Sunday, January 23, 2022

Although the US has historically been a highly-residentially mobile nation, yearly moves are halved from rates in the 1970s and quartered from rates in the late 19th century; 50% of Americans want to move - but can't

The cultural dynamics of declining residential mobility. Buttrick, N., & Oishi, S. American Psychologist, 76(6), 904–916. Jan 2022.

We discuss the cultural power of changes in nation-level residential mobility. Using a theoretically informed analysis of mobility trends across the developed world, we argue that a shift from a culture full of people moving their residence to a culture full of people staying in place is associated with decreases, among its residents, in individualism, happiness, trust, optimism, and endorsement of the notion that hard work leads to success. We use the United States as a case study: Although the United States has historically been a highly-residentially mobile nation, yearly moves in the United States are halved from rates in the 1970s and quartered from rates in the late 19th century. In the past four decades, the proportion of Americans who are stuck in neighborhoods they no longer wish to live in is up nearly 50%. We discuss how high rates of mobility may have originally shaped American culture and how recent declines in residential mobility may relate to current feelings of cultural stagnation. Finally, we speculate on future trends in American mobility and the consequences of a society where citizens increasingly find themselves stuck in place.

Public Significance Statement—This article examines the role that residential mobility may play in shaping cultural values. We discuss how residential mobility may foster an ethos built on dynamism, optimism, and the belief that hard work leads to success; we examine the relationship between shifting levels of mobility and feelings of optimism, well-being, trust, and individualism; and we speculate about how American culture, one specifically formed by mobility, may continue to change as more and more residents find themselves stuck in place.


They argue that "declining residential mobility (being “stuck”) decreases individualism, happiness, trust, optimism & belief in the hard work equals success." (from one of the authors' tweet,

These authors claim that Low Socioeconomic Status Is Associated with a Greater Neural Response to Both Rewards and Losses

Low Socioeconomic Status Is Associated with a Greater Neural Response to Both Rewards and Losses. Stuart F. White, Robin Nusslock, Gregory E. Miller. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 1–13. Jan 20 2022.

Abstract: Low socioeconomic status (SES) has been associated with distinct patterns of reward processing, which appear to have adverse implications for health outcomes, well-being, and human capital. However, most studies in this literature have used complex tasks that engage more than reward processing and/or retrospectively studied childhood SES in samples of adults. To clarify how SES relates to the development of reward processing tendencies, we measured income-to-poverty ratio (IPR) in 172 youth who subsequently underwent functional MRI while completing a passive avoidance task to assess neural responses to reward and loss information. Participants were 12–15 years old (mean = 13.94, SD = .52; 65.7% female) from a sample broadly representative of the Chicago area in terms of SES (IPR range = 0.1–34.53; mean = 3.90; SD = 4.15) and racial makeup (40.1% European-American; 30.8% Black; 29.1% Hispanic). To the extent they had lower IPR, children displayed a trend toward worse behavioral performance on the passive avoidance task. Lower IPR also was associated with a greater response in attention brain regions to reward and loss cues and to reward and loss feedback. Lower IPR also was associated with reduced differentiation between reward and loss feedback in the ventromedial prefrontal and parietal cortex. The current data suggest that both increased salience of reward/loss information and reduced discrimination between reward and loss feedback could be factors linking SES with the development of human capital and health outcomes.

From 2010... Beliefs About Cognitive Gender Differences: Accurate for Direction, Underestimated for Size

From 2010... Beliefs About Cognitive Gender Differences: Accurate for Direction, Underestimated for Size. Diane F. Halpern, Carli A. Straight & Clayton L. Stephenson. Sex Roles volume 64, pages 336–347. Nov 7 2010.

Abstract: Although stereotype accuracy is a large, and often controversial, area of psychological research, surprisingly little research has examined the beliefs people have about gender differences in cognitive abilities. This study investigates the accuracy of these beliefs in a sample of 106 highly educated U.S. adults. Participants provided estimates of male and female performance for 12 cognitive tasks and games. These estimates were compared with published data on gender differences on the same 12 cognitive tasks and games. Results showed that participants were generally accurate about the direction of gender differences, but underestimated the size of gender differences.

Asks whether Is It Morally Bad to Prefer Attractive Partners; this poster, an ugly guy, although clearly disfavored by others because of this preference for beauty, thinks it is not morally bad that others prefer the cute ones (said with clear sadness :-( )

Is It Bad to Prefer Attractive Partners? William D’Alessandro. Forthcoming in the Journal of the American Philosophical Association. Archived Jan 17 2022, contents seem to be from 2018.

1 The issue

In a variety of ways, our society favors attractive people and disfavors unattractive people. Social scientists have observed, for instance, that cuter children get more positive attention from their school teachers (Adams & Cohen 1974), that better-looking defendants are treated more leniently by the justice system (Mazzella & Feingold 1994), and that beautiful people are generally perceived as more honest, kind, competent and friendly (Jackson et al. 1995).

These forms of discrimination deserve to be discussed more widely and taken more seriously than they usually are. But treatments of “lookism” by philosophers have condemned most forms of the practice in unambiguous terms (cf. (Chambers forthcoming), (Davis 2007), (Mason 2021), (Minerva 2017). And rightly so: it’s easy to see that cuter kindergartners aren’t entitled to a better educational experience, that ugly convicts don’t deserve harsher punishments, and so on. 

Treating people differently in these ways for these reasons is bad, just as it would be morally unacceptable to favor white students or wealthy defendants.

There’s another type of lookist discrimination, however, that’s both extremely common and widelycondoned by people of all moral persuasions. The attitude I’m talking about is the preference for attractive sexual and romantic partners. Of course, it would be an understatement to say that we merely tolerate this type of discrimination. It’s not only acceptable but thoroughly normal, and in fact normative, in the sense that we expect people to prefer attractive partners and deviant preferences are often met with surprise and disapproval. This impression survives empirical scrutiny: as one researcher writes, “abundant evidence has been collected to show that people clearly prefer physically attractive potential partners over less attractive potential partners” (Greitemeyer 2010: 318).

Philosophers have yet to give this phenomenon much thought. This paper sets out do so, by trying to answer the question posed in the title: Is it morally bad to prefer attractive partners? Or is this a form of discrimination we should accept, and perhaps even promote?

I consider arguments for both views. In broad strokes, I think there’s at least one strong argument that preferring attractive partners is bad. The idea is that choosing partners based on looks seems essentially similar to other objectionable forms of discrimination. In particular, a case can be made that the preference for attractive partners is both unfair and harmful to a significant degree.