Friday, February 5, 2021

Young and restless, old and focused: Age-differences in mind-wandering frequency and phenomenology

Moran, C. N., McGovern, D. P., Warren, G., Grálaigh, R. Ó, Kenney, J. P. M., Smeaton, A., & Dockree, P. M. (2021). Young and restless, old and focused: Age-differences in mind-wandering frequency and phenomenology. Psychology and Aging, Feb 2021.

Abstract: The consistently observed age-accompanied diminution in mind-wandering stands seemingly opposed to accounts that present mind-wandering as a failure of executive control. This study examined the impact of aging on the frequency and phenomenology of mind-wandering and investigated distinct variables mediating age-related differences in unintentional and intentional mind-wandering. Thirty-four younger and 34 healthy older adults completed a neuropsychological test battery and contrast change detection task embedded with experience sampling probes asking participants to discriminate the nature of their thoughts. Results revealed age-related decreases in unintentional and intentional mind-wandering, but equivalent task accuracy. Parallel mediations demonstrated that older adults reduced their unintentional mind-wandering through having less anxiety and greater task engagement than younger adults. Despite the evidence of age-related decline on cognitive function tests, neither executive function nor task demand variables further contributed to the model. Our results adjudicate between competing theories, highlighting the roles of affective and motivational factors in unintentional mind-wandering. Intentional mind-wandering showed no significant associations with the neuropsychological measures; however, intentional mind-wandering was associated with more false alarms, which was mediated by greater reaction time variability (RTV). In the context of the exploitation/exploration framework, we suggest that younger adults were more inclined to intentionally mind-wander, indexed by increased RTV, while preserving comparable performance accuracy to older adults. Conversely, older adults exploited greater task focus, marked by reduced RTV, with less bias toward, or resources for, exploration of the mind-wandering space. Therefore, dispositional and strategic factors should be considered in future investigations of mind-wandering across the lifespan.

Demonstrate values: Behavioral displays of moral outrage as a cue to long-term mate potential

Brown, M., Keefer, L. A., Sacco, D. F., & Brown, F. L. (2021). Demonstrate values: Behavioral displays of moral outrage as a cue to long-term mate potential. Emotion, Feb 2021.

Rolf Degen's take: The expression of outrage can serve as an instrument of courtship, ideally suited for men to pitch themselves to women as long-term partners.

Abstract: Recent findings suggest that moral outrage signals trustworthiness to others, and such perceptions play a uniquely important role in identifying social opportunities. We conducted four studies (N = 870) investigating how displays of moral outrage are perceived in the specific context of mating. Results indicated participants, particularly women, found prospective mates describing outrage-signaling activism to be more desirable for long-term mating (Study 1), and this perception of desirability was similarly inferred among same-sex raters (Study 2). We further replicated findings in Study 1, while additionally considering the basis of women’s attraction toward outraged behavior through candidate mediators (Studies 3). Although we found consistent evidence for the desirability of an ostensibly outraged target, Study 4 finally identified a boundary condition on the desirability of outrage, wherein mere expression of outrage (without activism) was insufficient to bolster attraction. We frame results from complementary perspectives of trust signaling and sexual strategies theory.

Gender Differences in the Intention to Start a Business: Greater differences in higher egalitarian countries

Gender Differences in the Intention to Start a Business: An Updated and Extended Meta-Analysis. Holger Steinmetz, Rodrigo Isidor, and Corinna Bauer. Zeitschrift für Psychologie (2021), 229, pp. 70-84. February 4, 2021.

Abstract. The present study updates and extends the meta-analysis by Haus et al. (2013) who applied the theory of planned behavior (TPB) to analyze gender differences in the motivation to start a business. We extend this meta-analysis by investigating the moderating role of the societal context in which the motivation to start a business emerges and proceeds. The results, based on 119 studies analyzing 129 samples with 266,958 individuals from 36 countries, show smaller gender differences than the original study and reveal little differences across cultural regions in the effects of the tested model. A meta-regression analyzing the role of specific cultural dimensions and economic factors on gender-related correlations reveals significant effects only of gender egalitarianism and in the opposite direction as expected. In summary, the study contributes to the discussion on gender differences, the importance of study replications and updates of meta-analyses, and the generalizability of theories across cultural contexts.

Keywords: gender differences, entrepreneurship, theory of planned behavior, meta-analysis, starting a business

There is little evidence that spicy food in hot countries is an adaptation to reducing infection risk

There is little evidence that spicy food in hot countries is an adaptation to reducing infection risk. Lindell Bromham, Alexander Skeels, Hilde Schneemann, Russell Dinnage & Xia Hua. Nature Human Behaviour, Feb 4 2021.

Abstract: Spicier food in hot countries has been explained in terms of natural selection on human cultures, with spices with antimicrobial effects considered to be an adaptation to increased risk of foodborne infection. However, correlations between culture and environment are difficult to interpret, because many cultural traits are inherited together from shared ancestors, neighbouring cultures are exposed to similar conditions, and many cultural and environmental variables show strong covariation. Here, using a global dataset of 33,750 recipes from 70 cuisines containing 93 different spices, we demonstrate that variation in spice use is not explained by temperature and that spice use cannot be accounted for by diversity of cultures, plants, crops or naturally occurring spices. Patterns of spice use are not consistent with an infection-mitigation mechanism, but are part of a broader association between spice, health, and poverty. This study highlights the challenges inherent in interpreting patterns of human cultural variation in terms of evolutionary pressures.