Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Men are less religious in more gender-equal countries

Men are less religious in more gender-equal countries. Jordan W. Moon, Adam E. Tratner and Melissa M. McDonald. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, February 2 2022.

Abstract: Sex differences in religiosity are cross-culturally common and robust, yet it is unclear why sex differences in some cultures are larger than in others. Although women are more religious than men in most countries, religions frequently provide asymmetrical benefits to men at the expense of women. Two global analyses (51 countries and 74 countries) found that country-level gender equality was consistently and negatively associated with religiousness (i.e. religious attendance, reported importance of God and frequency of prayer) for men, more than for women, leading to a larger sex difference in religiousness in more gender-equal countries. Results were especially robust for religious attendance, and hold accounting for country-level wealth, as well as individuals' religious affiliation, the moralization of sexuality, age and education level. We interpret results through a rational choice lens, which assumes that people are more drawn to religion when it is consistent with their reproductive goals.

4. Discussion

These data show that gender equality across cultures consistently and negatively predicts religious belief and behaviour among men, but the effect is small and inconsistent for women. This interaction between gender equality and participant sex holds in most of the models we ran, even when accounting for the clustering of countries within sub-regions, the religious denominations of participants, sociosexuality, age, education and country-level wealth.

The results were particularly strong with religious attendance as an outcome; in all such models there was a consistent negative relationship between gender equality and religious attendance for men, but no effect for women. We suggest that religious attendance (versus private religious behaviour or belief) is the outcome most relevant to our hypothesis. That is, it is attendance and overt participation that we would expect to be associated with the reproductive outcomes of interest. Overt religious participation may allow men to more easily monitor women, police sexual behaviour or to signal their value as a mate via religious commitment.

In addition, the focal results were driven by gender equality in education and economic participation, but not political power or health/survival. These results could be consistent with the view of religion as a ‘costly signal’ to indicate qualities such as trustworthiness, dedication to one's family or even simply dedication to one's group [7,3739,6264]; gender equality might also influence the payoffs of using religion as a costly signal. For instance, there is some evidence that women's economic dependence on men—which makes paternal certainty more critical—facilitates moralization of promiscuity [65]. It follows, then, that women who are dependent on men (i.e. when gender equality is low) may prioritize signals of paternal investment and long-term commitment; this could, in turn, incentivise men in these societies to use religion as a signal of their willingness to invest in their offspring [7,39].

One could also predict the same pattern by considering other functions of religion. For example, religion fosters cooperation and ingroup cohesion [66,67] and can help people manage their existential insecurities [41]. Indeed, religions are especially attractive to people after facing mortal threats, such as intergroup conflict [68]. One alternative explanation, then, could be that countries that have achieved greater gender equality face fewer threats that require male coalitional coordination (e.g. warfare); therefore, people (particularly men) in these countries are less likely to view religion as necessary. We reiterate, however, that our analyses are unable to reveal the mechanism behind the observed effects, or to adjudicate between alternative explanations.

Our hypothesis stems from a rational choice perspective on religion [9], suggesting that engagement in religious behaviours and beliefs might stem partly from the reproductive benefits people acquire from them [9,16,18]. Because religions often involve costly behaviour [69,70], one should expect religious engagement to be more likely when the benefits outweigh the costs. If indeed one of the functions of religion is reproductive support that often favours men over women, and if the manipulation of women in such ways (e.g. through modesty norms or proscribing sexual promiscuity) is less accepted in more gender-equal societies, the costs may outweigh the benefits for men in these societies, resulting in lower religiousness among men.

Feminist-identified men were substantially more likely to report Erectile Dysfunction Medication use than non-feminist men; could be that feminist men are more honest about this usage, or that non-feminist ones see using it as a threat to masculinity

Silva, Tony, and Tina Fetner. 2022. “Men’s Feminist Identification and Reported Use of Prescription Erectile Dysfunction Medication.” SocArXiv. February 1. doi:10.1080/00224499.2022.2029810

Abstract: We analyzed data from the 2018 Sex in Canada survey (n = 1,015 cisgender men) to examine the association between feminist identification and reported use of prescription ED medication (EDM) during men’s last sexual encounter. Feminist-identified men were substantially more likely to report EDM use than non-feminist men, even after controlling for alcohol use before sex, erection difficulties, sexual arousal, sexual health, mental health, and physical health. One explanation is that feminist men may use EDM to bolster their masculinity when it is otherwise threatened by their identification as feminist. Another is that non-feminist men may be less likely to use prescription EDM because they view accessing healthcare services as a threat to their masculinity. It is also possible that feminist men are more likely to use EDM because they wish to maintain an erection to better please their partner. Lastly, feminist men may be more honest about EDM use than non-feminist men, even though rates are similar. Regardless of the exact reason, therapists can use these results to tailor sexual health messages to clients based on feminist identification. Future work could employ qualitative methods to understand why feminist men report higher rates of EDM use than non-feminist men.

The size and homophily of friendship networks are to a substantial degree based on genetic influence; no evidence found that shared hobbies, education, or Big Five personality traits affect networks

Heritability in friendship networks. Michael Neugart, Selen Yildirim. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Volume 194, February 2022, Pages 41-55.


• Heritability of overall friendship network characteristics is explored.

• Data from German TwinLife Study is analyzed within classical twin design.

• Genetic component found in twins’ network size and network homophily.

• Role of twins’ shared hobbies, education, and personality traits is analyzed.

Abstract: There is considerable evidence nowadays that friendship networks account for a large part of an individual’s success or failure in life. Little, however, is known about the extent to which friendship networks are associated with an individual’s genotype. Using data from the German TwinLife study, we explore, within a classical twin design, whether friendship networks are related to genes. We find a substantial heritability component in twins’ network sizes and network homophily, but not in twins’ network closeness. The genetic influence on network characteristics may be attributable to traits which are themselves influenced by genetic factors. Addressing indirect ways in which genes could influence network characteristics, we do not find evidence that shared hobbies, education, or Big Five personality traits affect networks.

Keywords: Social networksTwinsBehavioral geneticsHobbiesBig fiveEducation

Heterosexual women's exposure to a same-sex peer who constituted a sexual rival (straight/bisexual) led to more spreading of reputation-damaging information vs. reputation-enhancing info, compared with exposure to a noncompetitor (lesbian target)

Bakolas, N. K. M., & Park, J. H. (2022). Female intrasexual competition is affected by the sexual orientation of the target and the ovulatory cycle. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, Feb 2022.

Abstract: Research suggests that women use indirect aggression strategies to compete with same-sex peers and improve their mating prospects. One such tactic involves strategically transmitting reputation-damaging information as opposed to reputation-enhancing information, to lessen the appeal of sexual rivals. The present study further examined whether this strategic information transmission constitutes an intrasexual competition strategy, by comparing denigration of same-sex peers who constitute sexual competitors or noncompetitors as determined by their sexual orientation. This study also explored the impact of the ovulatory cycle on this strategy, following research suggesting that hormone fluctuation drives subtle behavioral changes near ovulation, amplifying other forms of intrasexual competition between women. Results indicated that among women identifying as straight, exposure to a same-sex peer who constituted a sexual rival (straight/bisexual target) led to greater transmission of reputation-damaging information relative to reputation-enhancing information, compared with exposure to a noncompetitor (lesbian target). The ovulatory cycle was found to be associated with denigration, but this did not depend on the sexuality of the target. Participants in the estimated high-estrogen phase showed greater denigration overall than participants in the low-estrogen phase, regardless of the target’s sexuality.

Women's pick-up lines are perceived as most effective when they are direct and unmistakable, particularly by men

Wade, T. J., Fisher, M. L., & Gaines, L. (2022). The perceived effectiveness of women’s pick-up lines: Do age and personality matter? Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, Feb 2022.

Abstract: One way to initiate a conversation for the purposes of mate attraction is to use a pick-up line. While past research has addressed men’s use of pick-up lines, there has been far less research on those used by women. Here, we explored the perceived effectiveness of women’s pick-up lines, particularly with regard to one’s age but also as correlated with their Big Five personality factors. We hypothesized that both men and women would rate the same pick-up lines as effective and that older participants would rate pick-up lines as more effective than younger participants. Our results indicate that women’s use of direct pick-up lines, sharing things in common, asking for a phone number, indirectly hinting at a date, and asking if single were perceived as most effective by both sexes. We did not support our prediction about age. The results demonstrate that of the Big Five dimensions, extraversion in particular is important and was positively correlated with perceived effectiveness.

People are more likely to reveal secrets that violate their own moral values; were more willing to reveal immoral secrets as a form of punishment, and this was explained by feelings of moral outrage

Salerno, J. M., & Slepian, M. L. (2022). Morality, punishment, and revealing other people’s secrets. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Feb 2022.

Abstract: Nine studies represent the first investigation into when and why people reveal other people’s secrets. Although people keep their own immoral secrets to avoid being punished, we propose that people will be motivated to reveal others’ secrets to punish them for immoral acts. Experimental and correlational methods converge on the finding that people are more likely to reveal secrets that violate their own moral values. Participants were more willing to reveal immoral secrets as a form of punishment, and this was explained by feelings of moral outrage. Using hypothetical scenarios (Studies 1, 3–6), two controversial events in the news (hackers leaking citizens’ private information; Study 2a–2b), and participants’ behavioral choices to keep or reveal thousands of diverse secrets that they learned in their everyday lives (Studies 7–8), we present the first glimpse into when, how often, and one explanation for why people reveal others’ secrets. We found that theories of self-disclosure do not generalize to others’ secrets: Across diverse methodologies, including real decisions to reveal others’ secrets in everyday life, people reveal others’ secrets as punishment in response to moral outrage elicited from others’ secrets.

Handedness in twins: meta-analyses

Handedness in twins: meta-analyses. Lena Sophie Pfeifer, Judith Schmitz, Marietta Papadatou-Pastou, Jutta Peterburs, Silvia Paracchini & Sebastian Ocklenburg. BMC Psychology volume 10, Article number: 11. Jan 15 2022.


Background: In the general population, 10.6% of people favor their left hand over the right for motor tasks. Previous research suggests higher prevalence of atypical (left-, mixed-, or non-right-) handedness in (i) twins compared to singletons, and in (ii) monozygotic compared to dizygotic twins. Moreover, (iii) studies have shown a higher rate of handedness concordance in monozygotic compared to dizygotic twins, in line with genetic factors playing a role for handedness.

Methods: By means of a systematic review, we identified 59 studies from previous literature and performed three sets of random effects meta-analyses on (i) twin-to-singleton Odds Ratios (21 studies, n = 189,422 individuals) and (ii) monozygotic-to-dizygotic twin Odds Ratios (48 studies, n = 63,295 individuals), both times for prevalence of left-, mixed-, and non-right-handedness. For monozygotic and dizygotic twin pairs we compared (iii) handedness concordance Odds Ratios (44 studies, n = 36,217 twin pairs). We also tested for potential effects of moderating variables, such as sex, age, the method used to assess handedness, and the twins’ zygosity.

Results: We found (i) evidence for higher prevalence of left- (Odds Ratio = 1.40, 95% Confidence Interval = [1.26, 1.57]) and non-right- (Odds Ratio = 1.36, 95% Confidence Interval = [1.22, 1.52]), but not mixed-handedness (Odds Ratio = 1.08, 95% Confidence Interval = [0.52, 2.27]) among twins compared to singletons. We further showed a decrease in Odds Ratios in more recent studies (post-1975: Odds Ratio = 1.30, 95% Confidence Interval = [1.17, 1.45]) compared to earlier studies (pre-1975: Odds Ratio = 1.90, 95% Confidence Interval = [1.59–2.27]). While there was (ii) no difference between monozygotic and dizygotic twins regarding prevalence of left- (Odds Ratio = 0.98, 95% Confidence Interval = [0.89, 1.07]), mixed- (Odds Ratio = 0.96, 95% Confidence Interval = [0.46, 1.99]), or non-right-handedness (Odds Ratio = 1.01, 95% Confidence Interval = [0.91, 1.12]), we found that (iii) handedness concordance was elevated among monozygotic compared to dizygotic twin pairs (Odds Ratio = 1.11, 95% Confidence Interval = [1.06, 1.18]). By means of moderator analyses, we did not find evidence for effects of potentially confounding variables.

Conclusion: We provide the largest and most comprehensive meta-analysis on handedness in twins. Although a raw, unadjusted analysis found a higher prevalence of left- and non-right-, but not mixed-handedness among twins compared to singletons, left-handedness was substantially more prevalent in earlier than in more recent studies. The single large, recent study which included birth weight, Apgar score and gestational age as covariates found no twin-singleton difference in handedness rate, but these covariates could not be included in the present meta-analysis. Together, the secular shift and the influence of covariates probably make it unsafe to conclude that twinning has a genuine relationship to handedness.


In three sets of meta-analyses, we examined the influence of twin status and twin zygosity on handedness prevalence and handedness concordance. Our first set of meta-analyses confirmed that in line with Sicotte et al. [10], left-handedness (OR = 1.40, Fig. 3) and non-right-handedness (OR = 1.36, Fig. 5) occur more often among twins than among singletons. Moderator analyses found elevated levels of non-right-handedness among twins to be independent of all variables tested with respect to a potential moderating effect. However, we found that more recent studies reported smaller differences in prevalence of left-handedness between twins and singletons (Fig. 6). To test whether there is a higher left-handedness prevalence in twins compared to singletons in more recent studies at all, we estimated twin-to-singleton ORs for left-handedness for studies published pre and post 1975 separately. With a pre-1975 OR of 1.90 (95% CI = [1.59, 2.27]) and a post-1975 OR of 1.30 (95% CI = [1.17, 1.45]), ORs for more recent studies were smaller, but still indicated a significant twin effect on left-handedness.

Overall, the decrease in twin-to-singleton ORs might either be explained by a decrease in left-handedness in twins or an increase of left-handedness in singletons, or both. As already mentioned, complications occur more often in the course of multiple births [11,12,13], which might contribute to the development of atypical handedness [10]. However, most individual studies included in our meta-analysis did not provide information on pre- or perinatal conditions, so we could not test for a moderating effect of these conditions on the twin-to-singleton OR. Along these lines, future research might have a closer look on the relation between birth complications and handedness.

Assuming that higher proportions of left-handedness among twins might be the by-product of birth complications, a decrease in atypical handedness in twins must be assigned to a decrease in the occurrence of these complications. In fact, it is well conceivable that medical progress over the last decades, that is clearly detectable, e.g. in the United States [9293], may have helped to equalize the risks associated with multiple and single births. Such assumptions are supported by a study by Heikkilä et al. [77] who showed differences in left-handedness in twins and singletons to disappear when controlling for birth weight, Apgar score, and gestational age. We therefore tested whether there is evidence for a decrease in left-handedness prevalence in twins (Fig. 6b) by running meta-analyses on left-handedness prevalence in twins and singletons separately while including publication year as a moderator variable. However, while there was no evidence for an effect of publication year on left-handedness prevalence in twins, there seemed to be a trend towards an increase of left-handedness prevalence in singletons (Fig. 6c).

The overall prevalence of atypical handedness in our study was lower than expected. We found 9.13% of twins and 6.97% of singletons to be left-handed (Table 1), while Papadatou-Pastou et al. [3] reported a figure of 10.6% (95% CI 9.71%, 11.50%) for the general population. The low values in our study might be the result of a general effect of publication year in singletons, given that the prevalence of left-handedness has been shown to be higher in younger than in older cohorts [259495]. The social stigma associated with left-handedness in the last century [96] may have driven left-handers to conceal their preference in self-reports [97] and to retrain to use their right hand [2598]. Most of the studies included in our meta-analysis were published in the previous century and their participants could have been subjected to environmental pressures against left-handedness, leading to underestimation of the true population prevalence of left-handedness. Similarly, we found low overall prevalence of mixed-handedness (3.39% in twins and 2.67% in singletons, Table 1), whereas Papadatou-Pastou et al. [3] gave a point estimate of 9.3% for the general population. This might also be due to an effect of publication year. Moreover, three of five studies that provided data for mixed-handedness classified handedness as writing hand so that data extracted from these studies most likely reflect not mixed-handedness, but ambidexterity, which is much rarer [99].

Our second set of meta-analyses found no difference in the prevalence of atypical handedness between MZ and DZ twins (left-handedness OR = 0.98, mixed-handedness OR = 0.96, non-right-handedness OR = 1.01, Table 3). This result is consistent with the meta-analysis by Sicotte et al. [10] who interpreted this null-effect as indication against mirror imaging theories designed to explain heightened frequencies of left-handers and frequent handedness discordance among MZ twins [100,101,102]. Indeed, it weakens the hypothesis suggesting that the monozygotic twinning process is responsible for atypical handedness [10]. Moreover, it indicates that the overall heightened frequencies of left- and non-right-handers among twins are independent of the twins’ zygosity. A moderator analysis showed that this effect was not influenced by the method used to determine the twins’ zygosity, thus refuting the idea that the result was affected by the accuracy with which twins were classified as monozygotic or dizygotic. All in all, revealing comparable prevalence of atypical handedness for MZ and DZ twins cannot enrichen knowledge about genetic contribution to handedness per se. As already recognized by Sicotte et al. [10], to do so, it is crucial to look at pairwise handedness concordance or discordance of MZ and DZ twin pairs.

Our third set of meta-analyses found a small yet significant effect (OR = 1.11, Fig. 7) for higher handedness concordance among MZ (80.49%) as compared to DZ (79.27%) twins, consistent with the meta-analysis by Sicotte et al. [10]. Even though other publications have demonstrated the occurrence of handedness discordance among MZ twin pairs [100101103104], it was estimated to concern a minority of 20–25% of cases [2]. Stronger phenotypic variation among DZ compared to MZ pairs indicates a certain genetic foundation of that phenotype [226]. Therefore, our results confirm handedness to rely on genetic factors to some extent [10] and are consistent with heritability estimates of 0.24–0.26 [31,32,33]. A moderator analysis suggested that the frequencies of handedness concordance did not differ between studies included in the meta-analysis by Sicotte et al. [10], studies explicitly excluded from Sicotte et al. [10], and more recent studies.

To allow future meta-analyses to perform comparisons on handedness prevalence in twins more specifically (e.g., handedness in male vs. female twins, or handedness in same sex pairs vs. opposite sex pairs), it is desirable that researchers report results broken down for parameters like zygosity, sex, and consider data on birth complications. As this might be beyond the scope of individual papers, we encourage authors to provide open raw data in publicly accessible repositories such as the

The present study is not without limitations. We did not investigate relative hand skill but were restricted to hand preference. Measuring hand preference is far more established as compared to assessing relative hand skill, as it is easier and more convenient [105]. Most of the studies included in our meta-analysis only provided information on hand preference, not allowing for an additional analysis for hand skill. Moreover, hand preference and hand skill correlate to some extent [106,107,108], and the distribution of handedness categories overlaps for preference- and skill-related criterions in 90% of the cases [109].

Similarly, our study only dealt with handedness direction in terms of categorial handedness classification which does not take into account the fact that individual handedness can further be defined regarding its strength or its degree. Along these lines, other approaches consider handedness as a continuum, extending the question to how strong or how consistently one hand is preferred, used, or skilled over the other. Indeed, several findings obtained within laterality research on associations between handedness and structural brain lateralization [110] or cognitive performance [111112] as well as concerning the genetic foundation of handedness [113114] are linked to strength but not direction of handedness. However, since most studies included in the present meta-analyses did not assess handedness in a continuous manner, we were unable to account for handedness strength. Therefore, it falls to future studies to extend their assessment repertoire by measures of handedness strength.

From a methodological point of view, it is further crucial to mention that overall, our moderator analyses are low in power due to the investigated study sample sizes. Of note, in some cases, moderator levels included only three data points calling for an interpretation of these findings with caution.

Meta-analysis: People do not drink alcohol to drown their sorrows, but to indulge in their joys

Dora, Jonas, Marilyn Piccirillo, Katherine T. Foster, Kelly Arbeau, Stephen Armeli, Marc Auriacombe, Bruce D. Bartholow, et al. 2022. “The Daily Association Between Affect and Alcohol Use: A Meta-analysis of Individual Participant Data.” PsyArXiv. February 1.

Abstract: Influential psychological theories hypothesize that people consume alcohol in response to the experience of both negative and positive emotions. Despite two decades of daily diary and ecological momentary assessment research, it remains unclear whether people consume more alcohol on days they experience higher negative and positive affect in everyday life. In this preregistered meta-analysis, we synthesized the evidence for these daily associations between affect and alcohol use. We included individual participant data from 69 studies (N = 12,394), which used daily and momentary surveys to assess affect and the number of alcoholic drinks consumed. Results indicate that people do not drink more often on days they experience high negative affect, but are more likely to drink and drink heavily on days high in positive affect. People self-reporting a motivational tendency to drink-to-cope and drink-to-enhance were estimated to consume more alcohol, but not to consume more alcohol on days they experience higher negative and positive affect. Results were robust across different operationalizations of affect, study designs, study populations, and individual characteristics. Based on our findings, we collectively propose an agenda for future research to explore open questions surrounding affect and alcohol use.