Saturday, May 7, 2022

Himba: Despite aspirational preferences, couples who are more closely matched in term of mate value reported greater relationship quality, measured through frequency of interactions, reported sexual histories, and partnership length

The effect of mating market dynamics on partner preference and relationship quality among Himba pastoralists. Sean Prall, Brooke Scelza. Science Advances, May 4 2022, Vol 8, Issue 18 • DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abm5629

Abstract: Relative mate value has long been believed to be a critical component of mate choice in humans. However, most empirical work focuses on preferences rather than actual pair formation, and data connecting partner preferences, partnership formation, and relationship quality remain rare. Here, we estimate mate value using >12,000 ratings by opposite-sex, in-group members to understand both hypothetical partnership preferences and actualized relationship dynamics. When evaluating hypothetical partnerships, people generally prefer individuals whose mate value is higher than their own, indicating an aspirational matching strategy. However, mate value comparisons of individuals in marital and nonmarital relationships show a positive correlation, suggesting that individuals tend to pair up with similarly desirable individuals. Furthermore, despite aspirational preferences, couples who are more closely matched reported greater relationship quality, measured through frequency of interactions, reported sexual histories, and partnership length.


Real-world partner dynamics are notoriously difficult to study, as they require longitudinal data and an ability to evaluate the pool of prospective suitors people are drawing partners from. Here, by combining a novel rating system with ethnographic interviews in a largely endogamous population of Himba pastoralists, we can determine people’s position within the local mating market and use that to evaluate both their preferences and their realized partnerships. Using preference data, we test two competing hypotheses of partner preference to examine whether participants prefer more desirable partners or adhere to mating market predictions and prefer partners of similar desirability to themselves. Our data show that participants’ preferences corresponded most closely with an aspirational mate choice strategy, with individuals generally preferring partners who were more desirable than themselves. While these relationship preference ratings represent idealized preferences and not actual attempts at relationship formation, they correspond well with research from online dating markets (18), indicating that aspirational mate choice may not just be a feature of online dating markets or experimental paradigms but a more common feature of people’s preferences.
However, while Himba preference data conform most closely to an aspirational model, their relationship histories correspond best with the biological mating market approach. In both marital and nonmarital relationships, partners tend to be similar in relative mate value, exhibiting a moderate correlation. When examining reported sexual history data, similar dynamics are also found. Dyads of similar mate value are more likely to have reported a previous sexual relationship. In other words, while more desirable individuals are generally preferred by all, in the context of relationship formation, Himba men and women tend to pair up with similarly desirable partners. This may be a function of the most desirable members of the mating market exerting greatest choice in their partners, resulting in assortative mating.
Results from our relationship surveys help to explain the seemingly contradictory evidence for aspirational preferences and largely assortative partnerships. Well-matched dyads have longer-lasting relationships and report being in more frequent phone contact. In addition, participants who had partners of higher mate value were more likely to report that those partners had many additional partners. These findings suggest that mate value disparities result in relatively unstable relationships where the more desirable partner may be more likely to pursue other options on the mating market. This mirrors previous work showing that mate value disparities can result in lower relationship satisfaction (20). So while mismatched partnerships occur, they are less likely to be durable and long lasting, which could be contributing to the positive correlation in mate value between partners in extant dyads.
These results also highlight sex-specific adjustments in preference in response to local conditions. Sex ratio estimates in this population are remarkably female skewed (32). On the basis of mating market predictions, a female-biased sex ratio should result in high bargaining power for men, allowing them to be choosier in partner selection. This prediction is borne out in our model results, which indicate a stark sex difference in rater desirability on preference. Men, but not women, who have higher mate value are more discerning. However, this result should be considered alongside the other trend in our data, which shows that women in general are choosier than men. Women are much more likely than men to give potential partners the lowest possible desirability rating (Fig. 2). It may be that a female-biased sex ratio makes women less susceptible to intrapopulation market effects, where they are less likely to exert selective preferences due to market position, while still exhibiting more generalized partner discrimination. Conversely, men who are generally less choosy cross-culturally exhibit higher market value when scarce. These results highlight the importance of interactions between generalized sex-specific preferences and intrapopulation market effects.
As R. W. Emerson stated, “we aim above the mark to hit the mark.” Our data reflect just this type of strategy. When looking at preferences alone, Himba are shown to aspire toward partnerships with those of greater mate value than their own. These preferences indicate that Himba are well attuned to mating market dynamics and their place within them. However, the operationalization of those dynamics means that actual partnerships shake out into a mostly assortative pattern and further that assortative matches tend to be more stable. The combination of a biological market approach with the aspirational mate choice strategy fits well for Himba and may be more generally indicative of partnership dynamics in real-world contexts.

How anger works

How anger works. Daniel Sznycer, Aaron Sell, Alexandre Dumont. Evolution and Human Behavior, December 3 2021.

Abstract: Anger appears to be a neurocognitive adaptation designed to bargain for better treatment, and is primarily triggered by indications that another individual values the focal individual insufficiently. Once activated, anger orchestrates cognitive, physiological, and behavioral responses geared to incentivize the target individual to place more weight on the welfare of the focal individual. Here, we evaluate the hypothesis that anger works by matching in intensity the various outputs it controls to the magnitude of the current input—the precise degree to which the target appears to undervalue the focal individual. By magnitude-matching outputs to inputs, the anger system balances the competing demands of effectiveness and economy and avoids the dual errors of excessive diffidence and excessive belligerence in bargaining. To test this hypothesis, we measured the degree to which audiences devalue each of 39 negative traits in others, and how individuals would react, for each of those 39 traits, if someone slandered them as possessing those traits. We observed the hypothesized magnitude-matchings. The intensities of the anger feeling and of various motivations of anger (telling the offender to stop, insulting the offender, physically attacking the offender, stopping talking to the offender, and denying help to the offender) vary in proportion to: (i) one another, and (ii) the reputational cost that the slanderer imposes on the slandered (proxied by audience devaluation). These patterns of magnitude-matching were observed both within and between the United States and India. These quantitative findings echo laypeople's folk understanding of anger and suggest that there are cross-cultural regularities in the functional logic and content of anger.

Keywords: AngerEmotionWelfare Tradeoff RatioCultureEvolutionary Psychology

Wives became more jealous than husbands when their partner got a new platonic friend

Sucrese, A. M., Burley, E. E., Perilloux, C., Woods, S. J., & Bencal, Z. (2022). Just friends? Jealousy of extramarital friendships. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences. Advance online publication.

Abstract: Past research in evolutionary psychology has proposed, and found evidence of, sex differences in the adaptive functions of jealousy. However, no research has focused specifically on the output of jealousy adaptations in the context of a spouse’s apparently platonic extramarital friendship. In the current preregistered study, we asked married individuals (N = 394 Amazon Mechanical Turk users) to read a scenario in which their spouse recently formed a new platonic friendship. We randomly assigned participants to one of four scenarios that varied the sex and attractiveness level of the friend and assessed how jealous the scenario would make participants and whether they attributed any felt jealousy to emotional or sexual concerns. In contrast to our predictions, women indicated more overall jealousy than men. Furthermore, both men and women were more likely to attribute their jealousy to sexual reasons when their spouse’s friend was the same sex as they are, representing a potential rival. We documented several other interactions related to emotional attributions of jealousy, further supporting the perspective that jealousy is nuanced and context dependent. Perhaps emotional jealousy functions as an adaptive solution to any situation that threatens diversion of a mate's resources and investment, not just diversion to a potential mate.

The memories that people would most like to erase from their minds were remarkably often related to the experience of shame

The memories that people would save or erase differ from their most positive and negative memories on function, emotion and correspondence with the life script. Anne S. Rasmussen, Cassandra G. Burton-Wood, Ryan Burnell &Maryanne Garry. Memory, May 5 2022.

Abstract: Autobiographical remembering is a dynamic process in which narrators construct their life story from single memories. What is included in or deleted from the life story depends on many factors. Here, we examined the functions, emotions and correspondence with the life script for the memories that people desire to save or erase from their past. We asked people to generate either the two memories they were most likely to save and erase or the two memories they regarded as their most positive and negative memories. Then everyone rated those memories on function, emotion and correspondence with the life script. Overall, we found save and erase memories corresponded less with the life script relative to most positive and most negative memories though they were similarly emotionally intense. Additionally, erase memories were more associated with shame and less with social functions than most negative memories, whereas most negative memories to a higher degree involved the death of significant others, albeit being similarly traumatic. These findings have important implications for theory about autobiographical memory, and possible clinical relevance.

Keywords: Autobiographical memoryfunctionemotionshametraumalife script

Letters To A Spanish Youngster CCLXIX

Letters To A Spanish Youngster CCLXIX


Your Honor Whose value would increase if compared with the world's jewels, and these would diminish in value*,/Su Señoría Cuyo valor se incrementaría si comparado fuese con las joyas del mundo, y estas disminuirían su valor,

My dear lord, please find some pleasure in these verses that Shelomoh ibn Gabirol wrote*:/Mi querido señor, por favor encuentre algo de placer en estos versos que Salomón ibn Gabirol escribió:

[Funeral hymn for his father/Endecha por su padre]

                                                      [de tu queja, los cielos se anublaron


                                                       [...] de tanto

                                                       padecer, me dejaron las angustias

                                                       endurecido [...]

                                                       [...] fue tu mal mi daño,

                                                       sobre mí fue gravoso y prolongado.


                                                       Si contigo las joyas de la tierra

                                                       compararan, entonces menguara

                                                       su valor como el tuyo ascendería.]

[His poetry /Su poesía encumbra a aquel a quien alaba]

                                                      [Señor de mi alma,

                                                       atentos estén su corazón y sus oídos

                                                       para entender mis fَórmulas,      mi canto y mis plegarias.]

[Affliction for his father's death/Aflicción por la muerte de su padre]

                                                      [¿Por qué anhela mi alma oír las voces

                                                       del espectral murmullo que proviene

                                                       de la dolencia de mi corazón

                                                       y el desfallecimiento de mi mano?

                                                       Se cansa y se fatiga hasta el extremo

                                                       de tanto padecer [...]

                                                       Le reprendí: Retorna, corazón,

                                                       no seas alocado.


                                                       ¿Cómo la perversión sigues amando?

                                                       Te apartas de la ciencia       volcándote hacia el mundo,

                                                       que es como un ensueño de visiones.


                                                       El hombre es un viajero       que marcha en la tiniebla;


                                                       La muerte se presenta       y se alarga la guadaría

                                                       y el cigoñal se quiebra sobre el pozo

                                                       de la desolación;

                                                       y los ojos del héroe        que confía en su arco

                                                       y se ufana en su cota

                                                       de yeso los recubre       y al sol los disemina.

                                                       Allí adonde se torna, allí delinque

                                                       y peca todo el día

                                                       contra justo y malvado,       contra rico y mendigo;

                                                       con exterminio corta       cual tejedor la vida

                                                       y en ella se enmaraña

                                                       como la imbricación de una loriga.


                                                       Tú que estás, alma mía,

                                                       ceñida de una angustia       que no ha de desprenderse,

                                                       abandona los cantos funerarios

                                                       y deja de plañir amargamente.

                                                       [...] fue toda delicia

                                                       desesperanza para nuestros ojos.


                                                       [...] pesado en oro]

In this poem, the author is not talking about science as we understand today, but religious knowledge.

[Accepting pain for his father's death/Dolor resignado por la muerte de su padre]

                                                      [Mi corazón se abate [...]

                                                       [...] de una angustia

                                                       para cuyo dolor no existe b'alsamo.

                                                       Al caer de la tarde

                                                       me envuelve de tal forma, que me torno

                                                       en trama de su urdimbre.

                                                       Más responde su llanto

                                                       cuanto más a mis ojos los conmino

                                                       para que de llorar no se consuman.

                                                       Lloro y sigo llorando, y cuantas veces

                                                       se me muere una lágrima en los ojos,

                                                       el dolor la reaviva.


                                                       Alma mía, no creas en el mundo[.]

                                                       [...] Después de esto,

                                                       aprende de la tierra,

                                                       que solamente para inmolar hombres

                                                       aguza sus saetas[.]


                                                       [Me acostumbraré] a ver el  mundo

                                                       como un árbol

                                                       y al hombre como el fruto desprendido.]

[Despises the world after his father's death/Desprecio por el mundo tras la muerte de su padre]

                                                      [Hermanos, dejadme solo,

                                                       que voy a amargarme en llanto;

                                                       ya no hay silencio

                                                       pues ha crecido la angustia.]

Fully grasping the degree in which Your soul was prized with the gods' favor, how much You were loved by the gold goddess, my benevolent master, Yours faithfully/Alcanzando plena consciencia del grado en que Su alma fue premiada con el favor de los dioses, cuando fue Vd. amado por la diosa dorada, mi dueño benevolente, Suyo fielmente

                 a. r. ante Su Señoría,



*  Adapted from Selected Poems of Solomon ibn Gabirol, translated by Peter Cole (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 2001), & the Spanish version from Selomó ibn Gabirol—Poesía secular, by Elena Romero (Madrid: Alfaguara, 1978)

Humans have domesticated over 1000 plant, animal, fungal and bacterial species, some just for their good looks

What is domestication? Michael D. Purugganan. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, May 6 2022.


. The study of domestication has seen enormous strides in recent years, but the concept of domestication has been unclear.

. The core nature of domestication is as the coevolution between domesticator and domesticate.

. Evolutionary and ecological studies with both human-associated domestication and non-human domesticators can help us understand the nature of this phenomenon.

Abstract: The nature of domestication is often misunderstood. Most definitions of the process are anthropocentric and center on human intentionality, which minimizes the role of unconscious selection and also excludes non-human domesticators. An overarching, biologically grounded definition of domestication is discussed, which emphasizes its core nature as a coevolutionary process that arises from a specialized mutualism, in which one species controls the fitness of another in order to gain resources and/or services. This inclusive definition encompasses both human-associated domestication of crop plants and livestock as well as other non-human domesticators, such as insects. It also calls into question the idea that humans are themselves domesticated, given that evolution of human traits did not arise through the control of fitness by another species.

Keywords: mutualismcoevolutionhuman domesticationinsect farmingperi-domesticatesweedscommensalsagricultural originsornamental species

Are humans domesticated?

The question of whether humans are domesticated has a long history and Darwin considered this question briefly in Descent of Man [65]. The idea of human domestication, especially the concept of ‘self-domestication’, has gained momentum in recent years based on the assertion of similarities in traits between humans and domesticate mammals, including evolution of smaller body sizes, shortening of the face and a reduction in tooth size, reduced sexual dimorphism, and a reduction in cranial capacity []. More importantly, these morphological changes are accompanied by a decrease in reactive aggression and increase in docility and prosociality [68,69]. Finally, the concept of self-domestication has been extended to include bonobos [70].

Invoking the term ‘self-domestication’ as applied to humans (and bonobos) is problematic. Darwin dismissed the idea of human domestication, as he understood that humans had not been subject to the control of its fitness, which is one of the critical hallmarks of domestication [65]. Moreover, the idea of self-domestication is untenable, since domestication as a biological concept is rooted in a mutualistic interaction with another species. Finally, defining domestication based on shared phenotypic similarities is also fraught with problems, given that such similarities could also arise outside the context of domestication [71,72].

While there are some trait similarities between H. sapiens and domesticate animals, in humans these do not appear to have evolved as a direct result of the mutualistic interaction with domesticate species. Such phenotypic similarities may arise from parallel/convergent evolution [71,72], possibly associated with secondary effects of the domestication process (for example, increased population density or sedentism) [68,69] but arguably do not directly spring from the human/crop, human/livestock, and human/pet mutualisms. Those who have remarked on these similarities need to explore other mechanisms to explain these evolutionary convergences.

Concluding remarks

Here, I have attempted to provide a broad but rigorous biologically centered definition of this unique phenomenon. In this overarching biological conception, domestication has the following critical elements. It is: (i) an evolutionary process, (ii) arising from mutualistic ecological interaction, (iii) involves constructing an environment where there is control of the fitness of one species by another, (iv) occurs so that the domesticator can garner resources and/or services from the domesticate, (v) leads to fitness benefits that accrue to both partners, and (vi) is agnostic to the interacting species. The pace of domestication is governed by the strength of the selection exerted by the domesticator (and the environment it provides) and the genetic and ecological characteristics of the target domesticate.

This definition has the advantage that it is grounded in evolutionary and ecological concepts, first recognized by Darwin [52,53] and later on championed by others [7,10,]. Like any definition, it struggles for both inclusivity and exclusion and there may well be cases that present some ambiguity. Indeed, domestication has understandably come to mean many other things and undoubtedly its varied usage will continue. It is expected, however, that the biologically oriented view presented here can provide a more precise conceptualization of domestication, help sharpen discussion of cases as they arise, and focus attention on major issues surrounding fundamental aspects of this phenomenon (see Outstanding questions). With a comparative, evolutionary, and ecological framework [1,2,10,16,19,26,27,73], there is an opportunity to understand the nature of this coevolution and the dynamics of this unique mutualism.

Outstanding questions

What are the ecological and evolutionary pathways that lead to domestication?

To what extent do the partner species rely on the mutualism for their survival and reproduction?

Does every individual domesticated organism have to impart a fitness benefit to the domesticator?

How do we determine whether a species is domesticated?

In human-associated domestication and subsequent diversification, what are the relative roles of conscious versus unconscious selection?

How do we understand domestication and selection for aesthetic traits?

The economic costs of crime in North America attributable to people with psychopathic personality disorder

Gatner, D. T., Douglas, K. S., Almond, M. F. E., Hart, S. D., & Kropp, P. R. (2022). How much does that cost? Examining the economic costs of crime in North America attributable to people with psychopathic personality disorder. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment. Advance online publication. May 2022.

Abstract: Cost of illness research has established that mental disorders lead to significant social burden and massive financial costs. A significant gap exists for the economic burden of many personality disorders, including psychopathic personality disorder (PPD). In the current study, we used a top-down prevalence-based cost of illness approach to estimate bounded crime cost estimates of PPD in the United States and Canada. Three key model parameters (PPD prevalence, relative offending rate of individuals with PPD, and national costs of crime for each country) were informed by existing literature. Sensitivity analyses and Monte Carlo simulations were conducted to provide bounded and central tendency estimates of crime costs, respectively. The estimated PPD-related costs of crime ranged from $245.50 billion to $1,591.57 billion (simulated means = $512.83 to $964.23 billion) in the United States and $12.14 billion to $53.00 billion (simulated means = $25.33 to $32.10 billion) in Canada. These results suggest that PPD may be associated with a substantial economic burden as a result of crime in North America. Recommendations are discussed regarding the burden–treatment discrepancy for PPD, as the development of future effective treatment for the disorder may decrease its costly burden on health and justice systems.

Antibody patents are being struck down left and right, victims of the Federal Circuit’s recent shift to strengthen two doctrinal areas of patent law—enablement and the written description requirement

Lemley, Mark A. and Sherkow, Jacob S., The Antibody Paradox (February 11, 2022). Yale Law Journal, Forthcoming, SSRN


Antibodies constitute a staggering $145 billion annual market—an amount projected to almost double by 2026. Consequently, patents covering antibodies are among the most valuable in the patent system. But antibody patents are being struck down left and right, victims of the Federal Circuit’s recent shift to strengthen two doctrinal areas of patent law—enablement and the written description requirement. For each, the Federal Circuit has heightened requirements that patentees disclose or teach how to make and use the “full scope” of their inventions.

There are good reasons to be skeptical of the Federal Circuit’s attack on genus claims in chemistry generally. But it seems to be a particular problem for antibodies. Applying the Federal Circuit’s reinvigorated written description and enablement requirements to antibodies and their chemical structure fits poorly with the science underlying the molecules themselves. Immune receptor production—a semi-random and galactically expansive process—produces antibodies that are startingly different in both structure and function. There is no way to genus claims to antibodies that satisfy the court’s current tests. The science simply doesn’t allow it. At the same time, this change in the Federal Circuit’s jurisprudence is a legitimate reaction to some of the problems with the long-standing (and long-permitted) practice of claiming antibodies in functional terms. Functional claiming can lead to overbroad patents that stifle future innovation, as it has done in the software industries. Perhaps the Federal Circuit is wary of a similar result in biotechnology.

Fortunately, we think there is a middle ground—a new (or, really, quite old) form of patent claim drafting that gives inventors effective control over true substitutes without giving them the power to block real improvements: means-plus-function claims and infringement by the equivalents. Those doctrines limit patentees to claiming only the specific structural features of antibodies they both possessed and described, but also entitle them to assert their patents against antibodies with equivalent functions but different structural characteristics. If the economics of intellectual property center on balancing a need for protection beyond the literal invention and allowing improvements, this seems a step in the right—or, at least doctrinally permissible and economically sensible—direction.

Whether patentees go for such a solution remains to be seen. Recent empirical evidence on antibody claims has yet to document such a shift. Patent attorneys may need to get over their historical reluctance in writing their claims in such a fashion. Our solution won’t give patentees everything they want. But they just might find it gives them what they need.

Special forces commandos have discernible personality profiles, with low neuroticism, more conscientiousness, and markedly less openness to experience

Huijzer, R., Jeronimus, B. F., Reehoorn, A., Blaauw, F. J., Baatenburg de Jong, M., de Jonge, P., & den Hartigh, R. J. R. (2022). Personality traits of special forces operators: Comparing commandos, candidates, and controls. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, May 2022.

Abstract: Dutch special forces operators, also known as commandos, perform in mentally and physically tough environments. An important question for recruitment and selection of commandos is whether they have particular personality traits. To answer this question, we first examined differences in personality traits between 110 experienced Dutch male commandos and a control sample of 275 men in the same age range. Second, we measured the personality traits at the start of the special forces selection program and compared the scores of candidates who later graduated (n = 53) or dropped out (n = 138). Multilevel Bayesian models and t tests revealed that commandos were less neurotic (d = −0.58), more conscientious (d = 0.45), and markedly less open to experiences (d = −1.13) than the matched civilian group. Furthermore, there was a tendency for graduates to be less neurotic (d = −0.27) and more conscientious (d = 0.24) than dropouts. For selection, personality traits do not appear discriminative enough for graduation success and other factors need to be accounted for as well, such as other psychological constructs and physical performance. On the other hand, these results provide interesting clues for using personality traits to recruit people for the special forces program.

Author's Perspective - Comparing the Personality of Commandos, Civilians and Recruits

What is it about? Special forces operators perform in mentally and physically tough environments. For instance, they need to complete high-stakes missions, such as saving a hostage, successfully even when dehydrated or sleep deprived. As a consequence, the special forces training is very challenging and the great majority of recruits drop out during the selection period. In order to find out which types of people become successful commandos, we examined whether (a) Dutch commandos differ in their personality traits from a matched group of “normal” Dutch men, and (b) recruits who graduate from the selection program differ in their personality traits from the dropouts. Differences between commandos the matched group of Dutch men, and between the recruits were indeed found. Amongst others, commandos and successful recruits were relatively less neurotic and more conscientious.

Why is it important? Why are some people able to become a commando, whereas others are not? Does it have to do with personality whether one can become a commando? Such questions are crucial to recruit and select special forces operators. In our study, we investigated the personality of commandos, a matched group of Dutch men, and recruits, and found that personality traits do make a difference between these groups. Having a clearer picture of the personality traits that matter allows for a better targeted recruitment and selection of special forces operators.