Saturday, August 27, 2022

Those who commit suicide and take animals to their deaths are much more likely to kill dogs than cats

Peticide: An Analysis of Online News Media Articles of Human Suicide Involving Pet Animals. Janette Young,James Andrew Oxley,V. Tamara Montrose & Harold Herzog. Anthrozoös, Aug 26 2022.

Abstract: While pets may be protective for some people at risk of suicide, they may also become a risk factor or even become co-victims when humans end their own lives. It is important to protect against simplistic approaches to human–animal relationships, especially where simplification may endanger human and/or animal lives. Using publicly accessible online media articles between 2010 and 2020, this research sought to progress our understanding of suicidal acts involving pet animals. Sixty-one articles from six countries were identified; a mixed-methods qualitative descriptive (QD) approach to analysis was undertaken composed of descriptive statistical mapping followed by thematic content analysis. Almost 90% of the articles reported the deaths of multiple humans and 23% reported the deaths of multiple animals. A total of 116 animals were identified: mainly dogs, but also 8 cats, 2 rabbits, and 2 non-specified pets. Most animals died, with only nine surviving. Five key categories of scenarios were identified: extended suicides, mercy killings, suicide pacts, family annihilators, and unique. A further level of analysis was undertaken focused on the family annihilator reports (44/61 articles) using a published homicide-suicide typology. Key points to emerge from this analysis include the possibly higher vulnerability of dogs compared with other species. The terms “extended suicide” and “peticide” are discussed with the recommendation that the killing of pet animals be linguistically aligned with that of other killings. A focus on human–animal relationships reveals commonly unexplored intersections across criminology, mental health, and domestic violence and suggests the potential for collaboration across these fields driven by multi-species awareness. This research adds to arguments for data on animal presence in scenarios of human violence to be collected so that responses to protect vulnerable animals, and humans, can be developed.

Keywords: Animalsfamilicidehomicide-suicidehuman–animal interactionpeticidepets

Religious people reported having less sex on average (mainly driven by the significantly lower sex frequency among non-cohabiting religious individuals); also, religiosity was linked with overall higher levels of sex life satisfaction

Religiosity, Sex Frequency, and Sexual Satisfaction in Britain: Evidence from the Third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal). Nitzan Peri-Rotem, Vegard Skirbekk. The Journal of Sex Research, Aug 26 2022.

Abstract: Previous studies on the relationship between religiosity and sexual behavior have yielded mixed results, partly due to variations by gender and marital status. Furthermore, less is known about this relationship in relatively secularized societies, as in the case of Britain. In this study, we used data from the third British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3) to explore the link between religiosity (11% of men and 16% of women stated that religion and religious beliefs were very important to them) and sex frequency and satisfaction among men and women in different types of relationships. Women and men who saw religion as more important in their lives reported having less sex on average, though this was mainly driven by the significantly lower sex frequency among non-cohabiting religious individuals compared to their less religious peers. At the same time, religiosity was linked with overall higher levels of sex life satisfaction. This relationship appeared to be largely mediated by attitudes on the appropriate context for sexual intercourse. These findings highlight the importance of sociocultural norms in shaping sexual behavior and sexual satisfaction.

Keywords: religionreligiositysex frequencysexual satisfactionsexual attitudes


Our findings suggest that both sex frequency and sexual satisfaction vary by religiosity, though this relationship differs across types of unions. In accordance with our first hypothesis, among single non-cohabiting individuals, the more religious had less frequent sex compared to their less religious peers. This finding was consistent when religiosity was measured either by subjective importance of religion or religious service attendance. Nonetheless, those who attributed greater importance to religion and religious beliefs reported higher satisfaction from sex life. In line with our second hypothesis, more religious married women reported higher sexual satisfaction than their less religious peers, though this relationship was not found among married men. Interestingly, unpartnered religious men also reported higher satisfaction from sex life, though this relationship disappeared after we included controls for attitudes to casual sex and sex without love, or when the sample was limited to sexually active respondents. In addition, we found a non-linear relationship between number of lifetime sexual partners and sexual outcomes for women, where having no or many partners was linked to lower sexual satisfaction. Higher approval of casual sex or sex without love was also found to be negatively associated with sexual satisfaction for both men and women.

As our study shows, the relationship between sex frequency and sexual satisfaction is neither simple nor straightforward; across all relationship types, too little or too much sex was associated with lower sexual satisfaction, suggesting that an optimum exists in terms of frequency related to higher satisfaction levels. This is in line with Kornrich et al. (2013, p. 18), who argued that “couples are not purely interested in the amount of sex they have – they undoubtedly also care about the quality of sex.” Previous studies have shown that increased investments in exclusive long-term partnerships and greater time to develop satisfactory trusting relationships can matter for sexual satisfaction, while sex outside a committed relationship is often related to lower sexual satisfaction (Farvid & Braun, 2017; Waite & Joyner, 2001). As religious individuals are less likely to engage in casual sex (Burdette et al., 2009; Kuperberg & Padgett, 2016), and are more likely to limit sexual activity to a relationship based on love (Hardy & Willoughby, 2017; Iveniuk et al., 2016), this can lead to lower expectations of sexual activity outside a formal union, as well as increased satisfaction from sex life in general.

However, it is possible that religious sentiments about the sanctity of marital sex, as well as disapproval of sex outside marriage, matter more for women’s than for men’s sexual satisfaction. This is also evident by the relatively higher levels of sexual satisfaction among more religious cohabiting men when all other variables were held constant, while no similar relationship was found among cohabiting women.

As expected, the findings on ethnic minority groups showed similar patterns to that of more religious people, as women who identified as South Asian or Black reported lower sex frequency compared to women who identified as White. Furthermore, this relationship appeared among women who were unpartnered or in a steady non-cohabiting relationship, but not among those who were cohabiting or married. According to Krull et al. (2021), since ethnic minority groups can be at a relatively disadvantaged position, having sex outside a stable union and the prospect of unintended pregnancy could be perceived as particularly risky and stigmatizing.

Our findings also showed a significant association between educational attainment and sexual frequency and satisfaction; overall, highly educated individuals reported having less frequent sex, as well as reduced satisfaction from sex life compared to those with lower qualifications. This may be the result of several factors, including higher work load among the highly educated, greater work related stress levels, or increased investment in labor market capital and careers over relationship-based capital (Abdoly & Pourmousavi, 2013). However, the complex pathways underlying the relationships between education and sexual outcomes require further investigation, which is beyond the scope of this study.

Our research suggests that changes in sexual behavior need to be understood in a context of changes in religious norms and beliefs and other societal level trends. The postponement of union formation is related to less frequent sex, while also increasing the exposure to casual sex among those with weaker religious orientation. Therefore, the decline in religiosity and the rise in the single population are likely to exacerbate these trends, which may potentially result in lower sexual satisfaction.

Our study had several strengths. We used representative data and focused on a topic that so far has received insufficient attention in sex research – the role of religion, and how religiosity relates to sexual frequency and sexual satisfaction. There is a scarcity of studies which have looked at religion by relationship type and our study did this. We believe our findings and analyses can provide valuable and novel insights that can be of use for scholars interested in the intersections of sex and religion in contemporary societies.

The present study had some limitations in terms of information in our dataset. For example, we lacked information on religiosity and religious beliefs during childhood, which meant that we could not investigate how religion changes over the life course, and how this relates to sexual behaviors. Further, the dataset did not include detailed information on physiological and mental illnesses and disease histories, health risk factors, personality, and labor market histories – all of which may relate to both sexual behavior and religious trajectories. In addition, the Natsal-3 survey relied on self-reported data, which may be subject to desirability bias. However, this bias is minimized by the use of computer-assisted self-interview technology for the questions concerning sexual experiences and sexual function (Erens et al., 2013). Another potential limitation is the under-representation of Asian men and women in the sample, given the observed differences in sexual behavior between British Asian and the population of British White, who form the majority in the UK. Nevertheless, the Natsal-3 sample is still largely representative of the resident population in Britain.

Recent decades have seen widespread secularization, with declines in religiosity and decreasing levels of religious affiliation in Western countries. At the same time rapid changes in family forms have taken place, with later transitions into stable relationships, higher proportions not forming families, more cohabitation, increased levels of family dissolution, and greater proportions remaining single in younger adulthood than earlier. These changes in the religious and demographic makeup of the United Kingdom and other Western countries can have implications on many life domains, including sexual activity patterns and sexual satisfaction levels.

Given continued societal level changes in terms of demography, living arrangements, religiosity, and education in a context of population aging, one needs a broad research approach in order to better foresee future developments and consider ways that can improve sexual satisfaction. It is therefore necessary to collect detailed longitudinal data on sexual attitudes and behaviors which includes information on religiosity – and study these. Health and individual characteristics, but also normative and faith-related factors can have important effects. Future studies should pay more attention to religion when assessing sexual behavior and satisfaction, including when studying population level trends and differences among population subgroups.

The relationship between health and political ideology begins in childhood: Healthy children more likely to express conservative ideology as older adults, independent of personality, academics, and later-life heath

The relationship between health and political ideology begins in childhood. Viji Diane Kannan et al. SSM - Population Health, August 24 2022, 101214.


Healthy children more likely to express conservative ideology as older adults.

Independent of personality, academics, and later-life heath.

Association driven by children with better health.

Childhood health may be mediating social forces to produce adult ideology.

Abstract: We investigate whether childhood health status influences adult political ideology and whether health at subsequent life-stages, adolescent personality traits, or adolescent academic aptitude mediate this relationship. Using a national longitudinal cohort sample, we found that better health among children under age 10 was positively related to conservative political ideology among adults over age 64. Children with excellent health compared to very poor health were 16 percentage points more likely to report having a conservative political ideology in adulthood. Children with excellent health compared to very poor health were 13 percentage points less likely to report having a liberal political ideology in adulthood. Adults who had excellent health as children were 30 percentage points more likely to report conservative ideology than liberal ideology. However, the difference in ideological position for adults who had very poor childhood health was negligible. That is, the health and ideology relationship is being driven by those who were healthier early in life, after controlling for family income and material wealth. No evidence was found for mediation by adolescent heath, adult heath, adolescent personality traits, or adolescent academic aptitude. The magnitude of the coefficient for childhood health was substantively and statistically equivalent across race and sex. We discuss the possibility that, instead of being mediated, childhood health may actually be a mediator bridging social, environmental, and policy contexts with political ideology. We also discuss the potential of social policy to influence health, which influences ideology (and voting participation), which eventually circles back to influence social policy. It is important to understand the nexus of political life and population health since disparities in voice and power can exacerbate health disparities.

Keywords Life-courseSelf-rated health statusPolitical ideology

4. Discussion

Political science research indicates that the impressionable formative years for political socialization begin early in life during childhood and that ideological expression can be influenced by childhood stimuli such as trauma, friendships, and new experiences. We show that one such early life contributor is health. We expand on recent evidence linking health to political partisanship. Party politics changes over time. We focused on ideology which more strongly relates to policy stances and political beliefs as well as conceptions of how the world operates and a variety of individual preferences (e.g., grammar, humor, art, room decorations) (Carney et al., 2008Cichocka, Bilewicz, Jost, Marrouch, & Witkowska, 2016Glasgow, Cartier, & Wilson, 1985Jost, Nosek, & Gosling, 2008Wilson, 1990Wilson, Ausman, & Mathews, 1973). Ideology not only informs people's electoral choices, but how they conduct their lives.

We show that the relationship between health and ideology begins in childhood. And, our results provide no evidence that childhood health is mediated by health at subsequent life-stages. Adolescent and adult health have no relation to adult political ideology independent of childhood health. Childhood is, thus, a sensitive period for the relationship between health and ideology.

We also show that the relationship between health and ideology endures over nearly six decades, potentially influencing a lifetime of electoral decisions. Thus, the impact of local physical, social, and policy environments on childhood health could have lasting implications for the ideological composition of those local electorates.

We proposed that adolescent personality and academics could mediated the health and ideology relationship. However, our findings do not show statistically significant mediation of childhood health through these adolescent characteristics as a whole. Nonetheless, the Vigor and Maturity personality traits individually served as mediators, although in opposing directions. Vigor was related to conservative ideology while Maturity was related to liberal ideology. Another explanation for the lack of mediation might also be that suggested by behavioral genetics research, which has shown that rather than personality contributing to ideology, both ideology and personality derive from a common underlying heritable latent factor (Hatemi & Verhulst, 2015Verhulst, Eaves, & Hatemi, 2012). Similarly, since health is heritable, researchers have proposed that health may also partly derive from genetic factors giving rise to personality and ideology (Pacheco & Fletcher, 2015).

Adults who had excellent childhood health were 30 percentage points more likely to identify with conservative ideology than to identify with liberal ideology. However, the difference in ideological position for adults who had very poor childhood health was negligible. That is, the health and ideology relationship is being driven by those who began life with an advantaged health position, even controlling for early life family income and material wealth. From very poor to excellent childhood health, the probability of adult conservative ideology monotonically increases and liberal ideology monotonically decreases.

These results occur in the context of a longitudinal cohort analysis. Project Talent participants were high schoolers in 1960. The age range was ten years. Most participants were very close in age, within a four-year range, with fewer students in the younger and older tails. Students hailed from small rural towns and big cities and differed in their economic, cultural, and social backgrounds (American Institutes for Research (AIR) (2016). This cohort witnessed the same national and cultural events during childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood — school desegregation, civil rights, labor rights, Medicare/Medicaid, two wars, various protests, various assassinations, etc. The distribution of health levels and the distribution of ideological positions likely differs for this generation compared to recent generations. At a minimum, other generations are expected to differ in intercept and slope. Thus, we acknowledge the specificity of our study's findings to the Baby Boomer generation. We encourage the use of data from other generations in future studies to elucidate the health and ideology relationship under different social, economic, and cultural conditions.

In addition to being from one cohort, our sample was between 63 and 74 years of age. One concern with a sample of older adults is that of growing conservatism with age. However, studies have shown that ideology tends to be stable across the life-span (Sears & Brown, 2013Sears & Funk, 1999) and that persons aging beyond young adulthood and middle age have tended to become more liberal in many respects (Glenn, 1974). Americans of this age group express a mix of conservative and liberal positions regarding trust in government, trust in big business and markets, support for social programs, and support for marginalized groups (Desilver, 2014). However, larger percentages hold consistently liberal or consistently conservative views (Desilver, 2014). Our findings may not hold across the globe in countries where economic and social conservatism are uncorrelated or even negatively correlated. Studies using data from other countries would illuminate more of the health and ideology relationship under different ideological dynamics. Another consideration with this age group is that of mortality selection over the nearly six decades between PT60 and PTPS12. While mortality is likely higher among unhealthy participants, still the distribution of health levels in PTPS12 was not heavily skewed toward healthy participants and showed a general decline of health with age. Furthermore, frequencies at all levels of childhood and adolescent health are similar for the total PT60 sample and the PTPS12 sample.

Other limitations require consideration as well. Measurement of childhood health was retrospective, although made by adolescents only a few years older. Prior work suggests such reports are reliable, even taken at far later points in the lifespan (Haas, 2007). Our sample is largely white. Black and white Americans who were adolescents in the 1960s experienced their country and political power differently over the six decades captured in this longitudinal cohort study. However, we found that there was little substantive and no statistical difference between black participants, white participants, and the sample as a whole.

A major limitation is the lack of data over potentially important life stages during the lengthy period between high school and one's late 60s. While Project Talent follow-up surveys were conducted in the 1960s and 1970s, unfortunately, participants from those surveys have virtually no overlap with PTPS12. Thus, we are unable to conduct a detailed study of life-course paths or intervening experiences. This study is ideal, however, for examining links between a formative early period and later-life ideology. We are not aware of any other study analyzing the association between health and any political outcome over such a long time period. 

A meta-analytic review of the gender difference in leadership aspirations: Men exhibit higher aspirations than women; the effect size does not decrease with increasing year of study publication

A meta-analytic review of the gender difference in leadership aspirations. Ekaterina Netchaeva et al. Journal of Vocational Behavior, Volume 137, September 2022, 103744.


• We meta-analytically examine the gender difference in leadership aspirations.

• Findings reveal men exhibit higher aspirations than women.

• The size of this effect does not decrease with increasing year of publication.

• The gender difference is larger among working adults in male-dominated relative to female-dominated industries.

• The gender difference is larger among working adults and post-secondary students, relative to secondary students.

Abstract: Compared to their representation in the workforce, women are significantly underrepresented in leadership roles in the United States. Whereas substantial research attention has been paid to the role of bias and discrimination in perpetuating this gap, less has been devoted to exploring the gender difference in aspirations for these roles. We draw from social role theory to hypothesize that men have higher leadership aspirations than women and test our hypothesis using a meta-analysis of 174 U.S. published and unpublished samples (N = 138,557) spanning six decades. The results reveal that there is a small but significant gender difference in the predicted direction (Hedge's g = 0.22). Notably, the gender difference has not narrowed significantly over time, and appears to widen at college age and among working adults within male-dominated industries. Our results also suggest that the process and dissemination of research in this domain exhibits bias. We discuss the implications of our conclusions for future research.

Keywords: Leadership gender gapGender differencesLeadership aspirationsManagerial aspirationsPolitical ambition

For 31.2% of the music plays, people did not recognize highly salient animal voices (regarding the type of acoustic source as well as the frequency spectra) when executing a counting task

The unnoticed zoo: Inattentional deafness to animal sounds in music. Sandra Utz, Friedericke Knauss & Claus-Christian Carbon. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, Aug 25 2022.

Abstract: Inattentional unawareness potentially occurs in several different sensory domains but is mainly described in visual paradigms (“inattentional blindness”; e.g., Simons & Chabris, 1999, Perception, 28, 1059–1074). Dalton and Fraenkel (2012, Cognition, 124, 367–372) were introducing “inattentional deafness” by showing that participants missed by 70% a voice repeatedly saying “I’m a Gorilla” when focusing on a primary conversation. The present study expanded this finding from the acoustic domain in a multifaceted way: First, we extended the validity perspective by using 10 acoustic samples—specifically, excerpts of popular musical pieces from different music genres. Second, we used as the secondary acoustic signal animal sounds. Those sounds originate from a completely different acoustic domain and are therefore highly distinctive from the primary sound. Participants’ task was to count different musical features. Results (N = 37 participants) showed that the frequency of missed animal sounds was higher in participants with higher attentional focus and motivation. Additionally, attentional focus, perceptual load, and feature similarity/saliency were analyzed and did not have an influence on detecting or missing animal sounds. We could demonstrate that for 31.2% of the music plays, people did not recognize highly salient animal voices (regarding the type of acoustic source as well as the frequency spectra) when executing the primary (counting) task. This uncovered, significant effect supports the idea that inattentional deafness is even available when the unattended acoustic stimuli are highly salient.


Inattentional deafness was firstly shown by Dalton and Fraenkel (2012) were participants missed by 70% a voice repeatedly saying “I’m a Gorilla” when they were focusing on a primary conversation. In the present study, not only the validity perspective was extended by using ten excerpts of popular musical pieces from different music genres, but also acoustic signals highly distinctive from the primary sound (i.e., animal sounds) were presented. Including sounds created by nonhumans into music is not only used as artificial stimuli in experimental studies but also in experimental music—the so-called biomusic. Some famous examples are the symphonic poem “Pini di Roma,” by Respighi first performed in 1924, where a recording of a real nightingale was included in the orchestra performance, or Pink Floyd using howling and barking dogs in their songs “Seamus” (1971) and “Dogs” (1976).

Results of the present study using those biomusic elements revealed a successful transfer of the results by Simons and Chabris (1999) and by Dalton and Fraenkel (2012) to the auditory domain of musical processing. Many of the clearly audible, very salient “auditory Gorillas” with no connection to music (in contrast to Koreimann et al., 2014) passed unnoticed by participants listening to musical pieces while being occupied with an attention-consuming counting task.Footnote3 Importantly, this finding based on a paradigm where the primary and secondary auditory signal was very different as they stemmed from different domains (primary signal was a piece of familiar music, the secondary signal was an animal sound) essentially extends the preliminary finding of Koreimann et al. (2014) where the domain was not different between both signals.

Attentional focus

Regression analyses showed that only the objective measure of deviation from the correct number in the counting task seems to be a significant predictor of inattentional deafness. A higher deviation from the correct answer in the counting task led to a higher likeliness to perceive the animal sounds. Therefore, more counting errors on the task led to a lower susceptibility for inattentional deafness. It could therefore be assumed that inattentional deafness is due to a lack of directing the entire attentional focus on the task. It might be that those participants with more errors generally focus less on the primary counting task and have more cognitive resources available to detect the animal sound in the first place. Another explanation might be that errors are a consequence of detecting the animal sound, diverting the attention from the primary task to the sound, and as a result, losing the count. These results are not only consistent with inattentional blindness/deafness literature (e.g., Wayand et al., 2005), but are also in accordance with findings on change deafness (see, e.g., Neuhoff, & Bochtler, 2018; tendentially in Vitevitch, 2003). However, Koreimann et al. (2014) did not find significant differences in the primary task between detecting and not detecting the unusual event. Also, the performance in the study by Vitevitch (2003) was only tendentially slower for those who detected the voice change. Future research has to look closer to the precise parameters of attentional focus on different cognitive processing levels responsible for inattentional deafness.

Perceptual load

The frequency of inattentional deafness could not be explained by the variation of perceptual load in this study. Higher perceptual load did not induce a higher susceptibility for inattentional deafness. Considering the participants’ mean ratings of task difficulty (see Table 3), this might partially be due to the fact that tasks were generally perceived as very demanding. The mean task difficulty of 5.53 (on a rating scale ranging from 1 = very easy to 7 = very demanding) can be considered as very high, especially given the fact that the “easiest” task still received an average rating of 4.20. Therefore, the variance of task difficulty might have been too low and the tasks generally too difficult to be able to clearly differentiate high from low perceptual load.

Feature similarity and feature saliency

The absence of an effect of feature similarity on the frequency of inattentional deafness can at least partially be attributed to a slight distinction between the two groups. Since the main aim of the present study was to show inattentional deafness to a highly striking auditory stimulus in music, attention was primarily focused on transferring the findings of the visual domain into the auditory domain by using a similar paradigm as was used by Koreimann et al. (2014). Therefore, particular emphasis was put on fitting animal sounds to the musical pieces regarding low feature similarity in order to maximize the effect. The musical pieces with particular distinct low feature similarity were then sorted into the low feature similarity condition, and the rest was sorted into the high feature similarity condition. However, the high feature similarity condition was less distinct since the fit between musical pieces and animal sounds was far more heterogeneous. The small sample size of five musical pieces in each of the groups needs to be taken into account as well, especially with regard to heterogeneity within these relatively small groups. Therefore, interpretation of the differences between musical pieces concerning feature similarity should also be conducted on an individual basis. As can be seen in Table 3, the lowest rate of inattentional deafness was found in The Moldau, by Bedřich Smetana, and in Symphony No. 5, by Ludwig van Beethoven. Whereas feature similarity was high in the Symphony No. 5 (due to the task requiring to follow different instrumental voices in the piece which varied in pitch and were similar in pitch to the Gorilla) it was low in The Moldau (because the task required to pay attention to the violin which was consistently distant in absolute pitch from the roar of the lion that served as the unexpected animal sound). Yet the roar of the Lion and of the Gorilla was easily detected. A similar finding can be reported for the pieces with the highest percentage of inattentional deafness—Ain’t No Sunshine, by Tom Jones, and In the Hall of the Mountain King, by Edvard Grieg. Whereas the high howling of a Wolf and the low-frequency bass voice of the singer in Ain’t No Sunshine suggest a low feature similarity, the cymbals and the cock-a-doodle-doo in the Hall of the Mountain King were comparatively much closer in tone pitch and therefore had high feature similarity. Yet inattentional deafness had a high frequency in both pieces. Differences in feature similarity might not be sufficient to entirely explain why some musical pieces were comparatively much more prone to inattentional deafness than others. Another factor might be, that both the Lion and the Gorilla were often described as a growling sound. A growling animal can be considered as a warning sound. If a significantly lower rate of inattentional deafness could be demonstrated in those musical pieces containing an aggressive sounding animal, this would support the assumption made by Murphy et al. (2013) of the auditory modality having an early warning function which can be crucial for the detection of alarm sounds in the environment. Lastly, it should be taken into consideration that a musical piece is a very complex construct containing several different streams of musical voices. The overall complexity of the piece and the number of instruments or voices in a musical piece might have an impact and should be considered in future research regarding inattentional deafness in music.

In addition to the subjective descriptions, the feature saliency of animal sounds was further analyzed by looking at replicable psychoacoustical measures such as loudness, specific loudness, roughness, and impulsiveness. All manipulated music pieces with animal sounds were compared with the original pieces without animal sounds. All these measures were not able to predict the percentage of missed animal sounds.

General discussion

The results of this study demonstrate that inattentional deafness in the musical realm exists, even when a highly bizarre, noticeable auditory “Gorilla” appears twice during a known musical piece. Contrary to what had previously been shown by Simons and Chabris (1999) feature similarity or our additionally used concept of feature saliency could not predict the susceptibility to inattentional deafness. One explanation might be that our measures were not the most adequate ones to capture those effects of feature similarity or feature saliency. However, as we took great care of addressing subjective as well as established objective measures, this line of argument does not seem to be very probable. Another straightforward reason could be that as soon as a certain level of perceptual load (in our case: the counting tasks) occupies our resources, we are susceptible to inattentional deafness because our attentional resources are becoming too limited. So, we will only detect the auditory “Gorillas” if our attention strays from the primary task leaving enough cognitive resources available. Indeed, we were able to document an impact of attentional focus: Whereas the subjective rating of the ability to focus attention on the specific task by the participants themselves showed no effect, the objective measure of deviance from the counting task could be found to go along with a higher frequency of inattentional deafness. A conclusion of a cause–effect relationship could not be drawn from this result, however.

Although the overall mean frequency of inattentional deafness of 31.2% may seem relatively low in comparison to findings of other authors (e.g., 57% in Koreimann et al., 2014), the results are highly remarkable. It has to be taken into account that not only did inattentional deafness appear in all but two participants and had a frequency rate of 50% or more in ten participants, but it also appeared in musical pieces that were presented after an animal sound in a previous musical piece had already been detected! More than a third (36 out of 101) of the missed animal sounds was missed after the previous detection of a different animal sound. The effect of inattentional deafness was so strong that it even appeared after participants had the chance to develop first ideas regarding the aim of the conducted experiment and to build up an expectation of more animal sounds appearing in the following musical pieces.

Whereas most of the participants expressed genuine surprise when hearing the animal sounds, because they perceived the animal sounds as very salient, other participants reported that they blended in very well with the music and could possibly be mistaken for belonging to the musical piece. This finding confirmed the decision to exclude all unknown musical pieces from further analysis to ensure that the appearance of inattentional deafness was not only due to interpreting the animal sounds as belonging to the musical piece.

Overall, very conservative and strict criteria for actual misses were applied. Animal sounds were also not counted as missed if participants reported hearing the animal sound only once after first presentation of the musical piece for the possibility that this resulted from a lack of remembering how often the animal sound was noticed rather than from inattentional deafness in one of the two appearances of animal sounds within the musical pieces. Considering these limitations in classifying inattentional deafness, the rate of approximately 31.2% is all the more impressive. Not only did inattentional deafness occur in almost all participants and all musical pieces (with very diverse rates of courses), in some participants, the phenomenon also extended over several musical pieces. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, no other study has revealed repeated susceptibility to inattentional deafness before. The likeliness of the appearance of inattentional deafness was analyzed regarding differences between people and differences between characteristics of the musical pieces. Not all findings investigated in previous studies could be transferred to the domain of inattentional deafness in music. Yet the focus of the present study lay more on investigating a possible influence of previously unattended facets and generating new hypotheses for future studies. Due to the considerably high heterogeneity of the musical pieces as well as the respective animal sounds used in this study and the high overlapping of different variables, it cannot be ruled out that parameters other than the attended variables played an important role in the frequency of inattentional deafness. Future research should attempt to identify the underlying mechanisms and musical properties that are involved in inducing or constraining inattentional deafness going beyond concepts like conceptual load or feature similarity. Special focus should be directed on the question why some individuals are especially and even repeatedly prone to the phenomenon of inattentional deafness. Individuals’ ability to concentrate and narrow attention to one task as well as differences in motivation and the eagerness to succeed, should hereby be investigated further in order to precisely identify the underlying mechanisms.