Friday, February 25, 2022

Liberals perceive the stock market as a more dangerous and riskier place than conservatives, which explains liberals’ greater support for regulation of the stock market, and their greater opposition to privatization of Social Security

Fear and Loathing of Wall Street: Political Liberalism, Uncertainty, and Threat Management in a Dangerous Economic World. Michael Edem Fiagbenu,Thomas Kessler. Political Psychology, February 25 2022.

Abstract: Conservatives perceive the world as a more dangerous and threatening place than liberals, which explains conservatives’ more cautious social behaviors and their greater support for policies (e.g., anti-immigration and harsher punitive measures) that aim to manage and reduce perceived threats and uncertainties. However, past research operationalized the “world” as a place replete with social and physical threats (e.g., street crimes and terrorism). Less attention has been given to the economic world, which is equally characterized by threatening events (e.g., corporate crimes, stock-market crashes). In four studies, we examined whether differences in appraisal of the economic world explain ideological differences in stock-market participation and neoliberal economic policy preferences. The findings reveal that liberals perceive the stock market as a more dangerous and riskier place than conservatives. This asymmetry explains liberals’ cautious investment behaviors, their greater support for regulation of the stock market, and their greater opposition to privatization of Social Security. We argue that liberals’ greater support for these policies serves to protect investors and the general public from the perceived harms of the economic world. Our findings suggest that the psychological processes underlying threat management and uncertainty reduction are similar for conservatives and liberals, but these processes are context dependent.

Check also Of deadly beans and risky stocks: Political ideology and attitude formation via exploration depend on the nature of the attitude stimuli. Michael Edem Fiagbenu, Jutta Proch, Thomas Kessler. British Journal of Psychology, November 14 2019.


Sensitivity to Perceived Dangers in the Social and Economic World

The context- and content-dependent nature of the relationship between ideology and threat sensitivity can provide further insights into how conservatives perceive and react to different types of crimes. Here, we distinguish between two psychological contexts: the social world where social and interpersonal interactions occur and the economic world where interactions with corporations, financial markets, etc., transpire. Studies based on the Belief in a Dangerous World scale (Duckitt et al., 2002, p. 92)—a common measure used to assess beliefs about the uncertainties and dangers of social life—have consistently shown that conservatives perceive the social world to be a dangerous place where immoral people aim to rob, assault, and murder law-abiding citizens. This characterization suggests that the social world is a place replete with street crimes and terror (e.g., muggings, burglary, murder) and that conservative’s beliefs about the social world may be shaped by their greater sensitivity to physically harmful crimes (see Crawford, 2017; Eadeh & Chang, 2020). In contrast, white-collar and corporate crimes are widespread in the economic world (e.g., Ponzi schemes, bribery, embezzlements), and liberals are more concerned about these crimes and perceive them as more serious than conservatives (Kroska et al., 2019; Unnerver et al., 2008; Zimring & Hawkins, 1978). But it is unclear whether these differences shape liberals’ perception of the economic world as a more dangerous and threatening place.

Most street crimes including burglaries cause immediate bodily harm (Kopp, 2019). Even in cases when burglaries occur without physical harm, the resultant feeling of victimization triggers cognitive and emotional states similar to those experienced following physical assaults (Janoff-Bulman & Frieze, 1983). It is, indeed, true that street-crime victimization may sometimes create negative economic impacts such as replacement of stolen property, paying medical bills, or unemployment due to injury. However, one may argue that fears and concerns about street crime are probably determined by the perceived risks of physical victimization (proximal effects) rather than economic victimization (distal effects). By extension, ideological differences in perception of the social world as a dangerous place (Jöckel & Früh, 2016; van Leeuwen & Park, 2009) may reflect conservatives’ (vs. liberals’) greater sensitivity to physical threats (see also Napier et al., 2018).

In contrast, white-collar crimes commonly occur during interactions with the economic world. These crimes are sometimes perceived as more socially and economically harmful than street crimes (Cohen, 2016; Friedrichs, 2010; Lynch & Stretesky, 2001; Michel, 2015; Piquero, 2018). The socioeconomic harms created by white-collar crimes also differ qualitatively from street crimes. For example, unethical corporate practices sometimes lead to bankruptcies, market failures, and financial crises (Greenglass et al., 2014; Schoen, 2016; Shover & Grabosky, 2010). These negative events typically cause widespread economic harms (e.g., debt, unemployment, foreclosures, etc.), which endanger livelihoods (Rheinhart & Rogoff, 2009; Yilmazer et al., 2015). Corporate scandals and financial crises weaken trust in the economic world and increase fear and risk perception of financial markets, which in turn reduce participation in the stock market (Giannetti & Wang, 2016; Kuvvet, 2018; Lim & Kim, 2018; Nguyen et al., 2017; Zhou, 2020).

Although economic adversity may create secondary outcomes such as illness, injury, or even suicides (Chang et al., 2013; Lynch & Stretesky, 2001; Michel, 2015; Yilmazer et al., 2015), these distal physical outcomes are usually mediated by proximate economic victimization and moderated by socioeconomic status, preexisting physical or mental health, or even seasonal timing (Ballester et al., 2019; Haw et al., 2014; Margerison-Zilko et al., 2016). Consequently, it can be argued that people’s sensitivity to white-collar crimes is primarily driven by their perceived risks of economic rather than physical victimization. If correct, then liberals’ greater concerns about white-collar crimes suggests that they may be more sensitive to economic victimization than conservatives, which may likely cause liberals (vs. conservatives) to perceive the economic world as a dangerous and threatening place.

Threat Management and Uncertainty Reduction in the Social and Economic World

Since conservatives and liberals are sensitive to different types of perceived threats and dangers, one would expect that they would adopt unique behavioral coping strategies and embrace distinct public policies that are well-suited for threat management and uncertainty reduction. Relative to liberals, conservatives typically amend their lifestyles and restrict their social activities (e.g., reduce traveling, avoid crowds and unsafe places) to safe spaces to minimize their risk of physical victimization (Reinhart, 2017; Sloan et al., 2020). Conservatives also support harsher punitive policies (McCann, 2008), more government spending on street-crime prevention (Rebovich et al., 2000; Ren et al., 2008), and stringent anti-immigration procedures than liberals (Doosje et al., 2009; Stewart et al., 2019). The overarching aims of these policies are to resist perceived harmful social changes and regulate activities that are perceived to increase social disorder.

In contrast, liberals also engage in behaviors which may help to minimize economic threats. Liberals are more cautious and intolerant of financial uncertainties in real and hypothetical stock-market games and also form more negative attitudes towards stocks than conservatives (Fiagbenu et al., 2021a; Kaustia & Torstila, 2011; Moore et al., 2010). Although there appears to the an ideological asymmery in stock ownership, the effect sizes are, however, small or insignificant, (r = .01–.20); and the relationship is moderated by financial self-efficacy (Han et al., 2019). However, these studies, taken together, imply that relative to conservatives, liberals may avoid the stock market presumably because they perceive it as a threatening place. But empirical evidence in support of this assertion remains to be established.

Furthermore, liberals also adopt policies that help them to cope with economic threats. First, experimental manipulations that increase the salience of corporate scandals increase support for regulation of financial institutions (Eadeh & Chang, 2020). In addition, liberals are more likely to support punishment of white-collar crimes and call for more government spending on their prevention than conservatives (Kroska et al., 2019; Michel et al., 2014; Rebovich et al., 2000). Further, liberals are more likely to support tighter regulation of the stock market and corporations than conservatives (Potrafke, 2009; Unnerver et al., 2008). Finally, to protect low-income workers and other vulnerable groups, liberals (vs. conservatives) oppose risky economic policy reforms such as partial privatization of Social Security (Devroye, 2003; Rudolph & Popp, 2009). Thus, relative to conservatives, liberals’ support for these policies can be interpreted as a motivation to reduce the perceived harms caused by unregulated practices in the economic world. If correct, then one would expect that liberals would perceive the economic world as a dangerous and threatening place than conservatives.

Strong men are more inclined to casual sex; contrary to our predictions, socioeconomic status did not affect short-term mating orientation

Long-Term Mating Orientation in Men: The Role of Socioeconomic Status, Protection Skills, and Parenthood Disposition. Gabriela Fajardo et al. Front. Psychol., February 25 2022.

Abstract: From an evolutionary perspective, phenotypic, social, and environmental factors help to shape the different costs and benefits of pursuing different reproductive strategies (or a mixture of them) from one individual to another. Since men’s reproductive success is mainly constrained to women’s availability, their mating orientations should be partially calibrated by features that women prefer in a potential partner. For long-term relationships, women prefer traits that signal access to resources, protection skills, and the willingness to share them. Using generalized linear models with laboratory data taken from a Chilean population (N = 197), this study aimed to test whether real and potential resources (measured as self-reported socioeconomic status), protection skills (measured as handgrip strength), and the willingness to provide resources and protection (measured as their disposition toward parenthood) are related to mating orientation in men. Our predictions were: (1) socioeconomic status would be positively associated with long-term and short-term mating orientation but for long-term-oriented individuals, this would be enhanced by having a more favorable parenthood disposition and (2) strength would be positively related to long-term mating orientation in men with higher socioeconomic status and a favorable disposition toward parenthood and it would have a positive and direct association with short-term mating orientation. Our results partially supported the first hypothesis, since men with higher socioeconomic status were more long-term oriented, but parenting disposition did not moderate this effect. Contrary to our expectations, socioeconomic status was not related to short-term mating orientation. Strength appeared not to be significant for long-term mating orientation, even interacting with other traits. However, strength by itself was powerfully linked with a short-term mating orientation. Our results suggest that only some individuals that are attractive for long-term relationships are indeed long-term oriented and may reflect the overall conflict of interests between mating strategies among sexes.


The SPH proposes that the relative allocation of time and energy between mating and parenting activities is facultatively calibrated by an individual’s particular traits and social context. In this regard, men showing traits preferred by women for long-term relationships should display higher sociosexual attitudes toward long-term mating (Gangestad and Simpson, 2000Buss and Schmitt, 2019). Previous studies reporting associations between traits preferred by women for long-term relationships and men’s sociosexuality are scarce, do not specifically address the mentioned issue, and use a unidimensional approach to sociosexuality (Townsend, 1993Sprecher et al., 2013Szepsenwol et al., 2017). In this study, we tested whether economic resources, protection skills, and the willingness to allocate these resources in offspring—all traits preferred by women in long-term partners—are associated with men’s long-term mating orientation. Our results partially supported our predictions as we found that socioeconomic status was positively associated with a long-term mating orientation, but parenthood disposition did not moderate this effect. Instead, parenthood disposition seems to mediate this effect. Contrary to our predictions, socioeconomic status did not affect short-term mating orientation. Moreover, we failed to find the expected effects of strength on long-term mating orientation, but we found that strength was positively associated with short-term orientation.

Our first specific prediction was aimed at testing the effect of economic resources on long and short-term mating orientation and whether the willingness to allocate resources in offspring was moderating the effect for long-term oriented men. Regarding main effects, we found that resources, measured by socioeconomic status, were positively related to long-term mating orientation but did not affect short-term mating orientation. This result is aligned with previous studies that found the possession of resources attractive for women when choosing a long-term partner (Townsend, 1989Buss et al., 1990Sprecher et al., 1994Buunk et al., 2002Blossfeld and Timm, 2018) and support our prediction that resources are important in calibrating long-term mating orientation in men. In addition, our null result regarding short-term mating orientation is similar to the results of Sprecher et al. (2013), in which socioeconomic status was not related to short-term mating strategies but differs from the findings of Townsend (1993) that found a positive relationship. Our prediction regarding the positive relationship between economic resources and short-term mating orientation in men was based on previous evidence suggesting that economic resources may be a relevant trait for women when choosing a short-term mate (Greiling and Buss, 2000Thomas and Stewart-Williams, 2018). But this preference for economic resources in short-term mating might be related to context-specific traits as when women meet a potential mate with higher socioeconomic status than their current partner (Greiling and Buss, 2000) or when the environment is high in resources (Thomas and Stewart-Williams, 2018). This circumstance may explain why, in a general context, economic resources seem to be related to long-term mating orientation in men but not to short-term mating orientation.

As important as resources are for women who seek long-term relationships, there are personality features that signal a willingness to allocate them to one partner and their offspring over a significant period (Buss, 2018Webb and Fisher, 2018). In this regard, parenthood dispositions denote the willingness to invest in offspring and it is considered a component of men’s mate value which is especially relevant to attract partners for long-term relationships (Fisher et al., 2008). Accordingly, we expected that parenthood dispositions would moderate the effect of resources in the expression of long-term mating orientation in men. However, our results did not support this prediction, suggesting that socioeconomic status influences long-term mating orientation independently of parenthood dispositions. Since socioeconomic status and parenthood disposition were correlated in this study, we explored the possibility that parenthood disposition was mediating the relationship between socioeconomic status and long-term mating orientation. We found that indeed this was the case, suggesting that socioeconomic status affects long-term mating orientation through an increase in parenthood disposition. Future studies are needed to confirm that result due to its exploratory nature in this study.

Our second specific prediction was focused on testing the effect of protection skills on long and short-term mating orientation. In this regard, previous literature did not find an association between protection skills (i.e., strength and muscularity) and long-term sociosexual orientation, but it did for short-term (Lukaszewski et al., 2014Polo et al., 2019). We proposed that this feature might have a positive effect on long-term mating orientation when interacting with other variables relevant for this context, like socioeconomic status and parenthood dispositions, and a direct and positive effect on short-term mating orientation. In line with previous research (Lukaszewski et al., 2014), strength predicted short-term but not long-term sociosexual orientation in men. However, contrary to our prediction, we did not find an effect for the proposed interaction between strength, socioeconomic status, and parenthood disposition. Thus, our results suggest that protection skills, measured from handgrip strength, do not seem to be a relevant factor that calibrates men’s long-term sociosexual orientation despite being described as relevant for women when choosing a long-term partner (Buss and Schmitt, 2019). A possible explanation is that, since it has been documented that protection skills are attractive for women in both mating contexts, men who display these traits may be attracting a larger pool of women and may gain more by pursuing a short-term mating strategy, maximizing the number of sexual partners (Hughes and Gallup, 2003Frederick and Haselton, 2007Lukaszewski et al., 2014Polo et al., 2019). That can be particularly true in the case of men around their reproductive peak, as is the case of our sample, which was composed of young men with an average age of 22 years old. Finally, it is interesting to emphasize that strength is positively related to short-term mating orientation and has a null, but not negative, effect in the expression of long-term mating orientation. Strength has been associated with the possession of good genes and the ability to win a conflict (Sell et al., 2009), traits that are beneficial when pursuing a short-term mating strategy (Gangestad and Simpson, 2000). Consequently, it seems to be an important factor in calibrating short-term mating orientation but, according to our results, it did not affect long-term mating orientation. That suggests that a long-term mating orientation is not necessarily an alternative strategy employed when individuals cannot maximize their reproductive success through investing in casual sexual encounters. In addition, our results suggest that pursuing a short-term mating orientation by stronger men does not affect their orientation toward long-term mating and stress the importance of considering sociosexual orientation as a multidimensional construct.

To sum up, our results suggest that long-term-oriented men only display some of the traits that women prefer in them for long-term mating contexts, since resources but not protective skills are important for men’s long-term sociosexual orientation. Previous results showed that most of the traits preferred by women for short-term relationships are important in calibrating the expression of short-term mating orientation in men (Lukaszewski et al., 2014Valentine et al., 2014Polo et al., 2019). However, our results are less clear about the link between traits preferred for long-term mating and the expression of long-term mating orientation in men. This may indicate that, at least some individuals who possess traits reported to be attractive for long-term relationships, may be pursuing a short-term mating strategy instead. Possibly, this reflects the overall conflict of interests between mating strategies among the sexes that arise from differences in parental investment and potential reproductive rates (Trivers, 1972Parker, 2006). Complementary theoretical approaches to the study of reproductive trade-offs in humans such as the life history theory (Kruger, 2017) may be useful to understand this variability in sociosexuality in future studies. From this framework, one of the variables that has been reported to affect sociosexual orientation in adulthood is the developmental conditions and, especially, the predictability and harshness of the childhood environment (Ellis et al., 2009). Considering these developmental conditions jointly with current traits and conditions may help to have a wider understanding of the causes of the individual differences in mating strategies.

Our study has several limitations. First, our measure of parenthood dispositions which, although based on a subscale of a validated questionnaire (Fisher et al., 2008), might be too general as it was composed of only two items and precluded delving into different sources of investment and commitment to offspring. Future studies should include more specific measures of parenthood dispositions to determine whether different types of investment in offspring influence the relationships between socioeconomic status and long-term mating orientation in different ways. Second, our sample mainly consisted of young men and with low variability in age. This precludes analyzing whether the association of traits and mating strategies changes as individuals age and consolidate their social status. Future studies should include a wider age range to address this issue, either by pursuing a larger sample or by quota sampling by age groups. Our third limitation is that we did not have information about whether the participants currently had children or not. Despite that our sample was composed mainly of young men, their paternal status may be relevant as there is some evidence suggesting that unrestricted sociosexuality is reduced during parenthood in men, but only in those that reside with their children (Gettler et al., 2019).