Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Rolf Degen summarizing... People are surprisingly reluctant to pressure others to behave prosocially, even if they themselves would act prosocially

Do People Intervene to Make Others Behave Prosocially? Viola Ackfeld, Axel Ockenfels. Games and Economic Behavior, April 6 2021.

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: We experimentally investigate people's willingness to intervene in others' decision-making in order to promote a charitable donation. We find that only a minority of those subjects who would donate themselves enforce the donation by banning the selfish choice from the decision-maker's choice menu. Bans are more acceptable if they are implemented only after the decision-makers could choose between the selfish and the prosocial option themselves. Also, many subjects decide against offering decision-makers a monetary incentive to switch from the selfish to the prosocial choice. We discuss potential hypotheses about underlying motivations for the (non-) usage of interventions, with a special focus on the hypothesis that interventions to promote prosocial choice are more acceptable the more they respect the autonomy of others.

Keywords: Charity experimentProsocial behaviorAutonomyBansIncentives

Pursued & implemented past civic activism in the offline sphere can mobilize further durable online political participation; the path from online to offline form of political behavior was found to be non-significant

A longitudinal study of the bidirectional causal relationships between online political participation and offline collective action. Maria Chayinska, Daniel Miranda, Roberto González. Computers in Human Behavior, April 7 2021, 106810.


•Using an exploratory approach, the present study provides a rigorous analysis of the bidirectional causal relationships between online political participation and offline collective action by assessing the strength, the direction, the dynamics, and the persistence of their effects in the real-life study context.

•Two longitudinal panel studies were conducted among university students (Study 1) and nationally representative sample of adults (Study 2) in the socio-political context of Chile.

•Using longitudinal cross-lagged modelling, the study provides compelling longitudinal evidence to the assumption that pursued and implemented past civic activism in the offline sphere can mobilize further durable online political participation, whereas the reverse path from online to offline form of political behavior was found to be consistently non-significant.

Abstract: The longitudinal causal relationships between individuals’ online and offline forms of civic participation requires further understanding. We provide a robust test of four competing theoretical perspectives to establish the direction of causality between online political participation and offline collective action as well as the persistence of their longitudinal effects. Two longitudinal panel studies were conducted in the socio-political context of Chile. Study 1 involved university students (a 2-year, 5-wave longitudinal study, N wave 1 = 1221, N wave 2 = 954, N wave 3 = 943, N wave 4 = 905, and N wave 5 = 786) and Study 2 used a nationally representative sample of adults (a 3-year, 3-wave longitudinal study, N wave 1 = 2927, N wave 2 = 2473 and N wave 3 = 2229). Results from both studies supported the spillover perspective compellingly showing that offline participation fostered subsequent online collective action over time, whereas the reverse causal path from online political participation and offline collective action was consistently non-significant. In Study 2, previous offline collective action predicted increased online participation after controlling for the effects of age, gender, and educational level. The need for further fine-grained longitudinal research on the causal relations between offline and online collective action is discussed.

Keywords: collective actioncivic activismlongitudinal studyprotestChile

Exploring the relationship between sex and gender, country income level, and COVID-19

Recorded but not revealed: exploring the relationship between sex and gender, country income level, and COVID-19. Sarah Hawkes et al. The Lancet, April 06, 2021.

In 2020 we witnessed a seeming exponential spread of information about COVID-19. From understanding the pathogen to understanding its effect on populations, we have a wealth of evidence for decision making in pandemic control. Nonetheless, there remain some fundamental areas of investigation and response for which evidence remains oddly and inconsistently absent. The role of sex and gender in understanding the testing-to-outcome pathway of the pandemic is one such area.

Identifying the contribution of sex and gender to SARS-CoV-2 infection yields important evidence on both biological mechanisms that underlie differences in illness outcomes,1 and social and structural dynamics that influence individuals' risk and vulnerability depending on their position in the gender hierarchy in any country or community.2 Such information can help identify sites for tailored individual-level and population-level health interventions that are more responsive to sex and gender and potentially more effective. The minimum starting point for analysing the contribution of sex and gender to the COVID-19 pandemic, and identifying opportunities for reducing health inequities, requires data that is sex-disaggregated, which can be analysed to understand and explain gendered inequalities.3


As we move towards the global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, we believe that this moment must serve as a wake-up call for the importance of recording sex-disaggregated data accompanied by gender analysis. Monitoring the coverage of the vaccine by sex will be a vital component of ensuring equity and promoting equality. It could lead to more effective vaccine programmes. For example, a population-based survey in the USA found higher rates of COVID-19 vaccine scepticism in females compared with males.

 Will vaccine scepticism lead to lower uptake rates in women? We will not know unless we acknowledge that the purpose of sex-disaggregated data is not only to record it, but also to reveal it publicly, analyse it (including from a gender perspective) and, crucially, act on it.

Infidelity in Relation to Sex and Gender: The Perspective of Sociobiology Versus the Perspective of Sociology of Emotions

Infidelity in Relation to Sex and Gender: The Perspective of Sociobiology Versus the Perspective of Sociology of Emotions. Joanna Wróblewska-Skrzek. Sexuality & Culture, Apr 7 2021.

Abstract: It is not the main intention of this paper to prove that people are unfaithful, neither does it present the scale of the phenomenon, as it is hard, for objective reasons, to obtain reliable data on the subject. The text analyses the motives for, and consequences of infidelity from two different perspectives: sociobiology and the sociology of emotions, while gender constitutes the axis of analysis. Regardless of whether we will explain infidelity as motivated by human nature, drives, desires and genes, or treat it as a social construct, the argumentation for infidelity remains different for men and for women. What is more, both subdisciplines bring into light different consequences of infidelity for representatives of either sex.

Cultural Correlates of Infidelity

Ulrick Beck and Elisabeth Beck-Gernsheim, having analyzed different types of sexual behaviors among men and women, propose a solution which centers around the cultural differences regarding sexuality and love. In their opinion, the development of a relationship between two sexes, starting with the first meeting and finishing with the sexual intercourse, proceeds according to an invisible protocol, socially pre-defined, of which the individual is usually completely unaware (Beck & Beck-Gernsheim, 2013, p. 87). Not biology, but culture and the process of socialization, especially socialization towards gender roles, plays a decisive role in this process.

Biological explanations of human sexual drives are discarded with the concept of social scripting developed by Edwarda Otto Laumanna and Johna Henry Gagnona. The idea is based on the assumptions that: (1) patterns of sexual behaviors are shaped culturally and locally, which means that the designates of the word “sex” [i.e. sexual intercourse] can vary extremely across cultures; (2) throughout their lives individuals accumulate social scripts of sexual behavior, including those considered deviant in their culture, by means of primary and secondary socialization, e.g. through media; (3) individuals are only “mirrors reflecting social patterns of sexual behaviors, although they can modify them, adapting social patterns individually” (Szlendak, 2011a, p. 219).

It seems justified to analyze the motives behind infidelity, as well as the social functioning of men and women in the context of infidelity, from the perspective of gender. The concept of socio-cultural gender, as noted by Anna Titkow, reveals the meaning and spectrum of differences between women and men, which constitute their status and the rules defining the relationships among them in a given culture. It allows for a closer look at their “struggle” and the cognitive dissonances which they have to deal with (Titkow, 2011, p. 32). From this point of view, if one wants to address the question of the motives behind infidelity in a given society, they should trace the cultural determinants of femininity and masculinity, the social attitudes towards sexuality, as well as the entire set of relationships between the private life and the social structure (Szlendak, 2002, p. 140).

Why are we unfaithful? Of course, we can agree with the common stereotype stating that “men want only sex, while women want love.” Still, one might ask if it is actually true and whether it entails that women do not want sex. Nowadays, both women and men seek sexual pleasure to the same extent, as they perceive it as a basic component of their lives and relationships (Giddens, 2007, p. 85). When a relationship does not provide satisfaction in this regard, sexual needs will be fulfilled outside of it. The need for sexual fulfillment and pleasure is becoming increasingly important in the context of building a reflexive project of self. Sex bears, for men and women alike, a great promise of intimacy, something which—as Anthony Giddens puts it—touches upon the crucial aspect of the “self”. Nevertheless, considering their different starting points, implications of that fact are different for either sex (Giddens, 2007, p. 98–99). That is why in the case of adultery men and women will act—to quote Arlie Hochschils—in accordance with “gender strategies” (Turner & Stes, 2009, p. 57), so as to alleviate negative emotions triggered by the former. All of that for the sake of exciting experiences.

In consequence, engagement in any kind of sexual activity nowadays is related to the individual pursuit of pleasure. The fact that women and men in the modern world engage in “family oriented” activities originates from their egocentric and hedonistic impulses. According to Tomasz Szlendak, the contemporary times are governed by “the logic of individual autonomy” (Szlendak, 2011a, p. 226). As a result, if we are not able to fulfill our erotic and emotional needs within the family, we get involved in affairs. Men betray more often because they are licensed to do so by the pervasive male supremacy. Male infidelity is socially acceptable. Women betray their partners equally often, although they do not admit it—this results from the social expectations.

Results from this study indicate that marijuana use is not a reliable gateway cause of illicit drug use; as such, prohibition policies are unlikely to reduce illicit drug use

Is marijuana really a gateway drug? A nationally representative test of the marijuana gateway hypothesis using a propensity score matching design. Cody Jorgensen & Jessica Wells. Journal of Experimental Criminology, Apr 6 2021.

Abstract: Marijuana use has been proposed to serve as a “gateway” that increases the likelihood that users will engage in subsequent use of harder and more harmful substances, known as the marijuana gateway hypothesis (MGH). The current study refines and extends the literature on the MGH by testing the hypothesis using rigorous quasi-experimental, propensity score-matching methodology in a nationally representative sample. Using three waves of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (1994–2002), eighteen propensity score-matching tests of the marijuana gateway hypothesis were conducted. Six of the eighteen tests were statistically significant; however, only three were substantively meaningful. These three tests found weak effects of frequent marijuana use on illicit drug use but they were also sensitive to hidden bias. Results from this study indicate that marijuana use is not a reliable gateway cause of illicit drug use. As such, prohibition policies are unlikely to reduce illicit drug use.

Found a significant, negative relationship between resting metabolic rate and Extraversion; less extraverted individuals had a 30% higher RMR than the most extraverted ones; seems an allocation energy trade-off

Bergeron P, Pagé A, Trempe M (2021) Integrating humans into pace-of-life studies: The Big Five personality traits and metabolic rate in young adults. PLoS ONE 16(4): e0248876. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0248876

Abstract: The pace-of-life syndrome (POLS) predicts that personality and metabolism should be correlated if they function as an integrated unit along a slow-fast continuum. Over the last decade, this conceptual framework has been tested in several empirical studies over a wide array of non-human animal taxa, across multiple personality traits and using standardized measures of metabolism. However, studies associating metabolic rate and personality in humans have been surprisingly scarce. Here, we tested whether there was covariation among personality scores, measured using the Big Five Inventory test, resting metabolic rate (RMR) and preferred walking speed (PWS) in a cohort of young human adults aged between 18 and 27 years old. We found a significant, negative relationship between RMR and Extraversion; less extraverted individuals had a 30% higher RMR than the most extraverted ones. No other personality traits correlated with RMR and none correlated with PWS. The negative correlation between Extraversion and RMR may suggest an allocation energy trade-off between personality and basal metabolism. Our results yielded equivocal support for the POLS and emphasized the need for more research on human to test the generality of this conceptual framework and further assess its validity.


Our goal was to examine the correlations between the Big Five personality traits and metabolism in young adults. This research was inspired by the vast literature on the POLS using non-human animals, with the hope that standardized personality traits could contribute to reducing the measurement noise around this construct [7]. Our main result was that Extraversion correlated negatively with RMR. All other traits showed no correlations with RMR, and none of the traits was correlated with PWS.

While never reported before, the significant correlation between Extraversion and RMR is coherent with previous personality work. According to DeYoung’s cybernetic model [14], Extraversion and Openness share a common variance and can be regrouped under the metatrait Plasticity, which indicates one’s “tendency toward behavioral exploration, using motor output to pursue potentially rewarding possibilities […]”. In addition, when assessed using the 44-item Big Five Inventory test (as in the present study), Extraversion included several questions pertaining to the facet Activity [26]. This language is strikingly similar to that used in animal studies, in which “activity” and “exploration” scores are personality traits that have been shown to covary with metabolism [3]. In fact, when used in animal studies, “personality” cannot be dissociated from behavior since observing the animal’s behavior is the only way in which researchers can infer the animal’s personality [27]. It therefore may not come as a surprise if, in our dataset, the only significant correlation between RMR and personality was obtained with Extraversion, the trait highest in visibility and the one that can be most accurately assessed by other raters [28]. Thus, our results suggest that the components of personality linked to behavior and movements are attuned to the body metabolism.

The negative correlation between RMR and Extraversion, however, adds to a growing number of reports failing to support the POLS [7]. More specifically, the POLS would predict that personalities associated with energy-demanding behaviors should positively correlate with basal energy expenditure and not the opposite [3]. In contrast, Careau et al. [29] suggested that a negative correlation between personality and metabolism could be observed if “fast” personalities are maintained via an energetic allocation trade-off with metabolism. In other words, individuals could be able to sustain energetically demanding personalities (or the behaviors associated with these personalities) by spending less energy at rest. Such a trade-off has been observed between metabolic rate and boldness in fall field crickets (Gryllus pennsylvanicus) [30] and with activity in mosquito fish (Gambusia holbrooki) [31]. In humans, there have been suggestions that total daily energy expenditure is bounded to a fixed level such that an increase in daily energy expenditure (e.g., by engaging in physical activity) is associated with a corresponding decrease in basal energy expenditure [32]. Our results support the energy trade-off model and suggest that the energy cost associated with Extraversion (and, indirectly, the metatrait Plasticity) are compensated for by a decrease in basal metabolic rate. This conclusion is also coherent with Terracciano et al.’s observation that individuals who scored high on Extraversion saved energy by increasing their walking efficiency [23]. Whether individuals can energetically “afford” to be extraverted because of their metabolism or whether metabolism adapts to sustain the energetically demanding behaviors of some personality traits remains open for investigation.

The finding that Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism and, to a certain extent, Openness were not correlated with RMR can be interpreted in different ways. First, because these traits mainly encompass facets related to internal thoughts and affective states, it is possible that they vary independently from metabolism. However, we cannot exclude the possibility that a relationship does exist, but we were unable to capture it. As demonstrated before, these traits are higher in evaluativeness compared to Extraversion, indicating that social norms and values can influence how one responds to their associated questions [28]. Since our experiment was conducted on a small and intimate university campus, it is possible our participants’ responses were, intentionally or unintentionally, biased. This possibility could explain the rather low Cronbach’s alpha that we reported for these traits. In our context, an other-rater procedure may have led to a more accurate evaluation. Alternatively, our analysis may have been underpowered to detect a relationship of this size, making a larger sample size more desirable in future studies. Considered together, our results demonstrate the importance of further exploring the energetic costs of personality traits and their possible variations over the full life span.

The failure to observe a relationship between personality and PWS on a treadmill is difficult to interpret because the participants’ familiarity with this equipment was not homogenous in our sample. Future studies may want to utilize a more ecological measurement, such as the average walking speed over a 24-hour period assessed using a GPS or smartphone. In addition, the correlative nature of this research, using a single point measurement per subject and small sample size, requires caution in inferring causality since our approach does not allow for distinguishing among- and inter-individual contributions to the observed phenotypic correlation [33]. Additionally, we cannot exclude the possibility that a third, unmeasured trait affects the observed phenotypic correlation. For instance, ethnicity and time since last exercise could have been relevant control variables [22]. Nevertheless, our results raise important questions about the expected relationship between personality and metabolism within the POLS conceptual framework and highlight the importance of better understanding models of energy allocation. 

It is difficult for people to be persuaded by competing media accounts during a contentious election campaign; the real consequence of online partisan media may be an erosion of trust in mainstream news

The consequences of online partisan media. Andrew M. Guess et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, April 6, 2021 118 (14) e2013464118;

Significance: Popular wisdom suggests that the internet plays a major role in influencing people’s attitudes and behaviors related to politics, such as by providing slanted sources of information. Yet evidence for this proposition is elusive due to methodological difficulties and the multifaceted nature of online media effects. This study breaks ground by demonstrating a nudge-like approach for exploring these effects through a combination of real-world experimentation and computational social science techniques. The results confirm that it is difficult for people to be persuaded by competing media accounts during a contentious election campaign. At the same time, data from a longer time span suggest that the real consequence of online partisan media may be an erosion of trust in mainstream news.

Abstract: What role do ideologically extreme media play in the polarization of society? Here we report results from a randomized longitudinal field experiment embedded in a nationally representative online panel survey (N = 1,037) in which participants were incentivized to change their browser default settings and social media following patterns, boosting the likelihood of encountering news with either a left-leaning (HuffPost) or right-leaning (Fox News) slant during the 2018 US midterm election campaign. Data on ≈ 19 million web visits by respondents indicate that resulting changes in news consumption persisted for at least 8 wk. Greater exposure to partisan news can cause immediate but short-lived increases in website visits and knowledge of recent events. After adjusting for multiple comparisons, however, we find little evidence of a direct impact on opinions or affect. Still, results from later survey waves suggest that both treatments produce a lasting and meaningful decrease in trust in the mainstream media up to 1 y later. Consistent with the minimal-effects tradition, direct consequences of online partisan media are limited, although our findings raise questions about the possibility of subtle, cumulative dynamics. The combination of experimentation and computational social science techniques illustrates a powerful approach for studying the long-term consequences of exposure to partisan news.

Keywords: mediapoliticspolarizationcomputational social science

Brain shape shares significant signal w/most neuropsych traits, as well as all behavioral– cognitive and subcortical volume traits; in contrast, face shape does not show significant sharing with any neuropsych disorders or behavioral–cognitive traits

Shared heritability of human face and brain shape. Sahin Naqvi, Yoeri Sleyp, Hanne Hoskens, Karlijne Indencleef, Jeffrey P. Spence, Rose Bruffaerts, Ahmed Radwan, Ryan J. Eller, Stephen Richmond, Mark D. Shriver, John R. Shaffer, Seth M. Weinberg, Susan Walsh, James Thompson, Jonathan K. Pritchard, Stefan Sunaert, Hilde Peeters, Joanna Wysocka & Peter Claes. Nature Genetics, Apr 5 2021.

Abstract: Evidence from model organisms and clinical genetics suggests coordination between the developing brain and face, but the role of this link in common genetic variation remains unknown. We performed a multivariate genome-wide association study of cortical surface morphology in 19,644 individuals of European ancestry, identifying 472 genomic loci influencing brain shape, of which 76 are also linked to face shape. Shared loci include transcription factors involved in craniofacial development, as well as members of signaling pathways implicated in brain–face cross-talk. Brain shape heritability is equivalently enriched near regulatory regions active in either forebrain organoids or facial progenitors. However, we do not detect significant overlap between shared brain–face genome-wide association study signals and variants affecting behavioral–cognitive traits. These results suggest that early in embryogenesis, the face and brain mutually shape each other through both structural effects and paracrine signaling, but this interplay may not impact later brain development associated with cognitive function.