Friday, March 23, 2018

Sex Differences on Big Five Traits: Phenotypic differences (women higher in neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness), but no genetic or environmental sex differences in any trait

Sex Differences in the Big Five Model Personality Traits: A Behavior Genetics Exploration. Susan C. South, 1, , Amber M. Jarnecke1, Colin E. Vize. Journal of Research in Personality, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2018.03.002

Highlights
•    Mean level sex differences were found for Neuroticism, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness (women higher on all)
•    No evidence of qualitative genetic differences between men and women on any of the Big Five traits.
•    No evidence of quantitative genetic or environmental differences between men and women on any of the Big Five traits.

Abstract: The importance of genetic influences for the Five Factor/Big Five Model (BFM) traits is well established. Relatively understudied, however, are the presence and magnitude of sex differences in genetic and environmental variance of these traits. The current study tested if men and women differ 1) qualitatively in the genetic mechanisms, or 2) quantitatively, on the genetic and environmental variance, contributing to BFM personality domains. Results from a nationally representative U.S. adult twin sample (N=973 pairs) supported phenotypic (i.e., mean level) sex differences in three of five personality traits (i.e., Neuroticism, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness) but did not support genetic or environmental sex differences in any trait.

Keywords: Personality; Sex differences; Behavior genetics; Twin

Why Do Very Unattractive Workers Earn So Much?

Why Do Very Unattractive Workers Earn So Much? Satoshi Kanazawa, Shihao Hu, Adrien Larere. Economics & Human Biology, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ehb.2018.03.003

Highlights
•    Very unattractive women (not men) are more likely to be married than others.
•    Spouses of very attractive women (not men) earn more than those of others.
•    Our findings can explain why very unattractive workers earn more.

Abstract: Kanazawa and Still (2018) showed that very unattractive workers earned more than unattractive workers, sometimes more than average-looking or attractive workers, because they had higher levels of intelligence and education, but they did not explain why very unattractive workers had higher intelligence and education. There are both theoretical and empirical reasons to expect that some intelligent men may prefer to marry very unattractive women. The analysis of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) shows that very unattractive women were significantly more likely to be married at Age 29 than unattractive or average-looking women, and their spouses or partners earned significantly more than those of unattractive or average-looking women. If intelligent men have historically preferred to marry very unattractive women generation after generation, then, because both general intelligence and physical attractiveness are highly heritable, this can explain why very unattractive workers are more intelligent and achieve higher education, thereby earning more. It can also explain why the positive correlation between intelligence and physical attractiveness is not larger despite assortative mating of intelligent men of higher status and physically attractive women over many generations.

Keywords: the Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis; the intelligence paradox; mate preferences; evolutionary psychology


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Migrant children and adolescents of lower social status rapidly adjust in height towards average height of their hosts, but tend to mature earlier, and are prone to overweight. The mean height of colonial/military migrants does surpass that of the conquered and origin population

As tall as my peers – similarity in body height between migrants and hosts. Barry Bogin, Michael Hermanussen and Christiane Scheffler. Anthropol. Anz. 74/5 Supplement (2018), 365–376, J. Biol. Clin. Anthropol.

Abstract: Background: We define migrants as people who move from their place of birth to a new place of residence.

Migration usually is directed by "Push-Pull" factors, for example to escape from poor living conditions or to find more prosperous socio-economic conditions. Migrant children tend to assimilate quickly, and soon perceive themselves as peers within their new social networks. Differences exist between growth of first generation and second generation migrants.

Methods: We review body heights and height distributions of historic and modern migrant populations to test two hypotheses: 1) that migrant and adopted children coming from lower social status localities to higher status localities adjust their height growth toward the mean of the dominant recipient social network, and 2) social dominant colonial and military migrants display growth that significantly surpasses the median height of both the conquered population and the population of origin. Our analytical framework also considered social networks. Recent publications indicate that spatial connectedness (community effects) and social competitiveness can affect human growth.

Results: Migrant children and adolescents of lower social status rapidly adjust in height towards average height of their hosts, but tend to mature earlier, and are prone to overweight. The mean height of colonial/military migrants does surpass that of the conquered and origin population.

Conclusion: Observations on human social networks, non-human animal strategic growth adjustment, and competitive growth processes strengthen the concept of social connectedness being involved in the regulation of human migrant growth.

Keywords: growth of migrants, community effect on height, dominance, strategic growth adjustments, competitive growth

Effectiveness of Vehicle Safety Inspections: Ending these requirements did not result in a significant increase in the frequency or intensity of accidents due to car failur

It's No Accident: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Vehicle Safety Inspections. Alex Hoagland, Trevor Woolley. Contermporary Economic Policy, https://doi.org/10.1111/coep.12284

Abstract: An increase in technology means that vehicles are more reliable than in the past. Accordingly, states have begun to discontinue their requirements for vehicle safety inspections. To gauge the effect of such changes, we examine traffic fatality data from 2000 to 2015, with emphasis on New Jersey, which ended safety inspection requirements in 2010. Utilizing a synthetic controls approach, we conclude that ending these requirements did not result in a significant increase in the frequency or intensity of accidents due to car failure, implying that the consumer and government expenditures used for inspections could be reallocated to other areas of travel safety.

JEL codes: R41, Z18, C23

Meta-analysis of effects of helping on the happiness of the helper: The overall effect of kindness on well-being is small-to-medium

Happy to help? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of performing acts of kindness on the well-being of the actor. Oliver Scott Curry et al. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2018.02.014

Highlights
•    Meta-analysis of effects of helping on the happiness of the helper
•    27 experimental studies included in review (total N = 4045)
•    The overall effect of kindness on well-being is small-to-medium (δ = 0.28).
•    No evidence of publication bias
•    Future research should test more specific theories of kindness.

Abstract: Do acts of kindness improve the well-being of the actor? Recent advances in the behavioural sciences have provided a number of explanations of human social, cooperative and altruistic behaviour. These theories predict that people will be ‘happy to help’ family, friends, community members, spouses, and even strangers under some conditions. Here we conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of the experimental evidence that kindness interventions (for example, performing ‘random acts of kindness’) boost subjective well-being. Our initial search of the literature identified 489 articles; of which 24 (27 studies) met the inclusion criteria (total N = 4045). These 27 studies, some of which included multiple control conditions and dependent measures, yielded 52 effect sizes. Multi-level modeling revealed that the overall effect of kindness on the well-being of the actor is small-to-medium (δ = 0.28). The effect was not moderated by sex, age, type of participant, intervention, control condition or outcome measure. There was no indication of publication bias. We discuss the limitations of the current literature, and recommend that future research test more specific theories of kindness: taking kindness-specific individual differences into account; distinguishing between the effects of kindness to specific categories of people; and considering a wider range of proximal and distal outcomes. Such research will advance our understanding of the causes and consequences of kindness, and help practitioners to maximise the effectiveness of kindness interventions to improve well-being.

A Reanalysis of Cohn Et Al. 2014, Nature, ‘‘Business Culture and Dishonesty in the Banking Industry’’: The use of flawed statistics methods, used routinely in so-called “evidence-based” science, led the authors to distort the “evidence”

Hupé, Jean-Michel, 2018. “Shortcomings of Experimental Economics to Study Human Behavior: A Reanalysis of Cohn Et Al. 2014, Nature 516, 86–89, ‘‘business Culture and Dishonesty in the Banking Industry’’”. SocArXiv. March 20. osf.io/preprints/socarxiv/nt6xk

Abstract: In the wake of financial scandals, Cohn and collaborators published a headline-grabber study in the field of behavioral economics. M.C. Villeval (2014), in the News and Views of the Nature issue where this papers was published, summarized the main message: the “experiment shows that although bank employees behave honestly on average, their dishonesty increases when they make decisions after having been primed to think about their professional identity.” Cohn et al. thus provide evidence that “the incentives and the business culture developed in the financial sector may undermine the honesty norms of ordinary employees.” This study may have important consequences for policy, since, Villeval continues, “it is crucial to ensure a business culture of honesty in this industry to restore trust in it.” Villeval also argues that “from a scientific perspective, this study […] supports the economic theory of social identity […], links this theory with the economic analysis of lying behavior [… and] shows how behavioural economists can contribute to a broader reflection in science about how people manage their 'multiple selves' ”. Here I show that the use of flawed statistics methods, yet used routinely in so-called “evidence-based” science, led the authors to distort the “evidence”. Should we therefore question the contribution of behavioral economics to the understanding of human behavior? I am also using this data-set as an interesting example to explore how we can use modeling and simulations to provide a fair account of the information and uncertainty conveyed by the data, based on Confidence Intervals. I provide the R-code. I conclude with considerations on honesty and science.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Compensatory Effect on Mate Selection? Importance of Auditory, Olfactory, and Tactile Cues in Partner Choice among Blind and Sighted Individuals

A Compensatory Effect on Mate Selection? Importance of Auditory, Olfactory, and Tactile Cues in Partner Choice among Blind and Sighted Individuals. Agnieszka Sorokowska, Anna Oleszkiewicz, Piotr Sorokowski. Archives of Sexual Behavior, April 2018, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 597–603. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-018-1156-0

Abstract: Human attractiveness is a potent social variable, and people assess their potential partners based on input from a range of sensory modalities. Among all sensory cues, visual signals are typically considered to be the most important and most salient source of information. However, it remains unclear how people without sight assess others. In the current study, we explored the relative importance of sensory modalities other than vision (smell, touch, and audition) in the assessment of same- and opposite-sex strangers. We specifically focused on possible sensory compensation in mate selection, defined as enhanced importance of modalities other than vision among blind individuals in their choice of potential partners. Data were obtained from a total of 119 participants, of whom 78 were blind people aged between 16 and 65 years (M = 42.4, SD = 12.6; 38 females) and a control sample of 41 sighted people aged between 20 and 64. As hypothesized, we observed a compensatory effect of blindness on auditory perception. Our data indicate that visual impairment increases the importance of audition in different types of social assessments for both sexes and in mate choice for blind men.

Punishing injustices is more pleasureable (reward system of the brain) than compensating the victims

Neurobiological Mechanisms of Responding to Injustice. Mirre Stallen, Filippo Rossi, Amber Heijne, Ale Smidts, Carsten K.W. De Dreu and Alan G. Sanfey. Journal of Neuroscience, March 21 2018, 38 (12) 2944-2954; https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1242-17.2018

Abstract: People are particularly sensitive to injustice. Accordingly, deeper knowledge regarding the processes that underlie the perception of injustice, and the subsequent decisions to either punish transgressors or compensate victims, is of important social value. By combining a novel decision-making paradigm with functional neuroimaging, we identified specific brain networks that are involved with both the perception of, and response to, social injustice, with reward-related regions preferentially involved in punishment compared with compensation. Developing a computational model of punishment allowed for disentangling the neural mechanisms and psychological motives underlying decisions of whether to punish and, subsequently, of how severely to punish. Results show that the neural mechanisms underlying punishment differ depending on whether one is directly affected by the injustice, or whether one is a third-party observer of a violation occurring to another. Specifically, the anterior insula was involved in decisions to punish following harm, whereas, in third-party scenarios, we found amygdala activity associated with punishment severity. Additionally, we used a pharmacological intervention using oxytocin, and found that oxytocin influenced participants' fairness expectations, and in particular enhanced the frequency of low punishments. Together, these results not only provide more insight into the fundamental brain mechanisms underlying punishment and compensation, but also illustrate the importance of taking an explorative, multimethod approach when unraveling the complex components of everyday decision-making.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT The perception of injustice is a fundamental precursor to many disagreements, from small struggles at the dinner table to wasteful conflict between cultures and countries. Despite its clear importance, relatively little is known about how the brain processes these violations. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, we combine methods from neuroscience, psychology, and economics to explore the neurobiological mechanisms involved in both the perception of injustice as well as the punishment and compensation decisions that follow. Using a novel behavioral paradigm, we identified specific brain networks, developed a computational model of punishment, and found that administrating the neuropeptide oxytocin increases the administration of low punishments of norm violations in particular. Results provide valuable insights into the fundamental neurobiological mechanisms underlying social injustice.

Check also: Preschool children and chimpanzees incur costs to watch punishment of antisocial others. Natacha Mendes, Nikolaus Steinbeis, Nereida Bueno-Guerra, Josep Call & Tania Singer. Nature Human Behaviour (2017). http://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2017/12/preschool-children-and-chimpanzees.html

How many hours does it take to make a friend?

How many hours does it take to make a friend? Jeffrey A. Hall. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407518761225

Abstract: The question of this investigation is, how many hours does it take to make a new friend? Drawing from Dunbar’s social brain hypothesis and Communicate Bond Belong theory, friendship status was examined as a function of hours together, shared activities, and everyday talk. In Study 1, MTurk participants (N = 355) who had recently relocated estimated time spent with a new acquaintance. Hours together was associated with closer friendships. Time spent engaging in leisure activities also predicted closeness. In Study 2, first-year students (N = 112) reported the number of hours spent with two new acquaintances three times over 9 weeks. Hours together was associated changes in closeness between waves. Two types of everyday talk predicted changes in closeness.

Although we find that Democrats/liberals are somewhat more analytic than Republicans/conservatives overall, political moderates and non-voters are the least analytic whereas Libertarians are the most analytic

Cognitive Reflection and the 2016 US Presidential Election. Gordon Pennycook, David G Rand. February 2018, DOI 10.13140/RG.2.2.21167.64162

Description: It has often been claimed that conservatives tend to rely more on their intuitions and gut feelings than liberals. However, support for this claim is often indirect and inconsistent. Moreover, it is unclear how analytic thinking and political ideology interact to influence political behavior. Here we investigate the relationship between individual differences in analytic thinking (using the Cognitive Reflection Test) and political affiliation, ideology, and voting in the 2016 Presidential Election using a large online sample (N = 15,001). We find that individuals who voted for Donald Trump are less analytic than those who voted for Hillary Clinton or a 3rd party candidate. However, this difference was driven most by Democrats who chose Trump over Hillary Clinton (and, to a lesser degree, Independents). Among Republicans, in contrast, Clinton and Trump voters were similarly analytic, whereas those who voted for a third-party candidate showed more analytic thinking. Furthermore, although we find that Democrats/liberals are somewhat more analytic than Republicans/conservatives overall, political moderates and non-voters are the least analytic whereas Libertarians are the most analytic. Our results suggest that, in addition to the previously theorized positive relationship between analytic thinking and liberalism, there are three additional ways in which intuitive versus analytic thinking is relevant for political cognition: 1) Facilitating political apathy versus engagement, 2) Supporting the adoption of orthodox versus heterodox political positions and behavior, and 3) Drawing individuals toward political candidates who share an intuitive versus analytic cognitive style, and towards policy proposals which are intuitively versus analytically compelling.



Downward comparison (comparing to worse‐off others) and upward comparison (comparing to better‐off others) constitute two types of social comparisons that produce different neuropsychological consequences - Functional brain imaging studies on the downward and upward comparisons

Social comparison in the brain: A coordinate‐based meta‐analysis of functional brain imaging studies on the downward and upward comparisons. Yi Luo et al. Hum Brain Mapp 39:440–458, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.23854

Abstract: Social comparison is ubiquitous across human societies with dramatic influence on people's well‐being and decision making. Downward comparison (comparing to worse‐off others) and upward comparison (comparing to better‐off others) constitute two types of social comparisons that produce different neuropsychological consequences. Based on studies exploring neural signatures associated with downward and upward comparisons, the current study utilized a coordinate‐based meta‐analysis to provide a refinement of understanding about the underlying neural architecture of social comparison. We identified consistent involvement of the ventral striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex in downward comparison and consistent involvement of the anterior insula and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex in upward comparison. These findings fit well with the “common‐currency” hypothesis that neural representations of social gain or loss resemble those for non‐social reward or loss processing. Accordingly, we discussed our findings in the framework of general reinforcement learning (RL) hypothesis, arguing how social gain/loss induced by social comparisons could be encoded by the brain as a domain‐general signal (i.e., prediction errors) serving to adjust people's decisions in social settings. Although the RL account may serve as a heuristic framework for the future research, other plausible accounts on the neuropsychological mechanism of social comparison were also acknowledged.

Asleep at the automated wheel—Sleepiness and fatigue during highly automated driving

Asleep at the automated wheel—Sleepiness and fatigue during highly automated driving. Tobias Vogelpohl et al. Accident Analysis & Prevention, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aap.2018.03.013

Abstract

Due to the lack of active involvement in the driving situation and due to monotonous driving environments drivers with automation may be prone to become fatigued faster than manual drivers (e.g. Schömig et al., 2015). However, little is known about the progression of fatigue during automated driving and its effects on the ability to take back manual control after a take-over request. In this driving simulator study with Nö=ö60 drivers we used a three factorial 2ö×ö2ö×ö12 mixed design to analyze the progression (12ö×ö5ömin; within subjects) of driver fatigue in drivers with automation compared to manual drivers (between subjects). Driver fatigue was induced as either mainly sleep related or mainly task related fatigue (between subjects). Additionally, we investigated the drivers’ reactions to a take-over request in a critical driving scenario to gain insights into the ability of fatigued drivers to regain manual control and situation awareness after automated driving.

Drivers in the automated driving condition exhibited facial indicators of fatigue after 15 to 35ömin of driving. Manual drivers only showed similar indicators of fatigue if they suffered from a lack of sleep and then only after a longer period of driving (approx. 40ömin). Several drivers in the automated condition closed their eyes for extended periods of time. In the driving with automation condition mean automation deactivation times after a take-over request were slower for a certain percentage (about 30%) of the drivers with a lack of sleep (Mö=ö3.2; SDö=ö2.1ös) compared to the reaction times after a long drive (Mö=ö2.4; SDö=ö0.9ös). Drivers with automation also took longer than manual drivers to first glance at the speed display after a take-over request and were more likely to stay behind a braking lead vehicle instead of overtaking it.

Drivers are unable to stay alert during extended periods of automated driving without non-driving related tasks. Fatigued drivers could pose a serious hazard in complex take-over situations where situation awareness is required to prepare for threats. Driver fatigue monitoring or controllable distraction through non-driving tasks could be necessary to ensure alertness and availability during highly automated driving.

Keywords: Fatigue; Sleep; Automated driving; Transition to manual; Take-over request

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Children develop skills foundational for identifying and creating opportunities for cooperation with others early, generating and distributing benefits. Apes have capacities for generating them, not for distributing them

How Children Solve the Two Challenges of Cooperation.  Felix Warneken. Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 69:205-229 (January 2018). https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-122216-011813

Abstract: In this review, I propose a new framework for the psychological origins of human cooperation that harnesses evolutionary theories about the two major problems posed by cooperation: generating and distributing benefits. Children develop skills foundational for identifying and creating opportunities for cooperation with others early: Infants and toddlers already possess basic skills to help others and share resources. Yet mechanisms that solve the free-rider problem—critical for sustaining cooperation as a viable strategy—emerge later in development and are more sensitive to the influence of social norms. I review empirical studies with children showing a dissociation in the origins of and developmental change seen in these two sets of processes. In addition, comparative studies of nonhuman apes also highlight important differences between these skills: The ability to generate benefits has evolutionary roots that are shared between humans and nonhuman apes, whereas there is little evidence that other apes exhibit comparable capacities for distributing benefits. I conclude by proposing ways in which this framework can motivate new developmental, comparative, and cross-cultural research about human cooperation.

By age five, children begin to understand the broad importance of reputation and to engage in surprisingly sophisticated impression management

Pint-Sized Public Relations: The Development of Reputation Management. Ike M. Silver, Alex Shaw. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Volume 22, Issue 4, April 2018, Pages 277–279. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2018.01.006

Abstract: Until recently, many psychologists were skeptical that young children cared about reputation. New evidence suggests that by age five, children begin to understand the broad importance of reputation and to engage in surprisingly sophisticated impression management. These findings prompt exciting new questions about the development of a fundamental social competency.

Keywords: Reputation; signaling; impression management; self-presentation; social cognitive development; morality

Patients’ perspectives on political self‐disclosure, the therapeutic alliance, and the infiltration of politics into the therapy room

Patients’ perspectives on political self‐disclosure, the therapeutic alliance, and the infiltration of politics into the therapy room in the Trump era. Nili Solomonov, Jacques P. Barber. Journal of Clinical Psychology, https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.22609

Abstract: The primary aim of this study was to investigate the effects of the 2016 United States presidential election and ensuing political climate on patients’ experiences in psychotherapy. A sample of 604 self‐described Democrat and Republican patients from 50 states participated in the study. Results showed that most therapists disclosed their political stance (explicitly or implicitly) and most patients discussed politics with their therapists. 64% of Clinton supporters and 38% of Trump supporters assumed political similarity with their therapist. Stronger patient‐reported alliance levels were found for patients who (a) perceived political similarity; (b) reported implicit therapist political disclosure; and (c) found in‐session political discussions helpful. Additionally, Clinton (but not Trump) supporters reported significant pre‐post‐election decreases in expression of positive emotions and increases in both expression of negative emotions and engagement in discussions about socio‐political topics. Our findings suggest that the current political climate infiltrates the therapeutic space and affects therapeutic process and content.

Predictions about facial expressions drive social perception, deeply influencing how others are evaluated: individuals are judged as more likable and trustworthy when their facial expressions are anticipated

Chanes, L., Wormwood, J. B., Betz, N., & Barrett, L. F. (2018). Facial expression predictions as drivers of social perception. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 114(3), 380-396. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000108

Abstract: Emerging perspectives in neuroscience indicate that the brain functions predictively, constantly anticipating sensory input based on past experience. According to these perspectives, prediction signals impact perception, guiding and constraining experience. In a series of six behavioral experiments, we show that predictions about facial expressions drive social perception, deeply influencing how others are evaluated: individuals are judged as more likable and trustworthy when their facial expressions are anticipated, even in the absence of any conscious changes in felt affect. Moreover, the effect of predictions on social judgments extends to both real-world situations where such judgments have particularly high consequence (i.e., evaluating presidential candidates for an upcoming election), as well as to more basic perceptual processes that may underlie judgment (i.e., facilitated visual processing of expected expressions). The implications of these findings, including relevance for cross-cultural interactions, social stereotypes and mental illness, are discussed.

Why Only Humans Shed Emotional Tears: Evolutionary and Cultural Perspectives

Why Only Humans Shed Emotional Tears: Evolutionary and Cultural Perspectives. Asmir Gračanin, Lauren M. Bylsma, Ad J. J. M. Vingerhoets. Human Nature, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12110-018-9312-8

Abstract: Producing emotional tears is a universal and uniquely human behavior. Until recently, tears have received little serious attention from scientists. Here, we summarize recent theoretical developments and research findings. The evolutionary approach offers a solid ground for the analysis of the functions of tears. This is especially the case for infant crying, which we address in the first part of this contribution. We further elaborate on the antecedents and (intra- and interpersonal) functions of emotional tears in adults. The main hypothesis that emerges from this overview is that crying evolved as an emotional expression that signals distress and promotes prosocial behaviors in conspecifics. Further, shedding tears may influence the mood of the crier and his/her outlook on life primarily as a consequence of fulfillment of the proposed signaling function of tears. We also describe how cultural phenomena such as ritual weeping nicely fit within this framework, as they often aim to support a request for help to a powerful person or deity and promote social bonding.

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Although there seems to be a consensus among contemporary scientists that weeping is uniquely human, there have been ample anecdotal descriptions of weeping animals (cf. Masson and McCarthy 1995; Vingerhoets 2013). For example, Homer described how a horse expressed its loyalty to its master, Patroclus, by weeping over his death. Also, crocodiles reportedly shed tears, initially not the proverbial (and hypocritical) crocodile tears, but rather to express real suffering when being physically abused
(Vingerhoets 2013). Deer also were said to weep after having shed their horns (Treacher-Collins 1932). Even Darwin (1872) discussed some observations of weeping animals, including macaques and, in particular, elephants. According to Reynolds (1924), weeping is a typical reaction of certain animals (particularly wolves) that signals exhaustion, which results in the tearful animal being placed at the rear of the pack to allow it to rest and recover. Further, Fossey (2000) described how Coco, a gorilla, wept when he was ill. Finally, in the documentary film The Weeping Camel (Davaa and Falorni 2003), the camel mother starts to produce tears at the moment that she reconnects with her previously rejected offspring and allows it to nurse.

However, the only more systematic study on this topic, a survey among people who work with animals professionally, including veterinarians and zookeepers failed to yield even a single observation of a weeping animal (Frey 1985). Murube (2009a) also concludes that animals generally do not produce emotional tears, although he admitted that several anecdotal reports deserve serious attention by investigators. Consequently, we must conclude that we currently do not have sufficient evidence to document weeping in nonhuman animals. If it does occur, it is extremely exceptional. The apparent uniqueness of human weeping suggests that tears might represent a functional response to adaptive challenges specific to the hominid lineage, which is crucial for understanding both the evolved functions and the proximate mechanisms of this complex behavior.

Personality traits doubled the variance accounted for (4% to 9%) indicating that Open, more Agreeable people were more Left-Wing and Introverted, more Conscientious people more Right-Wing

Personality and political orientation. Adrian Furnham, Mark Fenton-O'Creevy. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 129, 15 July 2018, Pages 88–91. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2018.03.020

Highlights
•    Personality and demographic factors were correlated with Left-Right political orientation (PO).
•    Better educated, less religious, females of higher social class were more Left-Wing.
•    Personality traits doubled the variance account for (4% to 9%).
•    Open, Agreeable people were Left-Wing and Introverted, Conscientious people Right-Wing.

Abstract: This study examined the incremental validity of the Big-Five personality traits over primarily demographic factors in predicting Left-Right political orientation (PO) in a large British adult sample. Gender and trait Openness was most strongly correlated with PO. The regression indicated that females who were better educated, less religious and of higher social class were more Left-Wing. Personality traits doubled the variance accounted for (4% to 9%) indicating that Open, more Agreeable people were more Left-Wing and Introverted, more Conscientious people more Right-Wing. Agreeableness and Neuroticism showed an interaction with social class, such that for high social class, Left-Wing orientation increased with Agreeableness (but not for low social class); and for high social class, Left-Wing orientation increased with Neuroticism, whilst for low social class, Right-Wing orientation increased with Neuroticism.

Keywords: Political orientation; Personality traits; Demographic variables

Are survivalists malevolent? Survivalists are disagreeable, low in rationality, and high in psychopathy, Machiavellianism and narcissism. This suggests relatively high malevolence as well as high capacity for self-preservation. They are also fantasizers of sensation seeking, deep learners, and high in entrepreneurial intent.

Are survivalists malevolent? Chris J. Jackson. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 129, 15 July 2018, Pages 104–107. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2018.03.006

Abstract: Survivalist plan and prepare for a major disaster. This research describes construction of the 8-item Survivalist Behavior Questionnaire (SBQ) and its nomological network which highlights that survivalists are disagreeable, low in rationality, and high in psychopathy, Machiavellianism and narcissism. This suggests relatively high malevolence as well as high capacity for self-preservation. They are also fantasizers of sensation seeking, deep learners, and high in entrepreneurial intent which suggests ingenuity and ambition. They are also of lower general ability and lower rationality which suggests some limitations in the way they analyze information. Compared to the general population, survivalists are potentially dangerous in terms of personality (e.g., they are high scorers on the Dark Triad) and behavior (e.g., they may stockpile weapons) but also have strong preservation instincts that might be of benefit, at least to themselves, should disaster strike.

Keywords: Survivalists; Apocalypse; Dark triad; Maverick; Entrepreneurism; HMLP; Gun control

Precarious Sexuality: How Men and Women Are Differentially Categorized for Similar Sexual Behavior

Precarious Sexuality: How Men and Women Are Differentially Categorized for Similar Sexual Behavior. Trenton D. Mize, Bianca Manago. American Sociological Review,  https://doi.org/10.1177/0003122418759544

Abstract: Are men and women categorized differently for similar sexual behavior? Building on theories of gender, sexuality, and status, we introduce the concept of precarious sexuality to suggest that men’s—but not women’s—heterosexuality is an especially privileged identity that is easily lost. We test our hypotheses in a series of survey experiments describing a person who has a sexual experience conflicting with their sexual history. We find that a single same-sex sexual encounter leads an observer to question a heterosexual man’s sexual orientation to a greater extent than that of a heterosexual woman in a similar situation. We also find that a different-sex sexual encounter is more likely to change others’ perceptions of a lesbian woman’s sexual orientation—compared to perceptions of a gay man’s sexual orientation. In two conceptual replications, we vary the level of intimacy of the sexual encounter and find consistent evidence for our idea of precarious sexuality for heterosexual men. We close with a general discussion of how status beliefs influence categorization processes and with suggestions for extending our theoretical propositions to other categories beyond those of sexual orientation.

Keywords: gender, sexuality, social psychology, status, stigma

Monday, March 19, 2018

A longitudinal analysis of shooter games and their relationship with conduct disorder and cself-reported delinquency: The role of violent video games in the development of youth psychopathology or crime is very little if any

A longitudinal analysis of shooter games and their relationship with conduct disorder and self-reported delinquency. Sven Smith, Chris Ferguson, Kevin Beaver. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, Volume 58, May–June 2018, Pages 48–53. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijlp.2018.02.008

Abstract

Purpose: Despite several decades of research, little scholarly consensus has emerged regarding the role of violent video games in the development of youth psychopathology or crime.

Method: The current study employed the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children longitudinal dataset to examine the impact of the shooter game genre ownership in childhood on later adolescent conduct disorder and criminal behavior.

Analysis: Multivariate Poisson regressions with the robust estimator correlation matrix were performed comparing effects of independent and confounding variables.

Results: Results revealed that early childhood mental health symptoms at age seven related to ADHD, depression and early conduct disorder predicted criminal behavior at age fifteen. Male gender also predicted criminal behavior at age fifteen. However, exposure to shooter games did not predict adolescent conduct disorder or criminal behavior.

Conclusion: We have found support that suggests that the role of violent video games in the development of youth psychopathology or crime is very little if any. Lack of a relationship between exposure to shooter games and later conduct and criminal behavior problems may be understood within the context of the Catalyst Model.

Keywords: Video games; Violence; Aggression; Crime; Mental health; ALSPAC


Each one-standard-deviation improvement in attractiveness is associated with approximately 3.9% reduction in the probability of winning the Nobel Prize

Nobel Beauty. Jan Fidrmuc, Boontarika Paphawasit, Cigdem Borke Tunali. The Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis, Oct 2017,  WP 17- 27. https://ideas.repec.org/p/rim/rimwps/17-27.html

Abstract: We consider the effect of physical attractiveness, assessed using publicly available pictures of top scientists, on their probability of winning the Nobel Prize. There is now an extensive body of literature that finds that physically attractive people receive non-negligible benefits in the labor market, marriage market and social life. In contrast, we find that attractiveness is negatively correlated with the probability of being awarded the Nobel, with the magnitude of this effect being non-negligible. We discuss the potential mechanisms that could explain this result.

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We consider the effect of physical attractiveness on the probability of receiving the Nobel Prize. The previous literature has found plentiful evidence that attractiveness brings about benefits in the labor market, personal life and marriage, and even research (at least in terms of quality of academic publications and number of citations). The literature is inconclusive, nevertheless, as to whether these gains are due to discrimination in favor of attractive people or whether physical beauty is a signal of better health, higher intelligence, or competence.

In our analysis, we collected pictures of 324 top scientists in physics, chemistry, medicine and economics: these researchers were either predicted to be awarded the Nobel Prize, or have actually received it. We had these pictures rated for their attractiveness by a broad sample of UK undergraduate students. Somewhat surprisingly, we find that being more attractive reduces the probability of receiving the Nobel Prize. When we allow for the relationship being non-linear, it appears hump-shaped, with average-looking scientist having the best odds of being awarded the Nobel. The magnitude of the effect is potentially large: assuming the relationship is linear, each one-standard-deviation improvement in attractiveness is associated with approximately 3.9% reduction in the probability of winning the Nobel Prize. Given that winng the Prize is a very unlikely outcome, a probability difference of this magnitude is not negligible.

Our results reveal correlation rather than causality and we cannot tell what mechanism drives our findings. One possible explanation is discrimination, whereby the nominators and/or the selection committee (subconsciously) consider attractive scientists as less serious and not fitting the expectations that they have about what a top scientist looks like. A google image search for ‘typical scientist’ very clearly demonstrates the stereotypes that we hold about what a scientist should look like. Such a search produces few images of persons who would be generally considered attractive (being male, older, with eye glasses and bad hair apparently are among the chief hallmarks of achievement in science). Even fewer of them are women (let alone attractive women), suggesting that female scientists are especially likely to suffer from such stereotyping. Therefore, a top scientist whose appearance does not fit our expectations may have a harder time convincing others their merits. This is in line with a recent result by Gheorghiu, Callan and Skylark (2017), who find that attractive scientists are less likely to be seen as ‘good scientists’ by the participants in their experiment.

Another possibility, however, is that attractive scientists have better alternative options besides top research. Looking good boosts one’s labor market performance and promotion chances, so that attractive academics may be more likely to take up leadership positions with more responsibilities, better pay, higher administrative burden, and less time for pure science. Good looking researchers also have richer options in their social, love and family spheres of life. Therefore, attractive scientists may devote less time and effort to the kind of research that would be likely to lead to a path-breaking contribution that would earn them the Nobel Prize. The limited information that we have on our sample of scientists does not allow us to discriminate between these two alternative hypotheses.

Finally, it is interesting that the impact of physical attractiveness is different for top and mainstream scientists. In related research, Paphawasit and Fidrmuc (2017) consider the effect of good looks on publication quality (journal rank and impact factor) and citations of a broad cross-section of academics in the discipline of economics, and find a positive relationship of both outcomes with physical attractiveness. Therefore, attractive persons are more successful even in research, except at the very top of the distribution of talent.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Knowledge of human nature: Harrods, and your job being to be sacked

An employee whose job was to be sacked. By Henry Tapper.
https://henrytapper.com/2010/01/09/an-employee-whose-job-was-to-be-sacked/ 
According to no less an authority than Danny Baker, this story is absolutely true.

Harrods in the sixties employed someone to be sacked- surely the best job in the world.
Apparently  the employee was paid to sit among the boxes on Harrods top-floor smoking his pipe and reading the Sporting Life. From time to time a bell would ring and he would be summoned to a department where an irate customer was  being mollified by the Head of the Department.

Let us say today that Lady Ponsonby-Waffles has discovered one of the precious china teacups she recently purchased is chipped.

The Department Head greets our friend with “Lady Ponsonby-Waffles is a most valued customer, your failure to check the quality of her china cups has led to her current predicament, you sir are fired”

Despite Lady Ponsonby-Waffles pleas for mercy, the Head cannot be swayed. Our friend slopes disconsolately to the exit. Lady Ponsonby-Waffles drops her complaint convinced to the store’s determination to enforce the highest standards. Our friend, once passing the Department’s exit, slips back to his Sporting Life and his Pipe, to await the next occasion he would be called upon to be sacked.
 Now, how likely is that this happened at all? Or is happening now? I would like to see your comments...

Fear of missing out: prevalence, dynamics, and consequences of experiencing FOMO

Fear of missing out: prevalence, dynamics, and consequences of experiencing FOMO. Marina Milyavskaya et al. Motivation and Emotion, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11031-018-9683-5

Abstract: Fear of missing out, known colloquially as FOMO, appears to be a common experience, and has recently become part of the vernacular, receiving frequent mentions in the popular media. The present paper provides a multi-method empirical examination of FOMO. In a first study, experience sampling was used to assess FOMO experiences among college freshmen. Nightly diaries and end-of-semester measures provided data on the short and long-term consequences of experiencing FOMO. Results showed that students experience FOMO frequently, particularly later in the day and later in the week, and while doing a required task like studying or working. More frequent experiences of FOMO were associated with negative outcomes both daily and over the course of the semester, including increasing negative affect, fatigue, stress, physical symptoms, and decreased sleep. A second experimental study investigated FOMO on a conceptual level, distinguishing FOMO from general self-regulation and exploring its links with social media.


Saturday, March 17, 2018

Intelligence and religious disbelief in the United States

Intelligence and religious disbelief in the United States. Tatiene C. Souza, Francisco Cribari–Netob. Intelligence, Volume 68, May–June 2018, Pages 48–57. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2018.02.004

Highlights
•    We estimate the impact of intelligence on religious disbelief in the U.S.
•    The impact is strictly increasing with average intelligence.
•    The impact is stronger the Extended Bible Belt.
•    There is a ‘hurdle effect’ that only takes place in the most religious area of the U.S.
•    If average intelligence in all fifty states were equal to the maximal value there would be an increase of approximately 20% in the number of atheists.

Abstract: We estimate the net effect of intelligence on the prevalence of atheists in the United States. We evaluate such an effect both at the mean and at different quantiles of the conditional distribution of the proportion of atheists using data on all fifty U.S. states. The results show that the net effect of intelligence on religious disbelief is strictly increasing. This pattern is different from that found elsewhere (Cribari-Neto and Souza, 2013) using data from over 100 countries in which the effect peaks and then weakens. We show that in the U.S. the effect is also stronger outside what we call the ‘Extended Bible Belt’. Our results also point to the existence of a ‘hurdle effect’ that only takes place the U.S. most religious area. In that area, the effect of average intelligence on the prevalence of religious disbelievers, albeit positive, loses strength above the conditional median, i.e., where there already are more atheists. Such a loss in strength above the conditional median does not happen in the rest of the country.

Keywords: Atheism; Beta regression; Intelligence; Quantile regression

Friday, March 16, 2018

Low subjective SES was related to increased aggression, and subjective SES was not negatively related to trait and state measures of prosociality

Does Low (vs. High) Subjective Socioeconomic Status Increase Both Prosociality and Aggression? Tobias Greitemeyer and Christina Sagioglou. Social Psychology (2018), 49, pp. 76-87. https://doi.org/10.1027/1864-9335/a000331

Abstract. Previous research has shown that people of low subjective socioeconomic status (SES) are more likely to experience compassion and provide help to others than people of high SES. However, low subjective SES also appears to be related to more hostile and aggressive responding. Given that prosociality is typically an antagonist of aggression, we examined whether low subjective SES individuals could be indeed more prosocial and antisocial. Five studies –two correlational, three experimental– found that low subjective SES was related to increased aggression. In contrast, subjective SES was not negatively related to trait and state measures of prosociality.

Keywords: socioeconomic status, aggression, prosocial behavior, empathy, social class

Decreased cognitive and motivational bias –cognitive ability, cognitive curiosity, and melancholy and introversion– predicted better social psychological skill

Social Psychological Skill and Its Correlates. Anton Gollwitzer and John A. Bargh. Social Psychology (2018), 49, pp. 88-102. https://doi.org/10.1027/1864-9335/a000332

Abstract. In six studies (N = 1,143), we investigated social psychological skill – lay individuals’ skill at predicting social psychological phenomena (e.g., social loafing, attribution effects). Studies 1 and 2 demonstrated reliable individual differences in social psychological skill. In Studies 2, 3, and 4, attributes associated with decreased cognitive and motivational bias – cognitive ability, cognitive curiosity, and melancholy and introversion – predicted social psychological skill. Studies 4 and 5 confirmed that social psychological skill is distinct from other skills (e.g., test-taking skills, intuitive physics), and relates directly to reduced motivational bias (i.e., self-deception). In Study 6, social psychological skill related to appreciating the situational causes of another individual’s behavior – reduced fundamental attribution error. Theoretical and applied implications are considered.

Keywords: social psychological skill, predicting social psychological phenomena, motivational bias, cognitive bias, generalized person perception

For women, coitus alone is insufficient for triggering orgasm, puzzling researchers who expect orgasm to be an outcome of procreative intercourse. We examine the evolutionary role for prosociality that such unreliability of orgasm at coitus might have played in human evolution

Kennedy J, Pavličev M. Female orgasm and the emergence of prosocial empathy: An evo-devo perspective. J Exp Zool (Mol Dev Evol). 2018;1–10. https://doi.org/10.1002/jez.b.22795

Abstract: In human females, direct or indirect stimulation of the clitoris plays a central role in reaching orgasm. A majority of women report that penetrative coitus alone is insufficient for triggering orgasm, puzzling researchers who expect orgasm to be an outcome of procreative intercourse. In the present paper, we turn our attention to the evolutionary role that such unreliability of orgasm at coitus might have played in human evolution. We emphasize that we do not thereby attempt an explanation of its origin, but its potential evolutionary effect. The present proposal suggests that the variable female orgasm, the position of the clitoris remote from the vagina, and the mismatch of the male refractory period with the female capacity for multiple orgasms, may have contributed to the evolution of human prosocial qualities.

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Prosocial empathy as discussed here is an essential feature of human social life and includes the quality sometimes called intersubjectivity or mind-reading. Related to theory of mind in psychology, this is the ability of individuals to know with some accuracy what another person is thinking and how they feel. The ability seems to function differently from ordinary objective inference from perception; intersubjectivity is a low-latency process that allows nearly instantaneous understanding of others. Although it is difficult to assess intersubjectivity in nonhuman species, there is evidence that some other species are capable of it to some degree (e.g., deWaal, 2010).

The present thesis is that the anatomical separation of orgasm from the reproductive function in humans may have led to the emergence of a new kind of prosocial empathy or intersubjectivity. The fact that coitus alone is reliably sufficient for the male's but not the female's orgasm set the stage for a selection criterion where females preferred to mate with males who had a particular kind of social insight, motivation, and self-discipline that enabled them to elicit orgasm. The preferred male would have been one showing an active interest in his partner's experience; he would have the interpersonal sensitivity to identify what “works” sexually and to adjust his behavior in response to her responding, and the motivation and self-discipline to defer his own ejaculation until she had reached orgasm.We are proposing that a cluster of empathic prosocial tendencies may have come to dominance in the human species as a consequence of this sexual selection process.

That is not to say that this is the only path leading to modern human eusociality; the ability to understand how others think and feel would have introduced advantages across the range of social behaviors that helped the species overcome several fitness challenges. In the long run, we would expect the effect of human sexual asymmetry to integrate into a comprehensive schema of human sociality, as several types of selective pressures converged to produce themodern human.

A recent approach to understanding intersubjective empathy has emerged from the discovery of mirror neurons (Di Pellegrino, Fadiga, Fogassi, Gallese,&Rizzolatti, 1992), which respond when a subject performs a behavior and also sympathetically when the subject observes another individual perform that same behavior. Iacobonni (2009) has argued that neural mirroring answers the question of how humans can have access and understanding of others’ minds. According to this view, intersubjectivity ormind-reading emerges from a real-time mental simulation of the other person's behavior, with the subject literally feeling what it is like to be the other person. This simultaneous simulation can support social collaboration and interaction at a level unknown to species lacking the ability. A population of individuals sympathetically tuned to one another may produce a “shared manifold” (Gallese, 2003) comprising a communal empathic understanding of selves and others.

Mirror neuron research provoked great initial interest, which has been followed by the current phase of caution and skeptical enthusiasm asmore thorough knowledge is gained about the function of these specialized neurons in humans. Whether mirror neurons are found to be the mechanism for it or not, the concept of real-time simulation of others has suggested a new way of looking at social empathy. Citing mirror neuron research in apes and humans, deWaal (2010) emphasizes that human mind-reading abilities are continuous with those of other species. Attributing intersubjective empathy to other apes as well as humans, de Waal (2010) points to the importance of “body-mapping,” of identifying one's body with another's, where an individual can feel in their own body what the other person is experiencing in theirs. In de Waal's narrative, empathy and self-awareness are linked, and are not unique to human beings; he demonstrates the existence of empathy in elephants, dolphins, and apes, and notes that among these species it is comparable to empathy in humans.

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Check also Gallup, G. G., Jr., Towne, J. P., & Stolz, J. A. (2017). An Evolutionary Perspective on Orgasm. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, www.bipartisanalliance.com/2017/11/an-evolutionary-perspective-on-orgasm.html

And: Male Qualities and Likelihood of Orgasm. James M. Sherlock, Morgan J Sidari. In T.K. Shackelford, V.A. Weekes-Shackelford (eds.), Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science, www.bipartisanalliance.com/2018/01/male-qualities-and-likelihood-of-orgasm.html

Does anyone have the right to sex?

Does anyone have the right to sex?Amia Srinivasan. London Review of Books, Vol. 40 No. 6 · 22 March 2018pages 5-10. https://www.lrb.co.uk/v40/n06/amia-srinivasan/does-anyone-have-the-right-to-sex

On 23 May 2014, Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old college dropout, became the world’s most famous ‘incel’ – involuntary celibate. The term can, in theory, be applied to both men and women, but in practice it picks out not sexless men in general, but a certain kind of sexless man: the kind who is convinced he is owed sex, and is enraged by the women who deprive him of it. Rodger stabbed to death his two housemates, Weihan Wang and Cheng Hong, and a friend, George Chen, as they entered his apartment on Seville Road in Isla Vista, California. Three hours later he drove to the Alpha Phi sorority house near the campus of UC Santa Barbara. He shot three women on the lawn, killing two of them, Katherine Cooper and Veronika Weiss. Rodger then went on a drive-by shooting spree through Isla Vista, killing Christopher Michaels-Martinez, also a student at UCSB, with a single bullet to the chest inside a Deli Mart, and wounding 14 others. He eventually crashed his BMW coupé at an intersection. He was found dead by the police, having shot himself in the head.
In the hours between murdering three men in his apartment and driving to Alpha Phi, Rodger went to Starbucks, ordered coffee, and uploaded a video, ‘Elliot Rodger’s Retribution’, to his YouTube channel. He also emailed a 107,000-word memoir-manifesto, ‘My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger’, to a group of people including his parents, his therapist, former schoolteachers and childhood friends. Together these two documents detail the massacre to come and Rodger’s motivation. ‘All I ever wanted was to fit in and live a happy life,’ he explains at the beginning of ‘My Twisted World’, ‘but I was cast out and rejected, forced to endure an existence of loneliness and insignificance, all because the females of the human species were incapable of seeing the value in me.’
He goes on to describe his privileged and happy early childhood in England – Rodger was the son of a successful British filmmaker – followed by his privileged and unhappy adolescence in Los Angeles as a short, bad-at-sports, shy, weird, friendless kid, desperate to be cool. He writes of dyeing his hair blond (Rodger was half-white and half-Malaysian; blond people were ‘so much more beautiful’); of finding ‘sanctuary’ in Halo and World of Warcraft; being shoved by a pretty girl at summer camp (‘That was the first experience of female cruelty I endured, and it traumatised me to no end’); becoming incensed by the sex lives of his peers (‘How could an inferior, ugly black boy be able to get a white girl and not me? I am beautiful, and I am half-white myself. I am descended from British aristocracy. He is descended from slaves’); dropping out of successive schools and then community college; and fantasising about a political order in which he ruled the world and sex was outlawed (‘All women must be quarantined like the plague they are’). The necessary result of all this, Rodger said, was his ‘War on Women’, in the course of which he would ‘punish all females’ for the crime of depriving him of sex. He would target the Alpha Phi sorority, ‘the hottest sorority of UCSB’, because it contained ‘the very girls who represent everything I hate in the female gender … hot, beautiful blonde girls … spoiled, heartless, wicked bitches’. He would show everyone that he was ‘the superior one, the true alpha male’.
Late in 2017, the online discussion forum Reddit closed down its 40,000-member ‘Incel’ support group, for ‘people who lack romantic relationships and sex’. Reddit took the action after introducing a new policy of prohibiting content that ‘encourages, glorifies, incites or calls for violence’. What had started out as a support group for the lonely and sexually isolated had become a forum whose users not only raged against women and the ‘noncels’ and ‘normies’ who get to sleep with them, but also frequently advocated rape. A second incel Reddit group, ‘Truecels’, was also banned following the site’s policy change. Its sidebar read: ‘No encouraging or inciting violence, or other illegal activities such as rape. But of course it is OK to say, for example, that rape should have a lighter punishment or even that it should be legalised and that slutty women deserve rape.’
Soon after Rodger’s killings, incels took to the manosphere to explain that women (and feminism) were in the end responsible for what had happened. Had one of those ‘wicked bitches’ just fucked Elliot Rodger he wouldn’t have had to kill anyone. (Nikolas Cruz, who gunned down 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day, vowed in a comment on a YouTube video that ‘Elliot Rodger will not be forgotten.’) Feminist commentators were quick to point out what should have been obvious: that no woman was obligated to have sex with Rodger; that his sense of sexual entitlement was a case-study in patriarchal ideology; that his actions were a predictable if extreme response to the thwarting of that entitlement. They could have added that feminism, far from being Rodger’s enemy, may well be the primary force resisting the very system that made him feel – as a short, clumsy, effeminate, interracial boy – inadequate. His manifesto reveals that it was overwhelmingly boys, not girls, who bullied him: who pushed him into lockers, called him a loser, made fun of him for his virginity. But it was the girls who deprived him of sex, and the girls, therefore, who had to be destroyed.
Could it also be said that Rodger’s unfuckability was a symptom of the internalisation of patriarchal norms of men’s sexual attractiveness on the part of women? The answer to that question is complicated by two things. First, Rodger was a creep, and it was at least partly his insistence on his own aesthetic, moral and racial superiority, and whatever it was in him that made him capable of stabbing his housemates and his friend a total of 134 times, not his failure to meet the demands of heteromasculinity, that kept women away. Second, plenty of non-homicidal nerdy guys get laid. Indeed part of the injustice of patriarchy, something unnoticed by incels and other ‘men’s rights activists’, is the way it makes even supposedly unattractive categories of men attractive: geeks, nerds, effete men, old men, men with ‘dad bods’. Meanwhile there are sexy schoolgirls and sexy teachers, manic pixie dreamgirls and Milfs, but they’re all taut-bodied and hot, minor variations on the same normative paradigm. (Can we imagine GQ carrying an article celebrating ‘mom bod’?)
That said, it’s true that the kind of women Rodger wanted to have sex with – hot sorority blondes – don’t as a rule date men like Rodger, even the non-creepy, non-homicidal ones, at least not until they make their fortune in Silicon Valley. It’s also true that this has something to do with the rigid gender norms enforced by patriarchy: alpha females want alpha males. And it’s true that Rodger’s desires – his erotic fixation on the ‘spoiled, stuck-up, blonde slut’– are themselves a function of patriarchy, as is the way the ‘hot blonde slut’ becomes a metonym for all women. (Many in the manosphere gleefully pointed out that Rodger didn’t even succeed in killing the women he lusted after, as if in final confirmation of his ‘omega’ sexual status: Katherine Cooper and Veronika Weiss were non ‘hot blondes’ from Delta Delta Delta who just happened to be standing outside the Alpha Phi house.) Feminist commentary on Elliot Rodger and the incel phenomenon more broadly has said much about male sexual entitlement, objectification and violence. But so far it has said little about desire: men’s desire, women’s desire, and the ideological shaping of both.
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It used to be the case that if you wanted a political critique of desire, feminism was where you would turn. A few decades ago feminists were nearly alone in thinking about the way sexual desire – its objects and expressions, fetishes and fantasies – is shaped by oppression. (Frantz Fanon and Edward Said’s discussions of the erotics of racial and colonial oppression are important exceptions.) Beginning in the late 1970s, Catharine MacKinnon demanded that we abandon the Freudian view of sexual desire as ‘an innate primary natural prepolitical unconditioned drive divided along the biological gender line’ and recognise that sex under patriarchy is inherently violent; that ‘hostility and contempt, or arousal of master to slave, together with awe and vulnerability, or arousal of slave to master’ are its constitutive emotions. For the radical feminists who shared MacKinnon’s view, the terms and texture of sex were set by patriarchal domination – and embodied in, and sustained by, pornography. (In Robin Morgan’s words, ‘Pornography is the theory, rape is the practice.’) That there were women who seemed capable of achieving pleasure under these conditions was a sign of how bad things were. For some the solution lay in the self-disciplining of desire demanded by political lesbianism. But perhaps even lesbian sex offered no decisive escape: as MacKinnon suggested, sex under male supremacy might well be ‘so gender marked that it carries dominance and submission with it, no matter the gender of its participants’.
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Some feminists in the 1980s and 1990s pushed back against the radical critique of sex advanced by MacKinnon and other anti-porn feminists. They insisted on the possibility of genuine sexual pleasure under patriarchy, and the importance of allowing women the freedom to pursue it. MacKinnon disparaged such ‘pro-sex’ feminists for confusing accommodation with freedom, and for buying into the idea that ‘women do just need a good fuck.’ To be fair, MacKinnon’s pro-sex adversaries weren’t arguing that women needed a good fuck – though some came uncomfortably close to suggesting that MacKinnon did. Instead they insisted that women were entitled to sex free of guilt, including heterosexual sex, if they wanted it. In ‘Lust Horizons: Is the Women’s Movement Pro-Sex?’, the essay that inaugurated sex-positive feminism, Ellen Willis set out the basic case against the MacKinnonite critique of sex: that it not only denied women the right to sexual pleasure, but also reinforced the ‘neo-Victorian’ idea that men desire sex while women merely put up with it, an idea whose ‘chief social function’, Willis said, was to curtail women’s autonomy in areas outside the bedroom (or the alleyway). Anti-porn feminism, Willis wrote, asked ‘women to accept a spurious moral superiority as a substitute for sexual pleasure, and curbs on men’s sexual freedom as a substitute for real power’.
Since Willis, the case for pro-sex feminism has been buttressed by feminism’s turn towards intersectionality. Thinking about how patriarchal oppression is inflected by race and class – patriarchy doesn’t express itself uniformly, and cannot be understood independently of other systems of oppression – has made feminists reluctant to prescribe universal policies, including universal sexual policies. Demands for equal access to the workplace will be more resonant for white, middle-class women who have been forced to stay home than it will be for the black and working-class women who have always been expected to labour alongside men. Similarly, sexual self-objectification may mean one thing for a woman who, by virtue of her whiteness, is already taken to be a paradigm of female beauty, but quite another thing for a black or brown woman, or a trans woman. The turn towards intersectionality has also made feminists uncomfortable with thinking in terms of false consciousness: that’s to say, with the idea that women often act against their own interests, even when they take themselves to be doing what they wanted to do. The important thing now is to take women at their word. If a woman says she enjoys working in porn, or being paid to have sex with men, or engaging in rape fantasies, or wearing stilettos – and even that she doesn’t just enjoy these things but finds them emancipatory, part of her feminist praxis – then we are required, as feminists, to trust her. This is not merely an epistemic claim: that a woman’s saying something about her own experience gives us strong, if not indefeasible, reason to think it true. It is also, or perhaps primarily, an ethical claim: a feminism that trades too freely in notions of self-deception is a feminism that risks dominating the subjects it wants to liberate.
The case made by Willis in ‘Lust Horizons’ has so far proved the enduring one. Since the 1980s, the wind has been behind a feminism which takes desire for the most part as given – your desire takes the shape that it takes – and which insists that acting on that desire is morally constrained only by the boundaries of consent. Sex is no longer morally problematic or unproblematic: it is instead merely wanted or unwanted. In this sense, the norms of sex are like the norms of capitalist free exchange. What matters is not what conditions give rise to the dynamics of supply and demand – why some people need to sell their labour while others buy it – but only that both buyer and seller have agreed to the transfer. It would be too easy, though, to say that sex positivity represents the co-option of feminism by liberalism. Generations of feminists and gay and lesbian activists have fought hard to free sex from shame, stigma, coercion, abuse and unwanted pain. It has been essential to this project to stress that there are limits to what can be understood about sex from the outside, that sexual acts can have private meanings that cannot be grasped from a public perspective, that there are times when we must take it on trust that a particular instance of sex is OK, even when we can’t imagine how it could be. Thus feminism finds itself not only questioning the liberal distinction between the public and the private, but also insisting on it.
Yet it would be disingenuous to make nothing of the convergence, however unintentional, between sex positivity and liberalism in their shared reluctance to interrogate the formation of our desires. Third and fourth-wave feminists are right to say, for example, that sex work is work, and can be better work than the menial labour undertaken by most women. And they are right to say that what sex workers need are legal and material protections, safety and security, not rescue or rehabilitation. But to understand what sort of work sex work is – just what physical and psychical acts are being bought and sold, and why it is overwhelmingly women who do it, and overwhelmingly men who pay for it – surely we have to say something about the political formation of male desire. And surely there will be similar things to say about other forms of women’s work: teaching, nursing, caring, mothering. To say that sex work is ‘just work’ is to forget that all work – men’s work, women’s work – is never just work: it is also sexed.
Willis concludes ‘Lust Horizons’ by saying that for her it is ‘axiomatic that consenting partners have a right to their sexual proclivities, and that authoritarian moralism has no place’ in feminism. And yet, she goes on, ‘a truly radical movement must look … beyond the right to choose, and keep focusing on the fundamental questions. Why do we choose what we choose? What would we choose if we had a real choice?’ This is an extraordinary reversal on Willis’s part, which often goes unnoticed even by those familiar with the contours of the sex wars. After laying out the ethical case for taking our sexual preferences, whatever they may be, as fixed points, protected from moral inquisition, Willis tells us that a ‘truly radical’ feminism would ask precisely the question that gives rise to ‘authoritarian moralism’: what would women’s sexual choices look like if we were not merely ‘negotiating’, but really free? One might feel that Willis has given with one hand and taken away with the other. But really she has given with both. Here, she tells us, is the task of feminism: to treat as axiomatic our free sexual choices, while also seeing why, as MacKinnon has always said, such choices, under patriarchy, are rarely free. What I am suggesting is that, in our rush to do the former, feminists risk forgetting to do the latter.
When we see consent as the sole constraint on OK sex, we are pushed towards a naturalisation of sexual preference in which the rape fantasy becomes a primordial rather than a political fact. But not only the rape fantasy. Consider the supreme fuckability of ‘hot blonde sluts’ and East Asian women, the comparative unfuckability of black women and Asian men, the fetishisation and fear of black male sexuality, the sexual disgust expressed towards disabled, trans and fat bodies. These too are political facts, which a truly intersectional feminism should demand that we take seriously. But the sex-positive gaze, unmoored from Willis’s call to ambivalence, threatens to neutralise these facts, treating them as pre-political givens. In other words, the sex-positive gaze risks covering not only for misogyny, but for racism, ableism, transphobia, and every other oppressive system that makes its way into the bedroom through the seemingly innocuous mechanism of ‘personal preference’.
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‘The beautiful torsos on Grindr are mostly Asian men hiding their faces,’ a gay friend of mine says. The next day I see on Facebook that Grindr has started a web series called ‘What the Flip?’ In its first three-minute episode, a beautiful, blue-haired East Asian guy and a well-groomed, good-looking white guy trade Grindr profiles. The results are predictably grim. The white guy, now using the Asian guy’s profile, is hardly approached, and when he is it’s by men announcing that they’re ‘Rice Queens’ and like Asian men for being ‘good at bottoming’. When he ignores their messages, abuse is hurled at him. The Asian guy’s inbox, meanwhile, is inundated with admirers. Talking about it afterwards, the white guy expresses his shock, the Asian guy cheerful resignation. ‘You’re not everybody’s cup of tea, but you’re going to be somebody’s,’ the white guy offers, feebly, before they hug it out. In the next episode, a ripped Ryan Gosling-type switches profiles with a pretty-faced chubby guy. In episode three a fem guy trades with a masc guy. The results are as one would expect.
The obvious irony of ‘What the Flip?’ is that Grindr, by its nature, encourages its users to divide the world into those who are and those who are not viable sexual objects according to crude markers of identity – to think in terms of sexual ‘deal-breakers’ and ‘requirements’. In so doing, Grindr simply deepens the discriminatory grooves along which our sexual desires already move. But online dating – and especially the abstracted interfaces of Tinder and Grindr, which distil attraction down to the essentials: face, height, weight, age, race, witty tagline – has arguably taken what is worst about the current state of sexuality and institutionalised it on our screens.
A presupposition of ‘What the Flip?’ is that this is a peculiarly gay problem: that the gay male community is too superficial, too body-fascist, too judgy. The gay men in my life say this sort of thing all the time; they all feel bad about it, perpetrators and victims alike (most see themselves as both). I’m unconvinced. Can we imagine predominantly straight dating apps like OKCupid or Tinder creating a web series that encouraged the straight ‘community’ to confront its sexual racism or fatphobia? If that is an unlikely prospect, and I think it is, it’s hardly because straight people aren’t body fascists or sexual racists. It’s because straight people – or, I should say, white, able-bodied cis straight people – aren’t much in the habit of thinking there’s anything wrong with how they have sex. By contrast, gay men – even the beautiful, white, rich, able-bodied ones – know that who we have sex with, and how, is a political question.
There are of course real risks associated with subjecting our sexual preferences to political scrutiny. We want feminism to be able to interrogate the grounds of desire, but without slut-shaming, prudery or self-denial: without telling individual women that they don’t really know what they want, or can’t enjoy what they do in fact want, within the bounds of consent. Some feminists think this is impossible, that any openness to desire-critique will inevitably lead to authoritarian moralism. (We can think of such feminists as making the case for a kind of ‘sex positivity of fear’, just as Judith Shklar once made the case for a ‘liberalism of fear’ – that is, a liberalism motivated by a fear of authoritarian alternatives.) But there is a risk too that repoliticising desire will encourage a discourse of sexual entitlement. Talk of people who are unjustly sexually marginalised or excluded can pave the way to the thought that these people have a right to sex, a right that is being violated by those who refuse to have sex with them. That view is galling: no one is under an obligation to have sex with anyone else. This too is axiomatic. And this, of course, is what Elliot Rodger, like the legions of angry incels who celebrate him as a martyr, refused to see. On the now defunct Reddit group, a post titled ‘It should be legal for incels to rape women’ explained that ‘No starving man should have to go to prison for stealing food, and no sexually starved man should have to go to prison for raping a woman.’ It is a sickening false equivalence, which reveals the violent misconception at the heart of patriarchy. Some men are excluded from the sexual sphere for politically suspect reasons – including, perhaps, some of the men driven to vent their despair on anonymous forums – but the moment their unhappiness is transmuted into a rage at the women ‘denying’ them sex, rather than at the systems that shape desire (their own and others’), they have crossed a line into something morally ugly and confused.
In her shrewd essay ‘Men Explain Lolita to Me’, Rebecca Solnit reminds us that ‘you don’t get to have sex with someone unless they want to have sex with you,’ just as ‘you don’t get to share someone’s sandwich unless they want to share their sandwich with you.’ Not getting a bite of someone’s sandwich is ‘not a form of oppression, either’, Solnit says. But the analogy complicates as much as it elucidates. Suppose your child came home from primary school and told you that the other children share their sandwiches with each other, but not with her. And suppose further that your child is brown, or fat, or disabled, or doesn’t speak English very well, and that you suspect that this is the reason for her exclusion from the sandwich-sharing. Suddenly it hardly seems sufficient to say that none of the other children is obligated to share with your child, true as that might be.
Sex is not a sandwich. While your child does not want to be shared with out of pity – just as no one really wants a mercy fuck, and certainly not from a racist or a transphobe – we wouldn’t think it coercive were the teacher to encourage the other students to share with your daughter, or were they to institute an equal sharing policy. But a state that made analogous interventions in the sexual preference and practices of its citizens – that encouraged us to ‘share’ sex equally – would probably be thought grossly authoritarian. (The utopian socialist Charles Fourier proposed a guaranteed ‘sexual minimum’, akin to a guaranteed basic income, for every man and woman, regardless of age or infirmity; only with sexual deprivation eliminated, Fourier thought, could romantic relationships be truly free. This social service would be provided by an ‘amorous nobility’ who, Fourier said, ‘know how to subordinate love to the dictates of honour’.) Of course, it matters just what those interventions would look like: disability activists, for example, have long called for more inclusive sex education in schools, and many would welcome regulation that ensured diversity in advertising and the media. But to think that such measures would be enough to alter our sexual desires, to free them entirely from the grooves of discrimination, is naive. And whereas you can quite reasonably demand that a group of children share their sandwiches inclusively, you just can’t do the same with sex. What works in one case will not work in the other. Sex isn’t a sandwich, and it isn’t really like anything else either. There is nothing else so riven with politics and yet so inviolably personal. For better or worse, we must find a way to take sex on its own terms.
The difficulties I have been discussing are currently posed in the most vexed form within feminism by the experience of trans women. Trans women often face sexual exclusion from lesbian cis women who at the same time claim to take them seriously as women. This phenomenon was named the ‘cotton ceiling’ – ‘cotton’ as in underwear – by the trans porn actress and activist Drew DeVeaux. The phenomenon is real, but, as many trans women have noted, the phrase itself is unfortunate. While the ‘glass ceiling’ implies the violation of a woman’s right to advance on the basis of her work, the ‘cotton ceiling’ describes a lack of access to what no one is obligated to give (though DeVeaux has since claimed that the ‘cotton’ refers to the trans woman’s underwear, not the underwear of the cis lesbian who doesn’t want to have sex with her). Yet simply to say to a trans woman, or a disabled woman, or an Asian man, ‘No one is required to have sex with you,’ is to skate over something crucial. There is no entitlement to sex, and everyone is entitled to want what they want, but personal preferences – no dicks, no fems, no fats, no blacks, no arabs, no rice no spice, masc-for-masc – are never just personal.
In a recent piece for n+1, the feminist and trans theorist Andrea Long Chu argued that the trans experience, contrary to how we have become accustomed to think of it, ‘expresses not the truth of an identity but the force of a desire’. Being trans, she says, is ‘a matter not of who one is, but of what one wants’. She goes on:
I transitioned for gossip and compliments, lipstick and mascara, for crying at the movies, for being someone’s girlfriend, for letting her pay the check or carry my bags, for the benevolent chauvinism of bank tellers and cable guys, for the telephonic intimacy of long-distance female friendship, for fixing my make-up in the bathroom flanked like Christ by a sinner on each side, for sex toys, for feeling hot, for getting hit on by butches, for that secret knowledge of which dykes to watch out for, for Daisy Dukes, bikini tops, and all the dresses, and, my god, for the breasts. But now you begin to see the problem with desire: we rarely want the things we should.
This declaration, as Chu is well aware, threatens to bolster the argument made by anti-trans feminists: that trans women equate, and conflate, womanhood with the trappings of traditional femininity, thereby strengthening the hand of patriarchy. Chu’s response is not to insist, as many trans women do, that being trans is about identity rather than desire: about already being a woman, rather than wanting to become a woman. (Once one recognises that trans women are women, complaints about their ‘excessive femininity’ – one doesn’t hear so many complaints about the ‘excessive femininity’ of cis women – begin to look invidious.) Instead, Chu insists that ‘nothing good comes of forcing desire to conform to political principle,’ including desire for the very things that are the symptoms of women’s oppression: Daisy Dukes, bikini tops and ‘benevolent chauvinism’. She takes this to be ‘the true lesson of political lesbianism as a failed project’. What we need, in other words, is to fully exorcise the radical feminist ambition to develop a political critique of sex.
The argument cuts both ways. If all desire must be immune from political critique, then so must the desires that exclude and marginalise trans women: not just erotic desires for certain kinds of body, but the desire not to share womanhood itself with the ‘wrong’ kinds of woman. The dichotomy between identity and desire, as Chu suggests, is surely a false one; and in any case the rights of trans people should not rest on it, any more than the rights of gay people should rest on the idea that homosexuality is innate rather than chosen (a matter of who gay people are rather than what they want). But a feminism that totally abjures the political critique of desire is a feminism with little to say about the injustices of exclusion and misrecognition suffered by the women who arguably need feminism the most.
*
The question, then, is how to dwell in the ambivalent place where we acknowledge that no one is obligated to desire anyone else, that no one has a right to be desired, but also that who is desired and who isn’t is a political question, a question usually answered by more general patterns of domination and exclusion. It is striking, though unsurprising, that while men tend to respond to sexual marginalisation with a sense of entitlement to women’s bodies, women who experience sexual marginalisation typically respond with talk not of entitlement but empowerment. Or, insofar as they do speak of entitlement, it is entitlement to respect, not to other people’s bodies. That said, the radical self-love movements among black, fat and disabled women do ask us to treat our sexual preferences as less than perfectly fixed. ‘Black is beautiful’ and ‘Big is beautiful’ are not just slogans of empowerment, but proposals for a revaluation of our values. Lindy West describes studying photographs of fat women and asking herself what it would be to see these bodies – bodies that previously filled her with shame and self-loathing – as objectively beautiful. This, she says, isn’t a theoretical issue, but a perceptual one: a way of looking at certain bodies – one’s own and others’ – sidelong, inviting and coaxing a gestalt-shift from revulsion to admiration. The question posed by radical self-love movements is not whether there is a right to sex (there isn’t), but whether there is a duty to transfigure, as best we can, our desires.
To take this question seriously requires that we recognise that the very idea of fixed sexual preference is political, not metaphysical. As a matter of good politics, we treat the preferences of others as sacred: we are rightly wary of speaking of what people really want, or what some idealised version of them would want. That way, we know, authoritarianism lies. This is true, most of all, in sex, where invocations of real or ideal desires have long been used as a cover for the rape of women and gay men. But the fact is that our sexual preferences can and do alter, sometimes under the operation of our own wills – not automatically, but not impossibly either. What’s more, sexual desire doesn’t always neatly conform to our own sense of it, as generations of gay men and women can attest. Desire can take us by surprise, leading us somewhere we hadn’t imagined we would ever go, or towards someone we never thought we would lust after, or love. In the very best cases, the cases that perhaps ground our best hope, desire can cut against what politics has chosen for us, and choose for itself.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Romantic relationships, college student alcohol use, and negative consequences of drinking

Romantic relationships, college student alcohol use, and negative consequences of drinking. Daphne E. Pedersen, Kimberly P. Pithey. The Social Science Journal, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soscij.2018.02.017

Highlights
•    Men and women undergraduates in committed dating relationships are less likely to report alcohol use leading to drunkenness, or drinking with the intention of getting drunk.
•    Undergraduate women in committed relationships experience fewer negative alcohol-related consequences than single women.
•    Undergraduate men in committed relationships experience less alcohol-related regret than single men.
•    For undergraduate men and women, being in a committed dating relationship was not significantly associated with drinking frequency.

Abstract: This study examined whether being in a romantic relationship is associated with undergraduates’ alcohol use and negative consequences of drinking. Alcohol use was operationalized to include amount and frequency of drinking, binge drinking, and drunkenness. Negative consequences included: having a hangover, missing a class, getting behind in school work, doing something that was later regretted, forgetting where the student was or what they did, having unplanned sex, and getting hurt or injured. Data came from an online survey distributed to Midwestern undergraduate students (N = 572), with analyses conducted separately for men and women. Results indicated that being in a committed relationship generally served as a protective factor against drunkenness, but did not reduce frequency of drinking or binge drinking. Whereas romantically committed men were only less likely to report doing something that was later regretted, women in romantic relationships were less likely to experience all negative consequences of drinking considered here.

Keywords: Alcohol consequences; Alcohol use; Binge drinking; College dating; College drinking; Drinking consequences; Romantic relationships



Publication bias and the canonization of false facts (2017)

Publication bias and the canonization of false facts. Silas Boye Nissen, Tali Magidson, Kevin Gross, Carl T Bergstrom. eLife Sciences, 2016, https://elifesciences.org/articles/21451

Abstract: Science is facing a “replication crisis” in which many experimental findings cannot bereplicated and are likely to be false. Does this imply that many scientific facts are false as well? To find out, we explore the process by which a claim becomes fact. We model the community’s confidence in a claim as a Markov process with successive published results shifting the degree of belief. Publication bias in favor of positive findings influences the distribution of published results. We findthat unless a sufficient fraction of negative results are published, false claims frequently can become canonized as fact. Data-dredging, p-hacking, and similar behaviors exacerbate the problem. Should negative results become easier to publish as a claim approaches acceptance as a fact, however, true and false claims would be more readily distinguished. To the degree that the model reflects the real world, there may be serious concerns about the validity of purported facts in some disciplines.

Check also Raising awareness for the replication crisis in clinical psychology by focusing on inconsistencies in psychotherapy research: how much can we rely on published findings from efficacy trials? Michael P. Hengartner. Front. Psychol. 2018 http://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2018/02/psychotherapy-was-marvellous-invention.html

Also Replication in experimental economics: A historical and quantitative approach focused on public good game experiments. Nicolas Vallois, Dorian Jullien. GREDEG Working Paper No. 2017-21. 2017. http://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2018/03/replication-in-experimental-economics.html

And Psychology's Renaissance. Leif D. Nelson, Joseph P. Simmons, and Uri Simonsohn. Annual Review of Psychology, forthcoming. http://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2017/11/the-scientific-practices-of.html

Replication in experimental economics: Not good

Replication in experimental economics: A historical and quantitative approach focused on public good game experiments. Nicolas Vallois, Dorian Jullien. GREDEG Working Paper No. 2017-21. 2017. https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01651080/

Abstract : We propose a historical perspective on replication in experimental economics focused on public good games. Our intended contribution is twofold: in terms of method and in terms of object. Methodologically, we blend traditional qualitative history of economics with a less traditional quantitative approach using basic econometric tools to detect unnoticed historical patterns of replication. In terms of our object, we highlight a type of replication that we call " baseline replication ", which is not present in explicit methodological discussions, yet central in the specificity of experimental economics regarding replication in economics.

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Conclusion
The goal of this paper was to propose a historical perspective on the practice of replication in experimental economics. Explicit methodological discussions of replication in economics highlight several meanings of \replication". However none of these meanings correspond to the most widely practiced type of replication in experimental economics, which we called "baseline replication": that similar baseline conditions in different experiments have to yield similar results.

We proposed a quantitative approach to highlight the historical dynamics of replication in public good games experiments. We found that results in baseline conditions converge over time, which suggests that baseline replications are effective over time, but they also decline over time, which suggests a counter-intuitive (i.e., non-stable) notion of replication. We prefer to interpret our results as a sign of the standardization of experimental practice over time which favors internal validity, rather than a sign of scientic progress towards a \true" baseline result in PG games. We hope that our blend of qualitative and quantitative approach to history of recent economics can motivate discussions with economists, both regarding our econometric method and our empirical results. In terms of further work, our results suggest that  finding a measure of standardization of experimental protocols can provide an interesting variable to study long-term patterns in experimental economics. Finally, baseline replication in other types of experiments than PG games could be studied.

Age difference between parents influences parity and number of sons

Kuna B, Galbarczyk A, Klimek M, Nenko I, Jasienska G. Age difference between parents influences parity and number of sons. Am J Hum Biol. 2018;e23095. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajhb.23095

Abstract

Objectives: Among couples, women usually prefer slightly older men, and men tend to choose much younger partners. Age difference between partners has been shown to influence their parity; however, results of previous studies are inconsistent. This study analyzed relationships between husband and wife age difference and their total number of children, and number of daughters and sons in a contemporary, rural Polish population.

Methods: Demographic and reproductive data were collected from 384 postmenopausal women from rural Poland who were married only once. Regression models were used to evaluate the impact of the age gap between partners on total number of children and on number of daughters and sons. Women's age, age at marriage (as an indicator of reproductive value), and years of education were used in analyzes as potential confounders.

Results: There was an inverted U-shape association between parental age difference and number of children and also the number of sons. The highest number of children and sons was observed when men were approximately 6.5 years older than their wives. There was no significant relationship between parental age difference and number of daughters.

Conclusions: Age difference between partners is important for reproductive success (with younger wives having higher reproductive potential) and is also related to number of sons. Older husbands might provide more resources for the family, thus facilitating production of well-nourished male offspring. Future research should evaluate not only number of children but also their biological condition, health, and lifetime achievements in relation to the age difference between their parents.

Self-Perceived Mate Value, Facial Attractiveness, and Mate Preferences: Do Desirable Men Want It All?

Self-Perceived Mate Value, Facial Attractiveness, and Mate Preferences: Do Desirable Men Want It All? Steven Arnocky. Evolutionary Psychology,  https://doi.org/10.1177/1474704918763271

Abstract: Ten years ago, Buss and Shackelford demonstrated that high mate value (i.e., physically attractive) women held more discerning mate preferences relative to lower mate value women. Since then, researchers have begun to consider the equally important role of men’s sexual selectivity in human mate choice. Yet, little research has focused on whether high mate value men are similarly choosy in their mate preferences. In a sample of 139 undergraduate men, relationships between self-perceived mate value as well as female-rated facial attractiveness were examined in relation to men’s expressed mate preferences. Results showed that self-perceived mate value was unrelated to men’s facial attractiveness as rated by women. Men who believed they were of high mate value were more likely than lower mate value men to prefer to marry at a younger age; to have a spouse who was younger than them; and to have a partner who was sociable, ambitious, high in social status, with good financial prospects, a desire for children, health, good looks, and mutual attraction. Objective male facial attractiveness was generally unrelated to heightened mate preferences, with the exception of heightened preference for similar religious background and good physical health. Findings suggest that men who perceive themselves as high in overall mate value are selective in their mate choice in a manner similar to high mate value women.

Keywords: mate value, mate preferences, facial attractiveness, individual differences, long-term mating