Sunday, April 22, 2018

Negative experiences may increase meaning in life; comprehension, a pillar of meaning in life, may be incited by negative experiences

It's Not Going to Be That Fun: Negative Experiences Can Add Meaning to Life. Kathleen D. Vohs, Jennifer L. Aaker, Rhia Catapano. Current Opinion in Psychology,

•    Negative experiences may increase meaning in life
•    Comprehension, a pillar of meaning in life, may be incited by negative experiences
•    Comprehension converts disparate pieces into coherent, self-relevant wholes
•    That meaning in life differs from feeling good can offer rich theoretical insights

Abstract: People seek to spend time in positive experiences, enjoying and savoring. Yet there is no escaping negative experiences, from the mundane (e.g., arguing) to the massive (e.g., death of a child). Might negative experiences confer a hidden benefit to well-being? We propose that they do, in the form of enhanced meaning in life. Research suggests that negative experiences can serve to boost meaning because they stimulate comprehension (understanding how the event fits into a broader narrative of the self, relationships, and the world), a known pillar of meaning in life. Findings on counterfactual thinking, reflecting on events’ implications, and encompassing experiences into broad-based accounts of one's identity support the role of comprehension in contributing to life's meaning from unwanted, unwelcome experiences.


Three-year-olds know about land property and develop inferences of ownership

The development of territory-based inferences of ownership. Brandon W. Goulding, Ori Friedman. Cognition, Volume 177, August 2018, Pages 142–149.

Abstract: Legal systems often rule that people own objects in their territory. We propose that an early-developing ability to make territory-based inferences of ownership helps children address informational demands presented by ownership. Across 6 experiments (N = 504), we show that these inferences develop between ages 3 and 5 and stem from two aspects of the psychology of ownership. First, we find that a basic ability to infer that people own objects in their territory is already present at age 3 (Experiment 1). Children even make these inferences when the territory owner unintentionally acquired the objects and was unaware of them (Experiments 2 and 3). Second, we find that between ages 3 and 5, children come to consider past events in these judgments. They move from solely considering the current location of an object in territory-based inferences, to also considering and possibly inferring where it originated (Experiments 4 to 6). Together, these findings suggest that territory-based inferences of ownership are unlikely to be constructions of the law. Instead, they may reflect basic intuitions about ownership that operate from early in development.

Keywords: Ownership; Territory; Cognitive development; Historical inference; Law and psychology; Cognitive offloading


21% of the pedestrians in an urban setting in Belgium violate traffic lights: Push buttons and worn off zebra markings increase the frequency of violations

Non-compliance with pedestrian traffic lights in Belgian cities. Kevin Diependaele. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour,

•    21% of the pedestrians in an urban setting in Belgium violate traffic lights.
•    There is large variability; percentages below 15% and above 30% are no exceptions.
•    Higher traffic volume and complexity reduce the frequency of red-light running.
•    Gap acceptance theory can account for the effect of traffic volume and complexity.
•    Push buttons and worn off zebra markings increase the frequency of violations.
•    Auxiliary signals, either visual or auditory, have a lowering effect on violations.

Abstract: The frequency of red light running was investigated across the nine most populated cities in Belgium. The results show that approximately 21% of the pedestrians violate the lights. There is, however, large variability in the frequency of violations depending on the specific context. Traffic volumes, motorized as well as pedestrian volumes, and situational characteristics that are generally associated with higher traffic complexity (rush hours, number of driving directions, number of lanes per driving direction and the presence of a tram or bus lane) have a lowering effect. A number of technical characteristics of the pedestrian crossing were also found to exert a significant influence: push buttons and worn off zebra markings increase the frequency of violations. On the other hand, auxiliary signals, either visual or auditory, have a positive effect.

Keywords: Pedestrians; Red light running; Belgium

Can self-defeating humor make you and others happy? It seems so. Cognitive interviews reveal the adaptive side of the self-defeating humor style

Can self-defeating humor make you happy? Cognitive interviews reveal the adaptive side of the self-defeating humor style. Sonja Heintz, Willibald Ruch. International Journal of Humor Research,

Abstract: The present set of studies employs two cognitive interviewing techniques (thinking aloud and online cognitive probing) of the scale assessing the self-defeating humor style, aiming at delineating the role that self-defeating humor plays in self-esteem and emotions. The self-defeating humor style comprises humor to enhance one’s relationships with others at the expense of oneself, and has often been related to lower well-being. The analyses are based on 392 item responses of a typical sample (Study 1) and 104 item responses of high scorers on the self-defeating scale (Study 2). Content analyses revealed that higher scores on the self-defeating scale went along with humor (Study 1), with higher state self-esteem, with an improvement of one’s interpersonal relationships, and with more facial displays of positive emotions (Study 2). Additionally, the more humor was entailed in the item responses, the higher the state self-esteem and the improvement of relationships was and the more positive emotion words were employed. Thus, the humor entailed in the self-defeating humor style seemed rather beneficial both for oneself and others. These findings call for a reevaluation of past findings with this humor style and provide opportunities for future research and applications of humor interventions to improve well-being.

Keywords: self-defeating humor style; Humor Styles Questionnaire; self-esteem; emotions; cognitive interviews; self-directed humor

The Problem with Morality: Impeding Progress and Increasing Divides (Jan 2018)

Jan 2018
The Problem with Morality: Impeding Progress and Increasing Divides. Chloe Kovacheff, Stephanie Schwartz, Yoel Inbar, Matthew Feinberg. Social Issues and Policy Review,

Abstract: Morality is commonly held up as the pinnacle of goodness but can also be a source of significant problems, interfering with societal functioning and progress. We review the literature regarding how morality diverges from nonmoral attitudes, biases our cognitive processing, and the ways in which it can lead to negative interpersonal and intergroup consequences. To illustrate the negative implications of morality, we detail two specific examples of how moral convictions impair societal progress: the rejection of science and technology, and political polarization in the United States. Specifically, we discuss how moral convictions can cause individuals to challenge scientific facts (e.g., evolution), oppose technologies that can improve health and well‐being (e.g., vaccinations and GMO foods), and fuel political polarization and segregation. We conclude this review by suggesting strategies for policy makers and individuals to help overcome the problems morality can cause.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Women are not particularly inclined to wear red or pink during peak fertility, calling into question whether women use garment color to advertise their ovulatory status

McCullough, Michael E.,and Liana S Hone 2018. “Are Women More Likely to Wear Red or Pink at Peak Fertility? A Closer Look”. PsyArXiv. April 20.

Abstract: Evolutionarily minded researchers have hypothesized that women advertise their ovulatory status by wearing red or pink, but many of these studies have been based on relatively small samples of women who have self-reported their clothing choices, an unorthodox practice in the biological study of coloration. In two studies, we evaluated the relationship between women’s fertility and (a) self-reports of their garment coloration; (b) trained raters’ judgments of their garment coloration as evinced in photographs that subjects took of themselves; (c) trained raters’ judgments of garment coloration in outfits that women drew onto mannequins to represent what they would wear to a party with attractive men in attendance; (d) automated color coding of the mannequins. We found no evidence that women are particularly inclined to wear red or pink during peak fertility using any of these measures, calling into question whether women use garment color to advertise their ovulatory status.


Friday, April 20, 2018

Willingness to transmit and the spread of pseudoscientific beliefs: Potentially due to the belief that holding the beliefs makes one seem more knowledgeable

Willingness to transmit and the spread of pseudoscientific beliefs. H. Mercier, Y. Majima, H. Miton. Applied Cognitive Psychology,

Summary: Pseudoscientific beliefs are widespread and can be damaging. If several studies have examined the factors leading people to accept pseudoscientific beliefs, no attention has been paid to the factors contributing to people's willingness to transmit these beliefs. To test whether the willingness to transmit pseudoscientific beliefs contributes to their spread, independent of their believability, we asked participants to rate statements corresponding either to pseudoscientific beliefs (Myths), or to their (correct) negations (Non‐Myths). Statements were rated on believability, on how willing participants would be to transmit them, and on how knowledgeable they would make someone who produces them. Results revealed that participants who believed in Myths were more willing to transmit them than the participants who believed in Non‐Myths were willing to transmit Non‐Myths. A potential factor driving the increased willingness to transmit both Myths and Non‐Myths might be participants' belief that holding the beliefs makes one seem more knowledgeable.

The Effect of Romantic Relationships on the Evaluation of the Attractiveness of One’s Own Face

The Effect of Romantic Relationships on the Evaluation of the Attractiveness of One’s Own Face. Jiaye Cai et al. i-Perception,

Abstract: The present study sought to explore the effect of romantic relationships on the attractiveness evaluation of one’s own face using two experiments with the probability evaluation and the subjective rating method. Experiment 1 and Experiment 2 enrolled couples and single individuals as participants, respectively. The results of the two experiments indicated that the participants evaluated their own face as significantly more attractive than did others of the same sex. More importantly, the romantic relationship enhanced the positive bias in the evaluation of self-face attractiveness, that is, couple participants showed a stronger positive bias than did single individuals. It was also found that a person in a romantic relationship was prone to overestimating the attractiveness of his or her lover’s face, from the perspective of both probability evaluation and rating score. However, the abovementioned overestimation did not surpass the evaluations of the exaggeratedly attractive face. The present results supported the observer hypothesis, demonstrating the romantic relationship to be an important influential factor of facial attractiveness. Our findings have important implications for the research of self-face evaluation.

Keywords: romantic relationship, attractiveness evaluation, self-face, probability evaluation, subjective rating

Pearson embedded "growth-mindset" and other psychological messaging into some versions of one of its commercial learning software programs, with modest signs that some such messaging can increase students' persistence when they run into difficulty

Pearson Tested 'Social-Psychological' Messages in Learning Software, With Mixed Results. Benjamin Herold on April 17, 2018,

The idea of inserting "social-psychological interventions" into learning software is gaining steam, raising both hopes and fears about the ways the ed-tech industry might seek to capitalize on recent research into the impact of students' mindsets on their learning.

One big new example, presented here today as part of the annual conference of the American Association of Educational Research: AERA Conference Button

Publishing giant Pearson recently conducted an experiment involving more than 9,000 unwitting students at 165 different U.S. colleges and universities. Without seeking prior consent from participating institutions or individuals, the company embedded "growth-mindset" and other psychological messaging into some versions of one of its commercial learning software programs. The company then randomly assigned different colleges to use different versions of that software, tracking whether students who received the messages attempted and completed more problems than their counterparts at other institutions.

The results included some modest signs that some such messaging can increase students' persistence when they start a problem, then run into difficulty. That's likely to bolster growth-mindset proponents, who say it's important to encourage students to view intelligence as something that can change with practice and hard work.

But the bigger takeaway, according to Pearson's AERA paper, is the possibility of leveraging commercial educational software for new research into the emerging science around students' attitudes, beliefs, and ways of thinking about themselves.

"Randomized control trials like this, at scale and embedded into widely used commercial products, are a valuable approach for improving learner outcomes in a rigorous and iterative way, while also contributing to the burgeoning literature on social-psychological interventions," the paper contends.
Concerns Over 'Low-Level Psychological Experimentation'

Outside experts consulted by Education Week offered skeptical reactions to the new Pearson study.

"It does not surprise me at all that corporations are attempting to monetize a promising way of thinking about a hairy problem," said Phi Delta Kappan CEO Joshua Starr, who was a major proponent of social-emotional learning during his time as superintendent of the Montgomery County, Md. school district (and who currently serves on the Aspen Institute's National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development.)

"There is some value" to Pearson's approach, Starr said, but "social-emotional learning is best promoted through strong communities and relationships."

And Ben Williamson, a lecturer at the University of Stirling in the United Kingdom who studies big data in education, raised other concerns. 

There's little evidence that focusing on growth mindset in the classroom will significantly benefit students, Williamson argued, citing recent analyses finding limited effects of mindset-based interventions.

In addition, Williamson maintained, companies such as Pearson would be wise to pay close attention to the growing public anxiety over the ways companies collect people's sensitive information and use it for psychological profiling and targeting. It's especially troubling, he said, that the company did not seek informed consent from the young people who became subjects in their study.

"It's concerning that forms of low-level psychological experimentation to trigger certain behaviors appears to be happening in the ed-tech sector, and students might not know those experiments are taking place," Williamson said.


Using commercial software allowed Pearson to see how the changes played out for real students and actual classrooms, DiCerbo said, generating more useful information than had it taken place in a lab.

And while the company is considering similar experiments involving other commercial software products used in higher education, she said, Pearson is preparing to selling off its K-12 business, meaning there are likely no short-term implications for those clients.

"We think these motivational aspects are really important for students' learning outcomes," DiCerbo said. "But the only way we're going to know for sure is to do the research."

Mixed Results

The paper presented by Pearson at AERA was titled "Embedding Research-Inspired Innovations in EdTech: An RCT of Social-Psychological Interventions, at Scale."


[The product] is typically used for introductory computer-science courses [...].

DiCerbo said that made sense as the first content area to test social-psychological messaging, because many students have a propensity to attribute failure in programming to a personal shortcoming, rather than seeing it as a challenge and opportunity to learn.

The idea was to see if students' motivation and achievement would be improved in either of two ways: 

.    Inserting "growth-mindset" messages (stressing the importance of effort and building skills over time) into the software's instructions and into the feedback it offered to students who provided wrong answers. An example: "No one is born a great programmer. Success takes hours and hours of practice."

.    Using "anchoring of effort" messages (seeking to leverage a common cognitive bias in which people tend to rely on the first piece of information they learn, even if it's irrelevant to the problem they're trying to solve.) Pearson's theory here was that students might not have any sense of how much effort is often required to solve computer-programming problems, so providing them with a high-end estimate based on analysis of previous users' experience could ground them in the expectation that multiple attempts would be necessary. An example: "Some students tried this question 26 times! Don't worry if it takes you a few tries to get it right."

The researchers were surprised to learn that students who didn't receive any special messaging from the software attempted to solve significantly more problems (212) than those who received growth-mindset messages (174 problems) or anchoring messages (156 problems.)

That finding suggested that the social-psychological interventions they were testing backfired, although DiCerbo said other factors—especially differences in how various instructors use the software in their classes—may have also played a role.

But the Pearson team also found that students who received the growth-mindset messages successfully completed more of the problems they started than their counterparts. These students were also significantly more likely to eventually solve problems they initially got incorrect, supporting the idea that encouraging a growth mindset can have positive benefits when students run into difficulty.


"Successfully applying theories like growth mindset is likely to require more precise targeting of specific learners and at specific moments in order to be effective," according to the company's study presented at AERA.

And DiCerbo said efforts to change students' mindsets through learning software are still in their earliest stages.

"It's still an open question as to whether technology is even capably of providing this type of feedback," she said.

Magical Contagion Effects in Consumer Contexts: It may be both negative (fly in your plate) or positive (a celebrity's dress)

Catching (Up with) Magical Contagion: A Review of Contagion Effects in Consumer Contexts. Julie Y. Huang, Joshua M. Ackerman and George E. Newman. Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, 2017, vol. 2, issue 4, 430 - 443.

Abstract: Over 20 years have passed since magical contagion was first introduced to psychology; we discuss how psychological and consumer behavior findings since then have deepened our understanding of this phenomenon. Recent research has shed light on the psychological mechanisms that underlie consumers’ contamination concerns (e.g., the behavioral immune system, disgust), confirming that people’s germ-related intuitions affect a wide variety of consumer judgments in areas that are only indirectly linked to disease-related threats (used products, [un]]familiar products, products contacting each other). Moreover, recent findings have also documented the ways that nonphysical essences might transfer from people to objects (celebrity products; positive consumer contagion). This recent body of work extends contagion research by demonstrating that physical contact is not a prerequisite for essence transfer and that the types of essences that are contagious are broader than originally conceived. We close by discussing future research into how magical contagion affects consumer and firm decision making.

Child Marriage in the United States: How Common Is the Practice, And Which Children Are at Greatest Risk

Child Marriage in the United States: How Common Is the Practice, And Which Children Are at Greatest Risk. Alissa Koski, Jody Heymann. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health,

CONTEXT: Marriage before the age of 18, commonly referred to as child marriage, is legal under varying conditions across the United States. The prevalence of child marriage among recent cohorts is unknown.

METHODS: American Community Survey data for 2010–2014 were used to estimate the average national and state‐level proportions of children who had ever been married. Prevalence was calculated by gender, race and ethnicity, and birthplace, and the living arrangements of currently married children were examined.

RESULTS: Approximately 6.2 of every 1,000 children surveyed had ever been married. Prevalence varied from more than 10 per 1,000 in West Virginia, Hawaii and North Dakota to less than four per 1,000 in Maine, Rhode Island and Wyoming. It was higher among girls than among boys (6.8 vs. 5.7 per 1,000), and was lower among white non‐Hispanic children (5.0 per 1,000) than among almost every other racial or ethnic group studied; it was especially high among children of American Indian or Chinese descent (10.3 and 14.2, respectively). Immigrant children were more likely than U.S.‐born children to have been married; prevalence among children from Mexico, Central America and the Middle East was 2–4 times that of children born in the United States. Only 20% of married children were living with their spouses; the majority of the rest were living with their parents.

CONCLUSIONS: Child marriage occurs throughout the country. Research on the social forces that perpetuate child marriage is needed to inform efforts to prevent it.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

“But I Don’t Eat that Much Meat.” Situational Underreporting of Meat Consumption by Women

“But I Don’t Eat that Much Meat.” Situational Underreporting of Meat Consumption by Women. Hank Rothgerber. Society & Animals, DOI: 10.1163/15685306-12341468

Abstract: As arguments become more pronounced that meat consumption harms the environment, public health, and nonhuman animals, meat-eaters should experience increased pressure to justify their behavior. The present research further tested the notion that women employ indirect meat-eating justification strategies relative to men, specifically the claim that as a form of self-justification, women would underreport meat consumption when the context called in to question their dietary behavior. Men and women were randomly assigned to a treatment condition in which they were informed that they would watch a PETA documentary about meat production or to a control condition, and then they completed a questionnaire assessing the amount of various meats they consumed. Women reported eating less meat when threatened by watching the documentary, while male estimates were unchanged across conditions. Furthermore, this effect was sensitive to how much participants believed nonhuman animals shared similar emotions to humans.

Keywords: cognitive dissonance; gender; human-animal emotional similarity; meat-eating justification; meat consumption

No consistent uptick in aggressive content of sex videos over the past decade (the average video today contains shorter segments showing aggression); and videos with aggressive acts are both less likely to receive views and less likely to be ranked favorably by viewers, who prefer videos where women clearly perform pleasure

“Harder and Harder”? Is Mainstream Pornography Becoming Increasingly Violent and Do Viewers Prefer Violent Content? Eran Shor & Kimberly Seida. The Journal of Sex Research,

Abstract: It is a common notion among many scholars and pundits that the pornography industry becomes “harder and harder” with every passing year. Some have suggested that porn viewers, who are mostly men, become desensitized to “soft” pornography, and producers are happy to generate videos that are more hard core, resulting in a growing demand for and supply of violent and degrading acts against women in mainstream pornographic videos. We examined this accepted wisdom by utilizing a sample of 269 popular videos uploaded to PornHub over the past decade. More specifically, we tested two related claims: (1) aggressive content in videos is on the rise and (2) viewers prefer such content, reflected in both the number of views and the rankings for videos containing aggression. Our results offer no support for these contentions. First, we did not find any consistent uptick in aggressive content over the past decade; in fact, the average video today contains shorter segments showing aggression. Second, videos containing aggressive acts are both less likely to receive views and less likely to be ranked favorably by viewers, who prefer videos where women clearly perform pleasure.

The female sex appeal, based on women's bodily features attractive to men, is rather unusual in the animal kingdom, where males tend to show off the more catching and outlandish "sexual ornaments".

Rolf Degen summarizes:  The female sex appeal, based on women's bodily features attractive to men, is rather unusual in the animal kingdom, where males tend to show off the more catching and outlandish "sexual ornaments".

The evolution of male mate choice and female ornamentation; a review of mathematical models. Courtney L Fitzpatrick Maria R Servedio. Current Zoology, zoy029,

Abstract: The evolution of male preferences and of female ornaments in species with traditional sex roles (i.e. polygyny) have been highlighted as areas in need of more active research by an accumulation of recent findings. The theoretical literature on these topics is relatively small and has centered on the evolution of male choice. Mathematical models have emphasized that, under polygyny, the evolution of male preferences faces much greater competition costs than does the evolution of female preferences. We discuss ways in which costly male choice can nonetheless evolve, via 1) direct selection that favors preferences, primarily through mating with highly fecund females, 2) mechanisms that rely on indirect selection, which weakly counters competitive costs of male preferences, and 3) genetic constraints, primarily in the form of pleiotropy of male and female preferences and traits. We also review a variety of mathematical models that have elucidated how costs to male preferences can be avoided. Finally we turn our attention to the relatively scant theoretical literature on the effects of male mate choice on the evolution of female traits. We emphasize the finding that the presence of male preferences cannot be assumed to lead to the evolution of female ornaments during polygyny, and point out situations where models have elucidated ways in which female ornaments can nevertheless evolve.

Keywords: male mate preferences, female ornaments, mathematical models


Norway rats: Food-deprived individuals communicate need more intensively than satiated ones, and donors provide help corresponding to the intensity of the recipients’ communication

Schweinfurth, M. K., & Taborsky, M. (2018). Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) communicate need, which elicits donation of food. Journal of Comparative Psychology.

Abstract: Reciprocal cooperation has been observed in a wide range of taxa, but the proximate mechanisms underlying the exchange of help are yet unclear. Norway rats reciprocate help received from partners in an iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma game. For donors, this involves accepting own costs to the benefit of a partner, without obtaining immediate benefits in return. We studied whether such altruistic acts are conditional on the communication of the recipient’s need. Our results show that in a 2-player mutual food-provisioning task, prospective recipients show a behavioral cascade reflecting increasing intensity. First, prospective receivers reach out for the food themselves, then they emit ultrasonic calls toward their partner, before finally showing noisy attention-grabbing behaviors. Food-deprived individuals communicate need more intensively than satiated ones. In return, donors provide help corresponding to the intensity of the recipients’ communication. This indicates that rats communicate their need, which changes the helping propensity of potential donors. Communication of need and corresponding adjustment of cooperation may be a widespread proximate mechanism explaining the mutual exchange of services between animals.

We think that our own behavior when drinking is similar to our sober behavior; that we are more able to maintain a balance between staying in control and having fun while drinking; that we are far from negative drinkers (like compulsive or anti-social ones); and attribute our drinking behaviors to situational factors, but describe other people as intentionally violent or aggressive

I Am Quite Mellow But I Wouldn't Say Everyone Else Is”: How UK Students Compare Their Drinking Behavior to Their Peers'. Emma L. Davies, Emma-Ben C. Lewis & Sarah E. Hennelly. Substance Use & Misuse,

ABSTRACT: Background: Excessive drinking is commonplace at UK Universities. Individuals may misperceive how much they drink compared to others and are less likely to think that they will suffer adverse consequences. Young people often distance themselves and their friends from ‘problem drinkers’. Objectives: The aim of the study was to explore how student drinkers compared their own drinking behaviors to the drinking behaviors of others. Methods: An online survey was completed by 416 students aged 18–30 (68.5% female). They were asked ‘how do you think your drinking compares with other people like you?' and ‘how do you think your behavior when you drink compares with other people like you?’ Answers were subjected to thematic analysis. Results: The first main theme was about ‘identification as a ‘good’ drinker’. Participants suggested their own behavior when drinking was similar to their sober behavior. Further, they viewed themselves as more able to maintain a balance between staying in control and having fun while drinking. The second main theme was about ‘distancing from being a ‘bad’ drinker. Participants distanced themselves from negative prototypical drinkers, such compulsive or anti-social drinkers. They also attributed their own drinking behaviors to situational factors, but described other people as intentionally violent or aggressive. Conclusions/Importance: These findings may explain the failure of some health messages to change drinking behaviors. If drinkers perceive that their behavior when they drink is better than other people's then they may discount intervention messages. Targeting these biases could be incorporated into future interventions.

KEYWORDS: Alcohol, correspondence bias, social comparison, prototypes, qualitative

Social identity, rather than partisanship or ideology, explains sorting in popular firlm viewership

Silver screen sorting: Social identity and selective exposure in popular film viewing. Jeremiah J. Castle, , Kyla Stepp. The Social Science Journal,

•    Selective exposure on the basis of social identity is an important factor in film viewership.
•    Our theory is tested using a sample of college students.
•    Wide gaps in movie viewership are apparent between partisans.
•    Social identity, rather than partisanship or ideology, explains sorting in movie viewership.

Abstract: While research in media and politics has long stressed the importance of television, the political impact of movies has largely been ignored. However, a small body of literature suggests that both political docudramas and popular films may have the capacity to change the issue attitudes of viewers. Building on that work, this paper examines the potential for selective exposure in movie viewership. We develop a theory that there is large-scale sorting into popular movies rooted in social identity theory. We argue that sorting is a result of two processes: film studios marketing films towards particular social groups and individuals sorting into films based on social group characteristics. We test this theory using a unique dataset in which undergraduate students were asked to rate trailers for a variety of political docudramas and popular films. Our results indicate that there is indeed widespread sorting into popular films on the basis of social identities rooted in socio-demographic traits.

Keywords: Movies; Films; Selective exposure; Social identity; Public opinion

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Young Children Negatively Evaluate and Sanction Free-riders, Even Absorbing Costs to Punish Further

Yang, Fan, You-jung Choi, Antonia Misch, Xin Yang, and Yarrow Dunham 2018. “In Defense of the Commons: Young Children Negatively Evaluate and Sanction Free-riders”. PsyArXiv. April 18. doi:10.17605/OSF.IO/XMQK8

Abstract: Human flourishing depends on individuals paying costs to contribute to common goods, but such arrangements are vulnerable to “free-riding”, in which individuals benefit from others’ contributions without paying costs themselves. Systems of tracking and sanctioning free-riders can stabilize cooperation, but the origin of such tendencies is not well understood. Here, we provide evidence that children as young as four negatively evaluate and sanction free-riders. Across six studies we show that these tendencies are robust, large in magnitude, tuned to intentional rather than unintentional non-contribution, and generally consistent across third- and first-party cases. Further, these effects cannot be accounted for by factors that frequently co-occur with free-riding, such as the costs that free-riding imposes on the group or that free-riding is often non-conformity. Our findings demonstrate that from early in life children both hold and enforce a normative expectation that individuals are intrinsically obligated to contribute to the common good.

An evolved psychological mechanism for detecting and deterring free-riders has been suggested as a potentially important contributor to the stability of cooperation in multi-party settings, and adults’ spontaneous detection and negative evaluation of free-riders is consistent with this possibility [...]. But adults have extensive experience with institutional and other societal sanctions directed at free-riders, raising an alternative explanation: sanctioning free-riders is a learned norm. While our results do not settle this issue, they show that the tendency to sanction free-riders emerges several years prior to formal schooling, when children are not yet expected to be regular contributors and are unlikely to be sanctioned for failing to contribute themselves. Indeed, for at least two reasons our results are challenging for straightforward socialization accounts. First, in an aggregated analysis for all cases of intentional free-riding (drawn from studies 1-5), we observed greater negativity towards free-riders in younger children, a pattern inconsistent with gradual norm internalization. Second, the developmental patterns observed here appear to emerge earlier than other forms of norm enforcement. For example, compared to free-riding, unfairness in dyadic interactions presumably occurs more frequently in children’s life and thus should be a more direct targetfor socialization.

However, if not directly affected, children do not sanction such violations until middle childhood (Blake & McAuliffe, 2011; McAuliffe et al., 2015). Therefore, our findings suggest that protracted social learning and extensive group experiences are not necessary for the emergence of a tendency to sanction free-riders. Our results are consistent with proposals for an evolved psychological machinery for cheater detection and sanctioning.


Heterosexual College Students Who Hookup with Same-Sex Partners

Heterosexual College Students Who Hookup with Same-Sex Partners. Arielle Kuperberg, Alicia M. Walker. Archives of Sexual Behavior,

Abstract: Individuals who identify as heterosexual but engage in same-sex sexual behavior fascinate both researchers and the media. We analyzed the Online College Social Life Survey dataset of over 24,000 undergraduate students to examine students whose last hookup was with a same-sex partner (N = 383 men and 312 women). The characteristics of a significant minority of these students (12% of men and 25% of women) who labelled their sexual orientation “heterosexual” differed from those who self-identified as “homosexual,” “bisexual,” or “uncertain.” Differences among those who identified as heterosexual included more conservative attitudes, less prior homosexual and more prior heterosexual sexual experience, features of the hookups, and sentiments about the encounter after the fact. Latent class analysis revealed six distinctive “types” of heterosexually identified students whose last hookup was with a same-sex partner. Three types, comprising 60% of students, could be classified as mostly private sexual experimentation among those with little prior same-sex experience, including some who did not enjoy the encounter; the other two types in this group enjoyed the encounter, but differed on drunkenness and desire for a future relationship with their partner. Roughly, 12% could be classified as conforming to a “performative bisexuality” script of women publicly engaging in same-sex hookups at college parties, and the remaining 28% had strong religious practices and/or beliefs that may preclude a non-heterosexual identity, including 7% who exhibited “internalized heterosexism.” Results indicate several distinctive motivations for a heterosexual identity among those who hooked up with same-sex partners; previous research focusing on selective “types” excludes many exhibiting this discordance.

Why Do People Volunteer? An Experimental Analysis of Preferences for Time Donations Instead of Money

Why Do People Volunteer? An Experimental Analysis of Preferences for Time Donations. Alexander L. Brown, Jonathan Meer, J. Forrest Williams. Management Science,

Abstract: Why do individuals volunteer their time even when recipients receive far less value than the donor’s opportunity cost? Previous models of altruism that focus on the overall impact of a gift cannot rationalize this behavior, despite its prevalence. We develop a model that allows for differential warm glow depending on the form of the donation. In a series of laboratory experiments that control for other aspects of volunteering, such as its signaling value, subjects demonstrate behavior consistent with the theoretical assumption that gifts of time produce greater utility than the same transfers in the form of money. Subjects perform an effort task, accruing earnings at potentially different wage rates for themselves or a charity of their choice, with the ability to transfer any of their personal earnings to charity at the end of the experiment. Subjects exhibit strong preferences for donating time even when differential wage rates make it costly to do so. The results provide new insights on the nature of volunteering and gift giving.

Promiscuous America: Smart, Secular, and Somewhat Less Happy

Promiscuous America: Smart, Secular, and Somewhat Less Happy. Nicholas H. Wolfinger. Institute for Family Studies, Apr 18 2018. Full article with images at


We like to think of America as sexually permissive. We’re bombarded with stories of rapid-fire Tinder liaisons and meaningless college hookups. The reality isn’t monastic but is more staid than most of us think. The median American woman has had three sex partners in her lifetime. The median man has had five.

These numbers have remained unchanged for decades: you have to look at people born prior to the 1940s, who came of age before the Sexual Revolution, to find lower numbers. The one exception is college-educated men, whose median tally has declined over the past couple of decades (the numbers for men who didn’t complete college have stayed the same).

But medians don’t tell the whole story. The distribution of promiscuity is skewed to the right: most people have only a few partners, but a few people have a whole lot. The data look like this:

Note: Ns = 17,252 (women) & 13,531 (men). Results are unweighted.

The yellow bars are medians, included to provide some perspective. Although most people have had only a few partners, a few have had a multitude (indeed, I capped the maximum at 100 so a single page graph would be intelligible). Five percent of women have had 16 or more partners; five percent of men have had 50 or more. One percent of American women have had over 35 partners; the comparable figure for men is 150.


The Trends

Overall, younger Americans are now having sex with fewer people than their Boomer or Gen X elders, but that’s not the case for the female promiscuous minority. The figure below looks at what portion of the sample for each survey year falls into the top five percentile for the entire sample; in order words, what proportion of women for each survey year had 16 or more partners. The data show a linear increase in the percentage of women who fall into the high side of sexual adventurousness. In 1990, about 3% of women had had over 15 sex partners. By 2016, this number was up to 7 percent. Additional analysis suggests that women’s increasing sexual adventurousness over the years of the time series represents a secular trend towards promiscuity.

Note: N = 17,252. Results are unweighted.

The story is different for men, for whom promiscuity was most common in the previous decade. Since then, a declining proportion of men have had 50 or more sex partners. Still, top-five percentile sexual exploration remains a bit more common for men than it was in the early 1990s, near the beginning of the time series.

Notes: N = 13,531. Results are unweighted.

The Predictable Demographic Differences

The residents of Promiscuous America are predictable in many ways. They’re less likely to be married and more likely to be divorced. They’re several times as likely as their less adventurous peers to have cheated on a spouse. They watch more porn. They’re more likely to be political liberals than moderates or conservatives. Many of them live in the western United States (for women, that means the intermountain west more than the west coast). They’re more likely to live in cities than in suburbs or rural areas.

It’s also predictable that the promiscuous are less religious than other Americans, but there are nevertheless interesting differences by denominational affiliation. Christians are the least likely to fall into the top 5% of the promiscuity distribution. Still, in terms of sheer percentage points, the differences between Christians and nonbelievers are not enormous. When it comes to “Other” faiths (including Muslims, Hindus, and myriad less common religions), the men behave like Christians. Other-faith women are more likely to reside in Promiscuous America Of all survey respondents to claim a denominational affiliation, Jews are the most likely to report high promiscuity (8% of Jewish women, 6% of Jewish men). The highest levels of promiscuity naturally belong to Americans who don’t claim a denominational affiliation. This includes 10% of unaffiliated women, and 7% of unaffiliated men.


​​​The Unanticipated Correlates of Promiscuity

Two related factors—education and intelligence—are highly predictive of having a large number of sex partners. Some of us have a mental portrait of Promiscuous America that looks like the Jerry Springer Show, but this doesn’t seem to comport with reality. People with post-graduate degrees are much more likely than their less-educated peers to be promiscuous, and this is especially true of women. Over 2% of women with advanced degrees fall into the top percentile of promiscuity; in other words, over 35 sex partners. Almost 1.5% of men report top-percentile promiscuity of 150 or more partners. Both these numbers are far higher than they are for people with less formal education. Generally speaking, people with high levels of education have the highest marriage rates and the lowest divorce rates, but their ranks also contain a sprinkling of sexual sybarites.


Related to education is the comparably higher intelligence of sexually adventurous Americans. The General Social Survey contains a 10-word vocabulary test that has been shown to have a high correlation (r = .71) with sophisticated IQ test results. Obviously, a 10-question test can’t do justice to a complex concept like intelligence, but for ease of explication, I’ll refer to its results as reflecting IQ or intelligence.

Both men and women in the top percentile of promiscuity report higher intelligence scores than do their less well-traveled peers. This also holds true for women but not men in the top 5% of promiscuity. Top-five percentile men have IQs only slightly higher than their less sexually adventurous peers.


The link between education and sexual exploration has long been clear. In his brilliant and ethically-challenged study of anonymous gay sex, the late sociologist Laud Humphreys observed that his educated respondents were more willing to explore a range of sexual activities. National data also show higher rates of anal sex among educated women. A small number of highly educated people seem to have channeled this curiosity into promiscuity. Perhaps this dynamic can also explain the proclivity for poly-partner promiscuity and intelligence. Finally, these associations seem particularly strong for women.

Does It Matter if You’re Promiscuous?

There are modest but still statistically significant differences in respondent happiness by promiscuity. The 5% most promiscuous respondents of both sexes are less likely to report being “very happy” and more likely to say they are “not too happy.” This pattern holds for women when looking at the top one percentile of promiscuity, but not men. In other words, men who report having had 150 or more sex partners are not any happier or unhappier than their non-Lothario counterparts, but that’s not true for women.


Multivariate analysis reveals that the happiness gap between Promiscuous America and their less sexually adventurous peers can be partly explained by marital status. Recall that promiscuous survey respondents are less likely to be married and more likely to be divorced. Regular readers of this blog are well aware of the fact that marriage and happiness are correlated, and this association might account for why some promiscuous adults are less happy. But there are likely other reasons, some of which might be anterior to both unhappiness and promiscuity. For instance, childhood sexual abuse increases the later-life chances of both promiscuity and unhappiness. In other words, there is no way of knowing if promiscuity is directly causing people to be unhappy.

The happiness story changes when promiscuous Americans get married. These respondents are not more or less happy in their relationships than their non-promiscuous peers. Some may have relegated their infidelities to their first marriages. A small number may be in polyamorous or other forms of open relationships, although it’s impossible to know with these data.

Contrary to public perception, typical sexual behavior hasn’t changed much in recent decades. But there will always be outliers, Americans who have a multitude of sex partners. This behavior is becoming more common for women, but less common for men. Perhaps these women are experiencing the last stages of the Sexual Revolution, stages that came earlier to men. It’s evidence for this proposition that there is no male equivalent to the term “slut shaming.”


Nicholas H. Wolfinger is Professor of Family and Consumer Studies and Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the University of Utah. His most recent book is Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, Love, and Marriage among African Americans and Latinos, coauthored with W. Bradford Wilcox (Oxford University Press, 2016). Follow him on Twitter at @NickWolfinger.

Sex Differences in Attraction to Familiar and Unfamiliar Opposite-Sex Faces: Men Prefer Novelty and Women Prefer Familiarity. Anthony C. Little, Lisa M. DeBruine, Benedict C. Jones. Archives of Sexual Behavior, July 2014, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 973–981.

Abstract: Familiarity is attractive in many types of stimuli and exposure generally increases feelings of liking. However, men desire a greater number of sexual partners than women, suggesting a preference for novelty. We examined sex differences in preferences for familiarity. In Study 1 (N = 83 women, 63 men), we exposed individuals to faces twice and found that faces were judged as more attractive on the second rating, reflecting attraction to familiar faces, with the exception that men’s ratings of female faces decreased on the second rating, demonstrating attraction to novelty. In Studies 2 (N = 42 women, 28 men) and 3 (N = 51 women, 25 men), exposure particularly decreased men’s ratings of women’s attractiveness for short-term relationships and their sexiness. In Study 4 (N = 64 women, 50 men), women’s attraction to faces was positively related to self-rated similarity to their current partner’s face, while the effect was significantly weaker for men. Potentially, men’s attraction to novelty may reflect an adaptation promoting the acquisition of a high number of sexual partners.

Perception of Physical Attractiveness When Consuming and Not Consuming Alcohol: A Meta‐Analysis

Perception of Physical Attractiveness When Consuming and Not Consuming Alcohol: A Meta‐Analysis. Molly A. Bowdring, Michael A. Sayette. Addiction,

Background and Aims: Elucidating why people drink and why drinking can lead to negative psychosocial consequences remains a crucial task for alcohol researchers. Because drinking typically occurs in social settings, broader investigation of the associations between alcohol and social experience is needed to advance understanding of both the rewarding and hazardous effects of alcohol use. This review aimed to (a) estimate alcohol's relation to the perception of others' physical attractiveness and (b) suggest theoretical and methodological considerations that may advance the study of this topic.

Methods: Systematic review of Scopus and PsycInfo databases was conducted to identify experimental and quasi‐experimental studies, with either between‐ or within‐subjects designs, that assessed attractiveness ratings provided by individuals who had and had not consumed alcohol (k=16 studies, n=1,811). A meta‐analysis was conducted to evaluate alcohol's aggregate association with physical attractiveness perceptions. Separate a priori secondary analyses examined alcohol's associations with perception of opposite‐sex (k=12 studies) and same‐sex (k=7 studies) attractiveness.

Results: The primary analysis indicated that alcohol was significantly related to enhanced attractiveness perceptions (d=0.19, 95% CI=0.05‐0.32, p=.01; I2=5.28, 95% CI=0.00 to 39.32). Analysis of alcohol's association with perception of opposite‐sex attractiveness similarly yielded a small, significant positive association (d=0.30, 95% CI=0.16‐0.44, p<.01; I2=17.49, 95% CI=0.00 to 57.75). Alcohol's relation to perception of same‐sex attractiveness was not significant (d=0.04, 95% CI=‐0.18‐0.26, p=.71; I2=54.08, 95% CI=0.00 to 81.66).

Conclusions: Experimental and quasi‐experimental studies suggest that consuming alcohol may have a small effect of increasing perceived attractiveness of people of the opposite sex.

The strength of a message can affect whether or not an individual tells the truth; Stronger messages are found to increase truth-telling by 30 percentage points

Language and Lies. Glynis Gawn, Robert Innes. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics,

•    The strength of a message can affect whether or not an individual tells the truth.
•    An experiment measures how message type affects a sender’s intrinsic lie aversion.
•    “Strong” vs. “weak” messages significantly promote truthfulness in the experiment.
•    Stronger messages are found to increase truth-telling by 30 percentage points.
•    Differential aversion to “weak” vs. “strong” lies can be socially advantageous.

Abstract: Does an individual’s aversion to a lie depend upon the language used to communicate the lie? We adapt the Lopez-Perez and Spiegelman (2013) dot experiment to measure how a “weak” vs. “strong” message affects individuals’ propensities for truthfulness when there is a monetary incentive to lie and no other person is affected by the communication. Weak messages state a fact, whereas strong statements “solemnly swear” to the fact. In our first (between-subject) experiment, strong (vs. weak) statements increase the percentage of subjects choosing to tell the truth by approximately 30 percentage points in each of three different payoff scenarios that favor lying to a different extent. Because lies increase payoffs in the experiment, the weaker aversion to weaker lies is socially advantageous. In a second (within-subject) experiment participants choose between messages of different strength and we find (1) a preference for lying with weak (vs. strong) language, and (2) a significant fraction of subjects who are willing to pay a positive amount to avoid a strong vs. weak lie. From both experiments, we conclude that our subjects tend to be intrinsically less averse to dishonesty when a lie is conveyed with weak vs. strong language.

Keywords: Deception; Language; Communication; Lying Aversion

Using Massive Online Choice Experiments to Measure Changes in Well-being: Digital goods have created large gains in well-being that are missed by conventional measures of GDP and productivity

Using Massive Online Choice Experiments to Measure Changes in Well-being. Erik Brynjolfsson, Felix Eggers, Avinash Gannamaneni. NBER Working Paper No. 24514.

Abstract: GDP and derived metrics (e.g., productivity) have been central to understanding economic progress and well-being. In principle, the change in consumer surplus (compensating expenditure) provides a superior, and more direct, measure of the change in well-being, especially for digital goods, but in practice, it has been difficult to measure. We explore the potential of massive online choice experiments to measure consumers’ willingness to accept compensation for losing access to various digital goods and thereby estimate the consumer surplus generated from these goods. We test the robustness of the approach and benchmark it against established methods, including incentive compatible choice experiments that require participants to give up Facebook for a certain period in exchange for compensation. The proposed choice experiments show convergent validity and are massively scalable. Our results indicate that digital goods have created large gains in well-being that are missed by conventional measures of GDP and productivity. By periodically querying a large, representative sample of goods and services, including those which are not priced in existing markets, changes in consumer surplus and other new measures of well-being derived from these online choice experiments have the potential for providing cost-effective supplements to existing national income and product accounts.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Greg Weiner's When Liberals Become Progressives: Because progress is an unadulterated good, it supersedes the rights of its opponents

When Liberals Become Progressives. By Greg Weiner
The New York Times, April 14, 2018, on Page A19 of the New York edition

Mr. Weiner was a senior aide to Senator Bob Kerrey before becoming a political scientist.

photo: Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the Capitol in 1995. He forthrightly described himself as a liberal, while today the label “progressive” is becoming more common.CreditDavid Scull/The New York Times

WORCESTER, Mass. — On the night of his election to the Senate in 1976, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Democrat of New York, declared: “I ran as a liberal. I was elected as a liberal.” This month, discussing her campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor of New York, Cynthia Nixon called for “progressive change.” The distinction matters.

In recent decades, the label “progressive” has been resurrected to replace “liberal,” a once vaunted term so successfully maligned by Republicans that it fell out of use. Both etymologically and ideologically, the switch to “progressive” carries historical freight that augurs poorly for Democrats and for the nation’s polarized politics.

Historical progressivism is an ideology whose American avatars, like Woodrow Wilson, saw progress as the inevitable outcome of human affairs. Of course, liberals and conservatives believe that their policies will result in positive outcomes, too. But it is another thing to say, as American Progressives did, that the contemporary political task was to identify a destination, grip the wheel and depress the accelerator.

The basic premise of liberal politics, by contrast, is the capacity of government to do good, especially in ameliorating economic ills. Nothing structurally impedes compromise between conservatives, who hold that the accumulated wisdom of tradition is a better guide than the hypercharged rationality of the present, and liberals, because both philosophies exist on a spectrum.

A liberal can believe that government can do more good or less, and one can debate how much to conserve. But progressivism is inherently hostile to moderation because progress is an unmitigated good. There cannot be too much of it. Like conservative fundamentalism, progressivism contributes to the polarization and paralysis of government because it makes compromise, which entails accepting less progress, not merely inadvisable but irrational. Even when progressives choose their targets strategically — Hillary Clinton, for example, called herself “a progressive who likes to get things done” — the implication is that progress is the fundamental goal and that its opponents are atavists.

Unlike liberalism, progressivism is intrinsically opposed to conservation. It renders adhering to tradition unreasonable rather than seeing it, as the liberal can, as a source of wisdom. The British philosopher Roger Scruton calls this a “culture of repudiation” of home and history alike. The critic of progress is not merely wrong but a fool. Progressivism’s critics have long experienced this as a passive-aggressive form of re-education.

Because progress is an unadulterated good, it supersedes the rights of its opponents. This is evident in progressive indifference to the rights of those who oppose progressive policies in areas like sexual liberation.

This is one reason progressives have alienated moderate voters who turned to Donald Trump in 2016. The ideology of progress tends to regard the traditions that have customarily bound communities and which mattered to Trump voters alarmed by the rapid transformation of society, as a fatuous rejection of progress. Trump supporters’ denunciation of “political correctness” is just as often a reaction to progressive condescension as it is to identity politics.

Where liberalism seeks to ameliorate economic ills, progressivism’s goal is to eradicate them. Moynihan recognized this difference between Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, which he always supported — as exemplified by his opposition to Clinton-era welfare reform — and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, which he sympathetically criticized. The New Deal alleviated poverty by cutting checks, something government does competently even if liberals and conservatives argued over the size of the checks. The Great Society partook more of a progressive effort to remake society by eradicating poverty’s causes. The result, Moynihan wrote, was the diversion of resources from welfare and jobs to “community action” programs that financed political activism.

This ideology of progress naturally aggrandizes the fastest route to the future, which is one reason progressivism has historically elevated the presidency to the center of the American regime. This insistence on progress based solely on reason also explains the doomed progressive aspiration, dating to the early 20th century, for “scientific legislation,” which seeks to transform the political into the rational. Yet policymaking in a republic is not, and should not be, purely rational. Constitutional institutions like the separation of powers instead require that policies develop gradually and command wide consensus — at least under normal circumstances.

But neither liberalism nor conservatism opposes rationality. Conservatism holds that accumulated tradition is a likelier source of wisdom than the cleverest individual at any one moment. It fears the tyranny of theory that cannot tolerate dissent. Liberalism defends constitutionalism. One of the finest traditions of 20th-century liberalism was the Cold War liberal who stood for social amelioration and against Soviet Communism. This genus — including Moynihan, Senator Henry Jackson and the longtime labor leader Lane Kirkland — was often maligned by progressives.

One cannot, of course, make too much of labels. But democracy is conducted with words, and progressivism, by its very definition, makes progress into an ideology. The appropriate label for those who do not believe in the ideology of progress but who do believe in government’s capacity to do good is “liberal.” They would do well, politically as well as philosophically, to revive it.

Greg Weiner is a political scientist at Assumption College and the author, most recently, of “American Burke: The Uncommon Liberalism of Daniel Patrick Moynihan.”

Among women, enjoyment of sexualization made them to see themselves as more heterosexual, more attractive, more open to unconventional sex acts, and having greater sentimentality about romantic relationships

Enjoyment of Sexualization and Feminism: Relationships with Sexual Self-Schema and Psychosexual Health. Michael Barnett, Idalia Maciel, Mallory Gerner. Sexuality & Culture,

Abstract: Feminists have debated whether enjoyment of sexualization (ES)—when women find sexualized attention from men rewarding—represents empowerment or patriarchal oppression. The purpose of this study was to investigate the psychosexual correlates of ES—sexual self-schema (SSS) and psychosexual health—among heterosexual college women (n = 754) and men (n = 389). Among women, ES was associated with a SSS in which women saw themselves as more heterosexual, more attractive, more open to unconventional sex acts, and having greater sentimentality about romantic relationships. Regarding psychosexual health, ES was not linked with general self-esteem but was associated with higher sexual esteem and lower sexual depression. Among men, ES was not related to SSS or psychosexual health. Overall, among women, ES was linked with positive outcomes, and it may represent women conforming to societal norms and using sexualized attention in order to obtain romantic intimacy. Rather than internalized misogyny, ES may represent an open approach to sexuality in which women take advantage of their sexualized position in society for their own empowerment.

Based upon our results, we cannot indicate whether ES is or is not a response to oppression, but it appears that for some women, it may be a strategic response that may have some beneficial outcomes. Our results seem to support the particular feminist view that ES may be a reflection of an open view of sexuality that allows for a sense of empowerment. More importantly, it may reflect women’s sense of awareness of their sexualized roles in society, and rather than falling victim to it, they have decided to use this awareness for their own benefit.

"A great deal of the public outcry against fake news, echo chambers and polarization on social media is itself based on misinformation"

Rolf Degen summarizes ( "A great deal of the public outcry against fake news, echo chambers and polarization on social media is itself based on misinformation."

Review of Barbera, Pablo and Tucker, Joshua A. and Guess, Andrew and Vaccari, Cristian and Siegel, Alexandra and Sanovich, Sergey and Stukal, Denis and Nyhan, Brendan (2018) Social media, political polarization, and political disinformation: a review of the scientific literature. William + Flora Hewlett Foundation, California.

Abstract: The following report is intended to provide an overview of the current state of the literature on the relationship between social media; political polarization; and political “disinformation,” a term used to encompass a wide range of types of information about politics found online, including “fake news,” rumors, deliberately factually incorrect information, inadvertently factually incorrect information, politically slanted information, and “hyperpartisan” news. The review of the literature is provided in six separate sections, each of which can be read individually but that cumulatively are intended to provide an overview of what is known — and unknown — about the relationship between social media, political polarization, and disinformation. The report concludes by identifying key gaps in our understanding of these phenomena and the data that are needed to address them.

The current conventional wisdom on the impact of misinformation is mostly based on journalistic reports documenting its spread during the 2016 election. Some of the earliest reporting on this topic was produced by Craig Silverman of Buzzfeed News. In a series of articles published around the time of the election, he demonstrated that engagement on Facebook was higher for fake content than for stories from major news outlets. Additional reporting by other outlets corroborated these initial findings (see e.g., Higgins et al. 2016; Rogers & Bromwich 2016; Timberg 2016). Overall, these reports paint a picture of the online news ecosystem in which misinformation and hyperpartisan stories are shared at rates comparable to news stories by mainstream media outlets, reaching millions of people.

This evidence has provided new fuel to the debate on the internet and social media as ideological echo chambers. The prevailing narrative is that online misinformation is amplified in partisan communities of like-minded individuals, where it goes unchallenged due to ranking algorithms that filter out any dissenting voice (see e.g., Pariser 2011; del Vicario et al. 2016). One of the leading proponents of this view is Cass Sunstein, who in his most recent book, #Republic, warns that balkanized online speech markets represent new threats to democracy because they are a breeding ground for informational cascades of “fake news” and conspiracy theories (Sunstein 2017). The outcome of this process, he argues, would be a society that is ill-informed and increasingly segregated and polarized along partisan lines, making political compromise increasingly unlikely.

However, the consensus in the scholarly literature is not as clear as these accounts would suggest. Boxell et al. (2017) show that, even if mass political polarization has grown in recent times, this increase has been largest among citizens least likely to use the internet and social media. Their results reveal that “the internet explains a small share of the recent growth in polarization” (p. 10612). Bakshy et al. (2015) and Barberá (N.d.) find that Facebook and Twitter users are exposed to a surprisingly high level of diverse views. Wojcieszak and Mutz (2009) provide similar evidence of frequent cross-cutting political exchanges in online discussion spaces. Survey data collected by the Pew Research Center (Duggan & Smith 2016) show that most users report being exposed to a variety of viewpoints on social media. Forty percent of social media users across different countries report being exposed to a diverse range of sources, according to data from 2017 Reuters Institute Digital News Report (Newman et al. 2017). Finally, regarding the spread of misinformation, Allcott and Gentzkow (2017) find that even if “fake news” stories were widely shared during the 2016 election, the average American saw, at most, several of them on social media.

Put together, this body of work challenges the conventional wisdom, but in many ways raises more questions than it answers. Even if average cross-cutting exposure is relatively high on average, there may be pockets of individuals who are indeed fully embedded in politically homogeneous communities, for whom online consumption of information could lead to increased extremism. Given the nearly universal presence of journalists on social media, messages shared on these platforms could have indirect effects even among the offline population. We also know little about the long-term consequences of online news consumption on political disaffection, civic knowledge, political participation, and social capital.

There is a clear need for further research addressing the questions above. In trying to structure the discussion of what is known and not yet known within this research agenda, it is useful to consider three potential mechanisms by which online consumption of political information could be impacting political processes: (1) changes in the volume of information being consumed, (2) the (diversity of) sources of such political content, and (3) how it is framed. The following sections discuss the effect of exposure to (mis)information online in key societal outcomes by focusing on how research on these three mechanisms helps resolve the tension between theory and empirics described above, and informs our knowledge of such broader questions.

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Impact of the Dodd-Frank Act on Small Business: small loans fell 9pct in large banks, and double that in small banks, and has not partially recovered in eight years until regulatory easing was announced recently

The Impact of the Dodd-Frank Act on Small Business. Michael D. Bordo, John V. Duca. NBER Working Paper No. 24501,

There are concerns that the Dodd-Frank Act (DFA) has impeded small business lending. By increasing the fixed regulatory compliance requirements needed to make business loans and operate a bank, the DFA disproportionately reduced the incentives for all banks to make very modest loans and reduced the viability of small banks, whose small-business share of [commercial and industrial loans, C&I loans] is generally much higher than that of larger banks. Despite an economic recovery, the small loan share of C&I loans at large banks and banks with $300 or more million in assets has fallen by 9 percentage points since the DFA was passed in 2010, with the magnitude of the decline twice as large at small banks. Controlling for cyclical effects and bank size, we find that these declines in the small loan share of C&I loans are almost all statistically attributed to the change in regulatory regime. Examining Federal Reserve survey data, we find evidence that the DFA prompted a relative tightening of bank credit standards on C&I loans to small versus large firms, consistent with the DFA inducing a decline in small business lending through loan supply effects. We also empirically model the pace of business formation, finding that it had downshifted around the time when the DFA and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act were announced. Timing patterns suggest that business formation has more recently ticked higher, coinciding with efforts to provide regulatory relief to smaller banks via modifying rules implementing the DFA. The upturn contrasts with the impact of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which appears to persistently restrain business formation

Current evidence does not support that losses tend to be any more impactful than gains; why acceptance of loss aversion as a general principle remains pervasive and persistent among social scientists?

The Loss of Loss Aversion: Will It Loom Larger than Its Gain? David Gal, Derek D Rucker. Journal of Consumer Psychology,

Abstract: Loss aversion, the principle that losses loom larger than gains, is among the most widely accepted ideas in the social sciences. The first part of this article introduces and discusses the construct of loss aversion. The second part of this article reviews evidence in support of loss aversion. The upshot of this review is that current evidence does not support that losses, on balance, tend to be any more impactful than gains. The third part of this article aims to address the question of why acceptance of loss aversion as a general principle remains pervasive and persistent among social scientists, including consumer psychologists, despite evidence to the contrary. This analysis aims to connect the persistence of a belief in loss aversion to more general ideas about belief acceptance and persistence in science. The final part of the article discusses how a more contextualized perspective of the relative impact of losses versus gains can open new areas of inquiry that are squarely in the domain of consumer psychology.

Check also Acceptable losses: the debatable origins of loss aversion. Eldad Yechiam. Psychological Research,

Acceptable losses: the debatable origins of loss aversion

Acceptable losses: the debatable origins of loss aversion. Eldad Yechiam. Psychological Research,

Abstract: It is often claimed that negative events carry a larger weight than positive events. Loss aversion is the manifestation of this argument in monetary outcomes. In this review, we examine early studies of the utility function of gains and losses, and in particular the original evidence for loss aversion reported by Kahneman and Tversky (Econometrica  47:263–291, 1979). We suggest that loss aversion proponents have over-interpreted these findings. Specifically, the early studies of utility functions have shown that while very large losses are overweighted, smaller losses are often not. In addition, the findings of some of these studies have been systematically misrepresented to reflect loss aversion, though they did not find it. These findings shed light both on the inability of modern studies to reproduce loss aversion as well as a second literature arguing strongly for it.

Dissimilarity in psychopathy was related to lower women's relationship quality; similarity in narcissism predicted higher relationship quality in women and men; similarity on high level of Machiavellianism is detrimental to relationship quality

The effects of similarity in the dark triad traits on the relationship quality in dating couples. Igor Kardum et al. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 131, 1 September 2018, Pages 38–44.

•    Similarities in Dark Triad were examined as predictors of relationship quality.
•    Profile similarity and polynomial regression analysis were used.
•    Dissimilarity in psychopathy was related to lower women's relationship quality.
•    Similarity in narcissism predicted higher relationship quality in women and men.
•    Similarity on high level of Machiavellianism is detrimental to relationship quality.

Abstract: The study examined the effects of similarity in the Dark Triad (DT) traits on women and men's relationship quality (RQ) by using profile similarity (PS) and polynomial regression analysis (PRA) as the methods for the assessment of partners' similarity. Participants were 100 young adult heterosexual dating couples. The effects of similarity in the DT traits on RQ were somewhat different depending on different methods used as well as whether we considered women or men's RQ. PRA showed that dissimilarity in psychopathy was related to lower women's RQ, while similarity at high levels of Machiavellianism to lower RQ in women and men. Additionally, women's RQ decreased more sharply when partners were similar at high levels of Machiavellianism. PS in narcissism was associated with higher RQ in women and men. This study suggests that different methods of assessment of (dis)similarity could add to the more thorough understanding of the associations between personality traits and relationship outcomes.

Keywords: Dark Triad traits; Personality similarity; Relationship quality; Polynomial regression; Profile similarity

A leftward perceptual asymmetry when judging the attractiveness of visual patterns

A leftward perceptual asymmetry when judging the attractiveness of visual patterns. Paul Rodway, Astrid Schepman, Becky Crossley & Jennifer Lee. Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition,

ABSTRACT: Perceptual judgements concerning the magnitude of a stimulus feature are typically influenced more by the left side of the stimulus than by the right side. This research examined whether the leftward bias also applies to judgements of the attractiveness of abstract visual patterns. Across four experiments participants chose between two versions of a stimulus which either had an attractive left side or an attractive right side. Experiments 1 and 2 presented artworks and experiments 3 and 4 presented wallpaper designs. In each experiment participants showed a significant bias to choose the stimulus with an attractive left side more than the stimulus with an attractive right side. The leftward bias emerged at age 10/11, was not caused by a systematic asymmetry in the perception of colourfulness or complexity, and was stronger when the difference in attractiveness between the left and right sides was larger. The results are relevant to the aesthetics of product and packaging design and show that leftward biases extend to the perceptual judgement of everyday items. Possible causes of the leftward bias for attractiveness judgements are discussed and it is suggested that the size of the bias may not be a measure of the degree of hemispheric specialization.

KEYWORDS: Pseudoneglect, aesthetics, asymmetry, activation model, chimeric

Does Activism in Social Science Explain Conservatives’ Distrust of Scientists?

Does Activism in Social Science Explain Conservatives’ Distrust of Scientists? Nathan Cofnas, Noah Carl, Michael A. Woodley of Menie. The American Sociologist, March 2018, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 135–148.

Abstract: Data from the General Social Survey suggest that conservatives have become less trustful of scientists since the 1970s. Gauchat argues that this is because conservatives increasingly see scientific findings as threatening to their worldview. However, the General Social Survey data concern trust in scientists, not in science. We suggest that conservatives’ diminishing trust in scientists reflects the fact that scientists in certain fields, particularly social science, have increasingly adopted a liberal-activist stance, seeking to influence public policy in a liberal direction.


Gauchat claimed that conservatives had less trust in "science" than liberals. We observed that he found only that they have less trust in scientists, not science, and that there is independent evidence that conservative distrust is directed toward what McCright et al. (2013) call "impact scientists" (e.g., social scientists) rather than "production scientists." We provided evidence that leading social scientists and social science organizations misrepresent research in order to influence public policy in a liberal direction, tolerate censorship of work that challenges liberal beliefs, uncritically accept dubious scientific findings that paint conservatives in an unflattering light, and practice a variety of forms of discrimination against conservative scholars. Conservatives’ recognition of this reality could explain why only 38% of conservatives in 2010, compared with 50% of liberals, said that they had "great deal of confidence" in "the scientific community" (Gauchat 2012).

Losing the trust of conservatives may not ne the only bad consequence of liberal activism in social science. Science itself is harmed. As Weber (2009:146) warned, "whenever the man of science introduces his personal value judgement, a full understanding of the facts ceases." Today, social science is facing a "replication crisis" (Open Science Collaboration 2015): Many findings that were thought to be firmly established are turning out not to be replicable when tested more carefully. It is noteworthy that a significant number of the effects that are falling victim to the replication crisis either supported liberalism or were somehow unflattering to conservatives. "Stereotype threat" is perhaps the most striking example. Since stereotype threat was proposed to explain gaps in the test scores of blacks and Whites more than two decades ago (Steele and Aronson 1995), it has become one of the primary liberal explanations for group differences in performance and has spawned many thousands of follow-up studies. Yet it may turn out that it was all a mistake—a consequence of publication bias and questionable research methods (Ganley et al. 2013; Jussim 2015). Other studies that could not be replicated,while not being explicitly anti-conservative, subtly support liberal ideas or cast conservatives in a bad light. For example, studies that could not be replicated include one where people "increased their endorsement of a current social system after being exposed to money" and another where Americans became more conservative after seeing a U.S. flag (Yong 2013). The former makes money seem to be bad thing, in line with liberal skepticism of capitalism. The latter suggests that conservatism is a primal reaction to tribal symbols. Virtually none of the non-replicable effects were at all favorable to conservatism. This suggests that findings that might favor conservatism are scrutinized much more carefully than those that favor liberalism—if they are not censored or rejected for explicitly moral reasons (e.g., Gardner 2001; Sternberg 2005).

In the past few years, a number of social scientists, led by Jonathan Haidt, have called upon social scientists to diversify the field and make a conscious effort to root out liberal bias (Duarte et al. 2015). We conclude with a prediction: If social scientists begin counteracting liberal activism, the trend of lowering conservative trust in scientists will reverse.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Men desire their opposite sex partners to have sex with same-sex individuals, and if possible to already have experience. Women do not desire men with same-sex attraction

Same-sex attraction and contact in an opposite sex partner: Exploring sex, religiosity, porn consumption and participation effects. Menelaos Apostolou, Christoforos Christoforou. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 131, 1 September 2018, Pages 26–30.

•    Finds that men desire opposite sex partners who experience same-sex attractions
•    Finds that men desire their opposite sex partners to have sex with same-sex individuals
•    Finds that men indicate a stronger desire for same-sex contacts where they would also participate
•    Finds that sex differences in desires persist after controlling for confounding variables

Abstract; It has been recently argued that heterosexual men, as opposed to heterosexual women, find same-sex attraction and contact desirable in a partner. The current paper employs an online sample of 775 heterosexual participants in order to examine this sex difference and assess its evolutionary implications. Results showed that just over half of heterosexual men preferred some level of same-sex attraction and contact in a female partner. On the other hand, the vast majority of heterosexual women did not prefer same-sex attraction and contact in a partner. This sex difference remained significant after controlling for religiosity and porn consumption. In addition, it was found that men preferred same-sex attraction and contact more in a short-term than in a long-term partner. Moreover, men indicated a stronger preference for their partners to engage in same-sex contacts where they would also participate, than to engage in same-sex contacts without themselves participating. It was also found that men did not consider same-sex attraction to be an important selection criterion for a partner.

Keywords: Same-sex attraction; Male choice hypothesis; Homosexuality; Religiosity; Porn consumption

Individuals low in self-control are more likely to respond immediately to any signal from their smartphone, while agreeable individuals are more likely to hold back.

Low self-control capacity is associated with immediate responses to smartphone signals. Sebastian Berger, Annika M. Wys1, Daria Knoch. Computers in Human Behavior,

1    The research investigates people’s self-control capacity and their smartphone use.
2    Behavior was measured in a field setting using actual responses to signals.
3    Self-control capacity explains heterogeneity in reactions to smartphone signals.
4    This research can help to design appropriate protective mechanisms or interventions.

Abstract: The ubiquitous use of smartphones has not only led to unprecedented levels of connectivity, but also raised the question about potentially problematic side effects such as phone-use while driving or phone-caused inattention in work or private settings. This raises the question about psychological mechanisms underlying this potentially self-damaging use. The present research addresses this question by showing how heterogeneity in people’s self-control capacity explains behavioral differences in smartphone use. Specifically, we show that self-control capacity can be used to estimate whether a person immediately responds to a smartphone signal she receives. Thus, our research helps to identify personal characteristics that lead to a better understanding of problematic smartphone use and can potentially help to design appropriate protective mechanisms or interventions that target self-control capacity.


Poverty in US Same-Sex Households: more likely to be in poverty than those headed by different-sex married couples

Poverty in US Lesbian and Gay Couple Households. Alyssa Schneebaum & M. V. Lee Badgett. Feminist Economics,

ABSTRACT: Poverty is a widely researched topic in economics. However, despite growing research on the economic lives of lesbians and gay men in the United States since the mid 1990s, very little is known about poverty in same-sex couple households. This study uses American Community Survey data from 2010 to 2014 to calculate poverty rates for households headed by different-sex versus same-sex couples. Comparing households with similar characteristics, the results show that those headed by same-sex couples are more likely to be in poverty than those headed by different-sex married couples. Despite that overall disadvantage, a decomposition of the poverty risk shows that same-sex couples are protected from poverty by their higher levels of education and labor force participation, and their lower probability of having a child in the home. Lastly, the role of gender – above and beyond sexual orientation – is clear in the greater vulnerability to poverty for lesbian couples.

KEYWORDS: Poverty, same-sex couples, sexual orientation, lesbian, gay, bisexual
JEL Codes: I32, D31, J16

It is the broad Conservative Syndrome that correlates negatively with cognitive abilities, and religiosity is only a part of it. Cognitive ability is becoming an increasingly important predictor of social conservatism

Conservative Syndrome and the understanding of negative correlations between religiosity and cognitive abilities. Lazar Stankov, Jihyun Lee. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 131, 1 September 2018, Pages 21–25.

Abstract: We present new data about the correlation between religiosity and cognitive abilities. At the individual level of analysis the correlation is r = −0.199 and at the country level of analysis the correlation is r = −0.420 with a test of fluid intelligence and r = −0.536 with PISA 2015 science scores. These correlations can be reduced by partialling out measures of traditional values, power distance and conservatism/liberalism. They can also be reduced by partialling out economic and political indices. Our findings indicate that it is the broad Conservative Syndrome that correlates negatively with cognitive abilities, and religiosity is only a part of it. Cognitive ability is becoming an increasingly important predictor of social conservatism.

Keywords: Religiosity; Conservative Syndrome; Cognitive ability

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Widespread associations between trait conscientiousness and thickness of brain cortical regions

Widespread associations between trait conscientiousness and thickness of brain cortical regions. Gary J. Lewis et al. NeuroImage,

•    We investigated relationships between personality and neuroanatomy.
•    Participants (N = 578) completed an MRI scan and Big Five personality trait measures.
•    Conscientiousness was positively related to cortical thickness in a range of regions.
•    These included: parahippocampal, fusiform, and cingulate gyri, and frontal cortex.
•    No other Big Five trait was associated with our brain measures.

Abstract: The neural correlates of human personality have been of longstanding interest; however, most studies in the field have relied on modest sample sizes and few replicable results have been reported to date. We investigated relationships between personality and brain gray matter in a sample of generally healthy, older (mean age 73 years) adults from Scotland drawn from the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936. Participants (N = 578) completed a brain MRI scan and self-reported Big Five personality trait measures. Conscientiousness trait scores were positively related to brain cortical thickness in a range of regions, including bilateral parahippocampal gyrus, bilateral fusiform gyrus, left cingulate gyrus, right medial orbitofrontal cortex, and left dorsomedial prefrontal cortex. These associations – most notably in frontal regions – were modestly-to-moderately attenuated by the inclusion of biomarker variables assessing allostatic load and smoking status. None of the other personality traits showed robust associations with brain cortical thickness, nor did we observe any personality trait associations with cortical surface area and gray matter volume. These findings indicate that brain cortical thickness is associated with conscientiousness, perhaps partly accounted for by allostatic load and smoking status.

Keywords: Personality; Conscientiousness; Cortical thickness; Brain; Neuroanatomy; Allostatic load


Political conservatism is negatively associated with an individual’s rating of sociology as being scientific; and is more negative among those with more education

Politics and the Perceived Boundaries of Science: Activism, Sociology, and Scientific Legitimacy. Christopher P. Scheitle. Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World.

Abstract: Research has suggested that public confidence in the scientific community has become politicized, but it is not clear that liberals and conservatives disagree on the more fundamental question of what counts as being scientific. An analysis of General Social Survey data finds that political conservatism is negatively associated with an individual’s rating of sociology as being scientific. This association is not found when examining ratings of economics or biology. Education moderates this association, as the gap between liberals’ and conservatives’ ratings of sociology’s scientific-ness is greater among those with more education. Although research has demonstrated that trust in the scientific community has become politicized, these findings demonstrate that the perceived boundaries of science can also be influenced by political ideology.

Keywords: science, sociology, politics, conservatism, liberalism


Friday, April 13, 2018

Greater effort increases perceived value in an invertebrate

Czaczkes, T. J., Brandstetter, B., di Stefano, I., & Heinze, J. (2018). Greater effort increases perceived value in an invertebrate. Journal of Comparative Psychology,

Abstract: Expending effort is generally considered to be undesirable. However, both humans and vertebrates will work for a reward they could also get for free. Moreover, cues associated with high-effort rewards are preferred to low-effort associated cues. Many explanations for these counterintuitive findings have been suggested, including cognitive dissonance (self-justification) or a greater contrast in state (e.g., energy or frustration level) before and after an effort-linked reward. Here, we test whether effort expenditure also increases perceived value in ants, using both classical cue-association methods and pheromone deposition, which correlates with perceived value. In 2 separate experimental setups, we show that pheromone deposition is higher toward the reward that requires more effort: 47% more pheromone deposition was performed for rewards reached via a vertical runway (high effort) compared with ones reached via a horizontal runway (low effort), and deposition rates were 28% higher on rough (high effort) versus smooth (low effort) runways. Using traditional cue-association methods, 63% of ants trained on different surface roughness, and 70% of ants trained on different runway elevations, preferred the high-effort related cues on a Y maze. Finally, pheromone deposition to feeders requiring memorization of one path bifurcation was up to 29% higher than to an identical feeder requiring no learning. Our results suggest that effort affects value perception in ants. This effect may stem from a cognitive process, which monitors the change in a generalized hedonic state before and after reward.


Achievement is often attributed to natural talent (naturals) or hard work (strivers). There is a preference for naturals over strivers when evaluating professionals, but strivers are preferred when the target appeared to be an ordinary person

Contextual and personal determinants of preferring success attributed to natural talent or striving. Christina M. Brown, Nicole S. Troy, Katie R. Jobson , Jennifer K. Link. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology,

•    Achievement is often attributed to natural talent (naturals) or hard work (strivers).
•    Past research has found a preference for naturals over strivers.
•    We replicated the bias among experienced perceivers evaluating professional targets.
•    Conversely, strivers were preferred when the target appeared to be an ordinary person.
•    We observed a new naturalness bias: Strivers are assumed to have natural talent.

Abstract: Evidence to date has established a preference for successful individuals whose achievements are attributed to natural talent (“naturals”) rather than focused effort (“strivers”). Across six studies, we discovered a reversal of the bias depending on contextual and personal factors. Strivers, rather than naturals, are favored when evaluating ordinary people. This preference is particularly strong among perceivers who have experience in the performance domain, and it replicates across different domains and participant populations. Strivers are also preferred as cooperative partners and are expected to perform better on novel, unrelated tasks. The direction of the preference for naturals versus strivers can be traced to a combination of the perceiver's experience and the target's professional status. Specifically, a naturalness bias was only present among experienced perceivers evaluating professional targets. On the other hand, a more implicit form of the naturalness bias was observed in attributions made about the target's achievement, such that strivers were assumed to have natural talent more than naturals were assumed to have worked diligently.

Keywords: Natural talent; Naturals; Strivers; Naturalness bias; Essentialism

In jobs that require substantial amounts of interpersonal interaction a large beauty premium exists. In jobs where attractiveness seems unlikely to truly enhance productivity (like working with information and data) there is no premium

Beauty, Job Tasks, and Wages: A New Conclusion about Employer Taste-Based Discrimination. Todd R. Stinebrickner, Ralph Stinebrickner, Paul J. Sullivan. NBER Working Paper No. 24479

We use novel data from the Berea Panel Study to reexamine the labor market mechanisms generating the beauty wage premium. We find that the beauty premium varies widely across jobs with different task requirements. Specifically, in jobs where existing research such as Hamermesh and Biddle (1994) has posited that attractiveness is plausibly a productivity enhancing attribute—those that require substantial amounts of interpersonal interaction—a large beauty premium exists. In contrast, in jobs where attractiveness seems unlikely to truly enhance productivity—jobs that require working with information and data—there is no beauty premium. This stark variation in the beauty premium across jobs is inconsistent with the employer-based discrimination explanation for the beauty premium, because this theory predicts that all jobs will favor attractive workers. Our approach is made possible by unique longitudinal task data, which was collected to address the concern that measurement error in variables describing the importance of interpersonal tasks would tend to bias results towards finding a primary role for employer taste-based discrimination. As such, it is perhaps not surprising that our conclusions about the importance of employer taste-based discrimination are in stark contrast to all previous research that has utilized a similar conceptual approach.

Participants rated the fictitious politician’s public approval & perceived character as higher if the politician was a member of their own political party than if the politician was a member of the another one

Judging scandal: Standards or bias in politics. Erin D. Solomon, Jana M. Hackathorn & David Crittendon. The Journal of Social Psychology,

ABSTRACT: As the number of political scandals rises, we examined the circumstances that might influence how a politician would be judged as a result of a scandal. Specifically, we hypothesized that ingroup bias theory and shifting standards theory would produce different patterns of judgements. In two studies, we found support for the ingroup bias theory, such that participants rated the fictitious politician’s public approval and perceived character as higher if the politician was a member of their own political party (i.e. their ingroup) than if the politician was a member of the another political party (i.e. their outgroup). These results may explain, in part, why people may judge politicians involved in scandal more or less harshly depending on whether they are an ingroup member or outgroup member.

KEYWORDS: infidelity, ingroup bias, political scandal, shifting standards, social identity theory

Rolf Degen A politician involved in a sex scandal is always judged more harshly if he/she is from the other side of the political aisle - no matter how people view sex outside marriage in general.

We prefer to delegate a moral task to a human, despite that machine errors are not perceived significantly different from human errors and the level of trust toward machines and toward humans does not differ significantly

Rage Against the Machine: Automation in the Moral Domain. Jan Gogoll, Matthias Uhl. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics,

•    We are the first to experimentally investigate delegation to machines in the moral domain
•    Subjects prefer to delegate a moral task to a human
•    Delegators were rewarded less for delegating to a machine
•    Machine errors are not perceived significantly different from human errors
•    Level of trust toward machines and toward humans does not differ significantly

Abstract: The introduction of ever more capable autonomous systems is moving at a rapid pace. The technological progress will enable us to completely delegate to machines processes that were once a prerogative for humans. Progress in fields like autonomous driving promises huge benefits on both economical and ethical scales. Yet, there is little research that investigates the utilization of machines to perform tasks that are in the moral domain. This study explores whether subjects are willing to delegate tasks that affect third parties to machines as well as how this decision is evaluated by an impartial observer. We examined two possible factors that might coin attitudes regarding machine use—perceived utility of and trust in the automated device. We found that people are hesitant to delegate to a machine and that observers judge such delegations in relatively critical light. Neither perceived utility nor trust, however, can account for this pattern. Alternative explanations that we test in a post-experimental survey also do not find support. We may thus observe an aversion per se against machine use in the moral domain.