Saturday, June 4, 2022

What is beautiful is perceived as good, but this view is compensated by a perception of vanity (less moral and more immoral)

Han, D. E., & Laurent, S. M. (2022). Beautiful seems good, but perhaps not in every way: Linking attractiveness to moral evaluation through perceived vanity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Jun 2022.

Abstract: For almost 50 years, psychologists have understood that what is beautiful is perceived as good. This simple and intuitively appealing hypothesis has been confirmed in many ways, prompting a wide range of studies documenting the depth and breadth of its truth. Yet, for what is arguably one of the most important forms of “goodness” that there is—moral goodness—research has told a different story. Although greater attractiveness is associated with a host of positive attributes, it has been only inconsistently associated with greater perceived morality (or lesser immorality), and meta-analyses have suggested the total effect of beauty on moral judgment is near zero. The current research documents one plausible reason for this. Across nine experiments employing a variety of methodological and measurement strategies, we show how attractiveness can be perceived as both morally good and bad. We found that attractiveness causally influences beliefs about vanity, which translates into beliefs that more attractive targets are less moral and more immoral. Then, we document a positive association between attractiveness and sociability—the nonmoral component of warmth—and show how sociability exerts a countervailing positive effect on moral judgments. Likewise, we document findings suggesting that vanity and sociability mutually suppress the effects of attractiveness on each other and on moral judgments. Ultimately, this work provides a comprehensive process account of why beauty seems good but can also be perceived as less moral and more immoral, highlighting complex interrelations among different elements of person perception.

Although it is consistently found that men ascribe considerable importance to a partner's appearance, a woman of good looks has roughly the same changes of being in a relationship than a woman of poor looks

Apostolou, M., & Philippou, R. (2022). What predicts involuntary singlehood: Investigating the effects of self-esteem and having desirable traits in a Greek-speaking sample. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, Jun 2022.

Abstract: Many people are involuntarily single; that is, they are not in an intimate relationship, although they want to be so. The current research attempted to examine whether having traits that people prefer in a partner, and one’s level of self-esteem, predicted singlehood status. Using an online sample of 986 Greek-speaking participants, we found that self-esteem had a significant and large effect on predicting marital status for men, with higher scores being associated with higher probability to be in a relationship or single by choice than involuntarily single. However, self-esteem had no effect on marital status for women. Furthermore, in most cases, participants’ self-ratings in desirable traits had no significant direct effects on predicting marital status neither for men nor for women. Still, for men, a number of these traits had significant indirect effects. Overall, having desirable traits was not associated directly with lower probability to be involuntarily single, but for men, some of these traits enhanced their self-esteem, with higher self-esteem being associated with a considerable decrease in the probability to be involuntarily single. The implications of these findings on evolutionary theorizing on mate choice are further discussed. 

This paper presents a novel framework to estimate the elasticity between nighttime lights and quarterly economic activity

Measuring Quarterly Economic Growth from Outer Space. Robert C. M. Beyer, Yingyao Hu, Jiaxiong Yao. IMF Working Paper No. 2022/109, June 3, 2022.

Summary: This paper presents a novel framework to estimate the elasticity between nighttime lights and quarterly economic activity. The relationship is identified by accounting for varying degrees of measurement errors in nighttime light data across countries. The estimated elasticity is 1.55 for emerging markets and developing economies, ranging from 1.36 to 1.81 across country groups and robust to different model specifications. The paper uses a light-adjusted measure of quarterly economic activity to show that higher levels of development, statistical capacity, and voice and accountability are associated with more precise national accounts data. The elasticity allows quantification of subnational economic impacts. During the COVID-19 pandemic, regions with higher levels of development and population density experienced larger declines in economic activity.

The Psychology of Lying and Deception Detection: People are more likely to believe information that is consistent with their own beliefs or consistent with the beliefs held by those in their social circle

Truth-Default Theory and the Psychology of Lying and Deception Detection. Timothy R. Levine. Current Opinion in Psychology, June 3 2022, 101380.


• Truth-default theory posits that honesty is the starting place for human communication, and highlights people’s vulnerability to false and misleading information.

• Truth-default theory explains differences in deception detection outcomes across lab and everyday life situations.

• People are more likely to believe information that is consistent with their own beliefs, consistent with the beliefs held by those in their social circle, and that is ubiquitous in their communication environment.

Abstract: Truth-default theory offers an account of human deceptive communication where people are honest unless they have a motive to deceive and people passively believe others unless suspicion and doubt are actively triggered. The theory is argued to account for wide swings in vulnerability to deception in different types of situations in and out of the lab. Three moderators are advanced to account for differential vulnerability to political misinformation and disinformation. Own belief congruity, social congruence, and message repetition are argued to combine to affect the probability that implausible and refutable false information is accepted as true.

Keywords: MisinformationDisinformationConfirmation BiasSocial ProofLies