Monday, January 18, 2021

Inequity aversion and fairness sensitivity in rats suggest that rudiments for such social motives can be found in evolutionary distant relatives to humans, implying conserved origins

From 2019... Inequity aversion in social species. Lina Oberliessen. PhD Thesis, Mathematisch Naturwissenschaftlichen Fakultät der Heinrich-Heine-Universität, Düsseldorf, Sep 2019.

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: Research over the last decades has shown that humans and other animals reveal behavioral and emotional responses to unequal reward distributions between themselves and other conspecifics. However, cross-species findings about the mechanisms underlying such inequity aversion are heterogeneous, and there is an ongoing discussion if inequity aversion represents a truly social phenomenon or if it is driven by non-social aspects of the task. There is not even general consensus whether inequity aversion exists in non-human animals at all. In this review article, we discuss variables that were found to affect inequity averse behavior in animals and examine mechanistic and evolutionary theories of inequity aversion. We review a range of moderator variables and focus especially on the comparison of social vs. non-social explanations of inequity aversion. Particular emphasis is placed on the importance of considering the experimental design when interpreting behavior in inequity aversion tasks: the tasks used to probe inequity aversion are often based on impunity-game-like designs in which animals are faced with unfair reward distributions, and they can choose to accept the unfair offer, or reject it, leaving them with no reward. We compare inequity-averse behavior in such impunity-game-like designs with behavior in less common choice-based designs in which animals actively choose between fair and unfair rewards distributions. This review concludes with a discussion of the different mechanistic explanations of inequity aversion, especially in light of the particular features of the different task designs, and we give suggestions on experimental requirements to understand the “true nature” of inequity aversion.

Disclosure of sexual secrets almost never resulted in relationship dissolution & over 1/3 of the sample said they appreciated the honest disclosure; plus, keeping sex secrets was related to lower relationship satisfaction

“Thanks for Telling Me”: The Impact of Disclosing Sex Secrets on Romantic Relationships. Lacey J. Ritter, Tara Martin, Keely Fox, David Knox & Susan Milstein. Sexuality & Culture, Jan 18 2021.

Abstract: This research investigated the relationship consequences of disclosing sexual secrets to a romantic partner. Analyses of data from a 39-item Internet questionnaire completed by 195 undergraduate students showed that revealing sex secrets to a romantic partner was associated with either neutral or positive relationship outcomes. Disclosure of sexual secrets almost never (< 5%) resulted in relationship dissolution and over a third of the sample reported that they appreciated the honest disclosure. In addition, keeping sex secrets was related to lower relationship satisfaction such that each additional sex secret being kept from a romantic partner was associated with a one-half point loss of satisfaction (on a 5-point relationship satisfaction scale). This decrease persisted when controlling for sex and race. Mediation analyses found support for the notion that the type of romantic relationship an individual is in explains part of the association between keeping secrets and relationship satisfaction. Implications and future research considerations are suggested.


Results revealed that, for respondents keeping one or more sexual secrets from a current or previous romantic partner (a little over 1/3 of the sample), outcomes for secret disclosure were overwhelmingly positive. Indeed, relationship satisfaction was not significantly altered by disclosure, supporting previous research emphasizing how disclosure can actually strengthen relationships (Sharff 1978) or, at the least, remove some of the negative stressors associated with secret-keeping (Cowan 2014). This was true for both the respondent and their partner, as secret disclosures toward either partner were overwhelmingly positive (47.98% and 38.89% appreciating the disclosure, respectively).

Keeping secrets from a romantic partner, whether due to college hookup expectations (Bogle 2008; Klinger 2016); fear of stigma (Brannon and Rauscher 2019; Piazza and Bering 2010); even boundary maintenance (Petronio and Child 2020) does have a significant impact on romantic relationships, however. Analyses found that the more secrets being kept by a respondent, the more likely they were to be less satisfied in their relationship, with non-secret-keepers reporting the most relationship satisfaction, similar to research on the “chilling effect” and the difficulty in creating and maintaining successful relationships when secrets remain (Aldeis and Afifi 2015; Petronio and Child 2020). The type of relationship also matters, with respondents in more casual, short-term relationships keeping more sexual secrets from partners, illustrating the concept of boundary permeability in particular (Petronio and Child 2020) in the need to restrict private information from casual linkages compared to longer term relationships.

Overall, even in a life course period that allows for more permissive sexual activity, college students still report keeping sexual secrets, even when they know divulging often ends positively. By maintaining these secrets, students are risking the quality of their relationships, as well as contributing to their own—and their partner’s—stress and mental health risks (Aldeis and Afifi 2015; Easterling et al. 2012). Though society promotes openness and honesty, there is still a gap between expectation and reality for emerging adults—those very individuals who are of age to create—and maintain—the very relationships they are keeping secrets about. Whether or not to keep a sex secret from a partner may seem like an individual concern, but the social implications of doing so are best shared with others.


The data should be interpreted cautiously. Regarding the undergraduate sample, the data were skewed toward Whites (68%) and females (81%) and are hardly representative of the 17 million college and university undergraduates throughout the United States (National Center for Education Statistics 2020). Another limitation of the study is that it was cross-sectional. Respondents were asked to report on sex secret disclosure in a current or previous relationship at the time they took the survey, so we were unable to track fluctuations in their experiencing or revealing sex secrets over time. Finally, the survey only asked respondents about their partners’ having disclosed secrets to them, but did not survey the partner in question. Future research on sex secrets would ideally include both members of the romantic relationship to determine true mutual impact and reactions to the disclosure of sexual secrets.

In conclusion, among undergraduate college students, keeping sex secrets was associated with lower relationship satisfaction than revealing those secrets to a romantic partner. This difference was partly accounted for by the type of romantic relationship the respondent was in; however, the vast majority of disclosing experiences were met with either acceptance, relief, or neutrality. Future studies should use larger, more representative samples of adults and track satisfaction and secret disclosure over time.