Monday, May 16, 2022

Although men who expressed a desire to have children were generally considered more desirable than those who did not, if a man did not want children, he could still be considered desirable if his previous partner spoke highly of him

Call Me Daddy: How Long-term Desirability Is Influenced by Intention for Fatherhood. Ryan C. Anderson & Michele K. Surbey. Evolutionary Psychological Science, May 16 2022.

Abstract: One of the most important decisions an individual can make involves investing in a mating relationship. For women, the process of mate selection can be time-intensive and fraught with costs and dangers. However, these risks can be minimised by attending to relevant social information and modelling the mate choices of others. The propensity of imitating another’s mate choices is referred to as mate copying. Most research has focused on this behaviour in non-humans, but evidence of its existence in humans is emerging. The current study sought to determine conditions that modify a man’s desirability. The present study examined 267 women’s evaluations of men depicted in silhouetted images who varied in terms of their intentions for fatherhood and relationship history. Results showed that a man’s desirability as a long term mate was enhanced if he wished to become a father, and/or if he had a previous relationship experience, indicating he had been formerly chosen or preferred. These findings add to the existing body of knowledge on mate copying and attention to social information by demonstrating how women incorporate social learning and innate evolutionary predispositions to facilitate decision-making and behaviour relating to mate selection.


Employing silhouetted representations of men, women participating in the current study gave mate-relevant evaluations of target men in varying relationship experience conditions and who either did or did not intend to be fathers. The hypothesis that men with intentions of fatherhood (would like to be a father one day) would be considered by women to be more romantically desirable than men indicating the opposite (does not have children at the moment and does not wish to have any) was supported. By demonstrating that men without relationship experience were evaluated as less desirable than men with relationship experience, the results supported the idea that women copy the mate preferences of other women under certain conditions. Positive mate-relevant information provided by a former partner positively contributed to a man’s romantic desirability and fatherly intention (‘his most recent ex-partner speaks highly of him as a romantic partner’) was found to be highly desirable to women. An interaction between the variables of fatherly intention and relationship experience suggested that having a positive former partner seemed to compensate for a man’s expressed lack of intention to become a father. Although men who expressed a desire to have children were generally considered more desirable than those who did not, if a man did not want children, he could still be considered desirable if his previous partner spoke highly of him.

Mate Copying

A propensity to mate copy was demonstrated in the current study by virtue of the fact that the participants rated currently single men who had formerly been in romantic relationships as being more desirable as a long-term partner than men who had not been in a romantic relationship. These results are consistent with previous research indicating that men are more ‘desirable’ (variously operationalised) if they have previously been chosen as a partner, than if they have not. Whereas many studies within the mate copying literature have employed various dependent measures as proxies of a man’s mate value and yielded inconsistent results (see Anderson & Surbey, 2020 for a discussion), the current study used an explicitly stated measure of long-term desirability. While actual mate copying was not measured in this study, a propensity to copy the preferences of other women was indicated by women finding men with former partners to be more desirable than men without former partners. Such a propensity would presumably motivate or underlie actual instances of mate copying.

Departing from other methodological procedures employing photographs or morphed photographs of real men (Chu, 2012; Eva & Wood, 2006; Little et al., 20082011; Vakirtzis & Roberts, 2010; Waynforth, 2007; Yorzinski & Platt, 2010), the current study used small generic silhouettes of men in an attempt to decrease the perceived importance of visual information and thereby increase the relative importance of the text manipulations. Some of the target men were explicitly described as currently single, but having been in either one or no former relationships in the last 4 years. This procedure is similar to that employed by Anderson and Surbey (2014), who also used silhouette representations and found formerly partnered men to be more desirable than those without former partners.

Consistent with previous research (Scammell & Anderson, 2020), positive mate-relevant evaluations offered by former partners positively contributed to a man’s desirability. The positive opinion of a previous partner enhanced a target man’s perceived desirability as a long-term partner above that of other men (formerly partnered or not). In other words, a positive evaluation from a former partner enhances the mate copying effect. The fact that having a former partner speak positively of him increases a man’s desirability as a long-term partner is consistent with the idea that the perceived value of something can be meaningfully enhanced by a positive endorsement (Erdogan, 1999), especially when it is coming from an authoritative or reputable source (in this case a former partner). An unexpected interaction suggested that a positive assessment by a former partner may compensate for an undesirable anti-fatherhood intention (‘does not wish to have children’), but this possibility requires further exploration and consideration of alternative interpretations.

For example, while it may be reasonable to expect that being ‘endorsed’ by an authority source (former partner) would theoretically make someone seem more appealing (desirable), the enhancement in appeal they receive may be counteracted by female intrasexual aggression. It may be that a former partner who speaks highly of a man is doing so because she is not entirely detached from him. The intrasexual competition that she poses to prospective female suitors may be enough to deter them from pursuing a relationship with the man, or at least make them suspicious of how close the two remain. If their relationship is unresolved, there is a chance that he will go back to her. This may be problematic if he has followed through with his intention to have children with his newest partner but subsequently abandons her and the child to reunite with his former partner.

The availability and accessibility of potential mates have been shown to affect intrasexual competition and aggression among a number of non-human taxa (see Rosvall, 2011). It was found that heterosexual undergraduate students were both more jealous and willing to aggress when they were led to believe that potential mates were scarce (inaccessible) than if they thought potential mates were abundant (Arnocky et al., 2014). In the current study participant ‘aggression’ toward an anonymous former partner of a target man (potential mate) manifested as disinterest toward dating him. Such an explanation may also be consistent with a cognitive dissonance appraisal (Festinger, 1962), whereby a difficult-to-obtain article is disfavoured (‘I did not want it anyway’).

The present results suggest that having intentions for fatherhood increases one’s desirability as a long-term partner and are generally consistent with the findings of a review examining gender differences in mate preferences (Feingold, 1992). Predictions were derived from Trivers’ (1972) parental investment model, which suggests that women (as the sex with higher obligate investment in offspring) more than men seek mates who possess non-physical characteristics that maximise the survival and reproductive prospects of their offspring. A recurrent finding in the literature is that men indicating fatherly intention or competence, or the ability to provision offspring with resources, are considered desirable as romantic partners. The general idea is that men with a favourable attitude toward children will be more likely to contribute to their well-being by providing them with survival-promoting resources.

The current results suggest that having a former partner speak highly of a man makes him somewhat more desirable as a long-term partner and that men expressing a willingness to have children are considered far more desirable than men not wanting children. Curiously, these two characteristics in concert were considered undesirable. Men with positive former partners were more desirable as a long-term partner if they did not want children than if they did. It may be that men with too many positive characteristics (has a positive ex, wants children) seem unrealistic and are thus evaluated poorly. It has been shown that claims or offers seeming ‘too good to be true’ can elicit suspicion and lead to rejection (Steinel et al., 2014). This seemingly paradoxical finding is inconsistent with other findings reported here and awaits further enquiry.

Mate Poaching

Mate poaching was defined as the difference in desirability between men with a current partner and those without one currently, but with a former partner. Based on previous inconsistencies in the literature (Eva & Wood, 2006; Uller & Johansson, 2003), it was unclear whether the current study would detect mate poaching. However, the results suggested that men currently in a relationship were considered more desirable as long-term partners than single men, regardless of whether their most recent romantic partner gave positive mate-relevant information about them. While these results are consistent with the phenomenon of mate copying, we maintain that the processes of mate copying and mate poaching are systematically different. While mate poaching typically involves the additional elements of pursuing or stealing someone already in a relationship, these elements are not pre-requisites of mate copying (Anderson & Surbey, 2020). While indicating that an attached other is desirable as a long-term partner may be morally problematic and may possibly invoke some degree of cognitive dissonance (I want it, but I cannot have it), it is different to indicating that someone is willing to couple with a currently attached man, or otherwise steal him from his current partner. The latter carries with it an implicit suggestion that a person is willing to violate an unwritten social law—namely, that individuals in relationships are (generally) not open to pursuit by individuals outside of the relationship.

Methodological Considerations

The sample in the current study largely comprised university students and was therefore non-random. Presumably, many individuals attend university because they wish to enhance their qualifications and further their career (Battle & Wigfield, 2003). Although there is evidence suggesting that career-oriented individuals (especially younger ones) are less concerned with parenthood (Bass, 2014) and may therefore value parental intentions less in a partner, the employment of a non-random university sample did not appear to significantly impair finding the predicted effects.

There is evidence that mate copying is more common among younger and less experienced women than among their older counterparts (Anderson & Surbey, 2014; Bowers et al., 2011; Waynforth, 2007). Although the sample age range (18–40) was ideal for studying mate selection in general (for example, post-reproductive women may employ entirely different mate selection criteria), the mean age of the present sample was low (21.73 years) and the distribution had a strong skew. Instead of being problematic, however, employing this sample may have enhanced the ability to detect mate copying as well as the strength of its effect.

Finally, it is worth considering that previous research has suggested that physically strong men are more attractive. Muscularity can be an indicator of genetic quality and a capacity to protect offspring (Sell et al., 2017). Therefore, limited visibility of target men, presented in cropped close-up photographs, may make it difficult for women to visually assess a potential mate’s body—their strength, leanness and height (Lu & Chang, 2012; Sell et al., 2017). It is certainly possible that stimuli presented in the current study influenced perceptions of paternal ability. Future studies may wish to consider presenting ‘more comprehensive’ stimuli in an effort to account for this variable.

Political incompatibility between romantic partners gnaws away at relationship satisfaction

Love and Politics: The Influence of Politically (Dis)Similar Romantic Relationships on Political Participation and Relationship Satisfaction. Cynthia Peacock, Joshua R Pederson. Human Communication Research, hqac011, May 10 2022.

Abstract: People are more likely to seek out romantic partners who are politically similar to themselves. Nonetheless, romantic partners who disagree politically do exist. This study examines the influence of political (dis)similarity in romantic relationships on both political participation and relationship satisfaction. We found that (1) people in politically similar romantic relationships are more satisfied in their relationships and more politically participative than those who are in dissimilar relationships, (2) discussion expressiveness mediates the relationships between political similarity and satisfaction, (3) discussion frequency and expressiveness mediate the relationship between political similarity and participation, and (4) whereas political conflict intensity mediates the relationship between political similarity and satisfaction, it does not affect participation. Findings indicate that the quality of discussion and conflict, not merely their occurrence, help explain the political and relational results of political (dis)similarity within romantic relationships.

A person with anterograde amnesia (complete loss of the ability to memorize new information after 20-30 min of the event), is highly functional by using the smartphone as a cognitive prosthesis, checking his phone more than 100 times per day

Annese, Jacopo, Ruth Klaming, Lori Hasse-Alasandro, and Justin S. Feinstein. 2022. “Severe Anterograde Amnesia in the Era of Smartphone Technology.” PsyArXiv. May 15. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: A.V. is a young Herpes simplex Encephalitis (HSE) survivor with extensive bilateral damage to the medial temporal lobe (MTL) and one of the most severe forms of anterograde amnesia on record. In spite of the demonstrable deficit, A.V. regained a much higher degree of functioning and autonomy than previously-documented amnesic patients with major bilateral MTL damage. The distinguishing feature of A.V.’s adaptation and his advantage as a millennial, is that he is able to offload onto his smartphone those cognitive tasks that were previously supported by the MTL, as evidenced by our analysis of app usage.

The topography of A.V.’s brain injury combined with purity of the ensuing amnesia represent unique neuropsychological conditions that can advance the scientific study of human memory systems. A.V.’s relative success in coping with profound amnesia further offers unique insight into the potential of smartphone technology to become integrated with neural mnemonic functions, a phenomenon that has broad implications at the societal level and for public health, specifically in the management of memory disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

Pornography consumption is relatively frequent in all age groups, not only the overstudied 18-30 age range; the most popular topic is two people having ordinary sex

Pornography Consumption in People of Different Age Groups: an Analysis Based on Gender, Contents, and Consequences. Rafael Ballester-Arnal, Marta García-Barba, Jesús Castro-Calvo, Cristina Giménez-García & Maria Dolores Gil-Llario. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, May 14 2022.


Introduction: Pornography consumption has increased exponentially in recent decades. Most studies conducted so far are focused on adult samples (typically, between 18 and 30 years old), limiting the generalizability of their results. This study aims to create a taxonomy that groups various pornographic contents and thus explore different aspects of its use (e.g., preference for different pornographic content, excessive and problematic use) in people at different life stages.

Methods: Between 2016 and 2019, 8,040 individuals (71.3% men) between 12 and 85 years old (M = 33.25, SD = 14.31) completed a battery that explores pathological and non-pathological pornography use. Participants were distributed into five age groups (< 18 years old, between 18–25, 26–40, 41–60, and > 60) to perform the different analyses (ANOVA and chi-square tests for the differences between the groups, EFA for the analyses of categories of pornographic content, and hierarchical linear regressions to identify the factors related to problematic use).

Results: Pornography use was highly prevalent (> 85%) in all age groups. Using a data-driven approach, we found that the pornographic content explored in this research can be classified within four categories. Using this taxonomy, we found differences according to the age for most of the pornographic content explored (e.g., sexual intercourse with opposite-sex partners [71.6–84.5% in males and 70.2–89.5% in females]). Finally, we found that age conditions the way in which preference for different pornographic content increases the risk of excessive and problematic use.

Conclusions: Pornography consumption is frequent in different age groups, although it varies depending on age and content. In addition, some particular pornographic contents were identified that increase the risk of developing an addiction in different developmental stages.

Policy Implications: This study provides a preliminary foundation for identifying the unique characteristics of pornography use in different age groups as well as content related to increased problematic use.


In this study, we aimed to (1) generate a data-driven taxonomy of pornographic contents, (2) analyze and compare the use of different pornographic materials in different age groups, and (3) explore whether the use of different pornographic content predicted an increased risk of cybersex addiction. In this sense, we found four categories of pornography to classify the wide variety of normophilic (i.e., vaginal, anal, oral, and group sex) and paraphilic or non-mainstream contents (i.e., sadomasochism, fetish, bondage and dominance, violent coercive, and bizarre/extreme) (Hald, 2006; Hald & Štulhofer, 2016; Štulhofer et al., 2010). As for the preference for different pornographic contents in different age groups, contents depicting sexual intercourse were the most consumed in practically all age groups, with hardly any variation according to age and gender. Other content that may be classified as unusual or uncommon such as sexual relations with more than two people or sexual activity involving domination and submission are also relatively frequent in men and women, although they decrease in the more extreme age ranges (children and adolescents and elderly). Finally, this study provides a nuanced description of which particular pornographic contents increase the risk of cybersex addiction in different developmental stages.

As one of our main objectives, in this study, we have created a taxonomy of pornographic content that comprises four categories: soft pornography, sexual intercourse, unusual sexual interests, and chronophilias. This classification resonates with other more theoretical proposals that have not been empirically proven, such as that proposed by Leonhardt et al. (2019) with their categories sexually suggestive, sexually explicit, and paraphilic, according to the degree of sexual explicitness and the kind of sexual content. Except for the small nuance of the chronophilias where according to our results seem to have some distinction of what could be considered "paraphilic" or "unusual sexual interest", although both categories have a high correlation with each other. On the contrary, our taxonomy differs from that proposed by Hald and Štulhofer (2016). With a methodology similar to that employed in this study, they suggested a classification into three categories, focusing on gender, sexual orientation, or non-mainstream pornographic contents. These differences may be due to the number of participants (being much larger in our study) and, above all, to the age range of the respondents. In our study, we cover much broader age ranges that help us to take into account the differences in the consumption of pornography that can occur at different stages of life (Ballester-Arnal et al., 2021; Ševčíková et al., 2020), offering us a taxonomy of pornographic content with greater validity and internal consistency.

Analyzing the consumption of pornography following this categorization, we observe that, in general, there are hardly any variations in the pornographic content searched based on age, and, following the same line as the most recent research, we show a slight decrease in the consumption of pornography in older adults compared to younger people (Price et al., 2016). The most frequent pornography preferences in both genders in the different age groups explored is classified as normophilic (i.e., sexual intercourse with opposite or same sex partners). These data would not support the hypothesis that some authors hold about the increase in recent decades in exposure to paraphilic pornography, mainly among men, especially that containing sexual violence or child pornography (Davis et al., 2018; Romito & Beltramini, 2015). This hypothesis is given by the apparent increase in aggressive content in pornographic videos, especially the more subtle violence (Bridges et al., 2010; Carrotte et al., 2020) and how viewing of this pornographic material can favor the acquisition of these sexual scripts in offline sexual behaviors (Bridges et al., 2016; Wright, 2011). However, as studies like those of Baer et al. (2015) or Shor and Seida (2019) show, despite the increase in paraphilic content available online, this type of online sexual content is the least consumed by users, as well as the worst valued. Except for the use of online pornography with adolescents’ sexual content, whose frequency is logically higher among the group of children and adolescents who would seek sexual practices with their peers, so it could not be considered a paraphilic practice. Our results reflect lower percentages of paraphilic pornography interests than other studies, which may be due to methodological differences, including the characteristics of the participants (clinical vs non-clinical sample, cultural differences, etc.) or the limited list of pornographic content provided (Hald & Štulhofer, 2016; Neutze et al., 2011; Sun et al., 2015).

Lastly, we explore the relationship between different pornographic content and cybersex addiction. Our results show that only a few types of pornography have been linked to cybersex addiction. Specifically, viewing some pornography content classified as unusual (pornography involving domination or submission or sexual intercourse with more than two people) or paraphilic (chronophilias) is related to cybersex addiction measured by the ISST. Some studies suggest that persistent pornography users may exhibit habituation to normophilic content, which translates into an increase in the use of unusual and extreme pornographic material (Foubert, 2016; Hilton & Clark, 2011; Tripodi et al., 2015). This habituation may be due to the development of tolerance, one of the characteristic symptoms of addictions which, in the particular case of cybersex addiction, may be reflected in a need to seek more exciting and extreme content (i.e., paraphilic) to achieve previous sexual satisfaction (Lewczuk et al., 2021). This phenomenon may explain why the consumption of this particular pornographic content may be related to the development of cybersex addiction. However, as some authors suggest, this relationship may occur in the opposite direction: a previous interest in paraphilic sexual content (in the most severe cases, the presence of a previous paraphilic disorder) may increase the use of the Internet for sexual purposes (Griffiths, 2012; Ross et al., 2012). It would therefore be necessary to further investigate the relationship between these two variables to determine how they are interrelated.

In our study, we also found that the use of non-paraphilic pornographic contents (sexual intercourse with same-sex partners or nude people showing their genitals) increased the risk of developing cybersex addiction, although not in all age groups. This may be due to factors such as anonymity and accessibility, cybersex factors related to its addictive potential (Cooper et al., 1999; Griffiths, 2012). These characteristics of cybersex allow people to experiment with sexuality over the Internet by facilitating access to sexual content that cannot be accessed offline. For example, in sexual relations with same-sex partner –punished in many contexts– or fulfilling certain sexual fantasies that are not easily accessible offline may increase the consumption in people (Castro-Calvo et al., 2018; Giménez-García et al., 2021; Green et al., 2012; Ross et al., 2012). This would explain why factors such as belonging to a sexual minority or sexual dissatisfaction, regardless of having paraphilic sexual attractions or not, have been linked to the problematic cybersex use (Daspe et al., 2018; Studer et al., 2019). Another factor that has been related to a predisposition to problematic cybersex use is gender, specifically being a man (Ballester-Arnal et al., 2021; Weinstein et al., 2015; Wéry & Billieux, 2016). Our results also show this relationship in all age groups; however, in general, the different pornography content does not affect cybersex addiction in a different way. These data show the need to take into account the type of pornography content consumed online when evaluating addiction to pornography and/or cybersex, regardless of age and gender.

This study is not without its limitations. On the one hand, we find limitations related to the sample, including a smaller sample size in some groups (children, adolescents, and the elderly) and the type of sampling (convenience sampling). Furthermore, as it is a cross-sectional study, we do not take into account the effect of the birth cohort which, as other studies such as Price et al. (2016) or Wright (2013) show, could further enrich the study and provide data on both effects (age and year of birth) on pornography consumption. Another limitation of our study is related to the percentage of women in the sample: the proportion of women in the sample notably decreased with age (in particular, in older age ranges), meaning that women in these age ranges are underrepresented in our research. This underrepresentation of women in older age ranges may be explained by the traditional values and social norms related to the expression of sexuality in women: compared to men, women have been more often judged when expressing their sexual experiences and interests (Lai & Hynie, 2011; Zaikman & Marks, 2017). These negative experiences may explain their lower rates of participation in a study focused on sexual behavior and also explain why younger girls (less exposed to traditional sexual scripts) are more likely to participate and report their sexual experiences. Other sociodemographic variables—such as sexual orientation or cultural differences—have also been related to the use of the Internet for sexual purposes (Bőthe et al., 2020b; Green et al., 2012; Velezmoro et al., 2012) but are not analyzed in this research. Therefore, future studies analyzing the effect that these variables have on the use of pornography in different life stages warrant further research.

Another important limitation of this study is the evaluation of cybersex addiction. Due to the multiple manifestations it represents (including the problematic consumption of pornography) (Varfi et al., 2019), the discrepancies in its definition and diagnostic criteria (Wéry & Billieux, 2017) and the limited number of validated questionnaires, especially in Spanish; in this study we decided to use a more general measure of cybersex addiction to assess the excessive and problematic use of pornography. Our taxonomy of pornography was based on only 10 types of content, not including others such as MILF or hentai that can also be prevalent in society (Ogas & Gaddam, 2011; PornHub, 2019), which is another limitation. In future studies, it would be interesting to include a greater number of types of pornography, as well as to explore the frequency of use of each type to know if the negative consequences are associated with a single or prolonged viewing (Kingston et al., 2008; Lewczuk et al, 2021), or the level of arousal, being also an important aspect in the development of addiction (Laier et al., 2013). Despite the limitations described above, we consider that our work provides relevant information on some issues very little studied so far, such as pornographic preferences in men and women in different age groups or how it affects the viewing of specific sexual pornographic content in cybersex addiction, among others.

Those who held more superstitious beliefs were more fearful of getting COVID-19

Superstitious beliefs, locus of control, and feeling at risk in the face of Covid-19. Arvid Hoffmann et al. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 196, October 2022, 111718.


• We examined superstitious beliefs, locus of control, and feeling at risk of Covid-19.

• Superstitious beliefs were positively related to feeling at risk of Covid-19.

• Internal locus of control was negatively related to feeling at risk of Covid-19.

• Internal locus of control negatively moderated the effect of superstitious beliefs.

Abstract: Unprecedented uncertainty during the Covid-19 pandemic stimulated anxiety among individuals, while the associated health restrictions contributed to a feeling of loss of control. Prior research suggests that, in times of crisis, some individuals rely on superstitious beliefs as a coping mechanism, but it remains unclear whether superstition is positively or negatively associated with fear of Covid-19 during the pandemic, and the role that individuals' locus of control plays in this regard. In two studies conducted among individuals in Belgium and the U.S., we therefore examined the relationship between superstitious beliefs, locus of control, and feeling at risk of Covid-19. Across both countries, we found that superstition is positively, and internal locus of control negatively, related with feeling at risk of Covid-19. Moreover, in Belgium, the effect of superstition was less pronounced for individuals with a higher level of internal locus of control. The absence of an interaction effect between superstition and locus of control in the U.S. could be explained by this country's higher level of superstitious beliefs and lower level of internal locus of control combined with a stronger feeling of being at risk of Covid-19 or cultural differences such as Belgium's higher uncertainty avoidance compared to the U.S.

Keywords: Covid-19FearFeeling at riskLocus of controlPandemicSuperstitious beliefs

5. General discussion

The results of our two studies improve our understanding of the role of superstitious beliefs on feeling at risk of Covid-19. Our findings add to prior work by documenting how being superstitious increased one's fear of Covid-19, no matter whether the individual held positive or negative superstitious beliefs (cf. Wiseman & Watt, 2004). Thus, superstitious beliefs did not seem to act as a coping mechanism to deal with an uncertain situation as suggested by some recent studies (Schippers, 2020), but rather were associated with an increased feeling of being at risk. Furthermore, unlike the inconclusive findings of prior research (Stanke & Taylor, 2004), we demonstrated across both our studies that an internal locus of control was negatively correlated with individuals' superstitious beliefs and was also negatively related to their fear of Covid-19.

In light of the necessity to better understand the drivers of individuals' feeling of being at risk of Covid-19 to be able to improve public health measures and policy communications, our findings provide several practical guidelines. Specifically, it is important for public policy makers to understand which measures can help restore within individuals a sense of control over their life outcomes and reduce the reliance on superstitious rituals. Health interventions focused on helping individuals understand their sources of personal power, their core beliefs, and envisioning future goals can assist in building their personal agency (Shankar et al., 2019). Given that fear appeals often have unintended consequences, such as distrust in public health authorities, skepticism of health messaging, and a lack of uptake in recommended health behaviors (Stolow et al., 2020), our recommendations aim to reduce fear and increase knowledge.

Practically speaking, our findings lead us to posit that policy makers should: (i) address misinformation and reduce the reliance on unverified sources such as social media to fight superstitious beliefs about Covid-19 and help individuals distinguish facts from unfounded opinions; (ii) highlight the ability of individuals to reduce the spread of the virus through their own actions, stressing individuals' personal agency to stimulate their internal locus of control; and (iii) provide clear and verified facts on infectiousness and mortality, using an intuitive way to present probabilities to decrease the fear of Covid-19 among individuals with lower numeracy.

Similar to “accuracy nudges” designed to reduce the spread of Covid-19 misinformation on social media (Pennycook et al., 2020), to stimulate individuals to question superstitious beliefs policy makers could use statements such as “Rely on facts, not feelings in fighting Covid-19.” To increase internal locus of control and decrease fear of Covid-19, campaigns could also include statements such as “I have the power to slow the spread.” Indeed, similar to the famous World War II slogan, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021) stressed individuals' potential for control over the pandemic and infection by stating “We Can Do It!”

Optimal intervention design might vary due to cultural differences. Apart from the aforementioned difference in uncertainty avoidance between Belgium and the U.S., which suggests that successful interventions in Belgium need to focus on reducing ambiguity, there is also an important difference between both countries in terms of their long-term orientation. Belgium scores much higher than the U.S. in this regard (82 vs. 26) (Hofstede et al., 2005), and individuals in the former (latter) country might thus be more responsive to health communication highlighting the long-term (short-term) virtues of changes in behavior in order to fight Covid-19.

Despite its contributions, our research was subject to some limitations which provide opportunities for future research. First, although we used a well-established measure of locus of control from Rotter (1966) and found that it had satisfactory reliability, we also found that two items that were scored in the opposite direction of the other five items had low loadings, suggesting the need for scales without reversed items as per Swain et al. (2008). Second, research should further investigate the interaction effect between superstitious beliefs and internal locus of control on feeling at risk of Covid-19 using samples from different countries, as we found such an interaction effect in Belgium but not in the U.S. Related to this is the need to more formally account for cultural differences. Third, we note that the zero-order correlations between the key variables was substantially higher in the Amazon Mturk sample of Study 2 compared to the Qualtrics sample of Study 1, which could indicate common method variance bias. However, our tests in this regard did not support such an explanation and research has shown that Amazon Mturk samples are not more prone to bias than other participant pools, offering reliable data (Paolacci & Chandler, 2014). Hence, we call for future research to examine this issue in more detail. Fourth, we measured fear of Covid-19 by adapting an item from the well-established Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire of Broadbent et al. (2006) but acknowledge that more recently a dedicated Covid-19 Phobia Scale (C19P-S) has been developed by Arpaci et al. (2020). To examine generalizability across alternative measures, future research could also include the C19P-S scale in examinations of the relationship between superstitious beliefs, internal locus of control, and fear of Covid-19. Finally, given the cross-sectional nature of our studies, we cannot make claims regarding causality. Future research could run longitudinal surveys or experiments to establish causality.