Friday, September 3, 2021

Conventional wisdom (and several psychological theories) claim that political extremism is caused by insecure attachment, ultimately stemming from harsh experiences in childhood; twin data suggests this is wrong

Kleppestø, Thomas H., Nikolai O. Czajkowski, Olav Vassend, Espen Røysamb, Nikolai H. Eftedal, Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington, Eivind Ystrom, et al. 2021. “Attachment and Politics Are Two Functionally Distinct Systems, and Both Share Genetics with Interpersonal Trust and Altruism.” PsyArXiv. September 1. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: The evolved attachment system maintains proximity and care-giving behavior between parents and offspring, in a way that is argued to shape people’s mental models of how relationships work, resulting in secure, anxious or avoidant interpersonal styles. Several theorists have suggested that the attachment system is closely connected to orientations and behaviors in social and political domains, such that the latter are grounded in the same set of familial experiences as are the different attachment styles. We use a large sample of Norwegian twins (N = 1987) to assess the relationship between attachment styles and two key ideological orientations, right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) and social dominance orientation (SDO), and the role of genetic and environmental influences therein. We also consider the relationship of both sets of traits with the interpersonal orientations of trust and altruism. Results indicate no shared environmental overlap between attachment and ideology, nor even between the two attachment styles or between the two ideological traits, challenging conventional wisdom in developmental, social, and political psychology. Rather, evidence supports two functionally distinct systems, one for navigating intimate relationships and one for navigating social hierarchies, with genetic overlap between traits within each system, and two distinct genetic linkages to trust and altruism. We argue for further genetically informed research in other settings to elucidate the etiology and dynamics of these core aspects of our social and political nature.

Excessive laughter-like vocalizations, microcephaly, and translational outcomes in the Ube3a deletion rat model of Angelman Syndrome

Excessive laughter-like vocalizations, microcephaly, and translational outcomes in the Ube3a deletion rat model of Angelman Syndrome. Elizabeth L. Berg, Shekib A. Jami, Stela P. Petkova, Annuska Berz, Timothy A. Fenton, Jason P. Lerch, David J. Segal, John A. Gray, Jacob Ellegood, Markus Wöhr and Jill L. Silverman. Journal of Neuroscience September 2 2021, JN-RM-0925-21.

Abstract: Angelman Syndrome (AS) is a rare genetic neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by intellectual disabilities, motor and balance deficits, impaired communication, and a happy, excitable demeanor with frequent laughter. We sought to elucidate a preclinical outcome measure in male and female rats that addressed communication abnormalities of AS and other neurodevelopmental disorders in which communication is atypical and/or lack of speech is a core feature. We discovered, and herein report for the first time, excessive laughter-like 50-kHz ultrasonic emissions in the Ube3a mat-/pat+ rat model of AS, which suggests an excitable, playful demeanor and elevated positive affect, similar to the demeanor of individuals with AS. Also in line with the AS phenotype, Ube3a mat-/pat+ rats demonstrated aberrant social interactions with a novel partner, distinctive gait abnormalities, impaired cognition, an underlying long-term potentiation deficit, and profound reductions in brain volume. These unique, robust phenotypes provide advantages compared to currently available mouse models and will be highly valuable as outcome measures in the evaluation of therapies for AS.

Significant Statement: Angelman Syndrome (AS) is a severe neurogenetic disorder for which there is no cure, despite decades of research using mouse models. This study utilized a recently developed rat model of AS to delineate disease-relevant outcome measures in order to facilitate therapeutic development. We found the rat to be a strong model of AS, offering several advantages over mouse models by exhibiting numerous AS-relevant phenotypes including overabundant laughter-like vocalizations, reduced hippocampal long-term potentiation, and volumetric anomalies across the brain. These findings are unconfounded by detrimental motor abilities and background strain, issues plaguing mouse models. This rat model represents an important advancement in the field of AS and the outcome metrics reported herein will be central to the therapeutic pipeline.

The 21 reasons people violate the survival instinct

Why Do People Place Themselves In Harm's Way? The survival instinct is governed by cognition, abstract codes, norms and fear. Reid J. Daitzman. Psychology Today, Sep 2 2021.


The 21 reasons people violate the survival instinct.

The first reason is PRESERVATION OF THE BLOODLINE. At the Kabul airport during the American evacuation of Afghanistan, a pleading father placed a young child over his head into the arms of a U.S. soldier [...]

The second reason is to PROTECT A GROUP traditionally your nation-state fighting a soldier in the war to defend or preserve a way of life. In Japan, during World War II, this philosophy was “Bushido,” or the “art of death.” Tribalism and nationalism are more examples.

The third reason is in SELF-DEFENSE from someone attacking you for no other reason than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The law takes this circumstance into account. In these risky situations are approach and avoidance people. People are often unnecessarily risking their lives just to be macho, lowering the chances of survival. It is usually better to just flee, if possible [...]

The fourth reason is willing to die for a RIGHTEOUS CAUSE, including a social construct, an ideology, or to shed more light upon injustice [...]It is a form of ALTRUISTIC SUICIDE for (what seems like) a greater good.

The fifth reason is SUICIDE, the leading cause of death, an odd form of self-sacrifice, and sometimes selfish, since a suicide attempt is not necessarily to self-terminate, perish, but to end the pain of living. [...]

The sixth reason is choosing to be in HARM’s WAY. It involves preserving or exploring deficits in social justice, for example, sacrificing your life in a peaceful protest against a known, institutional wrong [...]

The seventh reason is HEROISM, defined as acting to preserve the life of known others, for example, the soldier jumping on a hand grenade to protect his platoon [...]

The eighth reason is arrogance, pride, or VAINGLORY, like Tony Montana (Al Pacino) in "Scarface" [...]

The ninth reason is EUTHANASIA, an end-of-life decision in a hospice or a state or country that allows for it. This reason overlaps with mercy killing.

The tenth reason is a MERCY KILLING a severely disabled child whose future would be pure hell in pain entirely physically and mentally disabled. It is a human playing God with moral and legal implications.

The eleventh reason is a medical TRIAGE decision in busy emergency rooms and on the battlefield, choosing who shall live and who shall die. [...]

The twelfth reason, DUTY, is role bound pressured through group cohesion, for example, the firefighters entering into the World Trade Center on 9/11 while all others are fleeing away  [...]

The thirteenth reason is DANGEROUS FUN. Some people are willing to potentially die to alter their consciousness. This is the “accidental overdose” (a bad outcome) when the person knows what they are doing is dangerous  [...]

The fourteenth reason is THRILL AND ADVENTURE SEEKING, for example, skydiving, weather reports inside hurricanes, sailing around the world in a small boat, to rock climbing. A rational person knows this choice lowers self-preservation. [...]

The fifteenth reason, MATERNAL INSTINCT [...]

The sixteenth reason is HONOR LINKED TO HOPELESSNESS. For example, an African slave in 1810 jumps ship and drowns rather than becoming a slave forever dehumanized.  [...]

The seventeenth reason is EXPLORATION AND PIONEERING honor linked to hopefulness.  [...]

The eighteenth reason is LIFESTYLE and is health-related. You are grossly obese and diabetic with hypertension but choose not to modify your lifestyle, causing “premature” death, an act of self-termination. Or a person decides not to take the COVID-19 vaccine based on false beliefs versus science.

The nineteenth reason is MONEY AND FAME, linked to (potentially) dangerous choices, for example, in professional sports causing the post-concussion syndrome, traumatic brain injury, early-onset dementia  [...]

The twentieth reason is insatiable curiosity as to personal limits linked to LOW SELF-ESTEEM or something to prove. For example, a person may train for the New York Marathon before a health physical detected a heart murmur [...]

The twenty-first reason is SOCIAL DEATH. This death lasts forever, given law lacks a court of public opinion and is never adjudicated. Social death is when inappropriate behavior (illegal, immoral, unethical) has been revealed, and you become a social pariah tarnishing your character and reputation. You lose your position, status, authority, and honor ostracized from the “club” and polite society.

Both Democrats and Republicans personally value core democratic characteristics but severely underestimate opposing party members’ support for those same characteristics, tendency linked to for anti-democratic practices

Pasek, Michael H., Lee-Or A. Karlinsky, Alex Levy-Vene, and Samantha Moore-Berg. 2021. “Biased and Inaccurate Meta-perceptions About Out-partisans’ Support for Democratic Principles May Erode Democratic Norms.” PsyArXiv. September 2. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Two studies (one preregistered) of Americans (N = 2,200) drawn from a nationally representative panel show that both Democrats and Republicans personally value core democratic characteristics but severely underestimate opposing party members’ support for those same characteristics. In turn, the tendency to believe that political ingroup members value democratic characteristics more than political outgroup members is associated with support for anti-democratic practices. Results suggest biased and inaccurate intergroup “meta-perceptions”—beliefs about what others believe—may contribute to democratic erosion in the United States.

Are people with social anxiety disorder happier alone? It seems not.

Are people with social anxiety disorder happier alone? Fallon R. Goodman et al. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, September 1 2021, 102474.


• People with SAD display positive affect deficits in daily life.

• People with SAD report higher positive affect when with others than when alone.

• People with SAD may experience diminished reward responding when socializing.

• People with and without SAD report similar affect across interaction partners.

• Anxiety about socializing does not preclude positive emotions while socializing.

Abstract: Quality contact with other people serves as a reliable mood enhancement strategy. We wondered if the emotional benefits of socializing are present even for those with a psychological disorder defined by social distress and avoidance: social anxiety disorder (SAD). We conducted two ecological momentary assessment (EMA) studies and analyzed 7,243 total surveys. In both studies, community adults diagnosed with SAD and healthy controls received five surveys each day for two weeks. Consistent with research on positivity deficits in SAD, between-person analyses in both studies suggest that, on average, participants with SAD reported lower positive and higher negative affect in social and non-social situations than healthy controls. Within-person analyses, however, revealed that in both studies participants with SAD and healthy controls reported higher positive affect when with others than when alone; no differences were found for negative affect. The difference in positive affect between social and nonsocial situations was smaller for participants with SAD in Study 1, suggesting that people with SAD may experience diminished reward responding when socializing. Our results suggest that even those with a mental illness defined by interpersonal distress can and do derive positive emotions from social interactions.

Keywords: social anxietyhappinesspositive affectnegative affectexperience-sampling