Saturday, October 16, 2021

374 districts in the UK: Geographic regions with higher aggregate scores on given personality trait collectively spend more money on categories associated with trait (extravert-drinking, agreeable-charity, conscientious-savings; open-transport)

Ebert, T., Götz, F. M., Gladstone, J. J., Müller, S. R., & Matz, S. C. (2021). Spending reflects not only who we are but also who we are around: The joint effects of individual and geographic personality on consumption. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 121(2), 378–393. Oct 2021.

Abstract: Interactionist theories are considered to have resolved the classic person-situation debate by demonstrating that human behavior is most accurately described as a function of both personal characteristics as well as environmental cues. According to these theories, personality traits form part of the personal characteristics that drive behavior. We suggest that psychological theory stands to gain from also considering personality traits as an important environmental characteristic that shapes sociocultural norms and institutions, and, in turn, behavior. Building on research in geographical psychology, we support this proposition by presenting evidence on the relationship of individual and regional personality with spending behavior. Analyzing the spending records of 111,336 participants (31,915,942 unique transactions) across 374 Local Authority Districts (LAD) in the United Kingdom, we first show that geographic regions with higher aggregate scores on a given personality trait collectively spend more money on categories associated with that trait. Shifting the focus to individual level spending as our behavioral outcome (N = 1,716), we further demonstrate that regional personality of a participant’s home LAD predicts individual spending above and beyond individual personality. That is, a person’s spending reflects both their own personality traits as well as the personality traits of the people around them. We use conditional random forest predictions to highlight the robustness of these findings in the presence of a comprehensive set of individual and regional control variables. Taken together, our findings empirically support the proposition that spending behaviors reflect personality traits as both personal and environmental characteristics. 

The parent–daughter relationship, laden with the Confucian value of filial piety, is the major pathway of minority stigma to force Chinese women with same-sex attraction into heterosexual marriage & make female SSA culturally unintelligible

Cultural Unintelligibility and Marital Pressure: A Grounded Theory of Minority Stigma Against Women with Same-Sex Attraction in Mainland China. Tao H. Wei, Lori L. Jervis, Yun Jiang, Kerstin M. Reinschmidt, Lancer D. Stephens, Ying Zhang & Thomas A. Teasdale. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Oct 12 2021.

Abstract: Minority stigma against sexual minority women and its contributions to these women’s health disparities have been widely investigated in Western countries. By contrast, little has been known about minority stigma against women with same-sex attraction (WSSA) in mainland China. This study aimed at exploring the nature, genesis, and pathways of minority stigma among this rarely studied minority group in terms of China’s unique social and cultural organization of gender and sexuality. A grounded theory approach was applied to 28 participants of Chinese WSSA through in-depth telephone interviews to elicit their views and perspectives anchored in their daily experiences with gender hierarchy and normative heterosexuality. Findings of this study identified marital pressure and cultural unintelligibility as two principal components of minority stigma against Chinese WSSA. A conceptual framework was developed to illustrate how minority stigma relies on the mutually reinforcing loop of martial pressure and culturally unintelligible status of female same-sex attraction to oppress Chinese WSSA within and across intrapersonal, interpersonal, and structural levels. The parent–daughter relationship, laden with the Confucian value of filial piety, was highlighted as the major pathway of minority stigma to force Chinese women with same-sex attraction into heterosexual marriage and make female same-sex attraction culturally unintelligible. These findings lay a foundation for conceptualizing and measuring minority stigma of Chinese WSSA caused by the stigmatization of their same-sex attraction. Moreover, these findings would contribute greatly to understanding how cultural particularities critically affect the local process of stigmatization through which power relations and social control are practiced.

Tendency to laugh negatively predicts conversation enjoyment

Wood, Adrienne, Emma Templeton, Jessica M. Morrel, Frederick T. Schubert, and Thalia Wheatley. 2021. “Tendency to Laugh Is a Stable Trait: Findings from a Round-robin Conversation Study.” PsyArXiv. October 15. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Is the tendency to laugh a stable trait? What does the amount of laughter tell us about the personality and state of the producer, and how does their laughter influence the people around them? To answer these questions, we used a round-robin design where participants (N=66) engaged in 10 different conversations with 10 same-gender strangers. This design allowed us to determine state- and trait-level differences in how much people laugh and to isolate different sources of variability in the amount of laughter per conversation. More than half of the variability in the amount a person laughs is attributable to individual differences. This tendency to laugh negatively predicts conversation enjoyment. A smaller amount of variability in the amount people laugh is due to qualities of their conversation partners. Partners who tend to elicit others’ laughter are perceived as more relatable. We examined the personality correlates of laughter and found that less intellectual and less empathically-concerned participants (i.e., nonserious participants) produced and elicited more laughter. In summary, how much a person laughs is not a straightforward function of enjoyment. Instead, it is a behavioral trait associated with being perceived as relatable, supporting laughters’ proposed function of conveying harmless, nonserious intentions.

The New Genetic Evidence on Same-Gender Sexuality: Implications for Sexual Fluidity and Multiple Forms of Sexual Diversity

The New Genetic Evidence on Same-Gender Sexuality: Implications for Sexual Fluidity and Multiple Forms of Sexual Diversity. Lisa M. Diamond. The Journal of Sex Research, Volume 58, 2021 - Issue 7, Feb 23 2021.

Abstract: In September of 2019, the largest-ever (N = 477,522) genome-wide-association study of same-gender sexuality was published in Science. The primary finding was that multiple genes are significantly associated with ever engaging in same-gender sexual behavior, accounting for between 8–25% of variance in this outcome. Yet an additional finding of this study, which received less attention, has more potential to transform our current understanding of same-gender sexuality: Specifically, the genes associated with ever engaging in same-gender sexual behavior differed from the genes associated with one’s relative proportion of same-gender to other-gender behavior. I review recent research on sexual orientation and sexual fluidity to illustrate how these findings speak to longstanding questions regarding distinctions among subtypes of same-gender sexuality (such as mostly-heterosexuality, bisexuality, and exclusive same-gender experience). I conclude by outlining directions for future research on the multiple causes and correlates of same-gender expression.

Do We Have the Right Categories?

Another avenue for future research involves investigating the degree to which observations of subtypes of same-gender expression and their differing genetic/environmental influences depends on our conceptual framings of gender and sexual orientation. Historically, laypeople and scientists have conceptualized individuals as oriented toward the same gender or the other gender (or both genders), as opposed to being oriented toward women or men (or both). This framing directly affects the type of gender differences we observe. Consider, for example, one of the most robust gender differences in same-gender sexuality: the fact that women show more genital arousal than do men when presented with sexual stimuli depicting their “less-preferred” gender (Chivers & Bailey, 2005; Chivers et al., 20042007). Early work suggested that this “nonspecific” pattern of genital arousal (i.e., arousal that is not specific to one’s preferred gender) characterized all women, but later work showed that nonspecific genital arousal was most pronounced among self-described heterosexual women (reviewed in Chivers, 2017), and scholars have considered a range of social and evolutionary reasons for heterosexual women’s uniqueness in this regard (Chivers, 2017; Diamond, 2017; Kuhle & Radke, 2013).

Yet the definition of heterosexual women as “unique” depends on the classification of sexual stimuli as preferred or non-preferred, according to participants’ self-described patterns of attraction. Within this framework, heterosexual women are unique because they show stronger genital arousal to their non-preferred gender (i.e., women) than do all other groups. But what if we re-classified the sexual stimuli as simply “men” versus “women?” Using this re-classification, exclusively gay men are suddenly the outlier group (Diamond, 2017). Whereas heterosexual women, lesbian women, bisexual women, heterosexual men, and bisexual men all show some degree of genital arousal to sexual stimuli depicting women, gay men do not.

Hence, should we describe heterosexual women’s genital arousal patterns as uniquely “fluid” or gay men’s genital arousal patterns as uniquely “rigid?” How much do these patterns depend on the mechanisms underlying genital versus subjective arousal, given that these mechanisms are distinct (Chivers, 2017), and that concordance between genital and subjective arousal differs for men versus women (Suschinsky et al., 2009)? Furthermore, what is the role of aversion to same-gender versus other-gender stimuli and/or partners (or male versus female stimuli/partners) in shaping subtypes of sexual diversity (see Dehlin et al., 2019; Freund, Langevin, Chamberlayne et al., 1974; Freund, Langevin, Zajac et al., 1974; Jabbour et al., 2020; Safron et al., 2007; Semon et al., 2017)? As reviewed earlier, the Kinsey-type “single continuum” model of sexual orientation (challenged by Ganna et al. 2019) posits exclusive same-gender attractions and exclusive other-gender attractions as polar opposites, but perhaps the true opposite of exclusive same-gender attraction is same-gender aversion or indifference. Models which account for aversion and/or indifference are better suited to including the experiences of asexual individuals (Bogaert et al., 2018; Brotto & Yule, 2017) and those who experience their own attractions as “gender neutral” (Diamond, 2008). Further integration of these nuances into genetically-informed research would make a strong contribution to understanding the nature and development of different forms of sexual diversity.

On this point, it bears noting that a growing body of sexuality researchers now refer to sexual orientations as gynephilic (preferring women), androphilic (preferring men) and biphilic (preferring both genders) rather than “same-gender” and “other-gender” (for example, Antfolk et al., 2017; Chivers, 2017; Huberman & Chivers, 2015; Huberman et al., 2015; Petterson et al., 2018; Semenyna et al., 2017; Skorska & Bogaert, 2020; Snowden et al., 2020; Timmers et al., 2018; Vásquez-Amézquita et al., 2019). There is an intuitive appeal to this approach, given that most individuals describe themselves as desiring aspects of “women” and “men” rather than “sameness” and “otherness.” This approach is also better suited to describing the experiences of transgender and nonbinary individuals, since it focuses on the gender expression of sexual partners without making presumptions about one’s own or one’s partners’ birth-assigned sex/gender. Yet the “same-gender/other-gender” framework represented by the Kinsey scale continues to dominate social scientific research on this topic, perhaps reflecting the cultural dominance of this model of sexual orientation in Western culture (which necessarily feeds back to influence how sexually-diverse individuals come to perceive, understand, and experience their own patterns of eroticism). Certainly, the same-gender/other-gender framing is useful for capturing the fact that heterosexuality is culturally valued and expected, whereas same-gender sexuality is stigmatized and marginalized. The experience of stigma and marginalization is so relevant to the life experiences of individuals with same-gender attractions (and to the likelihood that they will express these attractions) that it seems naive to categorize attractions as “woman-oriented” or “man-oriented” without taking account of which type of attractions are socially permitted versus punished. Yet as we move forward in trying to understand genetic influences on sexuality, we should remain mindful of the extent to which our framing of core constructs (such as same/other versus woman/man) shapes our observations and interpretations.

Questions of Mechanism

Future research on sexual orientation, sexual fluidity, and their genetic/environmental underpinnings may also benefit from closer attention to the full range of conscious and nonconscious processes through which different types of sexual stimuli are attended to, neurologically processed, and responded to (Dickenson et al., 2020; Safron et al., 2007; Safron & Hoffmann, 2017). Such process-oriented work is exemplified by Chivers’s (2017) nuanced and sweeping analysis of the potential contribution of visual attention, implicit and explicit processing, and incentive motivation to heterosexual women’s “nonspecific” patterns of genital arousal. Given that environments fluctuate over the lifespan, whereas genes remain fixed (setting aside for now the complications of epigenetics, Charney, 2012; Ngun & Vilain, 2014; Rice et al., 2012; Richardson & Stevens, 2015), the mechanisms underlying change in sexual experience and expression warrant particularly close study. As reviewed above, sexual fluidity has been defined as a heightened sensitivity to situational change in sexual responsiveness (Diamond, 2008), but this definition leaves unspecified the process through which sexual responsiveness changes at all. There is a growing body of rigorous research on the role of learning and conditioning in human sexual response (Hoffmann, 20122017; Hoffmann, Janssen, & Turner; Klucken et al., 2009), and this work should be more comprehensively integrated into investigations of genetic and environmental influences on same-gender expression.

Of course, the notion of learned or conditioned sexual responses may bring to mind the unfortunate history of behavior-modification approaches to “extinguishing” undesirable sexual impulses (Hoffmann, 2017), which has had particularly harmful effects on sexually-diverse individuals who have been subjected to “conversion” and “reparative” therapies (APA Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, 2009). Perhaps because of this history, sexual orientation is commonly (if inaccurately) described as fundamentally immutable (Diamond & Rosky, 2016). Yet from a basic developmental perspective, the role of learning and exposure in human and nonhuman sexual development is well established (reviewed in Hoffmann, 20122017). As Hoffman summarized, conditioning is quite simply “a process by which organisms, including humans, learn about the relationship between events. Through conditioning, we can learn to predict events, we can learn signals for biologically significant stimuli, we can learn the value of stimuli, and we can learn the consequences of our actions. Hence, sexual conditioning can prepare us to respond sexually and can contribute to our erotic preferences and to how we behave sexually” (Hoffmann, 2017, p. 2213).

Positing a role for learning and experience in the expression of same-gender sexuality does not invalidate the notion of genetically influenced sexual predispositions. Rather, drawing from Freund and Blanchard (1993), we might think of genetic influences as differential sensitivities to certain classes of reproductively-relevant stimuli (in this case, “man/woman” may prove a more relevant classification scheme than “other-gender/same-gender”), and our experiences interact with and elaborate these sensitivities to produce consistent – albeit not rigidly static – patterns of desire. Notably, learning and conditioning played an important role in Kinsey’s understanding of same-gender sexuality. As reviewed by Cass (1990), he viewed all forms of sexual preferences as learned. Cass suggested instead (similar to Freund and Blanchard) that individuals possess intrinsic sexual interests, but that these interests could be strengthened by repeated, satisfying same-gender experiences, as well as the process of attaching psychological significance to these experiences (in the form of gay/lesbian/bisexual identification and social validation). Cass posited that such strengthening effects should be more influential for those whose preferences were less “regular, stable, and fixed” to begin with (1990, p. 252), and she speculated that both women and bisexuals were more likely to belong to the latter group.

These thirty-year-old speculations demonstrate that scientific debates about subtypes of same-gender sexuality (bisexual versus exclusive, man-oriented versus woman-oriented, fixed versus fluid) have been longstanding interests within sexuality research (for an even broader historical and cultural view, see Murray, 2000). Ganna et al’s (2019) data do not definitively resolve these questions, but they point toward productive avenues for future study, in addition to suggesting new questions that we had not yet thought to consider.

More frequent and more extreme upward comparisons resulted in immediate declines in self-evaluations & cumulative negative effects on individuals’ state self-esteem, mood, & life satisfaction after a social media browsing session

Midgley, C., Thai, S., Lockwood, P., Kovacheff, C., & Page-Gould, E. (2021). When every day is a high school reunion: Social media comparisons and self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 121(2), 285–307. Oct 2021.

Abstract: Although past research has shown that social comparisons made through social media contribute to negative outcomes, little is known about the nature of these comparisons (domains, direction, and extremity), variables that determine comparison outcomes (post valence, perceiver’s self-esteem), and how these comparisons differ from those made in other contexts (e.g., text messages, face-to-face interactions). In 4 studies (N = 798), we provide the first comprehensive analysis of how individuals make and respond to social comparisons on social media, using comparisons made in real-time while browsing news feeds (Study 1), experimenter-generated comparisons (Study 2), and comparisons made on social media versus in other contexts (Studies 3 and 4). More frequent and more extreme upward comparisons resulted in immediate declines in self-evaluations as well as cumulative negative effects on individuals’ state self-esteem, mood, and life satisfaction after a social media browsing session. Moreover, downward and lateral comparisons occurred less frequently and did little to mitigate upward comparisons’ negative effects. Furthermore, low self-esteem individuals were particularly vulnerable to making more frequent and more extreme upward comparisons on social media, which in turn threatened their already-lower self-evaluations. Finally, social media comparisons resulted in greater declines in self-evaluations than those made in other contexts. Together, these studies provide the first insights into the cumulative impact of multiple comparisons, clarify the role of self-esteem in online comparison processes, and demonstrate how the characteristics and impact of comparisons on social media differ from those made in other contexts.