Tuesday, May 31, 2022

This provocation argues that up to 50% of the articles that are now being published in many interdisciplinary sustainability and transitions journals may be categorized as "scholarly bullshit"

Bullshit in the Sustainability and Transitions Literature: a Provocation. Julian Kirchherr. Circular Economy and Sustainability, May 20 2022. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s43615-022-00175-9

Abstract: Research on sustainability and transitions is burgeoning. Some of this research is helping to solve humankind’s most pressing problems. However, as this provocation argues, up to 50% of the articles that are now being published in many interdisciplinary sustainability and transitions journals may be categorized as “scholarly bullshit.” These are articles that typically engage with the latest sustainability and transitions buzzword (e.g., circular economy), while contributing little to none to the scholarly body of knowledge on the topic. A typology of “scholarly bullshit” is proposed which includes the following archetypes: boring question scholarship, literature review of literature reviews, recycled research, master thesis madness, and activist rants. Since “scholarly bullshit” articles engage with the latest academic buzzwords, they also tend to accumulate significant citations and are thus welcomed by many journal editors. Citations matter most in the metric-driven logic of the academic system, and this type of scholarship, sadly, is thus unlikely to decrease in the coming years.

On the Root Causes of Scholarly Bullshit

There appears to be a lot of scholarly bullshit out there. A previous version of this manuscript stated that at least 50% of the articles published in sustainability and transitions journals may be categorized as scholarly bullshit. This figure has also been noted in the introduction. Two reviewers of this work asked how this figure has been developed. The author of this provocation has selected ca. 100 articles published recently on CE in well-known journals such as Journal of Cleaner Production, Ecological Economics, and Sustainability. The author could instantly categorize at least 50% of these articles in one of the five archetypes proposed in Table 1 and thus suggests that perhaps up to 50% of the articles that are now being published in many interdisciplinary sustainability and transitions journals could be categorized as “scholarly bullshit.” Admittedly, and at the risk of turning this provocation into a parody, the author notes that further work ought to be undertaken to strengthen this initial estimate. After all, ca. 100 articles are not representative of the vast scholarly CE literature and any set of articles ought to be coded by at least two scholars to ensure reliability.

The author also maintains that many scholars appear to agree that too much inferior quality is published in many sustainability and transitions journals. For instance, one of the reviewers of this paper noted in their review: “Interesting, provocative article […]. The author […] touches a topic that is […] a reality. I must say that I don't disagree with the general comment about the load and quality of papers published.” Meanwhile, the editor-in-chief of one of the most respected sustainability and transitions journal wrote to the author regarding an earlier version of this manuscript upon submission to their journal: “I may meet resistance from my co-editors, but I will defend your paper. This needs to be said.” (Sadly, the co-editors sacked the paper, and it then took a while until this provocation found a home in a respected peer-reviewed journal.)

Additionally, it appears that an increasing number of academicians in the field would agree that the share of scholarly bullshit is unlikely to decrease in the coming years. After all, if one searches journals such as Journal of Cleaner Production and Ecological Economics, one finds that articles containing the latest buzzwords, such as “circular economy,” are among the most cited pieces. Publishing such works has caused the impact factors of many journals to skyrocket. Accordingly, there is a certain fear among the editors of these journals that they will miss the next highly cited article. At the same time, the sheer volume and growth of this sustainability and transitions buzzword scholarship guarantees that almost any article on the topic will garner at least a modest number of citations.

This all also drives more and more authors into publishing on the very latest buzzword, e.g., “circular economy,” which creates a perpetuum mobile respectively vicious circle (depending on your perspective) regarding publications on such topics. Given this dynamic, the author of this work contends that, at this point, it is very difficult not to get a piece entailing the latest sustainability and transitions buzzword published in an at least relatively known peer-reviewed journal. All contributors (journal editors, authors) know they may be producing scholarly bullshit; however, publishing such works is advantageous for everyone involved in this contemporary academic system.

These scholarly bullshit publications, in turn, as also noted by a reviewer of this paper, are driven, from a roots cause perspective, by the need for tenure respectively the aim to secure promotion and funding. Those who seek this are usually required to demonstrate recognition of their work in the scholarly community which is operationalized by having published many highly cited works on a topic that is en vogue. People need permanent jobs and the desire to acquire funding and promotions is also understandable. It may thus not be fair to blame all academicians out there for churning out scholarly bullshit. Rather, the focus may be turned to the elites that have designed an academic system that mistakes publishing many highly cited papers for the advancement of science. In other words: the academic system is so focused on quantitative targets that it may have forgotten what these targets were supposed to measure.

Replacing this system with one that eventually produces less scholarly bullshit is no trivial task. Those running this system have proven significant staying power. However, some scholars in the field of sustainability and transitions literature and beyond still appear to/may be able to care about more than their h-index. The next time these scholars embark on a piece of research, they should ask themselves: “Is this me now merely adding to the pile of scholarly bullshit? Or am I contributing to the advancement of knowledge in my field?” And even those scholars who are driven by the metrics of the academic system may find that true contributions could gather the most recognition in the end.

People judge facial attractiveness more accurately for female faces while giving more accurate wealth judgments for male faces

Gender Biases in the Accuracy of Facial Judgments: Facial Attractiveness and Perceived Socioeconomic Status. Yue Qi and Jia Ying. Front. Psychol., May 31 2022 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.884888

Product: Many studies demonstrate that people form their first impression of a stranger based on facial appearance, and these impressions influence their subsequent decisions and behaviors. However, much less research has examined the factors that moderate the accuracy of first impressions based on a photo of face. The present study included three experiments to explore gender differences in the accuracy of impressions based on faces. The results showed that people judge facial attractiveness more accurately for female faces than for male faces while giving more accurate wealth judgments for male faces than for female faces. Interestingly, although we did not find a significant correlation between confidence ratings and the accuracy of wealth rating, we recognized a significant moderate correlation between confidence ratings and the accuracy of attractiveness ratings when female participants rated male faces. To our knowledge, the present study is the first to reveal gender biases in the accuracy of impression judgments based on facial appearance. These findings imply a significant influence of traditional gender roles on accurate facial judgments.

General Discussion

The present study showed that people give more accurate judgments of the facial attractiveness of female faces than of male faces and give more accurate wealth judgments for male faces than for female faces. To our knowledge, the current research is the first to show gender biases in the accuracy of impressions formed from faces. This indicates an important role of facial gender in shaping accurate first impressions.

The differences in judgment accuracy of male and female faces may be caused by differences in traditional gender roles. From an evolutionary perspective, these gender biases have been linked to the production and survival of offspring. A man’s reproductive potential is related more to his (economic) resources. In contrast, a woman’s reproductive potential is associated more closely with her health, which may be related to physical attractiveness (Luxen and Van De Vijver, 2006). Thus, females might be more familiar with others’ evaluations of their own facial attractiveness and thus achieve a higher level of consistency on self-other agreement. These results are also consistent with previous findings that facial gender is a salient facial cue in face processing and has an effect on other types of information (e.g., expression) processing (Liu et al., 2017). Moreover, Maner et al. (2003) found that both male and female observers selectively focus on physically attractive female targets according to the targets’ facial photos, suggesting that people care more about female facial attractiveness than male facial attractiveness. The more attention that is paid to female facial attractiveness, the more accurate the judgments that can be made based on facial appearance.

In contrast to the findings about female faces in Studies 1 and 2, Study 3 revealed that people tend to rate perceived socioeconomic status (SES) more accurately for male faces than for female faces. In mate selection, SES is of great significance to males since females are more attentive to resources that can be invested in themselves and their offspring (Wang et al., 2018). Thus, on the one hand, males will expend more effort to increase their SES and recognize SES differences between themselves and competitors so that they can attract potential mates. On the other hand, females will seek as much evidence as possible to confirm their judgment of males’ SES to help them “make a good choice”. Moreover, because the number of male billionaires is larger than that of females all over the world (Wai, 2014Forbes, 2022) and there is more media news or information related to wealthy males than to wealthy females, people may learn more useful cues to help them rate males’ SES, even using only faces. Therefore, people’s gender stereotypes are enhanced when SES is highly correlated with males in society. Similar gender bias is also found in research on how masculine facial cues play a key role in competence impressions (Oh et al., 2019). When people evaluate traits or personalities, the more evidence they accumulate and the more information they have observed and mastered, the higher the accuracy of their judgments and evaluations will be (Watson et al., 2000Biesanz et al., 2007). These findings provide cross-validation of our hypothesis that people may pay more attention to the characteristics that are consistent with gender roles (e.g., the attractiveness of women, the socioeconomic status of men), thus accumulating more evidence that helps them make more accurate judgments.

The current findings regarding gender bias show the great social influences on gender differences. The higher accuracy of judgments of the facial attractiveness of female faces and of the wealth of male faces indicates that people can make relatively accurate judgments about these factors based only on faces. More importantly, it suggests that when the characteristics are consistent with gender stereotypes and are emphasized by society, people assign more attention to the characteristics of the gender. As a result, by accumulating more experience and evidence, people can make more accurate judgments. On the positive side, people can quickly establish a relatively accurate impression of some characteristics that fit gender stereotypes to benefit their daily life interactions. However, the restricted accuracy of impressions based on face photos should receive more research attention. On the negative side, people put little effort into learning about characteristics that conflict with gender stereotypes, which might aggravate gender stereotypes across society. In addition, in Studies 2 and 3, we found that males rated characteristics that conflict with gender stereotypes more accurately than females did, which suggests that males might be affected less by gender stereotypes. This finding could be further examined in future research.

The analysis of confidence ratings implies that although the participants were able to make relatively accurate judgments, they may have struggled to be aware of their judgment accuracy. Participants might not realize whether they have extracted useful information from faces to help them make judgments. In addition, it is possible that they might not be sure of the gap between their own standards and external standards while giving their ratings. However, in Study 2, the significant moderate correlation between confidence ratings and rating accuracy when female participants rated male faces is interesting and is in line with research showing that females exhibit higher levels of interpersonal sensitivity than males (Chan et al., 2010). Despite female participants’ higher accuracy when rating female faces, they had a clearer awareness when rating male faces. When rating male faces, even though male participants rated them more accurately, they failed to recognize their rating accuracy. However, we did not find a similar result in Study 3. Overall, these results show that although gender bias exists in terms of judgment accuracy, people do not have a relatively clear awareness of their rating behaviors and the gender bias of their judgments. This means that during the rating process, people might have underlying evaluation references that they are unaware of, which could be explored more thoroughly in the future.

Republicans abhor 'critical race theory' more than 'cancel culture'

The new culture wars: Why critical race theory matters more than cancel culture. Eric Kaufmann. Social Science Quarterly, May 27 2022. https://doi.org/10.1111/ssqu.13156


Background: A set of ‘New Culture Wars’ over questions of majority identity protection and free speech have become important in American politics, but have not received attention from empirical political science

Objective: Compare the relative size of partisan differences on issues of ‘Cancel Culture’ and ‘Critical Race Theory’.

Method: Logistic regression models using attitudes toward real-world Cancel Culture and Critical Race Theory examples to predict partisanship.

Results: Data show that Republican voters are no more likely to fear career consequences or dismissal for speech than Democrats. Republicans are also more opposed to teaching critical perspectives on race and history in schools than they are to employees being fired for dissenting speech within organizations. Strong white identifiers are both more opposed to diversity training which emphasizes white racism and less opposed to firing people for disputed cases of racist or sexist speech.

Conclusion: Due to the distinctive moral foundations of conservative voters, this paper argues that perceived attacks on white and American identity are a more powerful source of grievance for Republican voters than concerns over freedom of expression. It is hypothesized that the conservative moral foundation of group loyalty helps to explain these findings.

Monday, May 30, 2022

"Gold rush" counties have higher entrepreneurship rates from 1910, when records began, until the present as well as a higher prevalence of entrepreneurial traits in the populace

Stuetzer, Michael and Brodeur, Abel and Brodeur, Abel and Obschonka, Martin and Audretsch, David B. and Rentfrow, Jason and Potter, Jeff and Gosling, Samuel, A Golden Opportunity: The Gold Rush, Entrepreneurship and Culture. IZA Discussion Paper No. 14894, May 2022, http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4114397

Abstract: We study the origins of entrepreneurship (culture) in the United States. For the analysis we make use of a quasi-natural experiment - the gold rush in the second part of the 19th century. We argue that the presence of gold attracted individuals with entrepreneurial personality traits. Due to a genetic founder effect and the formation of an entrepreneurship culture, we expect gold rush counties to have higher entrepreneurship rates. The analysis shows that gold rush counties indeed have higher entrepreneurship rates from 1910, when records began, until the present as well as a higher prevalence of entrepreneurial traits in the populace.

Keywords: gold rush, entrepreneurship, culture

JEL Classification: L26, R12, N5, N9

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Participants were no more or less likely to report romantic interest in potential partners who matched vs mismatched their ideals; ideal partner preference-matching effects were extremely small and typically no different from zero

Predicting romantic interest during early relationship development: A preregistered investigation using machine learning. Paul W Eastwick et al. European Journal of Personality, May 28, 2022. https://doi.org/10.1177/08902070221085877

Abstract: There are massive literatures on initial attraction and established relationships. But few studies capture early relationship development: the interstitial period in which people experience rising and falling romantic interest for partners who could—but often do not—become sexual or dating partners. In this study, 208 single participants reported on 1,065 potential romantic partners across 7,179 data points over 7 months. In stage 1, we used random forests (a type of machine learning) to estimate how well different classes of variables (e.g., individual differences vs. target-specific constructs) predicted participants’ romantic interest in these potential partners. We also tested (and found only modest support for) the perceiver × target moderation account of compatibility: the meta-theoretical perspective that some types of perceivers experience greater romantic interest for some types of targets. In stage 2, we used multilevel modeling to depict predictors retained by the random-forests models; robust (positive) main effects emerged for many variables, including sociosexuality, sex drive, perceptions of the partner’s positive attributes (e.g., attractive and exciting), attachment features (e.g., proximity seeking), and perceived interest. Finally, we found no support for ideal partner preference-matching effects on romantic interest. The discussion highlights the need for new models to explain the origin of romantic compatibility.

Keywords: attraction, romantic relationships, hookups, compatiblity, random forests

A third of respondents reported remembering a fabricated or factually altered political event, especially if it was unflattering to the political opponent

Filling in the Gaps: False Memories and Partisan Bias. Miles T. Armaly, Adam M. Enders. Political Psychology, May 27 2022. https://doi.org/10.1111/pops.12841

Abstract: While cognitive psychologists have learned a great deal about people's propensity for constructing and acting on false memories, the connection between false memories and politics remains understudied. If partisan bias guides the adoption of beliefs and colors one's interpretation of new events and information, so too might it prove powerful enough to fabricate memories of political circumstances. Across two studies, we first distinguish false memories from false beliefs and expressive responses; false political memories appear to be genuine and subject to partisan bias. We also examine the political and psychological correlates of false memories. Nearly a third of respondents reported remembering a fabricated or factually altered political event, with many going so far as to convey the circumstances under which they “heard about” the event. False-memory recall is correlated with the strength of partisan attachments, interest in politics, and participation, as well as narcissism, conspiratorial thinking, and cognitive ability.

Depression: Human brain systems have significantly different pattern of adolescent development in females vs males; developmental differences that are located in cortical areas/subcortical nuclei are psychologically, genomically, clinically relevant

Sexually divergent development of depression-related brain networks during healthy human adolescence. Lena Dorfschmidt et al. Science Advances, May 27 2022, Vol 8, Issue 21, DOI 10.1126/sciadv.abm7825

Abstract: Sexual differences in human brain development could be relevant to sex differences in the incidence of depression during adolescence. We tested for sex differences in parameters of normative brain network development using fMRI data on N = 298 healthy adolescents, aged 14 to 26 years, each scanned one to three times. Sexually divergent development of functional connectivity was located in the default mode network, limbic cortex, and subcortical nuclei. Females had a more “disruptive” pattern of development, where weak functional connectivity at age 14 became stronger during adolescence. This fMRI-derived map of sexually divergent brain network development was robustly colocated with i prior loci of reward-related brain activation ii a map of functional dysconnectivity in major depressive disorder (MDD), and iii an adult brain gene transcriptional pattern enriched for genes on the X chromosome, neurodevelopmental genes, and risk genes for MDD. We found normative sexual divergence in adolescent development of a cortico-subcortical brain functional network that is relevant to depression.


This study was motivated by the twin hypotheses that there are sex-divergent differences in brain functional network development of healthy adolescents and that these normative developmental differences are located in cortical areas and subcortical nuclei that are psychologically, genomically, and clinically relevant to depression. In this accelerated longitudinal fMRI study of healthy young people, we first identified human brain systems that demonstrated a significantly different pattern of adolescent development in females compared to males. We found sex differences in several aspects of FC: Females had lower global mean FC across all ages and reduced nodal strength of connectivity in most regional nodes at 14 years, FC14. However, there were more anatomically specific sex differences in two developmentally sensitive parameters: The rate of change in FC during adolescence, FC14 − 26, was significantly reduced in females for connections between one cortical nucleus (nucleus accumbens) and 27 cortical structures, and the MI, a coefficient of the linear relationship between edgewise FC14 and FC14 − 26 at each node, was significantly more negative in females for 107 cortical areas concentrated in the DMN, ventral attentional, and limbic networks, as well as subcortical nuclei.
The MI can be used to define two modes of adolescent brain functional network development (6). A conservative node is defined by a positive MI, indicating that it is highly connected or “hub-like” at baseline (14 years) and becomes even more strongly connected over the course of adolescence (14 to 26 years). Theoretically, conservative nodes could also be weakly connected at baseline and become even more weakly connected during adolescence; however, empirically, we found that this was not the case (fig. S14). A disruptive node is defined by a negative MI, indicating either that it is weakly connected at age 14 but becomes more strongly connected or hub-like during adolescence or that it is a strongly connected node at 14 years but becomes more weakly connected or less hub-like during adolescence. The disruptive developmental profile of weak-getting-stronger during adolescence hypothetically represents a “rewiring” in the functional connectome, which could be relevant to the acquisition of social, cognitive, and other skills (6). Similar selective strengthening of connections has also been observed on the cellular level in the developing Caenorhabditis elegans connectome (63). It has also been argued that brain networks that are most developmentally active during adolescence are most likely to contribute to the coincidentally increased risk of mental health symptoms, i.e., “moving parts get broken” (11). For these reasons, our analysis focused particularly on sexual differences in weak-getting-stronger disruption in cortico-subcortical networks; results for strong-getting-stronger or conservative development are summarized in fig. S16.
The first explanation that we considered for this sex difference in developmental fMRI parameters is that they were attributable to sex differences in potentially confounding variables, including head motion during scanning. Head movement is known to be a potentially problematic confounder in developmental fMRI (1921), and males, especially younger males, had more head movement than females in this sample. We initially addressed this issue by a two-stage preprocessing pipeline that statistically corrected each participant’s functional connectome for between-subject differences in head motion, indexed by FD. These preprocessed data passed the standard quality control criteria for movement-related effects on FC. In addition, we conducted three sensitivity analyses of head movement, repeating the entire analysis for male and female data separately, for a “motion-matched” subset of the data in which there was no significant sex difference in FD, and for all data after GSR (figs. S20 to S33) (24). In parallel, we conducted two additional sensitivity analyses to assess whether the male > female differences in intracranial volume, or global FC, might have confounded our principal results. In all five sensitivity analyses, our key results were qualitatively and quantitatively conserved, e.g., ΔMI maps estimated by the principal analysis were strongly correlated (mean r ∼ 0.8) with corresponding maps estimated by each sensitivity analysis. We therefore consider that sex differences in head movement, intracranial volume, and global FC can be discounted as sufficient explanations for sex differences in these parameters of brain network development.
An alternative explanation is that sex differences in FC14 − 26 and MI reflect divergent development of specific cortico-subcortical circuits. In particular, females have a significantly more disruptive pattern of adolescent development, indexed by negative ΔMI, because functional connections that were weak at 14 years became stronger, and connections that were strong became weaker, over the course of adolescence. This sex difference in terms of FC could be related to sex differences in an underlying process of reconfiguration or remodeling of cortico-subcortical connectivity at a synaptic or neuronal scale. To assess the plausibility of this biological interpretation, we used preexisting data on human brain gene expression, and the dimension-reducing multivariate method of PLS to identify the set of genes that were most over- or underexpressed in brain regions corresponding to the divergent system defined by developmental fMRI. Enrichment analysis demonstrated that the genes that were most strongly expressed in brain regions with more disruptive (or less conservative) development in females included significantly more X chromosome genes than expected by chance. The same set of genes was also significantly enriched for genes that are known a priori to be expressed in cortical areas during early (perinatal) development and in subcortical structures, such as amygdala, during adolescent development.
Sexual differentiation of the brain has been proposed to occur in two stages: an initial “organizational” stage before and immediately after birth and a later “activational” stage during adolescence (64). It has long been argued that these events are driven by gonadal hormones. However, more recent work suggests a complex interplay of sex chromosomes and their downstream products leading to sexual differentiation of brain cells (6567). The results of our enrichment analysis, indicating colocation of the sexually divergent fMRI-derived map with brain regions enriched for expression of X chromosomal and neurodevelopmental genes, are compatible with interpretation of adolescent change in fMRI connectivity as a marker of an underlying program of transcriptional changes in genes previously linked to postnatal sexual differentiation at a neuronal level.
We assessed the relevance to depression of this sexually divergent profile of brain network development in several ways. Anatomically, the DMN and subcortical structures that had more disruptive development in females, e.g., ventral medial prefrontal cortex, medial temporal gyrus, and anterior and posterior cingulate cortex, have previously been implicated as substrates of depressive disorder (6869). This anatomical convergence was quantified by the significant spatial correlation between the whole brain map of sex differences in MI and an independent map of MDD case-control differences in nodal degree of FC. Cortical and subcortical areas with reduced degree of connectivity or “hubness” in MDD cases had more disruptive development in adolescent females. Genomically, the list of genes transcriptionally colocated with this divergently developing network was enriched for risk genes from prior genome-wide association studies of MDD. Further contextualizing the genes that were found to be significantly overexpressed in regions displaying more disruptive development in females, we noticed that this list included two (SST and NPY) of three genes previously reported (70), as specifically expressed by adult neuronal and glial cells and linked to neuroimaging phenotypes of depression (fig. S44). It is also notable that MDD has been previously associated with up-regulation of X-linked escapee genes and genes that control X-inactivation (71). Psychologically, by meta-analysis of a large prior database of task-related fMRI studies, we found that brain regions comprising the sexually divergent system were psychologically specialized for reward- and emotion-related processes that are fundamental to core depressive symptoms, e.g., anhedonia. Collectively, these results do not prove that there is a causal relationship between sexually divergent brain development and risk of depression. However, they demonstrate that there is a sexually divergent process of adolescent development of a cortico-subcortical system that is anatomically, genomically, and psychologically relevant to depression. These insights motivate and focus future studies purposively designed to test the hypothesis that sexual divergence of adolescent brain development causes contemporaneous or subsequent sex differences in the risk for mood disorders.
It is increasingly recognized that clinical phenotypes and genetic and environmental risk factors may be shared in common between depression and other mental health disorders arising in adolescence (7273). In particular, abnormalities in fMRI connectivity have been reported as trans-diagnostic phenotypes, characteristic of multiple, diagnostically distinct disorders (72), and risk genes associated with individual mental health and neurodevelopmental disorders have been found to overlap across disorders, implying that some genes confer trans-diagnostic risk for multiple neuropsychiatric disorders (73). In this context, it is reasonable to ask whether the significant associations that we have demonstrated between ΔMI and both fMRI and genetic data on MDD are specific to depression or whether they are representative of a trans-diagnostic association between ΔMI and functional dysconnectivity and/or risk genes for mental health disorders more generally. As a first step in addressing this question, we tested for spatial colocation of the ΔMI map and a map of functional dysconnectivity derived from a prior case-control fMRI study of schizophrenia. We found no significant association, indicating that the abnormalities of FC associated with adult schizophrenia do not coincide anatomically with the cortico-subcortical network that demonstrated sex differences in adolescent development. In a second step, we tested for enrichment by schizophrenia-associated genes of the list of genes that were identified by PLS analysis as transcriptionally colocated with the ΔMI map. We found no evidence for significant enrichment of this gene list by risk genes for schizophrenia. In summary, these two specificity analyses indicated that the brain systems demonstrating sexually divergent development in adolescence were not anatomically or genetically linked to schizophrenia, suggesting that this normative neurodevelopmental process may be specifically relevant to depression. However, we note that we have only tested for a relationship between ΔMI and two mental health disorders (MDD and schizophrenia). It will be important in the future to explore this relationship across a wider range of disorders to characterize its diagnostic specificity more comprehensively and conclusively. It is conceivable that sex differences in development of this system could be relevant to sex differences in risk for other mental health disorders.

Methodological limitations

It is a strength of the study that our analysis of sexually divergent brain network development is based on a large, accelerated longitudinal fMRI dataset with approximately equal numbers of males and females in each stratum of the adolescent age range. However, previous work has found substantial overlap in male and female distributions of multiple brain measures (7475), and the metrics analyzed here (FC14, FC14 − 26, and ΔMI) are group-level parameters. Thus, all reported sex differences are reflective of a group mean difference, estimated from FC distributions that substantially overlap between the sexes. On this basis, we are not arguing that female and male brains are distinctly dimorphic (76). Furthermore, this study included only data on biological sex such that we cannot comment on the effects of gender.
Limitations of the study include our reliance on gene expression maps from postmortem examination of six adult, mostly male, brains. This dataset is used widely and has been invaluable in shedding new light on the molecular correlates of neuroimaging phenotypes (77). Biological validation of sexually divergent adolescent development of this cortico-subcortical system derived from fMRI would be more directly informed by sex-specific human brain maps of whole-genome transcription in adolescence, but to the best of our knowledge, these data are not currently available. It will also be important in the future to test the hypothesis that an anatomically homologous cortico-subcortical system has divergent adolescent development in animal models that allow more precise but invasive analysis of the cellular and molecular substrates of fMRI phenotypes than is possible in humans.
Here, we used spin tests to correct for the confounding effects of spatial autocorrelation. Spatial autocorrelation of statistical brain maps can cause inflated estimates of the probability of spatial colocation or correlation between two maps (78). The spin-test procedure addresses this issue by conserving the spatial autocorrelational structure of the maps by randomly “spinning” or spherically rotating each map over the surface of the brain and calculating the spatial colocation statistic after each spin permutation (79). Other methods for testing spatial colocation in the context of spatial autocorrelation have been proposed, and this remains an active focus for ongoing research, especially in relation to colocation of neuroimaging phenotypes and brain gene transcriptional maps (78).

Social and environmental factors are relevant modulators of psychiatric disorders (80) and have not been assessed in this study. These factors (i) can be neurodevelopmentally relevant, i.e., childhood socioeconomic status influences the pace of brain development (81), and (ii) can help explain sex and gender differences in mental health outcomes, i.e., previous studies have demonstrated a relationship between social inequality and gender disparities in mental health (82). This naturally leads to the question of how sexually divergent functional network development might be modulated by socioeconomic deprivation or other environmental risk factors for mental health disorder. We suggest that deeper understanding of these potential interactions between biological programs of sexually divergent brain development on one hand and gendered or generic social stressors in childhood and adolescence on the other hand will be an important strategic goal for the future of mental health science. 

Gheirat in Iran: Relational violations that elicit this form of honor are harm or insult to namoos (people and self-relevant entities one is obliged to protect), romantic betrayal by namoos, & intrusions by a third person

Razavi, P., Shaban-Azad, H., & Srivastava, S. (2022). Gheirat as a complex emotional reaction to relational boundary violations: A mixed-methods investigation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, May 2022. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000424

Abstract: People from different cultural backgrounds vary in how they define, perceive, and react to violations of relational boundaries. Muslim cultures are diverse and include nearly one in four people in the world, yet research on their relational and moral norms is scarce. We contribute to narrowing this gap by studying gheirat, a moral-emotional experience ubiquitous in Muslim Middle Eastern cultures. In four mixed-methods studies, we study how gheirat is experienced, what situations elicit it, and its social functions among Iranian adults (N = 1,107) using qualitative interviews, scenario- and prototype-based surveys, and an experiment. The prototypical experience of gheirat consisted of diverse appraisals (including sense of responsibility, insecurity, and low self-worth) and emotional components (including hostility, social fears, and low empowerment). We identified three types of relational violations that elicit gheirat: harm or insult to namoos (people and self-relevant entities one is obliged to protect), romantic betrayal by namoos, and intrusions by a third person. Each violation type led to a distinct variant of the prototype. Contrary to folk theories of gheirat, we did not find support for the idea that gheirat is a predominantly male experience. However, an experiment on the signaling effects of gheirat revealed that gheirat expressors are ascribed both positive and negative traits, but positive traits prevail for men and negative traits prevail for women. We discuss how the results contribute to a better understanding of Iranian social life and intercultural contact, as well as the implications for theories of emotion and the cultural logic of honor.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

The bottom of the income distribution reports 10% more items as essential than the top

Income and views on minimum living standards. David W. Johnston, Nidhiya Menon. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Volume 199, July 2022, Pages 18-34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2022.05.007


• This paper explores the association between income and stated views on minimum living standards.

• Data from a large nationally representative survey reveal the rich deem fewer items to be essential.

• At baseline, the bottom of the income distribution reports 10% more items as essential than the top.

• Area-level inequality amplifies the negative income gradient; rich are equally uncaring for kids.

• Views are stable, formed primarily in childhood, and have strong effects on views during adulthood.

Abstract: This paper explores the association between income and stated views on minimum living standards; that is, views on items and activities that no one in today's society should have to go without. Using data from a large nationally representative survey, we find the rich deem fewer items to be essential. In our baseline model, people at the bottom of the income distribution report 10% more items as essential than do people at the top of the income distribution. The negative relationship between income and recommended minimum living standards is robust to conditioning on a large covariate set, and remains evident when we use alternative measures of economic status, such as wealth and neighborhood advantage. We find that area-level income inequality amplifies the negative income gradient, and that the rich are no more considerate towards children than they are towards adults. We also find that changes in people's views across time are relatively small, and unrelated to major economic life events. An explanation for this stability is that views are formed primarily in childhood. We find that economic status in childhood has strong effects on views during adulthood, but that intergenerational economic mobility is unimportant.

Keywords: IncomeLiving standardsInequalityChildhood shocksCulture

JEL: D31D63D64H24H31

Moderate Alcohol Use Is Associated with Reduced Cardiovascular Risk in Middle-Aged Men Independent of Health, Behavior, Psychosocial, and Earlier Life Factors

Moderate Alcohol Use Is Associated with Reduced Cardiovascular Risk in Middle-Aged Men Independent of Health, Behavior, Psychosocial, and Earlier Life Factors. Linda K. McEvoy et al. Nutrients  May 24 2022, Volume 14  Issue 11  https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/14/11/2183

Abstract: We examined whether the often-reported protective association of alcohol with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk could arise from confounding. Our sample comprised 908 men (56–67 years), free of prevalent CVD. Participants were categorized into 6 groups: never drinkers, former drinkers, and very light (1–4 drinks in past 14 days), light (5–14 drinks), moderate (15–28 drinks), and at-risk (>28 drinks) drinkers. Generalized linear mixed effect models examined the associations of alcohol use with three established CVD risk scores: The Framingham Risk Score (FRS); the atherosclerotic CVD (ASCVD) risk score; and the Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) Severity score, adjusting for group differences in demographics, body size, and health-related behaviors. In separate models we additionally adjusted for several groups of potentially explanatory factors including socioeconomic status, social support, physical and mental health status, childhood factors, and prior history of alcohol misuse. Results showed lower CVD risk among light and moderate alcohol drinkers, relative to very light drinkers, for all CVD risk scores, independent of demographics, body size, and health-related behaviors. Alcohol-CVD risk associations were robust to further adjustment for several groups of potential explanatory factors. Study limitations include the all-male sample with limited racial and ethnic diversity, and the inability to adjust for sugar consumption and for patterns of alcohol consumption. Although this observational study does not address causation, results show that middle-aged men who consume alcohol in moderation have lower CVD risk and better cardiometabolic health than men who consume little or no alcohol, independent of a variety of health, behavioral, psychosocial, and earlier life factors.

Keywords: ethanol; CVD; diabetes; metabolic syndrome; atherosclerosis

Gender differences in competitiveness, with men more willing to enter competitions than women, are larger in more gender egalitarian countries

When do we observe a gender gap in competition entry? A meta-analysis of the experimental literature. Eva Markowsky, Miriam Beblo. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Volume 198, June 2022, Pages 139-163. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2022.03.030

Abstract: This paper systematizes the experimental evidence on gender differences in competition preferences with a meta-analysis of 110 studies and 409 effect sizes on observed or residual gender gaps in experimental tournament entry. Our meta-summary confirms that, across all studies, men choose a tournament scheme 13 percentage points more often than women, which is only about a third of the gap found in Niederle and Vesterlund's (2007) seminal paper. Our meta-regression analysis reveals that larger gender differences are indeed prevalent in studies that most closely apply the Niederle-Vesterlund design, i.e., differences are largest in lab experiments with student subject pools and when math tasks are involved, but almost negligible for other age groups, verbal tasks, and in field-like environments. Experimental interventions such as information treatments or affirmative action measures prove very effective in reducing or even eliminating the gender gap. Although some measures of risk preferences and confidence are systematically related to the estimated residual gender gap in tournament entry, they do not eradicate competitiveness as a distinct trait. Finally, higher gender equality at the country level seems to go along with larger differences in women's and men's competition preferences.

Keywords: CompetitivenessGenderExperimentsMeta-analysis

JEL: J16 (Economics of Gender)D91 (Role and effects of psychologicalemotionalsocialand cognitive factors on decision making)C9 (Design of experiments)

1. Introduction

When Jane Fraser became CEO of Citigroup in February 2021, the number of female CEOs in the Fortune 500 increased to 37, resulting in a women's share of all top-level executives in the largest corporations in the United States of just over 7% (Ghosh 2021).1 This strikingly low number illustrates a common observation: Despite recent progress towards gender equality in the work place, women are still significantly underrepresented in leadership positions. The imbalance is not limited to private corporations but noticeable in the public sector as well, although to a somewhat lesser extent (DeHart-Davis et al. 2020Cotroneo et al. 2021). In academia, similar patterns exist where women's representation diminishes throughout academic careers (e.g., European Commission 2019). To this day, in every sector of the labor market, climbing the career ladder to the very top seems to be much less likely for women than it is for men.

The idea that this gender imbalance may be driven by the work environment in high profile jobs, with high levels of competitive pressure, has garnered significant attention (e.g., Sandberg 2013Bertrand 2011). A rather new branch of experimental literature in economics seems to confirm that women perform less well in highly competitive environments and that they are more inclined to avoid competition than men, who, in turn, tend to compete too much (Niederle 2017). We contribute to this field of research by systematizing the experimental evidence on gender differences in willingness to compete in a quantitative meta-analysis that assesses the size of the gap as well as its moderators.

The concept of competitiveness is commonly thought of as a trait comprising observable and unobservable latent components – among them risk and feedback aversion, (over)confidence, ability to perform under pressure and the willingness to enter a competition. Shurchkov & Eckel (2018: 488) argue that the latter represents a “revealed ‘preference for competition’”, making it an obvious choice for experimental investigations of competitiveness. Niederle & Vesterlund (2007) were the first to investigate these gender differences systematically in a laboratory experiment. In their seminal paper, university students perform a mathematical real-effort task twice, once under a piece-rate compensation and once in a winner-takes-all tournament in groups of four, where the winner is paid four times the piece rate per correctly solved problem and the other group members receive no payment. After these two performances, the authors let the subjects choose between piece rate and tournament compensation for the third round, to measure their competitive preferences, and find that women choose the tournament substantially less often than men. The gender gap persists even after controlling for risk aversion, confidence, and performance in a regression framework. In the following years, numerous experimental studies built on the Niederle-Vesterlund (NV) design and tested competitive preferences of women and men with different subject pools, different tasks, under different rules, and in different experimental settings. In doing so, researchers created many of what Hamermesh (2007) classifies as “scientific replications” – tests of an initial finding with different data and methods.

Reviews of this body of literature agree that, as a whole, these ”replication” efforts confirm women to be less willing to enter competitions than men, while emphasizing that the magnitude of the gap depends on the context and other, potentially unobserved, covariates. Among the two most recent and comprehensive, Niederle (2015) underlines the importance of beliefs, risk attitudes, other-regarding preferences, and the experimental task as possible confounding factors in measurements of the gender gap in competition entry. She names a number of other factors that may contribute to the gender gap: hormones, age, socioeconomic status, Big Five personality traits, priming, and culture. Finally, Niederle sees affirmative action and same-sex competition as possible interventions that may induce women to compete at similar levels as men. The review by Shurchkov & Eckel (2018: 10–13) adds stereotyping (though related to beliefs) and subject-pool differences to the list of factors potentially explaining the gender gap in competitiveness and contrast these with moderators that presumably reduce the gap: same-sex tournaments, competition in teams, magnitude of the prize, affirmative action, information/feedback/advice, “priming with ‘professionalism’”, or less time pressure.

In this paper, we complement the qualitative reviews with a systematic quantitative assessment of existing experimental studies on the gender gap in willingness to compete. Given the large number of studies on the subject, a meta-analysis can provide valuable insights where qualitative reviews, however thoroughly conducted, have their limitations. A meta-analysis can pin down an exact effect size and quantify the relative importance of moderators and interventions. While the results of our meta-analysis do not contest the central findings of the existing reviews, we believe that a quantitative analysis helps painting a fuller picture. In particular, we show under which conditions a gender gap in tournament entry emerges and we contribute to the current debate on distinct preference traits and the influence of overall gender equality on the gender gap in willingness to compete. Our analysis informs future research and policy makers aiming to design environments where women feel safe to compete.

The contribution of our paper is hence threefold: First, we summarize all experimental studies on the subject and present standardized effect sizes and their statistical qualities. Our meta-analysis comprises 110 experimental studies on gender differences in the willingness to compete and thereby twice as many as the most comprehensive qualitative review by Shurchkov & Eckel (2018) which reports on 58 papers, including investigations of competitive performance. We systematize the circumstances under which gender gaps in competition entry emerge in these studies by departing from very close NV replications and differentiating between study moderators and intervention moderators when enlarging the sample by more diverting variants of the original experimental design. We investigate the effectiveness of different intervention types aimed at higher competition rates of women. Our results confirm the great importance of the subject-pool and the nature of the experimental task in shaping the gender gap in tournament entry. They also highlight feedback, information, and affirmative action as the most efficient tools for reducing it.

Secondly, we exploit the meta-perspective to study how the measured competition gender gap changes when related traits are considered in a regression framework. This part of our analysis complements the recent debate about competitiveness as a distinct trait. Gillen et al. (2019) point out that experimental elicitations of the gender gap might be subject to bias resulting from erroneous measurement of the related factors risk preferences and overconfidence. The argument is that once measurement error in risk taking and confidence is minimized, both factors explain the majority of the gender gap in competition entry, leaving little room for a separate trait competitiveness.2 The authors show that one feasible way of reducing measurement error is to elicit and include multiple measures of risk and confidence. We build on this discussion and exploit heterogeneity across studies when determining the residual gender gap in tournament entry by different measures and controls for risk and confidence. Our analysis shows that controlling for risk can indeed lower the gender gap in competition entry. However, across the studies in our data set, we do not find evidence that including measures of risk (or confidence) reduces the residual gap systematically towards zero or renders it insignificant.

Thirdly, we contribute to the discussion on the influence of the cultural environment on gendered preferences. Our meta-data set of experimental competition studies conducted in 30 different countries and over a decade enables us to compare gender gaps in tournament entry relative to these countries’ respective state of gender equality. By complementing our data set with an indicator of gender equality, we show that competition gender gaps are larger in countries with higher levels of equal opportunity and parity between women and men.

The rest of the paper is structured as follows: Section 2 introduces our data set of experimental studies as well as the relevant effect sizes, i.e., measures of gender gaps in competition entry, and the different types of explanatory factors (moderators) included in the meta-analysis. Section 3 uses meta-analytical tools to quantify the reported competition gap, including formal tests for the presence of a potential publication bias in this body of literature. Section 4 applies meta-regression analysis to explain the heterogeneity in the literature and to answer the questions on effective interventions, correlations with risk preferences and overconfidence, and the cultural environment raised above. In Section 5 we conclude.

Women derive more happiness and life satisfaction from meaningful experiences than men whereas men derive more happiness and satisfaction with life from pleasurable experiences than women

Experiences and happiness: The role of gender. J. Joško Brakus, Weifeng Chen, Bernd Schmitt, Lia Zarantonello. Psychology & Marketing, May 27 2022. https://doi.org/10.1002/mar.21677

Abstract> It is well established that experiences make people happy, but we still know little about how individual differences affect the relationship between consumption of experiences and happiness. This study focuses on gender as the predictor of happiness and addresses the following question: Do women and men differ in the way they attain happiness from consumption of experiences? Considering that research shows that women and men differ in how they process information, it is possible that they differ in how much they reflect on an experience too. Therefore, this study also investigates how the relationship between consumption of experiences and gender is moderated by Need for Cognition (NFC) in affecting subjective happiness. The results of a survey of adult consumers show than women derive more happiness and life satisfaction from meaningful experiences than men whereas men derive more happiness and satisfaction with life from pleasurable experiences than women. NFC moderates these results. The study provides evidence for the distinction between pleasure and meaning in consumption contexts and for the important role of gender in consumption of experiences. Its results imply that design and structuring of commercial experiences should take customer gender into account.


4.1 Theoretical implications

The empirical study and structural analysis strongly support the offered conceptualization on the important role of gender in consumption of experiences affecting consumer happiness. Men seem to derive more happiness and satisfaction with life from pleasurable experiences than women, while women derive more happiness and satisfaction with life from personally fulfilling (or meaningful) experiences than men.

Our results thus support the notion that pleasure and meaning are separate dimensions that matter greatly when consumers assess how happy and satisfied they are with life as part of a variety of consumed experiences. This study finds that personal fulfilment (or meaning) as an experience evoked by consumption directly and positively affects subjective happiness and life satisfaction. However, while pleasure also directly affects life satisfaction, it does not influence immediate subjective happiness. It is possible that the evoked pleasure may be detrimental to subjective happiness because consumption for pleasure may be seen as frivolous, resulting in guilt (Boujbel & d'Astous, 2015; Lascu, 1991). In our sample of Western consumers, this effect holds not only for women, but also for men. In Western, gender-equal societies consuming for pleasure may generally trigger negative materialistic stereotypes (Kilbourne & LaForge, 2010), and therefore attenuate the positive effect of pleasure on subjective happiness.

However, when consumers change the time perspective and assess their life satisfaction—rather than the immediate post-consumption happiness—they seem to see the positive role that pleasure has for their life satisfaction. The shift in the perspective may enable them to think in more abstract terms (Trope & Liberman, 2010), and to think positively about the role pleasure has in their lives.

As predicted, NFC moderates the impact of pleasure and meaning on subjective happiness differently for men and women. Men who have high NFC and who therefore structure and meaningfully reason about the situations in which they find themselves can derive more happiness from meaningful consumption than men who have low NFC. Analogously, women who have high NFC get less happiness from pleasurable consumption than women who have low NFC. These results empirically confirm the speculations made by Meyers-Levy and Loken (2015) about the NFC as a key predictor of gender-specific information processing strategies.

Perceived relative income positively affects short-term happiness, but not life satisfaction. Again, this result may be a consequence of the shift from a short- to a long-term assessment (see above) and may explain the inconsistencies in the existing research on income and happiness. When one thinks abstractly, life seems to be not only about money. Also, what matters in the relation between perceived relative income and happiness is not the absolute amount of money one makes, but the relative or subjective amount (i.e., as perceived in comparison to others).

Does “nature” or “nurture” explain the relationship between gender and happiness? When it comes to any gender differences, there are always two “end-point” explanations on a continuum of possible explanations: they may be evolutionarily determined (i.e., innate) or they may be socio-culturally determined. So, do women seek happiness and life satisfaction from meaningful experiences more than men, and do men seek happiness and life satisfaction from pleasurable experiences more than women because this is just a reflection of intrinsic predispositions or are these examples of “learned” gendered behaviors?

A possible explanation for the observed differences is that these they are a result of socialization. Social structures, institutions, and the different societal roles that women and men have traditionally held contribute to differences in behavior of the two genders. To a large extent, how women and men regard themselves has been shaped by cognitions attained in childhood and marked by then-current socio-culturally constructed exemplary “female” and “male” behaviors (Bem, 1974). Consequently, it is possible women caring on average more about personal fulfillment than men, and men more about pleasure than women, are examples of such “nurtured” behaviors.

In contrast to sociocultural explanations of consumer behavior, evolutionary theory (“nature”) suggests that if a specific behavior is stable across societies, it is probably evolutionarily determined (Tooby & Cosmides, 2005). Applied to the current study, if we were to find out that meaning and pleasure have a differential impact on female and male happiness and life satisfaction, and this distinction is stable across different cultures, it would be more probable that such differences were innate rather than socio-culturally constructed. We do not have cross-cultural data, however, to test this proposition. Still, and notwithstanding that our hypothesis linking pleasure and subjective happiness for the two genders (H4a) was not supported, some secondary evidence shows that the differential influences of meaning and of pleasure on happiness and life satisfaction of the two genders are more likely to be socio-culturally constructed than innate. We offer three reasons for this conjecture.

First, in contemporary Western societies, professional women still must negotiate their lives between their professional and family roles (Stevenson & Wolfers, 2009). Professional working mothers engage in the culturally prominent lifestyle known as “juggling” (Thompson, 1996). Because of juggling (and the lack of “me” time), consumed experiences hold specific meanings for working women. Jugglers “have been socialized in a common system of conflicting cultural ideals, beliefs, and gender ideologies” in a search for “meanings that arise in relation to [their] salient life concerns and their sense of personal history” (Thompson, 1996, p. 388). If this is the case, it could be that women, on average, prioritize personal fulfilment (i.e., meaning) more than men when consuming experiences. It could also be the case that daughters acquire this inclination from their mothers in childhood. Note that the gender differences in few aspects of psychological well-being that Roothman et al. (2003) observe are also in line with gender stereotypes and traditional socialization practices. Moreover, judging by the weak relation of pleasure and happiness for both genders in our sample, it could be the case than men in contemporary, increasingly gender equal Western societies are also socio-culturally conditioned to “neglect” pleasure. This conjecture is consistent with Eagly and Wood's (1999) convergence hypothesis. Applied to happiness and well-being, this predicts that men and women should become more similar in what makes them happy and increases their life satisfaction as traditional gender-based divisions in wage labor and domestic labor disappear. Contemporary Western men, like contemporary Western women, increasingly suffer from “juggling” lifestyle and an inability to “stop and smell the roses.”

Second, according to Baumeister et al. (2013), pleasure—as a balance of affect between pleasure and pain—is rooted in nature, whereas meaning is cultural. Evaluating the meaningfulness of an experience requires consumers to interpret culturally transmitted symbols to be able to assess the experience in relation to values and other meanings that also are learned from the culture (Baumeister et al., 2013).

Finally, our results echo the findings of Dennis et al. (2018) who studied gendered shopping styles. Note that shopping is an experience that our respondents listed (see Table 2). Dennis et al. show that women, when they shop, like the company of fellow shoppers and enjoy shopping as a social experience. Men, however, shop quickly. They prefer to shop alone because that makes shopping efficient and gets the job done. Importantly, women in our sample, in contrast to men, are more likely to recall communal than solitary experiences.

4.2 Managerial implications

The results of the present study are managerially relevant because they offer clues for creation and structuring of commercial experiences that would appeal to both genders. Consistent with the results of the present study, we argue that, to make customers happy, companies must be able to deliver predominantly meaningful experiences. Considering that women and men represent two very large segments, many companies cannot pick and choose between the two segments because this would mean a considerable loss of revenue. When they market an experience, companies must make sure that they offer cues and specific services that trigger personal fulfillment on their own. At the same time, it would be a good idea if companies also engage consumers' creativity and a sense of escapism to help consumers avoid overthinking the experience enabling them to momentarily “get lost” in it. To be sure, companies do these things. So, for every “chillaxing,” pleasurable moment of lounging at the pool or drinking champagne or eating delicacies at an opulent buffet, cruise companies, for example, also offer yoga, “self-discovery” meditation, unforgettable sunsets, and opportunities for self-growth by visiting historic sights and learning about them. In a way, the goal of companies is to make the experience they offer extraordinary. This recommendation is also consistent with the finding that what makes an experience extraordinary is its meaningfulness (Bhattacharjee & Mogilner, 2014).

Ads that promote experiences often utilize the idea that experiences give meaning and pleasure to customers. Going back to the cruise example, the imagery used in cruise ads shows small, pleasurable (consumption) moments (e.g., sunbathing, swimming in a massive pool, closeups of flowing champagne), but it often makes a point that cruise customers are also going through a meaningful, even transformative experience. Hence, sunsets on cruise ships are always enjoyed with a romantic partner, dancing classes taken during the cruise always make people younger, yoga classes make them forget about everyday responsibilities, and trips are always best enjoyed with children (if the ad is targeted at families). All these moments can be interpreted as personally fulfilling and meaningful.

Note that commercial experiences inevitably involve brands. A commercial experience that is meaningful and pleasurable may associatively boost meaning and pleasure of the brands that are part of the experience, increasing the overall brand happiness. Brand happiness, in turn, will positively affect brand-rated outcomes (e.g., repurchase intentions, willingness to pay premium, and spread word-of-mouth) (Schnebelen & Bruhn, 2018).

Finally, our results hint at the possibility that consumption of experiences, including brands in the experiences, may have a positive effect on consumers' long-term well-being, a finding echoed by Schmitt et al. (2015).

4.3 Future research

While the results of this study largely confirm the predictions about how consumption of experiences influences the pleasure and the personal fulfillment of female and male consumers, future research should further explore the reasons as to why women and men pursue happiness differently. For example, in their study of how individuals pursue happiness in general, Tkach and Lyubomirsky (2006) show that women typically boost their happiness by engaging in activities that require social interaction—maintaining relationships, helping others, going to movies with others, engaging in religious activities—and by pursuing career goals, attempting to reach full potential, or organizing life. Men, however, report that they are more likely to seek happiness though solitary activities such as working on hobbies, exercising, going to movies alone, and being absorbed in tasks that they enjoy doing. These findings are not only consistent with the evidence showing that women typically adopt an interdependent self–view whereas men adopt and an independent self-view (Lin & Raghubir, 2005), they are also consistent with our results. It could be the case that the happiness-pursuing activities that Tkach and Lyubomirsky (2006) identify as male-specific are more pleasurable whereas those that are female-specific are more meaningful. Future research should investigate if this is the case.

Future research should also look more closely at how NFC influences the pursuit of happiness of male consumers. This study did not predict that NFC would affect the relation between pleasure and happiness for men. Yet, when their NFC is high, men realize that pleasure matters for their in-the-moment happiness. Interestingly, NFC is positively correlated with masculine sex-role attitudes, perhaps because of the stereotype of men being rational (Osberg, 1987). At the same time, low NFC men seem to be more sensitive to hedonic information than high NFC men. It could be that a type of licensing effect operates here (Fitzsimons et al., 2007)—men's willingness to elaborate more about what makes them happy may give them a license to acknowledge that they care about pleasure. Therefore, men may not admit explicitly that pleasure equals happiness, but it is the men with high NFC who admit this more readily than men with low NFC. This result could be also context-specific—high NFC men admit the importance of pleasure in their pursuit of happiness because seeking happiness is a positive endeavor, unlike the prototypical “vice” behaviors that Fitzsimons et al. (2007) studied. More research is needed to resolve this issue.

In studying how gender influences consumption, researchers have drawn on Judith Butler's (1990) conceptualization that gender is something performed rather than possessed as an innate quality. In that sense, the fact that women care relatively more about personal fulfillment and men relatively more about pleasure in their respective pursuits of happiness could reflect the myths of femininity—women are self-sacrificing, modest, passive (Goulding & Saren, 2009)—, which perpetuate the socio-culturally constructed patriarchal order and which, in turn, could affect gendered happiness-pursuing strategies. On the other hand, women and men could be evolutionarily predisposed to seek happiness in different ways. To address this possibility, future research should attempt to replicate this study in different cultures and see if the results are consistent across the cultures.

When considering a possible influence of consumer age on the relationship between gender and happiness, our sample, due to its size and composition, cannot do justice to this question. Older people associate happiness with peacefulness, whereas younger people associate it with excitement (Mogilner et al., 2011). Could it be that peacefulness is related to meaning and excitement to pleasure? Future research can resolve this conundrum.

Finally, future research should shed more light on how income, subjective as well as objective, further moderates the relationship between gender and happiness. Van Boven. and Gilovich (2003) offer some preliminary evidence demonstrating that (objectively) richer people get more happiness from experiential purchases than from material purchases. Following up on our theory, it could be that women, still more than men, focus on meaning in their pursuit of happiness because they are more likely to economize between different consumption domains neglecting “frivolous” pleasure. Hence, it could be that a lack of material resources makes all consumers more women-like, conditioning them to look for meaning while avoiding “unnecessary” material pleasures. It could also be the case that more expensive experiences are more meaningful.

In conclusion, future consumer research should continue to treat happiness as being triggered in two different ways, as it was done here. This will provide a more nuanced picture of consumer happiness compared to the more general psychological research conducted before.