happier doing physics? Given that people tend to choose careers they think will suit them best and be most satisfying for them, it seems plausible to think that, on average, they might be somewhat less happy (Bretz & Judge, 1994De Fruyt, 2002Verquer et al., 2003).

Admittedly, this whole line of argument is premised on the assumption that the wellbeing of individual STEM workers ought to be the deciding factor, and some might reject that assumption. Anyone who does, though, should, we think, be expected to make a strong argument for that position. Why should we put a statistical, collective goal – i.e. more equal sex ratios in STEM – above the happiness and autonomy of the flesh-and-blood individuals who constitute those collectives? Why should policy makers’ preference for gender parity take precedence over individual men and women’s preferences regarding their own careers and lives?15

Sex differences as a sign of social health

A recurring theme in discussions of occupational gender disparities is the often-unspoken assumption that sex differences are inherently problematic, or that they constitute direct evidence of sexism and the curbing of women’s opportunities. Some research, however, points to the opposite conclusion. A growing body of work suggests that, in nations with greater wealth and higher levels of gender equality, sex differences are often larger than they are in less wealthy, less equal nations. This is true for a wide range of variables, including aggression (Nivette et al., 2019), attachment styles (Schmitt, Alcalay, Allensworth, et al., 2003), the Big Five personality traits (Schmitt et al., 2008), crying (Van Hemert et al., 2011), depression (Hopcroft & McLaughlin, 2012), enjoyment of casual sex (Schmitt, 2015), interest in and enjoyment of science (Stoet & Geary, 2018), intimate partner violence (Schmitt, 2015), self-esteem (Zuckerman et al., 2016), spatial ability (Lippa et al., 2010), STEM graduation rates (Stoet & Geary, 2018), subjective wellbeing (Schmitt, 2015) and values (Falk & Hermle, 2018).16 Importantly, the pattern is also observed for objectively measurable traits such as height, BMI and blood pressure (Schmitt, 2015), which gives some reason to think that it is not simply a product of cross-cultural differences in the ways that people answer questionnaires or take tests.

What, then, is the cause of the pattern? One possibility is that when people grow up in an enriched and relatively unconstrained environment, nascent differences between individuals – and average differences between the sexes – have more opportunity to emerge and grow. In the case of psychological traits, the suggestion would be that men and women in wealthier, more developed nations have greater freedom to pursue what interests them and to nurture their own individuality. This freedom may, in turn, result in larger psychological sex differences (Schmitt et al., 2008; although see Fors Connolly et al., 2019Kaiser, 2019).

Regardless of the reason, though, if certain sex differences are larger in societies with better social indicators, then rather than being products of a sexist or oppressive society, these differences may be indicators of the opposite: a comparatively free and fair one. If so, this casts society’s efforts to minimize the sex differences in an entirely new light. Rather than furthering gender equality, such efforts may involve attacking a positive symptom of gender equality. By mistaking the fruits of our freedom for evidence of oppression, we may institute policies that, at best, burn up time and resources in a futile effort to cure a ‘disease’ that isn?t actually a disease, and at worst actively limit people’s freedom to pursue their own interests and ambitions on a fair and level playing field.

The sexist assumption underlying the demand for parity

Finally, the strong emphasis on increasing the numbers of women in male-dominated fields is arguably somewhat sexist. As Susan Pinker (2008) argues, it tacitly assumes that women do not know what they want, or that they want the wrong things and thus that wiser third-parties need to ‘fix’ their existing preferences. It also tacitly assumes that the areas where men dominate are superior. The psychologist Denise Cummins (2015) put the point well when she observed that, ‘The hidden assumption underlying the push to eliminate gender gaps in traditionally male-dominated fields is that such fields are intrinsically more important and more valuable to society than fields that traditionally attract more women.’ Given that traditionally female-dominated fields include education, healthcare and social work, this assumption is not only sexist; it is also clearly false. As Judith Kleinfeld observed:

We should not be sending [gifted] women the message that they are less worthy human beings, less valuable to our civilization, lazy or low in status, if they choose to be teachers rather than mathematicians, journalists rather than physicists, lawyers rather than engineers. (cited in Steven Pinker, 2002, p. 359)

Certainly, many female-dominated fields pay less, on average, than male-dominated STEM fields.17 There is a great deal of debate about the reasons for this, and the extent to which it is a product of sexism vs. factors such as market forces (e.g. the fact that many female-dominated fields have a greater supply of workers) and personal preferences (e.g. the fact that, on average, women view pay as a less important consideration in choosing a career than men, and view things such as job security and flexible work hours as more important; Funk & Parker, 2018Gino et al., 2015Lubinski et al., 2014Redmond & McGuinness, 2019). Such matters are beyond the scope of this article. We would point out, though, that even if current pay disparities were entirely due to sexism, the most appropriate solution would presumably be to strive for fair pay in female-dominated fields, rather than trying to get more women into fields that pay more but which, on average, they find less appealing. And to the extent that the explanation is that women place less weight on a high income in choosing a career, and more weight on other things, efforts to get women to prioritize income tacitly assume, once again, that women’s existing priorities are misguided, and that they ought to adopt more male-typical priorities instead.

To be clear, we completely agree that we should endeavour to root out sexism wherever it still lurks, and tear down any lingering barriers to the progress of women in STEM (as well as any barriers to the progress of men). These are eminently good goals. However, for the reasons discussed, striving for a 50:50 sex ratio – or indeed any pre-specified sex ratio – is not a good goal.

People regard a large number of friends as a signal of social capital that increases their interpersonal attractiveness, but they personally prefer to make friends with someone who has a relatively small number of friends

Si, K., Dai, X., & Wyer, R. S., Jr. (2021). The friend number paradox. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 120(1), 84–98, Jan 2021.

Abstract: We identify a friend number paradox, that is, a mismatch between people’s preferences for the friends they might acquire in social interactions and their predictions of others’ preferences. People predict that others are attracted to them if they have a relatively large number of friends. However, they personally prefer to make friends with someone who has a relatively small number of friends. People regard a large number of friends as a signal of social capital that increases their interpersonal attractiveness. However, it can actually be a signal of social liabilities that diminish their ability to reciprocate obligations to others. We conducted a series of studies, including 3 speed-friending studies in which participants either engaged or expected to engage in actual interactions for the purpose of initiating long-term friendships. These studies provide converging evidence of the hypothesized mismatch and our conceptualization of its determinants.

Universality of the Triangular Theory of Love: Adaptation and Psychometric Properties of the Triangular Love Scale in 25 Countries

Universality of the Triangular Theory of Love: Adaptation and Psychometric Properties of the Triangular Love Scale in 25 Countries. Piotr Sorokowski et al. The Journal of Sex Research, Volume 58, 2021 - Issue 1, Pages 106-115, Aug 12 2020.

The Triangular Theory of Love (measured with Sternberg’s Triangular Love Scale – STLS) is a prominent theoretical concept in empirical research on love. To expand the culturally homogeneous body of previous psychometric research regarding the STLS, we conducted a large-scale cross-cultural study with the use of this scale. In total, we examined more than 11,000 respondents, but as a result of applied exclusion criteria, the final analyses were based on a sample of 7332 participants from 25 countries (from all inhabited continents). We tested configural invariance, metric invariance, and scalar invariance, all of which confirmed the cultural universality of the theoretical construct of love analyzed in our study. We also observed that levels of love components differ depending on relationship duration, following the dynamics suggested in the Triangular Theory of Love. Supplementary files with all our data, including results on love intensity across different countries along with STLS versions adapted in a few dozen languages, will further enable more extensive research on the Triangular Theory of Love.

Wikipedia: Triangular theory of love - Wikipedia

Extramarital Sex among Chinese Men and Women: Among married adults aged 20–59, the occurrence rate of EMS nearly tripled over the period 2000–2015, going from 12.9% to 33.4% for men, & from 4.7% to 11.4% for women

Prevalence and Patterns of Extramarital Sex among Chinese Men and Women: 2000-2015. Yueyun Zhang, Xin Wang & Suiming Pan. The Journal of Sex Research , Volume 58, 2021 - Issue 1, Pages 41-50, Aug 12 2020.

Despite growing concern about the “sexual revolution” in China in the past decades, empirical evidence regarding the national trends in prevalence and patterns of extramarital sex (EMS) remains sparse. This study aimed to fill this gap, using data from a population-based, repeated cross-sectional survey administered at four time points during the period 2000–2015. EMS was assessed by asking whether a person in marriage had engaged in sexual activity with someone else during the relationship with his/her current partner. Our findings showed that among married adults aged 20–59, the occurrence rate of EMS nearly tripled over the period 2000–2015, increasing from 12.9% to 33.4% for men, and from 4.7% to 11.4% for women. Moreover, in the early years of this century, EMS was negatively associated with older age (50–59 years), lower educational level (elementary and below) and rural residence for men, and negatively associated with older age and positively associated with higher educational level (college and above) for women. All these differences, however, disappeared in more recent years. Overall, this study indicates a marked increase in EMS, a widening gender gap in EMS, and for each gender, a convergence of EMS across various sociodemographic groups.