Friday, April 16, 2021

Mindfulness Decreases Prosocial Behavior for Those with Independent Self-construals

Poulin, Michael, Lauren Ministero, Shira Gabriel, Carrie Morrison, and Esha Naidu. 2021. “Minding Your Own Business? Mindfulness Decreases Prosocial Behavior for Those with Independent Self-construals.” PsyArXiv. April 9. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Mindfulness appears to promote individual well-being, but its interpersonal effects are less clear. Two studies in adult populations tested whether the effects of mindfulness on prosocial behavior differ by self-construals. In Study 1 (N = 366), a brief mindfulness induction, compared to a meditation control, led to decreased prosocial behavior among people with relatively independent self-construals, but had the opposite effect among those with relatively interdependent self-construals. In Study 2 (N = 325), a mindfulness induction led to decreased prosocial behavior among those primed with independence, but had the opposite effect among those primed with interdependence. The effects of mindfulness on prosocial behavior appear to depend on individuals' broader social goals. This may have implications for the increasing popularity of mindfulness training around the world.

Moral panic about fake news? It is problematic to establish causal relationships between fake news and the effects it has been said to produce

Misinformation about fake news: A systematic critical review of empirical studies on the phenomenon and its status as a ‘threat’. Fernando Miro-Llinares, Jesus C. Aguerri. European Journal of Criminology, April 15, 2021.

Abstract: After the 2016 US presidential elections, the term ‘fake news’ became synonymous with disinformation and a catch-all term for the problems that social networks were bringing to communication. Four years later, there are dozens of empirical studies that have attempted to describe and analyse an issue that, despite still being in the process of definition, has been identified as one of the key COVID-19 cyberthreats by Interpol, is considered a threat to democracy by many states and supranational institutions and, as a consequence, is subject to regulation or even criminalization. These legislative and criminal policy interventions form part of the first stage in the construction of a moral panic that may lead to the restriction of freedom of expression and information. By analysing empirical research that attempts to measure the extent of the issue and its impact, the present article aims to provide critical reflection on the process of constructing fake news as a threat. Via a systematic review of the literature, we observe, firstly, that the concept of fake news used in empirical research is limited and should be refocused because it has not been constructed according to scientific criteria and can fail to include relevant elements and actors, such as governments and traditional media. Secondly, the article analyses what is known scientifically about the extent, consumption and impact of fake news and argues that it is problematic to establish causal relationships between the issue and the effects it has been said to produce. This conclusion requires us to conduct further research and to reconsider the position of fake news as a threat as well as the resulting regulation and criminalization.

Keywords: Criminalization, fake news, misinformation, social networks, threat

Life satisfaction predicted by different "recipes" (or sets) of personal values between 5 regions of the world in massive study of over 100,000 people; community, voluntary, satisfaction with finances, and exercise were common

Alternative Recipes for Life Satisfaction: Evidence from Five World Regions. Bruce Headey, Gisela Trommsdorff & Gert G. Wagner. Applied Research in Quality of Life, Mar 25 2021.

Abstract: In most cross-national research on Life Satisfaction (LS) an implicit assumption appears to be that the correlates of LS are the same the world over; ‘one size fits all’. Using data from the World Values Survey (1999–2014), we question this assumption by assessing the effects of differing personal values/life priorities on LS in five world regions: the West, Latin America, the Asian-Confucian region, ex-Communist Eastern Europe, and the Communist countries of China and Vietnam. We indicate that differing values - traditional family values, friendship and leisure values, materialistic values, political values, prosocial and environmental values, and religious values – are endorsed to varying degrees in different parts of the world, and vary in whether they have positive or negative effects on LS. Personal values provide the basis for alternative ‘recipes’ affecting LS. By ‘recipes’ we mean linked set of values, attitudes, behavioural choices and domain satisfactions that have a positive or negative effect on LS. We estimate structural equation models which indicate that differing values-based recipes help to account for large, unexpected differences between mean levels of LS in the five world regions, compared with the levels ‘predicted’ by GDP per capita. In particular, the high priority given to traditional family and religious recipes in Latin America helps to account for unexpectedly high LS in that region. Deficits in prosocial attitudes and behaviours partly account for low LS in ex-Communist Eastern Europe.

Traditional Family Values

It is well known that married/partnered people are on average happier than unmarried/unpartnered people, and that a cohesive family and satisfaction with family life are closely related to high LS (Diener et al. 1999; Argyle 2001). It is a fairly obvious next step to show that strong commitment to family values is linked to above average LS (Inglehart et al. 2008; Schwarz 2012; Headey and Wagner 2018, 2019).

Friendship and Leisure Values

A well established finding in LS research is that people with good social networks and high levels of social interaction/participation in activities with friends and acquaintances are happier than average (Bradburn 1969; Diener et al. 1999; Argyle 2001; Headey et al. 2010a). In this paper we extend this line of inquiry by investigating links between endorsing friendship and leisure values, related attitudes and choices, and LS.

Materialistic Values

Diener and Seligman (2002) and Nickerson et al. (2003) reported that individuals who prioritise materialistic values - financial and career success - are less happy than their less materialistic countrymen/women. We replicated their results, analysing Australian, British and German panel data (Headey 2008; Headey et al. 2010b; Headey and Wagner 2018, 2019). We also found that materialists are less rather more satisfied than average with their income and financial situation. Ng and Diener (2014) reported that in low income countries people place high priority on material goals, whereas in high income countries material and non-material goals are about equally prioritised.

Political, Prosocial and Environmental Values1

Dunn et al. (2008), analysing experimental data, showed that prosocial, altruistic people who spent money that had been donated to them on other people, rather than themselves, gained greater satisfaction from their expenditure (see also Aknin et al. 2019).

Studies of volunteering – a clear form of prosocial behaviour – have shown that volunteers have above average levels of LS (Harlow and Cantor 1996; Thoits and Hewitt 2001). Our previous papers, based on panel data, have confirmed that people who prioritise prosocial values record well above average LS (Headey 2008; Headey et al. 2010a; Headey and Wagner 2018, 2019).

Religious Values

There has been extensive investigation of the hypothesis that religious people are more satisfied with life than non-religious people (Koenig and McCullogh 1998; Friedman and Martin 2011; Headey et al. 2010b). The evidence is not unambivalent, but on balance most studies show that the devoutly religious, especially if they attend church (mosque, synagogue etc) regularly, are more satisfied than average, and also live longer (Koenig and McCullogh 1998; Friedman and Martin 2011; Headey et al. 2014). The relationship between LS and longevity is almost certainly partly due to commitment to traditional family values, and also to a relatively healthy lifestyle with below average rates of smoking and alcohol consumption (Friedman and Martin 2011).

No Clear Values/Life Priorities

Emmons (1986, 1988, 1992) found that individuals who give relatively low ratings to all values have low LS. He inferred that just having values promotes LS by giving people a sense of purpose. Diener and Fujita (1995) investigated links between values/life goals and resources, finding that people have higher LS if they prioritise values/goals for which they have appropriate resources.

Japan: Narcissism encourages guilt and therefore inhibits lying behavior

Daiku Y, Serota KB, Levine TR (2021) A few prolific liars in Japan: Replication and the effects of Dark Triad personality traits. PLoS ONE 16(4): e0249815.

Abstract: Truth-Default Theory (TDT) predicts that across countries and cultures, a few people tell most of the lies, while a majority of people lie less frequently than average. This prediction, referred to as “a few prolific liars,” is tested in Japan. The study further investigated the extent to which the Dark Triad personality traits predict the frequency of lying. University students (N = 305) reported how many times they lied in the past 24 hours and answered personality questions. Results indicate that the few prolific liars pattern is evident in Japan thereby advancing TDT. Results also show that Japanese frequent liars tend to have Dark Triad personality traits, but the nature of the findings may be unique to Japan. Results of the generalized linear model suggest that the Dark Triad components of Machiavellianism and psychopathy exacerbate lying behavior by reducing the guilt associated with lying. However, narcissism encourages guilt and therefore inhibits lying behavior with both direct and indirect effects. These narcissism findings appear to contradict prior studies but stem from use of a more appropriate statistical analysis or the Japanese context.


The purpose of this study was to test the few prolific liars predictions in Japan and to examine these prolific liars’ personality traits. Consistent with TDT predictions, the results documented the existence of the few prolific liars pattern in the current sample of Japanese students. Moreover, the results demonstrate that people high in Machiavellianism and psychopathy reported more lying, mediated by lowering guilt, while people high in narcissism reported less lying through both direct and indirect paths. Although we cannot fully establish the causal relationships with only this study, the results suggest that people high in Machiavellianism or psychopathy may be inclined to tell more lies due to reduced feelings of guilt and that people high in narcissism may tell fewer lies due to increased guilt. The reverse causal order alternative is that the act of lying reduces guilt causing Machiavellianism scores to increase. While it is possible that people who lie frequently come to experience less guilt over time, and as a consequence, rate themselves as higher on Machiavellianism and psychopathy, this seems less plausible than personality being the antecedent.

Consistent with prior studies, the distribution of self-reported lies is extremely skewed, indicating the existence of a few prolific liars in our sample. The average lying frequency was similar to that reported by prior studies, such as DePaulo et al. [1], Murai [2], and Serota and Levine [8]. Most participants reported five or fewer lies in the past 24 hours and only a few people reported six or more lies. Importantly, prior results demonstrate that the few prolific liar phenomenon is not an artifact of the self-reporting methodology. Halevy et al. [11] showed that the self-reported number of lies correlates with behavioral indices of dishonesty in a laboratory and in our data, eliminating low-confidence participants does not change the overall finding. Therefore, the self-reported results appear to represent a reliable index and the universality of the “few prolific liars” module of TDT.

TDT seeks to provide a pan-cultural account of human deceptive communication. Because TDT predictions are not culturally bound, it is critical to test TDT in a variety of cultures. Only by testing TDT in various countries can the robust nature of TDT’s predictions be ascertained. Although TDT studies have previously been conducted in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, this research is the first to test TDT in Japan. The current findings add to the cultural span of TDT by replicating effects documented elsewhere.

Investigating the personality traits of the prolific liars using GLM yielded a more complex outcome than prior results. These results showed that Machiavellianism and psychopathy are associated with more lying, similar to prior studies [1114]. This suggests the two effects are robust enough to endure more rigorous statistical analysis. In addition, this study revealed that the effects are mediated by reduced feeling of guilt. Those high on Machiavellianism and psychopathy are thought to have lower guilt than ordinal people do, and this lower inhibition contributes to telling more lies.

These results, that the few prolific liars are Machiavellian and psychopathic people, may shed light on the fundamental question, “why is the distribution so skewed?” from an evolutionary perspective. Previous research found that people who have Dark Triad personality traits take the fast life strategy characterized by short-term mating, selfishness, and other antisocial manifestations [1526] and that they account for only a small part of the entire population [27]. Considering these findings, one possible explanation for the skewed distribution of lying is that the few prolific liars are people who adopted the fast life strategy. In modern society, the traits are seen as undesirable because most people do not adopt this strategy [28] but prolific lying may help those who adopt the fast life strategy to survive and reproduce. This evolutionary system may be the reason why we see the few prolific liars across cultures. This hypothesis is speculative but warrants further investigation.

However, somewhat surprisingly, narcissism had a negative effect on the frequency of lying. That is, results show people high in narcissism tell fewer lies. This result is contradictory to prior studies, which may result from the choice of statistical analyses. Jonason et al. [14] calculated the correlation coefficients and partial regression coefficients, finding a slightly positive correlation between narcissism and the number of lies. Similarly, Zvi and Elaad [12] found a positive relationship between narcissism and lying behavior. However, without accounting for the extremely skewed distribution of lie frequency, calculating Pearson correlations may yield misleading results, especially Type I errors [29]. As this and prior studies [7811] indicated, approximately 40–60% of people asked about lying frequency report no lies during any specific 24-hour period. Therefore, the distribution for lying frequency will be positively skewed and substantial (Skewness > 1.0 is considered substantial; for the Japan data Skewness = 12.67, SE of Skewness = 0.14). This inclination is not only an extreme deviation from the assumption of normality, it is wholly unsuitable for calculating Pearson’s correlations, which assume linear relationships between two variables. In addition, just a few prolific liars might exorbitantly increase the correlation, as Pearson’s correlation is very sensitive to outliers. For these reasons, Pearson’s correlations with lie frequency may be unreliable when the skewed distribution is considered. Spearman’s rank correlation suppresses the effect of outliers.

Moreover, we found the negative effect for narcissism (i.e., narcissists tell fewer lies) when controlling Machiavellianism and psychopathy. While the zero-order correlations of narcissism include the effects of Machiavellianism and psychopathy, the result of the negative binomial regression partials out the effects of them when assessing the effect of narcissism. Thus, it may be safe to say that the negative coefficient of narcissism is the pure effect of narcissism on lying frequency. This may be the reason why we had the negative coefficient while we had a positive correlation between lying frequency and narcissism in Spearman’s rank correlation.

This negative effect of narcissism on lying is interpretable from three perspectives. The first is narcissism’s relative brightness. Narcissism is considered the least dark trait among the three [30]. Narcissism has weaker relationships with anti-social behavior [153132] and the ability to lie [33] than do either Machiavellianism or psychopathy. Considering these findings, perhaps it is not so surprising that narcissism had a different effect from Machiavellianism and psychopathy in our study. Narcissism is characterized by entitlement, superiority, and dominance [14]. The narcissist’s priority is keeping self-image positive, and frequent lying may hurt self-image. If so, it may be a reason why those higher on narcissism tell fewer lies.

The second consideration is lying types. Our study did not classify lying types, so all kinds of lies are included in the analysis. Narcissists are thought to tell lies mostly about themselves to make a good impression on others. In fact, Jonason et al. [14] revealed that narcissism had its strongest relationship with the number of self-gain lies. Future research might benefit by classifying lie types as well as motives to lie.

The third possibility is cultural differences. Narcissism scores may differ across countries. Foster et al. [34] found that narcissism was higher in an individualistic culture than in a collectivistic culture; the United States, especially, produced the highest levels of reported narcissism. According to their study, Japan’s narcissism is predicted to be lower than that of the United States. Moreover, Japan is thought to have a shame culture rather than a guilt culture [35], suggesting that in Japan, social behavior might be determined by feelings of shame rather than guilt. Replicating the current study in a western country could facilitate a comparative cultural analysis.

Further research on the subtypes of narcissism also might be useful for interpreting this result. Narcissism can be divided into vulnerable narcissism—associated with introversion, defensiveness, anxiety and vulnerability to life’s traumas—and grandiose narcissism—associated with extraversion, self-assurance, exhibitionism, and aggression [36]. Previous research has revealed that grandiose narcissism is more strongly related to unethical behaviors than vulnerable narcissism [16]. The Dark Triad Dirty Dozen, which we used in the current study, does not measure the two types separately. Consequently, there is a possibility that the DTDD is primarily measuring vulnerable narcissism and that this form of narcissism, which is associated with a positive self-image, is more likely to inhibit lying.

The current study has three limitations to consider. First, our analysis did not control for the frequency of social interaction. The Dark Triad personality traits are positively correlated with extraversion among the Big Five personality traits [13]. Thus, an alternative explanation for high lie frequency could be that prolific liars have more social interactions in a day rather than having an anti-social personality. However, studies that have controlled for frequency of interaction [137] found prolific liars even with a known rate of interaction. Future research may resolve this point by controlling for interaction rate.

Second, the results of this study are based solely on lies reported by college students. To improve the generalizability of the results, a study obtaining lie reports from a broader sample could be conducted. Fortunately, research in other countries is informative about how student samples are similar and different from more broadly representative samples. Research has documented the few prolific liars pattern (i.e., positive skew) in studies of both students and adult samples [7810]. The primary difference is that students tend to tell more lies on average. It is reasonable to expect that we would find a similarly skewed distribution among Japanese adults even though they may tell fewer lies, overall.

Third, the measurement of the Dark Triad used in this study may be insufficient. The Japanese version of the DTDD has differences from the original English version (e.g., lower reliability of psychopathy). The differences are most evident in Machiavellianism and psychopathy, but due to the strict translation procedures they are not substantial. It appears unlikely that the divergence for narcissism may have resulted from a translation problem.

Future research might examine other TDT propositions in Japan and other countries in Asia. Truth-bias has been documented in Korea [6] and Murai [2] found that Japanese participants reported (knowingly) receiving far few lies each day than they told. Both prior findings are consistent with TDT’s applicability in Asian countries. Future research might provide a more direct test of the truth-default using the method developed by Clare and Levine [5] thus investigating if thoughts of deception come to mind unprompted. Given known cultural differences (e.g., collectivism versus individualism; power distance), TDT’s predications regarding pan-cultural deception motives and the projected motive model also need to be tested across Asia.

Overall, this research clearly indicates the existence of a few prolific liars in a student sample in Japan. As observed in other parts of the world, most Japanese people tell few or no lies on a given day and a small number of people, prolific liars, tell the majority of lies. Additionally, the study found that lying frequency increased with higher Machiavellianism and psychopathy scores, and that these factors are mediated by feelings of guilt. Documenting the mediating effects of guilt expands our knowledge about lying and its prediction. This mediating effect suggests that people with certain personality traits such as Machiavellianism may feel less guilty about lying and consequently have fewer inhibitions about lying. Practically, it may be effective to activate people’s feelings of guilt to suppress lying in real world. We further observed an unexpected effect of narcissism, which inhibited lying frequency. How narcissism affects lying should be investigated further.