Monday, April 19, 2021

The modesty and sympathy facets of the Agreeableness domain were significantly correlated with successful lying

Personality characteristics of the successful liar. Alvin Malesky  Alicia Nicole Isenberg  David McCord. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, April 15 2021.

Abstract: The relationship between personality, behavioral cues, and the ability to tell a convincing lie was examined. Participants were administered the M5‐120 personality inventory and videotaped while retelling a partially scripted story. A group of raters reviewed the video clips and decided whether the participants were lying or being honest. Findings revealed a significant relationship between successful lying and the Agreeableness domain of personality. Specifically, the modesty and sympathy facets of the Agreeableness domain were significantly correlated with successful lying. These results suggest that personality may play a role in the ability to successfully lie. In addition, significant correlations were demonstrated between body language and successful lying and between facial expressions and successful lying.

Brain Mechanisms Underlying the Subjective Experience of Remembering

Simons, Jon, Maureen Ritchey, and Charles Fernyhough. 2021. “Brain Mechanisms Underlying the Subjective Experience of Remembering.” PsyArXiv. April 19. doi:10.1146/annurev-psych-030221-025439

Abstract: The ability to remember events in vivid, multisensory detail is a significant part of human experience, allowing us to relive previous encounters and providing us with the store of memories that shape our identity. Recent research has sought to understand the subjective experience of remembering: what it feels like to have a memory. Such remembering involves reactivating sensory-perceptual features of an event, and the thoughts and feelings we had when the event occurred, integrating them into a conscious first-person experience. It allows us to reflect on the content of our memories, and to understand and make judgments about them, such as distinguishing events that actually occurred from those we might have imagined or been told about. In this review, we consider recent evidence from functional neuroimaging in healthy participants and studies of neurological and psychiatric conditions, which is shedding new light on how we subjectively experience remembering.

I Enjoy Hurting My Classmates: On the Relation of Boredom and Sadism in Schools

Pfattheicher, Stefan, Ljiljana B. Lazarević, Yngwie A. Nielsen, Erin C. Westgate, Ksenija Krstić, and Simon Schindler. 2021. “I Enjoy Hurting My Classmates: On the Relation of Boredom and Sadism in Schools.”

Abstract: Schools can be a place of both love and of cruelty. We examine one particular type of cruelty that occurs in the school context: sadism, that is, harming others for pleasure. Primarily, we propose and test whether boredom plays a crucial role in the emergence of sadistic actions at school. In two well-powered studies (total N = 1,038) using both self- and peer-reports, we first document that sadistic behavior occurs at school, although at a low level. We further show that those students who are more often bored at school are more likely to engage in sadistic actions. Overall, the present work contributes to a better understanding of sadism in schools and points to boredom as one potential motivator. We discuss implications for research on sadism and boredom, in the school context and beyond.

Check also When there is no alternative, boredom increases sadistic behavior across the board, even among individuals low in dispositional sadism

Pfattheicher, Stefan, Ljiljana B. Lazarevic, Erin C. Westgate, and Simon Schindler. 2020. “On the Relation of Boredom and Sadistic Aggression.” PsyArXiv. September 9.

And Psychopathy subfactors distinctively predispose to dispositional and state-level of sadistic pleasure. Jill Lobbestael, Martijn van Teffelen, Roy F. Baumeister. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, Feb 2019.

A look at Próspera, the charter city taking shape in Honduras

A look at Próspera, the charter city taking shape in Honduras. Astral Codex Ten, Apr 14 2021.


6. Will Próspera be a libertarian / anarcho-capitalist utopia?

Sort of but not really.

The people behind Próspera are mostly libertarians, but they’re trying to avoid using the word “libertarian” too much when talking about their project. Partly because the libertarian brand scares people. But partly because their vision is more complicated than just small government.

Charter cities fall into an awkward crack in libertarian ideology. Almost every libertarian agrees that you can make rules (even arbitrary rules) about what people can do on your own property, and anyone who wants to stay on your property has to follow your rules. But what’s the difference between that, versus a government “owning” its territory and making rules for its citizens? In practice the difference is that going in someone’s house - or even their golf course - is a choice you made, and they have clear title of ownership. But being in a country happens involuntarily, and the President doesn’t “own” America in the same way an ordinary person might own a house.

But if someone did own an entire city, and you chose to be in that city, theoretically they should be able to make whatever laws they wanted, and not even the most zealous libertarian could protest. The issue hadn’t really come up before. But here we are.

Próspera is erring on the side of small government, because that’s what they expect will work best. But their overriding motive is making their city a nice place to live and work, and when small government conflicts with that, the city usually wins.

So for example, when you buy land in Próspera, you’ll have to sign a Covenant Restricting Vice Industry Uses - ie you can’t turn your house into a joint brothel+casino and do unethical medical experiments in the basement. Even the strictest libertarian has to admit this is fair; if you sign a contract, you’ve got to follow it. But you can tell HPI plans to have the town be ship-shape, well-organized, and family-friendly, instead of the sort of Wild West vibe some people associate libertarianism with.

Also, Próspera remains bound by several Honduran laws that Honduras refuses to exempt them from, including laws against abortion, euthanasia, and most gun ownership.

6.1. But they’ll at least have really low taxes, right?

The lowest in the world.

The Próspera Charter declares that income taxes cannot exceed 10%; anyone who wants to raise taxes above that will have to pass a full constitutional amendment in a system deliberately designed to be hard to change. There are also some other minor taxes, but the Charter says that (after certain conditions are met) total taxes may never exceed 7.5% of GDP, and total debt may not exceed 20% of GDP (with various specifications and caveats). From HPI documentation:

This is a key improvement upon the American system, as unlimited debt can potentially lead to untenable fiscal situations which threaten the economic health, stability, and shared prosperity of the jurisdiction

Where do the taxes go?

- 12% go to Honduras, as their incentive for allowing ZEDEs at all
- 44% go to the General Service Provider, a private company that handles things like sanitation and power. This will probably be an HPI subsidiary which subcontracts out to Jacobs Engineering, the same company that did a lot of the work in Sandy Springs.
- 44% go to the Próspera municipal government, to handle whatever services they can’t subcontract out.

How does HPI make money? They get a cut of the membership fees and the General Service Provider money, but their real cash cow is probably land development. They buy empty land, develop it into a thriving city, then sell it to people who want to live in thriving cities at a huge markup. The more thriving the city, the higher the land value, and the more money HPI makes - which they think puts the incentives in the right place.

Rolf Degen summarizing... Beta-blockers impaired the ability to learn when to take advantageous risks that lead to desired outcomes

Neurophysiological Contributors to Advantageous Risk-Taking: An Experimental Psychopharmacological Investigation. Jennifer K MacCormack, Emma Armstrong-Carter, Kathryn L Humphreys, Keely A Muscatell. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, nsab047, April 16 2021.

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: The ability to learn from experience is critical for determining when to take risks and when to play it safe. However, we know little about how within-person state changes, such as an individual’s degree of neurophysiological arousal, may impact the ability to learn which risks are most likely to fail vs. succeed. To test this, we used a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled design to pharmacologically manipulate neurophysiological arousal and assess its causal impact on risk-related learning and performance. Eighty-seven adults (45% female, Mage= 20.1 ± 1.46 years) took either propranolol (n= 42), a beta-adrenergic receptor blocker that attenuates sympathetic nervous system-related signaling, or a placebo (n= 45). Participants then completed the Balloon Emotional Learning Task, a risk-taking task wherein experiential learning is necessary for task success. We found that individuals on propranolol, relative to placebo, earned fewer points on the task, suggesting that they were less effective risk-takers. This effect was mediated by the fact that those on propranolol made less optimal decisions in the final phase of the task on trials with the greatest opportunity for advantageous risk-taking. These findings highlight how neurophysiological arousal supports risk-related learning and, in turn, more advantageous decision-making and optimal behavior under conditions of risk.

Nonverbal Mechanisms Predict Zoom Fatigue and Explain Why Women Experience Higher Levels than Men

Fauville, Geraldine and Luo, Mufan and Queiroz, Anna C. M. and Bailenson, Jeremy N. and Hancock, Jeff, Nonverbal Mechanisms Predict Zoom Fatigue and Explain Why Women Experience Higher Levels than Men (April 5, 2021). SSRN:

Abstract: There is little data on Zoom Fatigue, the exhaustion that follows video conference meetings. This paper administers the Zoom Exhaustion & Fatigue scale to 10,591 participants from a convenience sample and tests the associations between five theoretical nonverbal mechanisms and Zoom Fatigue – mirror anxiety, being physically trapped, hyper gaze from a grid of staring faces, and the cognitive load from producing and interpreting nonverbal cues. First, we show that daily usage predicts the amount of fatigue, and that women have longer meetings and shorter breaks between meetings than men. Second, we show that women have greater Zoom fatigue than men. Third, we show that the five nonverbal mechanisms for fatigue predict Zoom fatigue. Fourth, we confirm that mirror anxiety mediates the difference in fatigue across gender. Exploratory research shows that race, age, and personality relate to fatigue. We discuss avenues for future research and strategies to decrease Zoom fatigue.

Keywords: Zoom Fatigue, Video Conference, Gender, Nonverbal Communication

JEL Classification: communication

Popular version: 'Zoom Fatigue' May Finally Have an Explanation, And It's Affecting Women More (

A large interdisciplinary literature on the relationship between age & subjective well-being (happiness) has produced very mixed evidence; these authors argue that this is due to potential sources of bias

Kratz, Fabian, and Josef Brüderl. 2021. “The Age Trajectory of Happiness.” PsyArXiv. April 18. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: A large interdisciplinary literature on the relationship between age and subjective well-being (happiness) has produced very mixed evidence. In this paper we argue that this is due to potential sources of bias that may distort the assessment of the age-happiness relationship. Most biases tend to produce a spuriously U-shaped age trajectory. In contrast, applying our suggested specification to German panel data we find a (nearly monotonic) declining age happiness trajectory.

Fig 4b Predicted age-happiness trajectories 

Summary and Conclusions

How aging affects happiness is an important research question for the social and behavioral sciences. Our literature review demonstrates that many conflicting age trajectories have been reported in the literature. As this state of research is quite unsettling for the science of happiness, we discuss—informed by recent advances in the methodology of causal analysis—model specifications used by researchers in this field. Altogether, we identify four main biases that may distort the age trajectory of happiness. By using the German SOEP data, we show that distortions may be huge producing even qualitatively different conclusions. We demonstrate that by using different combinations of mis-specifications it is possible to generate (almost) every trajectory that has been reported in the literature. With a model specification that avoids these four biases, we find an age-happiness trajectory that declines slowly over adulthood (altogether about half a scale point). The decline comes to a halt and we observe even a small increase (about one tenth of a scale point) during the golden ages. Afterwards, in old age a very steep decline in happiness sets in.

From these results we derive several conclusions that pertain to future research on happiness.  The overarching conclusion is that SWB scholars should take causal reasoning seriously in their future research. They should precisely define their research question and explicitly justify their model specification chosen according to the research question (these conclusions do not pertain to SWB research alone, but to all kind of social research as Lundberg et al. (forthcoming) argue forcefully).

Qualifying the research question before estimating age-SWB profiles is essential. Is the main research aim to describe how happy the living population is, or how SWB develops with rising age? If the aim is to answer the second research question about aging and thus to estimate a causal effect of age on SWB, scholars should not use (repeated) cross-sectional data, because these may be affected by mortality selection bias. And there is no cure for this with only cross-sectional data available. Only with panel data following the same respondents over time mortality selection bias can be fixed.

Even when using panel data, scholars must carefully consider potential sources of under^Band overcontrol bias and select an estimation approach that strictly relies on within-person variation to minimize mortality selection bias. In our empirical illustration with the SOEP, the less familiar sources of bias, (i.e., overcontrol and mortality selection bias) cause more severe distortions than does undercontrol bias. We illustrated that selective mortality exhibits drastic consequences on the association between age and subjective well-being affecting even qualitative conclusions: Mortality selection systematically removes the unhappiest of the oldest 21 old and therefore every approach that relies somehow on between persons variation underestimated the deteriorating impact of aging on subjective well-being (especially among the oldest old).

Avoiding these misspecifications is not only important for future research on the age trajectory of happiness but also for any kind of happiness research. Age is usually (and well justified) used as a control variable when investigating other determinants of happiness. Using mis-specified age trajectories can severely bias estimates of such treatment effects: the bias in the control variable age transfers to the treatment effect of interest (a formal statement of this so-called “bias transfer” can be found in Ranjbar & Sperlich, 2019). Therefore, it is important to use flexible parametrizations of the age effect in happiness research more generally.  Including linear and quadratic age terms only might be problematic.