Saturday, January 30, 2021

Recordings of our voice: We can hear with pitiless objectivity all aspects of how we speak, including the unconscious ways we manipulate prosody, pace, and pronunciation to create the voice we wish we had

John Colapinto: This Is the Voice.  Simon & Schuster (January 26, 2021).

Indeed, it is a philosophical irony of cosmic proportions that the only voice on earth that we do not know is our own. This is because it reaches us, not solely through the air, but in vibrations that pass through the hard and soft tissues of our head and neck, and which create, in our auditory cortex, a sound completely different to what everyone else hears when we talk. The stark difference is clear the first time we listen to a recording of own voice. (“Is that really what I sound like? Turn it off!”) The distaste with which so many of us greet the sound of our actual voice is not purely a matter of acoustics, I suspect. A recording disembodies the voice, holds it at a distance from us, so that we can hear with pitiless objectivity all aspects of how we speak, including the unconscious ways we manipulate prosody, pace, and pronunciation to create the voice we wish we had. When I mentioned this to a friend, he grimaced at the memory of hearing his recorded voice for the first time. “God!” he cried. “The insincerity!” He was reacting to the mismatch between who he knows himself (privately and inwardly) to be, and the person that he seeks to project into the world.

The researchers perceived a high prevalence of duplicate publication (66.5%) & self-plagiarism (59.0%), use of personal influence (57.5%) & citation manipulation (44.0%); low perceived incidence of data falsification (10.0%)

Research Misconduct in the Fields of Ethics and Philosophy: Researchers’ Perceptions in Spain. Ramón A. Feenstra, Emilio Delgado López-Cózar & Daniel Pallarés-Domínguez. Science and Engineering Ethics volume 27, Article number: 1. Jan 25 2021.

Abstract: Empirical studies have revealed a disturbing prevalence of research misconduct in a wide variety of disciplines, although not, to date, in the areas of ethics and philosophy. This study aims to provide empirical evidence on perceptions of how serious a problem research misconduct is in these two disciplines in Spain, particularly regarding the effects that the model used to evaluate academics’ research performance may have on their ethical behaviour. The methodological triangulation applied in the study combines a questionnaire, a debate at the annual meeting of scientific association, and in-depth interviews. Of the 541 questionnaires sent out, 201 responses were obtained (37.1% of the total sample), with a significant difference in the participation of researchers in philosophy (30.5%) and in ethics (52.8%); 26 researchers took part in the debate and 14 interviews were conducted. The questionnaire results reveal that 91.5% of the respondents considered research misconduct to be on the rise; 63.2% considered at least three of the fraudulent practices referred to in the study to be commonplace, and 84.1% identified two or more such practices. The researchers perceived a high prevalence of duplicate publication (66.5%) and self-plagiarism (59.0%), use of personal influence (57.5%) and citation manipulation (44.0%), in contrast to a low perceived incidence of data falsification or fabrication (10.0%). The debate and the interviews corroborated these data. Researchers associated the spread of these misconducts with the research evaluation model applied in Spain.

Despite the prominence of feminist anti-porn groups & arguments in past decades, it is not true that support for anti-porn legislation has been discernibly driven by egalitarianism, but for patriarchal beliefs & values

Protection or Patriarchy? Gender Ideology and Support for Anti-pornography Legislation, 1988–2018. Samuel L. Perry & Elizabeth E. McElroy. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, Jan 30 2021.


Introduction: Though religious conservatives espousing patriarchal views have historically been on the forefront of anti-pornography efforts in the USA, the past few decades have witnessed an increasing secularization of the anti-pornography movement. This shift is characterized by greater rhetorical dependence on scientific studies, secular anti-pornography activist groups, and arguments surrounding the protection of women from exploitation or abuse.

Methods: Using both aggregated and disaggregated data from the 1988–2018 General Social Surveys, we estimate a series of binary logistic regression models in order to examine the potentially changing connection between espousing a more patriarchal ideology and support for anti-pornography legislation, net of relevant correlates.

Results: Among Americans in general, embracing a more patriarchal ideology is positively associated with support for anti-pornography legislation across all survey years. Moreover, interactions indicate that Americans who adhere to a more egalitarian ideology, and particularly women, show a decline in their support for anti-pornography legislation over time.

Conclusions: Despite the prominence of feminist anti-porn groups and arguments in past decades, findings contradict the idea that support for strict anti-pornography legislation among the general public has ever been discernibly driven by egalitarianism. Rather, it has been and remains robustly connected to patriarchal beliefs and values prescribing traditionalist gender roles.

Policy Implications: Findings elucidate the dominant underlying gender ideology present in both historic and contemporary attitudes toward sweeping anti-pornography legislation and demand scholars and policy-makers disentangle rhetoric (of protection) from reality (patriarchy).

Girls have worse average mental health than boys across 4 measures of mental health; this sex gap is largely ubiquitous cross-culturally; more gender equal countries have larger gender gaps in mental health

The gender gap in adolescent mental health: a cross-national investigation of 566,829 adolescents across 73 countries. O.L.K. Campbell, David Bann, Praveetha Patalay. SSM - Population Health, January 26 2021, 100742.

h/t David Schmitt


• Girls have worse average mental health than boys across 4 measures of mental health.

• The gender gap in mental health is largely ubiquitous cross-culturally.

• The gap is most pronounced for psychological distress and life satisfaction.

• More gender equal countries have larger gender gaps in mental health.

• Gender equality correlates with less psychological distress in boys but more in girls.

Abstract: Mental ill-health is a leading cause of disease burden worldwide. While women suffer from greater levels of mental health disorders, it remains unclear whether this gender gap differs systematically across regions and/or countries, or across the different dimensions of mental health. We analysed 2018 data from 566,827 adolescents across 73 countries for 4 mental health outcomes: psychological distress, life satisfaction, eudaemonia, and hedonia. We examine average gender differences and distributions for each of these outcomes as well as country-level associations between each outcome and purported determinants at the country level: wealth (GDP per capita), inequality (Gini index), and societal indicators of gender inequality (GII, GGGI, and GSNI). We report four main results: 1) The gender gap in mental health in adolescence is largely ubiquitous cross-culturally, with girls having worse average mental health; 2) There is considerable cross-national heterogeneity in the size of the gender gap, with the direction reversed in a minority of countries; 3) Higher GDP per capita is associated with worse average mental health and a larger gender gap across all mental health outcomes; and 4) more gender equal countries have larger gender gaps across all mental health outcomes. Taken together, our findings suggest that while the gender gap appears largely ubiquitous, its size differs considerably by region, country, and dimension of mental health. Findings point to the hitherto unrealised complex nature of gender disparities in mental health and possible incongruence between expectations and reality in high gender equal countries.


Across four mental health outcomes - life satisfaction, psychological distress, hedonia, and eudaemonia - we find that girls typically had worse mental health than boys. Whilst there is considerable cross-cultural variation in the size of this average difference, it appears largely ubiquitous in this global sample - particularly for life satisfaction and psychological distress. Perhaps counterintuitively, richer European countries including the Scandinavian nations, such as Sweden and Finland, have some of the largest gender gaps in mental health. By contrast, countries with worse society gender equality scores – such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon - have some of the smallest gender gaps and the direction of the gap is sometimes reversed (with boys having worse mental health). The outcomes vary in their distributions and where in the distribution the gender gap appears, indicating that mean differences are driven by different parts of the mental health distribution for the different outcomes. This highlights the importance of considering the underlying distributions of any mean differences observed. An identical mean difference may be driven by different parts of the population distribution, and this may have public health consequences. For example, we found that girls were less likely than boys to report the highest life satisfaction score, rather than having particularly higher counts in the lower part of the life satisfaction distribution. Previous research typically only focuses on mean differences – future research to understand cross-national differences in mental health may benefit from such analyses.

Higher GDP per capita was associated with a larger gender gap, albeit the magnitude of effect was small. This contrasts with other findings where a positive relationship between GDP and adolescent wellbeing has been found (Torsheim et al., 2006), and this may be due to our inclusion of a wider range of countries beyond rich Western economies. The Easterlin paradox of increasing per capita wealth not associating with increasing wellbeing is well known (Easterlin, 2003) — once basic requirements are met, material desires often increase with increasing incomes so that one is never completely satisfied (Carol Graham et al., 2010). This however does not completely explain the negative association with mental health we found in both genders, or the larger mental health gender gap in richer countries. In line with previous literature we find an inconsistent and weak relationship between income inequality and mental health outcomes (Ngamaba et al., 2018), although it is associated with a wider gender gap in all cases. It could be the case that income inequality and GDP per capita are not particularly important amongst adolescents, and a more specific measure such as the purchasing power of adolescents might be more relevant. Or, for income inequality, the association may be dependent on a country’s level of development, with higher income inequality associating with better mental health in developing nations and worse mental health in developed nations (Ngamaba et al., 2018).

More gender equal countries had larger gender gaps across all outcomes examined, consistent with previous literature in adults (Zuckerman et al., 2017). While the gender equality measures used are not specifically designed to capture exposures directly experienced by adolescents, they reflect multiple dimensions of gender equality which influence experiences through all live stages in these countries and hence provide relevant information about the societal experiences for each gender. Whilst the nature of the associations between gender equality and adolescent mental health were inconsistent across outcomes it was striking that where the association was positive, it was particularly strong for males. This is in contrast to previous findings that show an equivalent positive relationship between gender equality and life satisfaction in boys and girls (Looze et al., 2018). Whilst previous work has shown that social norms of gender equality may be particularly important for mental health outcomes (Tesch-Römer et al., 2008) it is unclear if the multiple available gender equality indicators we used fully capture this. The newly created gender social norms index (GSNI), despite attempting to capture the distinct attitudinal aspects of gender equality, does not appear to measure gender equality in a qualitatively different way than the GII as they are highly correlated. By contrast, the GGGI captures a greater detail of gender equality by including more and more diverse indicators (Table S3), making it more granular, whilst also separating itself from a country’s level of development. For example, the GGGI includes five indicators for economic participation, such as ratio of female earned income to male, and ratio of female professional and technical workers to males, compared to the GII’s one measure of female and male labour force participation rates.

Our results present a complex picture for the relationship between gender equality and the adolescent gender mental health gap. While the feminist movement is itself old, extensive judicial and social change towards gender equality is a fairly recent development, with the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) only being instituted in 1981.

Graham and Pettinato (C. Graham & Pettinato, 2002) coined the term ‘frustrated achievers’ to describe individuals that experience improvements in wealth but report negative perceived past mobility and lower happiness, as a result of still facing discriminatory practices and barriers to their continued ascent. In terms of women, whilst gains have been made, there remain many barriers to full equality that may explain part of our association between gender equality and worse female mental health, or only very slightly better female mental health in the case of life satisfaction. Similarly, expectations of equality may rise faster than actual experience of equality and this may result in worse mental health as women are not able to realise their goals. Another characteristic of upwardly mobile groups is that their reference categories for social comparison are usually beyond their original cohort (Easterlin, 2003). Thus, women or girls attempting to achieve the same successes as men and boys will look to them as their reference group and this may highlight the inequalities between them, producing lower life satisfaction and mental health, while in less gender equal countries reference groups might be limited to their own sex (Costa et al., 2001). Furthermore, in a number of more gender unequal countries, boys and girls might be more socially segregated at adolescence (Talbani & Hasanali, 2000) which reduce between gender comparisons.

In more gender equal countries girls and women are now faced with a double burden of balancing both increased economic and political participation as well as the traditional female responsibilities and norms. While in more gender equal countries women have entered traditionally male dominated areas of employment, men have not entered female dominated areas of employment to the same extent, nor do they do equal amounts of domestic work (England & Folbre, 2005Garcia & Tomlinson, 2020). In countries with lower gender equality women’s roles are more fixed, whereas in more gender equal countries they are less prescribed, leading to potential conflict between roles, which may affect mental health (Hopcroft & Bradley, 2007).

Adolescence and puberty marks a particular period of changing identity (Blakemore & Mills, 2014) including developing conceptions of what it means to be a man or a woman (Greene & Patton, 2020), and while there are cross-cultural differences in experience of adolescence, identity development is common (Gibbons & Poelker, 2019). Adolescence can be particularly stressful when the norms of femininity potentially contradict with the norms of gender equality and attempting to balance the two may be additionally difficult. Previous research indicates that stress and educational pressure is particularly correlated with worse mental health in adolescent girls (M.a, Gotlib, & Hayward, 1999Wiklund et al., 2012). Indeed, changing norms of female education and economic participation can increase educational stress and psychological distress for girls whilst they are still burdened with traditional anxieties related to maintaining a female identity and appearance (West & Sweeting, 2003) - and adolescent girls experience many more anxieties related to their appearance than boys (Smolak, 2004). Additionally, evidence suggests that individuals who violate gender stereotypes may receive backlash (Rudman et al., 2012), which may have negative consequences for mental health. Overall, adolescence marks a period of emerging new stressors which may negatively affect girl’s mental health to a greater degree than boys, and in more gender equal countries there may be more of these stressors. For example, having to balance multiple gender norms, or the stress related to the mismatch between expected and experienced gender equality and opportunities, which is potentially greater in countries perceived to have higher gender equality.

Future research should examine some of the theories we have highlighted above to better understand the individual level mechanisms. For example, to examine whether girls who attempt to satisfy multiple gender norms, such as being - femininely attractive, high achieving, and ‘one of the boys’ - have worse mental health. Additionally, examination of other country-level indicators may yield further results to help explain country-level differences in the gender gap, such as, availability and access to mental health support (Saraceno et al., 2007), levels of stigma and literacy around mental health (Corrigan & Watson, 2002), and broader factors such as estimates of environmental degradation, which may have gendered impacts (Patel et al., 2020).


Firstly, our study relies exclusively on cross-sectional cross-country correlations; thus, we cannot make any strong conclusions regarding the causal pathways involved. However, cross-country comparisons are necessary to elucidate risk factors that operate at the population level (Pearce, 2000), such as indicators of gender and income inequality. Secondly, whilst we cannot exclude cultural differences on likert scale responses, such as positivity biases, that may confound cross-country differences (Oishi, 2010) invariance testing of the measures indicated that the measures behaved similarly across gender and region. Thirdly, the gender gap itself may partly be a product of reporting bias – with boys being less willing to report negative mental health than girls. However, self-reports are necessary to measure mental health and wellbeing, and the extent and distributions of the gender gap being different across mental health outcomes suggests reporting biases might not be the only explanation. Fourthly, there could be systematic differences across genders in school attendance amongst the countries in our sample that could potentially bias comparison of gender gaps across countries. However, investigation of the gender ratio in secondary enrolment (obtained from the GGGI) suggests that there are not large differences in our sample. The female to male ratio in secondary enrolment ranges from 0.9 to 1.1 for our whole sample, apart from Germany (0.89), the Philippines (1.19) and Qatar (1.25). Lastly, our measure of gender was binary in nature and does not allow investigation of non-binary gender identities on mental health.

People have a more positive relationship with action than with inaction, expect more favorable outcomes from it, and would rather act than refrain from acting when in doubt

Are actions better than inactions? Positivity, outcome, and intentionality biases in judgments of action and inaction. Aashna Sunderrajan, Dolores Albarracín. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 94, May 2021, 104105.

Rolf Degen's take: People have a more positive relationship with action than with inaction, expect more favorable outcomes from it, and would rather act than refrain from acting when in doubt.


• Despite the adaptive value of both action and inaction, people not only evaluate actions more favorably than inactions but also prefer to engage in them as well (action positivity bias)

• Preferences for action over inaction tend to be driven by biases of outcome positivity (action outcome bias) and intentionality (action intentionality bias), however, assumed outcome positivity is most influential than assumed intentionality

• An overall preference for action could become detrimental to health, therefore, understanding the magnitude of this bias in everyday life is vital

Abstract: Behavior varies along a continuum of activity, with effortful behaviors characterizing actions and restful states characterizing inactions. Despite the adaptive value of both action and inaction, we propose three biases that, in the absence of other information, increase the probability that people like, and want to pursue, action more than inaction: An action positivity bias, an action outcome bias, and an action intentionality bias. Across four experiments, participants not only evaluated actions more favorably than inactions (Experiment 1–3) but also chose to engage in actions more than inactions (Experiment 4). This action positivity bias was driven by the two interrelated biases of outcome positivity and intentionality (Experiments 1–3), such that actions (versus inactions) were spontaneously thought of as having more positive outcomes and as being more intentional. Moreover, these outcome differences played a stronger role in the action positivity bias than did the intentionality differences (Experiment 3). As balancing action and inaction is important for healthy human functioning, it is important to understand evaluative biases in this domain. All experiments were preregistered, and one involved a nationally representative sample.

Keywords: ActionInactionBiasEvaluationOutcomeIntentionality

Individual variation in religiosity is well explained by the interaction of increased levels of social mistrust and increased needs to moralize other people’s sexual behaviors

Predictive modeling of religiosity, prosociality, and moralizing in 295,000 individuals from European and non-European populations. Pierre O. Jacquet, Farid Pazhoohi, Charles Findling, Hugo Mell, Coralie Chevallier & Nicolas Baumard. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications volume 8, Article number: 9. Jan 21 2021.

Abstract: Why do moral religions exist? An influential psychological explanation is that religious beliefs in supernatural punishment is cultural group adaptation enhancing prosocial attitudes and thereby large-scale cooperation. An alternative explanation is that religiosity is an individual strategy that results from high level of mistrust and the need for individuals to control others’ behaviors through moralizing. Existing evidence is mixed but most works are limited by sample size and generalizability issues. The present study overcomes these limitations by applying k-fold cross-validation on multivariate modeling of data from >295,000 individuals in 108 countries of the World Values Surveys and the European Value Study. First, this methodology reveals no evidence that European and non-European religious people invest more in collective actions and are more trustful of unrelated conspecifics. Instead, the individuals’ level of religiosity is found to be weakly but positively associated with social mistrust and negatively associated with the production of behaviors, which benefit unrelated members of the large-scale community. Second, our models show that individual variation in religiosity is well explained by the interaction of increased levels of social mistrust and increased needs to moralize other people’s sexual behaviors. Finally, stratified k-fold cross-validation demonstrates that the structures of these association patterns are robust to sampling variability and reliable enough to generalize to out-of-sample data.

Towards a neuropsychology of political orientation: exploring ideology in patients with frontal and midbrain lesions

Hannah Nam H, Jost JT, Meager MR, Van Bavel JJ. Towards a neuropsychology of political orientation: exploring ideology in patients with frontal and midbrain lesions. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 20200137, Jan 20201.

How do people form their political beliefs? In an effort to address this question, we adopt a neuropsychological approach. In a natural experiment, we explored links between neuroanatomy and ideological preferences in two samples of brain lesion patients in New York City. Specifically, we compared the political orientations of patients with frontal lobe lesions, amygdala lesions and healthy control subjects. Lesion type classification analyses revealed that people with frontal lesions held more conservative (or less liberal) beliefs than those with anterior temporal lobe lesions or no lesions. Additional analyses predicting ideology by extent of damage provided convergent evidence that greater damage in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC)—but not the amygdala—was associated with greater conservatism. These findings were robust to model specifications that adjusted for demographic, mood, and affect-related variables. Although measures of executive function failed to mediate the relationship between frontal lesions and ideology, our findings suggest that the prefrontal cortex may play a role in promoting liberalism. It is possible that the dlPFC is a critical region for the development of liberal ideology. Our approach suggests useful directions for future work to address the issue of whether biological developments precede political attitudes or vice versa—or both.

4. Discussion

We found that frontal lobe lesion patients reported more conservative (or less liberal) political orientation than patients with damage to their anterior temporal lobe and healthy control participants with no history of brain damage. ATL lesion patients were as liberal as healthy control participants. These findings were robust to various model specifications, including those that adjusted for demographic, mood and affect-related variables. Moreover, the extent of damage in the dlPFC was positively associated with self-reported conservatism, whereas the extent of damage in the amygdala attributable to ideological extremity, which was unrelated to brain damage. The results of our study suggest that the prefrontal cortex may be a region that is integral to the expression of liberal political attitudes, insofar as damage to this brain region was associated with a more conservative orientation. The results are also suggestive of the possibility that the amygdala is an important structure for the development of conservative attitudes, given that ATL lesion patients were less conservative than frontal lobe lesion patients. This would be consistent with prior work linking greater amygdala volume to conservatism [16] and system justification [46]. At the same time, ATL lesion patients were no more liberal than healthy control participants, and the degree of amygdala damage was not associated with ideology, so at least in this context, it appears that the amygdala per se is not a necessary structure for conservatism. We hope that future work will be able to assess causal pathways more directly, perhaps by obtaining information about political attitudes before and after a planned surgical resection of brain tissue. Based on research linking (a) political liberalism to cognitive flexibility and control and (b) executive functioning to frontal lobe activity, we explored the possibility that patients with frontal lobe lesions were more conservative due in part to diminished executive functioning. However, this possibility was not borne out in this study. We examined performance on three established tests of executive function; the differences we observed were in the expected direction, but they were not statistically significant, possibly because our sample was too small to provide sufficient statistical power. It is possible that specific cognition type could be useful to consider. For instance, it may be that social or identity-related cognitive functions are especially pertinent when it comes to linking frontal cortex function to political ideology (see [9]). Future research would do well to investigate these possibilities in larger samples, possibly by combining several small samples of patients with different types of lesions. Some have argued that the study of political ideology requires the measurement of multiple dimensions, such as social and economic attitudes [59]; but see [76]). We had no specific predictions regarding social versus economic dimensions of ideology (as opposed to overall liberalismconservatism), but we did administer individual items to measure them separately. We found no evidence that brain lesions were differentially linked to social versus economic attitudes, nor to ideological extremity on any of these dimensions. Nevertheless, future research based on larger (and more diverse) samples would do well to explore these possibilities. In conclusion, we have undertaken a neuropsychological investigation of political orientation by focusing on patients with different brain lesions. Our findings speak to the question of whether certain brain regions are necessary for the development of specific political beliefs, opinions and values. It may be worth noting that by exploring brain lesions we are not in any way suggesting that holding liberal or conservative attitudes is reflective of neural deficits or damage. Rather, the lesion method illuminates which neuroanatomical regions—and the cognitive functions related to them—may be necessary for understanding the development of political ideology. It is also important to keep in mind that studies of brain structure, including lesion studies, do not rule out effects of neural reorganization and malleability [77]. Accordingly, we strongly caution against deterministic or essentialized interpretations of our research (see [78]). Moreover, we theorize that the relationship between neurobiology and ideology is dynamic and reciprocal (see [4]), bearing in mind Nudo’s [77] observation that ‘behavioral experience is the most potent modulator of brain plasticity’ (p. 1). Along these lines, we look forward to future research that specifies the ways in which ideological experiences may shape the structures and functions of the human brain.

Mental Imagery of Free Fall: We do not see acceleration, but a constant speed

Mental Imagery of Free Fall: Does a Falling Apple Accelerate in Our Minds? Daniel Bratzke and Rolf Ulrich. Timing & Time Perception, Jan 27 2021.

Abstract: The present study examined whether people’s mental imagery of falling objects includes the acceleration due to the earth’s gravitational force. To investigate this question, we used two different tasks, a height estimation and a fall-time estimation task. In the height estimation task, participants were presented with different free-fall times and had to indicate the corresponding heights from which the object fell to the ground. In the fall-time estimation task, participants had to produce the fall time associated with free falls from different heights. In contrast to the law of free fall, our results are more consistent with a linear than with an accelerated relationship between height and fall time. Thus, the present results suggest that mental imagery of an object’s free fall does not represent the gravitational acceleration due to gravity.

Keywords: Intuitive physics; mental imagery; time perception

4. Discussion

In the present study, we investigated whether people’s mental imagery of free fall (of an object) represents the acceleration due to gravity. Irrespective of the estimation task (i.e., whether participants estimated heights or fall times), the results were more consistent with a linear than with an accelerated relationship between height and fall time. This suggests that the mental imagery of an object’s free fall does not represent the acceleration due to gravity and thus resembles the Aristotelian rather than the Newtonian model of kinematic phenomena.

The present results are in line with the previous results by Gravano et al. (2017), who showed that the mental imagery of throwing a ball against the ceiling and catching it on the rebound was compatible with microgravity, irrespective of whether participants imagined the ball’s motion under terrestrial or space conditions. They explained their results by assuming that participants used a visual mode of imagery, which does not represent the gravitational acceleration because visual processing of accelerating/decelerating motion is rather poor (e.g., Werkhoven et al., 1992). A related possibility why people do not represent the gravitational acceleration is that the Aristotelian model is an appropriate approximation of the largest parts of many free falls. Namely, under conditions of air resistance, falling objects rapidly attain a constant level of speed. Thus the initial phase of acceleration is too short to be carefully observed without instruments (see e.g., Rovelli, 2015). For example, the terminal velocity of an apple (m =0.15 kg, d =7 cm) would be V=35.70 m/s. However, 75% of this terminal velocity is attained already after 3.54 s or 53.70 m. According to this explanation, the mental representation of free fall does not include gravitational acceleration because the change of speed during the acceleration phase cannot be perceived. As a consequence, constant velocity is attributed to all phases of free fall.

As already mentioned in the Introduction, a study by Huber and Krist (2004) reported fall-time estimates that are consistent with an acceleration of imagined free fall. In their study, participants saw a ball rolling off a horizontal surface and had to estimate the time until the ball fell onto a marked landing point. Importantly, the fall of the ball was hidden from the participants’ view by an occluding curtain so that they had to imagine the fall of the ball. In a production task, participants started the motion of the ball and had to indicate the point in time when the ball hit the ground. In a judgment task, participants had to judge the flight time by using a circular rating scale. In both tasks, the height and the distance to the landing point were manipulated. The produced flight times showed a pattern that matched the normative rule very well. In the judgment task, however, the judgments deviated from the predicted pattern. The authors explained this dissociation between produced and judged flight times by arguing that only in the production task (but not in the judgment task) mental imagery was based on a timing-responsive representation (e.g., Schwartz & Black, 1999) of free fall, which helped to predict the point in time when the ball hit the ground.

One could argue that the production tasks used in Huber and Krist (2004) and the present study were comparable so that one should have expected accelerated functions also in the present study. There was, however, one possibly crucial difference between the two tasks. In the production task of Huber and Krist, the participants saw the ball moving on the horizontal surface until it was occluded, which was not the case for the apple in the current study (and also not in the judgment task of Huber and Krist). The perception of this initial movement of the ball might be crucial to activate dynamic mental imagery (see also Huber & Krist, 2004). Thus, it remains unclear whether participants would represent the acceleration in the free-fall scenario of the present study if one provided a similar initial motion cue as in the study of Huber and Krist.

A related issue regarding the present study is whether participants actually imagined the free fall. Although they were instructed to do so, they could have followed the simple rule: the higher the height the longer the fall time and vice versa. Such a strategy would be virtually indistinguishable from mental imagery of a linear relationship between the two variables. Additionally, one could argue that the height estimation task used in the present study was not optimal for inducing mental imagery because participants had to indicate the height from which the apple fell. Possibly, mental imagery would have been easier or more natural in a scenario where the apple falls from a fixed height and participants indicate the height the apple reaches at the end of the free fall (even though this scenario can also be considered somewhat unnatural as the apple would not simply stop falling before it reaches the ground). In fact, two participants were excluded from data analyses because they apparently understood the task in the latter way. We used the former scenario because we wanted to make the height estimation task as similar to the fall-time estimation task as possible. In future studies, the assessment of eye movements could potentially shed some light on the involvement of mental imagery in free-fall scenarios like the present one (for a discussion of the relationship between eye movements and mental imagery, see Huber & Krist, 2004).

In conclusion, the present study suggests that the intuitive physics of free fall as assessed by estimates of height and fall time during mental imagery of an object’s free fall does not represent the gravitational acceleration. A plausible explanation for this result is that the change of speed during the rather short acceleration phase of free fall cannot be visually detected and hence people (incorrectly) attribute constant speed to all phases of free fall. Nevertheless, future studies may provide an answer to the question of whether people are capable of imaging the acceleration of falling objects when initial motion cues are available.

When husbands are somewhat older than wives (but neither much older nor much younger), selective fitness is high, as operationalized by rates of short-term infant survival and neonatal breastfeeding

Pelham, B. W. (2021). The husband-older age gap in marriage is associated with selective fitness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Jan 20201.

h/t David Schmitt "When husbands somewhat older than wives (but neither much older nor much younger)...8 cross-cultural replications w/ 225,000 mothers in low- to moderate-income nations...revealed husband-older age gap & life history tradeoff in lifetime selective fitness

Abstract: Wives are usually younger than their husbands. Although this has been replicated across time and culture, there is no previous evidence of the likely evolutionary underpinnings of this age gap. Study Set 1 replicated the marriage age gap—and its moderators—in 6.4 million American marriages that led to U.S. births between 2016 and 2018. This effect also replicated in three million unmarried unions. Study 2 directly examined the life history tradeoff that connects the marriage age gap to selective fitness. When husbands are somewhat older than wives (but neither much older nor much younger), selective fitness is high, as operationalized by rates of short-term infant survival and neonatal breastfeeding. This pattern held independent of the robust effects of maternal age. Eight cross-cultural replications involving more than 225,000 mothers in low- to moderate-income nations examined lifetime selective fitness (total number of living children) rather than single birth outcomes. In all eight nations, analyses revealed both a husband-older age gap and a life history tradeoff in lifetime selective fitness. Life history tradeoffs account well for the husband-older age gap in marriage.