Thursday, March 11, 2021

Contemporary Post-mortem Survival Narratives are popular & convincing, in part, because they meet default cognitive assumptions about what human survival would look like if it were possible

From 2018... How to Know You’ve Survived Death: A Cognitive Account of the Popularity of Contemporary Post-mortem Survival Narratives. Claire White, Michael Kinsella, Jesse Bering. Method & Theory in the Study of Religion, Volume 30, Issue 3, Pages 279–299. Jul 24 2018.

Abstract: Reports of people who have survived death have captured the attention of mainstream audiences. Why do these ideas enjoy persistent and widespread success in contemporary Western culture? Adopting a cognitive approach to the study of afterlife accounts and drawing upon our own research, we argue that mainstream survival narratives are popular because they provide convincing evidence that one has journeyed to another realm. Such accounts are convincing, in part, because they meet default cognitive assumptions about what human survival would look like if it were possible. We support this claim by highlighting recurring common themes in recounted episodes of near-death experiences and past life accounts and outlining how key findings in the cognitive science of religion, in conjunction with culturally situated accounts, can help scholars concerned with ideas about anomalous experiences to better understand their appeal.

Keywords: cognitive science of religion; near-death experiences; parapsychology; reincarnation; the afterlife

Lifestyle and mental health disruptions during COVID-19

Lifestyle and mental health disruptions during COVID-19. Osea Giuntella et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, March 2, 2021 118 (9) e2016632118;

Significance: COVID-19 has affected daily life in unprecedented ways. Drawing on a longitudinal dataset of college students before and during the pandemic, we document dramatic changes in physical activity, sleep, time use, and mental health. We show that biometric and time-use data are critical for understanding the mental health impacts of COVID-19, as the pandemic has tightened the link between lifestyle behaviors and depression. Our findings also suggest a puzzle: Disruptions to physical activity and mental health are strongly associated, but restoration of physical activity through a short-term intervention does not help improve mental health. These results highlight the large impact of COVID-19 on both lifestyle and well-being and offer directions for interventions aimed at restoring mental health.

Abstract: Using a longitudinal dataset linking biometric and survey data from several cohorts of young adults before and during the COVID-19 pandemic (N=682), we document large disruptions to physical activity, sleep, time use, and mental health. At the onset of the pandemic, average steps decline from 10,000 to 4,600 steps per day, sleep increases by 25 to 30 min per night, time spent socializing declines by over half to less than 30 min, and screen time more than doubles to over 5 h per day. Over the course of the pandemic from March to July 2020 the proportion of participants at risk for clinical depression ranges from 46% to 61%, up to a 90% increase in depression rates compared to the same population just prior to the pandemic. Our analyses suggest that disruption to physical activity is a leading risk factor for depression during the pandemic. However, restoration of those habits through a short-term intervention does not meaningfully improve mental well-being.

Keywords: COVID-19mental healthlifestyle disruptionsphysical activity

We consider whether Orgasmic Meditation (OM), a structured, partnered, largely non-verbal practice that includes genital touch, also increases relationship closeness with both romantic & non-romantic partners

Prause N, Siegle GJ, Coan J (2021) Partner intimate touch is associated with increased interpersonal closeness, especially in non-romantic partners. PLoS ONE 16(3): e0246065, Mar 10 2021. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0246065

Abstract: Relationship closeness promotes desirable health outcomes. Most interventions to increase relationship closeness are verbal, which may not suit all couples. We consider whether Orgasmic Meditation (OM), a structured, partnered, largely non-verbal practice that includes genital touch, also increases relationship closeness. We hypothesized that OM would increase feelings of closeness for both romantic and non-romantic partners. This is important, because intimate touch with non-romantic partners is commonly considered deleterious by clinicians, which may inadvertently increase feelings of shame. Dyads (n = 125) reported their feelings of closeness before and after OM. Approximately half of the participants were romantic partners, while the other half only engaged in OM together (non-romantic). Closeness after OM increased on average across participants. Non-romantic dyads increased self-other overlap more than romantic dyads. These data support that a partnered, largely non-verbal practice is associated with increased feelings of closeness in the moment, including for individuals who are not in a romantic relationship.


In this study, 125 dyads completed one session of Orgasmic Meditation (OM). They reported feeling higher closeness after OM as compared to before OM. An interaction demonstrated that the increase in closeness was most pronounced for dyads who were not romantic partners. This pattern of results is consistent with the use of OM for causing increases in closeness that appear useful in a variety of immediate tasks. Sexual arousal did not vary as a function of partner type. The relationship between relationship type and closeness are not likely due simply to having greater sexual arousal with a novel sexual partner (non-romantic) or a regular, trusted sexual partner (romantic). The pattern of results also is consistent with the functional, self-expansion, or hedonic touch, hypotheses, that shared, intensely positive experiences like genital touch will increase interpersonal closeness. The larger improvement in closeness for non-romantic partners was not necessarily predicted by the self-expansion hypothesis, but appears consistent with it.

Exploratory analysis was consistent with the idea that practicing OM more frequently might offer some more sustained increase in relationship closeness beyond after the OM session alone. Effects of increased closeness from non-OM sex partners appears to extend for days [85]. Depending on the mechanism, OM effects also might extend beyond the immediate time-frame of the laboratory.

The interaction of time and relationship status on closeness appears to reflect more than a ceiling effect. The range of the closeness rating scale is 1 to 7. Romantic partners after OM still averaged around 4.3 after OM, which is 2.7 units from the maximum ratings. Also, these ratings indicate higher closeness than the average closeness reported for friends (M = 2.8), family members (M = 2.7) [86], and comparable ratings to dating partners (M = 4.8) and spouses (M = 4.9) [87] in trait-based studies.

Our primary question regarded the extent to which partner status affects how sexual touch impacts relationship closeness. That said, we observed a strong main effect of relationship closeness for OM. While such increases in closeness may not be specific to OM (e.g., may occur for non-sexual touch), they do appear fairly strong compared to other interventions constructed to improve relationship closeness in the literature. For example, meta-analyses of marital and family interventions have notoriously weak effects in general (d < .5) [88]. Those which specifically examine closeness and intimacy regularly fare worse. For example, in a study of Emotion Focused Couples Therapy [89] there was non-significant change in the primary intimacy measure, with significant changes only in exploratory analyses of the intellectual and recreational subscales. In a study of couples psychotherapy relationship intimacy in the patient increased d = .23 and for the partner d = .49, but this required “5 weekly 1-hour sessions with the individual couple and a therapist…manualized with in-session practice, handouts, and home assignments” [90]. Potentially, the current study could suggest that with techniques more similar to OM, that it is possible to increase relationship closeness in a single explicitly intimate session that focuses on an activity rather than talking about the relationship (unlike most psychotherapeutic interventions), at least in the short term. Indeed, a one-session, self-disclosure exercise between two strangers strongly increased a composite measure of relationship closeness [91], suggesting other manipulations can also increase closeness within a single session between non-romantic partners.

The clinical utility of the effect size relative to couple’s therapy appears reasonable. Specifically, an 8-week, couples mindfulness intervention was described as successful [92] with smaller increases in closeness immediately post-intervention (from 4.77 to 5.14 for men, from 4.5 to 4.91 for women) than was observed immediately after OM. Such increases would be particularly useful if they translate to lasting change, but, even if they do not, they could set couples up for positive outcomes that follow increased relationship closeness.

A specific difference between OM and other approaches in the literature is that most of these interventions are highly dependent on linguistic interactions. For couples for whom verbal communication is not strong or has not worked to increase closeness, a non-linguistic interaction may be preferable. Sexual interaction is often non-linguistic and may function to increase interpersonal closeness [93] creating potential advantages over traditional interventions for some couples. “Intimacy” has been described as a special case of closeness that includes a sexual component [94]. Self-expansion activities with a partner increased relationship satisfaction with that partner as mediated by sexual desire [71]. Some have pinpointed changes in couple’s intimacy as predictors of changes in sexual satisfaction and feelings of love [95]. Explicit motivations for sexual behaviors include increasing feelings of closeness and intimacy with the partner [9697]. Others report having sex to express closeness and intimacy with a partner [98]. A daily diary study suggested that sexual activity with a romantic partner increased relationship closeness and positive emotions for several days [85]. Notably, the reverse was not true: simply being in a positive mood did not increase the later likelihood of sexual activity in that study. Thus, some aspect of the hedonic, intense, interaction in partnered sexual activity may cause later increases in relationship closeness.

It is unclear whether the increased relationship closeness associated with OM will apply to other types of partnered interactions (i.e., external validity). For example, we believe that OM probably has different mechanisms than typical partnered sexual activity as it is explicitly structured and predictable. OM’s high level of structure helps set expectations for interactions. Thus practitioners might feel especially free to enjoy the shared experience when risks feel lower. It is unclear whether this will extend to partnered sex where interactions tend to be less structured. For example, avoidance motivation may exist to promote “prevention” and “safety” [99], which may be less important for OM than sexual activity. Sexual scripts theory, however, suggests that patterns of sexual interaction (e.g., first hugging, next male receives oral sex, etc.) might be similarly rigid and predictable [100] to OM. The generalizability to sexual contexts, including novel sexual partners, would need to be established independently. Finally, it is unclear how long such a change in closeness may last from a single OM. This is a direction for future research.

Perhaps reflecting the mixed and negative outcomes for sex with non-romantic partners, some therapies explicitly work to reduce the occurrence of non-romantic sexuality. For example, some literature on emotion-focused therapy describes sexual partners without secure romantic attachments as reflecting “promiscuity” [101], sex addiction therapists have been known to refer to non-romantic sexual relationships as “acting out” [102], and some trauma therapists have been observed to describe low commitment sexual partners as symptoms of trauma, comparing it to suicidality [e.g., 103]. While OM is clearly not sex, our data suggest pathologizing non-romantic sexuality might cause harm by reducing opportunities to connect. The external validity of this pattern of results requires exploration.

The current study has limitations. Dyads differed not only by their relationship status, but also by their individual level of relationship avoidance and anxiety (see Table 1). These baseline differences were relevant to the theories tested, such that creating non-romantic dyads with matched avoidance/anxiety would have been a poor test of the theories. An alternative would have been experimentally manipulating feelings of avoidance or anxiety prior to OM. Relatedly, dyads were required to have completed OM together. This decision was made to avoid a number of potential confounds (see Introduction). Given that no participants withdrew or reported emotional discomfort from the procedures, a next study might advance to stranger-dyads to test the generalizability of the pattern observed here. Additionally, only women received the stimulation, although the stroker could be male or female. Therefore, the generalizability of this result to male strokees remains unknown.

It remains unclear how important genital touch is for increasing relationship closeness as a part of the OM protocol. For example, stroking is experienced as erotic when it is very pleasant and low intensity, even when it occurs on the forearm or thigh [104]. A comparison condition contrasting non-genital stroking and genital stroking could determine the extent to which intimacy and self-other overlap might be promoted by non-genital stroking. Although the risk of disease transmission from OM (gloved genital touch) is negligible, some may find OM uncomfortable emotionally. Given that other areas of the body also can be experienced as erotic by varying stroking speed (see above), a slow-stroking control on non-glaborous skin will be important. The interaction with relationship type, not simply the main effect of OM, was the primary test in this study. Thus, we view this primarily as an issue of generalizability. It is unclear if the same relationship closeness would occur with non-genital touch, but genital touch appears to be one approach within which relationship differences exist.

These limitations notwithstanding, the current study has implications for how relationship closeness is approached in clinical settings. Minimally, therapists might consider the context of non-romantic sexual partners as positive, at least in the short term, with the potential that such effects could last rather than being damaging; this attitude would counter common narratives of “promiscuity” and “acting out”. Such a change could have important effects at a societal level. Non-romantic intimate partnering is common. 77.7% of women and 84.2% of men in one college campus survey reported having had a consensual, one-time sexual partner [105]. About 20% of single men and women report engaging in some form of consensually non-monogamous behaviors in their lifetimes [106]. OM itself is unlikely to be labelled “sex”, because 86.1% of college students do not consider consensually touching another’s genitals to constitute “sex” [107].

A main implication of this work is that there may be ways to improve relationship closeness which do not involve commonly appealed-to techniques such as talking, particularly about the relationship itself. Talk therapy remains the dominant method used to effect relationship change. In addition to treatment failures, talk methods also carry risks for harm [108]. Identifying other methods for improving relationships, such as touch, partnered meditation, or sexual stimulation, may yield ways to improve relationships, affect, and health that are outside the “usual candidates” of psychological research. In particular, specific behaviors within sexual interactions are more strongly associated with increased intimacy, such as kissing and cuddling [109]. Since individuals’ experiences of self-expansion varies as a function of their traits (e.g., openness to experience, agreeableness, and neuroticism), it would be useful to identify traits of those most likely to improve their closeness with OM [110]. Future studies also could identify the aspect(s) of OM most likely to promote interpersonal closeness, so experiences could be optimized to promote these gains, either as stand-alone interventions if the effects are shown to last, or as preludes to other couples-based techniques that could benefit from increased relationship closeness.

Aphantasia: We show that this condition, but not the general population, is associated with a flat-line physiological response (skin conductance levels) to reading and imagining frightening stories

The critical role of mental imagery in human emotion: insights from fear-based imagery and aphantasia. Marcus Wicken, Rebecca Keogh and Joel Pearson. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, March 10 2021.

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: One proposed function of imagery is to make thoughts more emotionally evocative through sensory simulation, which can be helpful both in planning for future events and in remembering the past, but also a hindrance when thoughts become overwhelming and maladaptive, such as in anxiety disorders. Here, we report a novel test of this theory using a special population with no visual imagery: aphantasia. After using multi-method verification of aphantasia, we show that this condition, but not the general population, is associated with a flat-line physiological response (skin conductance levels) to reading and imagining frightening stories. Importantly, we show in a second experiment that this difference in physiological responses to fear-inducing stimuli is not found when perceptually viewing fearful images. These data demonstrate that the aphantasic individuals' lack of a physiological response when imaging scenarios is likely to be driven by their inability to visualize and is not due to a general emotional or physiological dampening. This work provides evidence that a lack of visual imagery results in a dampened emotional response when reading fearful scenarios, providing evidence for the emotional amplification theory of visual imagery.

We judge others to be more deserving of the liar label than one’s self; and we think that the others lie based on their disposition

You Liar! Attributions of Lying. Drew A. Curtis. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, March 11, 2021.

Rold Degen's take: The others lie simply because they are liars, but we always have a good reason for our lies

Abstract: Language is vastly important in shaping cognitions. The word “liar” is used in a variety of social contexts and deception literature, eliciting numerous images, and is rarely the object of research. Two studies explored how people think of the social cognitive label of “liar.” In Study 1, the actor-observer difference in the liar attribution was examined, in how people view their own lying compared to others’ lies. Additionally, attitudes and acceptability of self and others’ lies were investigated. In Study 2, the liar attribution was examined across various types of lies. Results indicated that people judge others to be more deserving of the liar label than one’s self and others lie based on their disposition. Additionally, people held more negative attitudes toward others who lie but were more accepting of others who lie.

Keywords: liar, lying, attribution, actor-observer difference, attitudes, acceptability

Analysis of 10 countries: Men behaved more prosocially than women, transferring more to an anonymous partner in a prisoner’s dilemma game; this difference in behavior is bigger in more gender egalitarian countries

Dorrough, A. R., & Glöckner, A. (2020). Sex differences concerning prosocial behavior in social dilemmas are (partially) mediated by risk preferences but not social preferences: An in-depth analysis across 10 countries. Social Psychology, Mar 2021.

Abstract: Previous results on the prosociality of men and women in social dilemmas are mixed. Studies find more prosocial behavior for men and women; and a meta-analysis (Balliet et al., 2011) reports an overall null effect. Including samples (N = 1,903) from 10 countries that vary concerning gender inequality (e.g., China, Colombia, Sweden), we investigated sex differences in social dilemmas and drivers of these potential differences. We found that men behaved more prosocially, in that they transferred more of their endowment to their interaction partner. This sex difference was descriptively observed for all countries and was partially mediated by differences in risk but not social preferences. Gender inequality did not predict the difference in magnitude of sex differences between countries. 

From 2020... Personality matters for student behavior: Higher conscientiousness and agreeableness predict less absenteeism, cheating, misuse of resources, lack of effort, rule-breaking, etc.

Cuadrado D, Salgado JF, Moscoso S (2020) Individual differences and counterproductive academic behaviors in high school. PLoS ONE 15(9): e0238892.

Abstract: Counterproductive academic behaviors (CAB) is a problem that has plagued academic institutions for centuries. However, research has mostly been focused on higher learning institutes in North America. For this reason, literature on CAB must be expanded to other geographical areas and academic levels. The present research analyses the prevalence and correlates of CAB in a sample of Spanish high school students. The results indicate that CAB is a common phenomenon, cheating and low effort behaviors being the most prevalent forms. Correlational analyses revealed that conscientiousness (ρ = -.55, p < .01), emotional stability (ρ = .28, p < .01), and agreeableness (ρ = -.26, p < .05) are predictors of CAB. Multiple regression analyses showed that conscientiousness is the dimension exerting the strongest impact on CAB (β = -.64, p < .01), followed by agreeableness, and emotional stability. These three dimensions accounted for 51% of CAB variance. Last, implications for theory and practice are described.


This study has contributed to expand the knowledge on CAB in a context where primary research is severely lacking: the high school level of a country outside of the United States and Canada. The main objectives of this research were: (1) to examine the level of prevalence of overall CAB as well as its facets in this context; (2) to study the relationship of the Big Five model of personality and GMA with CAB and its facets; and (3) to develop an explicative model that summarizes the predictive effects of these individual differences on CAB.

Regarding the first goal, the results demonstrate that Spanish high school students often engage in counterproductive academic behaviors. The descriptive analyses of the CAB measure showed very high percentages of occurrence, indicating that most of the surveyed students have engaged in these negative practices during high school. One of the most worrisome aspects of the results is the fact that almost 83% and 82% of the sample acknowledges to having engaged in cheating and low effort behaviors at some point. Out of these rates, almost 17% and 21% of the sample confess to behaving in such ways always or almost always. These rates do not seem to differ much from empirical evidence gathered in the American context (described in the introduction section), nor are they very different from the occurrence rates found at other educational levels across the globe. For instance, the study by Teixeira and Rocha [52] reported on the percentage of college students engaging on deviant behaviors during examinations in different countries. Their findings yielded percentages as high as 83% in Brazil (N = 100), 71.6% in Austria (N = 519), 79.6% in Turkey (N = 528), or 84.6% in Slovenia (N = 321). Trost [53] found that 81% of 322 university students in Sweden had lied about a significant matter to get special treatment in the correction of their exams. Cuadrado, Salgado, and Moscoso [54] also report very similar results using a sample of 379 Spanish college students. The percentages of the students engaging in CAB at least once in college were 76.5%, 23.5%, 77.9%, 43.5%, and 76.2% for cheating, misuse of resources, absenteeism, breach of rules, and low effort behaviors, respectively.

In essence, the descriptive analyses indicated once again that CAB is a common phenomenon among high school students, with similar or even higher rates than those published in other countries and educational stages.

The next set of findings concerns the CAB correlates. Consistent with previous results, conscientiousness was the personality dimension most strongly linked to overall CAB and, especially, to three out of the five CAB facets (cheating, absenteeism, and low effort). Agreeableness was also a valid predictor of overall CAB and the best predictor of misuse of resources and breach of rules. Both dimensions appeared to be inversely linked to academic counterproductivity and yielded true effect sizes higher in magnitude than those reported in previous meta-analysis on this topic [see 1718]. For instance, there were .31 and .13 units of correlation of difference for conscientiousness and agreeableness, respectively, between the results found in the current research and the effect sizes published by Cuadrado et al. [17] using samples of high school students. This further backs up the hypothesis that even in high school, the more a student scores in conscientiousness and agreeableness, the less likely they are to engage in CAB.

In line with the findings by Cuadrado et al. [17] and supporting the research hypothesis, extraversion appeared as a direct and valid predictor of cheating behaviors. As it happened with conscientiousness and agreeableness, the true validity found in the current research was considerably larger (ρ = .19 vs. ρ = .43).

There were unexpected results referring to emotional stability. Neither meta-analyses by Giluk and Postlethwaite [18] nor by Credé et al. [16] found a link between this dimension and negative academic behaviors. In the meta-analysis of Cuadrado et al. [17] emotional stability appeared as a valid predictor of overall CAB at the high school level, however, the magnitude of the effect size was very low (ρ = .06). In the current research it seems that the most emotionally stable individuals are more prone to commit CAB than their unstable counterparts, especially regarding low effort behaviors, misuse of resources, and absenteeism. A possible explanation supporting this positive relationship might be the fact that emotional stable individuals tend to score high in traits such as tranquility, calmness, or imperturbability [2023]. A higher score in these characteristics could make these individuals less prone to show a sense of urgency, to be more carefree, and hence, to have less qualms about not attending classes, not completing their classwork on time, not striving academically, or using academic supplies and equipment in an improper manner.

Regarding GMA, the results did not emerge as expected. GMA appeared as a weak predictor of overall CAB and its facets. In no case the results were significant. Additionally, the directionality was not as expected; except for the cheating facet, the validity coefficients were positive. These results are different to previous findings by Cuadrado et al. [17], Paulhus and Dubois [19], and Credé et al. [16]. Some possible explanations of these differences could be the sampling error effect or the existence of moderating variables that might be affecting the results. Consequently, more primary research on this relationship is needed.

The last goal of this research was to create an explicative model of CAB by incorporating the most powerful predictors found at the correlational level. The estimated model showed that the variables most highly linked to CAB (conscientiousness, agreeableness, and emotional stability) explain more than half of the CAB variance. Conscientiousness was the variable with the highest predictive weight, which is also consistent with previous findings [see 54].

Suggestions for practitioners and future research

The empirical findings of the current research are important for applied purposes in the context of secondary education. First, academic administrators, faculty, and parents must be made aware of the fact that CAB is not an isolated problem affecting only a few specific academic institutions at certain academic levels in +a limited number of countries. Although research has been mostly performed in the higher education system of North America, empirical evidence indicates that it is a widespread phenomenon across the world that can be found in the lowest to the highest levels of education. The present study showed that levels of occurrence among the students of a Spanish high school are very high. For this reason, applied measures must be designed and taken into practice. Some of these deterrent measures are related to the variables examined in this study. It was shown that emotional stability, agreeableness, and especially conscientiousness predict CAB and its facets. The use of personality measures in secondary education cannot be conceived in the same way as in higher education or occupational contexts, where these instruments can be used to make high-stakes decisions (e.g., to determine access to a masters course, to a PhD program, or to an occupational position). However, knowing the personality profiles of the students, especially in small-sized classrooms, may be of some utility in high schools. The use of personality instruments could help identify those students with certain personality characteristics that, potentially, make them more likely to engage in CAB and, consequently, may need more personalized attention in the performance of certain academic activities like tests or examinations. This would reduce their chances of engaging in prohibited conducts and help increase the fairness of assessments by preventing dishonest students from getting a higher grade than they deserve.

Besides the use of personality measures as a preventive initiative, it has become more necessary than ever to promote additional integrity measures in high schools. As Bertram-Gallant and Drinan [55] state, systematic interventions performed by administrators, faculty, and students are needed to establish a climate of academic integrity. All the involved actors, especially students, must be aware of behaviors that qualify as CAB, the consequences of engaging in CAB, and the benefits of behaving in an honest manner. These actions may potentially reduce the prevalence of CAB.

The next suggestion refers to the response format of the personality measures. In the current study, a single-stimulus instrument was used to assess the Big Five dimensions of personality. This type of measures is widely used in the W/O psychology and the educational psychology field. However, they show substantial correlation with social desirability and impression management in students [56]. It is known that forced-choice inventories, especially quasi-ipsative tests, are a preferable option when it comes to control faking or social desirability [5761]. Furthermore, quasi-ipsative personality inventories have shown a similar or a better predictive validity than personality tests with other formats in the prediction of important criteria in both occupational and educational contexts [6264]. In the study of CAB, only Cuadrado et al. [50] have analyzed this question using a quasi-ipsative questionnaire for higher education students. Hence, it is necessary to examine whether predictive validity of the Big Five personality model is similar or higher at the high school level by using quasi-ipsative personality measures.

In regard to the social desirability concern, meta-analytical evidence indicates that students scoring higher in this variable also tend to underreport their engagement in cheating behaviors [41]. Despite the fact that percentages of engagement in CAB found in the current research were very high, results could be even higher if they were controlled for a measure of social desirability. Researchers should address this question at the high school level.

We also suggest making further efforts in the study of the intelligence-CAB relationship. Given that neither the magnitude nor the directionality of the results were the expected, we recommend researchers to study more in depth the link between these variables in the Spanish secondary education context.

It is also recommended to expand the study of CAB to other practices that have not been contemplated in the current research. Although we have examined a wide range of CAB behaviors, there are some other facets that need to be further studied. One example is plagiarism of written projects defined as “submitting another person’s work as an original work or a project done by oneself but previously submitted in the pastas well as any other behavior that consists of the dishonest alteration of others’ work” [17]. Levels of occurrence of such behavior are believed to have increased in recent years due to technological advances and the expanded use of the Internet in multiple phases of the students’ academic life. Thus, it would be interesting to replicate the current study and analyze plagiarism behaviors.

Additionally, we suggest testing some possible moderating variables that could have affected our results. For instance, the high schools that participated in this research were without exception public institutions. It could be interesting to replicate this research in private schools. Other contextual variables as well as individual differences other than personality and intelligence should be also addressed in future research.

Limitations of the study

It is important to consider the limitations of this study. First, the time restrictions in the data collection made it impossible to administer all the instruments to a part of the sample. As a direct consequence, the sample size for the personality measure was smaller than the sample size obtained for the GMA and CAB measures. It is known that small samples increase sampling error, causing a random variation of the observed validity from the true validity [42]. Also, because the sampling error is unsystematic, it cannot be corrected in a single correlation and there is no possibility to control its effects unless the validity coefficients are integrated in a meta-analysis, hindering the replicability of the results as well.

A second potential limitation is that the questionnaires were not anonymous. Although the rates of engagement in counterproductivity were very high, it is possible that anonymity would yield even higher prevalence levels, especially in those dimensions where rates were lower (e.g., misuse of resources).

Having tried a classic psychedelic at least once in life had significantly higher odds of greater self-reported overall health & significantly lower odds of being overweight or obese vs. having a normal weight

Associations between lifetime classic psychedelic use and markers of physical health. Otto Simonsson, James D Sexton, Peter S Hendricks. Journal of Psychopharmacology, March 9, 2021.


Background: In recent years, there has been significant research on the mental health effects of classic psychedelic use, but there is very little evidence on how classic psychedelics might influence physical health.

Aims: The purpose of the present study was to investigate the associations between lifetime classic psychedelic use and markers of physical health.

Methods: Using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2015-2018) with 171,766 (unweighted) adults aged 18 or above in the United States, the current study examined the associations between lifetime classic psychedelic use and three markers of physical health (self-reported overall health, body mass index, and heart condition and/or cancer in the past 12 months) while controlling for a range of covariates.

Results: Respondents who reported having tried a classic psychedelic at least once in their lifetime had significantly higher odds of greater self-reported overall health and significantly lower odds of being overweight or obese versus having a normal weight. The association between lifetime classic psychedelic use and having a heart condition and/or cancer in the past 12 months approached conventional levels of significance, with lower odds of having a heart condition and/or cancer in the past 12 months for respondents who had tried a classic psychedelic at least once.

Conclusion: The results of the present study suggest that classic psychedelics may be beneficial to physical health. Future research should investigate the causal effects of classic psychedelics on physical health and evaluate possible mechanisms.

Keywords: Classic psychedelics, psilocybin, LSD, health, body mass index, cancer, heart disease

The present study investigated the association between lifetime classic psychedelic use and three markers of physical health (self-reported overall health, BMI, and heart condition and/or cancer in the past 12 months). Findings show that respondents who reported having ever used a classic psychedelic had significantly higher odds of greater self-reported overall health and significantly lower odds of being overweight or obese as compared to having a normal weight. The association between lifetime classic psychedelic use and having a heart condition and/or cancer in the past 12 months approached conventional levels of significance, with lower odds of having a heart condition and/or cancer in the past 12 months for respondents who had tried a classic psychedelic at least once. Taken together, these results suggest that classic psychedelics may have long-term beneficial effects beyond improved mental health.

While the acute transcendent experience occasioned by classic psychedelics may presumably induce long-term changes in health behaviour that contribute to better physical health, it is plausible that there are other key mechanisms through which classic psychedelics could influence physical health, including improvements on various indices of mental health beyond the simple absence of psychological distress (e.g. increased prosociality, trait mindfulness and purpose in life; Griffiths et al., 2018Murphy-Beiner and Soar, 2020), many of which are well-known risk factors for physical maladies (Chaddha et al., 2016Germann, 2020Hernandez et al., 2018); immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects of relevance to physical health (Flanagan and Nichols, 2018Frecska et al., 20132016Szabo, 20152019Szabo et al., 2014Thompson and Szabo, 2020Tourino et al., 2013Winkelman and Sessa, 2019); and high affinity to receptor subtypes (e.g. serotonin 2A receptors) that are implicated in the pathophysiology of different physical disorders (Nichols, 2009Thompson and Szabo, 2020). Future research is needed to better understand potential causal pathways of classic psychedelics on physical health.

There are several limitations with the present study that need serious consideration before the results are interpreted. First, the cross-sectional design of the study limits causal inference. The analyses controlled for multiple sources of potential confounding, but the associations might have been obscured by response bias or latent variables that were not controlled for (e.g. a common factor predisposing one to classic psychedelic use may also predispose one to healthy lifestyle behaviours including physical activity). Second, the dataset did not contain information on frequency of classic psychedelic use, dose used or context of use. The present study could therefore not evaluate frequency, dose or context-specific relationships between classic psychedelic use and physical health markers. Third, it is also not possible to rule out that classic psychedelic use might have caused harm on the individual level, even if it did not obfuscate the population-level associations. Fourth, given the potential importance of immunomodulatory and inflammatory factors in the current study, it would have been sensible to also control for regular anti-inflammatory drug (e.g. nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)) use, but assessment of this behaviour was not included in the NSDUH. Fifth, BMI has been widely used as a screening tool for overweight or obesity, but it does not account for details such as fat distribution, which limits its utility as a marker of physical health (Prentice and Jebb, 2001). Finally, it is noted that some associations of lifetime classic psychedelic use were somewhat modest in size (e.g. heart condition and/or cancer in the past year). However, even modest effects can have substantial impacts at the population level. For instance, considering approximately 1.2 million people die from heart disease or cancer every year in the United States alone (Heron, 2019), even a small decrease (e.g. 11%) in the prevalence of these illnesses could translate to thousands of lives saved annually.

The Difficulty of Listening to Talkers With Masks: Meta-cognitive monitoring (the ability to adapt self-judgments to actual performance) worsens

Unmasking the Difficulty of Listening to Talkers With Masks: lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. Elena Giovanelli et al. i-Perception, March 10, 2021.

Abstract: Interactions with talkers wearing face masks have become part of our daily routine since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Using an on-line experiment resembling a video conference, we examined the impact of face masks on speech comprehension. Typical-hearing listeners performed a speech-in-noise task while seeing talkers with visible lips, talkers wearing a surgical mask, or just the name of the talker displayed on screen. The target voice was masked by concurrent distracting talkers. We measured performance, confidence and listening effort scores, as well as meta-cognitive monitoring (the ability to adapt self-judgments to actual performance). Hiding the talkers behind a screen or concealing their lips via a face mask led to lower performance, lower confidence scores, and increased perceived effort. Moreover, meta-cognitive monitoring was worse when listening in these conditions compared with listening to an unmasked talker. These findings have implications on everyday communication for typical-hearing individuals and for hearing-impaired populations.

Keywords: speech processing, multisensory, speech in noise, facial masks, COVID-19

In the present work, we mimicked a real multitalker video call to measure the impact of different visual conditions on speech comprehension in typical hearing participants. Results showed that hiding the talkers behind a black screen or concealing their lips via a face mask led to lower performance and lower listening confidence scores as well as increased listening effort. These differences between listening conditions suggest that the actual audio-visual benefit coming from vision relies on lip reading and demonstrate the impact of face masks on speech comprehension. Understanding a talker wearing a face mask in noise was, in our study, comparable to not seeing him or her at all. Importantly, these findings emerged in a context in which we disentangled the impact of visual information related to wearing a mask from the voice distortions generated by the mask. In this way, our results can be interpreted as the consequences of altering or removing visual information from lip movements in speech processing.

Our visual manipulation also impacted on the ability to successfully judge one’s own cognitive processes while engaged in a task, namely, meta-cognitive monitoring. Face masks reduced meta-cognitive monitoring abilities. In this condition, participants’ listening confidence about their performance was less consistent with their objective performance (e.g., they could be confident about their performance, when in fact their speech comprehension was poor, or vice versa). This result is in line with previous work concerning the effect of face masks on confidence in reading emotions (Carbon, 2020), which found lower confidence and accuracy scores in recognizing expressions displayed by faces wearing surgical masks. This result supports the idea that hiding the lower part of a face undermines the efficacy of a conversation not only linguistically but also from a nonverbal point of view. While this result merits further investigation, it may suggest that when interacting with people wearing a mask, we not only feel less confident about our listening experience overall, but we are also less capable of monitoring whether we understood the message correctly or not. In addition, the confusion they generate on emotional reading of face expressions could further contribute to lowering the efficacy of our everyday life communications, preventing us from reconstructing the emotional tone of a conversation, which could partially contribute to better speech comprehension. This novel result is particularly interesting because compensatory strategies (e.g., asking our conversational partner to speak slower or in a louder voice) are typically triggered by adequate meta-cognitive monitoring of the success of the communication exchange (Boldt & Gilbert, 2019).

In June 2020, the World Health Organization warned about the potential risks and harms of face masks on daily communications. As evidenced by this study, when a talker wears a face mask the listening effort increases, while performance and confidence in what we listen decrease (see also Coniam, 2005Llamas et al., 2009Saunders et al., 2020). This could potentially result in stress and misunderstandings during communications, and even lead to risky behaviors, such as pulling down face masks or reducing social distancing while trying to understand each other better. In this study, we intentionally focused on a population of young adults, native speakers of Italian (the language used in the experiment), who reported no hearing difficulties. This is because we reasoned that any effect observed in this sample could only be exacerbated in populations that experience difficulties with language and communication. These populations include hearing children developing their L1, for whom the observation of adults’ mouths can play a key role in an educational context (Spitzer, 2020); hearing children and adults learning a new language (L2); adults and aging people with normal hearing but sensitive to noisy contexts (Tremblay et al., 2015); and obviously all the populations with hearing loss or profound deafness. We believe it is a social priority to extend research on the effects of face masks on communication as well as other aspects of interpersonal perception (such as emotional processing or personal identity identification: Carbon, 2020) to all these populations.

The question arises them of how we can combine safe behavior and effective communication. One approach is to consider the introduction of transparent masks on a large scale. At the moment, they are only used in few medical settings (e.g., in the United Kingdom; Action on Hearing Loss, 2020), but they are gaining increasing attention among the hearing-impaired community (Taylor-Coleman, 2020). Even though this solution may seem the best way to reinstate lip reading into verbal communication, the current generation of transparent masks have several limitations. On the one hand, their materials impact greatly on the high frequencies of the human voice (Corey et al., 2020) affecting consonant perception (Divenyi et al., 2005Roth et al., 2011). On the other hand, transparent masks are difficult to find because there is only a limited number of producers (Chodosh et al., 2020). Finally, in many countries, these devices are not approved by health authorities.

To conclude, our findings provide a clear example of the audio-visual nature of speech processing, and they emphasize the perceptual and meta-cognitive limitations that result from occluding the face of our conversational partner. From the methodological point of view, our study represents a successful attempt to investigate audio-visual communication using an on-line task and simulating an ordinary listening context, such as the video call with a limited number of talkers. Clearly, when conducting hearing research online, a number of criteria need to be relaxed. It would be important to replicate and extend these observations running similar experimental protocols in a more controlled laboratory context in which individual hearing thresholds are also measured (unlike here). Moreover, it would also be important to increase the number of trials per participant (that said, our linear mixed-effect model approach to the analysis implies that we worked on a dataset of 1728 measures overall). Future experiments should also consider using audio tracks recorded both with and without masks, in order to objectively estimate the actual transmission loss produced by the masks and directly compare the effects of those distortions on speech comprehension. It is clear that such a comparison should necessarily exploit professional audio tools and accurate measures, only obtainable in a laboratory context. Nonetheless, our results agree with a vast literature on the multisensory contributions to speech perception and already provide support to recent petitions that pressured the main video conferencing platforms to offer real-time speech-to-text captioning (Chodosh et al., 2020). Most importantly, our findings indicate that audio-visual communication should be pursued even in the case of the health constraints imposed by a world pandemic. This is necessary for everyone, but especially for those individuals for whom face masks could become a severe obstacle to social inclusion.