Thursday, December 30, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic was associated with a decline in reported injuries related to high-heeled shoes among US women

Pandemic-related decline in injuries related to women wearing high-heeled shoes: Analysis of U.S. data for 2016-2020. Philip N. Cohen. medRxiv, Dec 27 2021.


Background: Wearing high-heeled shoes is associated with injury risk. During the COVID-19 pandemic, changes in work and social behavior may have reduced women's use of such footwear.

Methods: This study assessed the trend in high-heel related injuries among U.S. women, using 2016-2020 data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS).

Results: In 2020 there were an estimated 6,290 high-heel related emergency department visits involving women ages 15-69, down from 16,000 per year in 2016-2019. The 2020 decline began after the start of the COVID-19 shutdowns on March 15. There was no significant change in the percentage of fractures or hospital admissions.

Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic was associated with a decline in reported injuries related to high-heeled shoes among US women. If this resulted from fewer women wearing such shoes, and such habits influence future behavior, the result may be fewer injuries in the future.

The Science of Visual Data Communication: What Works

The Science of Visual Data Communication: What Works. Steven L. Franconeri et al. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, December 15, 2021.

Abstract: Effectively designed data visualizations allow viewers to use their powerful visual systems to understand patterns in data across science, education, health, and public policy. But ineffectively designed visualizations can cause confusion, misunderstanding, or even distrust—especially among viewers with low graphical literacy. We review research-backed guidelines for creating effective and intuitive visualizations oriented toward communicating data to students, coworkers, and the general public. We describe how the visual system can quickly extract broad statistics from a display, whereas poorly designed displays can lead to misperceptions and illusions. Extracting global statistics is fast, but comparing between subsets of values is slow. Effective graphics avoid taxing working memory, guide attention, and respect familiar conventions. Data visualizations can play a critical role in teaching and communication, provided that designers tailor those visualizations to their audience.

Keywords: visual communication, graph comprehension, reasoning, statistical cognition, uncertainty communication, data visualization

  • A viewer’s visual system can extract broad statistics about the data within a display, such as the mean and extrema, within a fraction of a second. Visualize your data with histograms and scatterplots before trusting statistical summaries.

  • Beware common visual illusions and confusions. Failing to start axes at zero can cause viewers to overestimate differences. When plotting data with circles or squares, map the data to their areas, not their diameters. The differences between lines in a line graph are increasingly perceptually distorted as the lines increase in slope. Do not plot intensities on intensities, which causes contrast illusions. Mapping a continuous set of numbers to a spectrum of different hues exaggerates differences that happen to straddle the hue boundaries. For accessibility of color-blind viewers, pair red with blue instead of green.

  • Although extracting global statistics is fast, comparisons between subsets of values are slow—limited to only a handful per second. So use visual grouping cues to control which set of comparisons a viewer should make, and use annotation and highlighting to narrow that set to the single most important comparison that supports your message. In a live presentation, rely on language and gesture to illustrate what you see. Do this even when you feel it is not needed: Presenters suffer from a “curse of knowledge” that causes them to overestimate how well others see what they see.

  • Avoid taxing working memory by converting legends into direct labels. When possible, integrate relevant text into visualizations as direct annotations. Avoid animations, which typically lead to confusion. Graphical embellishments, sometimes derided as “chart junk,” can distract if unrelated to the data, but if they are related, they can improve viewers’ memory and engagement.

  • New visualization formats must be learned, so try to rely on formats that are familiar to your audience. Respect common associations, such as “up” mapping to “more” for vertical position and “more opaque” mapping to “more” for intensity.

  • Graph comprehension depends on both bottom-up and top-down factors. Use bottom-up visual salience and top-down direct labels to drive attention to relevant features. Use a graph format that guides viewers to the conceptual message you are trying to convey, respecting their previous experience with graphs.

  • When communicating uncertainty to a lay audience, avoid error bars, which can be misinterpreted as data ranges. Instead, show examples of discrete outcomes, either simultaneously or over time.

  • When communicating risk to low-numeracy audiences, rely on absolute instead of relative rates, convey probabilities with frequencies (e.g., 3 out of 10) instead of percentages (e.g., 30%), and use well-constructed icon arrays with the same denominator.

  • Supporting comprehension and understanding is especially important when the intended audience may have low domain knowledge, knowledge about graphing conventions, numeracy, or working memory capacity.


A Bioecological Theory of Sexual Harassment of Girls

A Bioecological Theory of Sexual Harassment of Girls: Research Synthesis and Proposed Model. Christia Spears Brown, Sharla D. Biefeld, Nan Elpers. Review of General Psychology, September 10, 2020.

Abstract: In the United States, many adolescent girls experience sexual harassment before they leave high school, and between 20% and 25% of college women are survivors of sexual assault. Despite the many negative consequences associated with these experiences, perpetrating sexual harassment and assault is often viewed as normative. Using Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological theoretical framework, we propose a bioecological theory of the perpetration and tolerance of sexual harassment of girls. We propose children’s proximal and distal contexts contribute to the endorsement of sexualized gender stereotypes, which in turn impacts high rates of both perpetration and acceptance of sexual harassment. We discuss the ways that three important microsystems—parents, peers, and schools—contribute to this acceptance. We also propose that key components of media within the exosystem work to further normalize sexual harassment of girls and women. These contexts inform children’s development, creating a culture that is permissive of sexual harassment, resulting in high rates of sexual harassment and assault in adolescence and emerging adulthood. Implications of our proposed theory for policymakers, teachers, parents, and researchers are discussed.

Keywords: sexual harassment, bioecological theory, development, sexualized gender stereotypes, gender socialization

Women avoid asking for more time to complete work tasks, even when deadlines are explicitly adjustable, undermining their well-being and task performance

Extension request avoidance predicts greater time stress among women. Ashley V. Whillans et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, November 9, 2021 118 (45) e2105622118;

Significance: Time stress—the feeling of having too many things to do and not enough time to do them—is a societal epidemic that compromises productivity, physical health, and emotional well-being. Past research shows that women experience disproportionately greater time stress than men and has illuminated a variety of contributing factors. Across nine studies, we identify a previously unexplored predictor of this gender difference. Women avoid asking for more time to complete work tasks, even when deadlines are explicitly adjustable, undermining their well-being and task performance. We shed light on a possible solution: the implementation of formal policies to facilitate deadline extension requests. These findings advance our understanding of the gendered experience of time stress and provide a scalable organizational intervention.

Abstract: In nine studies using archival data, surveys, and experiments, we identify a factor that predicts gender differences in time stress and burnout. Across academic and professional settings, women are less likely to ask for more time when working under adjustable deadlines (studies 1 to 4a). Women’s discomfort in asking for more time on adjustable deadlines uniquely predicts time stress and burnout, controlling for marital status, industry, tenure, and delegation preferences (study 1). Women are less likely to ask for more time to complete their tasks because they hold stronger beliefs that they will be penalized for these requests and worry more about burdening others (studies 1 to 2d). We find no evidence that women are judged more harshly than men (study 3). We also document a simple organizational intervention: formal processes for requesting deadline extensions reduce gender differences in asking for more time (studies 4a to 5).

Keywords: genderburnoutwell-beingworkplace practicestime stress


Across nine studies with over 5,000 participants using diverse populations, including online panels of working adults and undergraduate students, women were less likely to request workplace extensions, even for deadlines that were explicitly feasible and helpful to adjust. Working women expressed less comfort with requesting extensions on adjustable deadlines compared to male peers, which significantly predicted greater feelings of time pressure and burnout (studies 1 to 2d). Female students were also less likely to request an extension on an important assignment, forgoing the opportunity to improve their performance (study 4a). Our studies offered an intervention to reduce this gender difference: having formal policies to request extensions led women to feel as comfortable as men about making extension requests (studies 4b to 5).

Women were more prone to avoid extension requests than men due to their greater relational orientation, which led women to perceive extension requests as being more harmful (study 2a). In particular, women were more worried about burdening other people, such as their team members and managers (study 2d). It was the concern about burdening others—and not the concern about burdening themselves, the concern about appearing competent to their managers or themselves, or lower feelings of entitlement—that most strongly predicted women’s discomfort with asking for more time on adjustable deadlines at work. These findings build on recent research showing that women feel more uncomfortable with making time-saving purchases because they worry about burdening the service provider with disliked tasks (29).

While prior research suggests that some gender differences, such as the willingness to negotiate, reverts when women are in high-status positions (28), our data suggest that women are more likely to avoid asking for more time than men regardless of their workplace status or their manager’s gender (study 2b and 2c). The negotiations literature consistently shows that women are more reluctant to ask for more money than men because they are concerned about backlash effects for acting in gender atypical ways (46) and because they feel more energized to negotiate for the needs of others rather than for themselves (30). In an additional study (n = 906) (SI Appendix, Supplemental Study B), we found evidence for a psychological mechanism that distinguishes the current work from the salary negotiations literature. While women were more hesitant than men to ask for both time and money, women were especially concerned with impression management (i.e., appearing incompetent) when asking for more time, which explained their greater discomfort with making an extension request.

In a follow-up study (n = 799) (SI Appendix, Supplemental Study C), we replicated and extended these findings by showing that women experienced greater discomfort with asking for more time than with asking for more advice, help, or information because they were again concerned with appearing incompetent. Consistent with the results of study 2d, these beliefs were driven by negative self-conscious emotions and the fear of burdening others.

By pointing to the psychological mechanisms that underpin women’s hesitation to ask for more time, these studies offer preliminary insight into specific psychological interventions that may uniquely help women overcome their hesitation with asking for more time: helping women overcome their concerns over appearing incompetent and their concerns with burdening others. Future research should further replicate and extend these results.

One question that requires further investigation is whether women are accurate in their beliefs. If women experience greater backlash for extension requests on adjustable deadlines, as they do when being assertive in other domains (27), women’s avoidance of extension requests may be a necessary precaution. As indicated in study 3 and SI Appendix, Supplemental Study A, our data suggest that supervisors do not evaluate women more harshly, despite women predicting harsher judgement, nor are they more likely to attribute women’s requests to family or personal responsibilities. As this evidence is based on laboratory studies, future work would benefit from further examining the predicted and actual interpersonal outcomes of requesting deadline extensions in workplace settings.

We deliberately conducted our studies in contexts where the deadlines were explicitly adjustable, where there was little or no interdependence between the work of the manager and employee, and where there were no obvious negative repercussions associated with the extension request. This methodological decision provided a conservative test of our research question—if women were less likely than men to ask for more time in situations that incurred objectively fewer costs—it is also unlikely that they would make costlier requests. Of course, managers can incur costs from granting deadline extensions, such as when the requests meaningfully alter their work schedule. Employees can also incur reputational costs for requesting deadline extensions, such as when an employee makes repeated extension requests and consequently is judged negatively by their manager.

Although managers did not perceive men and women differently in response to one-off, costless extension requests, it is unclear from our studies whether managers would perceive female employees more negatively in costlier contexts. To provide an initial test of this question, we conducted two additional studies. In one study of managers (n = 1,731) (SI Appendix, Supplemental Study D), participants imagined that one of their female or male employees requested an extension that either delayed their schedule (or did not) and was the first or third request from this employee in the last 6 mo. Unsurprisingly, managers judged employees most harshly when they asked for an extension on a task that would delay their own timelines, especially when this was the third vs. first extension request. Importantly, even when extension requests delayed timelines or were the third request, managers did not judge females (vs. males) more harshly. We also replicated these findings in a consequential behavioral study where participants supervised either a female or male employee who made repeated, financially costly deadline extension requests (n = 849) (SI Appendix, Supplemental Study E). Although women worry more about seeming incompetent when asking for more time than men, our data suggest that these fears are unfounded, even in costlier contexts. More research should replicate and extend these results by varying the length and frequency of extension requests.

In study 1, we observed no moderating role of personal characteristics on the link between comfort with asking for more time, time stress, and burnout. Research would also benefit from further examining the links between demographic, job characteristics, comfort with asking for more time at work, and subjective well-being in diverse organizational settings.

Scholars have identified how women end up with more tasks at work, which contributes to their experience of greater time pressure. Women receive more requests to complete tasks outside of their formal responsibilities (14) and have a harder time delegating tasks to others at work (16). Our findings shed light on a previously unexplored contributor to women’s experience of time pressure: their reluctance to ask for more time. Compared to men, women feel less comfortable asking for more time, as they believe it will be more interpersonally costly. Therefore, women could end up with less time, affecting their performance and wellbeing.

Many things we find easy (like perception) are extremely hard to implement in machines, whereas many things we find hard (like complex math) are relatively easy; seems we have complex evolved brain specializations for the former but not the latter

Why AI is Harder Than We Think. Melanie Mitchell. Santa Fe Institute, Dec 2021.

Abstract: Since its beginning in the 1950s, the field of artificial intelligence has cycled several times between periods of optimistic predictions and massive investment (“AI spring”) and periods of disappointment, loss of confidence, and reduced funding (“AI winter”). Even with today’s seemingly fast pace of AI breakthroughs, the development of long-promised technologies such as self-driving cars, housekeeping robots, and conversational companions has turned out to be much harder than many people expected. One reason for these repeating cycles is our limited understanding of the nature and complexity of intelligence itself. In this paper I describe four fallacies in common assumptions made by AI researchers, which can lead to overconfident predictions about the field. I conclude by discussing the open questions spurred by these fallacies, including the age-old challenge of imbuing machines with humanlike common sense.

Men held less negative attitudes than women toward former romantic partners in samples of heterosexual respondents

GrĂ¼ning, David J., Anna-Lena Loose, and Joachim I. Krueger. 2021. “Hard Feelings: Predicting Attitudes Toward Former Romantic Partners.” PsyArXiv. December 29. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Most research on relationship quality addresses ongoing involvements. Research on past relationships is rare. As a first step, Athenstaedt and colleagues (2020) explored attitudes toward former romantic partners in an Austrian sample of heterosexual respondents. They found that men held less negative attitudes than women. In two studies conducted in Germany and the USA, we replicate this gender difference and explore the role of three psychological predictors. Like Athenstaedt et al., we find that the degree of perceived social support before the breakup and continued friendly relations after the breakup have a positive association with ex-partner attitude. Critically, we introduce and corroborate the hypothesis that regret over having started the relationship has a negative association. However, regret also fails to mediate the association between gender and ex-partner attitude. We discuss the practical implications of these findings and note directions for future research.