Saturday, April 30, 2022

Men prefer dimorphism in female faces more than women do, wom prefer dimorph in male faces more than men; both men&wom prefer symmetric faces equally in same- & opposite-sex targets; no indication pathogen cues activate either preference

Re-evaluating the relationship between pathogen avoidance and preferences for facial symmetry and sexual dimorphism: A registered report. Joshua M. Tybur et al. Evolution and Human Behavior, Volume 43, Issue 3, May 2022, Pages 212-223.

Abstract: Over the past decade, a small literature has tested how trait-level pathogen-avoidance motives (e.g., disgust sensitivity) and exposure to pathogen cues relate to preferences for facial symmetry and sexual dimorphism. Results have largely been interpreted as suggesting that the behavioral immune system influences preferences for these features in potential mates. However, findings are limited by small sample sizes among studies reporting supportive evidence, the use of small stimulus sets to assess preferences for symmetry and dimorphism, and design features that render implications for theory ambiguous (namely, largely only investigating women's preferences for male faces). Using a sample of 954 White young adult UK participants and a pool of 100 White young adult stimuli, the current registered report applied a standard two-alternative forced-choice approach to evaluate both men's and women's preferences for both facial symmetry and dimorphism in both same- and opposite-sex targets. Participants were randomly assigned to either a pathogen prime or a control prime, and they completed instruments assessing individual differences in pathogen avoidance (disgust sensitivity and contamination sensitivity). Results revealed overall preferences for both facial symmetry and dimorphism. However, they did not reveal a relation between these preferences and disgust sensitivity or contamination sensitivity, nor did they reveal differences in these preferences across control and pathogen prime conditions. Null results of pathogen-avoidance variables were consistent across participant sex, target sex, and interactions between participant sex and target sex. Overall, findings cast doubt on the hypothesis that pathogen-avoidance motives influence preferences for facial symmetry or dimorphism.

Keywords: DisgustHealthMasculinitySymmetryMate preferencesBehavioral immune system

4. Discussion

The current registered report evaluated the relation between pathogen-avoidance motives and preferences for facial symmetry and dimorphism. It sought to test whether any such relation applied to preferences for both same- and opposite-sex targets – a phenomenon that might result from these features being interpreted as cues to infectiousness – or only in opposite sex targets – a phenomenon that might result from these features being treated as information regarding indirect benefits (i.e., genes that increase offspring fitness). Using a set of 100 target faces and a sample of 954 participants, we did not detect evidence consistent with either perspective. That is, we did not detect a relation between individual differences measures (pathogen disgust sensitivity and germ aversion) and general preferences for facial symmetry or dimorphism, nor did we detect a difference in this relation across same- and opposite-sex faces. Similarly, we did not detect an effect of a pathogen prime (relative to a control prime) on preferences for symmetry or dimorphism, nor did we detect differences in such preferences across same- versus opposite-sex targets. We discuss the implications of these findings for both the behavioral immune system literature and the face preferences literature below.

4.1. Implications for the behavioral immune system and face preferences

The null results observed here have some implications for how we view the functional specificity of the behavioral immune system. Current thinking conceptualizes the behavioral immune system as a suite of psychological mechanisms that monitor the environment for features that correlate with pathogen presence (i.e., cues to pathogens) and, when those features are detected, motivates behaviors that reduce the likelihood of infection (Ackerman et al., 2018Schaller & Duncan, 2007Lieberman & Patrick, 2014Tybur & Lieberman, 2016). Byproducts of infection in conspecifics are some of the best candidates for such cues. And, indeed, people can distinguish between individuals experiencing an immune response from those who are not (Arshamian et al., 2021), and they avoid (and are sometimes disgusted by) individuals with rashes, ulcers, and pustules on their faces – some of the key symptoms of communicable diseases (Curtis et al., 2004Kurzban & Leary, 2001Oaten et al., 2011).

Following the logic presented in previous work investigating the relation between pathogen avoidance and preferences for facial symmetry and/or dimorphism, the hypotheses tested here were based on the idea that facial symmetry and dimorphism provide information regarding health, and that the behavioral immune system should motivate preferences for healthy targets (and, perhaps especially, healthy mates). However, features perceived as “healthy” need not be treated as information regarding infection threat. Health can refer to absence of infectious disease, but it can also refer to a number of other aspects of condition, including the absence of non-contagious parasites, the absence of non-contagious metabolic diseases, the absence of injury, the absence of psychopathology, etc. Just as the behavioral immune system should not be expected to influence fear of tigers or heights, both of which can be thought of as preserving some aspect of “health”, it should not be expected to influence preferences for facial symmetry or dimorphism unless those features act as cues to infectiousness. Given that the structural features that give rise to variation in facial symmetry and dimorphism are fairly stable across the lifespan – and given recent findings suggesting that dimorphism and symmetry (along with multiple other aspects of facial appearance) have poor validity as cues to multiple dimensions of health that might relate to infection proneness (Foo, Simmons, & Rhodes, 2017Cai et al., 2019; see Jones, Holzleitner, & Shiramizu, 2021) – they are unlikely candidates as infection cues. These considerations (and, naturally, the results of the current study) raise questions regarding interpretations of earlier findings that pathogen avoidance relates to preferences for facial symmetry and dimorphism.

4.2. Implications regarding preferences for facial symmetry and dimorphism

Although this investigation was designed to evaluate the relation between pathogen avoidance and preferences for facial symmetry and dimorphism, its sample size and other design features (e.g., assessment of both same- and opposite-sex preferences for both facial symmetry and dimorphism) can contribute to the field's understanding of preferences for symmetry and dimorphism, at least in the population sampled from here. Consider, for example, comparing the current results with those reported by Little, Jones, DeBruine, and Feinberg (2008), who inferred that symmetry and dimorphism provide common information based on the observation that preferences for facial dimorphism correlate with preferences for facial symmetry. The current study similarly detected a positive relation between preferences for facial symmetry and preferences for facial dimorphism (see Table S1). It also replicates other findings reported by Little et al.: that men prefer dimorphism in female faces more than women do, and that women prefer dimorphism in male faces more than men do. However, it did not replicate a third finding from the same paper: that symmetry preferences are contingent on the sex of the rater and the target. Instead, we found that symmetric faces were preferred equally in same-sex and opposite-sex targets, for both men and women. The current data might prove useful for evaluating the robustness of other findings in the face preferences literature.

4.3. Limitations and future directions

4.3.1. Statistical power and potential false negatives

Non-significant results can emerge for multiple reasons, including experimenter error or participant inattention. Multiple aspects of our findings suggest that neither of these factors explains the critical null findings observed here. The fact that we detected global preferences for facial symmetry and facial dimorphism – with the latter preference moderated by participant sex and target sex – suggests that participants were (1) able to detect these features and (2) preferred them in a manner consistent with past studies sampling from the same population. Other incidental findings discount the null results reflecting systematic errors in data collection. For example, the sex difference in pathogen disgust sensitivity observed here (d = .41) was virtually identical to the meta-analyzed sex difference observed in a study of 11,501 participants across 30 nations (d = .41) (Tybur et al., 2016).

Even without experimenter error or participant inattention, null results can still reflect Type II errors. In random effects designs such as the one employed here, the probability of making such errors is influenced by myriad factors, including (1) the magnitude of the fixed effect(s), (2) the number of participants, (3) the number of stimuli, (4) variance accounted for by participants, (5) variance accounted for by stimuli, (6) variance in the relation between participant-level individual differences (e.g., pathogen disgust sensitivity) and preferences across different stimuli, etc. We aimed to minimize the probability of making such Type II errors, even if effect sizes were small, by (1) having a large sample size (N = 954), (2) having a large pool of stimuli (N = 100), and (3) manipulating multiple factors within-participants. However, because we were unable to model all random effect components in our power analyses, results from these power analyses might be imprecise, and we cannot state with confidence the effect sizes that we had adequate power (>80%) to detect. Nevertheless, inspection of the 95% confidence intervals around effect size estimates can provide an idea of the uncertainty in our parameter estimates and the plausible upper bounds of population-level effect sizes (see Table 2). These confidence intervals are narrow and largely centered around zero. Inspection of the confidence intervals collapsing across stimuli can also be informative (see Tables S1–S3), since most prior studies in this literature have not used random effects analyses. Using this approach, the upper limit of the 95% confidence interval for the main effect of pathogen disgust sensitivity on facial dimorphism preferences was r = .12, and the upper limit of the 95% confidence interval for the relation between pathogen disgust sensitivity and facial symmetry preferences was r = .08. Given the nature of the indirect benefits hypothesis, confidence intervals around simple effects within participant sex by target sex interactions (for both symmetry and dimorphism preferences, and for both pathogen disgust and germ aversion as predictors) can also be informative, especially concerning cross-sex preferences. For men, none of the upper limits of these confidence intervals exceeded r = .15; for women, none exceeded r = .07. In total, these results suggest that any relations we failed to detect are likely to be small in magnitude. Future studies on this topic should be designed to detect effect sizes no larger than the upper limits of these confidence intervals.

4.3.2. Validity of the dependent measure and stimuli

In line with previous studies in this literature, we investigated the degree to which pathogen-avoidance motives relate to attraction to facial symmetry and sexual dimorphism. Perceptions of attractiveness need not fully regulate the physical proximity, direct contact, or indirect contact that influences pathogen transmission, though. Recent studies in the pathogen-avoidance literature have asked participants how comfortable they would be with physical contact with a target (e.g., Van Leeuwen & Petersen, 2018), and one of these studies found only a modest relationship between target facial attractiveness and contact comfort (Tybur, Lieberman, Fan, Kupfer, & de Vries, 2020). Although the current study did not detect a relation between pathogen avoidance and attraction to facial symmetry or dimorphism, future research could better test whether people are more averse to infection-risky acts with individuals with low dimorphism or low symmetry faces (cf. Kupfer, 2018Ryan et al., 2012).

As is standard in this literature, we used a two-alternative forced-choice response format. Recent work has suggested that this method partially assess face matching ability rather than variation in preferences (Lewis, 2020), and that it can produce results that differ from those obtained with paradigms in which individual faces are rated for attractiveness (Jones & Jaeger, 2019Lee, De La Mare, Moore, & Umeh, 2021). Also following standard procedures in this literature, we manipulated base faces to be 50% more similar to male or female prototypes (for the dimorphism manipulation) or 50% more or less similar to a perfectly symmetric version of the base face. We cannot rule out the possibility that pathogen avoidance would relate to preferences for facial dimorphism or symmetry if transformations were more or less extreme.

4.3.3. Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic

We collected data in May 2021, after approximately 4,500,000 COVID-19 cases and 125,000 deaths had been confirmed in the UK in the 14 months since the pandemic began (Roser, 2021). Some recent work has argued that the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak has increased pathogen disgust sensitivity (Boggs, Ruisch, & Fazio, 2022Stevenson, Saluja, & Case, 2021). Such increases, if sufficiently strong, could attenuate the relation between pathogen disgust sensitivity and preferences for facial symmetry or dimorphism. Our data give no reason to suspect that pathogen disgust sensitivity was unusually high in the population we sampled from, though. The mean observed here was virtually indistinct (and, if anything, slightly lower) from that in the sample of U.S. college students (N = 507) used to validate the Three-Domain Disgust Scale (Tybur et al., 2009) and that in a large (N = 7166) online English-speaking sample recruited shortly before the pandemic (O'Shea, DeBruine, & Jones, 2019) (see the online supplement for more details). There are also reasons to question whether, how, and why the presence of SARS-CoV-2 would affect how the behavioral immune system detects or processes cues to pathogens. Like many other respiratory pathogens, SARS-CoV-2 is largely spread via invisible respiratory droplets and aerosols expelled when (often asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic) individuals breath, talk, or sing (Greenhalgh et al., 2021). Those infected with SARS-CoV-2 typically exhibit symptoms similar to those caused by the myriad endemic respiratory pathogens that circulated widely before the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., coughing, sneezing, headache, fatigue, fever) (Tostmann et al., 2020). And, while SARS-CoV-2 causes serious illness in some people, its appearance coincided with the virtual elimination of many other respiratory viruses from circulation (Yeoh et al., 2021). These reasons raise doubts that the pandemic conditions that began in early 2020 would affect the behavioral immune system, at least via increases in the presence of detectable transmission risks, changes in observable illness symptoms in others, or increases in encounters with pathogens oneself (Ackerman, Tybur, & Blackwell, 2021). Future work can clarify whether, how, and why the pandemic affects the behavioral immune system in other manners.

4.3.4. Generalizability to other populations

The current study sampled from a population of young adult (<35) heterosexual White individuals from the UK, and it assessed attraction toward young adult White targets. Some findings indicate that preferences for facial dimorphism – perhaps especially in male targets – varies across ecologies (DeBruine, Jones, Crawford, Welling, & Little, 2010Marcinkowska et al., 2019Scott et al., 2014), as do preferences for at least some other dimensions of facial appearance (e.g., coloration; Han et al., 2018). Hence, our findings might not generalize to other populations. However, most studies that have reported relations between pathogen avoidance and preferences for facial symmetry or dimorphism have sampled from similar populations and assessed attraction toward similar targets (though see Saribay et al., 2021 and Zheng et al., 2016). Future work could certainly test whether pathogen avoidance relates to such preferences in other populations, even if such a relationship does not exist in the population sampled from here.

4.3.5. Validity of priming method and concluding thoughts

Most studies in the behavioral immune system literature assess individual differences in pathogen-avoidance motives using either the Perceived Vulnerability to Disease Scale or the Three-Domain Disgust Scale (Oosterhoff, Shook, & Iyer, 2018Tybur et al., 2014). Multiple studies have clarified the validity of these instruments (e.g., Duncan et al., 2009Tybur et al., 2009). There is less consistency in approaches used to experimentally manipulate pathogen-avoidance motives and, relatedly, less evidence supporting the validity of these procedures. For example, studies have reported that each of the following experimental manipulations produces effects consistent with behavioral immune system hypotheses: (1) asking participants to consciously reflect upon past experiences with infection (e.g., Moran et al., 2021Murray, Kerry, & Gervais, 2019); (2) exposing participants to olfactory cues to pathogens (e.g., Tybur, Bryan, Magnan, & Hooper, 2011); (3) having participants read essays describing pathogen-risky situations (e.g., White, Kenrick, & Neuberg, 2013); (4) having participants complete a disgust sensitivity instrument immediately before the dependent measure (e.g., Lee & Zietsch, 2011Navarrete & Fessler, 2006Watkins et al., 2012); and (5) exposing participants to disgust-eliciting images or slideshows showcasing pathogen risks (e.g., Faulkner, Schaller, Park, & Duncan, 2004Hill, Prokosch, & DelPriore, 2015Mortensen, Becker, Ackerman, Neuberg, & Kenrick, 2010Park, Schaller, & Crandall, 2007). Using a combination of those last two approaches – methods used in studies that have reported effects of pathogen primes on preferences for facial symmetry or dimorphism (Ainsworth & Maner, 2019Little et al., 2010Watkins et al., 2012Young et al., 2011) – we did not detect an effect of the priming manipulation. Other recent studies have similarly reported not detecting effects of pathogen primes on, among other things, conformity (Van Leeuwen & Petersen, 2021), political attitudes (Shook & Oosterhoff, 2020), moral sentiments (Makhanova, Plant, Monroe, & Maner, 2019), and attitudes toward immigrants (Ji, Tybur, & van Vugt, 2019). Following these null findings, the behavioral immune system literature would benefit from large-scale, registered, collaborative work using multiple priming approaches to test the same hypothesis. Such an endeavor would be valuable for multiple reasons. Like the current study, it could be used to replicate studies that used methods that, in retrospect, might not be as robust as originally assumed. It could also give an unbiased assessment of the effect sizes that researchers should expect from priming methods; such an assessment would prove valuable for future study designs. And it could indicate which of the multiple manipulations used in the literature – from images to essays to odors – give rise to the largest of such effect sizes. In sum, taking a look at the methods and results used in past behavioral immune system work can improve future developments in this area.

Contrary to previous assumptions, statistics reveal lifelong increases in religiosity - with a potential drop among the oldest old

Secularization Trends Obscure Developmental Changes in Religiosity. Wiebke Bleidorn et al. Social Psychological and Personality Science, April 29, 2022.

Abstract: How do people’s religious beliefs and behaviors change over the course of adulthood? Previous research found rapid decreases in religiosity during young adulthood and rebounds in middle and late adulthood. However, secularization trends—if not accounted for—can bias or obscure age-graded changes in religiosity. Using longitudinal data from over 14,000 Dutch participants aged 16 to 101 years, we disentangled secularization trends from developmental changes in religiosity. Controlling for secularization, we found no evidence for age-graded declines in religiosity among young adults but lifelong increases in religiosity. These increases were most pronounced during middle to late adulthood, consistent with theories that emphasize the self-transcendent focus of this life stage. College-educated individuals were generally less religious and experienced less pronounced age-graded increases in their religious beliefs. These findings must be understood in the context of secularization trends as indicated by significant decreases in religiosity among people of all demographic groups.

Keywords: religiosity, lifespan, longitudinal, secularization, adult development, religious beliefs

How do people’s religious beliefs and behaviors change over the course of adulthood? In this 11-wave longitudinal study, we separated developmental changes in three measures of religiosity—belief in God, religious service attendance, and praying—from secularization trends to draw a more precise picture of the lifespan trajectory of religiosity in a large, nationally representative sample from the Netherlands.

Results indicated that the average trajectory of all three religiosity measures was best captured by a quadratic curve, with increases over the course of adulthood and peak levels at about age 80 years. Consistent with national and international polling data (, we also found evidence for a significant secularization trend. That is, the average Dutch person in our sample experienced significant decreases in religiosity between 2008 and 2019.

As expected, not all individuals followed these average trends. Consistent with previous research (Arnett & Jensen, 2002; McCullough et al., 2005), men and college-educated individuals were generally less religious. Moreover, age-graded increases in belief in God were less pronounced in college-educated individuals compared to individuals without college education. In contrast to our predictions, religious background and health were unrelated to overall levels or changes in religiosity.

Implications of Findings

The present findings provide important insights into the effects of age and time on religious beliefs and behaviors in a secular culture like the Netherlands. By taking into account secularization trends, we identified a different trajectory of lifespan changes in religiosity than previous studies have. Four findings stand out.

First, in contrast to studies that emphasized the loss of religion among adolescents and young adults (e.g., Desmond et al., 2010Hayward & Krause, 2013), we found no evidence for age-graded decreases in religiosity during emerging adulthood. When taking secularization effects into account, emerging adults were relatively stable or even increased in their religious beliefs and behaviors over the course of young adulthood (Twenge et al., 2015). In other words, observed decreases in religiosity were completely explained by secularization trends in the present sample.

Second, the quadratic trajectories indicate that most of the age-graded changes in religiosity occur during middle and late adulthood. The enhanced focus on religious beliefs and behavior in middle adulthood is consistent with lifespan developmental theories that emphasize the self-transcending and reflective focus of this life stage (Freund & Baltes, 2002McAdams, 2001). These findings also correspond with findings on personality development in middle adulthood. Changes that typically occur during this life stage tend to reflect growth toward social maturity and adjustment (Schwaba et al., 2022), as indicated by increases in conscientiousness and agreeableness—traits that have been found to be consistently related to religiosity (Entringer et al., 2021Gebauer et al., 2014Saroglou, 2010).

Third, the present results shed more light on religiosity development in late adulthood. Consistent with Pascal’s wager and psychological theories that consider religious beliefs and behaviors as important strategies to cope with late-life challenges (Idler, 2006), we found significant increases in religiosity up until old age. A closer inspection of change among the oldest old suggests potential declines as people approach the end of their life. However, the relatively small sample of adults older than 85 and limited information about sample mortality precluded a more precise estimation of end-of-life changes in religiosity.

Fourth, with one exception, there was little evidence for moderators of lifespan changes in religiosity. Supporting previous research that found negative links between higher education and religiosity (Desmond et al., 2010), we found college-educated individuals to be less religious and experience less pronounced age-graded increases in their religious beliefs.


We note some important limitations to this study. We focused on three core aspects of the religious experience; however, there may be other components of religiosity that were not covered in the present study. The generalizability of the present findings is further constrained by the moderate time period of the study (2008–2019) and the culture in which it was conducted. The Netherlands is among the most secularized Western countries and has seen accelerated secularization trends over the past decades. More longitudinal research on religiosity on samples from diverse countries and cultures is needed to gauge the generalizability of the present findings. More research is also needed to address these fundamental questions about the causes of the age-graded changes in religiosity.

Disaggregated Keynesian Economies with an Application to the COVID-19 Crisis: Reduced effectiveness of aggregate demand stimulus

Supply and Demand in Disaggregated Keynesian Economies with an Application to the COVID-19 Crisis. David Baqaee and Emmanuel Farhi. American Economic Review, 2022, vol. 112, issue 5, 1397-1436.

Abstract: We study supply and demand shocks in a disaggregated model with multiple sectors, multiple factors, input-output linkages, downward nominal wage rigidities, credit-constraints, and a zero lower bound. We use the model to understand how the COVID-19 crisis, an omnibus supply and demand shock, affects output, unemployment, and inflation, and leads to the coexistence of tight and slack labor markets. We show that negative sectoral supply shocks are stagflationary, whereas negative demand shocks are deflationary, even though both can cause Keynesian unemployment. Furthermore, complementarities in production amplify Keynesian spillovers from supply shocks but mitigate them for demand shocks. This means that complementarities reduce the effectiveness of aggregate demand stimulus. In a stylized quantitative model of the United States, we find supply and demand shocks each explain about one-half of the reduction in real GDP from February to May 2020. Although there was as much as 6 percent Keynesian unemployment, this was concentrated in certain markets. Hence, aggregate demand stimulus is one quarter as effective as in a typical recession where all labor markets are slack.

JEL Classification:

E12 General Aggregative Models: Keynes; Keynesian; Post-Keynesian

E23 Macroeconomics: Production

E24 Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity

E31 Price Level; Inflation; Deflation

E32 Business Fluctuations; Cycles

E62 Fiscal Policy

I12 Health Behavior

Abusers' emotional disconnection and predatory nature facilitate their ability to maintain an intimate relationship while engaging in a wide range of abuse resulting in widespread harm to others' mental health

Psychopathic traits predict the severity of post-traumatic stress in survivors of intimate partner abuse. Courtney Humeny, Adelle Forth, John Logan. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 193, July 2022, 111611.

Abstract: Limited research exists exploring survivors' experiences in a relationship with a psychopathic abuser and their mental health following relationship dissolution. The present study examines the specific traits and patterns of abuse that have the most profound impact on survivors' mental health. Self-identified survivors of an intimate relationship with a psychopathic abuser (N = 454; Mage = 45.5) were recruited from intimate partner abuse support websites. They were assessed for abuse experiences, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomology, and the extent to which their abuser exhibited psychopathic traits via self-report questionnaires. Multiple regression analysis revealed that abusers' psychopathic traits were predictive of survivors' PTSD symptomology. Specifically, when controlling for the duration since last contact with the abuser and relationship length, interpersonal and affective traits, and experiences of versatile forms of abuse contributed to more severe PTSD symptoms. The present findings are consistent with an emerging body of research showing that abusers' emotional disconnection and predatory nature facilitate their ability to maintain an intimate relationship while engaging in a wide range of abuse resulting in widespread harm to survivors' mental health.

Keywords: PsychopathyPsychopath survivorIntimate partner abusePost-traumatic stress disorder

"Overall, we found no evidence that people can accurately identify who is authentic"

Are You for Real? Perceptions of Authenticity Are Systematically Biased and Not Accurate. Erica R. Bailey, Aharon Levy. Psychological Science, April 28, 2022.

Abstract: Can people accurately perceive who is authentic? Laypeople believe they can tell who is authentic, and they report that authenticity is an important attribute in others (Studies 1a and 1b; N = 369). However, when we directly tested the accuracy of perceived authenticity, we found no significant correlation between self- and other-rated authenticity in two cohorts of adult students in randomly assigned teams (Studies 2 and 3; 4,040 self-other observations). In addition, we found that perceived authenticity was biased in two ways: (a) Other-rated authenticity showed a positivity bias compared with self-ratings, and (b) other-rated authenticity was biased by the rater’s own authenticity. In Study 3, we also investigated authenticity meta-perceptions; although people expect their authenticity to be accurately perceived by others, their meta-perceptions did not correlate with other-rated authenticity. That is, beliefs about the visibility of one’s authenticity are similarly not accurate. Overall, we found no evidence that people can accurately identify who is authentic.

Keywords: perception, individual differences, social cognition, authenticity, open data, open materials

Why hunt? Why gather? Why share? Hadza women were more likely than men to rank family-provisioning highly whereas men were more likely than women to rank skill-signaling highly

Why hunt? Why gather? Why share? Hadza assessments of foraging and food-sharing motive. Duncan N.E. Stibbard-Hawkes, Kristopher Smith, Coren L. Apicella. Evolution and Human Behavior, Volume 43, Issue 3, May 2022, Pages 257-272.

Abstract: Over the last half century, anthropologists have vigorously debated the adaptive motivations underlying food acquisition choices and food-sharing among hunter-gatherer groups. Numerous explanations have been proposed to account for high-levels of generosity in food-sharing, including self- and family-provisioning, reciprocity, tolerated theft and pro-social- or skill-signaling. However, few studies have asked foragers directly and systematically about the motivations underlying their foraging and sharing decisions. We recruited 110 Hadza participants and employed a combination of free-response, yes/no, ranking and forced-choice questions to do just this. In free-response answers, respondents typically gave outcome-oriented accounts of foraging motive (e.g., to get food) and moralistic accounts of sharing motive (e.g., I have a good heart). In ranking tasks, participants gave precedence to reciprocity as a motive for sharing food beyond the household. We found small but clear gender differences in foraging motive, in line with previous predictions: women were more likely than men to rank family-provisioning highly whereas men were more likely than women to rank skill-signaling highly. However, despite these gender differences, the relative importance of different motivations was similar across genders and skill-signaling, sharing and family-provisioning were the most important motivators of foraging activity for both men and women. Contrary to the expectations of tolerated theft, peer complaints and requests for food ranked very low. There are several compelling reasons that evolutionary thinkers, typically interested in ultimate-level adaptive processes, have traditionally eschewed direct and explicit investigations of motive. However, these data may yet provide important insights.

Keywords: Hunter-gatherersFood-sharingCostly signalingReciprocityCooperationHadza

Friday, April 29, 2022

Tweets from American politicians have become more incivil over the last decade; uncivil tweets tended to receive more approval and attention, publicly indexed by large quantities of “likes” and “retweets”

Incivility Is Rising Among American Politicians on Twitter. Jeremy A. Frimer et al. Social Psychological and Personality Science, April 28, 2022.

Abstract: We provide the first systematic investigation of trends in the incivility of American politicians on Twitter, a dominant platform for political communication in the United States. Applying a validated artificial intelligence classifier to all 1.3 million tweets made by members of Congress since 2009, we observe a 23% increase in incivility over a decade on Twitter. Further analyses suggest that the rise was partly driven by reinforcement learning in which politicians engaged in greater incivility following positive feedback. Uncivil tweets tended to receive more approval and attention, publicly indexed by large quantities of “likes” and “retweets” on the platform. Mediational and longitudinal analyses show that the greater this feedback for uncivil tweets, the more uncivil tweets were thereafter. We conclude by discussing how the structure of social media platforms might facilitate this incivility-reinforcing dynamic between politicians and their followers.

Keywords: incivility, political polarization, Twitter, social media, affective polarization

Some said that "conservatives think liberals are stupid, and liberals think conservatives are evil," but not so: Both sides see opponents as more stupid than evil

People See Political Opponents as More Stupid Than Evil. Rachel Hartman, Neil Hester, Kurt Gray. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, April 28, 2022.

Abstract: Affective polarization is a rising threat to political discourse and democracy. Public figures have expressed that “conservatives think liberals are stupid, and liberals think conservatives are evil.” However, four studies (N = 1,660)—including a representative sample—reveal evidence that both sides view political opponents as more unintelligent than immoral. Perceiving the other side as “more stupid than evil” occurs both in general judgments (Studies 1, 3, and 4) and regarding specific issues (Study 2). Study 4 also examines “meta-perceptions” of how Democrats and Republicans disparage one another, revealing that people correctly perceive that both Democrats and Republicans see each other as more unintelligent than immoral, although they exaggerate the extent of this negativity. These studies clarify the way everyday partisans view each other, an important step in designing effective interventions to reduce political animosity.

Keywords: political polarization, affective polarization, meta-perceptions, social perceptions

Our aim was twofold: to assess whether cross-party perceptions of unintelligence and immorality are distinct, and to compare liberals’ and conservatives’ perceptions of each other. Although some work suggests that dimensional complexity should be higher for ingroup members, who are often perceived as more heterogeneous (Mullen & Hu, 1989), we find greater dimensional complexity for outgroup members. Across four studies, we found that for outgroup ratings, unintelligence and immorality fell into two separate categories. On the contrary, for ingroup ratings, unintelligence and immorality were best conceived of as one factor. This might be explained by the fact that people’s experiences of negative attitudes and emotions are often more complex than their experiences of positive attitudes and emotions (Koenig-Lewis & Palmer, 2014).

Contrary to Krauthammer’s popular quote, we found that both liberals and conservatives view each other as more unintelligent than immoral. Furthermore, we found that participants accurately thought both Democrats and Republicans view each other as more unintelligent than immoral. However, participants exaggerated the magnitude of disparagement, thinking political groups have more negative views of their opponents than they actually do.

These findings replicated across four studies, when the questions were asked abstractly (Studies 1, 3, and 4) or regarding specific voting behaviors (Study 2). While preparing this manuscript, we took advantage of the Coronavirus pandemic to test whether political perceptions changed during a period of political tension. The pandemic, which began as an apolitical health threat (Holzwarth, 2020), transformed into a highly partisan issue in the United States (Newport, 2020). People on the right were eager to reopen the economy, whereas people on the left worried about the health risk (Roubein, 2020). Republicans were accused of being callous about human lives, whereas Democrats were accused of not understanding the gravity of the virus’s economic effects (Hulse, 2020). On May 14, 2020, we asked 329 MTurk workers via CloudResearch (Litman et al., 2017) to think of the way Democrats and Republicans have been reacting to the pandemic and indicate the extent to which the six unintelligence and six immoral items apply to each group. Replicating the previous four studies, both Democrats and Republicans viewed each other as more unintelligent than immoral. This timely replication provides further support for our main finding (full analyses are reported in the Supplemental Materials).


Political polarization is at an all-time high. To bridge political divides, researchers and organizations need a solid understanding of how partisans perceive each other. The present studies show that, although liberals and conservatives often seem to disagree about moral values, the two groups still disparage each other’s intelligence more than each other’s morality. This finding replicates the results of the Axios poll (Hart, 2018), but runs counter to the Pew Research Foundation poll (Pew Research Center, 2019a). This may be a result of the question framing (i.e., “compared to the average American”). Future research should investigate the discrepant findings.

Two (competing) theories in the social psychology literature highlight the importance of morality in politics: According to Moral Foundations Theory (Graham et al., 2009Haidt, 2012), liberals and conservatives disagree on many issues because they differ in their moral foundations. According to the Theory of Dyadic Morality (Schein & Gray, 2018), liberals and conservatives share the same moral mind, and therefore, if they come to understand this fact, they should find common ground. The findings from our studies suggest that morality is just part of the story, and perhaps not the most important part. If unintelligence, rather than immorality, drives perceptions of political groups, future research and interventions should aim to facilitate recognition of the other group’s knowledge and intelligence, rather than focus primarily on their morality.

Our fourth study found that political groups tend to overestimate the degree to which they view each other as unintelligent and immoral. This finding replicates similar findings in the literature: Partisans overestimate the extremity of positions held by each group (Ahler, 2014Chambers et al., 2006Lees & Cikara, 2020Levendusky & Malhotra, 2016Van Boven et al., 2018Yudkin et al., 2019) and think each side dehumanizes the other more than they actually do (Moore-Berg et al., 2020). Ahler (2014) has demonstrated that alleviating misperceptions is often beneficial not only in correcting the meta-perceptions but also in mitigating the attitudes themselves. Future research should explore this method for reducing affective polarization.


We acknowledge several limitations to the present research. First, we restricted our data collection to American participants; thus, our findings may not necessarily generalize to partisan groups in other cultures. Second, the data we collected, to the extent they can be generalized to the American population, only reflect the participants’ perceptions of their outgroups at the time the data were collected. Notably, we collected our data prior to the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Significant events such as this one may have a large impact on political perceptions. However, the public discourse surrounding the event appeared to reflect our finding: On social and mass media, observers framed the right-wing protesters as “misled,” “brainwashed,” and “manipulated” (Hale, 2021Kristof, 2021Lewis, 2021).

In addition, as we only assessed perceptions of unintelligence and immorality, we do not exhaustively describe liberals’ and conservatives’ perceptions of each other. Partisans likely use many other negative adjectives to describe their opponents. Our study has high face validity, in that the focus on “stupid” and “evil” reflects cultural discourse about political groups, but it is far from a comprehensive overview of partisan disparagement. Furthermore, we acknowledge that we did not provide partisans with the opportunity to report positive views of their opponents.

Finally, there is the possibility that the general pattern of political outgroup unintelligence ratings being greater than immorality ratings is not a finding that is specific to political outgroups, but rather is a characteristic of any intergroup perceptions. Although it is certainly possible that one could observe the same pattern in other intergroup contexts, there are reasons to believe that these same patterns do not generalize across all ingroup–outgroup perceptions. For example, both men and women who endorse benevolent sexist beliefs (Glick & Fiske, 1996) are more likely to rate the gap between unintelligence and immorality to be larger for women than for men because here women are stereotyped as being both pure and in need of protection (i.e., incapable). Even in the case of other antagonistic groups, it is not necessarily the case that these same patterns occur. For example, atheists are uniquely seen by Christians as being highly immoral (but not necessarily unintelligent; Gervais, 2013Gervais et al., 2011), whereas Christians are seen by atheists as being less competent in science, in part because of the perceived conflict between science and religion (Rios et al., 2015Simpson & Rios, 2019).

Finally, one might argue that unintelligence perceptions were higher than immorality perceptions because of the items’ wordings. Perhaps we worded the unintelligence items more negatively, causing partisans to endorse them more. However, if this were the case, we would not have expected the same pattern of results (unintelligence > immorality) for the ingroup ratings. Another objection one might raise is that people are just averse to seeing others as evil. This may be true, but first, participants did endorse the immorality items to some degree, and second, we can conclude that despite the pervasiveness of political antipathy, partisans are still somewhat reluctant to view each other as immoral.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

"Rather than discriminating against women who run for office, voters on average appear to reward women," "the average effect of being a woman (relative to a man) is a gain of approximately 2 percentage points"

What Have We Learned about Gender from Candidate Choice Experiments? A Meta-Analysis of Sixty-Seven Factorial Survey Experiments. Susanne Schwarz and Alexander Coppock. The Journal of Politics Volume 84, Number 2, April 2022.

Abstract: Candidate choice survey experiments in the form of conjoint or vignette experiments have become a standard part of the political science toolkit for understanding the effects of candidate characteristics on vote choice. We collect 67 such studies from all over the world and reanalyze them using a standardized approach. We find that the average effect of being a woman (relative to a man) is a gain of approximately 2 percentage points. We find some evidence of heterogeneity across contexts, candidates, and respondents. The difference is somewhat larger for white (vs. black) candidates and among survey respondents who are women (vs. men) or, in the US context, identify as Democrats or Independents (vs. Republicans). Our results add to the growing body of experimental and observational evidence that voter preferences are not a major factor explaining the persistently low rates of women in elected office.