Saturday, October 29, 2022

Partisanship and the trolley problem: Partisan willingness to sacrifice members of the other party

Partisanship and the trolley problem: Partisan willingness to sacrifice members of the other party. Michael Barber and Ryan Davis. Research & Politics, October 28, 2022.

Abstract: Do partisans view members of the other party as having lower moral status? While research shows that partisans view the out-group quite poorly, we show that affective polarization extends to expressing a willingness to sacrifice an out-partisan’s life. We report the first study to consider partisanship in the classic “trolley problem” in which respondents are asked whether they would sacrifice an individual’s life in order to save the life of five individuals. We explore this issue with a nationally representative survey experiment in the United States, inquiring about politicized variants of the trolley problem case. First, we vary the political affiliations of both the group of five (to be saved by turning the trolley) and the single individual (to be sacrificed by turning the trolley). We find that individuals are less willing to sacrifice a co-partisan for the sake of a group of out-partisans. These findings go beyond earlier work by suggesting that partisans not only hold negative attitudes and judgments toward political out-groups but also they will at least signal approval of differing moral treatment. We take stock of how these results bear on normative questions in democratic theory.


Our findings offer evidence that partisan loyalties do extend to moral judgments. Negative partisan attitudes appear reactive—directed toward opposing partisans themselves, rather than merely targeting circumstances of inter-partisan interaction. Finally, these attitudes appear quite serious. People treat out-partisans comparably to other dehumanized and denigrated groups. Partiality to co-partisans cannot explain the comparison between out-partisans and the most extreme outgroups we considered. Congruent with other findings affirming the pervasiveness of negative partisanship, our results appear driven at least in part by negative attitudes toward political opponents. In our case, these negative attitudes include not only affect but also the judgment (at least, the expressed judgment) that out-partisans occupy a lower moral status.
Our result considers the total effect of partisan identity. Because stereotypes about opposing partisans are unreliable (Ahler and Sood, 2018) and negative affect may be partly driven by partisan misperception (Lees and Cikara, 2021), further work would be needed to determine how much the result results from partisanship alone—independent of overlapping identity categories.
Partisan violence is not a new phenomenon in American politics (e.g., Kalmoe (2020)). What, if anything, might justify political violence (or threats of such violence) is, of course, a further normative question. At the outset, we noted a normative aspiration to civic friendship as an ideal of shared citizenship. Our results tend toward pessimism about this normative ideal. There is little indication that partisans invest much positive value in shared citizenship. The idea that co-citizens, even of opposing political tribes, share a common project of ruling together, and further that this common project gives them special obligations to each other, is absent from our picture (Scheffler, 2010Kolodny, 2014). Insofar as they require that opposing partisans share a valuing relationship (Scheffler, 2005Rawls, 2005Viehoff, 2014), normative theories of citizenship look untethered from political reality.
However, other normative theorists affirm a distinctive normative value to partisan attachment. These theorists see partisanship as an expression of a political commitment that makes ongoing political action possible (Ypi, 2016). Our results offer grounds for a more sanguine perspective on this value; however, our findings also offer a cautionary note for proponents of partisan loyalty. Such bonds appear not to be constituted merely by partiality to one’s political allies or ideas. They include, as well, a willingness to compare opponents with disliked and even reviled groups. This may extend to seeing them as less deserving of moral concern. The partisan ideal may be one about which one might be appropriately cautious—and not only when approaching a trolley crossing.

As expected, women denigratory posts derogate women’s sexuality, personality, and mothering qualities, but also found derogations about women’s resource extraction, mate poaching, and substance use

She’s a Gold-Digger, Bad Mom, and Drug-Using Floozy: Women’s Rivalry Gets “Dirty.” Maryanne L. Fisher, Mackenzie Zinck, Jaedan Link, Jessica Savoie & Arianna Conrod. Evolutionary Psychological Science, Oct 28 2022.

Abstract: Gossip is an inherent part of human sociality and can be used to manipulate other’s reputations. Women’s reputations in particular are the subject of derogatory gossip, and are more vulnerable, compared to men’s reputations (Hess & Hagen, 2002, 2006; Reynolds et al., 2018). Here, we explore how women’s reputations are presented via anonymous posts on the gossip website, The Dirty. Using a qualitative analysis, trained blind coders performed thematic analysis of 25 posts about women for each of the five most populous cities in Canada and the USA (N = 250). We support our prediction that posts derogate women’s sexuality, personality, and mothering qualities, but also found derogations about women’s resource extraction, mate poaching, and substance use. As well, posts often contained a direct warning about associating with the woman. Sexuality was the most commonly mentioned aspect, followed by personality, and warnings, while resource extraction, mate poaching, and substance use were equally derogated, and mothering qualities least mentioned. We review these findings in light of women’s intrasexual mating competition and the importance of women’s reputations.

The Simbari people & their semen ingestion practices

Simbari people

As of today, the article says:

The Simbari people (also known as the Simbari Anga,[1] called Sambia by Herdt[2]) are a tribe of mountain-dwelling, hunting and horticultural people who inhabit the fringes of the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea, and are extensively described by the American anthropologist Gilbert Herdt.[3][4] The Simbari – a pseudonym created by Herdt himself – are known by cultural anthropologists for their acts of "ritualised homosexuality" and semen ingestion practices with pubescent boys. In his studies of the Simbari, Herdt describes the people in light of their sexual culture and how their practices shape the masculinity of adolescent Simbari boys.[3]

Video: Sambia Tribe of Papua New Guinea in the Pacific's have a weird and strange Initiation of boys to manhood.

But things changed... From the same article above:


In 2006, Gilbert Herdt updated his studies of the Simbari with the publication of The Simbari: Ritual, Sexuality, and Change in Papua New Guinea. He noted that a sexual revolution had overtaken the Simbari in the previous decade. "To go from absolute gender segregation and arranged marriages, with universal ritual initiation that controlled sexual and gender development and imposed the radical practice of boy-insemination, to abandoning initiation, seeing adolescent boys and girls kiss and hold hands in public, arranging their own marriages, and building square houses with one bed for the newlyweds, as the Simbari have done, is revolutionary."[9]

Personality Traits of Sex Workers: higher scores of conscientiousness, openness, & Machiavellianism; earlier age of first menarche, earlier age of first drug use

Personality Traits of Sex Workers. John E. Edlund, Zachary Carter & Nathaly Cabrera. Sexuality & Culture, Sep 29 2022.

Abstract: Although numerous studies have looked at what lay people think of sex workers, comparatively few studies have directly looked at the sex workers themselves. The current study compared a cohort of predominantly female sex workers with a matched control across several personality constructs (including the Big Five, the Dark Triad, and Life History). Some of the observed differences in personality included higher scores of conscientiousness and higher scores of openness to experience in the sex worker group. The sex worker group also showed higher scores in machiavellianism. A variety of indicators of a faster Life History Strategy were also found in the sex worker cohort including an earlier age of first menarche and age of first drug use.


Results revealed negative attitudes toward civil liberties among leftist participants, with left-wing self-identification, radical-cultural feminism and left-wing authoritarianism negatively predicting support for civil liberties

Attitudes Toward Civil Liberties and Rights Among Politically Charged Online Groups. Angelo Fasce and Diego AvendaƱo. Volume 53, Issue 4, on-line October 27, 2022.

Abstract: Civil liberties and rights such as freedom of expression, press, thought, religion, association, lifestyle, and equality against the law are being subjected to controversies in Western countries. We developed two hypotheses aimed at explaining divergent attitudes toward civil liberties among politically charged online communities on each side of the political spectrum. A study using a cross-sectional sample of social media users (N = 902) suggests that, as expected by our hypotheses, support for civil liberties tend to be higher among online groups of rightists – with economic conservatism being the only direct positive predictor and left-wing authoritarianism being a strong negative predictor. These results are discussed in relation to polarization over civil liberties and perceived power imbalances between online groups.

Authors saw "a general preference for products made by women over products made by men"

Made by her vs. him: Gender influences in product preferences and the role of individual action efficacy in restoring social equalities. Benedikt Schnurr,Georgios Halkias. Journal of Consumer Psychology, October 17 2022.

Abstract: In response to the growing standardization and impersonalization of the market—side effects of new technology and business automation—consumers increasingly seek more personized purchase experiences, such as buying products directly from the producer. While extant literature has documented the positive effects of personizing market offerings, there is surprisingly little insight about whether knowing who made a product influences consumers' product preferences. We aim to fill this gap by focusing on the critical role of the producer's gender. In 13 studies, including field and online experiments (ntotal = 2978), we observe a general preference for products made by women over products made by men, with female consumers consistently showing a strong preference for products made by women and male consumers showing no systematic preference for either product. We find that this difference between female and male consumers' product preferences occurs because female consumers, in relation to male consumers, hold stronger action efficacy beliefs—beliefs that their individual purchase choices can contribute to restoring gender equalities in business.


Thirteen experimental studies, employing different sample populations, different stimulus products, and different study designs suggest that the producer's gender plays an important role in shaping consumers' product preferences. Studies 1–5 establish this phenomenon, demonstrating that female consumers prefer products made by women, while male consumers display no preference between products from producers of a different gender. We hypothesized that this relative difference in preference for products made by women (vs. men) occurs because female, in relation to male, consumers hold higher action efficacy beliefs—beliefs that their product choices can meaningfully contribute against gender inequalities in business. Study 6 offers support for this account while Studies 7A to 7C provide further empirical evidence, indicating that buying conditions and/or consumer perceptions that minimize the relevance of individual purchase decisions for restoring gender equalities decrease the influence of the producer's gender on consumers' product preferences. Finally, Studies 8 and 8 S suggest that action efficacy beliefs explain the discrepancy between female and male consumers' preferences for products made by women (vs. men) beyond perceived manufacturing expertise and judgments of consumers' self-congruence with the product choice. In sum, while we acknowledge that, as with many real-life phenomena, the effect of producer gender on female versus male consumers' product preference is likely multiply determined, we find strong and diverse empirical evidence suggesting that female (vs. male) consumers' stronger preference for products made by women can be explained by a systematic asymmetry in action efficacy beliefs.

Theoretical implications

First, our findings are directly relevant to the growing literature on market personization (van Osselaer et al., 2020). While extant literature has been mainly studying the potential benefits of personized market offerings (Fuchs et al., 2021; Kulow et al., 2021), we shift the focus on whether knowing who made the product can influence consumer behavior. In this context, we investigate consumers' preferences for products made by women versus men. Such gender influences are not straightforward, especially considering that female and male consumers may be differentially affected by producers' gender. The direction of the anticipated effects seems rather unclear to determine a priori, as different theoretical lenses seem to suggest different patterns of results. Acknowledging this theoretical pluralism, our studies identify the best fitting theoretical paradigm to understand the phenomenon at hand and, in doing so, reveal that egalitarian sentiments—driving forces against social inequality—affect seemingly trivial and disconnected decisions, such as whether to buy a product made by a woman or a product made by a man.

Second, in explaining the observed differences between female and male consumers' preferences for products made by women (vs. men), we bring forward the notion of action efficacy beliefs which we defined as the belief that engaging in a particular action (such as making a particular product choice) can effectively contribute toward achieving a collective goal. Action efficacy beliefs are conceptually different from previously investigated forms of efficacy which refer to whether individuals or groups are capable of performing actions to achieve certain individual or collective goals (Bandura, 1977; Gibson et al., 2000; Prussia & Kinicki, 1996; van Zomeren et al., 2013; Yaakobi, 2018). Thus, unlike most previous research focusing on individuals' or groups' capabilities in performing actions, action efficacy concerns the belief that individual actions can effectively bring about certain goals; irrespective of people's general motivation to achieve these goals. Our theoretical explanation rests on the idea that perceived action efficacy is elevated when identity threats are more psychologically proximal to the individual. This proposition resonates with recent research indicating that self-relevant threat strongly motivates individuals to counteract (Ward & Broniarczyk, 2011) and also draws from work on altruistic behavior suggesting that people are generally more sensitive to inequalities that disadvantage, as opposed to benefit, themselves (Silk & House, 2011). Thus, given that women represent an underprivileged group in business (England et al., 2020; International Labour Organization, 2019), female, as opposed to male, consumers should weigh the potential contribution of their individual purchase decisions more heavily. In line with this, we find a clear relative difference in that female consumers more strongly believe that buying products made by women (action) can contribute to restoring gender equality in business (goal). Overall, our findings contribute to research on efficacy perceptions by emphasizing the action as the point of reference and suggesting that linking a very specific, individual action to a broader collective goal can motivate behavior.

Third, our research contributes to recent work on how social and economic inequality affects consumer behavior (Hagerty & Barasz, 2020; Ordabayeva & Chandon, 2011; Walasek et al., 2018; Winterich & Zhang, 2014). The findings suggest that recognizing gender discrimination against women in business and being intrinsically motivated to restore gender equality are necessary attributes, yet not sufficient on their own to drive restorative behavior. The extent to which consumers meaningfully link the means (purchase choice) to an end (social change) seems critical in driving behavior accordingly.

Finally, our work contributes to the recent debate about the deductive paradigm that dominates research in consumer behavior (Janiszewski & van Osselaer, 2021). We avoided forcing our investigation into a strictly deductive narrative, and instead adopted a more flexible paradigm, combining exploratory and confirmatory empirical findings, which enabled us to identify several theoretical and methodological nuances pertinent to the phenomenon at hand. Our investigation critically reflected how gender influences in consumers' product choices could unfold under different theoretical lenses. Inductively, we drew on a series of studies and revisited our theorizing in light of the empirical data, identifying egalitarianism as the paradigm best describing the observed effects. Deductively, we then outlined a formal theoretical account which we tested across multiple confirmatory studies. We hope that our approach can motivate other scholars to adopt open and more flexible practices in developing and reporting their research projects.

Practical implications

Our findings suggest that female producers selling their products on electronic platforms, such as Etsy, or other media, may gain relative benefits over their male competitors. Specifically targeting potential female buyers seems to be an overall effective strategy to secure sales against male competitors. To do so, female producers should communicate and emphasize their gender to potential buyers. For example, female producers may use their actual name (in case their name is identifiable as female), a shop name implying that products are made by a woman (e.g., “Sarah's Accessories”), and pictures that identify them as women. Female producers can also highlight their gender in personal communication with prospective buyers or their shop description (e.g., “Hi! This is Sarah. I make these bags.”).

The managers of such electronic platforms and marketplaces can also utilize our findings in boosting sales by promoting products made by women. For instance, managers can encourage prospective customers by reinforcing action efficacy beliefs, especially among male customers, using relevant prompts (e.g., “Promote women in business. Your choice matters!” or “Support women in business. Every penny counts!”). Another way to motivate action efficacy beliefs might also be to highlight stories of successful female producers such as Amy Yee, who started selling refurbished vintage clothes on Etsy in 2012 and now owns several stores in New York (Brucculieri, 2018). Consumers are increasingly looking for ways to make an impact through their consumption choices (Haller et al., 2019). In this context, our findings imply that electronic marketplaces can benefit from leveraging the societal contribution of their business.

Finally, our research provides policymakers with important insights on how to close the gap between consumers' beliefs about social inequality and their corresponding actions. Our findings suggest that even when consumers recognize that women face gender discrimination in business and even when consumers are motivated to change respective gender inequalities, whether or not they align their actions accordingly depends on the perceived efficacy of those actions. Our findings suggest that policymakers should educate consumers about the potential impact of their individual product choices and deflect “drop in the ocean” perceptions. Broadly speaking, policy interventions can promote socially responsible consumption behavior by acknowledging social anomalies and by connecting individual responsibility with the collective good, emphasizing that seemingly trivial actions can meaningfully contribute to social change.

Future research opportunities

Producer characteristics

Our work offers fruitful ground to explore the broader nomological network in which the observed effects are expected to unfold as well as to identify additional mechanisms underlying these influences. For instance, it may be that women producers are perceived as more caring and considerate by female, but not male, buyers and, thus, be differentially preferred. Future studies might test whether such beliefs can explain the documented differences in preferences for products made by women (vs. men) between female and male consumers. Scholars can also extend this work by looking at demographic characteristics other than gender. Would consumers belonging (vs. not belonging) to an ethnic minority prefer products made by producers from ethnic minorities? Or would they opt for products offered by ethnic majorities as part of their acculturation process? Unlike in our study, where essentially two social categories (females and males) are involved, power and status distribution across several disadvantaged groups (i.e., multiple ethnic minorities) might suppress action efficacy beliefs and not sufficiently encourage support for a specific minority group. That said, it may be that such social categorizations (i.e., that involve imbalance across multiple categories) trigger antagonistic feelings against the dominant, high-status group.

Product characteristics

Although we varied product characteristics other than the producer gender in several of our studies (e.g., design, price, star ratings), the relevant variations were counterbalanced across the producer gender conditions. We acknowledge that systematic differences in these characteristics may influence the results and, thus, warrant further investigation. For example, it may be that consumers find themselves in a situation where they need to make a trade-off between a product made by a woman versus a man with the latter being of higher quality. Moreover, while we found that women and men are perceived to be equally skilled in producing the kind of products we used in our studies, some products are stereotypically considered men's products, such as handmade tools and furniture. Would female consumers still prefer the product made by a woman or would they sacrifice the collective good in the face of individual interest? Consistent with prior work on altruistic behavior (Silk & House, 2011), our findings imply that prosocial consumer behavior is more driven by concerns for the welfare of others and less by individualistic concerns and self-interest. However, more research is necessary to explicitly account for the intersection between self-centered and altruistic motives in consumers' product choices.

Consumer characteristics

Future research could also explore whether the observed discrepancy in preferences for products made by women (vs. men) between female and male consumers is explained by differences in self-verification tendencies. One could argue that being a member of a disadvantaged social group leads female consumers to have a stronger desire for seeking self-verifying product options (Chen et al., 2004; Stuppy et al., 2020). Consistent with recent work by Stuppy et al. (2020), researchers could employ verbalization tasks about choices between products made by women (vs. men) and subsequently explore response protocols to identify whether decision making is guided by a desire to confirm their self-views.

Future research should also consider our findings in more idiosyncratic consumer segments. Our work rests on the assumption that egalitarianism, and gender equality, in particular, are shared beliefs among members of society. In this context, we considered individuals' sense of own gender (all studies), gender identification strength (Study 6), female discrimination beliefs (Study 7B), and social change motivation (Study 7C). Importantly, our results show that regardless of any relative differences, both female and male consumers hold rather strong beliefs that women are discriminated against in business (Study 7B) and are rather highly motivated in restoring gender equalities in business (Study 7C). Nonetheless, there might be a specific segment of—both female and male—consumers characterized by a particularly high social dominance orientation (Sidanius et al., 1994). Among those consumers, overall preference for products made by men might increase, with female consumers showing less preference for products made by women and male consumers showing a higher preference for products made by men. Likewise, we cannot exclude the possibility that there may be a specific segment of malevolent women who—possibly driven by feelings of envy—would choose products made by men over products made by women. Although envious and ill-intentioned feelings do not reflect a general behavioral tendency, it may be that in contexts characterized by increased competition for limited resources, anti-social or anti-egalitarian behaviors can be observed. On the other hand, there may be a particular set of male consumers who hold strong enough action efficacy beliefs to prefer products made by women over products made by men. Witnessing discrimination against (close) female coworkers, for example, or having friends tell them about their experiences of gender discrimination may make the issue more psychologically proximal to men, increasing their action efficacy beliefs.

On a broader scale, our investigation is limited to Western (predominantly U.S.) consumers segments and does not apply to cultures, political systems, and religions subscribing to fundamental differences in the role men and women play in human society (Inglehart et al., 2002; Poushter & Fetterolf, 2019). Drawing on Studies 7B and 7C, we would anticipate that the general preference for products made by women is less pronounced, or even reversed, in socio-cultural contexts where gender equality is not desired or even frowned upon.

Market context

Our investigation focused on one-off purchases and did not consider multiple or repeated purchases. It would certainly be interesting to explore behavioral consistency and wear-out effects. Will the observed pattern of results still materialize when considering second, third, and fourth purchase decisions? Under the assumption that repeated purchases do not change the inherent belief that buying decisions meaningfully contribute to restoring gender equalities in business, one would expect the effect to also hold true or even be reinforced. However, it may also be that the effect fades away with multiple purchases, similar to the attenuation effects found in individuals' support for social issues on social media (Kristofferson et al., 2014).

Finally, future research may investigate whether our findings hold beyond the market for handmade products. We chose to focus our investigation on electronic platforms where individuals sell their self-made products because gender cues are displayed prominently along with the products in this market. However, another peculiarity about this context is that the individual producer is the sole beneficiary of the purchase (besides the platform), which maximizes the potential impact of a purchase for the sellers. The belief that a purchase can contribute to gender equality in business may thus be particularly high in this context. Future studies may explore gender effects on product preferences in other contexts in which information about gender may be known to consumers, such as female-run companies. On the one hand, one could argue that buying from a company with a female (vs. male) CEO may further strengthen this company's position in the marketplace and thereby contribute to gender equality. On the other hand, exposure to a female-run company might suppress perceptions of gender inequality. Most importantly, it is unclear whether buying products from a female-run company predominantly supports women, men (who may also work in the company), or both. Ambiguities in terms of who is being supported would thus confound with individuals' efficacy beliefs that their purchase decisions contribute to restoring gender equality in business.