Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Dimensions of Subjective Age Identity Across the Lifespan

Lindner, Nicole M.,and Brian A Nosek 2018. “Dimensions of Subjective Age Identity Across the Lifespan”. PsyArXiv. June 6. doi:10.17605/OSF.IO/M2Y5R

Abstract: We examined how felt age and desired age differed from chronological age across the age span. With each passing Earth year, felt and desired age do grow older, it just takes longer for the year to go by. Past age 25 or so, subjective aging appears to occur on Mars, where one Earth decade equals only 5.3 Martian years. In some sense, our minds age more slowly than our bodies do.


Examined cortical gyrification associations with psychopathy in a sample of 716 incarcerated individuals; psychopathy was negatively associated with gyrification in the midcingulate cortex and superior parietal cortex

Abnormal cortical gyrification in criminal psychopathy. Tara A. Miskovich et al. NeuroImage: Clinical, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2018.06.007

Highlights
•    We examined cortical gyrification associations with psychopathy in a sample of 716 incarcerated individuals.
•    Psychopathy was negatively associated with gyrification in the midcingulate cortex and superior parietal cortex.
•    Factor 1 scores were associated with reduced gyrification in the midcingulate cortex, but increased gyrification in bilateral occipital cortex.
•    These results may represent a vulnerability for psychopathy, which may help further elucidate the etiology of this disorder.

Abstract

Background: Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterized by interpersonal and emotional abnormalities (e.g., lack of empathy and guilt) and antisocial behavior. Psychopathy has been associated with a number of structural brain abnormalities, most notably in orbital frontal and anterior/medial temporal regions, that may underlie psychopathic individuals' problematic behaviors. Past research evaluating cortical structure in psychopathy has considered thickness and volume, but to date no study has investigated differences in cortical gyrification, a measure of cortical complexity thought to reflect early neurodevelopmental cortical connectivity.

Methods: We measured the local gyrification index (LGI) in a sample of 716 adult male inmates and performed a whole brain analysis assessing the relationship between LGI and total and factor scores on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R).

Results: PCL-R scores were negatively associated with LGI measures within the right hemisphere in the midcingulate cortex (MCC) and adjacent regions of the superior frontal gyrus as well as lateral superior parietal cortex. Additionally, PCL-R Factor 1 scores (interpersonal/affective traits) predicted less LGI within the right MCC and adjacent dorsomedial frontal cortex and greater LGI in bilateral occipital cortex. Scores on PCL-R Factor 2, indicating impulsivity and antisocial behaviors, did not predict LGI in any regions.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that psychopathy, particularly the interpersonal and affective traits, are associated with specific structural abnormalities that form during neurodevelopment and these abnormalities may underlie aberrant brain functioning in regions important in emotional processing and cognitive control.

Keywords: Psychopathy; Cortical folding; Local gyrification

Experts' features enable them to perform better than novices on complex tasks; features include superior long-term and working memory and quicker, better decisions; heritable variation in traits such as motivation and cognition can affect expertise

Animal expertise: mechanisms, ecology and evolution. Reuven Dukas. Animal Behaviour, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2018.05.010

Highlights
•    Experts' features enable them to perform better than novices on complex tasks.
•    Features include superior long-term and working memory and quicker, better decisions.
•    Expertise can affect animal ecology and evolution but data are mostly on humans.
•    Heritable variation in traits such as motivation and cognition can affect expertise.
•    We need long-term studies on animal expertise and its ecology and evolution.

Abstract: Expertise consists of the features that allow individuals with extensive experience on a given complex task to show superior performance on that task compared to novices. While expertise has been investigated mostly in humans, it is highly relevant for other species as well because it can have strong effects on fitness. Moreover, studying expertise in nonhumans can help us understand human expertise. Several features that distinguish experts within their domain of expertise from novices include (1) greater long-term memory, (2) larger capacity of working memory, (3) better ability to focus attention on the most relevant concurrent tasks, (4) superior ability to anticipate, perceive and comprehend the relevant elements in one's surroundings, (5) quicker and better decisions, and (6) faster and more coordinated motor movements. The development of expertise follows a characteristic pattern of gradual improvement in performance over extended periods devoted to practising a given complex task. Heritable variation in a few traits can affect the rate of expertise acquisition and its peak levels. These traits include motivation to practise, perseverance, basic cognitive abilities such as attention span, working memory capacity, learning rates and memory retention, and various physiological, anatomical and morphological features. Key environmental factors influencing expertise development are parental and social settings, which may encourage investment in the extended practice necessary for achieving superior performance on complex tasks. Future work on the evolutionary biology of expertise should focus on the yet unknown neurobiological mechanisms that underlie it, heritable variation in the traits that enable expertise and their genetic basis, further quantifications of expertise acquisition in natural settings, the fitness consequences of the traits that facilitate top expert performance, and the ecological and evolutionary consequences of expertise.

Keywords: cognition; evolution; expertise; heritability; learning; life history

Has evolution shaped us to fall in love, not just in judging our partners, but in becoming more lovable ourselves? Female sexual desire in courtship & newlywed phases decreases later, making men entering into a long-term commitment based on false assumptions about the amount of sex involved

The Mask of Love and Sexual Gullibility. Roy F. Baumeister, Jessica A. Maxwell, Geoffrey P. Thomas. sydneysymposium.unsw.edu.au/2018/chapters/BaumeisterSSSP2018.pdf

Abstract: Many people describe the time of being newly in love as one of life’s peak experiences. Years later, many are dismayed by the choices they made during love, and many people divorce after thinking they were to be married for life. How did they make such a grievous mistake? Traditional theory assumes that lovers are biased in judgments about their partners. This largely speculative essay suggests that evolution has shaped people to fall in love, not just in judging their partners, but in becoming more lovable themselves. Recent data indicate that female sexual desire during courtship and newlywed phases is often followed by a loss of sexual desire that undermines both spouses’ marital satisfaction. Men may therefore be gullible in terms of entering into a long-term commitment based on false assumptions about the amount of sex involved. This may serve as a useful model for the hypothesis that people become more lovable when in love.

On The Role of Affect in Gullibility: Can Positive Mood Increase, and Negative Mood Reduce Credulity?

On The Role of Affect in Gullibility: Can Positive Mood Increase, and Negative Mood Reduce Credulity? Joseph P. Forgas. sydneysymposium.unsw.edu.au/2018/chapters/ForgasSSSP2018.pdf

Abstract: The uncritical acceptance of false or misleading beliefs is often influenced by sub-conscious affective reactions. This chapter will describe some of the psychological mechanisms responsible for the biasing effects of affect and mood on gullibility and skepticism. A series of experimental studies will be presented showing that mild affective states can influence perceptions of truth, the likelihood to believe misleading information, the tendency to trust interpersonal messages, the detection of deception, and the tendency to see meaning in random or meaningless information. In addition to the influence of mild, temporary moods on gullibility, more enduring and stable affective reactions can also produce gullibility. The theoretical significance of these studies will be discussed, and the practical implications of affectively induced gullibility will be considered.

Large-prize winners experience sustained increases in overall life satisfaction that persist for over a decade and show no evidence of dissipating with time; effects on happiness and mental health are much smaller

Long-run Effects of Lottery Wealth on Psychological Well-being. Erik Lindqvist, Robert Östling, David Cesarini. NBER Working Paper No. 24667, http://www.nber.org/papers/w24667

Abstract: We surveyed a large sample of Swedish lottery players about their psychological well-being and analyzed the data following pre-registered procedures. Relative to matched controls, large-prize winners experience sustained increases in overall life satisfaction that persist for over a decade and show no evidence of dissipating with time. The estimated treatment effects on happiness and mental health are significantly smaller, suggesting that wealth has greater long-run effects on evaluative measures of well-being than on affective ones. Follow-up analyses of domain-specific aspects of life satisfaction clearly implicate financial life satisfaction as an important mediator for the long-run increase in overall life satisfaction.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Scientists, like all other men whose experiences have been limited to one pursuit, ... sometimes need to be restrained. Men of high scientific attainments are prone, in their love for technique, to lose sight of broad principles outside of their domain of thought

Statement by Pennsylvania Gov Samuel W Pennypacker, 1905. https://junkscience.com/2018/05/on-the-need-to-restrain-scientists/

I return herewith, without my approval Senate Bill No. 35, entitled “An Act for the prevention of idiocy.”

This bill has what may be called with propriety an attractive title. If idiocy could be prevented by an act of assembly, we may be quite sure that such an act would have long been passed and approved in this state, and that such laws would have been enacted in all civilized countries.

The subject of the act is not the prevention of idiocy, but it is to provide that in every institution in the state, entrusted with the care of idiots and imbecile children, a neurologist, a surgeon, and physician shall be authorized to perform an operation upon the inmates “for the prevention of procreation.”

What is the nature of the operation is not described but it is such an operation as they shall decide to be “safest and most effective.” It is plain that the safest and most effective preventing procreation would be to cut the heads off the inmates, and such authority is given by the bill to this staff of scientific experts. It is not probable that they would resort to this means for the prevention of procreation, but it is probable that they would endeavor to destroy some part of the human organism.

Scientists, like all other men whose experiences have been limited to one pursuit, and whose minds have been developed in a particular direction, sometimes need to be restrained. Men of high scientific attainments are prone, in their love for technique, to lose sight of broad principles outside of their domain of thought.
A surgeon may possible be so eager to advance in skill as to be forgetful of the danger to his patient. Anatomists may be willing to gather information by the infliction of pain and suffering upon helpless creatures, although a higher standard of conduct would teach them that it is far better for humanity to bear its own ills than to escape them by knowledge only secured through cruelty to other creatures.

This bill, whatever good might possibly result from it if its provisions should become a law, violates the principles of ethics.

These feeble-minded and imbecile children have been entrusted to the institutions by their parents or guardians for the purpose of training and instruction. It is proposed to experiment upon them, not for their instruction, but in order to help society in the future. It is to be done without their consent, which they cannot give, and without the consent of their parents or guardians, who are responsible for their welfare. It would be in contravention of the laws which have been enacted for the establishment of these institutions. These laws have in contemplation the training and the instruction of the children.

This bill assumes that they cannot be so instructed and trained. Moreover, the course it is proposed to pursue would have a tendency to prevent such training and instruction. Everyone knows, whether he be a scientist or an ordinary observer, that to destroy virility is to lessen the capacity, the energy and the spirit which lead to effort. The bill is, furthermore, illogical in its thought.

Idiocy will not be prevented by the prevention of procreation among these inmates. This mental condition is due to causes many of which are entirely beyond our knowledge. It existed long before there were ever such inmates of such institutions.

If this plan is to be adopted, to make it effective it should be carried into operation in the world at large, and not in institutions where the inmates are watched by nurses, kept separate, and have all the care which is likely to rendered procreation there very rare, if not altogether impossible.

In one of these institutions, I am reliably informed, there have only been three births in ten years. A great objection is that the bill would encourage experimentation upon living animals, and would be the beginning of experimentation upon living human beings, leading logically to results which can be readily forecasted.

The chief physician, in charge at Elwyn, has candidly told us, in an article recently published upon “Heredity,” that “Studies in heredity tend to emphasize the wisdom of those ancient peoples who taught that the healthful development of the individual and the elimination of the weakling was the truest patriotism — springing from an abiding sense of the fulfillment of a duty to the state.”

To permit such an operation would be to inflict cruelty upon a helpless class in the community which the state has undertaken to protect. However skillfully performed, it would at times lead to peritonitis, blood poisoning, lockjaw and death.


For these reasons the bill is not approved.

SAML. W. PENNYPACKER
Governor of Pennsylvania
1905

Source: Henry H. Laughlin’s ‘Eugenical sterilization in the United States’ (Chicago: Psychopathic Laboratory of the Municipal Court of Chicago, 1922), on page 3

The Changing Public's Perception of Self-Driving Cars: Results are compared to an equivalent survey from 2014 and the public is less positive about self-driving cars today

The Changing Public's Perception of Self-Driving Cars. Ed Richardson, Philip Davies. May 2018, DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.34641.02402

Description: Self-driving cars are now being tested on roads in the UK and the public’s perception will become a crucial part of determining the role that self-driving cars have in the future. This paper contains survey results of the public and concludes that most people think self-driving cars will reduce the number of accidents on motorways but only a small percentage of people would be interested in owning one. The results are compared to an equivalent survey from 2014 and the data shows that the public is less positive about self-driving cars today.

Check also The Ugly Truth About Ourselves and Our Robot Creations: The Problem of Bias and Social Inequity. Ayanna Howard and Jason Borenstein. Science and Engineering Ethics, https://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2017/09/the-ugly-truth-about-ourselves-and-our.html

And Psychological roadblocks to the adoption of self-driving vehicles. Azim Shariff, Jean-François Bonnefon & Iyad Rahwan. Nature Human Behaviour (2017), https://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2017/09/psychological-roadblocks-to-adoption-of.html

Bitches, Fishes, and Monsters: Prison Slang and Nonhuman Animal Terminology

Bitches, Fishes, and Monsters: Prison Slang and Nonhuman Animal Terminology. Joshua B. Hill and Julie Banks. Society & Animals, DOI: 10.1163/15685306-12341516

Abstract: The adult prison population in the U.S. is one of the most important, marginalized, yet misunderstood groups within the country. Not only is the population larger than those of other industrialized nations, but the prisons themselves also tend to be more punitive in nature. While there have been many proposed reasons for this, ranging from differences in the “American Character” to the increasing severity of mandatory sentencing guidelines, explanations of the American prisoner setting remain thin. One area that has relevance to this topic but in which there has been little research is the language used to describe prisoners. This language is replete with images of nonhuman animals. Examples and explanations of this phenomenon are provided through the inspection of the lexicons and argots (“prison slang”) for animal themes, and implications regarding implicit power relationships and the effects on both prisoners and nonhuman animals stemming from this language are explored.

Keywords: corrections; lexicography; animals; discourse analysis

Allocating under the influence: Effects of alcohol intoxication and social identification on in-group favoritism

Zhou, J., Heim, D., Monk, R., Levy, A., & Pollard, P. (2018). Allocating under the influence: Effects of alcohol intoxication and social identification on in-group favoritism. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 26(3), 268-277. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pha0000186

Abstract: The “social lubrication” function of alcohol during interpersonal interactions is well documented. However, less is known about the effects of alcohol consumption on group-level behavior. Empirical findings from social psychological literature suggest that individuals tend to favor those who are considered as members of their own social group. Not yet evaluated is how alcohol intoxication interacts with this group-level bias. Therefore, the current study examined experimentally the effects of intoxication on group bias. Ninety-four individuals (Mage = 20.18, SD = 2.36, 55 women, 39 men) were randomly assigned to consume an alcoholic (n = 48) or a placebo (n = 46) drink before completing manipulated allocation matrices, a task which measured the distribution of hypothetical monetary awards based on social groups. Results point to an interaction between drink condition and social group identification, whereby identification was significantly associated with in-group favoritism among intoxicated individuals only. Following alcohol consumption, participants with higher identification with their social group were more likely to demonstrate allocation strategies that favored their own group members. However, nonsignificant effects were observed for those in the placebo condition. The findings highlight how alcohol intoxication may facilitate group bias that results from social group identification.

Morality can be influenced by motivational states; authors measured moral disapproval under fasting and satiation and found that hunger reduces moral disapproval of ethical violations

The effect of hunger and satiety in the judgment of ethical violations. Carmelo M. Vicario et al. Brain and Cognition, Volume 125, August 2018, Pages 32–36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandc.2018.05.003

Highlights
•    Morality can be influenced by motivational states.
•    Whether appetite can affect morality is unknown.
•    We measured moral disapproval under fasting and satiation.
•    Hunger reduces moral disapproval of ethical violations.

Abstract: Human history is studded with instances where instinctive motivations take precedence over ethical choices. Nevertheless, the evidence of any linking between motivational states and morality has never been systematically explored. Here we addressed this topic by testing a possible linking between appetite and moral judgment. We compared moral disapproval ratings (MDR) for stories of ethical violations in participants under fasting and after having eaten a snack. Our results show that subjective hunger, measured via self-reported rating, reduces MDR for ethical violations. Moreover, the higher the disgust sensitivity the higher the MDR for ethical violations. This study adds new insights to research on physiological processes influencing morality by showing that appetite affects moral disapproval of ethical violations.

Keywords: Fasting; Snack; Appetite; Disgust sensitivity; Moral disapproval; Ethical violation

More evidence that less is better: Sub-optimal choice in dogs

More evidence that less is better: Sub-optimal choice in dogs. Rebecca J. Chase, David N. George. Learning & Behavior, https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758/s13420-018-0326-1

Abstract: The less-is-better effect is a preference for the lesser of two alternatives sometimes observed when they are evaluated separately. For example, a dinner service of 24 intact pieces might be judged to be more valuable than a 40-piece dinner service containing nine broken pieces. Pattison and Zentall (Animal Cognition, 17: 1019-1022, 2014) reported similar sub-optimal choice behavior in dogs using a simultaneous choice procedure. Given a choice between a single high-value food item (cheese) or an equivalent high-value item plus a lower-value food item (carrot), their dogs chose the individual item. In a subsequent test, the dogs preferred two high-value items to a single high-value item, suggesting that avoidance of multiple items did not cause the sub-optimal choice behavior. In two experiments, we replicated Pattison and Zentall’s procedure while including additional controls. In Experiment 1, habituation of neophobia for multiple items was controlled for by intermixing the two types of test trial within a single experimental session. In Experiment 2, we controlled for avoidance of heterogeneous rewards by including test trials in which a choice was offered between the combination of items and a single low-value item. In both experiments we observed sub-optimal choice behavior which could not be explained by either of these putative mechanisms. Our results, as well as those of Pattison and Zentall, are consistent with the suggestion that dogs’ assessment of the total value of multiple items is based, at least partly, on their average quality.

Monday, June 4, 2018

The positivity effect: a negativity bias in youth fades with age; neural degradation and cognitive impairment cannot account for the effect; and cognitive load reduces it

The positivity effect: a negativity bias in youth fades with age. Laura L Carstensen, Marguerite De Liema. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, Volume 19, February 2018, Pages 7-12, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cobeha.2017.07.009

Highlights
•    Neural degradation and cognitive impairment cannot account for the positivity effect.
•    Cognitive load reduces the positivity effect.
•    Constraints on time horizons produce the positivity effect in young people.
•    Selective attention to positive information may hold both advantageous and detrimental consequences for older adults.

Abstract: Relative to younger adults, older adults attend to and remember positive information more than negative information. This shift from a negativity bias in younger age to a preference for positive information in later life is termed the ‘positivity effect.’ Based on nearly two decades of research and recent evidence from neuroscience, we argue that the effect reflects age-related changes in motivation that direct behavior and cognitive processing rather than neural or cognitive decline. Understanding the positivity effect, including conditions that reduce and enhance it, can inform effective public health and educational messages directed at older people.

Individuals felt on average 15% to 16% younger relative to their chronological age; those feeling older have higher mortality risk

Subjective Age and Mortality in Three Longitudinal Samples. Stephan, Yannick; Sutin, Angelina; Terracciano, Antonio. Psychosomatic Medicine: June 1, 2018 - doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000613

Objective: Subjective age has been implicated in a range of health outcomes. The present study extends existing research by providing new data on the relation between subjective age and mortality in three large national samples.

Methods: Participants (total N > 17,000) were drawn from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS, 2008-2014), the Midlife in the United State Survey (MIDUS, 1995-2014), and the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS, 2011-2014). Subjective age, demographic factors, disease burden, functional limitations, depressive symptoms, and physical inactivity were assessed at baseline and mortality data were tracked for up to 20 years. Cognition was also included as a covariate in the HRS and the NHATS.

Results: Individuals felt on average 15% to 16% younger relative to their chronological age. Feeling approximately 8, 11, and 13 years older in the MIDUS, HRS, and NHATS, was related to an 18%, 29% and 25% higher risk of mortality, respectively. This pattern was confirmed by a meta-analysis of the three samples (HR = 1.24; 95%CI = 1.17-1.31, p<.001). Multivariate analyses showed that disease burden, physical inactivity, functional limitations, and cognitive problems, but not depressive symptoms, accounted for the associations between subjective age and mortality.

Conclusions: The present study provides robust evidence for an association between an older subjective age and a higher risk of mortality across adulthood. These findings support the role of subjective age as a biopsychosocial marker of aging.

Consumption, contact and copulation: how pathogens have shaped human psychological adaptations

Consumption, contact and copulation: how pathogens have shaped human psychological adaptations. Debra Lieberman, Joseph Billingsley, Carlton Patrick. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, July 19 2018, Volume 373, issue 1751. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2017.0203

Abstract: Disgust is an emotion intimately linked to pathogen avoidance. Building on prior work, we suggest disgust is an output of programmes that evolved to address three separate adaptive problems: what to eat, what to touch and with whom to have sex. We briefly discuss the architecture of these programmes, specifying their perceptual inputs and the contextual factors that enable them to generate adaptive and flexible behaviour. We propose that our sense of disgust is the result of these programmes and occurs when information-processing circuitries assess low expected values of consumption, low expected values of contact or low expected sexual values. This conception of disgust differs from prior models in that it dissects pathogen-related selection pressures into adaptive problems related to consumption and contact rather than assuming just one pathogen disgust system, and it excludes moral disgust from the domain of disgust proper. Instead, we illustrate how low expected values of consumption and contact as well as low expected sexual values can be used by our moral psychology to provide multiple causal links between disgust and morality.

Check also Why do people vary in disgust? Joshua M. Tybur, Çağla Çınar, Annika K. Karinen, Paola Perone. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, July 19 2018. Volume 373, issue 1751, https://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2018/06/explanations-for-variability.html

Also 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.  https://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2018/04/magical-contagion-effects-in-consumer.html
Kollareth, D., & Russell, J. A. (2018). Even unpleasant reminders that you are an animal need not disgust you. Emotion, 18(2), 304-312. https://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2018/03/we-tested-hypothesis-that-we-humans.html

The Effect of Germ Movement on the Construal of Mental States in Germs: The Moderating Role of Contamination Fear. John H. Riskind, Dylan K. Richards. Cognitive Therapy and Research, February 2018, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 36–47. https://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2018/01/the-effect-of-germ-movement-on.html

Explanations for variability experiencing disgust (like parental modelling, with offspring calibrating their pathogen avoidance based on their parents' reactions; or that individuals calibrate their disgust sensitivity to the parasite stress of their) are not good.

Why do people vary in disgust? Joshua M. Tybur, Çağla Çınar, Annika K. Karinen, Paola Perone. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, July 19 2018. Volume 373, issue 1751, DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2017.0204

Abstract: People vary in the degree to which they experience disgust toward—and, consequently, avoid—cues to pathogens. Prodigious work has measured this variation and observed that it relates to, among other things, personality, psychopathological tendencies, and moral and political sentiments. Less work has sought to generate hypotheses aimed at explaining why this variation exists in the first place, and even less work has evaluated how well data support these hypotheses. In this paper, we present and review the evidence supporting three such proposals. First, researchers have suggested that variability reflects a general tendency to experience anxiety or emotional distress. Second, researchers have suggested that variability arises from parental modelling, with offspring calibrating their pathogen avoidance based on their parents' reactions to pathogen cues. Third, researchers have suggested that individuals calibrate their disgust sensitivity to the parasite stress of the ecology in which they develop. We conclude that none of these hypotheses is supported by existing data, and we propose directions for future research aimed at better understanding this variation.

Vanilla extract becomes more expensive than silver; synthetic flavour from petroleum, coal tar is spurned in favor of non-synthetic options

Crop uncertainty drives vanilla price back to record level. Emiko Terazono, The Financial Times, March 25, 2018
Foodmakers turn to alternatives as flavour extract becomes more expensive than silverhttps://www.ft.com/content/1c810c2a-286f-11e8-b27e-cc62a39d57a0

Ice cream and cake makers hoping for cheaper vanilla will be disappointed as uncertainty about this year’s crop in the world’s top grower Madagascar has driven the price of the spice back to record levels.

Vanilla prices soared to its record $600 a kilogramme last year after a cyclone hit the tropical island off the south-east coast of Africa, sending buyers scrambling to secure supplies of the flavouring extract.

Prices eased off below $550/kg at the end of last year on hopes of a good crop in 2018, but are now back at $600 amid uncertainty over crop levels.

The flowering period of the vanilla orchid, which produces vanilla beans, has ended and the pods are now growing.

“We won’t know the production [levels] until June,” said Mélanie Legris at Eurovanille, the French trading company.

Vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron and at current levels is more expensive than silver, which is trading just above $530/kg. Madagascar supplies 75 to 80 per cent of the world vanilla bean market, and other producers including Indonesia and India do not grow enough to make up for sudden fluctuations in Madagascan vanilla pod production.

The squeeze on vanilla beans has also pushed up the price of by-products of the beans.

The price of “spent” vanilla specks — ground vanilla made from used beans that are then dried, ground and sterilised — has jumped from about $40 a kilogramme to $150, said traders.

In most cases, the spent specks are used as a “visual enhancement” said Naushad Lalani at Sentrex Ingredients, a US maker of essences and food flavouring ingredients.

Using spent beans allows foodmakers to list vanilla beans as an ingredient and put a picture of a vanilla pod or flower on the packaging, although the actual flavour may come from a non-vanilla bean source.

Some artisanal ice cream makers were forced to stop producing vanilla ice cream last year as they could not get hold of affordable vanilla bean supplies, while others raised prices or switched to vanilla flavouring made from other sources.

Vanilla is one of the world’s most popular flavours, but only about 1 per cent of the extracts used in food and cosmetics come from real pods. Vanillin, the flavour molecule found in vanilla beans, is also extracted from petroleum, coal tar and wood as well as natural food sources such as rice bran and clove oil.

Demand for artificial vanilla flavouring is rising. There has been “a positive shift in demand for our bio-based sustainable vanillin product”, said Tone Horvei Bredal at Borregaard, the Norwegian group that makes vanillin from wood.

Vanilla pod prices were on the rise before the cyclone hit Madagascar, as leading foodmakers such as Unilever and Nestlé pledged to use natural ingredients in their products, spurning synthetic flavourings.

But the rising price of vanilla beans is forcing users away to natural alternatives. Demand destruction is a concern, Mr Lalani said. “People have migrated to natural alternatives. Will they ever come back to pure vanilla?”

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Evidence based on over 10 years of experience sampling: Emotional experience improves with age; best time is over 70 years old

Carstensen, L. L., Turan, B., Scheibe, S., Ram, N., Ersner-Hershfield, H., Samanez-Larkin, G. R., . . . Nesselroade, J. R. (2011). Emotional experience improves with age: Evidence based on over 10 years of experience sampling. Psychology and Aging, 26(1), 21-33. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0021285

Abstract: Recent evidence suggests that emotional well-being improves from early adulthood to old age. This study used experience-sampling to examine the developmental course of emotional experience in a representative sample of adults spanning early to very late adulthood. Participants (N = 184, Wave 1; N = 191, Wave 2; N = 178, Wave 3) reported their emotional states at five randomly selected times each day for a one week period. Using a measurement burst design, the one-week sampling procedure was repeated five and then ten years later. Cross-sectional and growth curve analyses indicate that aging is associated with more positive overall emotional well-being, with greater emotional stability and with more complexity (as evidenced by greater co-occurrence of positive and negative emotions). These findings remained robust after accounting for other variables that may be related to emotional experience (personality, verbal fluency, physical health, and demographic variables). Finally, emotional experience predicted mortality; controlling for age, sex, and ethnicity, individuals who experienced relatively more positive than negative emotions in everyday life were more likely to have survived over a 13 year period. Findings are discussed in the theoretical context of socioemotional selectivity theory.

What Do We Measure When We Measure Affective Partisanship?

What Do We Measure When We Measure Affective Partisanship? James Druckman and Matthew Levendusky. Norwestern University WP-18-12, https://www.ipr.northwestern.edu/publications/papers/2018/wp-18-12.html

Abstract: Affective polarization—the tendency of Democrats and Republicans to dislike and distrust one another—has become an important phenomenon in American politics. Yet despite scholarly attention to this topic, two important measurement lacunae remain. First, what items—of the many previously employed—should be used to measure this concept? Second, these items all ask respondents about the parties. When individuals answer them, do they think of voters, elites, or both? The researchers demonstrate that most of the previously used items tap affective polarization, with the exception being the popular social distance measures. Second, they show that when answering questions about the other party, individuals think about elites more than voters, and express more animus when the questions focus on elites. This suggests that increased affective polarization reflects, to some extent, growing animus towards politicians more than ordinary voters. They conclude by discussing the consequences for both measuring this concept and understanding its ramifications.

Intelligence and openness contribute to creative achievement in the arts & sciences; creativity in the arts & sciences is influenced by genes & unique environment; artistic but not scientific creativity is also influenced by shared environment; there is a genetic overlap between openness and creativity in the arts & sciences

Genetic and environmental influences on the phenotypic associations between intelligence, personality, and creative achievement in the arts and sciences. Örjan de Manzano, Fredrik Ullén. Intelligence, Volume 69, July–August 2018, Pages 123–133. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2018.05.004

Highlights
•    Intelligence and openness contribute to creative achievement in the arts and sciences.
•    Creativity in the arts and sciences is influenced by genes and unique environment.
•    Artistic but not scientific creativity is also influenced by shared environment.
•    There is a genetic overlap between openness and creativity in the arts and sciences.
•    Most genetic influences on intelligence are also involved in scientific creativity.

Abstract: Several studies suggest a different effect of intelligence and personality on creative achievement in the arts and sciences. There is also research showing that all these variables are influenced by both genes and environmental factors. The aim of this study was to move further and investigate whether the relative influence of genes and environment on the associations between personality, intelligence, and creative achievement differs between the arts and sciences. Measures of intelligence (Wiener Matrizen Test), personality traits (BFI-44), and creative achievement (Creative Achievement Questionnaire) were obtained from a twin cohort. The sample size differed between measures, ranging between 6606 and 9537 individuals (1349 and 2250 complete twin pairs). Firstly, we performed several phenotypic analyses. These analyses collectively showed that intelligence and the personality trait ‘openness to experience’ were the only traits which contributed significantly to achievement, in either creative domain. Intelligence showed a stronger association with science than with art (non-linear and linear form, respectively), while relations between openness and achievement showed the opposite pattern. Secondly, we performed genetic modeling. Univariate analyses showed artistic creative achievement to be the only variable significantly influenced by shared environment. Individual differences in the remaining traits could be accounted for by additive genetic effects and non-shared environment. Results from two trivariate analyses, which included intelligence, openness, and creative achievement in either the arts or sciences, indicated a substantial and fairly equal genetic overlap between openness and achievement in the two creative domains. Genes associated with intelligence however, played a significantly greater role in scientific achievement than in artistic achievement. In fact, the majority of genetic influences on intelligence were also involved in scientific creative achievement. There was also an overlap of unique environmental influences between intelligence and scientific creative achievement that was not present between intelligence and artistic creative achievement.



In order to cope with fear of death, different age groups differentiate themselves from the old age group by adopting diverse strategies including younger age identities, a distinction between the third and the fourth age, as well as theories like successful and active ageing

Lev S., Wurm S., Ayalon L. (2018) Origins of Ageism at the Individual Level. In: Ayalon L., Tesch-Römer C. (eds) Contemporary Perspectives on Ageism. International Perspectives on Aging, vol 19, pp 51-72. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-73820-8_4

Abstract: This chapter presents a model that explains the origins of ageism at the individual level among different age groups. The model is based on three theories. Terror management theory provides an explanation for the roots and motives of ageism towards old age groups among young and middle-aged groups as well as among the young-old age group. Stereotype embodiment theory provides a complementary explanation for self-ageism among the young-old and old-old age groups. Finally, social identity theory focuses on the diverse expressions of ageism among different age groups. The model highlights a unique feature of ageism, which, in contrast with other types of prejudice and discrimination, is not directed towards distinct out-groups, but rather towards our future selves by symbolizing a fear of death and its accompanying deterioration. In order to cope with this fear, different age groups differentiate themselves from the old age group by adopting diverse strategies including younger age identities, a distinction between the third and the fourth age, as well as theories like successful and active ageing. Because of the gradual reduction of personal and social resources people often encounter in the later stages of life, we suggest some long-term strategies that recognize decline as a valid dimension of ageing and personhood and emphasize alternative resources.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

“Fake news” is a politicized term where conversations overshadowed logical & important discussions of the term; social media users from opposing political parties communicate in homophilous environments & use “fake news” to disparage the opposition & condemn real information

Read All About It: The Politicization of “Fake News” on Twitter. John Brummette et al. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Volume: 95 issue: 2, page(s): 497-517. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077699018769906

Abstract: Due to the importance of word choice in political discourse, this study explored the use of the term “fake news.” Using a social network analysis, content analysis, and cluster analysis, political characteristics of online networks that formed around discussions of “fake news” were examined. This study found that “fake news” is a politicized term where conversations overshadowed logical and important discussions of the term. Findings also revealed that social media users from opposing political parties communicate in homophilous environments and use “fake news” to disparage the opposition and condemn real information disseminated by the opposition party members.

Keywords: social network analysis, fake news, homophily, political communication

People selectively exhibit the bias, especially in those situations where it favors their current worldview as revealed by their political orientation: The same information was presented to all participants, but people developed the causal illusion bias selectively

Causal illusions in the service of political attitudes in Spain and the UK. Fernando Blanco, Braulio Gómez-Fortes and Helena Matute- Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01033

Abstract: The causal illusion is a cognitive bias that results in the perception of causality where there is no supporting evidence. We show that people selectively exhibit the bias, especially in those situations where it favors their current worldview as revealed by their political orientation. In our two experiments (one conducted in Spain and one conducted in the UK), participants who self-positioned themselves on the ideological left formed the illusion that a left-wing ruling party was more successful in improving city indicators than a right-wing party, while participants on the ideological right showed the opposite pattern. In sum, despite the fact that the same information was presented to all participants, people developed the causal illusion bias selectively, providing very different interpretations that aligned with their previous attitudes. This result occurs in situations where participants inspect the relationship between the government’s actions and positive outcomes (improving city indicators), but not when the outcomes are negative (worsening city indicators).

Keywords: cognitive bias, causal illusion, Ideology, Motivated reasoning, causality

Shame is an evolved adaptation that is designed to limit the likelihood and costs of others forming negative beliefs about the self, and increases with the publicity of an act perceived unfavorably by others, even if it was unimpeachable

The true trigger of shame: social devaluation is sufficient, wrongdoing is unnecessary. Theresa E. Robertson et al. Evolution and Human Behavior, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2018.05.010

Abstract: What is the trigger of shame? The information threat theory holds that shame is an evolved adaptation that is designed to limit the likelihood and costs of others forming negative beliefs about the self. By contrast, attributional theories posit that concerns over others' evaluations are irrelevant to shame. Instead, shame is triggered when a person attributes a negative outcome to their self, rather than to a particular act or circumstance. We conduct a strong test of the information threat hypothesis. In Study 1, participants imagined taking an action that, though morally unimpeachable, could be interpreted unfavorably by others. As predicted by the information threat theory, shame increased with the publicity of this act. In Study 2, participants played a public good game and then learned that the other participants either chose to keep interacting with them (inclusion) or not (exclusion)—ostensibly because of their contributions, but in fact randomly determined by the experimenter. Exclusion increased shame. Under-contribution did not. In fact, even the highest contributors tended to feel shame when excluded. These findings strongly suggest that the true trigger of shame is the prospect or actuality of being devalued by others.

Keywords: Shame; Emotion; Social exclusion

Why Humans Fail in Solving the Monty Hall Dilemma: There is less regret in losing by staying than in losing by switching

Saenen, L. et al. , (2018). Why Humans Fail in Solving the Monty Hall Dilemma: A Systematic Review. Psychologica Belgica. 58 ( 1 ), pp . 128–158. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/pb.274

Abstract: The Monty Hall dilemma (MHD) is a difficult brain teaser. We present a systematic review of literature published between January 2000 and February 2018 addressing why humans systematically fail to react optimally to the MHD or fail to understand it.

Based on a sequential analysis of the phases in the MHD, we first review causes in each of these phases that may prohibit humans to react optimally and to fully understand the problem. Next, we address the question whether humans’ performance, in terms of choice behaviour and (probability) understanding, can be improved. Finally, we discuss individual differences related to people’s suboptimal performance.

This review provides novel insights by means of its holistic approach of the MHD: At each phase, there are reasons to expect that people respond suboptimally. Given that the occurrence of only one cause is sufficient, it is not surprising that suboptimal responses are so widespread and people rarely understand the MHD.

Keywords: Systematic review,  Monty Hall dilemma,  probability,  choice,  decision

Friday, June 1, 2018

A new plan for African cities: The Ethiopia Urban Expansion Initiative

A new plan for African cities: The Ethiopia Urban Expansion Initiative. Patrick Lamson-Hall et al. Urban Studies, https://doi.org/10.1177/0042098018757601

Abstract: Recent research indicates that a simplified approach to urban planning in Sub-Saharan African cities can address the challenges of rapid urban growth. Current plans focus too heavily on the existing area of the city and offer unrealistic agendas for future urban growth, such as densification, containment and high-rise development; plans that are often too complicated and too costly to be deployed in a developing-world context. In response, New York University and the Government of Ethiopia have created a programme to deploy a simple methodology called Making Room for Urban Expansion in 18 Ethiopian cities that are experiencing rapid growth. The programme is called the Ethiopia Urban Expansion Initiative. The Initiative set aside a number of standard planning objectives and instead focused only on expanding city boundaries to include adequate land for expansion, designing and protecting a network of arterial roads spaced approximately 1 km apart, and identifying and protecting environmentally sensitive open spaces. These efforts focused on areas that had not yet been occupied by development. This article reports on the preliminary results from the four Ethiopian cities participating in the Initiative that began in 2013. The results from the first four participating cities show that simple plans can lead to the creation of new arterial roads, increasing access to peripheral land and potentially bringing the available land supply in line with projected growth. These activities can be done at the local level and implemented with limited support from consultants and from the regional and national government, and it requires minimal public investment.

Keywords: agglomeration/urbanisation, Ethiopia, housing, informality, method, urban expansion

Political correspondence between married couples and parent- offspring agreement have both increased substantially in the polarized era; the principal reason for increased spousal correspondence is mate selection based on politics


The Home as a Political Fortress; Family Agreement in an Era of Polarization. Shanto Iyengar, Tobias Konitzer, Kent Tedin. https://zapdoc.tips/the-home-as-a-political-fortress-family-agreement-in-an-era.html

Abstract: The manifestations of party polarization in America are well known: legislative gridlock, harsh elite rhetoric, and at the level of the electorate, increasing hostility across the partisan divide. We investigate the ramifications of polarization for processes of family socialization. Using the classic 1965 Youth-Parent Political Socialization Panel data as a baseline, we employ original national surveys of spouses and offspring conducted in 2015 supplemented by the 2014 and 2016 TargetSmart national voter files to demonstrate that political correspondence between married couples and parent- offspring agreement have both increased substantially in the polarized era. We further demonstrate that the principal reason for increased spousal correspondence is mate selection based on politics. Spousal agreement, in turn, creates an ”echo chamber” that facilitates intergenerational continuity. Overall, our results suggest a vicious cycle by which socialization exacerbates party polarization.

KEYWORDS: polarization, homophily; assortative mating; generations, partisanship

Analytic atheism: A cross-culturally weak and fickle phenomenon?

Analytic atheism: A cross-culturally weak and fickle phenomenon? Will M. Gervais et al. Judgment and Decision Making, Vol. 13, No. 3, May 2018, pp. 268-274. http://journal.sjdm.org/18/18228/jdm18228.html

Abstract: Religious belief is a topic of longstanding interest to psychological science, but the psychology of religious disbelief is a relative newcomer. One prominently discussed model is analytic atheism, wherein cognitive reflection, as measured with the Cognitive Reflection Test, overrides religious intuitions and instruction. Consistent with this model, performance-based measures of cognitive reflection predict religious disbelief in WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, & Democratic) samples. However, the generality of analytic atheism remains unknown. Drawing on a large global sample (N = 3461) from 13 religiously, demographically, and culturally diverse societies, we find that analytic atheism as usually assessed is in fact quite fickle cross-culturally, appearing robustly only in aggregate analyses and in three individual countries. The results provide additional evidence for culture’s effects on core beliefs.

Keywords: atheism; cultural learning; dual process cognition; religious cognition; replicability; WEIRD people; culture

The non-effects of repeated exposure to the Cognitive Reflection Test: We do not improve scores

The non-effects of repeated exposure to the Cognitive Reflection Test. Andrew Meyer, Elizabeth Zhou, Shane Frederick. Judgment and Decision Making, Vol. 13, No. 3, May 2018, pp. 246-259. http://journal.sjdm.org/18/18228a/jdm18228a.html

Abstract: We estimate the effects of repeated exposure to the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) by examining 14,053 MTurk subjects who took the test up to 25 times. In contrast with inferences drawn from self-reported prior exposure to the CRT, we find that prior exposure usually fails to improve scores. On average, respondents get only 0.024 additional items correct per exposure, and this small increase is driven entirely by the minority of subjects who continue to spend time reflecting on the items. Moreover, later scores retain the predictive validity of earlier scores, even when they differ, because initial success and later improvement appear to measure the same thing.

Keywords: Cognitive Reflection Test, repeated testing

Reports of Recovered Memories of Abuse in Therapy in a Large Age-Representative U.S. National Sample: Therapy Type and Decade Comparisons

Reports of Recovered Memories of Abuse in Therapy in a Large Age-Representative U.S. National Sample: Therapy Type and Decade Comparisons. Lawrence Patihis, Mark H. Pendergrast. Clinical Psychological Science, https://doi.org/10.1177/2167702618773315

Abstract: The potential hazards of endeavoring to recover ostensibly repressed memories of abuse in therapy have previously been documented. Yet no large survey of the general public about memory recovery in therapy has been conducted. In an age-representative sample of 2,326 adults in the United States, we found that 9% (8% weighted to be representative) of the total sample reported seeing therapists who discussed the possibility of repressed abuse, and 5% (4% weighted) reported recovering memories of abuse in therapy for which they had no previous memory. Participants who reported therapists discussing the possibility of repressed memories of abuse were 20 times more likely to report recovered abuse memories than those who did not. Recovered memories of abuse were associated with most therapy types, and most associated with those who reported starting therapy in the 1990s. We discuss possible problems with such purported memory recovery and make recommendations for clinical training.

Keywords: repressed memory, trauma, abuse, psychotherapy, memory war, recovered memory therapy, open data, open materials

Event-related, contextual, demographic, and dispositional predictors of the desire to punish perpetrators of immoral deeds in daily life, as well as connections among the desire to punish, moral emotions, and momentary well-being

Moral Punishment in Everyday Life. Wilhelm Hofmann et al. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,  https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167218775075

Abstract: The present research investigated event-related, contextual, demographic, and dispositional predictors of the desire to punish perpetrators of immoral deeds in daily life, as well as connections among the desire to punish, moral emotions, and momentary well-being. The desire to punish was reliably predicted by linear gradients of social closeness to both the perpetrator (negative relationship) and the victim (positive relationship). Older rather than younger adults, conservatives rather than people with other political orientations, and individuals high rather than low in moral identity desired to punish perpetrators more harshly. The desire to punish was related to state anger, disgust, and embarrassment, and these were linked to lower momentary well-being. However, the negative effect of these emotions on well-being was partially compensated by a positive indirect pathway via heightened feelings of moral self-worth. Implications of the present field data for moral punishment research and the connection between morality and well-being are discussed.

Keywords: morality, moral punishment, experience-sampling, social closeness

Thursday, May 31, 2018

A Meta-Analytic Comparison of Partisan Bias in Liberals & Conservatives: Liberals and conservatives showed no difference in mean levels of bias across studies. Moderator analyses reveal this pattern to be consistent across a number of different methodological variations & political topics

At Least Bias Is Bipartisan: A Meta-Analytic Comparison of Partisan Bias in Liberals and Conservatives. Peter H. Ditto et al. Perspectives on Psychological Science, https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691617746796

Abstract: Both liberals and conservatives accuse their political opponents of partisan bias, but is there empirical evidence that one side of the political aisle is indeed more biased than the other? To address this question, we meta-analyzed the results of 51 experimental studies, involving over 18,000 participants, that examined one form of partisan bias—the tendency to evaluate otherwise identical information more favorably when it supports one’s political beliefs or allegiances than when it challenges those beliefs or allegiances. Two hypotheses based on previous literature were tested: an asymmetry hypothesis (predicting greater partisan bias in conservatives than in liberals) and a symmetry hypothesis (predicting equal levels of partisan bias in liberals and conservatives). Mean overall partisan bias was robust (r = .245), and there was strong support for the symmetry hypothesis: Liberals (r = .235) and conservatives (r = .255) showed no difference in mean levels of bias across studies. Moderator analyses reveal this pattern to be consistent across a number of different methodological variations and political topics. Implications of the current findings for the ongoing ideological symmetry debate and the role of partisan bias in scientific discourse and political conflict are discussed.

Keywords: bias, motivated reasoning, ideology, politics, meta-analysis

Do Attitudes Toward Societal Structure Predict Beliefs About Free Will and Achievement? Evidence from the Indian Caste Syste

Srinivasan, Mahesh, Yarrow Dunham, Catherine Hicks, and David Barner 2018. “Do Attitudes Toward Societal Structure Predict Beliefs About Free Will and Achievement? Evidence from the Indian Caste System”. PsyArXiv. May 31. doi:10.17605/OSF.IO/43VDN

Abstract: Intuitive theories about the malleability of intellectual ability affect our motivation and achievement in life. But how are such theories shaped by the culture in which an individual is raised? We addressed this question by exploring how Indian children’s and adults’ attitudes toward the Hindu caste system – and its deterministic worldview – are related to differences in their intuitive theories. Strikingly, we found that, beginning at least in middle school and continuing into adulthood, individuals who placed more importance on caste were more likely to adopt deterministic intuitive theories. We also found a developmental change in the scope of this relationship, such that in children, caste attitudes were linked only to abstract beliefs about personal freedom, but that by adulthood, caste attitudes were also linked to beliefs about the potential achievement of members of different castes, personal intellectual ability, and personality attributes. These results are the first to directly relate the societal structure in which a person is raised to the specific intuitive theories they adopt.


Wealth, Slave Ownership, and Fighting for the Confederacy: Modest increases of wealth among the poorest individuals affects their propensity to fight

Wealth, Slave Ownership, and Fighting for the Confederacy: An Empirical Study of the American Civil War. Andrew B. Hall, Connor Hu, Shiro Kuriwaki. February 10, 2018.

Abstract: How did personal wealth affect the likelihood southerners fought for the Confederate Army inthe American Civil War? We offer competing accounts for how we should expect individual wealth, in the form of land, and atrociously, in slaves, to a ect white men's decisions to join the Confederate Army. We assemble a dataset on roughly 3.9 million white citizens in Confederate states, and we show that slaveowners were more likely to  ght in the Confederate Army than non-slaveowners. To see if these links are causal, we exploit a randomized land lottery in 19th-century Georgia. Households of lottery winners owned more slaves in 1850 and were more likely to have sons who fought in the Confederate Army than were households who did not win the lottery. Our results suggest that for wealthy southerners, the stakes associated with the conflict's threat to end the institution of slavery overrode the incentives to free-ride and to avoid paying the costs of war.

Arabian babblers (a bird) concealed 100% of copulations; did not prefer to copulate under shelters; concealed mating solicitations from adult conspecifics; and subordinates did not attack dominants who courted the female

Why conceal? Evidence for concealed sex by dominant Arabian babblers (Turdoides squamiceps). Yitzchak Ben Mocha, Roger Mundry, Simone Pika. Evolution and Human Behavior, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2018.05.009

Abstract: Striking uniformity exists in humans' preference to conceal sexual activity from conspecifics' view. Yet, little is known about the selective pressures acting upon its evolution. To investigate this question, we studied the cooperatively breeding Arabian babbler (Turdoides squamiceps), which has been suggested being the only other species where dominant individuals conceal sex regularly. We examined whether birds indeed conceal sex and tested different hypotheses, postulating that sex concealment functions to avoid predators, signal dominance status, or to avoid social interference. The results showed that birds concealed 100% of copulations; did not prefer to copulate under shelters; concealed mating solicitations from adult conspecifics; and that subordinates did not attack dominants who courted the female. We argue that none of the hypotheses tested explains our findings satisfactorily and postulate that dominants conceal sex to maintain cooperation with those helpers they prevent from mating. Empirical desiderata for testing this ‘Cooperation-Maintenance’ hypothesis are discussed.

Keywords: Arabian babbler; Concealed sex; Cooperatively breeding species; Human sexual behaviour; Tactical deception; Cooperation maintenance hypothesis

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Sexual assault interventions may be doing more harm than good with high-risk males

Sexual assault interventions may be doing more harm than good with high-risk males. Neil Malamuth, Mark Huppin, Daniel Linz. Aggression and Violent Behavior, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2018.05.010

Highlights
•    With high-risk men, currently used sexual assault interventions are problematic.
•    These interventions appear to be having opposite than intended effects.
•    Such boomerang effects are likely due to these men's hostile reactance.
•    Reactance may underlie both their sexual violence and responses to interventions.
•    Failure to acknowledge this danger may be due to a lack of suitable strategy.

Abstract: Based on legal requirements and other considerations, there have been many well-meaning interventions intended to reduce sexual assault on university campuses throughout the US. There is no legal requirement, however, to evaluate the effectiveness of these programs, and few evaluations have been conducted. Those that have suggest that at best only a small number of these interventions have been effective and those involve bystander interventions. More importantly, there has been very little research examining the effects of such interventions on men at high risk for sexual aggression, who presumably are a key target of such interventions. Research on similar campaigns in other domains should have alerted investigators to the possibility of boomerang reactance effects wherein interventions can actually have the opposite of the intended effects for high-risk college males. The few studies that directly have examined this possibility indeed are supportive of the substantial likelihood of such negative effects. Commonly used interventions may fail with high-risk men because they are likely to generate “hostility reactance” — one of the key causes of both sexual violence itself and the unintended adverse effects of the interventions. We raise the question of why universities have failed to address this possible effect of interventions and why previous reviews have not highlighted this possible danger.

Keywords: Interventions to reduce sexual assault; Men at high risk for sexual assault; College students; Sexual aggression

Subjective life expectancy and actual mortality: People is quite accurate, but those with more education shrink their expectation

Subjective life expectancy and actual mortality: results of a 10-year panel study among older workers. Hanna van Solinge, Kène Henkens. European Journal of Ageing, June 2018, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 155–164. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10433-017-0442-3

Abstract: This research examined the judgemental process underlying subjective life expectancy (SLE) and the predictive value of SLE on actual mortality in older adults in the Netherlands. We integrated theoretical insights from life satisfaction research with existing models of SLE. Our model differentiates between bottom-up (objective data of any type) and top-down factors (psychological variables). The study used data from the first wave of the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute Work and Retirement Panel. This is a prospective cohort study among Dutch older workers. The analytical sample included 2278 individuals, assessed at age 50–64 in 2001, with vital statistics tracked through 2011. We used a linear regression model to estimate the impact of bottom-up and top-down factors on SLE. Cox proportional hazard regression was used to determine the impact of SLE on the timing of mortality, crude and adjusted for actuarial correlates of general life expectancy, family history, health and trait-like dispositions. Results reveal that psychological variables play a role in the formation of SLE. Further, the results indicate that SLE predicts actual mortality, crude and adjusted for socio-demographic, biomedical and psychological confounders. Education has an additional effect on mortality. Those with higher educational attainment were less likely to die within the follow-up period. This SES gradient in mortality was not captured in SLE. The findings indicate that SLE is an independent predictor of mortality in a pre-retirement cohort in the Netherlands. SLE does not fully capture educational differences in mortality. Particularly, higher-educated individuals underestimate their life expectancy.

Trends in flood losses in Europe over the past 150 years: There is large underreporting of smaller floods beyond most recent years

Trends in flood losses in Europe over the past 150 years. Dominik Paprotny, Antonia Sebastian, Oswaldo Morales-Nápoles & Sebastiaan N. Jonkman. Nature Communications, volume 9, Article number: 1985 (2018). DOI:10.1038/s41467-018-04253-1, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-04253-1

Abstract: Adverse consequences of floods change in time and are influenced by both natural and socio-economic trends and interactions. In Europe, previous studies of historical flood losses corrected for demographic and economic growth (‘normalized’) have been limited in temporal and spatial extent, leading to an incomplete representation of trends in losses over time. Here we utilize a gridded reconstruction of flood exposure in 37 European countries and a new database of damaging floods since 1870. Our results indicate that, after correcting for changes in flood exposure, there has been an increase in annually inundated area and number of persons affected since 1870, contrasted by a substantial decrease in flood fatalities. For more recent decades we also found a considerable decline in financial losses per year. We estimate, however, that there is large underreporting of smaller floods beyond most recent years, and show that underreporting has a substantial impact on observed trends.

Are Men’s Religious Ties Hormonally Regulated? It seems that too much androgen load reduces those ties. Author think it is causal, not just correlation.

Are Men’s Religious Ties Hormonally Regulated? Aniruddha Das. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40750-018-0094-3

Abstract

Objectives: Studies based on the “challenge hypothesis” have linked men’s androgens—testosterone and DHEA—to short term mating and antisocial behaviors. Causal direction at a given stage of the life cycle remains ambiguous. Religion is a major social institution through which actions violating social norms are controlled. Thus, ties to this institution may be lower among men with higher androgen levels. The present study queried these linkages.

Procedures: Data were from the 2005–2006 and 2010–2011 waves of the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project (NSHAP), a national probability sample of older U.S. adults. Analysis was through autoregressive cross-lagged panel models (minimum N = 1071).

Results: Higher baseline levels of both testosterone and DHEA prospectively predicted religious ties, whether measured through attendance at services or network connections to clergy. Moreover, contrary to arguments of sociocultural modulation of androgens, the pattern of associations was most consistent with hormonal causation of religious connections. Results were robust to a range of time invariant and time varying confounders, including demographics, hormone supplements, and physical health.

Conclusions: Findings add to the growing evidence that religiosity may have physiological and not simply psychosocial roots. Implications for hormonal confounding of previously published religion-deviance linkages, and for neuroendocrine underpinnings of population-level social and cultural patterns, are discussed.


Mate copying has been documented in female Drosophila melanogaster; we report on experimental evidence for mate copying in males of this species in which females can actively reject males and prevent copulation

Mate copying in Drosophila melanogaster males. Sabine Nöbel, Mélanie Allain, Guillaume Isabel, Etienne Danchin. Animal Behaviour, Volume 141, July 2018, Pages 9–15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2018.04.019

Highlights
•    Reported evidence of male mate copying is rare, but common in females of many taxa.
•    We provide first evidence for male mate copying in D.melanogaster.
•    Measuring courtship behaviour is a good indicator to evaluate male mate choice.

Abstract: To assess potential mates' quality individuals can observe sexually interacting conspecifics. Such social information use is called mate copying and occurs when observer individuals witnessing sexual interactions of conspecifics later show a mating preference for mates that were seen mating. Most studies have focused on female mate copying, as females are usually the choosy sex. However, much less is known about the existence of male mate copying, probably because of the usual strong asymmetry in sex roles. Mate copying has been documented in female Drosophila melanogaster, and here we report on experimental evidence for mate copying in males of this species in which females can actively reject males and prevent copulation. As mate choice implies high costs for males we assumed that they perform mate copying as well. We created two artificial female phenotypes by randomly dusting females with green or pink powders, and virgin naïve observer males were given the opportunity to see a demonstrator male choosing between a pink and a green demonstrator female. Immediately afterwards, observer males were given the choice between two new females, one of each colour. To circumvent the difficulty of determining actual male mate preference, we used two complementary indices of male mate choice, both of which provided evidence for male mate copying. Informed observer males showed a bias towards females of the colour they saw being chosen during demonstrations, while uninformed males chose randomly between pink and green females. This suggests that male fruit flies can also perform mate copying. Although significant, our results in males were less clear-cut than in females in previous studies. However, like females, D. melanogaster males can mate copy based on a single observation. The importance and generality of such mate copying abilities in nature, and their potential impact on the evolution of Drosophila and probably other invertebrates, need further exploration.

Keywords: fruit fly; male mate copying; public information; social learning

Laughter Is (Powerful) Medicine: the Effects of Humor Exposure on the Well-being of Victims of Aggression

Laughter Is (Powerful) Medicine: the Effects of Humor Exposure on the Well-being of Victims of Aggression. David Cheng, Rajiv Amarnani, Tiffany Le, Simon Restubog. Journal of Business and Psychology, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10869-018-9548-7

Abstract: Aggression at work is an expensive and widespread problem. While a large body of research has studied its antecedents and consequences, few studies have examined what victims can do to help mitigate the damage once it has occurred. Many practitioners and scholars have suggested that workers seek out humor to help them deal with the impact of stressors such as aggression, but little is known about whether humor can actually help victims deal with the psychological damage caused by aggression in the workplace. This paper presents a programmatic series of four experimental studies that examine whether and how exposure to humorous stimuli improves well-being among victims of interpersonal aggression by integrating the superiority theory of humor with Lazarus and Folkman’s transactional model of stress and coping. Study 1 (N = 84 students) showed that exposure to humor had a positive effect on well-being in a sample based in the Philippines. Consistent with theoretical prescriptions from the superiority theory of humor, this effect was mediated by increased momentary sense of power. Study 2 (N = 205 students) found the same positive effects of humor exposure on well-being in a sample based in Australia even when manipulating perpetrator power. These findings were replicated in studies 3 (N = 175 MTurk workers) and 4 (N = 235 MTurk workers) among a diverse sample of workers based in the USA.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Dark Personality Voters Find Dark Politicians More Relatable and Fit for Office

Dark Personality Voters Find Dark Politicians More Relatable and Fit for Office. William Hart, Kyle Richardson, , Gregory K. Tortoriello. Journal of Research in Personality, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2018.05.007

Highlights
•    Dark personalities evaluate dark characteristics in politicians less negatively.
•    Dark personalities perceive nice (vs. dark) politicians as less relatable.
•    Dark personalities show a reduced preference for nice (vs. dark) politicians.
•    Findings supported and extended political congruency theory.

Abstract: We tested the scope of the congruency model of political preference by examining how people high in various dark personalities evaluate political candidates with dark characteristics. In Study 1, participants high in dark personalities reported enhanced self-possession of dark characteristics and, in general, more tolerance of those characteristics in politicians. In Study 2, although participants viewed a wholesome (vs. dark) politician as more similar to the self and likeable, this effect diminished as participants indicated greater possession of dark personalities. Exploratory analyses involving other perceiver traits (self-esteem, political conservatism/liberalism) yielded additional insights about tolerance for dark politicians. Findings contribute to understanding how people high in dark personalities evaluate others and offer a novel perspective on similarity-liking effects in candidate evaluation.

Keywords: Dark Triad; Narcissistic tolerance; Political congruency theory; Similarity-liking principle; Social perception

Average Associations Between Sexual Desire, Testosterone, and Stress in Women and Men Over Time: Testosterone negatively predicted partnered desire in women, not effect in men

Average Associations Between Sexual Desire, Testosterone, and Stress in Women and Men Over Time. Jessica C. Raisanen et al. Archives of Sexual Behavior, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-018-1231-6

Abstract: Sexual desire and testosterone are widely assumed to be directly and positively linked to each other despite the lack of supporting empirical evidence. The literature that does exist is mixed, which may result from a conflation of solitary and dyadic desire, and the exclusion of contextual variables, like stress, known to be relevant. Here, we use the Steroid/Peptide Theory of Social Bonds as a framework for examining how testosterone, solitary and partnered desire, and stress are linked over time. To do so, we collected saliva samples (for testosterone and cortisol) and measured desire as well as other variables via questionnaires over nine monthly sessions in 78 women and 79 men. Linear mixed models showed that testosterone negatively predicted partnered desire in women but not men. Stress moderated associations between testosterone and solitary desire in both women and men, but differently: At lower levels of stress, higher average testosterone corresponded to higher average solitary desire for men, but lower solitary desire on average for women. Similarly, for partnered desire, higher perceived stress predicted lower desire for women, but higher desire for men. We conclude by discussing the ways that these results both counter presumptions about testosterone and desire but fit with the existing literature and theory, and highlight the empirical importance of stress and gender norms.

Many forms of implicit bias training are aimed at changing individuals’ implicit biases (treated as trait-like attributes of the person); but implicit bias may not be a stable attribute of individuals, but may better characterize social environments than people

Policy Insights From Advances in Implicit Bias Research. B. Keith Payne, Heidi A. Vuletich. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, https://doi.org/10.1177/2372732217746190

Abstract: Implicit bias, which refers to mental associations that can lead to unintentional discrimination, has become a focus as many organizations and institutions try to reduce disparities and increase inclusiveness. Many forms of implicit bias training are aimed at changing individuals’ implicit biases. This approach treats implicit bias as a trait-like attribute of the person. Recent theoretical advances in understanding implicit bias, however, suggest that implicit bias may not be a stable attribute of individuals. Instead, implicit bias may better characterize social environments than people. Understanding implicit bias as a cultural phenomenon, rather than a fixed set of beliefs, has important policy implications. Most notably, the best approaches for reducing the harm of implicit bias should aim at changing social contexts rather than changing people’s minds. Here, we highlight some considerations of this new understanding of implicit bias for policy makers aiming to reduce disparities and increase inclusion.

Keywords: implicit bias, explicit prejudice, Bias of Crowds, discrimination, interventions

In the spiritual condition, as compared with the neutral-relaxing condition, we see reduced activity in the left inferior parietal lobule (IPL), a result that suggests the IPL may contribute importantly to perceptual processing and self-other representations during spiritual experiences

Neural Correlates of Personalized Spiritual Experiences. Lisa Miller, Iris M Balodis, Clayton H McClintock, Jiansong Xu, Cheryl M Lacadie, Rajita Sinha, Marc N Potenza. Cerebral Cortex, bhy102, https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhy102


Abstract: Across cultures and throughout history, human beings have reported a variety of spiritual experiences and the concomitant perceived sense of union that transcends one’s ordinary sense of self. Nevertheless, little is known about the underlying neural mechanisms of spiritual experiences, particularly when examined across different traditions and practices. By adapting an individualized guided-imagery task, we investigated neural correlates of personally meaningful spiritual experiences as compared with stressful and neutral-relaxing experiences. We observed in the spiritual condition, as compared with the neutral-relaxing condition, reduced activity in the left inferior parietal lobule (IPL), a result that suggests the IPL may contribute importantly to perceptual processing and self-other representations during spiritual experiences. Compared with stress cues, responses to spiritual cues showed reduced activity in the medial thalamus and caudate, regions associated with sensory and emotional processing. Overall, the study introduces a novel method for investigating brain correlates of personally meaningful spiritual experiences and suggests neural mechanisms associated with broadly defined and personally experienced spirituality.

keywords: functional magnetic resonance imaging, perception, spirituality, stress

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For the spiritual script, participants were given the following
instructions:


“We would like you to describe a situation in which you felt a strong connection with a higher power or a spiritual presence. Spiritual states are those that through a felt-sense connect you to something bigger than oneself, a oneness, or strong force which may be experienced as an energy, force, higher power, G-d, deity or transcendent figure or consciousness. Such states may be experienced in places of worship, at home, in your daily life, or outdoors in nature. Choose a personal lived situation that you directly experienced, whether others were present or not. Also, include in your description the bodily sensations you have experienced in these situations.


Some common experiences of transcendent connection include a two-way relationship with a higher power, a felt-sense of oneness in nature by the ocean or atop a mountain, being in a zone of intense physical activity (such as sports or yoga), sudden awareness, bodily felt connectivity or buoyancy, meditation or prayer. These may be extremely vivid or intense experiences, or these relatively accentuated experiences may filter into an ongoing felt transcendent connection or daily way of being connected to something more.


Sometimes it is difficult to think of a positive transcendent or spiritual experience “on the spot”. It may help to close your eyes and try to imagine yourself in the situation. While you are imagining the situation, try to generate the same sensations and feelings you would experience if you were actually in the situation. Describe the situation as though you are helping me see it as if I was there with you. (Please include such details as who was there; what you were doing; where you were; how things looked; what bodily sensations you experienced.)”

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The present study showed reduced activity in the left IPL following spiritual cues, which is consistent with several previous investigations suggesting an inverse relationship between spiritual awareness and parietal activity. The posterior parietal cortex has been implicated in religiosity and spirituality across a wide variety of measures including importance of religion and spirituality (Miller et al. 2014), trait self-transcendence (Urgesi et al. 2010), implicit religiousness and spirituality (Crescentini et al. 2014, 2015), mindfulness meditation training (Lazar et al. 2000; Farb et al. 2007), and contemplative prayer (Newberg et al. 2003, 2015). Furthermore, activity in this region has been linked to spatiotemporal perceptual processes and, in particular, the representation of the human body in time and space (Assmus et al. 2003; Lou et al. 2004; Bolger et al. 2014). Since spiritual practices and experiences typically involve a perceived alteration in time and space (Newberg and Waldman 2009; Yaden et al. 2017), often an expanded sense of self in relation to the environment including subjective reports from the current study (see Supplementary Material), these findings lend support to our hypotheses and the relatively blunted activity of the IPL observed in the present study. The hemispheric lateralization of posterior parietal activation differs, however, across various studies of spirituality, which invites a more nuanced interpretation. Research has implicated the right IPL in the cognitive representation of one’s own body in space, while the left IPL has been linked to the visuo-spatial representation of others (Felician et al. 2003; Lou et al. 2004; Muhlau et al. 2005). Functionally connected to the ventral premotor cortex, the IPL contains both motor and mirror neurons which allow an observer to perceive individuals’ motor behaviors and intentions, and the left IPL in particular has been implicated in reading others’ intentions (Fogassi et al. 2005; D’Argembeau et al. 2008; Bonini et al. 2010). Moreover, research has linked the IPL to the attribution of agency, whereby left IPL activity may signal an attribution of agency outside of oneself (Farrer and Frith 2002). Taken together, the present finding suggests that spiritual experiences may involve a perceived encounter with a spacious “presence” or entity external to oneself. This interpretation is consistent with a strong feeling of connection or surrender to a deity or other revered figure, as often reported in religious and spiritual literature (James 1902; Wilber 2006).

The IPL has also been implicated in episodic memory retrieval as well as processing human faces (Leube et al. 2003; Mayes et al. 2004; Wagner et al. 2005), possibly suggesting that spiritual experiences interact with memory retrieval processes in a unique way. This possibility, however, is tempered by the fact that all three conditions involved re-experiencing highly salient memories, including those that may involve recollection of people (and thus their faces). As such, the experimental design argues against these possibilities. Nonetheless, future investigations involving larger samples may permit investigation of scripts with and without specific features (e.g., recollection of people or spiritual beings) to investigate such possibilities directly. Additionally, it is worth noting that the responses during the spiritual cue condition are congruent with the notion that systemsbased changes may occur on neural levels in response to changes in perception (Freiwald et al. 2016; Mazzarella et al. 2013).

But with mobile phones, texting, and social media, cocaine users around the world reported that their most recent cocaine order was delivered in less time, on average, than their most recent pizza order

A primer on fentanyl(s). Mark Kleiman, May 24, 2018. www.samefacts.com/2018/05/drug-policy/a-primer-on-fentanyls/

The synthetic opioids – usually referred to both in the press and by law enforcement as “fentanyl” – have now outstripped not only the prescription opioids such as oxycodone but also heroin in terms of overdose deaths, and (as you can see below) the trend line is almost vertical.

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But with mobile phones, texting, and social media, transactions can now be arranged electronically and completed by home delivery, reducing the buyer’s risk and travel time to near zero and even his waiting time to minimal levels. In the recent Global Survey on Drugs, cocaine users around the world reported that their most recent cocaine order was delivered in less time, on average, than their most recent pizza order.

[...]