Sunday, November 20, 2022

Why do storefronts remain empty for more than a year in some of the world’s highest-rent retail districts? Storefront vacancy in New York City

Option Value and Storefront Vacancy in New York City. Erica Moszkowski & Daniel Stackman. Nov 2022.

Abstract: Why do storefronts remain empty for more than a year in some of the world’s highest-rent retail districts? We construct and estimate a dynamic, two-sided model of storefront leasing to investigate possible explanations using data from New York City. The model incorporates salient features of the retail leasing market: heterogeneous tenant quality, high move-in costs, search frictions, asymmetric contract dissolution costs for landlords and tenants, and aggregate uncertainty in downstream retail demand. We estimate the model parameters by matching quarterly vacancy rates, lease-up rates, and tenant exit rates from a comprehensive, high-frequency storefront tracking service, combined with micro data on commercial leases. We find that tenant heterogeneity and move-in costs jointly explain long-run vacancy by generating dispersion in match surplus and therefore option value for landlords. In a counterfactual exercise, eliminating either feature results in vacancy rates of close to zero. Search frictions and aggregate uncertainty play much smaller roles. Finally, we use the estimated model to quantify the impact of a retail vacancy tax on long-run vacancy rates, average rents, and social welfare. Vacancies would have to generate negative externalities of $29.68 per square foot per quarter (about half of average rents) to justify a 1% vacancy tax on assessed property values.

Sexual arousal has a powerful effect on men’s short-term mating motivation, and that this effect is independent of intrasexual differences in personality, relationship status, and sociosexuality

In the Heat of the Short-Term Moment: Evidence that Heightened Sexual Arousal Increases Short-Term Mating Motivation Among Men. Arnaud Wisman & Andrew G. Thomas. Evolutionary Psychological Science, Nov 19 2022.

Abstract: Individual differences in men’s short-term mating interest are well studied, both at state and trait levels. Yet, the role of sexual arousal as a source of intra-individual variation has been neglected. This research represents the first attempt to integrate sexual arousal into the human mate plasticity literature. We argue that sexual arousal directly impacts the short-term mating motivation among men regardless of their personality, relationship status, and sociosexuality. Across four experiments, we found that heightened sexual arousal consistently increased men’s short-term mating motivation relative to participants in neutral and arousing control groups. Experiments 1 and 2 revealed that sexual arousal increased participants’ general short-term mating motivation and their preference for a short-term relationship over a long-term one. Experiment 3 replicated the findings of the first two experiments whilst also demonstrating that this effect was not moderated by personality (i.e., Dark Triad, Big Five) or relationship status. Heightened sexual arousal also led to decreased “state” long-term mating motivation. Finally, Experiment 4 showed that sexual arousal increased the participants’ preference for a short-term relationship over a long-term one, an effect that was not moderated by sociosexuality. Together, the results suggest that sexual arousal has a powerful effect on men’s short-term mating motivation, and that this effect is independent of intrasexual differences in personality, relationship status, and sociosexuality.

General Discussion

The present studies provide support for the novel hypothesis that sexual arousal increases a short-term mating motivation among men. All four experiments showed that brief exposure to sexual stimuli increased men’s desire for short-term mating across a variety of measures. Experiments 3 and 4 showed that this robust effect was not moderated by intrasexual differences in Big Five and Dark Triad personality traits or sociosexuality. Finally, across all experiments, it was found that relationship status did not moderate arousal-linked changes in short-term mating motivation. Taken together, the results of our four experiments suggest strong support for the idea that sexually aroused men show an increase in state desire for short-term mating, independent of a variety of dispositional traits and relationship status.

This research is among the first to highlight that sexual arousal may play a central role in human mating plasticity and strategy activation. Several studies have shown that short- and long-term mating motivations change in response to evolutionary relevant cues such as sex ratio (Arnocky et al., 2016), pathogen prevalence (Al-Shawaf et al., 2019), resource availability, and the need for parental care (Thomas & Stewart-Williams, 2018). However, none of these studies take into account the role of sexual arousal in mating strategy plasticity. Indeed, in these studies, participants are asked to make hypothetical mating decisions, or report on their desire to have uncommitted sex, in a clinical and detached manner rather than “in the heat of the moment”, as real-world mating decisions are often made. In this research, we have shown that merely sexual arousal alone is enough to enhance the short-term mating motivation of men. This has marked implications for the mating plasticity literature. For instance, based on previous research, it is tempting to conclude that some cues, such as resource abundance, have only a small effect on male mating psychology (e.g., d = 0.41 from Thomas & Stewart-Williams, 2018). However, these effects are observed completely divorced from sexual arousal. It is feasible that the effects of these cues may become enhanced when in a state of sexual arousal—that arousal effectively “greases the groove” of mating plasticity which in turn could lead to a stronger effect. This is, of course, an idea which needs to be tested.

Limitations and Future Directions

The current findings are consistent with a wide range of studies (Ariely & Loewenstein, 2006; Baumeister et al., 2001; Pfaus, 1999) that show indirect support for the thesis that sexual arousal can increase men’s motivation to engage in behaviour and cognitions associated with short-term mating motivation. Typically, in previous studies, participants were primed with a sexual and/or short-term mating context. Importantly, the current studies are the first to show that sexual arousal has a direct effect on men’s short-term mating motivation. However, they did not address specifically if priming a sexual context is qualitatively different from experiencing the physiological effects of sexual arousal. Moreover, our research relied on “subjective” self-report measurements of sexual arousal. Although future research could examine both subjective and physiological sexual arousal (e.g., Ciardha et al., 2018; Janssen et al., 2007), it is important to note that ample studies show that, at least among men, there is a strong association between (subjective) self-report sexual arousal and physiological sexual arousal (for a broad overview, Chivers et al., 2010). In a related vein, sexual arousal was manipulated exclusively by exposing participants to visual sexual stimuli. In view of this, we cannot exclude the possibility that our findings are specific to sexual arousal induced by visual sexual stimuli. We consider the latter unlikely because there is evidence that other forms of induced sexual arousal can increase cognitions and behaviours associated with short-term mating motivation (Ariely & Loewenstein, 2006). For instance, as previously discussed, sexual arousal induced by masturbation motivated men to show a greater willingness to engage in unprotected sex with strangers (Ariely & Loewenstein, 2006). Nevertheless, future research may wish to address whether the effect of sexual arousal on men’s short-term mating motivation varies depending on the method of arousal.

In addition, we have shown that relationship status did not moderate our findings. However, our research did not take into account the length and the quality of participants’ relationships (Schmitt et al., 2001ab). It is possible that these factors play a role in men’s short-term mating motivation—the effect of arousal could be context-dependent in a similar fashion to ovulatory shifts in women’s extra-pair interest which can depend on factors such as relationship length and perceived partner quality (Haselton & Gangestad, 2006; Pillsworth et al., 2004). Thus, relationship satisfaction, length, partner quality, and frequency of intercourse represent key factors of interest for future research.

Finally, although we have shown that a wide range of personality variables do not moderate men’s short-term mating motivation when sexually aroused, it is possible that other individual differences (Figueredo et al., 2005), environmental cues (Wisman & Shrira, 2020), and/or cultural differences (Schmitt, 2003) that we did not account for play a role in mate choice and motivation.

If sexual arousal increases short-term mating motivation, and this occurs regardless of relationship status, then an obvious next step is to consider how sexual arousal affects relationship stability. It is clear that we do not live in a world where temporary increases in the preferences for short-term mating, driven by sexual arousal or otherwise, cause men to reflexively forgo their current relationships in search for uncommitted sex. Divorce rates would be much higher than we see in Western society, presuming marriages would even come to fruition in such a world. Instead, sexual arousal may form a single, but important, link in a causal chain towards infidelity. Evolutionary psychology points to the context-dependent nature of some psychological mechanisms. For example, people experience less relationship satisfaction when their partner fails to meet their ideals, but only when better alternatives exist (Conroy-Beam et al., 2016). Future research would benefit from examining the impact of arousal-linked increases in short-term mating desire on their thoughts towards their current relationships—such as the willingness to cheat or dissolve a relationship—and the contextual factors that mitigate against these thoughts.

Phantom phone signals are benign, not an indication of a messed-up mind

Phantom phone signals and other hallucinatory-like experiences: investigation of similarities and differences. Adrianna Aleksandrowicz, Joachim Kowalski, Łukasz Gawęda. Psychiatry Research, November 19 2022, 114964.

Abstract: Phantom Phone Signals (PPS) and other hallucinatory-like experiences (HLEs) are perceptual anomalies that are commonly reported in the general population. Both phenomena concern the same sensory modality, but PPS are restricted to smartphone use. The current study aimed to assess similarities and differences between these types of anomalies in relation to general psychopathology, metacognitive beliefs about perception, smartphone dependence, and susceptibility to top-down influences on perception. We analyzed data from a Polish community sample (N = 236, aged 18–69). We used questions pertaining to PPS, a questionnaire pertaining to HLEs (Multi-Modality Unusual Sensory Experiences Questionnaire), and other variables of interest (Symptom Checklist-27-plus, Mobile Phone Problematic Use Scale, and the Beliefs about Perception Questionnaire). Additionally, a false-perception task manipulating cognitive expectancy (i.e., a visual cue associated with auditory stimuli vs. no visual cue) was devised to measure top-down influences on perception. Regression analyses showed that only top-down beliefs about perception predicted both PPS and HLEs. Smartphone dependency proved to be a stronger predictor of PPS than other measured variables, whereas for HLEs, general psychopathology was the strongest predictor. Current results suggest that despite sharing some mechanisms, PPS and HLEs may have independent underlying factors.


Hallucinations are a key symptom in the diagnosis of schizophrenia spectrum disorders. It is estimated that hallucinations occur in approximately 80% of patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders, with the most common being auditory hallucinations (Toh et al., 2022). According to the continuum hypothesis, hallucinations in the clinical context are considered as an extreme manifestation of phenomena that range from vivid daydreams, through infrequent experiences of different sounds (e.g., mistakenly hearing one's name being called) to full-blown hallucinations (e.g., hearing distressing voices). Yet, a significant body of work has shown that hallucinatory-like experiences (HLEs), which lie on the hallucination continuum, are frequently reported in the non-clinical population (Linszen et al., 2022). It has been suggested that auditory hallucinations occur in 13.2% of the general population (Beavan et al., 2011). These data suggest that HLEs and hallucinations also occur outside the clinical context. Investigation of HLEs in the general population is important, as it helps us better understand the mechanisms underlying hallucinations and other perceptual anomalies (Barkus et al., 2007; Daalman et al., 2010).

Recently, in addition to studies on general HLEs, Phantom Phone Signals (PPS) are being increasingly studied as perceptual phenomena (Drouin et al., 2012; Horga & Abi-Dargham, 2020; Lin, et al., 2013a,b; Lin et al., 2020; Pisano et al., 2019; Tanis et al., 2015). PPS are perceptual anomalies wherein feedback from phones is experienced without having occurred, such as the sensation of a phone ringing, an incoming message, or a notification coming from various applications. PPS are experienced in auditory (as a ringing phone), visual (a blinking notification displayed on a smartphone screen), and tactile (phantom vibration) modalities (Tanis et al., 2015). It is estimated that between 27.4% and 89% of people from the general population experience PPS (Deb, 2015; Pisano et al., 2021). This relatively high prevalence suggests that PPS are a common experience and may be associated with the growing usage of smartphones (Pisano et al., 2021). Indeed, it is estimated that about 3.5 billion people worldwide use smartphones (O'Dea, 2020). In 2018 in Poland, almost 80% of the population used smartphones (Mobirank, 2020), and 74.8% of all cell-phone users did so on a daily basis. Importantly, cellphone addiction is rising alongside smartphone usage (Olson et al., 2022). Thus, PPS and associated phenomena are becoming an important field of research.

Previous studies have shown that some characteristics of smartphone usage are predictors of experiencing PPS (Rothberg et al., 2010; Subba, 2013; Tanis et al., 2015). A study conducted by Al-Ani et al. (2009) showed that PPS experiences were very common among participants who rated themselves as “mobile addicted.” Moreover, another study also provided evidence of a significant relationship between PPS and excessive smartphone usage, smartphone addiction, and phone importance (Tanis et al., 2015). Still, some studies found that characteristics of smartphone usage are not related to PPS (Catchings et al., 2010). It should be noted that conclusions from studies that link PPS to characteristics of smartphone usage are limited by the low number of studies. For this reason, further studies on the mechanisms of PPS are needed.

With regard to the mechanisms of PPS, some studies reported that contextual factors, such as expecting a call or being in a noisy environment, are important in reinforcing the experience of PPS (Sauer et al., 2015). For instance, being in a workplace where smartphones are essential for communicating with co-workers has been shown to reinforce the occurrence of PPS. A study on medical students showed a substantial change in experiences of PPS during a medical internship. For instance, at baseline, 78.1% students reported phantom vibrations and 27.4% reported phantom ringing. At follow-up, these rates increased to 95.9% and 87.7% respectively (Lin, et al., 2013b). Although the evidence indicates a high prevalence of PPS among medical students, more research on the general population is still needed (Pisano et al., 2021).

Importantly, although PPS have been found to correlate with high stress levels, anxiety, and depressive symptoms (Lin, et al., 2013a,b; Lin et al., 2020), few studies have focused on the relationships between PPS and psychopathology (Pisano et al., 2021). One study among adolescents found a relationship between experiencing PPS and both emotional problems and temper tantrums (Pisano et al., 2019). At the same time, the association between a wide range of HLEs and psychopathology is well documented (Allen et al., 2005; Gaweda et al., 2012; Johns, 2005). Additionally, the cognitive mechanisms of HLEs have been investigated in a rich line of research. For instance, attentional processes, cognitive control (Conn & Posey, 2000; Hugdahl et al., 2013), as well as different cognitive biases have been found to be important factors related to HLEs. With regard to PPS, there is much less research on cognitive mechanisms associated with this phenomenon.

One of the leading theoretical accounts suggests that perceptual anomalies are the result of an imbalance between top-down processes (i.e., priors or cognitive expectancy) and bottom-up processes. The role of top-down processes in shaping percepts is particularly emphasized in situations of perceptual uncertainty, where cognitive expectancy can influence the final percept (Corlett et al., 2019; Horga & Abi-Dargham, 2020; Powers et al., 2016). Cognitive expectancy may be considered as a prior that impacts perception (Corlett et al., 2019). It has been shown that priors have a stronger impact on perception in people who hallucinate than those without hallucinations (Powers et al., 2016). Thus, this suggests that cognitive expectancy (i.e., priors) may have an important impact on perception. Similarly, regarding PPS, it has been proposed that these experiences may emerge from the anticipation of phone signals through expectations (Rothberg et al., 2010). For instance, PPS may emerge in the context of a belief that the phone should ring because one is waiting on an important phone call. A limited number of studies have investigated this account in the context of semantic expectancy and its relationship to HLEs (Vercammen & Aleman, 2010). More recently, a study by Gawęda & Moritz (2021) suggested that audiovisual integration might play an essential role in the formation of false percepts in patients with schizophrenia. Participants performed a task in which they were asked to detect a target word in a noisy background (the word was audible in 60% of cases and absent in 40%). Conditions consisted of three levels of expectancy (1. low – no cue prior to the stimulus; 2. medium – semantic priming; 3. high – semantic priming accompanied by a video of a man mouthing the word). The results indicated that higher expectancy significantly increased the likelihood of false auditory perceptions among schizophrenia patients only. This gives preliminary evidence that the visual modality might play an important role in the complex mechanisms of auditory perceptual anomalies. Nonetheless, more research on visual and auditory modalities in the context of hallucinations and the hallucination continuum is needed.

To date, PPS and other HLEs have been studied independently. A growing line of research investigates PPS as an isolated type of experience without comparison to other HLEs. Therefore, the main aim of our study was to compare PPS and other types of HLEs with general psychopathology, smartphone dependence, and attentional control to investigate their similarities and differences in the non-clinical population. Furthermore, we also considered the relationships of both PPS and HLEs with priors (i.e., top-down factors, such as knowledge and beliefs), which have been linked to perceptual anomalies (Corlett et al., 2019; Horga & Abi-Dargham, 2020; Powers et al., 2016). In our study, we conceptualized priors as meta-cognitive beliefs about perception (Gawęda et al., in preparation). We hypothesized that meta-cognitive beliefs about perception and interpretations of perceptual experiences may tentatively influence how perception operates, and conversely actual perceptual experiences may shape individuals’ beliefs about perceptions. Hence, we expected that there would be a relationship between false perceptions and meta-cognitive beliefs about perception. Moreover, despite some existing research investigating the potential predictors of PPS (Drouin et al., 2012; Horga & Abi-Dargham, 2020; Lin et al., 2013a,b; Lin et al., 2020; Pisano et al., 2019; Tanis et al., 2015), to our knowledge, there are no studies that explore in-depth the mechanisms of this phenomenon using an experimental approach. Therefore, the objective of our study was to experimentally verify the effect of top-down processes on false auditory perceptions using a False Perception Task design (Gawęda & Moritz, 2021). Our experimental task was tailored to examine perceptual experiences that are contextually related to smartphone use (e.g., the moment of an incoming smartphone notification on the screen) with two conditions of expectancy: low (no visual cue associated with an auditory stimuli) and high (a visual cue associated with an auditory stimulus). We hypothesize that more false recognitions will occur in the high expectancy condition than in the low expectancy condition. To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate experimentally-induced false perceptions that are contextually connected to PPS. Moreover, we aimed to investigate whether there is a relationship between experimentally-induced false perceptions in the context of social media use and PPS alongside other HLEs.