Saturday, February 13, 2021

Engaging in pro-environmental behaviours can increase one’s desirability in the mating market; & people display a motivation to engage in pro-environmental behaviours in the presence of attractive, opposite sex targets

Farrelly, Daniel, and Manpal S. Bhogal. 2021. “Mate Choice Enhances Pro-environmentalism.” PsyArXiv. February 13. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Previous research shows that altruistic behaviour is important in mate choice. A plethora of research shows that people are attracted to altruistic mates, and in turn, display altruistic behaviours towards those they find attractive. However, most of this research has focused on everyday altruism. Here, we apply this theoretical framework to pro-environmental behaviours, which are important altruistic behaviours, considering there is a time cost involved in engaging in such behaviours. In addition, encouraging people to engage in pro-environmental behaviours has great implications for the protection of our planet. Here, across two experiments, we successfully show that engaging in pro-environmental behaviours can increase one’s desirability in the mating market (experiment 1, n = 157) and that people display a motivation to engage in pro-environmental behaviours in the presence of attractive, opposite sex targets (experiment 2, n= 307). These are exciting and novel research findings, whereby we show that we can increase pro-environmental behaviours via mate choice motivation and also demonstrate their positive role in mate evaluation. These findings have implications for marketing and increasing environmental behaviour through the lens of evolutionary theory.

Check also Bhogal, M. S., & Bartlett, J. E. (2020). Further support for the role of heroism in human mate choice. Evolutionary Behavioral, Sep 2020.

And The role of altruistic costs in human mate choice. Manpal Singh Bhogal et al. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 160, 1 July 2020, 109939.

And The role of prosocial behaviors in mate choice: A critical review of the literature. Manpal Singh Bhogal, Daniel Farrelly, Niall Galbraith. Current Psychology, May 27 2019.

Liberals and Conservatives Show Equal Group Bias in Sharing Behavior: there are no ideological differences in actual behavior despite previous literature indicating differences in attitude/intention measures

Liberals and Conservatives Show Equal Group Bias in Sharing Behavior. Onurcan Yilmaz. Society for Personality and Social Psychology, conference 2021, Feb 9, 2021.

Rolf Degen's take: The left and the right were equally inclined to give away a larger share of the pie to people from their own camp

Description: A long-standing debate revolves around the question whether liberals and conservatives differ in their tendency for group bias. The ideology asymmetry hypothesis predicts less group bias among liberals than conservatives whereas the symmetry hypothesis expects identical group bias for both liberals and conservatives. We provide a large-scale (N=1,347) preregistered experiment testing the predictions of the asymmetry hypotheses: previously identified liberals and conservatives played Dictator Games with either an in- or out-group member, either under time-pressure (<5s) or time-delay (>20s). Although the manipulation worked as intended, we found no effect of time pressure on either group bias or on dictator sharing behavior. However, substantial group bias was observed in nearly identical amounts among liberals and conservatives. Both liberals (17.1%) and conservatives (16.3%) shared more with their in-groups. These findings suggest that there are no ideological differences in actual behavior despite previous literature indicating differences in attitude/intention measures.

Participants experienced greater momentary happiness when not experiencing a desire compared to experiencing acute desire; & the greater the desire conflicted with important goals the lower the momentary happiness

Testing Buddha: Is Acute Desire Associated with Lower Momentary Happiness? Stephen L. Murphy, Yuka Ozaki, Malte Friese & Wilhelm Hofmann. Journal of Happiness Studies, Feb 12 2021.

Abstract: A central Buddhist claim is that having desires causes suffering. While this tenet draws from the belief that an acute desire state is more momentarily aversive than a no-desire state, the efficacy of this belief has yet to be comprehensively examined. To empirically investigate this claim, we furnished data from two experience sampling studies across USA/Canadian (N = 101; 3224 observations) and Japanese cultures (N = 237; 8497 observations). We compared states of acute desire with states of no desire regarding momentary happiness. We then tested, in an additional step, whether acute desires at greater conflict with personal goals were associated with even lower levels of momentary happiness. Findings were consistent across studies, with participants experiencing greater momentary happiness when not experiencing a desire compared to experiencing acute desire. Also, the greater the desire conflicted with important goals the lower the momentary happiness. The present findings support a key basis of the Buddhist belief that having desires causes suffering, showing acute desire states on average to be more aversive than no desire states.

General Discussion

Buddhism claims that having desires is the root of all suffering (Burton 2010). Nonetheless, a key foundation of this popular tenet had yet to be comprehensively examined—that individuals are, on the whole, momentarily happier when not experiencing a desire compared to when they are experiencing an acute desire. Across two culturally-divergent experience-sampling studies, and in support of our ‘Buddha hypothesis’, findings aligned with Buddhist tenets in showing momentary happiness was indeed greater when individuals were without desire compared to when they were experiencing an acute desire. Fine-grained analyses revealed that acute desires in greater conflict with important personal goals were associated with lower momentary happiness.

The present study investigated whether acute desire states were associated with lower momentary happiness relative to desire states given this theorized effect had yet to be comprehensively tested (Cooney et al. 1987; Kavanagh et al. 2005). Finding support for this effect was also valuable given the notion that acute desire states are aversive relative to no desire states is a foundational Buddhist belief that underpins their more popular tenet that having desires causes suffering. The present study’s findings perfectly aligned with this ‘Buddha Hypothesis’ that acute desire states would be more aversive than no desire states. Importantly, these findings build upon the weaknesses of past research that generally show acute desire states can be aversive (e.g., Cooney et al. 1987; Kavanagh et al. 2005). The present study showed that acute desire states were on average more aversive than no desire states. While unknown whether having desires is associated with lower temporally-stable forms of happiness, the present findings add some weight by supporting the efficacy of key belief upon which this view is based (although it should be borne in mind that pleasure from satisfying desires may yet attenuate, extinguish, or even crowd out the affective consequences of acute desire states). The present findings also keep desire-related research in the spotlight (e.g., Hofmann et al. 2012), highlighting that greater consideration of desire states may be critical for better understanding important processes and outcomes.

This research has various strengths, not least that identified effects were replicated and found to be of a similar magnitude across studies (dStudy1 = 0.62, dStudy2 = 0.71). That our findings were based upon data drawn from American/Canadian as well as Japanese participants also reduces (although does not eliminate) concerns that the identified effects were culturally specific. For instance, clear cultural differences in mean momentary happiness existed between Study 1 and Study 2. This finding corresponds with divergence in World Happiness Rankings between these nations (Japan, America, and Canada are placed 58th, 19th, and 9th, respectively, where higher rankings reflect happier nations; Helliwell et al. 2019). Nonetheless, we found momentary happiness was similarly reduced across studies when desires were acute rather than absent. A further strength of the present findings is that they came from data gathered at random times seven times a day during all typical waking hours, on all weekdays, in a large participant group, and across a large (unrestricted) number of desire-related domains. Ecological validity in this study was thus high. Indeed, it was the ecologically valid nature of this data, and the need for any strong test of the ‘Buddha Hypothesis’ to be based upon ecologically valid data, that motivated the present research.

Another strength of the present research was evidence highlighting differences in momentary happiness did not manifest due to a relatively high prevalence of acute desires in high- rather than low-conflict with important personal goals (i.e., across studies low-conflict acute desires were more frequently experienced). This potential explanation for reported differences inexplicably arises given that theory and literature suggest that conflicting (rather than unconflicting) desires require more effort and are generally more aversive (Dreisbach and Fischer 2012; Saunders et al. 2017). Nonetheless, in both studies, low-conflict (acute) desires were more prevalent than medium- or high-conflict desires, and low-conflict desires were also associated with less momentary happiness relative to having no desire. Finally, we did not hypothesize a magnitude for the proposed effects. Irrespective, our findings were consistent with both religious and psychological accounts that effects between desire and no desire are unlikely to be minor (e.g., Kavanagh et al. 2005). Specifically, the identified medium effect across Study 1 and Study 2 in unstandardized metric equated to a nearly 1-point difference on a 7-point scale.

Nonetheless, it is also important to bring attention to a key alternative explanation for our findings. That is, although conceived, in line with Buddhist tenets, that an acute desire state would reduce momentary happiness relative to a no desire state, it yet remains possible this identified effect reflected (at least in part) the reverse causal sequence—that lower (higher) momentary happiness gave rise to an acute (no) desire state. Indeed, this causal direction is equally conducive as it’s opposite with the present findings. Furthermore, this reverse causal sequence has theoretical and empirical support—aversive states like stress, fatigue, and emotional distress are well acknowledged to orient individuals towards more immediately gratifying opportunities (Tice et al. 2001). Accordingly, although considerable support exists to suggest acute desire promotes an aversive state (Kavanagh et al. 2005), that the present study was methodologically constrained in its ability to make strong causal claims demands the veracity of the reverse causal sequence should not be overlooked.

A secondary aim of the present study was to examine whether (acute) desires in greater conflict with important personal goals would, overall, be associated with lower levels of momentary happiness relative to having no desire. We hypothesized that momentary happiness would be lower, relative to the no desire state, when the degree of conflict with important goals was higher. Parts of this effect were established previously in a different sample, but without a more fine-grained analysis of degree of conflict, and without the crucial no desire baseline (Hofmann et al. 2013). Findings across both studies reported here provided a more generalizable basis for this claim, showing greater momentary happiness when conflict with personal goals was low or medium rather than high, and that even low conflict states were still experienced as lower in momentary happiness than no desire states.


A first limitation of the present findings has been highlighted—that causality cannot be inferred in the present correlational research. Therefore, caution is warranted in concluding that desire-related variables (e.g., acute vs. no desire; low vs. high conflict) may have caused differences in momentary happiness. For instance, it is possible participants, in moments they were less (more) momentarily happy, were more likely to have (no) desires. This limitation can be remedied in future laboratory-based settings or in research using ecological momentary interventions (e.g., Heron and Smyth 2010).

A second limitation is given by the relatively low number of acute desire experiences utilized for the present purpose. These relatively low numbers prevented exploratory analyses of interest—e.g., to examine whether the domain in which acute desires arose moderated the extent to which level of conflict with other personal goals associated with momentary happiness. However, the decision to not include satisfied desire experiences in our analyses was an important one to prevent confounding effects. Despite the low number of cases, results across the two studies appeared quite robust and replicated well in the two different cultural settings. This provides some confidence in the robustness and generality of findings.

A third limitation is that, although our sample was heterogenous, approximately 78% of our sample in Study 1 was Caucasion. This renders it unknown whether our results would replicate in a more diverse sample. This argument can be extended to other characteristics. For instance, a high percentage of participants in both samples were college/university educated; much fewer participants exhibited lower educational attainment. Future research should aim to remedy this issue by testing this Buddha Hypothesis using a more diverse sample.

A final limitation is that the data furnished for this study precluded the possibility of examining whether desire-related variables (e.g., acute vs. no desire; low vs. high conflict) associated with more temporally-stable representations of happiness (momentary representations of happiness were available only). While the high frequency in which acute desires are experienced in typical daily life suggests momentary decrements in happiness may hinder broader representations of happiness (e.g., life satisfaction, wellbeing), this transfer effect was not examined and thus is not supported. Buddhist tenets primarily concern the chronic rather than acute effects of desire-related instances (i.e., how desire influences happiness in general rather than in momentary instances). Future research should therefore aim to explicitly measure more temporally-stable representations of happiness to ensure a more robust test of Buddhist arguments.

A majority of people all over the world reported that people today are less moral than they used to be; they reported that people in general have declined but that their friends and family have actually improved morally

The Illusion of Moral Decline. Adam Mastroianni. Society for Personality and Social Psychology, conference 2021, Feb 9, 2021.

Description: People think that morality has declined, and they appear to be wrong. In nearly 400 public opinion surveys, a majority of people all over the world reported that people today are less moral than they used to be. We confirmed this finding in our own nationally representative survey and found that Americans think decline has been happening at least since their birth. In fact, they believe the decline is so rapid that people today are worse than people were even four years ago. Contrary to expectations, younger participants perceived just as much decline as older participants. In a follow up study, participants reported that people in general have declined but that their friends and family have actually improved morally. These effects were robust across a variety of moral attitudes and behaviors. Finally, a meta-analysis of another 127 nationally representative surveys strongly suggests that the perception of moral decline is an illusion: indicators of morality show essentially zero change over time.


Women who ate chocolate more frequently reported less interest in sex; popular portrayals in which chocolate is represented as substituting for sex & “satisfying” the need for sex in women represent one possible explanation

Golomb B A, Berg B K (February 12, 2021) Chocolate Consumption and Sex-Interest. Cureus 13(2): e13310. February 12, 2021; doi:10.7759/cureus.13310

Rolf Degen's take: Women who eat chocolate more often report less interest in sex


Media and popular literature link chocolate and sex-interest in women, but there is little research examining their association. This cross-sectional analysis sought to address this gap by assessing the relation of chocolate-consumption frequency to self-rated interest in sex. Seven-hundred twenty-three (723) Southern California men and women, age >20, completed surveys providing chocolate-consumption frequency (Choc0, x/week) and interest in sex (rated 0-10). 

Regression (robust standard errors) examined the relationship of chocolate-consumption frequency (Choc0, x/week) to sex-interest, adjusted for potential confounders. Tests for gender and age interactions guided gender- and age-stratified analyses. The mean sex-interest was 7.0±3.0 overall; 5.7±3.1 in women and 7.4±2.8 in men. The reported chocolate frequency was 2.0±2.5x/week overall; 2.5±2.8x/week in women and 1.8±2.4x/week in men. Those who ate chocolate more frequently reported lower interest in sex. Significance was sustained with an adjustment: per-time-per-week chocolate was eaten, β=-0.11(SE=0.050), p=0.02. The gender interaction was significant (p=0.03). The gender-stratified analysis showed the effect was driven by the much stronger relation in women: full model, per time-per-week chocolate consumed, β=-0.26(SE=0.08), p=0.002. Chocolate-consumption frequency was the strongest assessed predictor of sex-interest in women. A relationship was not observed in men, though a trend was present in younger men.

Women who ate chocolate more frequently reported less interest in sex, a finding not explained by assessed potential confounders. Popular portrayals in which chocolate is represented as substituting for sex and “satisfying” the need for sex in women represent one possible explanation for these findings.


Women who ate chocolate more frequently reported significantly less interest in sex. A qualitatively similar finding was present for analysis of combined men and women. However, the finding was particularly strong among women, and separately significant for women, for whom chocolate-consumption frequency was, indeed, the strongest assessed predictor of sex-interest. On exploratory analysis, younger adult men (under age 55) contributed somewhat to the relationship in the combined-sex sample, but the relationship of more frequent chocolate consumption to lesser sex-interest in younger men was materially weaker than the relationship in women, and the significance of the finding was attenuated with adjustments (vs strengthened in women). Older men did not share this relationship.

Fit with literature

Against a surfeit of popular allusions to a link between sex and chocolate, few studies appear to have sought to empirically assess the relation of chocolate consumption to interest in sex. We identified only one prior study that addressed something nominally similar - assessing prediction by a chocolate measure against an index of “sexual desire” in a convenience sample of women in Northern Italy [24]. Many features of the study affect statistical power and ability to see a relationship [24]: chocolate-consumption frequency was binarized (daily - yes or no) so that those eating chocolate 6x/week are categorized with those eating it never. That study’s “age-adjusted” analysis showed no significant relationship. (In fact, in their sample, younger age was associated both with more “sexual desire” and more daily chocolate consumption, producing a spurious positive association that was obviated with age-adjustment.) However, the study involved a smaller sample, and the binarized chocolate-frequency measure is expected to lose statistical benefits relative to a more continuous analysis approach. That study also did not assess, so could not adjust for, other potential confounders. Applying to our data an approximation to their analysis approach - by binarizing our chocolate measure as they did for comparison - yields their finding of a nonsignificant age-adjusted relationship in women, consistent with the expected loss of important information and statistical power by dichotomizing a more continuous predictor. Since reproducing their analysis decision - one that is associated with the expected loss of power - reproduces their null finding, that finding does not challenge our own.

Though the scientific context for our finding is limited, nonscientific representations relevant to our finding are rife and motivated the present study. Internet quote sites provide these examples: "It's not that chocolates are a substitute for love. Love is a substitute for chocolate. Chocolate is, let's face it, far more reliable than a man." - Miranda Ingram [25]; "My favorite thing in the world is a box of fine European chocolates which is, for sure, better than sex." - Alicia Silverstone [25]; “All you need is love" (where the word love is crossed out and chocolate written in) - Anonymous [26]; and "Forget love ... I'd rather fall in chocolate!" - Anonymous [25]. Instances like these reprise a theme in which chocolate is compared to (or substituted for) love and sex - with the comparison favoring chocolate - for women (albeit often with humorous intent). This depiction seems quite specific to chocolate among food products and specific to women. Our findings are consistent with but do not compel these characterizations. Indulgence in the putatively preferred comparator (chocolate) might relieve the desire for the supposedly less gratifying substitute (sex).

We do not have access to data on the frequency of sex, and interest in chocolate, to examine the converse relationship.


A biological underpinning for such a proposed explanation is reflected in the inference that “Chocolate gets right to the heart of sexual pleasure by increasing the brain’s level of serotonin” [6]. (Indeed, chocolate does contain phenylethylamine and stimulates biogenic amines, including serotonin and dopamine as well as catecholamines [5].) The differential effects in men vs women could be speculated to align with observations that different brain regions are activated and inhibited by chocolate consumption, and chocolate “satiety,” in women vs men [27].


This study has limitations. It is cross-sectional: temporality is not known and causality cannot be inferred. Though it was noted that these findings are consistent with a portrayal of a chocolate-substituting-for-sex-in-women portrayal that is rife in the lay literature, they, by no means, compel that interpretation. Potential for bias and confounding are inherent to observational studies. The study did not include women of childbearing potential, and findings might not extend to this group. However, the relationship was by no means attenuated (indeed, showed a suggestion of being strengthened) for the youngest women among those assessed. The study was relatively generally sampling but did have other exclusions, and findings need not extend to excluded groups such as those with heart disease, diabetes, or cancer. The fact that questions about sex were not a central focus of the parent study, and did not figure in the recruitment process may be a relative strength, reducing participation bias based on the outcome - for a potentially sensitive topic. An additional strength is the large sample size and access to key relevant covariates, including measured testosterone, blood pressure, calorie intake, and mood.

Adolescents from Central European & North American countries had generally quite low levels of school stress; in Southern Europe had the highest stress levels; high level also in in Latin America, the Middle East & Asian countries

School-related stressors in adolescents from 21 countries: What is universal? Inge Seiffge-Krenke. International Medicine Review, Vol. 7 Issue 1, January 2021.

Abstract: School stress is one of the most important stressors in adolescents around the world. This study tested the impact of region, age, gender, family structure, and school achievement on adolescents’ stress perception. In a cross-sectional design, 12.172 adolescents from 21 countries participated in the study. Adolescents from Central European and North American countries had generally quite low levels of school stress. Adolescents from Southern Europe exhibited the highest stress levels, but also adolescents from Latin America, the Middle East and Asian countries reported quite high levels of school-related stress. Rank 1 in many countries was the pressure to get the best marks. Additionally, the fear that differences in opinion with the teacher may result in bad marks and that the leaning material is too difficult or too boring were also important stressors, whereas rivalries among pupils seemed not to be a major problem. Adolescents from single-parent families experienced higher school-related stress than adolescents from two-parent families. The findings were discussed with respect to overall globalization and future insecurities, leading to universal stressors of adolescents in different parts of the world.

Keywords: school stress, stress perception, gender effects, cross-cultural comparison

Ezra Klein: If progressivism can’t work in California, why should the country believe it can work anywhere else?

California Is Making Liberals Squirm: If progressivism can’t work there, why should the country believe it can work anywhere else? Ezra Klein. The New York Times, Feb. 11, 2021.

Full text and links at the URL above

You may have heard that San Francisco’s Board of Education voted 6 to 1 to rename 44 schools, stripping ancient racists of their laurels, but also Abraham Lincoln and Senator Dianne Feinstein. The history upon which these decisions were made was dodgy, and the results occasionally bizarre. Paul Revere, for instance, was canceled for participating in a raid on Indigenous Americans that was actually a raid on a British fort.

In normal times, bemusement would be the right response to a story like this. [...]

But San Francisco’s public schools remain closed, no matter the name on the front. “What I cannot understand is why the School Board is advancing a plan to have all these schools renamed by April, when there isn’t a plan to have our kids back in the classroom by then,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. I do not want to dismiss the fears of teachers (or parents), many living in crowded homes, who fear returning to classrooms during a pandemic. [...]

San Francisco is about 48 percent white, but that falls to 15 percent for children enrolled in its public schools. For all the city’s vaunted progressivism, it has some of the highest private school enrollment numbers in the country — and many of those private schools have remained open. It looks, finally, like a deal with the teachers’ union is near that could bring kids back to the classroom, contingent on coronavirus cases continuing to fall citywide, but much damage has been done. This is why the school renamings were so galling to so many in San Francisco, including the mayor. It felt like an attack on symbols was being prioritized over the policies needed to narrow racial inequality.

I should say, before going further, that I love California. I was born and raised in Orange County. I was educated in the state’s public schools and graduated from the University of California system, the greatest public university system in the world. I moved back a few years ago, in part because I love California’s quirks and diversity and genius. It’s a remarkable place where tomorrow’s problems and tomorrow’s solutions vie with each other for primacy. California drives the technologies, culture and ideas that shape the entire world. But for that very reason, our failures of governance worry me.

California has the highest poverty rate in the nation, when you factor in housing costs, and vies for the top spot in income inequality, too. There are bright spots in recent years — electric grid modernization, a deeply progressive plan to tax the wealthy to fund poor school districts, a prison population at a 30-year low — but there’s a reason 130,000 more people leave than enter each year. California is dominated by Democrats, but many of the people Democrats claim to care about most can’t afford to live there.

There is an old finding in political science that Americans are “symbolically conservative” but “operationally liberal.” Americans talk like conservatives but want to be governed like liberals. In California, the same split political personality exists, but in reverse: We’re often symbolically liberal, but operationally conservative. Renaming closed schools is an almost novelistically on-point example, but it is not the most consequential.

The median price for a home in California is more than $700,000. As Bloomberg reported in 2019, the state has four of the nation’s five most expensive housing markets and a quarter of the nation’s homeless residents. The root of the crisis is simple: It’s very, very hard to build homes in California. When he ran for governor in 2018, Gavin Newsom promised the construction of 3.5 million housing units by 2025. Newsom won, but California has built fewer than 100,000 homes each year since. In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti persuaded Angelenos to pass a new sales tax to address the city’s homelessness crisis, but the program has fallen far behind schedule, in part because homeowners fought the placing of shelters in their communities.


This is a crisis that reveals California’s conservatism — not the political conservatism that privatizes Medicare, but the temperamental conservatism that stands athwart change and yells “Stop!” In much of San Francisco, you can’t walk 20 feet without seeing a multicolored sign declaring that Black lives matter, kindness is everything and no human being is illegal. Those signs sit in yards zoned for single families, in communities that organize against efforts to add the new homes that would bring those values closer to reality. Poorer families — disproportionately nonwhite and immigrant — are pushed into long commutes, overcrowded housing and homelessness. Those inequalities have turned deadly during the pandemic.


Once you start looking for this pattern, you see it everywhere. California talks a big game on climate change, but even with billions of dollars in federal funding, it couldn’t build high-speed rail between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The project was choked by pricey consultants, private land negotiations, endless environmental reviews, county governments suing the state government. It has been shrunk to a line connecting the midsize cities of Bakersfield and Merced, and even that is horribly over budget and behind schedule.

Smaller projects are also herculean lifts. In San Francisco, for example, it took 10 years to get two rapid bus transit lines through environmental review. It’s become common in the state to see legislation like the California Environmental Quality Act wielded against projects that would curb sprawl. Groups with no record of green advocacy use it to force onerous environmental analyses that have been used to block everything from bike lanes to affordable housing developments to homeless shelters.

The vaccine rollout in California was marred by overly complex eligibility criteria that slowed the pace of vaccinations terribly in the early days. Those regulations were written with good intentions, as California politicians worried over how to balance speed and equity. The result, however, wasn’t fairness, but sluggishness, and California lagged behind the rest of the nation for the first weeks of the effort. Eventually, the state reversed course and simplified eligibility.

Some conservative outcomes are intended; California’s voters blocked the 2020 ballot initiative restoring affirmative action on purpose. But some reflect old processes and laws that interest groups or existing communities have perverted for their own ends. The California Environmental Quality Act wasn’t passed to stop mass transit — a fact California finally acknowledged when it recently passed legislation carving out exemptions. The profusion of councils and public hearings that let NIMBYs block new homes are a legacy of a progressivism that wanted to stop big developers from slicing communities up with highways, not help wealthy homeowners fight affordable apartments. California wants to be the future, but its governing institutions are stuck in the past. Its structures of decision making too often privilege incumbents who like things the way they are over those who need them to change.


In California, taking that standard seriously might mean worrying less about the name on the school than whether there are children inside it — as Mayor Breed has been insisting. It might mean worrying less about the sign in the yard than the median home price on the block. And yes, it might mean worrying less about a cumbersome process that claims to be about environmental protection and more about how to speed along projects that will lead to environmental justice.

There is a danger — not just in California, but everywhere — that politics becomes an aesthetic rather than a program. It’s a danger on the right, where Donald Trump modeled a presidency that cared more about retweets than bills. But it’s also a danger on the left, where the symbols of progressivism are often preferred to the sacrifices and risks those ideals demand. California, as the biggest state in the nation, and one where Democrats hold total control of the government, carries a special burden. If progressivism cannot work here, why should the country believe it can work anywhere else?

I hope California keeps being weird. But it needs to do better.

This research suggests that frequent Duchenne smiling may ultimately signal eudaimonic (nice, inclined to virtuous behavior) personality, as well as chronic positive mood

Duchenne Smiles as Honest Signals of Chronic Positive Mood. Kennon M. Sheldon, Mike Corcoran, Melanie Sheldon. Perspectives on Psychological Science, February 12, 2021.

Rolf Degen's take: Smiles that involve the eyes are reliable signs of a good-natured personality

Abstract: Chronic positive mood (CPM) has been shown to confer a wide variety of social, functional, and health benefits. Some researchers have argued that humans evolved to feel CPM, which explains why most people report better than neutral mood (the “positivity offset bias”) and why particularly happy people have particularly good outcomes. Here, we argue that the Duchenne smile evolved as an honest signal of high levels of CPM, alerting others to the psychological fitness of the smiler. Duchenne smiles are honest because they express felt positive emotion, making it difficult for unhappy people to produce them. Duchenne smiles enable happy people to signal and cooperate with one another, boosting their advantages. In our literature review, we found (a) that not all Duchenne smiles are “honest,” although producing them in the absence of positive emotion is difficult and often detectable, and (b) that the ability to produce and recognize Duchenne smiles may vary somewhat by a person’s cultural origin. In the final section of the article, we consider behavioral influences on CPM, reviewing research showing that engaging in eudaimonic activity reliably produces CPM, as posited by the eudaimonic-activity model. This research suggests that frequent Duchenne smiling may ultimately signal eudaimonic personality as well as CPM.

Keywords: emotion, affect, evolutionary psychology, Duchenne smiles, chronic positive mood, eudaimonia

Check also A Novel Test of the Duchenne Marker: Smiles After Botulinum Toxin Treatment for Crow’s Feet Wrinkles. Nancy Etcoff, Shannon Stock, Eva G. Krumhuber and Lawrence Ian Reed. Front. Psychol., January 12 2021.

Rolf Degen summarizing... Buddhists have the greatest laissez-faire attitude toward alcohol drinking

Chapter 16 - Alcohol consumption and cultural systems: Global similarities and differences. Miyuki Fukushima Tedor. The Handbook of Alcohol Use: Understandings from Synapse to Society, 2021, Pages 355-378.

Rolf Degen's take: Buddhists have the greatest laissez-faire attitude toward alcohol drinking

Abstract: As one of the few legal psychoactive substances in most parts of the world and one that is also consumed for socialization and cultural and religious rituals, alcohol has historically been the most popular psychoactive substance in the world. There are, however, considerable individual and country variations in the consumption of alcohol. This chapter reviews the most recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO) based on survey data collected from 173 WHO member states concerning alcohol consumption, harm related to alcohol consumption, and policy responses to reduce the harmful effects of alcohol consumption. This chapter also examines some of the sociocultural factors that could explain the variations in alcohol consumption within country and between countries, including gender and age, the law and religion, economic wealth of individuals and society, and the culture surrounding alcohol consumption.

Keywords: The World Health OrganizationCross-cultural researchCultureCultural systemsCountry variations in alcohol consumption

We empirically demonstrate that teachers tend to overestimate student achievement

A review on the accuracy of teacher judgments. Detlef Urhahne, Lisette Wijnia. Educational Research Review, Volume 32, February 2021, 100374.


• The review synthesizes 40 years of research on the accuracy of teacher judgments.

• We explain the methodological approaches and summarize main research findings.

• We empirically demonstrate that teachers tend to overestimate student achievement.

• We discuss moderators and show the effects on teaching and the learning of students.

• We present theoretical approaches and ways to improve teacher judgment accuracy.

Abstract: In everyday school life, teachers need a wide range of judgment competencies to accurately assess student characteristics, learning and task requirements. The purpose of this literature review is to synthesize the methodological, empirical, theoretical, and practical knowledge from 40 years of research on the accuracy of teacher judgments. We define the accuracy of teacher judgments and differentiate the term from other related constructs. We explain the methodological approaches and summarize the main research findings on the accuracy of teacher judgments of student characteristics and task difficulties. Furthermore, we empirically demonstrate that teachers tend to overestimate student achievement on standardized tests. We discuss possible moderators of teachers’ judgment accuracy and show the effects on teaching and the learning of students. We present the main theoretical approaches that can explain the empirical findings and describe ways to improve teacher judgment accuracy. In the discussion, we address important implications for research and practice.

Keywords: Teacher judgmentDiagnostic competenceJudgment accuracy

The amount of alcohol typically consumed to reach what respondents considered an ideal level of intoxication was almost double the upper limit recommended in most countries.

Chapter 2 - The world’s favorite drug: What we have learned about alcohol from over 500,000 respondents to the Global Drug Survey. Emma L. Davies et al. In The Handbook of Alcohol Use; Understandings from Synapse to Society, 2021, Pages 17-47.

Rolf Degen's take: The amount of alcohol typically consumed to reach what respondents considered an ideal level of intoxication was almost double the upper limit recommended in most countries

Abstract: The Global Drug Survey (GDS) runs the world’s largest anonymous annual web survey of drug use. This chapter provides an overview of GDS history and methods before presenting alcohol findings from 2015 to 2020, starting with drinking prevalence in respondents from different countries. Then, we explore intoxication, regrets, and pre-loading. Many GDS respondents consume in excess of weekly guidelines in order to feel their desired level of intoxication. Next, we discuss harms from drinking, including seeking emergency treatment and harms from others’ drinking. We then examine GDS data about interventions. While digital tools are popular, heavier drinkers in the sample preferred face to face specialist support. Our findings on alcohol labeling are stark; two-thirds of respondents were unaware about links between alcohol and cancer. Finally, we reflect on what we need to do better in order to improve diversity of the GDS sample. Our research with trans participants is helping us to understand and advocate for trans people who use alcohol. However, there is work to do to include and advocate for more diverse groups of people. Throughout, we discuss practical implications and further research that is needed to help reduce harms associated with the world’s favorite drug.

Keywords: alcoholinternational surveyalcohol harmsintoxicationinterventions

Evidence regarding the terror management hypothesis that high self-esteem is associated with a stronger sense of symbolic immortality (believing being remembered and having an impact after dying)

Self-esteem and immortality: Evidence regarding the terror management hypothesis that high self-esteem is associated with a stronger sense of symbolic immortality. Uri Lifshin et al. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 175, June 2021, 110712.


• TMT posits that an essential aspect of self-esteem is having a sense of immortality.

• No study has tested the self-esteem-immortality hypothesis directly.

• In seven samples, self-esteem was related to a greater sense of symbolic immortality.

• Symbolic immortality correlated with other variables related to terror management.

• The results provide support for the TMT self-esteem-immortality hypothesis.

Abstract: Terror Management Theory (Greenberg, Pyszczynski, & Solomon, 1986) defines self-esteem as the feeling that one is living up to the standards of their internalized cultural worldview and is consequently worthy of the symbolic and/or literal modes of death transcendence offered by that worldview. Although there is ample evidence for the death-anxiety buffering function of self-esteem, no study to date has assessed the hypothesis that high self-esteem is associated with a stronger sense of symbolic immortality. Supporting this hypothesis, in seven samples (N = 7404) we found that American students with higher self-esteem more strongly believed that they will be remembered and have an impact after they die. Symbolic immortality was also related to greater ingroup identification and lower levels of loneliness, existential isolation, death-thought accessibility, and depression. Additionally, symbolic immortality partially mediated the effect of self-esteem on death-thought accessibility (Samples 4–7) and on depression (Sample 4), although these relationships were also bi-directional with self-esteem partially explaining the variance between symbolic immortality and these constructs. These findings augment the literature delineating the existential function of self-esteem and highlight the potential importance of perceived symbolic immortality to psychological well-being.

Keywords: Self-esteemCulture and selfTerror managementSocial identityClose relationshipsDepression

A female superiority in accuracy, which was more pronounced for negative than positive expressions, was found for adult face stimuli; the sex difference was shown to extend robustly to infant and toddler faces

From 2020... Sex Differences in the Recognition of Children’s Emotional Expressions: A Test of the Fitness Threat Hypothesis. Elizabeth Hampson, Paul Istasy, Sawayra Owais, Jessica A. Chow, Belal Howidi & Sarah J. Ouellette. Evolutionary Psychological Science volume 7, pages45–60, Jul 2020.

Abstract: Evolutionary theories have suggested that a female superiority in the recognition of facial emotion may be an adaptation that arises from women’s greater responsibility and investment in child-rearing and infant care. In a previous study, we showed a female superiority on a set of computer-administered emotion recognition tasks that was most prominent for the discrimination of negatively as opposed to positively valenced facial expressions (e.g., fear), providing empirical support for the “fitness threat” hypothesis. In the present study, we further investigated sex differences in a new sample of 95 healthy men and women of reproductive age (Mage = 22.09 years), using images of both children’s and adult’s faces as stimuli to evaluate the speed and accuracy of emotion recognition. A female superiority in accuracy, which was more pronounced for negative than positive expressions, was found for adult face stimuli, replicating our previous findings. The sex difference was shown to extend robustly to infant and toddler faces, which represent a more ecologically valid test of the fitness threat hypothesis. Direct parenting experience, but not other forms of learned experience involving young children, was also found to be associated with the accuracy of emotion discrimination. Implications of this association are discussed.