Saturday, October 23, 2021

Option to cooperate increases women's competitiveness and closes the gender gap

Option to cooperate increases women's competitiveness and closes the gender gap. Alessandra Cassar, Mary L. Rigdon. Evolution and Human Behavior, Volume 42, Issue 6, November 2021, Pages 556-572.


• The hypothesis that women have a lower desire to compete than men is investigated through an evolutionary framework.

• Idea embraced as an explanation for why women are a minority in high-ranking economic and political positions.

• Different sexes evolved to pursue different competitive strategies, females focusing competitiveness for offspring benefit.

• Experiment (N = 438 Mturk adults) supports hypothesis that women compete as much as men with prosocial option.

• Result suggests important implications for designing policies to promote gender equality: change the system not the women.

Abstract: We advance the hypothesis that women are as competitive as men once the incentive for winning includes factors that matter to women. Allowing winners an opportunity to share some of their winnings with the low performers has gendered consequences for competitive behavior. We ground our work in an evolutionary framework in which winning competitions brings asymmetric benefits and costs to men and women. In the new environment, the potential to share some of the rewards from competition with others may afford women the benefit of reaping competitive gains without incurring some of its potential costs. An experiment (N = 438 in an online convenience sample of U.S. adults) supports our hypothesis: a 26% gender gap in performance vanishes once a sharing option is included to an otherwise identical winner-take-all incentive scheme. Besides providing a novel experiment that challenges the paradigm that women are not as motivated to compete as men, our work proposes some suggestions for policy: including socially-oriented rewards to contracts may offer a novel tool to close the persistent labor market gender gap.

Keywords: CompetitionTournamentGender differencesSocial rewardDictator game

Measured intelligence did not predict increased mate appeal in either study, whereas perceived intelligence and funniness did; intelligence is not important for initial attraction

Intelligence can be detected but is not found attractive in videos and live interactions. Julie C. Driebe et al. Evolution and Human Behavior, Volume 42, Issue 6, November 2021, Pages 507-516.

Abstract: Self-reported mate preferences suggest intelligence is valued across cultures, consistent with the idea that human intelligence evolved as a sexually selected trait. The validity of self-reports has been questioned though, so it remains unclear whether objectively assessed intelligence is indeed attractive. In Study 1, 88 target men had their intelligence measured and based on short video clips were rated on intelligence, funniness, physical attractiveness and mate appeal by 179 women. In Study 2 (N = 763), participants took part in 2 to 5 speed-dating sessions in which their intelligence was measured and they rated each other's intelligence, funniness, and mate appeal. Measured intelligence did not predict increased mate appeal in either study, whereas perceived intelligence and funniness did. More intelligent people were perceived as more intelligent, but not as funnier. Results suggest that intelligence is not important for initial attraction, which raises doubts concerning the sexual selection theory of intelligence.

Keywords: IntelligenceMate choiceSexual selection

Crushes are uncommunicated, often unilateral, attractions to an individual; research suggests that these experiences might be common among adults (as they are in the young), including among those in committed relationships

Loving you from afar: Attraction to others (“crushes”) among adults in exclusive relationships, communication, perceived outcomes, and expectations of future intimate involvement. Lucia F. O’Sullivan, Charlene F. Belu, Justin R. Garcia. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, August 24, 2021.

Abstract: Crushes are uncommunicated, often unilateral, attractions to an individual, generally viewed as a state of unfulfilled longing. They are typically attributed to young people, but recent research suggests that these experiences might be common among adults as well, including among those in committed relationships. Combining findings from three studies across four datasets, this mixed-methods research explores crushes experienced by individuals in committed intimate relationships. Study 1 explored types of crushes, preferences and nature of exchanges among adults in committed relationships and compares their reports to a sample of single individuals. Study 2 examined perceived outcomes of crushes as a way to assess needs or goals served by crushes. Study 3 investigated expectations about whether and how the crush relationship might evolve into a more intimate relationship. A total of 3,585 participants (22–45 years, 53.1% women) completed anonymous online surveys addressing crush experiences and related dynamics. Those in committed relationships typically did not intend to communicate their attraction to the target, unlike single individuals. Associated outcomes were primarily positive, including excitement, increased esteem, and fantasy/escape. The vast majority reported no expectations that these crushes would evolve into more intimate relationships, replacing their current relationship. This work adds to our understanding of attraction outside of traditional human courtship processes, with implications for the study of intimate relationship development and maintenance.

Keywords: Attraction, committed, crush, intimate, romantic, sexual, single

This series of exploratory studies on crushes was designed to provide some early insights into the nature of exchanges with attractive others for those in committed relationships, outcomes associated with having these attractions, and expectations of future involvement with the target of one’s attraction. Moving us beyond a focus on attraction to others as an indicator of poor relationship quality or a precursor to infidelity, the current series of studies established that these attractions most often seemed instrumental in gaining fairly positive psychosocial outcomes, such as diversion, fun, or excitement.

Overall, few individuals in ostensibly exclusive relationships reported plans to advance the crush relationship further. By comparison to singles, those in relationships were more inclined to keep their attraction covert and were more satisfied to simply flirt with someone for whom they experienced attraction rather than communicate their interest directly.

These findings raise the obvious question of why humans might exhibit and entertain feelings of crushes in the first place, if they are expected to go unfulfilled—that is, unlike in other models of attraction, an individual does not seek out the object of the crush. On the surface, this would seem to be a poor use of an individual’s time and effort, resources meant to be adaptively leveraged in mating contexts. It is possible that these crush attractions are simply inevitable, that we cannot turn off the psychological system that helps us orient toward potential partners when we enter an established relationship. The Instrumentality Principle would indicate that these behaviors meet a motivational priority, moving an individual toward a valuable goal. However, these attractions might reassure individuals that there are other options should the primary relationship falter (i.e., mate switching; Buss et al., 2017). Similarly, many young adults report maintaining “back burner” relationships, that is, a connection with someone who they might someday connect with romantically or sexually (Dibble & Drouin, 2014Dibble et al., 2015). Crushes might comprise a means of gauging or testing one’s commitment and interest in preserving a primary relationship.

We did not assess relationship quality of one’s primary relationship. Although participants’ self-reports suggest that crushes are relatively benign experiences, further research is needed to examine under which conditions a crush might undermine relationship quality. Intensity of one’s attraction, especially if it increases over time, mutuality of the attraction and the response of the crush target should they want to pursue a relationship are likely important moderators, as is quality of the primary relationship in terms of satisfaction and commitment. Primary relationships of lower quality are likely more vulnerable to one or both partners becoming distracted by another. We also should examine more closely the impact of the secrecy involved with crushes and indeed how much is concealed from a primary partner. Secret attraction when linked with fear of its being exposed might amplify attraction through misattribution of arousal (“excitement transfer” Marin et al., 2017Meston & Frohlich, 2003) or frustration attraction (Fisher, 2005).

There are other limitations that need to be acknowledged. Our use of cross-sectional data rather than longitudinal data renders any speculation about links to relationship outcomes unwarranted. A longer trajectory, ideally using prospective methods, would allow researchers to better capture outcomes associated with attractions to others. This is a limitation of the study designs, and short of tracking individuals from the onset of their relationship, one that cannot be easily overcome. In addition, it is important to bear in mind that self-reports about sensitive topics, such as attractions to others, are often subject to issues of presentation biases. However, in every case, we ensured that participants were fully informed of the anonymous nature of their reports, which we believe offset some of the biases these concerns might introduce.

Although we were able to study gender differences to some extent, we were only able to explore differences in terms of sexual identity in the first of our three studies. Those who identified as sexual minorities (gay, lesbian, or bisexual) reported more types of crushes than did those who identified as heterosexual. This finding might reflect pressure among sexual minority individuals to keep same-sex attractions hidden. Exploring these attractions in larger and/or more diverse populations will help us determine how a mechanism that evolved to guide individuals toward a viable romantic and sexual partner with whom we intend to bond and mate (Berscheid, & Reis, 1998Fisher, 1998Sprecher & Hatfield, 1985) operates in contexts in which an intimate relationship is ostensibly not the goal.

Moderate heritability (30%–40%) for concern for nature, environmental movement activism, and personal conservation behavior and high genetic correlations between them (.6–.7), suggesting a partially shared genetic basis

Genetic Contribution to Concern for Nature and Proenvironmental Behavior. Chia-chen Chang, Thi Phuong Le Nghiem, Qiao Fan, Claudia L Y Tan, Rachel Rui Ying Oh, Brenda B Lin, Danielle F Shanahan, Richard A Fuller, Kevin J Gaston, L Roman Carrasco. BioScience, biab103, October 20 2021.

Abstract: Earth is undergoing a devastating extinction crisis caused by human impacts on nature, but only a fraction of society is strongly concerned and acting on the crisis. Understanding what determines people's concern for nature, environmental movement activism, and personal conservation behavior is fundamental if sustainability is to be achieved. Despite its potential importance, the study of the genetic contribution to concern for nature and proenvironmental behaviors has been neglected. Using a twin data set (N = 2312), we show moderate heritability (30%–40%) for concern for nature, environmental movement activism, and personal conservation behavior and high genetic correlations between them (.6–.7), suggesting a partially shared genetic basis. Our results shed light on the individual variation in sustainable behaviors, highlighting the importance of understanding both the environmental and genetic components in the pursuit of sustainability.

Heritability of concern for nature and proenvironmental behavior

The heritability of concern for nature and proenvironmental behavior was similar to an average heritability of human personality traits (such as the big five personality traits, which have heritability of about 30%–40%; Vukasović and Bratko 2015). Concern for nature and proenvironmental behavior have also been found to be associated with several human behavioral and personality traits, such as altruism and agreeableness (Pavalache-Ilie and Cazan 2018, Gifford and Nilsson 2014, Lades et al. 2021). The genetic components of these traits (e.g., dopamine-related genes for altruism and agreeableness; Reuter et al. 2011, Kim et al. 2013) may be linked with concern for nature and proenvironmental behavior. In addition, we expect the genetic influences may be mediated through individual differences in emotional or cognitive processes, such as future discounting, social discounting, or risk aversion (Lorenzoni et al. 2007, Gifford 2011, Weber 2017), which may be also linked to personality.

The genetic influences we found might have roots in evolutionary history. Cooperation is fundamental to sustaining natural common-pool resources; all individuals must limit their short-term self-interest for the long-term collective interest, including that of future generations (Gordon 1954, Hardin 1968, Chermak and Krause 2002). Kin selection, direct reciprocity, and reputation mechanisms have been proposed to drive the evolution of cooperative behavior (Apicella and Silk 2019). For example, kin selection favors individuals with sustainable behavior because the short-term loss will benefit their offspring, provided that the offspring are likely to continue to use the resource (Lehmann 2007, Palomo-Vélez et al. 2020). It has also been shown that parents are more likely to donate for climate change mitigation when their decisions are observed by their children as a reminder of genetic relatedness with future generations (Fornwagner and Hauser 2020). The fitness consequences for cooperators may be dependent on the context. For example, proenvironmental behavior will be less beneficial or costly when many people share the same pool of resource (Suzuki and Akiyama 2005, Chang et al. 2021). Context-dependent fitness trade-offs may allow for the coexistence of different resource use behaviors.

Heritability captures how much individual variation in a phenotype can be explained by individual differences in genes and describes the existing variations in a specific study population with its environment. The heritability estimated in this study can therefore not be directly transferred to other study populations. In addition, heritability may change with age (Visscher et al. 2008). In our age moderation analyses (supplemental note 1), genetic influences for concern for nature and personal conservation behavior slightly increased with age. This could be because people may actively choose their environments on the basis of their genetic predisposition (e.g., actively learn about climate change or spend time with people with similar interests), reinforcing their concern for nature and personal conservation behavior as they age (Rutter and Silberg 2002, Plomin and Deary 2015). As unique environmental influences also increased with age, heritability was stable across age groups.

High heritability does not suggest the insignificance of environments. Suitable educational policies have been found to mitigate the health problems arising from genetic background (e.g., obesity; Barcellos et al. 2018). Environmental interventions, such as policies, may influence heritability. For instance, a high-quality teaching environment, which reduces the variance associated with environmental factors, improves students’ educational achievements and increases the heritability of educational achievement (Taylor et al. 2010). In countries with higher social class mobility, heritability of educational attainment is higher because of lower environmental variance (Engzell and Tropf 2019). Future studies with access to twin data sets from other populations could expand the understanding of genetic and environmental influences in other cultural or demographic contexts. We hypothesize that, all other things being equal, heritability of proenvironmental behavior will increase if the environmental barriers are lower for most people in a population.

Limitations and future research

There are several limitations in our study. First, twin analysis assumes that MZ twins do not have stronger environmental similarity than DZ twins for shared environmental factors (Horwitz et al. 2003). However, this assumption may be violated if, for example, MZ twins are more likely to have the same school activities or be treated more similarly by their parents than DZ twins. If this assumption is violated, heritability may be overestimated. Second, the scale used to measure one's concern for nature only shows a marginally acceptable level of internal consistency (DeVellis 2012). Future studies could use other scales with higher internal consistency. Similarly, unique environmental influences also include measurement error, and future studies could conduct repeated measures to address this issue (Ge et al. 2017). Third, our study population is biased toward females. Although we adjusted for this in our analyses, future studies using a more gender-balanced population would be beneficial and could test whether there is a sex difference in the genetic and environmental influences of these phenotypes. Fourth, our population is predominantly older individuals. How genetic and environmental influences change across age should be further investigated. With long-term repeated measurements (e.g., from child to adult stage) in the future, understanding of the development of a person's concern for nature and proenvironmental behavior could be improved.

Rolf Degen summarizing... People like copartisan political-perspective seekers, who attempt to hear from the other side, but less so if they venture too far into enemy ideological territory

Seek and Ye Shall Be Fine: Attitudes Toward Political-Perspective Seekers. Gordon Heltzel, Kristin Laurin. Psychological Science, October 22, 2021.

Abstract: Six preregistered studies (N = 2,421) examined how people respond to copartisan political-perspective seekers: political allies who attempt to hear from shared opponents and better understand their views. We found that North American adults and students generally like copartisan seekers (meta-analytic Cohen’s d = 0.83 across 4,231 participants, representing all available data points). People like copartisan perspective seekers because they seem tolerant, cooperative, and rational, but this liking is diminished because seekers seem to validate—and may even adopt—opponents’ illegitimate views. Participants liked copartisan seekers across a range of different motivations guiding these seekers’ actions but, consistent with our theorizing, their liking decreased (though rarely disappeared entirely) when seekers lacked partisan commitments or when they sought especially illegitimate beliefs. Despite evidence of rising political intolerance in recent decades, these findings suggest that people nonetheless celebrate political allies who tolerate and seriously consider their opponents’ views.

Keywords: political intolerance, intergroup relations, ideology, polarization, perspective seeking, open data, open materials, preregistered


People like co-partisan seekers because they seem tolerant, cooperative, and rational, but this liking is diminished because seekers seem to validate—and may even adopt—opponents’ illegitimate views


People generally like political allies who seek to understand, rather than avoid, shared opponents’ beliefs. These findings suggest that Sarah Silverman’s show might have been canceled despite her willingness to hear opposing views, not because of it. More importantly, they align with recent evidence that people prefer copartisans who tolerate and respect their opponents (Druckman et al., 2019Frimer & Skitka, 2018; see Heltzel & Laurin, 2020). Yet they clash with other work suggesting that people do not tolerate their political opponents (Haidt et al., 2003), dislike copartisan politicians who compromise with opponents (Ryan, 2017), and reject people who empathize with proponents of illegitimate views (Wang & Todd, 2020).

Our findings reframe this contradiction, suggesting that both tendencies coexist: Seekers are both admirable and alarming but to different degrees. People like them because they seem tolerant, cooperative, and rational, yet they simultaneously (and to a lesser degree) dislike them for validating illegitimate beliefs and potentially changing their minds. Accordingly, people like seekers less when they lack partisan commitments and seek especially illegitimate viewpoints.

Theoretical implications

Our findings contribute to a new literature extending political intolerance from its intergroup origins to intragroup contexts. In so doing, we highlight a paradox: People refuse to tolerate political out-groups (Finkel et al., 2020Haidt et al., 2003Kalmoe & Mason, 2019), yet value tolerance and praise tolerant in-group members (W. Brown, 2009Druckman et al., 2019Frimer & Skitka, 2018), even those willing to compromise with the enemy (Study 2). However, people do not praise in-group leaders who could actually enact compromise (Ryan, 2017). More research is needed to understand these contours of people’s political tolerances (and intolerances) and how people reconcile their paradoxical reactions in their own minds (Guan et al., in press).

Our findings also speak to ongoing debates about whether conservatives, extremists, or moralizers are most guilty of political intolerance (Crawford, 2014Ganzach & Schul, 2021Skitka, 2010). Our findings best support the intolerant-extremist view, while also highlighting commonalities across levels of ideology and moralization.

When might people prefer avoiders?

Despite focusing on contentious, morally laden issues (e.g., abortion, gun control, immigration; Koleva et al., 2012), we never observed a case in which participants preferred avoiders over seekers. Our mechanisms nonetheless allow for such cases. For example, our participants were North Americans, but other societies value tolerance and rationality less and therefore might like seekers less. Additionally, there should be a point at which beliefs seem so illegitimate that people prefer others who avoid rather than seek them. Perhaps the beliefs featured in our studies never reached this point: Even the extreme views from Study 4 were rated far from maximally illegitimate (5.29 on a 7-point scale).

That said, many people expect their political opponents to hold precisely these sorts of abhorrent views (Ahler & Sood, 2018). When perspective seekers aim to understand their opponents in general, their allies’ minds may naturally conjure the worst of these opponents’ views and take great offense. For instance, liberals may interpret copartisans’ seeking to understand conservatives as trying to understand White supremacists, and conservatives may interpret copartisans’ seeking to understand liberals as trying to understand flag-burning Communists. For this reason, seekers might be most liked when seeking opponents’ views on specific policy debates. Indeed, Studies 1b and S7 revealed a remarkably weaker preference for targets who sought to understand their ideological opponents generally rather than their specific policy beliefs (see Table 1).

Intuitions about perspective seeking’s social desirability

For many—ourselves included—these findings may seem counterintuitive. Outrage pervades political discourse on social media and in the news (Brady et al., 2020Pew Research Center, 2019), fueling intuitions that people’s hate for opponents would extend to allies seeking those opponents’ views. Our results suggest that this intuition is incorrect, but even incorrect intuitions can powerfully shape behavior (Prentice & Miller, 1993). For instance, if people mistakenly believe that others discourage political-perspective seeking, they may abstain from it out of fear of social punishment, thereby perpetuating polarization.

Conservatives (vs. liberals) are more satisfied with the products & services they consume; they are more likely to believe in free will (i.e., that people have agency over their decisions) & therefore to trust their decisions

How Political Identity Shapes Customer Satisfaction. Daniel Fernandes et al. Journal of Marketing, October 19, 2021.

Abstract: This article examines the effect of political identity on customers’ satisfaction with the products and services they consume. Recent work suggests that conservatives are less likely to complain than liberals. Building on that work, the present research examines how political identity shapes customer satisfaction which has broad implications for customers and firms. Nine studies combine different methodologies, primary and secondary data, real and hypothetical behavior, different product categories, and diverse participant populations to show that conservatives (vs. liberals) are more satisfied with the products and services they consume. This happens because conservatives (vs. liberals) are more likely to believe in free will (i.e., that people have agency over their decisions) and therefore to trust their decisions. We document the broad and tangible downstream consequences of this effect for customers’ repurchase and recommendation intentions and firms’ sales. The association of political identity and customer satisfaction is attenuated when belief in free will is externally weakened, choice is limited, or the consumption experience is overwhelmingly positive.

Keywords: political identity, belief in free will, customer satisfaction, repurchase intention, sales, political ideology

Considering how often people gossip about each other, they also underestimate how often others gossip about them—and probably don't even want to know; a recording of all the gossip about us would be dreadful

Cooney, G., Boothby, E. J., & Lee, M. (2021). The thought gap after conversation: Underestimating the frequency of others’ thoughts about us. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, .

Abstract: After conversations, people continue to think about their conversation partners. They remember their stories, revisit their advice, and replay their criticisms. But do people realize that their conversation partners are doing the same? In eight studies, we explored the possibility that people would systematically underestimate how much their conversation partners think about them following interactions. We found evidence for this thought gap in a variety of contexts, including field conversations in a dining hall (Study 1), “getting acquainted” conversations in the lab (Study 2), intimate conversations among friends (Study 3), and arguments between romantic partners (Study 4). Several additional studies investigated a possible explanation for the thought gap: the asymmetric availability of one’s own thoughts compared with others' thoughts. Accordingly, the thought gap increased when conversations became more salient (Study 4) and as people’s thoughts had more time to accumulate after a conversation (Study 6); conversely, the thought gap decreased when people were prompted to reflect on their conversation partners’ thoughts (Study 5). Consistent with our proposed mechanism, we also found that the thought gap was moderated by trait rumination, or the extent to which people’s thoughts come easily and repetitively to mind (Study 7). In a final study, we explored the consequences of the thought gap by comparing the effects of thought frequency to thought valence on the likelihood of reconciliation after an argument (Study 8). Collectively, these studies demonstrate that people remain on their conversation partners’ minds more than they know.

Members of rival ideological camps in Israel perceived the Israeli attorney general & the Israeli police to be biased against their side; both Democrats and Republicans perceived the social network Facebook to be biased against their side

The Hostile Mediator Phenomenon: When Threatened, Rival Partisans Perceive Various Mediators as Biased Against Their Group. Omer Yair. Public Opinion Quarterly, nfab035, October 18 2021.

Abstract: Rival partisans tend to perceive ostensibly balanced news coverage as biased against their respective sides; this is known as the “hostile media phenomenon” (HMP). Yet complaints of hostile bias are common in contexts besides the media (e.g., law enforcement and academia). Does a process similar to the HMP occur outside the context of news coverage? And do perceptions of political bias in different contexts share certain similarities? This paper proposes that the HMP is a specific case of a more general hostile mediator phenomenon, where rival partisans perceive various public institutions and organizations that are expected to be neutral as biased against their respective sides. The paper starts by presenting a theoretical framework according to which partisans’ bias perceptions are affected by the threat to the power and status of their ingroup posed by a mediator’s actions. Evidence from three studies (total N = 4,164) shows that members of rival ideological camps in Israel perceived the Israeli attorney general and the Israeli police to be biased against their respective camps. An additional study (N = 2,172) shows that both Democrats and Republicans perceived the social network Facebook to be biased against their side. Moreover, an embedded, pre-registered survey experiment buttresses the causal claim that ingroup-threatening information increases perceptions of hostile bias. The implications of these findings for our understanding of people’s bias perceptions, as well as for citizens’ trust in public institutions and democratic stability more generally, are discussed.

No evidence was found to support the hypothesis that beards are honest (or dishonest) signals of the beard owners’ testosterone levels and dominance

Are Beards Honest Signals of Male Dominance and Testosterone? Marta Kowal, Piotr Sorokowski, Agnieszka Żelaźniewicz, Judyta Nowak, Sylwester Orzechowski, Grzegorz Żurek, Alina Żurek & Magdalena Nawrat. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Oct 21 2021.

Abstract: The male beard is one of the most visually salient and sexually dimorphic traits and a hypothesized potential marker of other traits, such as dominance, masculinity, social status, and self-confidence. However, as men can easily alter their facial hair, beards may provide unreliable information about the beard owner’s characteristics. Here, we examined whether beards are honest signals of biological (testosterone levels) and psychological (self-reported dominance) traits. Young (M = 21.29, SD = 1.54) and healthy men (N = 97) participated in the study. Their beards were measured directly (using digital calipers) and by self-report. Participants provided saliva samples before and after acute exercise (to assess their testosterone and cortisol levels) and reported their dominance on a 5-item scale. The results showed that beard length (directly measured and self-reported) was not related to testosterone levels or dominance; thus, no evidence was found to support the hypothesis that beards are honest (or dishonest) signals of the beard owners’ testosterone levels and dominance.