Sunday, May 15, 2022

Some social wasps recognise each other’s faces and memorise information about the status of other individuals; such information can be acquired through observing interactions between familiar individuals and might involve transitive inference

Social cognition in insects. Lars Chittka, Natacha Rossi. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, May 12, 2022.


Some social wasps recognise each other’s faces and memorise information about the status of other individuals; such information can be acquired through observing interactions between familiar individuals and might involve transitive inference.

Bumblebees can learn simple ‘tool use’ techniques by observing skilled conspecifics and such techniques can spread through entire colonies in a process akin to cultural diffusion of novel innovations.

Female fruit flies copy mate preferences from other females and such preferences might be maintained over generations via conformity bias.

Given these forms of advanced social cognition in insects, we suggest investigating whether the elaborate architectures of social insect colonies might in part be the result of cultural evolution processes, even possibly in the distant past.

Abstract: Insects feature some of the most complex societies in the animal kingdom, but a historic perception persists that such complexity emerges from interactions between individuals whose behaviours are largely guided by innate routines. Challenging this perception, recent work shows that insects feature many aspects of social intelligence found in vertebrate societies, such as individual recognition, learning object manipulation by observation, and elements of cultural traditions. Insects also display emotion-like states, which may be linked to social behaviours such as rescuing others from danger. We review recent developments in insect social cognition and speculate that some forms of now-hardwired behaviour (e.g., nest construction) could have initially been the result of individual innovation and subsequent cultural spread, with evolution later cementing these behaviours into innate behaviour routines.

Comparisons made faces look more attractive, even comparisons with more attractive faces

Comparisons make faces more attractive: An ERP study. Shangfeng Han, Jie Hu, Jie Gao, Jiayu Fan, Xinyun Xu, Pengfei Xu, Yuejia Luo. Brain and Behavior, May 12 2022.

Abstract: Facial attractiveness judgment largely depends on the characteristics of the facial structure and the personality of the observer. However, little is known about the influence of contextual variations on facial attractiveness. In this electroencephalogram study, participants judged the attractiveness of faces presented individually or in pairs with either a higher-attractive face (HAF) or lower-attractive face (LAF). The attractiveness judgment rating of the target face was significantly higher when presented in pairs with HAFs or LAFs than when presented individually and was accompanied by a larger late positive complex. These results suggest that contextual faces enhance the attractiveness judgment of target faces. Microstate analyses revealed that the global field power (GFP) of state 3 was significantly correlated with the attractiveness judgment in the HAF condition whereas the GFP of state 2 was significantly correlated with the attractiveness judgment in the LAF condition. Interestingly, the GFP of state 2 mediated the relationship between narcissism and facial attractiveness judgment in the context of LAFs. Source location analyses showed that states 3 and 2 activated the superior and middle frontal gyrus, which are involved in emotion processing. Our findings suggest that facial attractiveness can be enhanced by contextual comparison with other faces, subject to personality of the observer.

Quantum computers are expected to break modern public key cryptography owing to Shor’s algorithm; as a result, these cryptosystems need to be replaced by quantum-resistant algorithms

Transitioning organizations to post-quantum cryptography. David Joseph, Rafael Misoczki, Marc Manzano, Joe Tricot, Fernando Dominguez Pinuaga, Olivier Lacombe, Stefan Leichenauer, Jack Hidary, Phil Venables & Royal Hansen. Nature volume 605, pages 237–243. May 11 2022.

Abstract: Quantum computers are expected to break modern public key cryptography owing to Shor’s algorithm. As a result, these cryptosystems need to be replaced by quantum-resistant algorithms, also known as post-quantum cryptography (PQC) algorithms. The PQC research field has flourished over the past two decades, leading to the creation of a large variety of algorithms that are expected to be resistant to quantum attacks. These PQC algorithms are being selected and standardized by several standardization bodies. However, even with the guidance from these important efforts, the danger is not gone: there are billions of old and new devices that need to transition to the PQC suite of algorithms, leading to a multidecade transition process that has to account for aspects such as security, algorithm performance, ease of secure implementation, compliance and more. Here we present an organizational perspective of the PQC transition. We discuss transition timelines, leading strategies to protect systems against quantum attacks, and approaches for combining pre-quantum cryptography with PQC to minimize transition risks. We suggest standards to start experimenting with now and provide a series of other recommendations to allow organizations to achieve a smooth and timely PQC transition.

The Mania of Narcissus (Joseph Guislain 1852, ‘the patient infatuated with his beauty, his charms, his wit, dress, talents, and birth’) is not restricted to the clinical setting, & a larger-scale narcissism can interfere with planetary health

Planetary Health: We Need to Talk about Narcissism. Alan C. Logan and Susan L. Prescott. Challenges 2022, 13(1), 19; May 7 2022.

Abstract: Concepts of planetary health attempt to collectively address the biological, psychological, social, and cultural factors contributing to “Anthropocene Syndrome”, which encompasses the many wicked interrelated challenges of our time. It is increasingly evident that the wide array of causative factors is underpinned by attitudes, values, and worldviews. Emerging research suggests that certain dispositions or ‘traits’—observable along the continuum from individuals to large groups—may be central to the promotion of health of all systems, at all scales. Here in this viewpoint, we focus on the personality trait of narcissism in the collective context of planetary health. First described in 1852 by pioneering psychiatrist Joseph Guislain, the Mania of Narcissus refers to ‘the patient infatuated with his beauty, his charms, his wit, dress, talents, and birth’. We argue that Guislain’s observations are not restricted to the clinical setting, and that a larger-scale narcissism can interfere with the principles of planetary health. We propose that increasing narcissism, at scales ranging from the individual to the collective, is an important consideration in attitudes and behaviors that undermine health along the continuum of person, place, and planet. Despite a growing body of research directed at collective narcissism, and the role that empathy plays in healthy relationships between humans and nature, it is our contention that the role of narcissism and empathy are important but neglected aspects of the planetary health agenda.

Keywords: value systems; narcissism; attitudes; behaviors; mental health crisis; COVID-19; non-communicable diseases (NCDs); health inequities; environmental degradation; planetary health; social justice; social and economic determinants of health; biodiversity losses; climate change; the exposome

Whimsical playfulness (liking odd and/or unusual things, persons, or activities) was related to the Seven Sexy traits (small effect sizes)

“Play with me, Darling!” Testing the Associations Between Adult Playfulness and Indicators of Sexuality. Kay Brauer et al. The Journal of Sex Research. May 2022.

Abstract: Previous studies have shown that individual differences in adult playfulness are important in interpersonal relationships. However, there is a lack of research on the role of playfulness in human sexuality. Using three studies with four independently collected samples (Ntotal = 1,124) we tested the differential relations between global playfulness and four facets of playfulness (Other-directed, Lighthearted, Intellectual, Whimsical; OLIW) with broad (“Sexy Seven”) and narrow (sociosexuality, sexual sensation seeking, and sexual compulsivity) sexuality-related personality traits and sadomasochistic sexual practices (BDSM). Our main findings were: (1) Each of the Sexy Seven traits was related to global playfulness or at least one playfulness facet while only Whimsical playfulness (liking odd and/or unusual things, persons, or activities) was related to each Sexy Seven trait; (2) Sexual sensation seeking related to playfulness with small effect sizes (f2 ≤ 0.11), Whimsical playfulness positively related to narrow traits of sexuality; and (3) those engaging in BDSM were more playful than non-practitioners. The findings support the notion that playfulness (particularly Whimsical playfulness) relates to sexuality-related personality traits and sadomasochistic practices may be one way of expressing adult playfulness.

4.5% of University Students Reported Exchanging Sex for Money or Other Compensation in a Public Univ Sample

University Students Who Report Exchanging Sex for Money or Other Compensation: Findings from a Public University Sample. Lara B. Gerassi, Sarah Lowe & Kate Walsh. Archives of Sexual Behavior, May 12 2022.

Abstract: Whether and how university students exchange sex for financial compensation in the USA is critically understudied. The purpose of this secondary analysis was to determine whether undergraduate and graduate students at a large public university report exchanging sex for financial or other compensation, and identify factors (e.g., demographics, childhood adversity, mental health) associated with exchanging sex. Participants were 600 college students (Mage = 21.3 years [SD = 3.8]); 72% cisgender women; 43.4% racial/ethnic minority) from a large public university in the Northeastern USA who completed cross-sectional, online questionnaires about lifetime trauma, adversity exposure, sexual behaviors, and current mental health and substance use symptoms. A total of 4.5% of participants reported exchanging sex for money, alcohol/drugs, or other forms of compensation. Bivariate analysis revealed that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans students (versus cisgender, heterosexual students), students who had more severe childhood trauma, who reported being removed from their family home in childhood, and students who were diagnosed with a mental health disorder before age 18 were more likely to report exchanging sex. In a multivariable model, only emotional neglect and greater alcohol use problems were significantly associated with likelihood of exchanging sex. To our knowledge, this is the first US study to determine whether university students exchange sex for money, alcohol/drugs, or other compensation. Findings suggest that universities could consider addressing exchanging sex in person-centered, supportive sexual health programming, university health services responses, and community spaces that support LGBTQ+ students. Future research is needed to understand students’ circumstances in exchanging sex and differentiate compensation type.

The findings are inconsistent with those of the original study and provide evidence that altruism does not predict mating success in humans

Judd, L. J., Mills, J. G., & Allen, M. S. (2022). Altruism does not predict mating success in humans: A direct replication. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences. Advance online publication.

Abstract: Altruistic behavior is predicted to be a costly signal that benefits an individual in terms of reproductive success. This study sought to directly replicate a previous investigation that demonstrated a positive association between altruism and indices of mating success (Arnocky et al., 2017). Participants (n = 445; 329 women, 116 men; Mage = 22.9 years) completed measures of altruism, personality, self-reported mating success, lifetime sexual partners, lifetime casual sex partners, and frequency of copulation with their current sexual partner. Linear regression models demonstrated that, across models both including and excluding the covariates of age and personality, altruism was unrelated to self-reported mating success, lifetime sexual partners, casual sexual partners, and frequency of copulation. Findings remained unchanged in sensitivity analyses with nonheterosexual participants removed from the sample and with data transformed to remove skewness. Overall, the findings are inconsistent with those of the original study and provide evidence that altruism does not predict mating success in humans. Further research is needed that tests for cross-cultural variation to determine whether altruism has a role in mating success across world regions.

Our findings show fairly significant damage to the image of Russia as a country as well as the Russian government; however, the reputational damage of the Russian people is minimal

The reputational cost of military aggression: Evidence from the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. Peyman Asadzade, Roya Izadi. Research & Politics, May 12, 2022.

Abstract_ Large-scale military aggression is argued to damage the international image of the aggressor and mobilize global public opinion against it. Previous cross-country research also finds that negative views of the aggressor are usually limited to the government and do not extend to the citizens of the invading country. Our article provides micro-level evidence on attitude change toward Russia as a country, the Russian people, and the Russian government after its invasion of Ukraine. We use data from a survey conducted between the morning of 21 February 2022 (3 days before the Russian invasion of Ukraine) and the night of 28 February 2022 (5 days after the invasion) in the United States to evaluate how the Russian invasion of Ukraine affected attitudes toward the country, its people, and the government. We also conduct a subgroup analysis to explore the magnitude of attitude change across sociodemographic and political subgroups after the invasion. Our findings show fairly significant damage to the image of Russia as a country as well as the Russian government. However, the reputational damage of the Russian people is minimal. The results also suggest that Republican and religious subgroups had the largest attitude change on Russia and the Russian government.

Keywords: War, public opinion, international image

Our study provides empirical evidence on the reputational cost of military aggression by using survey data that was collected amidst the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Our study offers a nuanced and more complex understanding of war and global public opinion. The findings demonstrate that unjustified military aggression does create negative global public opinion on the aggressor party but the negative attitude is mostly directed at the government and the country. The results show that the ordinary citizens of the aggressor government remain immune to the reputational damage.

While our study offers a nuanced picture of war and international image, several cautions should be noted. First, although our survey started 3 days before the attack, public discussion on the possibility of a Russian attack had already begun a few weeks before the attack. Especially, reports from the United States intelligence agencies on the likelihood of a Russian invasion prompted a wide range of speculations among political pundits as well as the public before the attack. Therefore, attitudes on Russia might have started to harden even before the invasion. Therefore, it is possible that our study underestimates the full magnitude of attitude change.

It is also important to emphasize that our study uses a student sample. While using student samples is a common practice in social science research, it is also argued that they are less externally valid compared to the samples drawn from the general population. We compared our results on unfavorable attitudes toward Russia to those of PEW and Gallup polling conducted in 2020 and 2021, respectively (the graph is reported in the appendix). Overall, our pre-invasion sample shows less negative attitudes toward Russia compared to the PEW and Gallup samples (5% less than PEW and 10% less than Gallup). Given the difference, it is possible that our sample somewhat underestimates negative attitudes toward Russia.

Furthermore, it is critical to highlight that the survey was carried out in the United States. While we have witnessed a fairly large number of rallies in support of Ukraine in Europe and North America (Schwartz, 2022), evidence for broad anti-Russian sentiments in the rest of the world is not quite as strong. It could be due to the difficulty of collective action in authoritarian environments (especially in countries with strong ties to Russia) or because of widespread anti-Western sentiments in a large number of countries in the Global South (Aydin, 2007Lewis, 1993) where many citizens might perceive the war as a confrontation between Russia and the West. Given the presence of anti-Western sentiments in the Global South for a variety of historical reasons (e.g., colonialism or past interventionist policies), the findings need to be interpreted with caution. While the results may show us the magnitude of negative attitudes toward Russian in the United States or perhaps most of Europe, they do not necessarily travel to the Global South.