Sunday, July 11, 2021

"Including Social Security and retirement wealth in the wealth concept results in significantly lower top shares and less growth in the concentration of wealth."

Wealth Concentration in the United States Using an Expanded Measure of Net Worth. Lindsay Jacobs, Elizabeth Llanes, Kevin Moore, Jeffrey P. Thompson, and Alice Henriques Volz. Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Research Department Working Paper 21–6. Jul 2021.

Abstract: Defined benefit (DB) pensions and Social Security are two important resources for financing retirement that are often excluded from data, resulting in incomplete measures of wealth and representations of household wealth concentration. In this paper, the authors estimate an expanded measure of wealth that includes DB pensions and future Social Security benefits and show how that inclusion affects estimates of wealth inequality in the United States as well as trends over time. They further illustrate the impact Social Security has on these measures by simulating distributions under a scenario in which expected future Social Security Trust Fund shortfalls are addressed through a reduction in benefit payouts.

Key Findings

Even for the median household in the wealth distribution, the present value of defined benefit (DB) pensions and Social Security benefits accounts for more than half of all wealth.

Including DB pensions and Social Security benefits in measures of wealth results in markedly lower wealth concentration and moderates trends toward higher wealth inequality over time.

More specifically, the “90/50 ratio”—the ratio of wealth held by those at the 90th percentile of wealth to those at the 50th percentile—is reduced by nearly half for the 50–59 age group (from 13.4 to 6.8 in 2019) and for the 40–49 age group (10.7 to 6.4) when the estimated value of Social Security benefits are included in measures of wealth.

The “50/10 ratio” falls from 13.1 to 4.3 among those aged 40 to 49 and from 21.3 to 4.2 for the 50–59 age group when Social Security benefits are included.

The share of wealth held by the top 5 percent of the distribution drops from about 72 percent to 51 percent when the value of defined contribution (DC) plans and DB pensions are included in measures of wealth; it falls even further, to 45 percent, when Social Security benefits for those aged 40 to 59 are included.

Simulations of a policy scenario that reduces Social Security benefits to 75 percent of current benefit levels increases, by various measures, the share of wealth held at the upper end of the distribution

Matrimonial ads published in France, 1928-1994: Economic criteria were progressively replaced by personality criteria; in the search for a long-term partner, non-material needs are more palatable than material ones?

From Material to Non-Material Needs? The Evolution of Mate Preferences through the Twentieth Century in France. The Journal of Economic History, July 7 2021.

Abstract: This paper studies the evolution of mate preferences throughout the twentieth century in France. I digitized all the matrimonial ads published in France’s best-selling monthly magazine from 1928 to 1994. Using dictionary-based methods, I show that mate preferences were mostly stable during the Great Depression, WWII, and the ensuing economic boom. These preferences started transforming in the late 1960s when economic criteria were progressively replaced by personality criteria. The timing coincides with profound family and demographic changes in French society. These findings suggest that, in the search for a long-term partner, non-material needs have replaced material ones.

Sex differences in anger states after violent video game play & the relationship of empathy and emotional invalidation as pre-aggressive predictors in young adults: Only females showed increased levels of state anger

Sex differences in anger states after violent video game play and the relationship of empathy and emotional invalidation as pre-aggressive predictors in young adults. Jessica O. Morrison, Meredith Elzy, Laura Jelsone-Swain. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 182, November 2021, 111060.

Abstract: Previous research indicates that anger and aggressive behavior may increase with exposure to violence, particularly from playing violent video games. However, this literature is mixed with few studies examining individual differences that account for these inconsistencies. Therefore, we conducted a within-subjects experiment examining state anger in young adults after violent and nonviolent video game play. Importantly, we examined how individual differences involving levels of empathy, childhood emotional invalidation, anger traits, and sex may relate to state anger outcomes. Our results suggest that sex differences play a role in anger states after violent video game play. Specifically, only females showed increased levels of state anger. Lower empathy was a strong predictor of increased anger expression, and emotionally invalidating childhood environments was related to higher levels of trait anger. Implications from these results may include a possible buffering role that empathy and childhood emotional validation have in anger outcomes, while emphasizing the importance of examining individual differences and their outcomes resulting from playing violent video games.

Keywords: Violent video gamesAngerEmpathyEmotional InvalidationSex differences

The sympathetic plot, featuring a goal-directed protagonist who confronts obstacles, overcomes them, and wins rewards, builds interest by confronting a protagonist with a problem and induces satisfaction when the problem is solved

The Sympathetic Plot, Its Psychological Origins, and Implications for the Evolution of Fiction. Manvir Singh. Emotion Review, July 8, 2021.

Abstract: The sympathetic plot—featuring a goal-directed protagonist who confronts obstacles, overcomes them, and wins rewards—is ubiquitous. Here, I propose that it recurs because it entertains, engaging two sets of psychological mechanisms. First, it triggers mechanisms for learning about obstacles and how to overcome them. It builds interest by confronting a protagonist with a problem and induces satisfaction when the problem is solved. Second, it evokes sympathetic joy. It establishes the protagonist as an ideal cooperative partner pursuing a goal, appealing to mechanisms for helping. When the protagonist succeeds, they receive rewards, and audiences feel sympathetic joy, an emotion normally triggered when beneficiaries triumph. The capacities underlying the sympathetic plot evolved for learning and cooperation before being co-opted for entertainment.

Keywords: empathy, evolution, fiction, pleasure, sympathy, universals

The 2D:4D magnitude and its sexual dimorphism remained stable throughout the ontogeny; both sex and population origin were permanent reliable predictors of 2D:4D, whereas average digit length was not

Sex, population origin, age and average digit length as predictors of digit ratio in three large world populations. Marina Butovskaya, Valentina Burkova, Yulia Apalkova, Daria Dronova, Victoria Rostovtseva, Dmitriy Karelin, Ruzan Mkrtchyan, Marina Negasheva & Valery Batsevich. Scientific Reports volume 11, Article number: 8157. Apr 14 2021.

Abstract: Recently, a number of authors have claimed that sexual dimorphism in the second-to-fourth digit ratio (2D:4D) is simply dependent on digit length and is an artifact of allometry. The goal of our study is to verify the validity of these assumptions. The study sample comprised 7,582 individuals (3,802 men and 3,780 women) from three large world populations: Europeans (n = 3043), East Africans (n = 2844), and Central Asians (n = 1695). The lengths of the second and fourth digits on both hands were measured. Digit ratios were computed according to standard procedures. Analyses were conducted separately for each hand for the whole sample and in succession for the three large populations. Additionally, we separately tested four age cohorts (≤ 13, 14–18, 19–30, and 31 ≥ years) to test the effect of developmental allometry. The second and fourth digits showed strong positive linear relationships on both hands, and demonstrated an increase with age; digit length in women from the youngest age cohort was longer or equal to that of men, and shorter than men in older age cohorts. However, the 2D:4D magnitude and its sexual dimorphism remained stable throughout the ontogeny. To test for an allometric effect on 2D:4D, the average digit lengths were calculated. Both sex and population origin were permanent reliable predictors of 2D:4D, whereas average digit length was not. Height was applied as another measure of allometric effect on the limited sample (≤ 30 years) from the European population, along with sex and age. No allometric effect was observed in this case. We conclude that sex differences in 2D:4D are not an artifact of allometry.


The main conclusion of our study is that 2D:4D ratios on the right and left hands were sexually dimorphic for the whole sample, as well as separately for all three tested populations. This was not the case with the second and fourth digits and their averages. The effect sizes, Cohen’s d of sex differences for the 2D:4Ds, as well as for the second and fourth digits, and averages for both digits ranged from small to medium. We demonstrate that for the whole sample, as well as for separate populations, every 0.9 cm increase in the second digit was related to a 1.0 cm increase in fourth digit. The digit lengths (second and fourth) increased substantially from childhood to adulthood, and there was a strong positive correlation between second and fourth digits across individuals. These findings are in accordance with those of earlier studies43. Sexual dimorphism in digit lengths, evident in human adults, was not observed in prepubertal children, which is again in line with previously reported data48.

The developmental allometry effects were tested in four age cohorts, with special emphasis on younger subsamples. This was conducted in accordance with the knowledge about the intensive growth of fingers in this period, as well as existing data on changes in growth patterns from childhood to young adulthood. The fourth age cohort (older adults) was substantially underrepresented and contained an insufficient number of individuals of European and Asian origin. Hence, we refrained from drawing specific conclusions for this age cohort.

For the whole sample, Cohen’s d for the 2D:4D ratios and digit lengths were of comparable sizes. In the case of separate prepubertal, pubertal, and young adult age cohorts, the situation was radically different. The data on sex differences in digit lengths in prepubertal and pubertal cohorts were in accordance with general expectations that females reach puberty considerably earlier than males68,69,70. On average, these results resulted in one to two-year differences71. Females in the prepubertal age cohort had significantly longer second digits and significantly higher 2D:4D ratios on both hands than males, whereas no sex differences for the fourth digits on both hands were found. For the prepubertal sample, the effect sizes for 2D:4D (right and left hand) were approximately 0.5 standard deviations, while for separate and average digits, the effect sizes were four times lower at the minimum.

Obvious population differences need to be considered. For prepubertal children in the African population, both the second and fourth digits were significantly longer in females, whereas for Europeans of the same age cohort, this was true only for the second digit; for Asians, no sex differences in digit length were present for prepubertal children. For the second age cohort, both fingers became significantly longer in males for Europeans and Asians, but were of equal lengths in males and females from the African sample. These differences suggest that respondents from African samples matured slower, and developmental processes in this population had different trajectories than their European and Asian peers. In young and older adults, both the second and fourth digits on both hands were significantly longer for males in all three populations. The 2D:4D ratio magnitude of sex differences essentially remained stable throughout ontogeny (in all four age cohorts) and of medium effect size. According to the logic of Lolli et al.41,42, the 2D:4D values would have to decrease with an increase in digit length, particularly in prepubertal and pubertal samples. In reality, the 2D:4Ds were remarkably stable with age, despite the increase of second and fourth digit length during ontogeny and the reversions in finger lengths in males and females that occurred during puberty.

Our results based on cross-sectional data are in line with other cross-sectional data, as well as with longitudinal studies30. Our data simultaneously revealed some population-specific variations in ontogenetic trajectories. In particular, in the African sample, female digits remained longer than male digits until 15–16 years of age (mid-adolescence), while in European and Asian samples, finger lengths were inversed before the age of 14 and remained longer in males than in females in all older ages. The differences obtained for Africans may be caused by specific life history trajectories with slower maturation, resulting from a mixture of environmental and social stressors, including malnutrition, a high risk of infections, and limited access to modern medical assistance in rural African populations72,73,74,75,76.

The GLM ANCOVA tests conducted in our study demonstrated the significant effects of sex and population origin (medium size), and a small effect size for age as predictors of 2D:4D. However, the average finger length was not a significant predictor for the right 2D:4D in accordance with recently reported data for adult Hadza males by other authors77. The effect of height as another potential marker of allometry on 2D:4D has not been detected in a limited sample of respondents until the age of 30; however, the data on height were tested for Europeans only. We do not know if the same peculiarities will be present in other large world populations as well as in older age cohorts. More data in this respect will be needed in the future to confirm these results.

Many previous studies have demonstrated that population/ethnic origin may be an important predictor for the 2D:4D ratio36,37,78,79,80,81,82, and our data support these conclusions. Along with numerous environmental factors, the heritability factor needs to be considered in this respect83,84,85. In particular, twin studies provide an estimate of approximately 60%76. Another support in favour of the inheritance of digit ratios has recently been presented by Chuvashian studies85,86. The clear familial aggregation of 2D:4D ratio variation in the Chuvashians, with significant parent–offspring and sibling correlations, was unrelated to common environmental effects. Hence, along with the various environmental and socio-cultural factors, certain genetic effects also need to be considered and tested with more care in the future.

In this study, we refrained from analysing the right-left difference in 2D:4D (D[R-L]). This was done deliberately, not only to limit the amount of information for analysis, but also for the following reasons: 1. the lack of studies on the validity of this marker; 2. using asymmetry in digits two and/or four may cause biases in the associations between asymmetry and digit ratios87; and 3. currently expressed concerns regarding the utility of D[R-L] as an indicator of prenatal androgen exposure22.

In summary, our data suggest that there is no reason to reject the sexual dimorphism of 2D:4D associated with both prenatal and postnatal factors. Hence, we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The sex differences in second and fourth digit lengths were not stable within ontogeny, and even reversed in adulthood, whereas 2D:4D ratios remained unchanged since six years of age. The ontogenetic transformations in finger lengths in boys and girls do not make the sex effect on 2D:4D less statistically significant. The effect size of sex was higher than the average digit length in all cases, and height (in the case of Europeans, less than 30 years of age). The theory according to which the sex difference in 2D:4D has been driven by the sex difference in digit length may have arisen from a misunderstanding and incorrect assumption ignoring the human growth pattern trajectory. The stability of 2D:4D may be an example of homeostasis of form, and our data completely support J. Manning and B. Fink’s idea30. Another important conclusion is that the degree to which androgenisation (2D:4D being a potential proxy) affects particular behaviour or morpho-physiological conditions may be population- and situation-specific and culturally mediated. Our data, along with currently accumulated information from different world populations, call for treating the allometric effect on 2D:4D with caution. It is worth stressing the importance of differentiation between the static and developmental allometry effects, and the necessity of considering as many factors as possible (genetics, particularly population origin, environmental and social factors affecting maturation, urbanisation effects, etc.) while searching for explanations of 2D:4D sex differences30,88. Populations currently undergoing rapid transformations due to global and local changes must be treated with special care. Representatives of different age cohorts may differ in their maturation patterns, particularly the timing and duration of growth morphological changes. Due to the small to medium effect sizes that are usually obtained, studies using 2D:4D may need to consider very large sample sizes in order to be of practical use89. However, 2D:4D remains a useful measure of sexual dimorphism for anthropologists. Along with a set of other sexually dimorphic traits, it may be used in projects dealing with ecological and socio-cultural transformations in growth and development in contemporary representatives from large- and small-scale societies.

Adolescent boys are less attentive in classroom settings than girls, but boys’ visuospatial abilities compensate for their relatively poor in-class attentive behavior in learning mathematics

Boys’ visuospatial abilities compensate for their relatively poor in-class attentive behavior in learning mathematics. David C. Geary, Mary K. Hoard, Lara Nugent. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Volume 211, November 2021, 105222.


• In-class attentive behavior is an important predictor of mathematics achievement.

• Adolescent boys are less attentive in classroom settings than girls (d = −.34).

• Controlling for attentive behavior, boys have advantages in mathematics achievement.

• The sex difference in mathematics achievement is fully mediated by spatial abilities.

Abstract: The mathematics and reading achievement of 322 adolescents (159 boys) was assessed in seventh and eighth grades, as were their intelligence, working memory, and spatial abilities. Their seventh- and eighth-grade mathematics and English language arts teachers reported on their in-class attentive behavior. The latter emerged as an important predictor of achievement, but more so for mathematics than for reading. Boy were less attentive in classroom settings than girls (d = −.34) and performed better than expected in mathematics given their level of engagement in the classroom. Boys’ better-than-expected mathematics achievement was related to advantages on visuospatial measures (ds = .28–.56), which fully mediated a sex difference in mathematics (ds = .27–.28) but not in reading achievement, with control of in-class attentive behavior. The results suggest that boys’ advantages in visuospatial skills compensate for lower levels of classroom engagement in the learning of mathematics but not in reading competencies.

David Schmitt's take: "if boys paid more attention..."controlling for in-class attentive behavior resulted in advantage for boys in math achievement (ds = .27 & .28 in seventh & eighth grades, resp) effects on reading"; sex diffs fully mediated by mental rotation abilities

Keywords: Mathematics achievementIn-class attentionSex differencesSpatial abilitiesAttention deficit disorderHyperactivity

Binocular rivalry (a phenomenon of visual perception in which perception alternates between different images presented to each eye): Attractive faces dominated longer time & were more often seen as the first percept

Shang J., Yang H. (2021) The Impact of Facial Attractiveness and Affective Person Knowledge on Visual Awareness. In: Kurosu M. (eds) Human-Computer Interaction. Theory, Methods and Tools. HCII 2021. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 12762. Springer, Cham. July 3 2021.

Abstract: Previous research reported face perception in binocular rivalry was influenced by facial attractiveness. Some studies reported that affective person knowledge may also impact face awareness in binocular rivalry. However, it is unclear whether the effect of facial attractiveness on visual awareness would be modulated by affective person knowledge. The present study investigated the impact of facial attractiveness and affective person knowledge on visual awareness in binocular rivalry. Using affective learning paradigm, faces were presented with positive or negative behavior. Participants learned face-behavior pairs. Then, in binocular rivalry task, participants viewed faces and houses simultaneously and report their percept continuously. The results showed that attractive faces dominated longer time and were more often seen as the first percept than unattractive faces. Moreover, faces which were paired with negative behaviors were more often seen as the first percept and were suppressed for shorter time than faces paired with positive behaviors. These findings suggested the processing advantage of attractive faces in initial perceptual selection and later consciousness. Furthermore, faces associated with negative information reached awareness more quickly and had an advantage in initial dominance.

Keywords: Facial attractiveness Affective learning Binocular rivalry Awareness