Saturday, May 22, 2021

The Dark Core: Psychopathy, callousness, pathological selfishness, Machiavellianism, and narcissistic rivalry

The good, the bad, and the ugly: Revisiting the Dark Core. Bojana M. Dinić, Anja Wertag, Valentina Sokolovska & Aleksandar Tomašević. Current Psychology, May 15 2021.

Abstract: The aim of this research (N = 268) was to explore several compelling candidates for the Dark Core of the broader set of dark and light traits by using network analysis and analyses of shared variance. Several previously proposed cores were tested: primary psychopathy, narcissistic rivalry, Honesty-Humility, Aggressiveness, Selfishness, Antagonism and its callousness facet as well as emotional competency, including its emotionality facet as negative aspect of callousness. The results showed that central elements in this network are primary psychopathy, callousness, pathological selfishness, Machiavellianism, and narcissistic rivalry. Furthermore, among basic traits, Antagonism shared the highest percentage with the dark traits, especially its facet callousness, which is the best candidate for the Dark Core. The combination of callousness, deceitfulness, and grandiosity shared 92% of the total common variance with dark traits and it could be seen as the Antagonistic Triad or alternative Dark Triad.

Belief in an imminent apocalypse co-evolved with and facilitated revolutionary violence, & belief in reincarnation caused people to acquiesce to existing social orders & withdraw from political activism

A phylogenetic analysis of revolution and afterlife beliefs. Kiran Basava, Hanzhi Zhang & Ruth Mace. Nature Human Behaviour volume 5, pages604–611. Jan 2021.

Abstract: Beliefs about the fate of humanity and the soul after death may structure behaviours of religious groups. Here we test theories from religious studies: that belief in an imminent apocalypse co-evolved with and facilitated revolutionary violence, whereas belief in reincarnation caused people to acquiesce to existing social orders and withdraw from political activism. We test these hypotheses by building a cultural phylogeny of historical Islamic sects and schools from the seventh to twentieth centuries and use phylogenetic comparative methods to show that these two types of belief display distinct relationships with intergroup violence. There is substantial evidence that apocalyptic beliefs co-evolved with revolutionary violence, whereas reincarnation beliefs were evolutionarily stable in peaceful groups. In both cases, violence precedes the emergence of beliefs, which suggests that conditions that generate revolutionary violence changed beliefs rather than beliefs generating violence. We also found that apocalyptic beliefs are associated with accelerated group extinction, although causal relationships cannot be determined.

More mindful individuals were only more charitable in their words, but not in their deeds

When it really counts: Investigating the relation between trait mindfulness and actual prosocial behavior. Simon Schindler, Stefan Pfattheicher. Current Psychology, May 2021.

Abstract: Meta-analytical findings suggested a positive link between trait mindfulness and prosociality. However, most correlational studies on mindfulness and prosociality have relied on self-report measures. The present work aimed to address this serious limitation by investigating actual prosocial behavior. We further focused on mindfulness as a multi-dimensional personality trait to disentangle effects of different mindfulness aspects. In addition, we tested whether the relation between trait mindfulness and prosocial behavior emerges under a theoretical meaningful experimental boundary condition (i.e., feelings of guilt). In two studies (using four different samples; N = 1240), we did not find support for a positive link between trait mindfulness and (a) charitable donation and (b) behavior in an incentivized economic game, respectively. Evidence for manipulated guilt-level as a moderator was inconclusive. Taken together, the findings point to a more complex role of trait mindfulness for prosocial behavior. Limitations and ideas for further research are discussed.

Check also 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.

Petersen, Michael Bang, and Panagiotis Mitkidis. 2019. “A Sober Second Thought? A Pre-registered Experiment on the Effects of Mindfulness Meditation on Political Tolerance.” PsyArXiv. October 20.

‘I Do Not Exist’: Pathologies of Self Among Western Buddhists. Judith Pickering. Journal of Religion and Health, June 2019, Volume 58, Issue 3, pp 748–769.

Mindfulness not related to behavioral & speech markers of emotional positivity (or less negativity), interpersonally better connected (quality or quantity), or prosocial orientation (more affectionate, less gossipy or complaining) 

Dispositional mindfulness in daily life. Deanna M. Kaplan, L. Raison, Anne Milek, Allison M. Tackman, Thaddeus W. W. Pace, Matthias R. Mehl. PLOS,

Elites, selected frequently for their ability to generate and evaluate good arguments, listen to and generate those arguments when they are rewarded for that, but not otherwise

Status Trumps Argument. Robin Hanson. Overcoming Bias, May 19, 2021.


Many elites are selected for their ability to generate and evaluate good arguments. So many are quite able to listen. But as with being nice, elites are especially good at a contingent strategy: they listen to and generate good arguments when they are rewarded for that, but not otherwise.

The key parameter that determines if an elite is rewarded for using and crediting good arguments is the relative status of the parties involved. When elites argue with equal status elites, their arguments may need to be good. At least if their particular audience values arguments.

But consider a case where two parties to a dispute are of very unequal status, and where the topic is one where there’s a perception that elite consensus agrees with the high status party. Ih this case, the higher status party only needs to offer the slim appearance of argument quality. Just blathering a few related words is often completely sufficient. Even if put together in context those words don’t really make much sense.

I have seen this happen many times personally. For example, if I argue with a higher status person, who for some reason engages with me in this context, and if my position is one seen as reasonable by the usual elite consensus, then my partner is careful to offer quality arguments, and to credit such arguments if I offer them. But if I take a position seen as against the current elite consensus, that same high status partner instead feels quite comfortable offering very weak and incoherent arguments.

Speed to a marching pace boosts blood flow to the brain (120 steps and 120 beats per minute), hinting at a possible sweet spot

How the way you move can change the way you think and feel. Caroline Wiliams. The New Scientist, May 19 2021.

New research suggests the connection between exercise and the brain goes deeper than you might think. These six kinds of movement can help make you more creative, boost your self-esteem and reach altered states of consciousness

FILTER-FEEDERS aside, humans are the only creatures that can get away with sitting around all day. As a species, we have been remarkably successful at devising ways to feed, entertain ourselves and even find mates, all while barely lifting a finger.

True, this is a sign of just how clever and adaptable we are. But there is a huge cost to our sedentary ways, not only to our bodies, but also our minds. Falling IQs and the rise in mental health conditions have both been linked to our lack of physical movement.

But the connection between movement and the brain goes deeper than you might think. A revolutionary new understanding of the mind-body connection is revealing how our thoughts and emotions don’t just happen inside our heads, and that the way we move has a profound influence on how our minds operate. This opens up the possibility of using our bodies as tools to change the way we think and feel.

Evidence is starting to stack up that this is indeed the case, and it isn’t all about doing more exercise. In my new book, Move! The new science of body over mind, I explore emerging research in evolutionary biology, physiology, neuroscience and cell biology to find out which body movements affect the mind and why.

Whatever it is that you want from your mind – more creativity, improved resilience or higher self-esteem – the evidence shows that there is a way of moving the body that can help. Here is my pick of the best ways to use your body to achieve a healthier, better-functioning mind.


[Studies suggest that when our feet hit the ground, their arteries are compressed. This increases turbulence in the blood, providing it with an extra rush towards the brain of up to 15pct. Pick up the speed to a marching pace and things get more interesting. The biggest boost to blood flow happened when people's step rate and heart rate synchronized at 120 steps and 120 beats per minute, hinting at a possible sweet spot.]


Is this why a lot of people loves to dance?