Friday, July 9, 2021

Experimental manipulation of disease threat leads to less favorable attitudes and inclinations toward sexual promiscuity

Parasites and promiscuity: Acute disease salience leads to more restricted sexual attitudes. James B. Moran et al. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, July 9, 2021.

Abstract: How does disease threat influence sexual attitudes and behaviors? Although research on the influence of disease threat on social behavior has grown considerably, the relationship between perceived disease threat and sexual attitudes remains unclear. The current preregistered study (analyzed N = 510), investigated how experimental reminders of disease threat influence attitudes and anticipated future behaviors pertaining to short-term sexual relationships, using an ecologically valid disease prime. The central preregistered prediction was that experimental manipulation of disease threat would lead to less favorable attitudes and inclinations toward sexual promiscuity. Results were consistent with this preregistered prediction, relative to both a neutral control condition and a non-disease threat condition. These experimental results were buttressed by the finding that dispositional variation in worry about disease threat predicted less favorable attitudes and inclinations toward short-term sexual relationships. This study represents the first preregistered investigation of the implications of acute disease threat for sexual attitudes.

Keywords: Behavioral immune system, germ aversion, sexual behavior, sociosexuality

There isn’t a direct connection between doing good deeds & being seen as a good person; rather, prosocial actors are often met with suspicion, & sometimes castigated as disingenuous braggarts, empty virtue-signalers, or holier-than-thou hypocrites

Prosocial Behavior and Reputation: When Does Doing Good Lead to Looking Good? Jonathan Z. Berman, Ike Silver. Current Opinion in Psychology, July 9 2021.

Abstract: One reason people engage in prosocial behavior is to reap the reputational benefits associated with being seen as generous. Yet, there isn’t a direct connection between doing good deeds and being seen as a good person. Rather, prosocial actors are often met with suspicion, and sometimes castigated as disingenuous braggarts, empty virtue-signalers, or holier-than-thou hypocrites. In this article, we review recent research on how people evaluate those who engage in prosocial behavior and identify key factors that influence whether observers will praise or denigrate a prosocial actor for doing a good deed.

Keywords: Prosocial BehaviorCharitable GivingAltruismReputationCharitable CreditMoral Character

Contra pessimists... In everyday life, people use a whole package of self-control strategies to tame the demon that wants to tempt them into overspending

A meta-analysis of financial self-control strategies: Comparing empirical findings with online media and lay person perspectives on what helps individuals curb spending and start saving. Mariya Davydenko, Marta Kolbuszewska, Johanna Peetz. PLoS One, July 8, 2021.

Abstract: Self-control can be assisted by using self-control strategies rather than relying solely on willpower to resist tempting situations and to make more goal-consistent decisions. To understand how self-control strategies can aid financial goals, we conducted a meta-analysis (Study 1) to aggregate the latest research on self-control strategies in the financial domain and to estimate their overall effectiveness for saving and spending outcomes. Across 29 studies and 12 different self-control strategies, strategies reduced spending and increased saving significantly with a medium effect size (d = 0.57). Proactive and reactive strategies were equally effective. We next examined whether these strategies studied in the academic literature were present in a media sample of websites (N = 104 websites with 852 strategies) and in individuals’ personal experiences (N = 939 participants who listed 830 strategies). About half the strategies identified in the meta-analysis were present in the media sample and about half were listed by lay participants as strategies they personally use. In sum, this paper provides a comprehensive overview of the self-control strategies that have been studied in the empirical literature to date and of the strategies promoted in the media and used in daily life, identifying gaps between these perspectives.

General discussion

Failures in self-control in the financial domain can have dire consequences. Financial security predicts overall quality of life [75] and subjective well-being [76], whereas financial stress has been linked to physical health struggles [77], problems in close relationships [78], and stress in retirement [79]. Self-control strategies can aid financial decision making, reducing spending, and increasing saving. This paper is the first attempt at collating the diverse self-control strategies that have been studied in the financial domain. A formal meta-analysis of the existing studies to date suggests that financial self-control strategies are effective in improving financial decisions (Study 1). Strategies purported in online media communications (Study 2) and those reported as part of lay persons’ financial habits (Study 3) show a considerable degree of overlap but also show that a number of financial self-control strategies that are recommended in online media and are reportedly used by lay people have not yet been studied empirically. All three perspectives showed a focus on proactive rather than reactive strategies, in line with theoretical models that argue that proactive strategies are superior to reactive strategies [525]. However, proactive and reactive strategies in the meta-analysis were equally effective (Study 1) and were promoted equally by ‘financial expert’ websites or other websites (Study 2). More educated lay individuals were more likely to report proactive strategies compared to less educated individuals (strategy type did not differ age, gender, and income). It appears that both researchers and lay people with higher levels of education are drawn to self-control strategies that are used before a tempting situation occurs.

Self-control strategies in other domains

This paper summarizes research, online media communication, and personal experiences about a relatively understudied domain of self-control: financial goals. The majority of psychological research on self-control strategies has focused on academic goals (e.g., [298084]) and health goals (e.g., [8590]). In contrast, in the present paper we focused specifically on self-control strategies specific to the financial domain. However, these specific financial self-control strategies nonetheless link to broader conceptual types of self-control strategies such as avoiding temptations more generally (e.g., [539192]), changing how one thinks about a temptation (e.g., [549394]), and pre-committing before encountering a temptation (e.g., [389596]).

Therefore, the broad findings of this research–the overlap of online media communication and lay perspectives with empirically studied financial self-control strategies and the relatively greater importance of proactive strategies among the two former perspectives–likely generalizes to self-control strategies in other domains. It might also be that self-control strategies are more effective if they are conceived with regards to the specific self-control domain. For example, the general strategy ‘avoid temptations’ may be more effective for promoting health eating when phrased as ‘avoid the dessert menu at restaurants’ and more effective for promoting reduced spending when phrased as ‘avoid certain stores in the mall’. Just as for financial self-control strategies, there may be specific self-control strategies in other domains that have yet to be tested empirically but are commonplace in daily life.

Practical implications

A considerable portion of the existing self-control research has focused on the broader conceptualizations of self-control (e.g., [51025]) or examined trait measures of self-control (e.g., [1397]). This more abstract conceptualization is useful for establishing a framework, but less useful for practical applications: It does not describe what specific behaviours might be enacted through self-control strategies to create meaningful change in people’s goal pursuit. In contrast, we focused on specific financial self-control strategies. Overall, we generated 28 self-control strategy categories across three perspectives (empirical studies, online media communications, lay perspectives). This list of financial self-control strategies might be fairly comprehensive as well as specific.


While we did not find a significant difference in effectiveness between proactive and reactive strategies in the meta-analysis, it is important to acknowledge that when these types of strategies are tested against each other directly, strategies used before encountering a temptation are more effective than strategies used in the tempting situation [29]. There are several possible explanations for the lack of a moderation in the meta-analysis. First, the strategy type might shift between experimental in-lab and field applications. The decision to pay with cash versus card might be made in the situation and may thus be reactive, but in everyday life might require someone to pick up cash before even encountering a spending situation, thus being proactive. Second, the studies included in the meta-analysis might have lacked “regulatory fit” [98] between the strategies coded as proactive vs. reactive and the specific behavioral outcomes. Greater fit between the type of strategy and the temptation might make self-control easier (see [99] for a similar argument about the benefit of fit between personality and temptation).

It is important to note that the purpose of this research was not to discover the best self-control strategy. Daily life involves many diverse spending situations, and some situations may not suit some strategies (e.g., using cash rather than credit reduces spending but cash cannot be used in online transactions). Over time, people may have tried various self-control strategies and settled on those that were effective for them and their personal situation. Even though some specific financial strategies showed stronger effect sizes in the meta-analysis (Study 1) or were more frequently mentioned in online media (Study 2) or by lay people (Study 3), we do not have enough evidence to suggest that these strategies outperformed other strategies. It may be better to inform individuals of a variety of possible strategies to choose from as the situation allows.

We also caution that the present research cannot represent an exhaustive list of all possible financial self-control strategies, or even all empirically tested financial self-control strategies. Even though we included broad search terms in our meta-analysis, the meta-analysis search may have missed relevant studies. This limitation could be addressed by including even broader search terms in a systematic literature review or taking a different approach and focusing on the self-control literature (regardless of financial outcomes) instead.

Similar, conclusions drawn from the online media sample and lay sample are necessarily limited by the inclusiveness of these samples. Both represent the perspectives of WEIRD [100] culture and might not generalize to other populations or global media. Additionally, media advice encompasses a variety of communications, from print media (magazines, newspapers, books) to social media (Twitter, Facebook). Our media sample focused on online Google search results, including blogs, online versions of magazines and newspapers, and websites for financial organizations. Arguably, online searches are an important and commonly used way to learn about an issue (e.g., Google processes 3.5 billion searches per day, [101]), but it is important to keep in mind that the online media sample is just that: a sample of the available communications about financial strategies.

Future directions

Future research may examine which strategies are best in which situations, or even examine the optimal number of strategies to employ when making financial decisions. Indeed, simply providing people with a list of all possible self-control strategies may be mentally taxing. For example, one effective financial self-control strategy would be to pay for one’s purchases with cash [7]; however, in practice, this strategy would require a considerable amount of foresight and planning (i.e., additional self-control tasks) to ensure one always has cash on hand. Using this strategy in conjunction with other self-control strategies before every purchase, such as checking your account balance [51] and reflecting on future regret [54], may be too effortful considering the numerous spending situations individuals encounter on a daily basis. Thus, more selective use of self-control strategies depending on an individual’s personality and the specific spending situation may be most effective. There is likely no single, perfect financial self-control strategy to reduce spending or increase saving, and future research might examine whether educating people on sets of likely strategies can reduce their everyday spending. Future research could also examine how the strategies discovered in previous work on self-control strategies across goal domains [3031] compare to the strategies identified in the present research which focused exclusively on financial goals.

To address the limitation of sample representativeness, future research should examine a more representative sample of the American population, or examine strategy use across countries As Study 3 was relatively more educated and overrepresented young/middle aged adults their strategy use might have reflected a specific subset of the population (see online supplements for a comparison of Study 3 sample demographics with U.S. census demographics: Other subsets might use different strategies more frequently: for example, people closer to retirement may think about their future self more often as financial strategy than young adults further away from retirement.

Some subsets of the population may even reveal greater overlap between the academic research and the lay perspectives. For example, in a sample of undergraduate psychology students (a common convenience sample of many self-control studies) there may be greater awareness of the academic literature on self-control, and compared to other undergraduate samples, the strategies psychology undergraduates use may especially overlap with the strategies found in the meta-analysis literature search. Research on a more diverse sample could verify the results of the present research and can create a more complete list of financial self-control strategies. Sample demographic variables such as age and gender may not only moderate strategy use, but also strategy effectiveness for bringing spending and saving behaviour in line with people’s goals.

The meta-analysis showed that financial self-control strategies were effective but also showed that the vast majority of studies to date are lab-based. Future studies might examine whether these strategies as effective when used outside the lab, in lay person’s day-to-day life. Future studies might also study the effectiveness of the strategies that emerged from lay and online media perspectives but have not yet been studied empirically, in the lab or in the field.

Moderate Red Wine Consumption Increases the Expression of Longevity-Associated Genes in Controlled Human Populations and Extends Lifespan in Drosophila melanogaster

Moderate Red Wine Consumption Increases the Expression of Longevity-Associated Genes in Controlled Human Populations and Extends Lifespan in Drosophila melanogaster. Juan Gambini et al. Antioxidants 2021, 10(2), 301; February 16 2021.

Abstract: The beneficial effects of moderate red wine consumption on cardiovascular health are well known. The composition of red wine includes several compounds, such as the phytoestrogen resveratrol, that exert these beneficial effects, although not all the mechanisms by which they act are known. Our aim was to study the effect of red wine consumption on longevity-related genes in controlled human populations, such as cloistered nuns. We found that the expression of catalase, manganese-superoxide dismutase, Sirt1, and p53 was increased in peripheral blood mononuclear cells after 14 days of moderate red wine consumption. This increase was accompanied by an enhanced metabolic wellness: fatty acids, cholesterol, branched chain amino acids (isoleucine and leucine), ketone bodies (acetoacetate), bacterial co-metabolites (trimethylamine), and cellular antioxidants (taurine) contributed to a change in metabolic profile after moderate red wine consumption by the nuns. No serious unwanted side effects were observed. Finally, we tested the effect of moderate red wine consumption on longevity in a controlled animal population, such as D. melanogaster, and found that it increased average life span by 7%. In conclusion, moderate red wine consumption increases the expression of key longevity-related genes and improves metabolic health in humans and increases longevity in flies.

Keywords: lifespan; cardiovascular health; metabolic profile; resveratrol; phytoestrogens