Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Roughly one-third of men disliked their nude appearance, compared to approximately half of women

Demographic and sociocultural predictors of sexuality-related body image and sexual frequency: The U.S. Body Project I. David A. Frederick et al. Body Image, Volume 41, June 2022, Pages 109-127. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2022.01.010


• We examined sexuality-related body image in a national sample of men and women.

• Women reported higher sexuality-related body image on three of four measures.

• Sexual orientation was tied to sexuality-related body image among men.

• Body mass and ethnicity were linked to sexuality-related body image.

• Appearance surveillance was associated with sexuality-related body image.

Abstract: Body image is a critical component of an individual’s sexual experiences. This makes it critical to identify demographic and sociocultural correlates of sexuality-related body image: the subjective feelings, cognitions, and evaluations related to one’s body in the context of sexual experience. We examined how sexuality-related body image differed by gender, sexual orientation, race, age, and BMI. Four items assessing sexuality-related body image were completed by 11,620 U.S. adults: self-perceived sex appeal of their body, nude appearance satisfaction, and the extent to which they believed that body image positively or negatively affected their sexual enjoyment and feelings of sexual acceptability as a partner. Men reported slightly less nude appearance dissatisfaction and fewer negative effects of body image on sexual enjoyment and sexual acceptability than women, but did not differ in reported sex appeal. Poorer sexuality-related body image was reported by people with higher BMIs, not in relationships, who had sex less frequently, among White compared to Black women and men, and among gay compared to heterosexual men. Data also revealed a subgroup of respondents who reported that their body image had a positive impact on their sex lives. The findings highlight a need for interventions addressing sexuality-related body image.

Keywords: Body ImagePositive Body ImageSexual SatisfactionGenderSexual AttitudesSexual Orientation

Boring People: Stereotype Characteristics, Interpersonal Attributions, and Social Reactions... Being seen as a bore may come with substantial negative consequences

Boring People: Stereotype Characteristics, Interpersonal Attributions, and Social Reactions. Wijnand A. P. van Tilburg, Eric R. Igou, Mehr Panjwani. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, March 8, 2022. https://doi.org/10.1177/01461672221079104

Abstract: Unfortunately, some people are perceived as boring. Despite the potential relevance that these perceptions might have in everyday life, the underlying psychological processes and consequences of perceiving a person as “boring” have been largely unexplored. We examined the stereotypical features of boring others by having people generate (Study 1) and then rate (Study 2) these. We focused on occupations (e.g., data analytics, taxation, and accounting), hobbies (e.g., sleeping, religion, and watching TV), and personal characteristics (e.g., lacking humor and opinions, being negative) that people ascribed to stereotypically boring others. Experiments then showed that those who were ascribed boring characteristics were seen as lacking interpersonal warmth and competence (Study 3), were socially avoided (Study 4), and enduring their company required compensation (Study 5). These results suggest that being stereotyped as a bore may come with substantially negative interpersonal consequences.

Keywords: boredom, warmth, competence, stereotype, person perception

Being a bore is hardly a crime; yet, our studies suggest that those who are stereotypically boring incur negative attributions of warmth and competence, face social disapproval, and test the endurance of people’s company. Study 1 explored the occupations, hobbies, and personal characteristics that people stereotypically associate with boring others. Participants generated these features freely and we grouped this stereotype content into categories. We tested, in Study 2, how well they describe stereotypically boring others. Together, these studies suggested that people with occupations in data analysis, accounting, and taxation seemed particularly boring to our participants. Those whose “hobbies” included sleeping, religion, and watching TV were also considered particularly boring, as were those who lacked humor, expressed no opinions, and came across as negative. Boring people stereotypically congregate in small cities and towns as opposed to villages and large cities.

Studies 3 to 5 examined attributions and reactions that those who possess these features may incur. Participants reacted to persons described in vignettes embedded with features that characterized stereotypically boring others to various degrees. This method allowed us to examine social perceptions of boring others without the need to refer to boredom in their descriptions explicitly, reducing demand effects. Results confirmed that more boredom was attributed to those described using more, versus less, stereotypically boring features. Furthermore, Study 3 showed that possessing stereotypically boring features comes with less perceived interpersonal warmth and less competence. Study 4 further indicated that conforming to the boring person stereotype came with increased social avoidance. Consistently, Study 5 showed that keeping company with a stereotypical bore is psychologically costly, evident from the suggested compensation that participants asked for. Finally, in a supplementary study (S1; Research Supplement), we explored if stereotypically boring people are perceived in a more positive light when they occupy a job that requires a stereotypically boring person relative to the same job performed by a less stereotypically boring person. We did not find evidence for this potential moderation, suggesting that even when a stereotypically boring person is the best fit for a job, people still prefer a stereotypically less boring alternative.

Overall, our results fit well within research on the stereotype content model (Fiske et al., 2002) and the behavior from intergroup affect and stereotypes map (Cuddy et al., 2008). As with other group stereotypes, the stereotype of boring people could be helpfully described based on warmth and competence dimensions and corresponding responses (avoidance). The stereotype of boring people, different from many other stereotypes, is characterized by both low warmth and low competence.


Our research shows that being perceived as boring likely conveys low competence and low warmth, being a social burden, thus causing avoidance by others. Rather than innocuous, such social reactions can lead to social isolation, for example, in the form of loneliness or ostracism (Weiss, 1973Williams, 2002) with profound psychological consequences (Cacioppo et al., 2003Williams, 2012). Those perceived as boring may thus be at greater risk of harm. Furthermore, despite the negative stereotype that those who perform jobs in, for example, accounting, taxation, and data analysis may accordingly face, society needs people to perform those roles. Rather than perceiving them as performing a social “crime,” as Cecil Beaton may have joked, perhaps those seen as boring should receive some sympathy and support instead.

The stereotype content model (Fiske et al., 2002) characterizes groups within a space characterized by low or high warmth and competence. Group stereotypes are most typically located in areas where one quality is relatively low while the other is relatively high. (Fiske et al., 2002). Low attributed competence and warmth rarely occur in conjunction (Kervyn et al., 2009Swencionis et al., 2017). These perceptions apply to most marginalized and disenfranchised groups in society (e.g., immigrants, the poor, the homeless; Fiske, 2018), including stereotypically boring people. This positioning is theoretically intriguing: groups perceived as low in warmth and competence are often characterized as having relatively low power in society (Fiske & Cuddy, 2006). Yet, various features of the stereotype associated with boring people seem at odds with a low power position (e.g., high education/income occupations, such as banking and finance). While people might, unfortunately, get away with the avoidance or poor treatment of relatively low power groups such as the homeless, the same seems unlikely to apply when dealing with stereotypically boring people in positions of financial or social power. Their potential marginalization offers an intriguing avenue for theoretical refinement of relevant theory. At the same time, the boring people stereotype seems distinct concerning its characteristics and the social consequences it could evoke.

Most models of boredom seem to converge on the important role that the adverse experience plays in guiding cognition and behavior (Elpidorou, 20142018a2018b; Moynihan et al., 2020; Struk et al., 2016Van Tilburg & Igou, 20122019Velasco, 2019). For example, Eastwood and Gorelik’s (2019) unused cognitive potential model (see also Eastwood et al., 2012) proposes that boredom can be understood as “the feeling associated with a failure to engage our cognitive capacity (desire bind) such that cognitive capacity remains under-utilized (unoccupied mind)” (p. 57). Van Tilburg and Igou’s (20112019) pragmatic meaning-regulation approach characterized boredom as an emotion that signals a lack of meaning in the task at hand and encourages an active search for more meaningful alternatives or a withdrawal from the situations (see also Moynihan et al., 2021). Combining these ideas, Westgate and Wilson’s (2018) MAC model proposed that boredom is characterized by low attention or a lack of meaning and that these two factors contribute to boredom independently. Further integrating these models, Tam and colleagues (2021) suggest that a range of cognitive appraisals—meaning, control, and challenge—help to understand attentional engagement. What all these approaches share, however, is the notion that boredom is key to understanding cognition and behavior: It casts boredom in the reactionary role of causing aversion to, disengagement from, or avoidance of, the cause of boredom, consistent with the social reactions that stereotypically boring persons seem to incur.

Our research portrays boredom as a protagonist in person perceptions and interactions. This treatment is consistent with work on boredom in other disciplines, such as sociology. For example, Brissett and Snow (1993) argue that boredom is an interactional phenomenon characterized by people feeling “being out of synch with the ongoing rhythms of social life” (p. 239). Boredom marks the perception that one’s contribution to the future is insignificant, casting one’s life as a rather meaningless part of society at large. In this sense, boredom may be the product of a consumer-oriented and affluent society. Brissett and Snow further highlight that expressions of boredom can serve dedicated communication purposes. For example, stating that one is bored, as opposed to depressed, may portray the self as more superior or to save face.

Ohlmeier and colleagues (2020) likewise emphasize the socially constructed side of this emotion. They highlight that, historically, scholars have suggested that modernity has caused failures to find meaning in life, work, or other activities, which in turn renders people bored. Schopenhauer (1851) even suggested that achieving all we aspire to in life merely renders us bored. In a similar vein, Ohlmeier and colleagues propose that “The easier and more predictable modern life becomes, the more boring it seems.” (p. 212). The notion that boredom is an indicator of an “easy” life might, at the surface, seem to suggest that expressing boredom ought to signal one’s success or status in life. However, Ohlmeier and colleagues (2020) note that the construct of boredom may be associated with marginalized groups as well; they propose that social inequalities within a particular society can play an important role in how people understand boredom.

Consistently, Ohlmeier and colleagues note that social norms currently discourage expressing boredom (Hochschild, 1983) in interactional settings and that the term is considered a sign of social disapproval (see also Conrad, 1997). Boredom, in this sense, signals a disjunction from one’s social role (Goffman, 19561982), such as talking excessively in a context that requires one to be a careful listener (e.g., Leary et al., 1986). In work settings, expressions of boredom may be suppressed or discouraged if cultural norms emphasize achievement-orientation, where boredom may be taken as an indication of poor person-situation fit.

Limitations and Future Directions

We examined the stereotypical features of boring people in United States (Studies 1–3 and 5) and United Kingdom (Study 4) samples recruited online. Readers may legitimately question whether these stereotype content features generalize to other populations. We suspect that there are cultural variations in these stereotype features (see also Henrich et al., 2010). For example, societies likely differ in the degree to which religious activities—in our current samples typically siding with being perceived as “boring”—are seen like that elsewhere, given the substantial variation in religious beliefs and practices worldwide and the links that religiosity has with boredom (Van Tilburg et al., 2019). Furthermore, it is possible that some stereotype features have limited temporal generalizability, with technological and broader societal developments likely altering the content of hobbies and occupations. As a case in point, perceptions of jobs in computing and IT—currently ranked mid-boring among our occupations—may change over time, with activities such as coding and gaming perhaps gradually becoming more mainstream (see Kowert & Oldmeadow, 2012).

Thus, the specific stereotype content will likely apply increasingly less as the degree of deviations from these specific settings increases. We assure the reader, however, that this is not necessarily a limiting factor. While the content of the boring person stereotype likely varies somewhat across societies and time, it might well be that the (negative) social perceptions generalize much better. For example, we replicated the lack of perceived warmth that Leary and colleagues’ (1986) study found, conducted more than 30 years ago. While generalizability across societies, not to mention time, requires further empirical verification, we are cautiously optimistic that the negative social implications of being perceived as a bore are found in other settings.

By examining the content of the boring people stereotype, we focused on the stereotype content model (Fiske et al., 2002). Yet, our research also has implications for models that highlight the importance of agency and communion (e.g., Abele & Wojciszke, 2014Koch et al., 2016). We reason that boring people are unlikely to be seen as agentic given the centrality of the laziness trait within the stereotype. Furthermore, given the perceived lack of social skills and not being liked, boring people are unlikely to be perceived as communal. Research would benefit from examining the fit of the boring people across the content models that highlight alternative dimensions (e.g., agency/communion; e.g., Abele & Wojciszke, 2014Koch et al., 2016). We assume that the boring people stereotype will occupy a salient and distinct place across the various stereotype content dimensions.

We examined boredom using vignettes that described people with features that were rated differently in how stereotypically boring they were. There was considerable variation in the level of boredom that these features signaled, and we could hence examine responses to people who appeared as highly, intermediately, or a little boring. However, we did not have a truly “nonboring” control, and results should hence be interpreted as reflecting reactions to others who differ in degree of boredom rather than presence versus absence of boring features. Furthermore, we did not assess whether or to what degree features ascribed to stereotypically boring people overlap with those of other stereotyped groups, or if, perhaps, other labels (e.g., stereotypically unfriendly people, stereotypically unsociable people) fit as well. These are limitations that could be addressed in future research.

Studies 4 and 5 examined the tentative avoidance of stereotypically boring persons. Is this avoidance primarily associated with a corresponding lack of warmth or competence attributed to stereotypically boring individuals? Perhaps the relative roles of warmth versus competence in interpersonal avoidance may be context-dependent. In a context where people prioritize affiliation with others (e.g., a party), it might well be that avoidance is primarily predicted by (lack of) perceived warmth. In a context where, on the other hand, people seek out others with competency skills (e.g., expert advice and tech support), avoidance may be predicted primarily by (lack of) perceived competence instead. Future research should examine the roles that warmth and competence may independently, or perhaps interactively, play in avoidance.

Our research confirms that the boring people stereotype exists, and it creates clarity about the typical features of the stereotype and the social consequences of being perceived as boring. We assume that this stereotype is more likely to affect impression formation under conditions of low capacity and low accuracy motivation (e.g., Fiske & Neuberg, 1990Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). That said, given the negativity of its content across features of competence and interpersonal warmth, we speculate that the stereotype is especially likely to be applied when people are negatively biased toward targets, whether they be individuals or groups, for example, in situations of psychological threat and conflict (e.g., Brown, 2000Eagly & Chaiken, 1993). Work on stereotypes and motivated reasoning shows that the activation and use of stereotypes when forming impressions of others is in part shaped by the goals that people have (Kundra & Sinclair, 1999). A particularly interesting case emerges in situations where the use or inhibition of a particular stereotype may serve to boost some aspect of the self. For example, research shows that the application of negative out-group stereotypes helps improve one’s own self-worth (e.g., Greenberg et al., 1990). Perhaps the application of the boring people stereotype offers people an opportunity to flatter their self-perceived, or socially communicated, creativity or uniqueness. Interestingly, if such strategic use of stereotyping others occurs especially under self-threat, it is possible that precisely those individuals who are suspect of being bores themselves will stereotype others. If true, such compensatory stereotyping gives new meaning to the popular belief that “only boring people get bored”: only (or especially) boring people get bored with others. Relatedly, it is plausible that in some contexts the boring people stereotype is more relevant than in others, especially when being boring is highly inconsistent with the contextual demands (e.g., book clubs, dating, and entertainment). Future research should examine more closely the conditions under which the boring people stereotype comes into play.

These results suggest that 2-year-old children have an intrinsic concern that individuals be helped whereas 5-year-old children have an additional, strategic motivation to improve their reputation by helping

Evidence for a developmental shift in the motivation underlying helping in early childhood. Robert Hepach, Jan M. Engelmann, Esther Herrmann, Stella Gerdemann, Michael Tomasello. Developmental Science, February 21 2022. https://doi.org/10.1111/desc.13253

Abstract: We investigated children's positive emotions as an indicator of their underlying prosocial motivation. In Study 1, 2- and 5-year-old children (N = 64) could either help an individual or watch as another person provided help. Following the helping event and using depth sensor imaging, we measured children's positive emotions through changes in postural elevation. For 2-year-olds, helping the individual and watching another person help was equally rewarding; 5-year-olds showed greater postural elevation after actively helping. In Study 2, 5-year-olds’ (N = 59) positive emotions following helping were greater when an audience was watching. Together, these results suggest that 2-year-old children have an intrinsic concern that individuals be helped whereas 5-year-old children have an additional, strategic motivation to improve their reputation by helping.

A higher level of economic development is strongly associated with a greater incidence of love in narrative fiction; these authors think the relationship is causal

The cultural evolution of love in literary history. Nicolas Baumard, Elise Huillery, Alexandre Hyafil & Lou Safra. Nature Human Behaviour, Mar 7 2022. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-022-01292-z

Abstract: Since the late nineteenth century, cultural historians have noted that the importance of love increased during the Medieval and Early Modern European period (a phenomenon that was once referred to as the emergence of ‘courtly love’). However, more recent works have shown a similar increase in Chinese, Arabic, Persian, Indian and Japanese cultures. Why such a convergent evolution in very different cultures? Using qualitative and quantitative approaches, we leverage literary history and build a database of ancient literary fiction for 19 geographical areas and 77 historical periods covering 3,800 years, from the Middle Bronze Age to the Early Modern period. We first confirm that romantic elements have increased in Eurasian literary fiction over the past millennium, and that similar increases also occurred earlier, in Ancient Greece, Rome and Classical India. We then explore the ecological determinants of this increase. Consistent with hypotheses from cultural history and behavioural ecology, we show that a higher level of economic development is strongly associated with a greater incidence of love in narrative fiction (our proxy for the importance of love in a culture). To further test the causal role of economic development, we used a difference-in-difference method that exploits exogenous regional variations in economic development resulting from the adoption of the heavy plough in medieval Europe. Finally, we used probabilistic generative models to reconstruct the latent evolution of love and to assess the respective role of cultural diffusion and economic development.

We Don't Know When We Are Good at Spotting Liars

Said, Nadia, Sarah Volz, Marc-André Reinhard, Patrick Müller, and Markus Huff. 2022. “Do People Know When They Are Good at Spotting Liars? – Metacognitive Efficiency in Lie Detection.” PsyArXiv. March 8. doi:10.31234/osf.io/v6nbd


We investigated whether the confidence in lie detection judgments is a signal for the accuracy of judgments. We argue that previous methods in tackling this question are inadequate as the assessment of judgment accuracy and confidence is confounded with response bias and lie detection performance. We addressed this confidence-accuracy puzzle by applying a hierarchical Bayesian approach based on Signal-Detection Theory to estimate metacognitive efficiency.

Metacognitive efficiency describes individuals' insight into the accuracy of their judgments about truth and deception, but unlike previous measures, it is free of bias and independent of lie detection performance. In re-analyses of 12 studies (N=2817 participants in total), metacognitive efficiency was on average only about 23% of what would have been expected given participants’ discrimination performance. Hence, individuals largely lack metacognitive insight into the quality of their judgments, which is particularly problematic because they cannot reliably discriminate between lies and truths.

Affective polarization increases over time, but also as people age; age-related increases in affective polarization occur as a function of increases in partisan strength, and for Republicans, social sorting

Affective Polarization: Over Time, Through the Generations, and During the Lifespan. Joseph Phillips. Political Behavior, Mar 7 2022. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11109-022-09784-4

Abstract: The continual rise of affective polarization in the United States harms trust in democratic institutions. Scholars cite processes of ideological and social sorting of the partisan coalitions in the electorate as contributing to the rise of affective polarization, but how do these processes relate to one another? Most scholarship implicitly assumes period effects—that people change their feelings toward the parties uniformly and contemporaneously as they sort. However, it is also possible that sorting and affective polarization link with one another as a function of age or cohort effects. In this paper, I estimate age, period and cohort effects on affective polarization, partisan strength, and ideological sorting. I find that affective polarization increases over time, but also as people age. Age-related increases in affective polarization occur as a function of increases in partisan strength, and for Republicans, social sorting. Meanwhile, sorting only partially explains period effects. These effects combine such that each cohort enters the electorate more affectively polarized than the last.


The study of affective polarization has long recognized the weight of historical forces in shaping contemporary attitudes toward the opposing party. However, the way researchers have modeled these historical effects implicitly assume that partisans’ attitudes reflect the immediate political environment. This paper provides strong evidence that such an understanding is incomplete.

To be clear, there are strong period effects. Net of other considerations, affective polarization increases over time, and with important implications. People enter the electorate not as blank slates but as increasingly polarized products of their pre-adult environment. This increase is only slightly explained by over-time increases in ideological and social sorting in the electorate. Furthermore, least some of what we may have considered period effects are actually the result of aging-related increases in affective polarization. These aging effects, in turn, can be contextualized as increases in in-party warmth concomitant with increases in partisan strength over the lifespan.

These aging effects have important implications for the study of affective polarization. The finding that affective polarization changes throughout the lifespan suggests that interventions designed to reduce affective polarization may work among partisans in a variety of age groups. However, given their disproportionately high turnout rates (Leighley & Nagler, 2013) and increasing share of the population, making sure interventions to reduce affective polarization work among older partisans is crucial to reducing affective polarization in the American partisan population.

Sorting-based theories of affective polarization are meant to explain the rise of affective polarization among the electorate over time. However, the inclusion of individual-level measures of sorting, despite predicting individual-level affective polarization, largely fails to account for period effects among Democrats. This suggests that sorting-based theories of affective polarization need to be adjusted in scope. One possibility is that individual-level sorting does not explain aggregate patterns of affective polarization, but is still able to condition individual identity centrality and feelings towards partisan outgroups (Brewer & Pierce, 2005; Roccas & Brewer, 2002). Hence, sorting can still explain age-related changes in affective polarization among Republicans. This leaves aggregate-level features of the party system related to sorting (e.g. ideological polarization and demographic distinctiveness) as viable. Another possibility is that similar types of citizens (e.g. political sophisticates) are both well-sorted into parties and affectively polarized. Future work should tease apart these possibilities.

There are important limitations to this type of analysis. Intra-cohort trajectories are no substitute for intrapersonal variation. One cannot definitively conclude from this analysis that individuals are uniformly susceptible to age- and period-related changes in affective polarization, though individual-level panel data are consistent with what the APC models find. APC models can simulate the life span, but ultimately do so from aggregate data. Additionally, though mediation is useful to explain effects found in age-period-cohort analyses, mediation analyses using repeated cross-sectional data should be treated with caution. While reverse causality is not a threat to inferences (i.e. partisan strength cannot cause people to become 50 years old), one cannot make a definitive claim that that aging causes increases in affective polarization because it causes increases in partisan strength.

Despite these limitations, these analyses have important implications for understandings of affective polarization. Partisan prejudice is just as important to examine through the lens of the life-span as it is through history. Both are intertwined—age-related changes in attitudes occur contextually, through the social roles people inhabit, through the people they interact with, and through the historical events that unfold during their lives. Similarly, historical changes give shape to aggregate-level changes in the aggregate through affecting the attitudes of at least a subset of partisans. Future work would profit greatly from incorporating the lifespan in more nuanced ways, and with greater use of panel data.

Furthermore, despite a lack of robust cohort differences in affective polarization, aging and period effects have combined to produce a trend where citizens enter the electorate more and more affectively polarized over time. These results are consistent with Boxell et al. (2017), who, despite finding that younger cohorts are rising less quickly in affective polarization over time, find nonetheless younger people are more polarized than in the past. In other words, younger cohorts are experiencing higher levels of affective polarization in their impressionable years. Growing up in a more polarized landscape can leave an as-yet-unknown imprint on younger generations in the future such that cohort effects emerge in the future. This suggests that there is still a potential impressionable years effect with polarization among younger cohorts. These findings also suggest a need for studying political group attitudes in adolescence or earlier. National election studies only observe people over the voting age, but youth panels can be a powerful supplemental tool.

These results also draw attention to the often-overlooked role of age in public opinion beyond its use as a demographic covariate. Historically, isolating the role of age in public opinion has been difficult due to the difficulty of separating the effect of age from period and cohort. Nevertheless, it is important work. Changes in cognition and social role are widely-experienced, meaning their effects on political life are wide-ranging. Furthermore, estimating and explaining the effect of age can be done with more confidence than in the past. The social sciences have accumulated a number of high-quality repeated cross-sectional datasets that can leverage unprecedented temporal variation, which increases precision in estimates of period and cohort effects (Yang et al., 2004, 2008). Additionally, innovations in APC analysis continue to accumulate that researchers can leverage for more robust conclusions on the role of age in politics.