Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Men in same-sex relationships reported less frequent public displays of affection & greater display-related vigilance than women, while women reported greater overall variability in their gender expression

The feminine target: Gender expression in same-sex relationships as a predictor of experiences with public displays of affection. Lauren Matheson et al. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, June 08, 2021. https://doi.org/10.3138/cjhs.2021-0024

Abstract: The extent to which sexual minority individuals present publicly as masculine, feminine, or both has been associated with their perceptions of threat and safety in public spaces. The current study investigates the role of gender expression in men and women’s experiences of public displays of affection (PDAs) in same-sex relationships. Participants (N = 528) reported their own gender expression as well as that of their partner, perceptions of support for PDAs, PDA-related vigilance, general vigilance and overall PDA frequency. Men in same-sex relationships reported less frequent PDAs and greater PDA-related vigilance than women, while women reported greater overall variability in their gender expression than men. Multiple regression analyses show femininity within the participant (for men) or their partner (for both men and women) was associated with greater general and PDA-related vigilance. These findings align with previous research on femmephobia, in which femininity is described as making individuals feel ‘targeted’ for other forms of oppression (e.g., homophobia, sexism, transphobia; Hoskin, 2019). Although femininity was associated with greater vigilance, the association between masculinity within a same-sex relationship and vigilance was more tenuous, demonstrating evidence of masculinity serving as both a potential target for homophobic violence as well as a source of protection. The dual nature of masculinity was particularly salient among women in same-sex relationships, where masculinity tempered by femininity was associated with greater perceived support for PDAs but for women with partners low in femininity, the more masculine their partner, the greater their reported levels of vigilance.

Keywords: Affection, displays of affection, femininity, masculinity, public displays of affection, same-sex relationships, sexual minority

Induced appearance comparisons predicted increased envy, which in turn predicted greater willingness to spread negative (but not positive) gossip about an attractive woman

Envy Mediates the Relationship Between Physical Appearance Comparison and Women’s Intrasexual Gossip. Rachael Morgan, Ashley Locke & Steven Arnocky. Evolutionary Psychological Science, Sep 27 2021. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40806-021-00298-6

Abstract: Physical attractiveness is a central component of women’s mate value. However, the extent to which women possess attractive physical traits varies between individuals, placing less attractive women at a mating disadvantage. Researchers have suggested that envy may have evolved as an emotion that promotes intrasexual competition in response to unfavorable social comparisons on important mate value traits, such as physical attractiveness. Previous research has shown that envy mediates links between unfavorable appearance comparisons and women’s intended appearance-enhancement behavior. In the current research, we extended this framework to examine the link between upward appearance comparisons and women’s intrasexual gossip. Women were assigned to either an appearance comparison or control advertisement rating task, and subsequently completed measures of state envy and gossip toward a same-sex rival. Results found that induced appearance comparisons predicted increased envy, which in turn predicted greater willingness to spread negative (but not positive) gossip about an attractive woman. Two cross-sectional survey studies (online supplement) replicated the model whereby more self-reported upward appearance comparisons predicted more self-reported gossip (Supplemental Study 1) and indirect aggression toward other women (Supplemental Study 2), and these links were mediated by dispositional envy. These results support the hypothesis that envy is an adaptation that promotes intrasexual competition using social aggression in response to unfavorable social comparisons on important mate value traits.

Why do people eat the same breakfast every day? Goals and circadian rhythms of variety seeking in meals

Why do people eat the same breakfast every day? Goals and circadian rhythms of variety seeking in meals. Romain Cadario, Carey K. Morewedge. Appetite, September 28 2021, 105716. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2021.105716

Abstract: People exhibit a circadian rhythm in the variety of foods they eat. Many people happily eat the same foods for breakfast day after day, yet seek more variety in the foods they eat for lunch and dinner. We identify psychological goals as a driver of this diurnal pattern of variety seeking, complementing other biological and cultural drivers. People are more likely to pursue hedonic goals for meals as the day progresses, which leads them to seek more variety for dinners and lunches than breakfasts. We find evidentiary support for our theory in studies with French and American participants (N = 4481) using diary data, event reconstruction methods, and experiments. Both endogenously and exogenously induced variation in hedonic goal activation modulates variety seeking in meals across days. Hedonic goal activation predicts variety seeking for meals when controlling for factors including time devoted to meal preparation and eating, the presence or absence of other people, and whether people ate a meal inside or outside their home. Goal activation also explain differences in time spent on meals, whereas increasing time spent on meals does not increase variety seeking. Finally, we observed that a similar increase in hedonic goal activation enacts a larger increase in variety seeking at breakfast than at lunch than at dinner, suggesting a diminishing marginal effect of hedonic goal activation on variety seeking.

Keywords: BreakfastVariety seekingHedonic goalEatingCircadian rhythm

The Best Years of Older Europeans’ Lives: The likelihood of living the happiest period in life exhibits a concave relationship with age, with a turning point at about 30–34 years and a decreasing trend from that point onward

The Best Years of Older Europeans’ Lives. Begoña Álvarez. Social Indicators Research, Sep 25 2021. https://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11205-021-02804-6

Abstract: This paper offers new evidence on the life-cycle pattern of happiness. A novelty of the analysis is that it exploits information on the period individuals recall as the happiest in their lives. Data come from SHARELIFE 2008/09, a retrospective life survey conducted in 13 European countries among individuals aged 50 or more. Using this information, I build a longitudinal data set that extends across the whole lifespan of respondents. The probability of living a happiest year in life at each age is estimated through a conditional fixed effects logit model. Results show that the likelihood of living the happiest period in life exhibits a concave relationship with age, with a turning point at about 30–34 years and a decreasing trend from that point onward. Retrospectively, midlife is not perceived as the least likely happiest period in life. These patterns persist even after controlling for usual correlates of subjective well-being, and they are rather stable across cohorts and genders despite presenting certain variability across European countries.


There is no perfect measure of subjective well-being. Each measure embodies distinct information and comes with its own drawbacks (Frijters et al., 2020; Stone & Krueger, 2018). It is therefore necessary to explore alternative indicators to fully understand the processes that drive individuals’ welfare.

This paper has explored the informational content of older Europeans’ memories on their happiest period in life to address—using a new approach—an old question: How does happiness evolve with age? The analysis exploits retrospective information elicited from a sample of Europeans aged 50 or older. After reshaping the data into a life panel that spans from respondents’ childhood to the moment of the interview, I find that the probability of achieving the happiest period in life evolves systematically with age. The probability increases sharply from childhood to the ages of 30–34, when it reaches the maximum. At this point it is important to remark that individuals’ happiest periods are long on average: for half of respondents this period lasts two decades or longer. Therefore, a more precise reading of the previous finding is that the early 30s is the stage of life with the highest chances of belonging to the happiest period in life, though the probability also remains relatively high at adjacent ages and declines as individuals grow older. The best years in life are strongly explained, on average, by changing personal and family circumstances that are defined throughout young adulthood. Controlling for these and other contextual experiences reduces the age differentials sizably but preserves the pattern.

Retrospectively, individuals recall the decade between the mid-40s and mid-50s (usually identified as the nadir of happiness) as neither the most nor the least likely happiest ages in life. This finding does not contradict the existence a “midlife crisis” because, in fact, the probability of living the happiest period in life decreases at those ages. Yet the age gradient changes across cohorts. In particular, respondents from the younger cohort perceive lower declines in the probability of achieving their happiest period at midlife—with respect to ages at which this probability peaks—than do respondents from older cohorts who judge that life stage from later ages. In other words, individuals who grew up or were already adults through war and postwar periods display higher variability in the probability of living the happiest period in life than do individuals who grew up during more prosperous decades.

After midlife, the average probability of living a happiest period in life does not experience any significant recovery. More specifically, the estimates show cross-country heterogeneity in the happiness trajectories between midlife and the oldest ages recalled by older individuals. A complementary exploration reveals that, in countries with stronger welfare states, individuals’ probability of living the happiest period declines more slowly with age than it does in countries with weaker welfare states.

Overall, the results presented in this paper—and, in particular, the comparison with studies based on individuals’ reports of current levels of happiness or life satisfaction—support the idea that individuals’ judgements of their own SWB depend on the reference they use for comparisons and may experience some systematic revision over time. An advantage of life retrospective accounts on the happiest period in life is that individuals use the same reference across all periods, which facilitates the identification of within-individual changes in happiness. However, reports on the past may be distorted by recall and cognitive biases, especially when the time lapse is large. In addition, it is difficult to disentangle whether individuals’ recall of the happiest period in life reflects an accurate emotional recall of what they lived or, as Easterlin (2002) states, it rather indicates the happiness status that, according to present preferences, individuals should have had, given the restrictions and circumstances they faced in the past. If Easterlin’s statement is true, then previous findings would inform us about how respondents perceive ageing. From this perspective, we should infer that older people elaborate their life trajectory of happiness as an inverted-U curve that decreases from 30 to 34 onward. Even though individuals in their late 60s and 70s may not consider themselves unhappy at present (as the U-curve of happiness implies), in retrospect, they judge this stage of life as having a low probability of being the happiest in life.

Is this information interesting from a policy point of view? The ageing process in Europe has increased the relevance of older people in policy-makers agenda. Exploring how they remember the past and how they associate subjective well-being to different circumstances may help to understand their present decisions and policy preferences (Pudney, 2011). Older people tend to support policies related to their own position in the life cycle—higher spending on pensions and health care—over policies that would benefit younger generations, like education or protecting the environment (De Mello et al. 2017). The findings shown in this paper suggest that these welfare state preferences cohere with the life cycle pattern of happiness presented above and, in particular, with the perceived shrinking of well-being at older ages.

Despite the large body of literature on the life-cycle pattern of SWB, new avenues remain open to contribute to this issue through alternative approaches, data and measures. This paper has illustrated the potential of retrospective surveys such as SHARELIFE for exploring the events and circumstances that have shaped the well-being of the oldest European generations.

It is known that heat & cold can influence a person’s productivity and performance in simple tasks; with respect to social cognition, it has also been suggested that temperature impacts on relatively high-level forms of decision-making

The Role of Temperature in Moral Decision-Making: Limited Reproducibility. Ryunosuke Sudo et al. Front. Psychol., September 28 2021. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.681527

Abstract: Temperature is one of the major environmental factors that people are exposed to on a daily basis, often in conditions that do not afford control. It is known that heat and cold can influence a person’s productivity and performance in simple tasks. With respect to social cognition, it has also been suggested that temperature impacts on relatively high-level forms of decision-making. For instance, previous research demonstrated that cold temperature promotes utilitarian judgment in a moral dilemma task. This effect could be due to psychological processing, when a cool temperature primes a set of internal representations (associated with “coldness”). Alternatively, the promotion of utilitarian judgment in cold conditions could be due to physiological interference from temperature, impeding on social cognition. Refuting both explanations of psychological or physiological processing, however, it has been suggested that there may be problems of reproducibility in the literature on temperature modulating complex or abstract information processing. To examine the role of temperature in moral decision-making, we conducted a series of experiments using ambient and haptic temperature with careful manipulation checks and modified task methodology. Experiment 1 manipulated room temperature with cool (21°C), control (24°C) and hot (27°C) conditions and found only a cool temperature effect, promoting utilitarian judgment as in the previous study. Experiment 2 manipulated the intensity of haptic temperature but failed to obtain the cool temperature effect. Experiments 3 and 4 examined the generalizability of the cool ambient temperature effect with another moral judgment task and with manipulation of exposure duration. However, again there were no cool temperature effects, suggesting a lack of reproducibility. Despite successful manipulations of temperature in all four experiments, as measured in body temperature and the participants’ self-reported perception, we found no systematic influence of temperature on moral decision-making. A Bayesian meta-analysis of the four experiments showed that the overall data tended to provide strong support in favor of the null hypothesis. We propose that, at least in the range of temperatures from 21 to 27°C, the cool temperature effect in moral decision-making is not a robust phenomenon.

General Discussion

The present study examined in detail the effect of ambient and haptic temperature on social judgment, focusing on the effect of cold temperature in a moral dilemma task, following on from earlier work by Nakamura et al. (2014). In one of the four experiments here, we found a cool temperature that promoted utilitarian judgment, similar to the previous study. The remaining experiments, however, produced weak effects in the opposite direction or no effect of temperature on moral judgment. This occurred despite the fact that our temperature manipulations elicited reliable differences in perceptions of coldness, feelings of comfort, and physiological measurements of skin temperature.

A meta-analysis of the normalized data from all experiments, using Bayesian testing, provided firm evidence in favor of the null hypothesis. Taken together, our findings trace the limited reproducibility of effects from temperature on moral judgment and thus serve to caution against overinterpretation when psychologizing about the embodied “cold-heartedness” or “cool-headedness.”

One important caveat here is that we worked within a safe range of temperatures, between 21°C and 27°C, in line with the ethical guidelines at the universities where the experiments were carried out. In this setting, we followed temperature studies of social judgments that set cold temperature in the range of approximately between 20°C and 22°C (e.g., Gockel et al., 2014Wang, 2017). However, the 21°C here reflects a cool temperature within the range used in this study, and could be interpreted as a relatively warm temperature in terms of general temperature. While this range allowed us to effectively elicit both psychological and physiological responses to the temperature conditions, it might not be strong enough to turn temperature into a salient stressor or trigger that could induce an effect on moral judgment. Thus, our findings suggest that the onset of psychological and physiological signatures of temperature does not co-occur with influences on moral judgment. Awareness of cold does not lead to a change in moral judgment. However, it is still possible that influences in the moral dilemma task arise outside the range of 21°C and 27°C, when temperature works as a more salient stressor. Especially, temperatures of less than 21°C should be examined to inspect the relationship between more salient cold temperature and moral judgment.

Hancock et al. (2007) suggested an inverse U-shaped relationship between the effect size and temperature intensity. The effects would be relatively weak in the comfort zone and rapidly become stronger outside this zone. Yeganeh et al. (2018) indicated that the direction of the effect becomes more stable and stronger as the temperature difference increases. From this perspective, the question remains open how an extreme cold temperature would affect performance in the moral dilemma task.

As a limitation of the present experimental procedures, we note that we conducted the manipulation checks several times in each experiment. Moreover, the participants were informed during the initial briefing toward obtaining informed consent that the study related to temperature. One interpretation of the present lack of effects from temperature, then, could be that our participants were on their guard and therefore less susceptible to any effects from temperature on moral judgment. Future studies should consider using deception, as employed by Nakamura et al. (2014), in order to examine how the awareness of temperature may modulate any effect on moral judgment.

The process of moral judgment in moral dilemma situations is explained from dual-process theory (Greene, 2007Greene, 2009). In this theory, the decision in dilemma could be predicted according to whether automatic emotion or cognitive control predominates. Studies of moral dilemma revealed that manipulations that induce negative emotions like stress lead to the dominance of automatic emotion processing, and this would lead to suppressing utilitarian judgment (Starcke et al., 2012Youssef et al., 2012). In our study, the cool conditions consistently elicited unpleasant emotions. Nevertheless, to the extent one might discern an effect of cool temperature in certain conditions (our Experiment 1 and the work by Nakamura et al., 2014), the tendency would be for cold to promote utilitarian judgment.

On the other hand, it should be noted that the moral dilemma task involves just one type of moral judgment and arguably a rather unusual case of decision-making in which participants are faced with a choice of life or death for multiple people. In particular, the option to save more people by sacrificing one victim in the moral dilemma task is called utilitarian judgment; however, this does not accurately reflect utilitarian thought in the strict sense. Specifically, it was pointed out that the “the greater good” aspect of the genuine idea of utilitarianism may not be reflected in the tendency to answer utilitarian judgments in the moral dilemma task (Kahane et al., 2015Crone and Laham, 2017). Two separable dimensions have been identified regarding utilitarian thought in moral psychology (Kahane et al., 2018). One dimension reflects the essence of utilitarianism with impartial concern for “the greater good,” and the other dimension involves permissiveness toward instrumental harm. Strictly speaking, the moral judgments measured in this study may not have reflected a utilitarian tendency, but the acceptability of actively sacrificing victims to save others.

Data from 9,319 adult Finnish twins and siblings of twins: Abstention from meat (i.e., vegetarianism/veganism) was 75% heritable

Çınar, Çağla, Laura Wesseldijk, Annika Karinen, Patrick Jern, and Joshua M. Tybur. 2021. “Sex Differences in the Genetic and Environmental Underpinnings of Meat and Plant Preferences.” PsyArXiv. September 27. doi:10.31234/osf.io/7mxar

Abstract: People vary in the degree to which they enjoy eating meats versus plants. This paper examines the genetic and environmental roots of this variation, as well as the genetic and environmental roots of meat neophobia, plant neophobia, and vegetarianism/veganism. Using data from 9,319 adult Finnish twins and siblings of twins (551 MZ, 861 DZ complete; 783 MZ, 2,692 DZ incomplete twin pairs), we examine the degree to which recalled childhood exposure to meats and plants relates to adult preferences for the same meats and plants. We also investigate sex differences in the heritability of 1) meat and plant preferences, 2) childhood meat and plant consumption, 3) meat and plant neophobia, and the heritability of 4) vegetarianism/veganism. For both men and women, recalled childhood meat consumption correlated more strongly with current meat preferences than current plant preferences, and recalled childhood plant consumption correlated more strongly with current plant preferences than current meat preferences. We detected sex differences in the heritability of childhood meat consumption (h2men= .31, h2women= .11) and current meat preferences (h2 men = .26, h2women =.51), but not childhood plant consumption (h2men= .41, h2women =.17), current plant preferences (h2men = .45, h2women =.53), meat neophobia (h2men = .48, h2women = .55) or plant neophobia (h2men = .56, h2women = .54). Further, different genes undergirded men’s and women’s meat preferences. Abstention from meat (i.e., vegetarianism/veganism) was 75% heritable. These results have implications for hypotheses of the developmental origins of dietary patterns and hypotheses for sex differences in meat consumption.