Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Contra Duckworth and Seligman’s seminal work: Only intelligence predicted developmental changes in each measure of academic performance over time, self-control did not

Does Self-control Outdo IQ in Predicting Academic Performance? Alexander T. Vazsonyi, Magda Javakhishvili & Marek Blatny. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Nov 20 2021. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10964-021-01539-4

Abstract: Duckworth and Seligman’s seminal work found that self-discipline (self-control) was more salient for academic achievement than intelligence. Very little replication work exists, including in different cultures; the current study addressed these gaps. Data were collected from 6th and 7th grade cohorts of early adolescents (N = 589; age: Mean = 12.34 years, and SD = 0.89; 58% female) over two years. The study tested whether self-control was a stronger predictor than intelligence in explaining academic performance two years later as well as in explaining developmental changes over the course of two years. Path analyses provided evidence that both self-control and intelligence longitudinally predicted teacher-reported academic competence as well as school-reported grades; however, intelligence was a significantly stronger predictor than self-control. In addition, only intelligence predicted developmental changes in each measure of academic performance over time, self-control did not.


Death reminders caused less negative affect and more positive affect than toothache reminders; & reactions to death were quite diverse and did not show signs of being dominated by existential anxiety

Storelv, Sina, and Bjørn Sætrevik. 2021. “Nothing Is Certain Except Taxes and the Other Thing: Searching for Death Anxiety in a Large Online Sample.” PsyArXiv. November 19. doi:10.31234/osf.io/3tkzq

Abstract: Philosophical and psychological literature has suggested that death anxiety has a profound impact on our lives, and is a fundamental aspect of what it means to be human. Based on such claims, we wanted to examine how people expressed their thoughts about death when giving short free-text responses in a large online sample. To do so we explored a qualitative dataset where 803 Americans state their thoughts about either death or physical pain (toothache). Comparing these, we found that death reminders caused less negative affect and more positive affect than toothache reminders. We also observed that reactions to death were quite diverse and did not show signs of being dominated by existential anxiety. Qualitative analyses indicate that psychological defense mechanisms do not seem to sufficiently explain the differences between the two conditions. The article also serves as a companion for the open dataset, to facilitate the exploration and reuse by other researchers.

 

The smaller preferences for sexually dimorphic facial cues in older adults compared to young adults suggest that older adults may shift away from mating-oriented psychology as they become less fertile

The Autumn Years: Age Differences in Preferences for Sexually Dimorphic Faces. Chengyang Han, Xiangqian Li, Xiyue Chen, Xue Lei, Chuanjing Liao, Lingshan Zhang, Bingxin Li, Xian Peng & Edward R. Morrison. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Nov 17 2021. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-021-02168-5

Abstract: Life history theory proposes that it is adaptive for older people to shift investment away from reproductive effort (such as mating) to survivorship. However, it remains unclear whether the shift is also present at the psychological level. We investigated this question by comparing preferences for mate choice-relevant cues, sexually dimorphic facial images, between older (60 years and older, n = 92) and younger adults (18–40 years, n = 86). Results showed that older adults had significantly smaller preferences for sexually dimorphic faces of both sexes than young adults. Specifically, both older men and women showed no significant preferences for sexually dimorphic traits when judging opposite-sex faces, and smaller preferences for masculine male faces and feminine female faces when judging same-sex faces. Young adults generally showed strong preferences for masculine male faces and feminine female faces. In Study 2, we confirmed that the absent/reduced preferences in older adults for sexually dimorphic faces did not result from poor visual ability. The smaller preferences for sexually dimorphic facial cues in older adults compared to young adults suggest that older adults may shift away from mating-oriented psychology as they become less fertile.


Consistent low-to-moderate alcohol consumption in early-to-middle adulthood predicted lower depressive symptoms at age 50; his work offers preliminary evidence that such protective effects may be causal

Visontay, Rachel, Louise Mewton, Tim Slade, Izzuddin M. Aris, and Matthew Sunderland. 2021. “Moderate Alcohol Consumption and Depressive Symptoms: A Marginal Structural Model Approach Promoting Causal Inference.” OSF Preprints. November 19. doi:10.31219/osf.io/e2gcm

Abstract

Importance: Prevention of depressive symptoms and disorders is a key public health priority but requires an improved understanding of modifiable risk and protective factors. A salient unanswered question in this context is whether the apparent protective effect of alcohol against depression may be causal.

Objective: To compare the effects of consistent abstinence, occasional, moderate, and heavy alcohol consumption throughout early-to-middle adulthood on depressive symptoms at age 50.

Design: This secondary analysis of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79) cohort employed a marginal structural model approach in assessing the relationship between alcohol consumption in early-to-middle adulthood (29-37 through 41-49) and depressive symptoms at age 50. Alcohol consumption was based on measurements at 1994, 2002, and 2006, covariates at 1992, 1994, and age 40 (1998-2006), and outcome at age 50 (2008-2016).

Setting: The NLSY79 is a nationally representative, population-based cohort study.

Participants: 5,667 eligible participants at baseline provided valid data on alcohol consumption, depressive symptoms, and covariates of interest.

Exposure: Alcohol consumption was categorised as either abstinence, occasional, moderate, or heavy drinking in 1994, 2002, and 2006.

Main Outcome and Measure: Depressive symptoms at age 50 as measured by the Centre for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale short form (CES-D-SF).

Results: Of the 5,667 eligible participants at baseline, 2,862 [50.50%] were female and the mean age was 30.81 [2.24], with 3,593 participants providing valid outcome data for analysis. Results of linear contrasts from marginal structural models were consistent with a J-shaped relationship, where both consistent occasional (b=-0.84, CI= -1.47, -.11) and consistent moderate (b=-1.08, CI=-1.88, -.20) drinkers had significantly reduced predicted CES-D-SF scores at age 50 compared to consistent abstainers. Consistent heavy drinkers were predicted to have increased depressive symptoms, but this was not statistically significant (b=0.34, CI=-0.62, 1.25). In sex-stratified analyses, results were similar for females and males.

Conclusions and Relevance: In this secondary analysis of longitudinal data accounting for time-varying exposure and confounding, consistent low-to-moderate alcohol consumption in early-to-middle adulthood predicted lower depressive symptoms at age 50, compared with those abstaining from alcohol. This work offers preliminary evidence that such protective effects may be causal.


Comic book bodies are supernormal stimuli that cater to the unrealistic sexual imagination of a predominantly male audience

Burch, R. L., & Widman, D. R. (2021). Comic book bodies are supernormal stimuli: Comparison of DC, Marvel, and actual humans. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, Nov 2021. https://doi.org/10.1037/ebs0000280

Abstract: This study expanded upon Burch and Johnsen’s (2020) work on exaggerated bodies in Marvel comic book characters by also examining DC characters and actual humans. Compared to Marvel, DC men were not significantly taller but were significantly thinner and had significantly smaller shoulder to waist ratios. DC women were almost identical to Marvel women in height and weight, but DC women had smaller waist to hip ratios, making them curvier. Comic book bodies were then compared to actual humans; champion male bodybuilders, most frequently searched women on 1 of the most popular pornography websites, and a nationally representative U.S. sample. DC men had shoulder to waist ratios on par with champion bodybuilders while Marvel exceeded them. Both DC and Marvel women had lower waist to hip ratios than the Internet pornography sample. The average U.S. woman’s WHR was similar to the maximum WHR for the comic book and pornography sample, and the minimum U.S. woman’s WHR was similar to the average WHR for those samples. These findings support Burch and Johnsen (2020) and provide a better picture of how comic book depictions are hypersexualized supernormal stimuli.


Our review of the malevolent creative processes suggest that we have unintentionally avoided uncomfortable truths around who is capable of generating & instantiating malevolent ideas

Malevolent Creativity and Malevolent Innovation: A Critical but Tenuous Linkage. Samuel T. Hunter, Kayla Walters, Tin Nguyen, Caroline Manning & Scarlett Miller. Creativity Research Journal, Nov 21 2021. https://doi.org/10.1080/10400419.2021.1987735

Abstract: Interest is growing in the dark side of creativity and recent research has been instrumental in improving our understanding of the phenomenon. However, such efforts have also revealed confusion regarding the definition and operationalization of the dark side of creativity and malevolent creativity in particular. In response, we offer definitional clarity for both the generation of novel, malevolent ideas (i.e., malevolent creativity) as well as the implementation of those ideas (i.e., malevolent innovation). In addition, we present a framework outlining how and why malevolent ideas transition from ideation to implementation. This framework considers influences linked to both ability and willingness to engage in malevolent processes, spanning intrapersonal and interpersonal factors. Our review reveals a complex but tenuous link between malevolent creativity and innovation and one that requires consideration of the processes connecting the two. Moreover, our review of the malevolent creative processes suggest that we have unintentionally avoided uncomfortable truths around who is capable of generating and instantiating malevolent ideas. Implications and a plan for moving research forward are discussed.


---

From the Encyclopedia of Creativity, 3rd ed, p 177.

Malevolent Creativity

Creativity is often beneficial, however, people also generate novel ways to harm and hurt (Baas et al., 2019). Examples of malevolent creativity include data fabrication of scientists, dirty tricks in political campaigns and firms falsifying information. Provocative and threatening circumstances trigger malevolent creativity (Baas et al., 2019), so it is likely that competition increases creative malevolent responses.

Anecdotes support this notion. For example, to compete with Virgin Atlantic, British Airways resorted to dirty tricks, which included circulating rumors that Virgin CEO Richard Branson had HIV and telling Virgin’s customers that their flights had been canceled. In addition, the fierce competition in science leads some scientists to perform biased peer review, sabotage competitors, and engage in questionable research practices.

There is also empirical support that competition breeds malevolent creativity. In studies conducted in our lab, people who were engaged in a competitive game against another person came up with more malevolent uses for a brick (e.g., using a brick as a weapon, or to sink a body) than non-competing others (see e.g., Baas et al., 2019). Together, these findings suggest that competition may also fuel a much darker side of creativity by facilitating the generation of ideas that are malevolent in nature.


Financial crises and political radicalization: How failing banks paved Hitler's path to power, and to more pogroms and deportations in the most affected areas

Financial crises and political radicalization: How failing banks paved Hitler's path to power. Sebastian Doerr, Stefan Gissler, Jose-Luis Peydro and Hans-Joachim Voth. BIS Working Papers No 978, November 22 2021. https://www.bis.org/publ/work978.htm

Summary

Focus: Do financial crises fan the flames of fanaticism? Many have argued that the financial crisis of 2007–09 not only wrought havoc on employment and output but that its problematic aftermath of failing financial institutions, public bailouts and austerity may also have paved the way for populists around the world. We examine the canonical case of a radical movement's rise to power: Hitler's Nazi party, which took office in the wake of the severe 1931 banking crisis in Germany – a turning point in modern history.

Contribution: Several cross-country studies have concluded that a link exists between financial crises and right-wing populist movements. What is still missing are studies demonstrating that a financial shock can lead to a broad-based radicalisation of the electorate, with major political consequences. It has also remained unclear how economic and financial shocks interact with cultural identity in the turn toward radicalisation.

Findings: Using newly collected data on the exposure of individual cities to the failure of Danatbank – the bank at the heart of Germany's 1931 financial crisis – we show that a financial shock led to a generalised radicalisation of the electorate. This directly helped the Nazi party to gain power. Importantly, we demonstrate that the financial shock interacted with pre-existing cultural attitudes: the surge in support for the Nazis in response to the shock was greatest in places with a previous history of antisemitism. Voters were radicalised both at the ballot box and in their actions. Once the Nazis were in power, both pogroms and deportations were more likely to occur in places worse affected by the banking crisis.

Abstract: Do financial crises radicalize voters? We study Germany's 1931 banking crisis, collecting new data on bank branches and firm-bank connections. Exploiting cross- sectional variation in pre-crisis exposure to the bank at the center of the crisis, we show that Nazi votes surged in locations more affected by its failure. Radicalization in response to the shock was exacerbated in cities with a history of anti- Semitism. After the Nazis seized power, both pogroms and deportations were more frequent in places affected by the banking crisis. Our results suggest an important synergy between financial distress and cultural predispositions, with far-reaching consequences.

Keywords: financial crisis, political extremism, populism, anti-Semitism, culture, Great Depression.

JEL classification: E44, G01, G21, N20, P16.