Sunday, February 6, 2022

Semesters or Quarters? The Effect of the Academic Calendar on Postsecondary Student Outcomes

Semesters or Quarters? The Effect of the Academic Calendar on Postsecondary Student Outcomes. Valerie Bostwick, Stefanie Fischer, and Matthew Lang. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy. Feb 2022, Vol. 14, No. 1: Pages 40-80.

Abstract: There exists a long-standing debate in higher education on which academic calendar is optimal. Using panel data on the near universe of four-year nonprofit institutions and leveraging quasi-experimental variation in calendars across institutions and years, we show that switching from quarters to semesters negatively impacts on-time graduation rates. Event study analyses show that the negative effects persist beyond the transition. Using transcript data, we replicate this analysis at the student level and investigate possible mechanisms. Shifting to a semester: (i) lowers first-year grades, (ii) decreases the probability of enrolling in a full course load, and (iii) delays the timing of major choice. (JEL I23, I28)

Women who earned more than their male partners—thereby making them feel insecure for being the "primary breadwinner"—were 2x as likely to fake orgasms than those who didn’t make more money than their partners

Do Women Withhold Honest Sexual Communication When They Believe Their Partner’s Manhood is Threatened? Jessica A. Jordan et al. Social Psychological and Personality Science, January 31, 2022.

Abstract: We explored whether women who perceive that their partners’ manhood is precarious (i.e., easily threatened) censor their sexual communication to avoid further threatening their partners’ masculinity. We operationalized women’s perceptions of precarious manhood in a variety of ways: In Study 1, women who made more money than their partners were twice as likely as those who did not to fake orgasms. In Study 2, women’s higher perceptions of partners’ precarious manhood indirectly predicted faking orgasms more, lower sexual satisfaction, and lower orgasms rate through greater anxiety and less honest communication. In Study 3, women who imagined a partner whose masculinity was insecure (vs. secure) were less willing to provide honest sexual communication, via anxiety. Together, the studies demonstrate a relationship between women’s perceptions of partner insecurity, anxiety, sexual communication, and sexual satisfaction.

Keywords: faking orgasms, gender threat, orgasm, precarious manhood, sexual communication

Anti-Bisexual Bias

Gendered Anti-Bisexual Bias: Heterosexual, Bisexual, and Gay/Lesbian People’s Willingness to Date Sexual Orientation Ingroup and Outgroup Members. Mackenzie Ess,Sara E. Burke , Marianne LaFrance. Journal of Homosexuality, Feb 3 2022.

Abstract: Bisexual people may appear to have more potential romantic partners than people only attracted to one gender (e.g., heterosexual, gay, lesbian people). However, bisexual people’s dating choices are limited by non-bisexual people’s reluctance to date bisexual people. Studies have indicated that some heterosexual, gay, and lesbian people are reluctant to date bisexual people, particularly bisexual men. We extend current understandings of gendered anti-bisexual bias through investigating heterosexual, bisexual, gay, and lesbian people’s reported willingness to date within and outside of their sexual orientation groups. Participants (n = 1823) varying in sexual orientation completed measures regarding their willingness to engage in a romantic relationship with heterosexual, bisexual, gay, and lesbian individuals. Heterosexual and gay/lesbian people were less willing to date bisexual people than bisexual people were to date them, consistent with anti-bisexual bias rather than mere in-group preference. Preferences against dating bisexual men appeared particularly strong, even among bisexual women.

Keywords: BisexualitybinegativitydatinggenderLGBTQ+sexual prejudicestereotyping

Spenders were more likely to have psychopathic tendencies, but less likely to be Machiavellian; savers rated themselves as more attractive, healthy, & intelligent than spenders; spenders had more liberal political views & report higher emotional intelligence

Furnham, A., Robinson, C., & Grover, S. (2022). Spenders and savers, tightwads and spendthrifts: Individual correlates of personal ratings of being a spender or a saver. Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics, Feb 2022.

Abstract: There is limited literature on the causes, correlates, and consequences of being a saver (tightwad) or a spender (spendthrift). This paper reports on five studies which look at demographic, bright- and dark-side personality, money belief, and self-evaluation correlates of to what extent a person considers themselves a spender or saver. In each study, adult participants indicated their spender–saver habits on a single scale and completed a number of tests. The first study looked at trait correlates and showed savers were close-minded, conscientious, stable, extraverts. It also showed as predicted that savers were more likely to associate money with security, and not love or freedom, and claim to have better financial knowledge. The results from the second study on dark-side personality correlates indicated that spenders were more likely to have psychopathic tendencies, but less likely to be Machiavellian. The third study on personality disorder correlates of spender–saver tendencies suggested that spenders were likely to have elevated Cluster B personality disorders. The fourth study examined self-beliefs and showed savers rated themselves as more attractive, healthy, and intelligent than spenders. The fifth study, also using various self-ratings, showed spenders had more liberal political views, report higher emotional intelligence and are less likely to own their own home, while savers rated their physical health higher, and saw themselves as more entrepreneurial. Overall, the results suggest the simple saver–spender question is logically correlated with a number of individual difference variables with savers having a more positive profile. Implications and limitations are considered. 

Consumers who avoid fast food do so not because they think it is unhealthy, but because eating it causes them guilt, and resisting the "sin" gives them a sense of accomplishment

Why Do and Why Don’t People Consume Fast Food?: An Application of the Consumption Value Model. Kiwon Lee, Jonghan Hyun, Youngmi Lee. Food Quality and Preference, Feb 5 2022.


• Regular consumers approach fast food mainly due to convenience and taste.

• Non-regular consumers feel a sense of accomplishment when not consuming fast food.

• Regular consumers may avoid fast food when they encounter food safety issues.

• Non-regular consumers may approach fast food when experiencing time pressure.

Abstract: This study explores the nature of the consumption values that differentiate regular consumers of fast food and non-regular consumers using the consumption value model. Data was collected from a total of 307 respondents via a self-administered online survey. The collected data was then classified into two groups, regular consumers (RCs, n=140) and non-regular consumers (non-RCs, n=167), based on the respondents’ self-identification as either a regular fast food consumer or a non-consumer and their fast food consumption frequency (≥ 2-3 times a week for RCs and ≤ 1 time a fortnight for non-RCs). Using factor analysis, 15 factors were extracted for the six consumption values (functional, social, emotional, conditional, epistemic, and process values). Discriminant analysis showed that 5 factors out of those 15 are influential in discriminating RCs and non-RCs. Specifically, RCs were found to consume fast food due to convenience and taste whereas non-RCs were found to avoid fast food due to the feelings of guilt when consuming fast food and the sense of accomplishment when not consuming fast food. Also, RCs and Non-RCs were found to deviate from their normal behavior when certain conditions are present (e.g., food safety issue, time pressure, stress). In all, the results of this study provide marketers a clearer understanding of the consumption values that regular consumers and non- regular consumers perceive in fast foods, further enabling the development of marketing strategies that appeal better to current and potential customers.

Keywords: fast foodconsumption valueconveniencetasteguilt

Positive emotions produce no or weak and highly variable increases in autonomic nervous system activity

Autonomic Nervous System Activity During Positive Emotions: A Meta-Analytic Review. Maciej Behnke et al. Emotion Review, February 4, 2022.

Abstract: Autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity is a fundamental component of emotional responding. It is not clear, however, whether positive emotional states are associated with differential ANS reactivity. To address this issue, we conducted a meta-analytic review of 120 articles (686 effect sizes, total N = 6,546), measuring ANS activity during 11 elicited positive emotions, namely amusement, attachment love, awe, contentment, craving, excitement, gratitude, joy, nurturant love, pride, and sexual desire. We identified a widely dispersed collection of studies. Univariate results indicated that positive emotions produce no or weak and highly variable increases in ANS reactivity. However, the limitations of work to date – which we discuss – mean that our conclusions should be treated as empirically grounded hypotheses that future research should validate.

Keywords: positive emotions, autonomic nervous system, cardiovascular activity, electrodermal activity

In this quantitative review, we aimed to inspect, evaluate, and synthesize (to the extent possible) findings from past research that measured a physiological component of positive emotions. We found the available data to be quantitatively imbalanced, with many studies focused on some positive emotions and physiological signals and few studies focused on other positive emotions and physiological signals. Furthermore, we found high variability in methods used for emotion elicitation and data collection. Recognizing that the empirical evidence might be insufficient to test some effects, we aimed to use all available empirical data and stringent criteria for multiple hypothesis testing to examine whether the currently available empirical findings allow us to conclude that positive emotions elicit ANS reactivity. We also explored whether the ANS reactivity is specific to discrete emotions (in terms of patterns and magnitudes) or—alternatively—whether similar ANS reactivity accompanies all positive emotions. Finally, we tested participant characteristics and methodological factors as moderators of the ANS reactivity to discrete positive emotions. One main and three secondary findings emerged.

Based on univariate analyses, most discrete positive emotions elicited no or weak ANS reactivity. Moreover, half of the effect sizes in ANS responses were highly inconsistent, suggesting that other significant physiological variability sources exist. We also found that similarities outweighed differences in ANS responses during positive emotions. This contrasts the literature suggesting a stronger physiological differentiation among discrete positive emotions (Kreibig, 2010Shiota et al., 2017). Finally, we found few moderating effects of study or participant characteristics. Thus, the current empirical material supports the view that positive emotions produce no or only a weak and nonspecific ANS response relative to baseline and neutral conditions (Cacioppo et al., 2000Lench et al., 2011Siegel et al., 2018).

However, we emphasize that these conclusions must be considered tentative because they are based upon imbalanced and incomplete data and one type of analysis (univariate, not multivariate). This suggests the need for more systematic research on the physiology of positive emotions that will fill existing gaps and provide material for future robust evaluation of positive emotions and ANS activity. For instance, impedance cardiography that is often applied to the study of stress and negative emotions is relatively underrepresented in the study of positive emotions. Moreover, the psychophysiological study of amusement is greatly overrepresented relative to gratitude, pride, or love. Finally, we advocate more multivariate sampling and analysis of emotional responses in positive emotions.

Positive Emotions and ANS Reactivity: The State-Of-The-Art

We based this review on the most extensive collection of available studies, which produced over 686 effect sizes derived from 6,546 participants. However, in the coding process, we observed substantial variability across this large number of studies, which resulted in the collection of a widely dispersed dataset. The studies were conducted in different settings. For instance, the laboratories used various equipment, procedures, and data cleaning and analysis techniques. Most studies examined only reactivity related to two emotions using 2-3 ANS measures with a single elicitation method. Furthermore, when coding the possible moderators, in many cases, we were unable to determine whether participants were alone during the experimental task or the experimenter stayed in the room after placing the physiological sensors. We found that only 44% of studies explicitly stated that they video recorded participants during the experiments. In this way, our meta-analysis supports the message from the recent comment on the current state of the science of positive emotion (Shiota, 2017) - although the field made incredible progress in the last decades, affective scientists are still far away from the promise of this field being fully realized. This also includes the call for more detailed reporting of procedures (e.g., were participants explicitly observed) and data use (e.g., duplicate datasets).

The data collected so far on positive emotion is insufficient to strongly support the ANS specificity versus similarity for a wide range of positive emotions presented in our investigation. Our analyses were challenging due to a widely dispersed dataset with small numbers of studies per emotion and per ANS measure. Moreover, some comparisons and analyses were performed on a relatively small number of effect sizes. Although the field of affective science struggles to just-decide-already whether specificity or similarity of ANS emotion-related reactivity is the ground truth, with this review, we observed that the current state-of-the-art is not sufficient to address this expectation for definite conclusions. While reviewing hundreds of studies, we also observed that researchers moved quickly to asking complex questions related to functions of targeted emotion without addressing more basic questions, e.g., which ANS parameters are adequate for studying a specific positive emotion. We suggest that a return to more basic questions might advance the field of psychophysiology of emotions. It would be beneficial for the field of positive emotions to further examine ANS reactivity, in particular, to positive emotions that have not been explored yet, such as hope or schadenfreude, using multiple ANS measures. We advocate that the field of positive emotions would benefit from greater integration and uniform standards/rigor for emotion elicitation and data curation, analysis, and reports.

Do Positive Emotions Produce Robust Changes in ANS Reactivity?

We found that the set of inspected positive emotions produce no or weak increases in ANS reactivity in both SNS and PNS. Our findings are consistent with models of positive emotions that assumed that positive emotions do not generate independent sympathetic responses (Fredrickson & Levenson, 1998Fredrickson et al., 2000Fredrickson, 2013Folkman, 2008Levenson, 19881999). Moreover, we did not observe increased PNS reactivity in positive emotions, as suggested by the polyvagal theory (Porges, 2011). One explanation for these null results is that large differences across experiments might be responsible for the responding range. Figure 2 presents that even the mean effects interpreted as medium sizes had wide confidence intervals that prevented them from being significant. These findings are consistent regardless of focusing only on separate ANS measures, measures that had more than ten studies, or measures aggregated into broader categories.

Our findings match previous meta-analyses focused on happiness that concluded that happiness produces weak ANS reactivity and that this reactivity is not different from neutral conditions (Lench et al., 2011Siegel et al., 2018). Our findings do not support conclusions from qualitative reviews in which some positive emotions such as contentment and love decreased cardiovascular or electrodermal activity (Kreibig, 2010). However, more than half of the physiological responses’ directions in the qualitative review were based on fewer than three studies, suggesting that these findings were preliminary (Kreibig, 2010). With additional studies that were published over the last decade, we found support for the previously found directions of the electrodermal reactivity (increases) to positive emotions. We also found support for increased ANS activity to joy and amusement (Kreibig, 2010).

Are ANS Reactivity Patterns Specific to Particular Positive Emotions?

The main goal was to provide a quantitative review of the body of research related to ANS reactivity and positive emotions. However, we also evaluated the specificity or generality of ANS reactivity to discrete emotions. The basic expectation in this meta-analysis was that discrete positive emotions produce specific adaptive changes in physiology (Ekman & Cordaro, 2011Levenson, 2011; Panksepp & Watt, 2011; Kreibig, 2010).

We found that similarities outweighed differences in ANS responses during positive emotions. This finding is consistent with the models that view ANS reactivity to emotion as context-sensitive and not discrete-emotion-sensitive (Barrett, 20132017Quigley & Barrett, 2014). Thus, the ANS reactivity is not random but is specific and supports actions in the specific context, which could vary for the same discrete emotion (Barrett, 2006Barrett & Russell, 2015Quigley, & Barrett, 2014). Theorists suggest that multiple distinct, context-sensitive physiological responses to discrete emotion are possible, as long as both serve the same adaptive function, e.g., freezing versus fleeing from a threat in fear (Ekman, 1992).

However, the ANS reactivity is only one component of emotional responding. Thus, major judgments about the structure of emotions should be interpreted along with affective and behavioral responses and should not be based solely on any one component.

Shared ANS reactivity to positive emotions might be related to common neural origin from a highly conserved circuit of neural structures, namely the mesolimbic pathway, often called the “reward system” (see Shiota et al., 2017 for discussion). The activation along the mesolimbic pathway has been linked to a wide range of stimuli associated with the family of positive emotions, including delicious foods (Berridge, 1996), monetary incentives (Knutson et al., 2001), babies (Glocker et al., 2009), loved ones (Bartels & Zeki, 2004), humor (Mobbs et al., 2003), and favorite music (Blood & Zatorre, 2001). It may explain the mechanism by which the discrete positive emotions share some overlapping properties that might be further differentiated depending on the conditions in which positive emotions are activated. Overlapping properties of positive emotions and continuous gradients between discrete emotion categories have been found in recent large-scale investigations (Cowen & Keltner, 2017). That study has shown that emotions were more precisely conceptualized in terms of continuous categories, rather than discrete emotions, showing smooth gradients between emotions, such as from calmness to aesthetic appreciation to awe (Cowen & Keltner, 2017).

Supporting the dimensionality of emotions, we found differences along the dimension of approach motivation (Gable & Harmon-Jones, 2010Harmon-Jones et al., 2013). Positive emotions characterized by strong approach tendencies, such as joy and excitement, were accompanied by a higher sympathetic reactivity (e.g., DBP, MAP) than low-approach positive emotions like amusement. Our investigation may serve future studies to conceptualize positive emotions in terms of physiological arousal starting from the least arousing and ending with the most arousing positive emotions, namely awe, attachment love, gratitude, nurturant love, contentment, excitement, amusement, pride, craving, sexual desire, and joy.

Are There Moderators of ANS Reactivity to Positive Emotions?

We investigated several moderators that we thought might influence physiological responsiveness to emotions, but most did not moderate the observed effects. Only in craving did we observe a significant moderating effect of the elicitation method on the physiological response. We observed that behavioral methods, namely, exposure to food, produced stronger ANS reactivity than pictures, films, and imagery. This observation indicates the advantage of using active rather than passive emotion elicitation methods. Furthermore, in line with Lench and colleagues (2011), we found that reactions to craving were stronger when the proportion of women in samples increased.

Contrary to our expectations, we found no influence of several continuous variables on physiological reactivity to positive emotions, including age, sex proportion, participant number, and study quality (Kret & De Gelder, 2012; Stevens and Hamann, 2012Mill et al., 2009Sullivan et al., 2007). Like the previous meta-analysis of Lench and colleagues (2011), we found no evidence that the participants’ age influenced the degree of emotional reactivity. However, this may be due to imbalanced age distribution (skewed young), meaning we were underpowered to detect age differences. A thorough examination of how age influences the emotional experience's intensity requires additional research with older participants. In line with previous meta-analyses, we found no sex differences in response to positive emotions (Joseph et al., 2020Siegel et al., 2018). Finally, although we found indications of publication bias for some pairs of ANS reactivity and positive emotion, we conclude that most mean effect sizes seem to be robust and unlikely to be an artifact of systematic error.

Limitations and Future Directions

First, as we emphasize throughout the paper, the conclusions we present are provisional and contingent upon current data availability. More definitive conclusions will await additional research, particularly on under-researched positive emotions and measures.

Second, in this project, we used a univariate approach to analyze the mean ANS reactivity to discrete positive emotions in a series of meta-analyses. Although available multivariate meta-analytic approaches (Riley et al., 2017) would provide a better fit to the characteristic of emotions (Kragel & LaBar, 2013Stephens et al., 2010), several factors militated against using a multivariate approach. For instance, a multivariate meta-analysis requires a correlation matrix between the ANS measures. This was not possible to obtain because only 7 out of 128 articles included in our investigation reported correlations between some ANS measures. Along similar lines, for many analyses (e.g., amusement), two or more ANS measures were never observed jointly in the same study. Moreover, a previous meta-analysis found that multivariate pattern classifiers did not provide strong evidence of a consistent multivariate pattern for any emotion category (Siegel et al., 2018). Of note, the multivariate and univariate models produce similar point estimates, but the multivariate approach usually provides more precise estimates. Thus, the benefits of a multivariate meta-analysis are small (Riley et al., 2017). The advantages of using multivariate meta-analysis of multiple outcomes are greatest when the magnitude of correlation among outcomes is large, which was not the case for most of our analyses. In conclusion, our approach can produce statistically valid results for each pair of positive emotion and ANS reactivity measures (Pustejovsky & Tipton, 2021). Future studies might collect multiple physiological measures when studying ANS reactivity to emotions (Cacioppo et al., 2000) to provide data that allows for robust multivariate analyses.

Third, we used univariate statistics, which disrupt the physiological response's continuity and treat the entire emotion manipulation as a separate piece. Although univariate methods have historically dominated the literature (see Cacioppo et al., 2000Kreibig, 2010, for the reviews), future reviews may use multivariate approach data to replicate our findings.

Fourth, during the coding, we relabeled examined emotions in many studies. However, we found no differences in effect sizes extracted from studies with the original emotion label and effect sizes extracted from studies for which we renamed the emotion label. Moreover, the conclusions that come from our literature research stress the importance of using precise terminology in emotion-related literature. The overview of existing empirical and theoretical models indicates not only a variety of discrete positive emotions but also a variety of terms used to describe them. For instance, researchers used different labels for emotions elicited by funny situations, such as amusement (Kreibig et al., 2013), happiness (Kring & Gordon, 1998), or mirth (Foster et al., 2003). The heterogeneity of labels suggests problems with discrete emotions’ construct validity and measurement invariance. Future research would benefit from a more uniform nomenclature and definitions accepted by researchers within affective science.

Fifth, most of the theoretical and empirical models conceptualize individual positive emotions without clearly addressing how different positive emotions might be interrelated (e.g., Cowen and Keltner, 2017Ekman and Cordaro, 2011Tong, 2015; Weidman & Tracy, 2020, with the exception of Kreibig, 2014; and Shiota et al., 2017). It might be useful to group discrete emotions into families or clusters based on their similarities. For instance, joy and excitement are similar emotions associated with progress in achieving one's goals, but excitement has an anticipatory response compared to joy that brings well-being and good fortune after an event (Lazarus, 1991Shiota et al., 2017Smith & Kirby, 2010). Future studies may focus on examining similarities rather than differences between positive emotions. Researchers should also balance between generalization and differentiation in studying emotions.

A sixth limitation resulted from including studies that examined physiological reactivity from baseline or neutral conditions. The results produced by these studies differ due to differences in the design of these studies. Some research used neutral movies as a baseline (e.g., De Wied et al., 2009), whereas other studies used neutral videos in the experiment (e.g., Codispoti et al., 2008). We followed the theoretical premise that both baselines and neutral conditions should be emotionally impartial. A moderation analysis showed that the type of comparison used in primary studies had no effect on the size of the physiological reactivity. These results allowed us to examine further hypotheses, but both decisions of including different types of comparison and relabeling the emotion categories may have produced bias in the results of our meta-analysis. Given the considerable increase in psychophysiological research on emotions in recent years, future meta-analytic work would provide empirical support for the emotional impartiality of baseline and neutral conditions.

Seventh, we found substantial research methodology variability in primary studies. We tested whether the study quality moderated the effect sizes by assessing the presence of exclusion criteria, manipulation check procedures, and protocols for reporting or handling artifacts and missing data. We found those three measures to be objective indicators of study quality. However, the study quality had no effect on the size of physiological reactivity. More studies that include multiple ANS measures and multiple discrete positive emotions with diverse samples are required to strengthen broad inferences about ANS responses to positive emotions. Future studies might also examine how emotions differ in ANS reactivity rather than asking whether emotions generally differ physiologically (e.g., Berntson et al., 1991Stemmler, 1992). ANS reactivity produces the optimal bodily milieu to provide physiological support for behaviors associated with discrete emotion (Levenson, 2014). This requires unique configurations of multiple physiological responses rather than a single unique physiological change (Levenson, 2014). Single ANS measures might not be sufficient, given that most physiological measures used in the emotion-related literature constitute the physiological outcome of emotion-related states, showing a one-to-many relation between the physiological measure and emotions (see Cacioppo et al., 2000Richter & Slade, 2017 for the discussion). Groups of emotions may lead to similar general activation that occurs in response to an upcoming action (Brehm, 1999; Fredrickson & Levenson, 1998; Frijda, 1987). For instance, excitement, craving, or sexual desire prepare the organism to “be ready for action,” and they produce similar sympathetic activation. However, more specific activity might be observed in targeted organs. For instance, craving might be observed in the gastrointestinal tract, sexual arousal in the genital system, and excitement in the locomotor system (Levenson, 20112014).

Eighth, most of the ANS variables included in our meta-analysis are blends of SNS and PNS activation (e.g., HR). The measures more specifically related to PNS or SNS measures (e.g., RSA or PEP) were not broadly assessed across the positive emotions. Thus, we could not fully address whether positive emotions produce pure SNS or PNS activity but rather the co-product of one of the two systems.

Nineth, we believe that our meta-analysis opened the discussion for methodological issues in the psychophysiology of emotions that would be worth testing empirically. For instance, for moderators, we focused on the length of the time interval used to calculate the physiological levels for baselines and emotion manipulations. Although we did not find effects of the time interval on mean ANS reactivity to positive emotions, we believe that comparing different time intervals of the same physiological measure is problematic. Similarly, researchers usually used the same time intervals to present the reactivity of all ANS measures despite differences across the family of ANS variables. Thus, scientists tended to sacrifice the specificity of particular ANS measures for the sake of a uniform data analysis strategy.