Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Longevity might increase together with numbers of cortical neurons through their impact on three main factors: delay of sexual maturity, which postpones the onset of aging; lengthening of

Longevity and sexual maturity vary across species with number of cortical neurons, and humans are no exception. Suzana Herculano‐Houzel. Journal of Comparative Neurology, https://doi.org/10.1002/cne.24564

Abstract: Maximal longevity of endotherms has long been considered to increase with decreasing specific metabolic rate, and thus with increasing body mass. Using a dataset of over 700 species, here I show that maximal longevity, age at sexual maturity and post‐maturity longevity across bird and mammalian species instead correlate primarily, and universally, with the number of cortical brain neurons. Correlations with metabolic rate and body mass are entirely explained by clade‐specific relationships between these variables and numbers of cortical neurons across species. Importantly, humans reach sexual maturity and subsequently live just as long as expected for their number of cortical neurons, which eliminates the basis for earlier theories of protracted childhood and prolonged post‐menopause longevity as derived human characteristics. Longevity might increase together with numbers of cortical neurons through their impact on three main factors: delay of sexual maturity, which postpones the onset of aging; lengthening of the period of viable physiological integration and adaptation, which increases post‐maturity longevity; and improved cognitive capabilities that benefit survival of the self and of longer‐lived progeny, and are conducive to prolonged learning and cultural transmission through increased generational overlap. Importantly, the findings indicate that theories of aging and neurodegenerative diseases should take absolute time lived besides relative “age” into consideration.

Early humans, rather than being "killer apes” in the Pleistocene and early Holocene, lived as relatively peaceful hunter-gathers for some 15,000 generations, from the emergence of modern Homo sapiens up until the invention of agriculture

Hunter-Gatherers and Human Evolution: New Light on Old Debates. Richard B. Lee. Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 47:513-531 (Volume publication date October 2018), https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-anthro-102116-041448

Abstract: One of the most persistent debates in anthropology and related disciplines has been over the relative weight of aggression and competition versus nonaggression and cooperation as drivers of human behavioral evolution. The literature on hunting and gathering societies—past and present—has played a prominent role in these debates. This review compares recent literature from both sides of the argument and evaluates how accurately various authors use or misuse the ethnographic and archaeological research on hunters and gatherers. Whereas some theories provide a very poor fit with the hunter-gatherer evidence, others build their arguments around a much fuller range of the available data. The latter make a convincing case for models of human evolution that place at their center cooperative breeding and child-rearing, as well as management of conflict, flexible land tenure, and balanced gender relations.

Keywords: hunter-gatherers, behavioral ecology, human evolution, violence, gender, child-rearing

Monday, October 22, 2018

Ventral pallidum encodes relative reward value earlier and more robustly than nucleus accumbens, challenging the existing model of information flow in the ventral basal ganglia

Ventral pallidum encodes relative reward value earlier and more robustly than nucleus accumbens. David Ottenheimer, Jocelyn M. Richard & Patricia H. Janak. Nature Communications, volume 9, Article number: 4350 (2018). https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-06849-z

Abstract: The ventral striatopallidal system, a basal ganglia network thought to convert limbic information into behavioral action, includes the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and the ventral pallidum (VP), typically described as a major output of NAc. Here, to investigate how reward-related information is transformed across this circuit, we measure the activity of neurons in NAc and VP when rats receive two highly palatable but differentially preferred rewards, allowing us to track the reward-specific information contained within the neural activity of each region. In VP, we find a prominent preference-related signal that flexibly reports the relative value of reward outcomes across multiple conditions. This reward-specific firing in VP is present in a greater proportion of the population and arises sooner following reward delivery than in NAc. Our findings establish VP as a preeminent value signaler and challenge the existing model of information flow in the ventral basal ganglia.

Personality-trait profiles were predicted reliably from a subset of the body-shape features; extraversion & conscientiousness were predicted with the highest consensus, followed by openness traits

First Impressions of Personality Traits From Body Shapes. Ying Hu, Connor J. Parde, Matthew Q. Hill, Naureen Mahmood, Alice J. O’Toole. Psychological Science, https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797618799300

Abstract: People infer the personalities of others from their facial appearance. Whether they do so from body shapes is less studied. We explored personality inferences made from body shapes. Participants rated personality traits for male and female bodies generated with a three-dimensional body model. Multivariate spaces created from these ratings indicated that people evaluate bodies on valence and agency in ways that directly contrast positive and negative traits from the Big Five domains. Body-trait stereotypes based on the trait ratings revealed a myriad of diverse body shapes that typify individual traits. Personality-trait profiles were predicted reliably from a subset of the body-shape features used to specify the three-dimensional bodies. Body features related to extraversion and conscientiousness were predicted with the highest consensus, followed by openness traits. This study provides the first comprehensive look at the range, diversity, and reliability of personality inferences that people make from body shapes.

Keywords: Big Five personality domains, first impressions, human body perception, correspondence analysis, open data

Effects of paracetamol on empathy-like behavior in Sprague Dawley rats: It reduced empathy-like behavior, with rats helping less drowning conspecifics

Acetaminophen (paracetamol) affects empathy-like behavior in rats: Dose-response relationship. Sevim Kandis et al. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2018.10.004

Highlights
•    Single high dose and repeated low and high doses of acetaminophen lead to a reduction of oxytocin and vasopressin release in the prefrontal cortex and amygdalae; in addition to reduce empathy-like behavior.
•    Oxytocin and vasopressin reduction in the prefrontal cortex and amygdalae is negatively correlated with empathy-like behavior.

Abstract: Empathy is the ability to recognize, process and respond to another's emotional state and empathic functions have been linked with a multitude of cognitive and affective processes. Impaired empathy has been linked to aggression and criminal behavior in society. Acetaminophen (paracetamol) is among the most common nonprescription (over the counter) analgesics in the world and has been already linked to reducing empathic behavior in humans. The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of acetaminophen on empathy-like behavior in Sprague Dawley rats, and we further explored the underlying mechanisms by analyzing empathy related neurohormones, e.g. oxytocin and vasopressin, in association with acetaminophen exposure in rats. Empathic behavior was assessed 30 min following acetaminophen administration (100, 200, and 400 mg/kg). The impact of single and repeated acetaminophen administrations on empathy-like behavior and anxiety level were evaluated separately. Empathy-like behavior was reduced with a single high dose of acetaminophen. Subsequent low dose administration of acetaminophen also reduced empathy-like behavior. In this study we also showed that acetaminophen decreased oxytocin and vasopressin levels in the prefrontal cortex and amygdalae. We found a negative correlation between delay in door opening time and measured prefrontal cortex oxytocin levels; we adjudged the latency in door opening time as enhanced empathic behavior which seemingly suggested the existence of a mechanism between empathy-like behavior and the prefrontal oxytocin. We observed that both a single high dose or repeated low dose administrations of acetaminophen reduced empathy-like behavior in correlation with a decrease in oxytocin and vasopressin levels in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala. Further research is needed to investigate the role of acetaminophen on the other empathic brain pathways.

Cichocka et al. (2016) report evidence that conservatism (specifically social conservatism) is associated with noun preference. This study replicates the finding.

Crawford, Jarret. 2018. “Examining the Effects of Political Orientation on Noun Preference: A Replication of Cichocka Et Al. (2016).” PsyArXiv. October 22. doi:10.31234/osf.io/m5paz

Abstract: In three studies, Cichocka et al. (2016) report evidence that conservatism (specifically social conservatism) is associated with noun preference, and that this relationship is mediated by needs for structure and order. We conducted a conceptual replication of Study 1 and found that whereas we could replicate the relationship between social conservatism and noun preference, personal need for structure did not mediate this relationship, as PNS was not associated with noun preference. Our observed effect size for the relationship between social conservatism and noun preference is quite similar to those reported in Cichocka et al. (2016). However, at least based on the present replication, the mechanism behind this relationship is unclear.

Our results suggest that childhood trauma in humans is associated with changes in cortical fields that are implicated in the perception or processing of the abuse

Psychobiological Consequences of Child Maltreatment. Christine Heim. The Biology of Early Life Stress. In  Child Maltreatment Solutions Network book series (CMSN), pp 15-30. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-72589-5_2

Abstract: Adversity in early life, such as childhood abuse, neglect, and loss, is a well-established major risk factor for developing a range of psychiatric and medical disorders later in life. Biological embedding of maltreatment during development is thought to underlie this long-term increased risk. Our results suggest that childhood trauma in humans is associated with sensitization of the stress response, glucocorticoid resistance, decreased oxytocin activity, inflammation, reduced hippocampal volume, and changes in cortical fields that are implicated in the perception or processing of the abuse. The consequences of childhood trauma are moderated by genetic factors and mediated by epigenetic changes in genes relevant for stress regulation. Understanding longitudinal trajectories of biological embedding, and their moderation by gene–environment interaction, is critical to enable us to design novel interventions that directly reverse these processes and to derive biomarkers that identify children who are at risk to develop disorders or are susceptible to a specific intervention.

Keywords: HPA axis Amygdala Biological embedding Child maltreatment Hippocampus Stress response

Cross-Culturally, Younger Escorts Advertise Higher Charges Online than Older Escorts for Sexual Services

Younger Escorts Advertise Higher Charges Online than Older Escorts for Sexual Services Cross-Culturally. Michael J. Dunn. Evolutionary Psychological Science, September 2018, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 331–339, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40806-018-0142-z

Abstract: As men have universally expressed attraction to younger women, awareness of this proclivity in men by women should be maximally reflected in terms of mate value in younger compared to older women. Prostitution has been recorded across all cultures and historical epochs, and one way in which mate value in women can be explored is by obtaining data from online escort advertising sites. The current study accessed an online escort site called adultwork.com to compare advertised fees between escorts at various ages and age ranges in five different cultures (UK, Ireland, Australia, the USA and Europe) offering either incall or outcall sexual services. With the exception of Irish escorts advertising for an outcall service, differences were found in all countries sampled with younger escorts charging significantly higher fees than older escorts. The current findings are another example of how by accessing real-world online data we can successfully test hypotheses relating to sexual behaviour from an evolutionary psychological perspective.

Keywords: Mate value Age comparisons Female escorts Reproductive value Online advertisements Evolutionary psychological perspective

Century of Decline in General Intelligence? Testing Predictions from the Genetic Selection and Neurotoxin Hypotheses authors found that this last did not significantly predict variance of g factor

What Caused over a Century of Decline in General Intelligence? Testing Predictions from the Genetic Selection and Neurotoxin Hypotheses. Michael A. Woodley of Menie et al. Evolutionary Psychological Science, September 2018, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 272–284. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40806-017-0131-7

Abstract: Several converging lines of evidence indicate that general intelligence (g) has declined in Western populations. The causes of these declines are debated. Here, two hypotheses are tested: (1) selection acting against genetic variants that promote g causes the decline and (2) the presence of neurotoxic pollution in the environment causes the decline. A linear mixed model was devised to test (1) and (2), in which the secular decline in a “heritable g” (g.h) chronometric factor (comprised of convergent indicators of simple reaction time, working memory, utilization frequencies of high difficulty and also social-intelligence-indicating vocabulary items and per capita macro-innovation rates) was predicted using a neurotoxin chronometric factor (comprised of convergent secular trends among measures of lead, mercury and dioxin + furan pollution, in addition to alcohol consumption) and a polygenic score chronometric factor (comprised of polygenic score means for genetic variants predictive of g, sourced from US and Icelandic age-stratified cohorts). Bivariate correlations revealed that (other than time) only the polygenic score factor was significantly associated with declining g.h (r = .393, p < .05 vs. .033, ns for the neurotoxin factor). Using a hierarchical linear mixed model approach incorporating 25 year lags between the predictors and g.h, time period, operationalized categorically as fifths of a century, accounted for the majority of the variance in the decline in g.h (partial η2 = .584, p < .05). Net of time period and neurotoxins, changing levels of polygenic scores also significantly predicted variance in the decline in g.h (partial η2 = .253, p < .05); however, changing levels of neurotoxins did not significantly predict variance in g.h net of time (partial η2 = .027 ns). Within-period analysis indicates that the independent significant positive effect of the polygenic score factor on g.h was restricted to the third fifth of a century period (β = .202, p < .05).

Keywords: Directional selection Dysgenics General intelligence Neurotoxins Polygenic scores

Studies confirmed the existence of a social norm that one cannot simultaneously support two competing groups or teams

You Can’t Root for Both Teams!: Convergent Evidence for the Unidirectionality of Group Loyalty. Daniel J. Kruger et al. Evolutionary Psychological Science, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40806-018-0178-0

Abstract: Four studies tested the existence of a social norm that one cannot simultaneously support two competing groups or teams. Our evolved coalitional psychology should be sensitive to individuals expressing mixed loyalties between rivals, as they represent substantial threats for defection. Study 1 manipulated confederate attire and demonstrated that public displays of mixed loyalty provoked more attention and reactions than displays of consistent loyalty (n = 1327). Informants (n = 31) in the same population interviewed for study 2 agreed with the norm and cited the norm violation as the cause of reactions. Study 3 provided a more systematic and comprehensive assessment of affective and cognitive reactions to mixed and matching loyalty displays with an on-line survey of participants (n = 325) in the respective states of the rival universities. Study 4 examined naturalistic reactions (n = 318) to social media advertisements suggesting mixed loyalty to the two rival teams featured in the first three studies. These diverse methodologies provided convergent confirmatory evidence for the proposed social norm.

Keywords: Teams Intergroup perception Evolutionary psychology Loyalty Observational methods

Examining Cross‐Cultural Differences in Academic Faking in 41 Nations: Faking was positively related to the cultural dimensions of gender egalitarianism, humane orientation, and in‐group collectivism

Examining Cross‐Cultural Differences in Academic Faking in 41 Nations. Clemens B. Fell, Cornelius J. König. Applied Psychology, https://doi.org/10.1111/apps.12178

Abstract: This study examines cross‐cultural differences in students’ academic faking (indicated by claiming to have impossible knowledge about mathematical concepts) by relating data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to the comprehensive cultural framework of the Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) project. Data of N = 233,428 students from 41 countries showed a substantial amount of variance in academic faking between cultures. Students’ academic faking was positively related to the cultural dimensions of gender egalitarianism, humane orientation, and in‐group collectivism. Additionally, the similarity between female and male students’ academic faking was slightly greater in more gender‐egalitarian cultures than in less gender‐egalitarian cultures. Thus, educational stakeholders (e.g., teachers, principals, and policy makers) should be made aware of cross‐cultural differences in academic faking because faking gives fakers an unfair advantage.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Our findings challenge the notion of pervasive biases towards female‐biased infection immunity and the role of testosterone in driving these differences

Sexual dimorphism in immunity across animals: a meta‐analysis. Clint D. Kelly et al. Ecology Letters. https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.13164

Abstract: In animals, sex differences in immunity are proposed to shape variation in infection prevalence and intensity among individuals in a population, with females typically expected to exhibit superior immunity due to life‐history trade‐offs. We performed a systematic meta‐analysis to investigate the magnitude and direction of sex differences in immunity and to identify factors that shape sex‐biased immunocompetence. In addition to considering taxonomic and methodological effects as moderators, we assessed age‐related effects, which are predicted to occur if sex differences in immunity are due to sex‐specific resource allocation trade‐offs with reproduction. In a meta‐analysis of 584 effects from 124 studies, we found that females exhibit a significantly stronger immune response than do males, but the effect size is relatively small, and became non‐significant after controlling for phylogeny. Female‐biased immunity was more pronounced in adult than immature animals. More recently published studies did not report significantly smaller effect sizes. Among taxonomic and methodological subsets of the data, some of the largest effect sizes were in insects, further supporting previous suggestions that testosterone is not the only potential driver of sex differences in immunity. Our findings challenge the notion of pervasive biases towards female‐biased immunity and the role of testosterone in driving these differences.

Children -but not chimpanzees- exhibit ‘over-imitation’, i.e. they show a propensity for faithfully copying demonstrated actions, even when these actions are irrelevant for achieving a demonstrated outcome

The social side of imitation in human evolution and development: Shared intentionality and imitation games in chimpanzees and 6-month old infants. Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc, Tomas Persson, Elainie Alenkaer Madsen. Proceedings of the 13h SEWCOG Conference 2017, Uppsala. http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1156189/FULLTEXT01.pdf

Imitation is generally acknowledged as a key mechanism of social learning, foundational to the emergence of human culture. By enabling quick and high-fidelity copying of others’ actions, imitation mediates the cross-generational transfer of knowledge and skills (e.g. Nielsen, 2009). Besides this ‘learning’ (or ‘cognitive’) function, imitation accomplishes also important social-communicative functions, by facilitating social interaction and promoting prosociality (e.g. Duffy & Chartrand 2015; Eckerman, Davis, & Didow, 1989; Užgiris, Benson et al., 1989). The social function of imitation is understudied in the field of comparative psychology, or even claimed to be absent in nonhuman primates. This claim, however, is grounded on how nonhuman apes (henceforth ‘apes’) perform in imitation learning experiments compared to human children. More specifically, chimpanzees exhibit lower levels of joint attention and gaze at the experimenter’s face (Carpenter & Tomasello, 1995). Moreover, children -but not chimpanzees- exhibit ‘over-imitation’, i.e. they show a propensity for faithfully copying demonstrated actions, even when these actions are irrelevant for achieving a demonstrated outcome. Such differences, it has been argued, derive from the fact that, in imitation contexts, children are motivated by a need to belong, to engage socially and to promote shared experiences (Carpenter & Call 2009; Nielsen 2009). In turn, these differences in social motivation are taken to account for the profound differences that exist between human and nonhuman primate cultures (Over & Carpenter 2012).Based on evidence from social, developmental and comparative psychology, we have recently proposed a broader definition of the social-communicative function of imitation (Persson, Sauciuc, & Madsen, 2017), that encompasses reactive and non-intentional phenomena (e.g. nonconscious mimicry, imitation-induced prosociality), as well as proactive and arguably intentional phenomena, such as social conformism or the communicative imitation documented in preverbal toddlers (e.g. Eckerman, Davis, & Didow, 1989; Eckerman & Stein, 1990). All these phenomena have been documented in nonhuman primates: nonconscious mimicry in the form of postural congruence (Jazrawi, 2000), facial mimicry (Scopa & Palagi, 2016), interactional synchrony (Yu and Tomonaga, 2016) and contagious yawning (Madsen, Persson, et al., 2013), imitation-induced prosociality expressed by increased levels of attention, proximity and object exchange after exposure to being imitated (e.g. Paukner, Suomi et al., 2009), social conformism in the form of a preference for a group-adopted procedure even when it went against a prefered or more efficient one (Hopper, Schapiro, et al., 2011), and communicative imitation in the form of familiar-action imitation used to engage or maintain interaction (Persson, Sauciuc, & Madsen, 2017).

In this presentation, we address the presence of shared intentionality in imitative contexts with evidence from four experimental studies that our team has conducted with 6-month old infants (Sauciuc, Madsen, et al., in prep), as well as with enculturated (Sauciuc, Persson, & Madsen, in prep) and non-enculturated (Madsen, Sauciuc, & Persson, in prep a, b) chimpanzees of various ages (infants, juveniles, adults). Common to all these studies is that the participants have been exposed to an imitation condition in which the experimenter imitated all their actions, as well as to a number of control conditions that varied in agreement with the specific aims of each study. In Sauciuc, Madsen et al. (in prep), to establish if 6-month old infants discriminate being imitated from contingent responding, and to examine likely mechanisms that mediate this process, infants interacted with an experimenter who (i) imitated all infant’s action ipsilaterally; (ii) imitated all infant’s actions contralaterally; (iii) imitated with a still-face, i.e. imitated bodily but not facial actions; or (iv) responded with the infant’s actions contingently but with different actions. In Madsen, Sauciuc, & Persson (in prep a), to track the ontogenetic course of imitation recognition in chimpanzees, we replicated Haun and Call’s (2008) study on imitation recognition in adult apes and exposed infant and juvenile chimpanzees to four types of interaction in which the experimenter either (i) imitated all chimpanzee’s actions; (ii) responded to the chimpanzee’s actions with temporally contingent but different actions; (iii) produced actions that were not related to the chimpanzee’s actions; (iv) sat still. In Sauciuc, Persson, & Madsen (in prep) four additional control conditions were administered in order to ascertain that behavioural indicators of shared intentionality (e.g. imitation games, laughter) could not be attributed to alternative factors known to increase playfulness in chimpanzees, including non-play species-specific behaviours, species-specific play forms (chase) or facial expressions that accompany play. Finally, in Madsen, Sauciuc, & Persson (in prep b), chimpanzees were exposed to bouts of (i) imitation, (ii) non-imitative play and (iii) no action in order to investigate the effects of imitation and non-imitative play on subsequent intentional imitation of non-instrumental actions and nonconscious mimicry (such as contagious yawning). To examine the presence of shared intentionality in the studied populations, we focused on the presence of testing behaviours and imitation games, as well as on the presence of smiling and laughter during such responses.

Users use flattering interaction information such as “Likes” for social comparison; downward comparison elicits positive & upward comparison negative emotional affect; likability of the other more strongly predicted decisions to give a “Like” than comparison outcome

“Likes” as social rewards: Their role in online social comparison and decisions to like other People's selfies. Astrid M. Rosenthal-von der Pütten et al. Computers in Human Behavior, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2018.10.017

Highlights
•    SNS users use flattering interaction information such as “Likes” for social comparison.
•    Downward comparison elicits positive and upward comparison negative emotional affect.
•    The likability of the other more strongly predicted decisions to give a “Like” than comparison outcome.

Abstract: It has been argued that reported negative effects of social networking site use on well-being and depression might be due to the vast opportunities for unflattering social comparison on Facebook. Social media websites offer Likes, a numeric representation of social acceptance, as a form of “online social currency,” which can be seen as a secondary reinforcer that drives people's tendency to compare with others. Against this background, we present an experimental study (n = 118) in which participants saw and evaluated their own selfies and selfies of other people with and without Likes. Moreover, they saw two selfies with the respective number of Likes in direct (favorable or unfavorable) comparison, and indicated their emotional state and whether they would like the other person's selfie. Results demonstrate that Likes are used for comparisons with the expected affective outcome. Like decisions, however, were rather based on judgments of likability, admiration and positive feelings after comparison rather than the comparison outcome.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

About the modifications that the neurocognitive system undergoes when mastering mathematical knowledge

What Expertise Can Tell About Mathematical Learning and Cognition. Francesco Sella, Roi Cohen Kadosh. Mind, Brain, and Education, https://doi.org/10.1111/mbe.12179

ABSTRACT: The investigation of mathematical expertise can shape numerical and mathematical cognition theories by providing insights about the modifications that the neurocognitive system undergoes when mastering mathematical knowledge. In particular, both qualitative and quantitative methods should be combined within a developmental perspective to identify those promoting factors that lead some individuals to focus their interests on mathematics and possibly become experts in the field. The behavioral and neural differences in math experts constitute valuable information to study the limits of the mastering of mathematical knowledge, which ultimately represents a powerful form of formal human reasoning.

Icelanders bought 47% fewer books in 2017 than they did in 2010, a very sharp decrease in a matter of only six years

Can the language of the Vikings fight off the invasion of English? Ragnar Jonasson. The Guardian, Oct 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/oct/17/viking-language-invasion-english-iceland-icelandic
Icelandic has retained its literary vigour since the Sagas, but TV and tourism are a growing threat

There are other warning signs. Icelanders have always been very proud of their literary heritage, boasting that we write and read a lot of books. However, Icelanders bought 47% fewer books in 2017 than they did in 2010, a very sharp decrease in a matter of only six years. In a recent poll in Iceland, 13.5% of those who responded had not read a single book in 2017, compared to 7% in 2010.

Iceland has a wonderful tradition of giving books as Christmas presents, with people reading into the night on Christmas Eve. However, even this may be under threat: in 2005, an Icelander received an average of 1.4 books as gifts at Christmas; this number is now 1.1, with 42% of Icelanders not receiving a single book for Christmas according to the most recent poll.

Bodies and BDSM: Redefining Sex Through Kinky Erotics

Bodies and BDSM: Redefining Sex Through Kinky Erotics. Daniel Cardoso. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, July 2018Volume 15, Issue 7, Pages 931–932. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2018.02.014 |

Abstract: When Foucault1 famously separated the production of knowledge and the construction of sexuality between an Oriental ars erotica and a Western scientia sexualis, he intended to demonstrate the situatedness and contingency of our social categories around sexual practices, which later research showed to be not just a theoretical exercise, but a fundamental addition to reframing how the history of Europe is written.2 The same bodily acts were seen as an art form to be passed from master to disciple (eg, Kamasutra3) in the East, but an object of study and categorization in the West (eg, Psychopathia Sexualis4).

Friday, October 19, 2018

Gender & age information emerged significantly earlier than identity information, followed by a late signature of familiarity; gender & identity representations were enhanced for familiar faces early during processing

How face perception unfolds over time. Katharina Dobs, Leyla Isik, Dimitrios Pantazis, Nancy Kanwisher. bioaRxiv, https://doi.org/10.1101/442194

Abstract: Within a fraction of a second of viewing a face, we have already determined its gender, age and identity. A full understanding of this remarkable feat will require a characterization of the computational steps it entails, along with the representations extracted at each. Here we used magnetencephalography to ask which properties of a face are extracted when, and how early in processing these computations are affected by face familiarity. Subjects viewed images of familiar and unfamiliar faces varying orthogonally in gender and age. Using representational similarity analysis, we found that gender and age information emerged significantly earlier than identity information, followed by a late signature of familiarity. Importantly, gender and identity representations were enhanced for familiar faces early during processing. These findings start to reveal the sequence of processing steps entailed in face perception in humans, and suggest that early stages of face processing are tuned to familiar face features.

Check also First gender, then attractiveness: Indications of gender-specific attractiveness processing via ERP onsets. Claus-Christian Carbon e al. Neuroscience Letters, https://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2018/09/first-detect-gender-then-attractiveness.html

Association between Social Class, Greed, and Unethical Behaviour: A Replication Study

Clerke, A. S., Brown, M., Forchuk, C., & Campbell, L. (2018). Association between Social Class, Greed, and Unethical Behaviour: A Replication Study. Collabra: Psychology, 4(1), 35. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1525/collabra.166

Abstract: Recent research has focused on the potential negative consequences of belonging to the upper class. The present study attempted to directly replicate previous research examining whether upper-class individuals had more positive attitudes toward greed than lower-class individuals, and whether these attitudes mediated the negative association between social class and unethical behaviour. The current research includes two studies with 317 and 320 participants, from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and Prolific Academic, respectively. We used the same measures and procedures of the original research. The resulting dataset, and analytic code, are hosted on the Open Science Framework (Clerke et al., 2017). Collectively these datasets provide access to data from over 600 participants pertaining to social class, ethical behaviour, and sociodemographic information, such as obtained education and religious and political orientation. As in the original, we found a significant positive correlation between SES and greed in one of two studies, however the size of the effect was smaller. Contrary to the original, we did not find a significant association between SES and the propensity to lie in a hypothetical salary negotiation.

Keywords: social class ,   unethical behaviour ,   attitudes towards greed ,   replication ,   MTurk ,   Prolific Academic

Relationship of gender differences in preferences to economic development and gender equality

Relationship of gender differences in preferences to economic development and gender equality. Armin Falk, Johannes Hermle. Science, Vol. 362, Issue 6412, eaas9899. Oct 19 2018. DOI: 10.1126/science.aas9899

Abstract: What contributes to gender-associated differences in preferences such as the willingness to take risks, patience, altruism, positive and negative reciprocity, and trust? Falk and Hermle studied 80,000 individuals in 76 countries who participated in a Global Preference Survey and compared the data with country-level variables such as gross domestic product and indices of gender inequality. They observed that the more that women have equal opportunities, the more they differ from men in their preferences.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

High-SES undergraduates were more likely than peers to use marijuana, choose varied drugs, consume alcohol frequently, & use alcohol and substances to cope with stress; but race & marriage were stronger predictors

Martin, Chris C. 2018. “Socioeconomic Status Predicts Substance Use and Alcohol Consumption in U.S. Undergraduates.” PsyArXiv. October 18. doi:10.31234/osf.io/t9jf8

Abstract: In health sociology, the prevailing consensus is that socioeconomic status lowers illness risk. This model neglects the fact that unhealthful consumption patterns may covary with affluence. The current study examines consumption of drugs and alcohol among affluent U.S. college students. I hypothesized that undergraduate students from high-SES households would have high rates and levels of drug and alcohol consumption. Using data from 18,611 18- to 24-year-old undergraduates across 23 public and private institutions, I found that high-SES undergraduates were more likely than peers to use marijuana, choose varied drugs, consume alcohol frequently, and use alcohol and substances to cope with stress. The first three results were robust after controlling for gender, race, residence type, and relationship status. Marital status and race were stronger predictors than SES—Asians and married students were the least likely to use alcohol and drugs.

Pairing abstract art pieces with randomly generated pseudo-profound titles enhanced the perception of profoundness in those art pieces; being under a verbal working memory load enhanced the perception of profoundness of abstract art separately

Bullshit Makes the Art Grow Profounder: Evidence for False Meaning Transfer Across Domains. Martin Harry Turpin. MA Thesis, Waterloo Univ., Ontario. https://uwspace.uwaterloo.ca/bitstream/handle/10012/13746/Turpin_Martin.pdf

Abstract: The purpose of this thesis was to explore the decision making underlying the perception of meaning in abstract art. In particular, I explore if features adjacent to the content of the art itself predominantly drive the perception of depth and meaning in abstract art, especially by drawing a connection between the modes of communication present in the art world “International Art English” and the concept of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit. Across three studies, 500 participants completed tasks that assessed the degree to which Pseudo-Profound Bullshit can enhance the perceived profoundness of abstract art and examined mechanisms that underlie this enhancement. It was found that pairing abstract art pieces with randomly generated pseudo-profound titles enhanced the perception of profoundness in those art pieces (Exp 1), that being under a verbal working memory load enhanced the perception of profoundness of abstract art separately (Exp 2), but did not interact with the presence of a title, nor did it independently affect bullshit receptivity generally (Exp 3). This ultimately contributes to our understanding of the cognition of art, and decision making, especially as it relates to an application of models of cognitive miserliness to the evaluation of abstract art.

Restaurants receive lower online customer ratings when they eliminate tipping, & decline more when tipping is replaced with service-charges than when it is replaced with service-inclusive-pricing

A within-restaurant analysis of changes in customer satisfaction following the introduction of service inclusive pricing or automatic service charges. Michael Lynn, Zachary W.Brewster. International Journal of Hospitality Management, Volume 70, March 2018, Pages 9-15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhm.2017.11.001

Highlights
•    Restaurants receive lower online customer ratings when they eliminate tipping.
•    Customer ratings decline more when tipping is replaced with service-charges.
•    Customer ratings decline more when tipping is replaced at less expensive restaurants.
•    These findings provide a strong argument for the retention of tipping.

Abstract: Many U.S. restaurants have recently adopted no-tipping policies or are considering doing so. This study examines the effects of such moves away from tipping on restaurant’s online customer ratings. The results indicate that (i) restaurants receive lower online customer ratings when they eliminate tipping, (ii) online customer ratings decline more when tipping is replaced with service-charges than when it is replaced with service-inclusive-pricing, and (iii) less expensive restaurants experience greater declines in online customer ratings when replacing tipping with either alternative than do more expensive restaurants. These findings provide a strong argument for the retention of tipping, especially among lower- and mid-tier restaurants.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Alleviating Global Poverty: Labor Mobility, Direct Assistance, and Economic Growth

Alleviating Global Poverty: Labor Mobility, Direct Assistance, and Economic Growth. Lant Pritchett. Center for Global Development Working Paper 479, March 2018. https://www.cgdev.org/sites/default/files/alleviating-global-poverty-labor-mobility-direct-assistance-and-economic-growth.pdf

Abstract: Decades of  programmatic experimentation by development NGOs combined with the latest empirical techniques for estimating program impact have shown that a well-designed, well-implemented, multi-faceted intervention can in fact have an apparently sustained impact on the incomes of  the poor (Banerjee et al 2015). The magnitude of  the income gains of  the “best you can do” via direct interventions to raise the income of  the poor in situ is about 40 times smaller than the income gain from allowing people from those same poor countries to work in a high productivity country like the USA. Simply allowing more labor mobility holds vastly more promise for reducing poverty than anything else on the development agenda. That said, the magnitude of  the gains from large growth accelerations (and losses from large decelerations) are also many-fold larger than the potential gains from directed individual interventions and the poverty reduction gains from large, extended periods of  rapid growth are larger than from targeted interventions and also hold promise (and have delivered) for reducing global poverty.

Pursuing Sex with an Ex: Does It Hinder Breakup Recovery? It seems it doesn't.

Pursuing Sex with an Ex: Does It Hinder Breakup Recovery? Stephanie S. Spielmann, Samantha Joel, Emily A. Impett. Archives of Sexual Behavior, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-018-1268-6

Abstract: The present research used longitudinal methods to test whether pursuing sex with an ex-partner hinders breakup recovery. Participants completed a month-long daily diary immediately following a breakup, as well as a two-month follow-up (Study 1). Daily analyses revealed positive associations between trying to have sex with an ex-partner and emotional attachment to the ex-partner, but not other aspects of breakup recovery, such as distress, intrusive thoughts, or negative affect. Longitudinal changes from day to day, and over 2 months, revealed that pursuing sex with an ex was not a predictor of breakup recovery over time. To address the limitation that Study 1 only assessed attempted sexual pursuits, Study 2 explored associations between pursuit of, and actual engagement in, sexual activities with ex-partners. Results revealed that most sexual pursuits were successful, and success rates were not associated with breakup recovery. Findings challenge common beliefs about potential harm of pursuing sex with an ex.

Keywords: Breakups Ex-partners Sex Longitudinal methods

Party Animals: Asymmetric Ideological Constraint among Democratic and Republican Party Activists

Party Animals: Asymmetric Ideological Constraint among Democratic and Republican Party Activists. Robert N. Lupton, William M. Myers, Judd R. Thornton. Political Research Quarterly, https://doi.org/10.1177/1065912917718960

Abstract: Existing literature shows that Republicans in the mass public demonstrate greater ideological inconsistency and value conflict than Democrats. That is, despite a commitment to the conservative label and abstract belief in limited government, Republican identifiers’ substantive policy attitudes are nonetheless divided. Conversely, Democrats, despite registering lower levels of ideological thinking, maintain relatively consistent liberal issue attitudes. Based on theories of coalition formation and elite opinion leadership, we argue that these differences should extend to Democratic and Republican Party activists. Examining surveys of convention delegates from the years 2000 and 2004, we show that Democratic activists’ attitudes are more ideologically constrained than are those of Republican activists. The results support our hypothesis and highlight that some of the inconsistent attitudes evident among mass public party identifiers can be traced to the internal divisions of the major party coalitions themselves.

Keywords: elite attitude structures, ideological constraint, partisan asymmetry


Sensory Perception Is Not a One-Way Street. Tübingen Neuroscientists decipher the pathways by which the brain alters its own perception of the outside world

Cortical modulation of sensory flow during active touch in the rat whisker system. Shubhodeep Chakrabarti & Cornelius Schwarz. Nature Communicationsvolume 9, Article number: 3907 (2018). https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-06200-6

Abstract: Sensory gating, where responses to stimuli during sensor motion are reduced in amplitude, is a hallmark of active sensing systems. In the rodent whisker system, sensory gating has been described only at the thalamic and cortical stages of sensory processing. However, does sensory gating originate at an even earlier synaptic level? Most importantly, is sensory gating under top-down or bottom-up control? To address these questions, we used an active touch task in behaving rodents while recording from the trigeminal sensory nuclei. First, we show that sensory gating occurs in the brainstem at the first synaptic level. Second, we demonstrate that sensory gating is pathway-specific, present in the lemniscal but not in the extralemniscal stream. Third, using cortical lesions resulting in the complete abolition of sensory gating, we demonstrate its cortical dependence. Fourth, we show accompanying decreases in whisking-related activity, which could be the putative gating signal.

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Sensory Perception Is Not a One-Way Street https://idw-online.de/de/news704156

70% of participants found at least 1 aggressive or humiliating sexual play desirable; 50% found at least 3 acts desirable; men desired to engage more than women; aggressive & humiliating sexual play seems a normal variation in sexual desire

Aggressive and Humiliating Sexual Play: Occurrence Rates and Discordance Between the Sexes. Menelaos Apostolou, Michalis Khalil. Archives of Sexual Behavior, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-018-1266-8

Abstract: The present study attempted to understand people’s desires for aggressive and humiliating sexual play, both in terms of interests and fantasy. An evolutionary framework has been developed which generated five hypotheses to be tested. Evidence from a qualitative study of 102 participants identified 13 aggressive and sexual acts which were commonly preferred. A subsequent quantitative online study of 1026 men and women asked participants to rate the desirability of these acts. The results indicated that more than 70% of participants found at least one aggressive or humiliating sexual play desirable, whereas about half of the participants found at least three such acts desirable. Significant sex differences were also found, with men desiring to engage in such play more than women. This discordance was moderated by the willingness of each party to partially accommodate each other’s desires. On the basis of these findings and the proposed theoretical framework, it is concluded that aggressive and humiliating sexual play constitutes a normal variation in sexual desire.

Keywords: Aggressive sexual play Humiliating sexual play Masochism Sadism Sex difference

Why people engage in costly helping; empathy is one mechanism; moral outrage is a second one, a critical force for collective action

The Upside of Outrage. Victoria L. Spring, Daryl Cameron, Mina Cikar. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2018.09.006

Abstract: A debate has emerged across disciplines about why people engage in costly helping. Empathy is one mechanism. We highlight a second, more controversial motivator: moral outrage. Integrating findings from moral psychology and intergroup literatures, we suggest outrage is a critical force for collective action and highlight directions for future research.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

After attending economics training, judges use more economics language, render more conservative verdicts in economics cases, rule against regulatory agencies more often, & render longer criminal sentences

Ideas Have Consequences:  The Impact of Law and Economics on American Justice. Elliott Ash, Daniel L. Chen, Suresh Naidu. July 16, 2018, http://elliottash.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/ash-chen-naidu-2018-07-15.pdf

Abstract: This paper provides a quantitative analysis of the effects of the law and economics movement on the U.S. judiciary. Using the universe of published opinions in U.S. Circuit Courts and 1 million District Court criminal sentencing decisions linked to judge identity, we estimate the effect of attendance in the controversial Manne economics training program, an intensive two-week course attended by almost half of federal judges. After attending economics training, participating judges use more economics language, render more conservative verdicts in economics cases, rule against regulatory agencies more often, and render longer criminal sentences. These results are robust to adjusting for a wide variety of covariates that predict the timing of attendance. Comparing non-Manne and Manne judges prior to program start and exploiting variation in instructors further assuage selection concerns. Non-Manne judges randomly exposed to Manne peers on previous cases increase their use of economics language in subsequent opinions, suggesting economic ideas diffused throughout the judiciary. Variation in topic ordering finds that economic ideas were portable from regulatory to criminal cases.

Keywords: Judicial Decision-Making, Ideology, Intellectual History.
JEL codes: D7, K0, Z1

Hugs and kisses – the role of motor preferences and emotional lateralization for hemispheric asymmetries in human social touch

Hugs and kisses – the role of motor preferences and emotional lateralization for hemispheric asymmetries in human social touch. Sebastian Ocklenburg et al. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2018.10.007

Highlights
•    We review recent works on the lateralization of human social touch.
•    Kissing, Cradling and Embracing are investigated.
•    Side biases in social touch are determined by both motor and emotive biases.

Abstract: Social touch is an important aspect of human social interaction - across all cultures, humans engage in kissing, cradling and embracing. These behaviors are necessarily asymmetric, but the factors that determine their lateralization are not well-understood. Because the hands are often involved in social touch, motor preferences may give rise to asymmetric behavior. However, social touch often occurs in emotional contexts, suggesting that biases might be modulated by asymmetries in emotional processing. Social touch may therefore provide unique insights into lateralized brain networks that link emotion and action. Here, we review the literature on lateralization of cradling, kissing and embracing with respect to motor and emotive bias theories. Lateral biases in all three forms of social touch are influenced, but not fully determined by handedness. Thus, motor bias theory partly explains side biases in social touch. However, emotional context also affects side biases, most strongly for embracing. Taken together, literature analysis reveals that side biases in social touch are most likely determined by a combination of motor and emotive biases.

Dishonest people seek a partner who will also lie—a “partner in crime” ; honest people, by contrast, engage in ethical free riding: They refrain from lying but also from leaving dishonest partners, taking advantage of their partners’ lies

Ethical Free Riding: When Honest People Find Dishonest Partners. Jörg Gross et al. Psychological Science, https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797618796480

Abstract: Corruption is often the product of coordinated rule violations. Here, we investigated how such corrupt collaboration emerges and spreads when people can choose their partners versus when they cannot. Participants were assigned a partner and could increase their payoff by coordinated lying. After several interactions, they were either free to choose whether to stay with or switch their partner or forced to stay with or switch their partner. Results reveal that both dishonest and honest people exploit the freedom to choose a partner. Dishonest people seek a partner who will also lie—a “partner in crime.” Honest people, by contrast, engage in ethical free riding: They refrain from lying but also from leaving dishonest partners, taking advantage of their partners’ lies. We conclude that to curb collaborative corruption, relying on people’s honesty is insufficient. Encouraging honest individuals not to engage in ethical free riding is essential.

Keywords: behavioral ethics, ethical decision making, cooperation, dishonesty, partner selection, collaboration, rotation, open data, open materials

Jealousy evolved & has its own unique motivational state aimed at preventing others from usurping important relationships; has a core form that exists in infants and nonhuman animals and an elaborated form in humans that emerges as cognitive sophistication develops

Jealousy as a Specific Emotion: The Dynamic Functional Model. Mingi Chung, Christine R. Harris. Emotion Review, https://doi.org/10.1177/1754073918795257

Abstract: We review the jealousy literature and present our Dynamic Functional Model of Jealousy (DFMJ), which argues that jealousy evolved and has its own unique motivational state aimed at preventing others from usurping important relationships. It has a core form that exists in infants and nonhuman animals and an elaborated form in humans that emerges as cognitive sophistication develops. The DFMJ proposes that jealousy is an unfolding process with early and late phases that can be differentially impacted by relationship and personality factors. It also notes the importance of looking at multiple concomitants of jealousy, including action tendencies. We discuss how jealousy fits with current emotion theories and suggest that theories of specific emotions need to be broadened.

Keywords: attachment style, basic emotions, distinct emotions, Dynamic Functional Model of Jealousy, evolution, functional, jealousy, personality, relational variables, specific emotions

Intergenerational transmission of paternal trauma among US Civil War ex-POWs: Severe paternal hardship as a prisoner of war led to high mortality among sons, but not daughters, born after the civil war who survived to the age of 45; adequate maternal nutrition countered the effect

Intergenerational transmission of paternal trauma among US Civil War ex-POWs. Dora L. Costa, Noelle Yetter, and Heather DeSomer. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1803630115

Significance: Understanding whether paternal trauma is transmitted to children to affect their longevity, the mechanisms behind any transmission, and the reversibility of paternal trauma can inform health interventions and increase our understanding of the persistence of health within families. We show that severe paternal hardship as a prisoner of war (POW) led to high mortality among sons, but not daughters, born after the war who survived to the age of 45 but that adequate maternal nutrition countered the effect of paternal POW trauma in a manner most consistent with epigenetic explanations. We are not aware of any large sample studies in human populations that examine the reversibility of paternal trauma nor the long-term impact of paternal ex-POW status on children.

Abstract: We study whether paternal trauma is transmitted to the children of survivors of Confederate prisoner of war (POW) camps during the US Civil War (1861–1865) to affect their longevity at older ages, the mechanisms behind this transmission, and the reversibility of this transmission. We examine children born after the war who survived to age 45, comparing children whose fathers were non-POW veterans and ex-POWs imprisoned in very different camp conditions. We also compare children born before and after the war within the same family by paternal ex-POW status. The sons of ex-POWs imprisoned when camp conditions were at their worst were 1.11 times more likely to die than the sons of non-POWs and 1.09 times more likely to die than the sons of ex-POWs when camp conditions were better. Paternal ex-POW status had no impact on daughters. Among sons born in the fourth quarter, when maternal in utero nutrition was adequate, there was no impact of paternal ex-POW status. In contrast, among sons born in the second quarter, when maternal nutrition was inadequate, the sons of ex-POWs who experienced severe hardship were 1.2 times more likely to die than the sons of non-POWs and ex-POWs who fared better in captivity. Socioeconomic effects, family structure, father-specific survival traits, and maternal effects, including quality of paternal marriages, cannot explain our findings. While we cannot rule out fully psychological or cultural effects, our findings are most consistent with an epigenetic explanation.

Moral conviction stems from a distinctive mode of mental processing that is tied to automatic affective reactions; conviction about political objects positively predicts arousal evoked by the objects, while attitude extremity and importance do not

Fired Up by Morality: The Unique Physiological Response Tied to Moral Conviction in Politics. Kristin N. Garrett. Political Psychology, https://doi.org/10.1111/pops.12527

Abstract: Studies provide mounting evidence that morally convicted attitudes elicit passionate and unyielding political responses. Questions remain, however, whether these effects occur because moral conviction is another strong, versus a distinctly moral dimension of attitude strength. Building on work in moral psychology and neuroscience, I argue that moral conviction stems from a distinctive mode of mental processing that is tied to automatic affective reactions. Testing this idea using a lab experiment designed to capture self‐reported moral conviction and physiological arousal, I find that conviction about political objects positively predicts arousal evoked by the objects, while attitude extremity and importance do not. These findings suggest that moral conviction items do tap into moral processing, helping to validate the conviction measure. They also illustrate the value of using physiological indicators to study politics, help explain why morally convicted attitudes trigger such fervent responses, and raise normative questions about political conflict and compromise.

Psychological research is, on average, afflicted with low statistical power; only about 8% of studies have adequate power (using Cohen’s 80% convention); the good news is that we find only a small amount of average residual reporting bias

Stanley, T. D., Carter, E. C., & Doucouliagos, H. (2018). What meta-analyses reveal about the replicability of psychological research. Psychological Bulletin, http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/bul0000169

Abstract: Can recent failures to replicate psychological research be explained by typical magnitudes of statistical power, bias or heterogeneity? A large survey of 12,065 estimated effect sizes from 200 meta-analyses and nearly 8,000 papers is used to assess these key dimensions of replicability. First, our survey finds that psychological research is, on average, afflicted with low statistical power. The median of median power across these 200 areas of research is about 36%, and only about 8% of studies have adequate power (using Cohen’s 80% convention). Second, the median proportion of the observed variation among reported effect sizes attributed to heterogeneity is 74% (I2). Heterogeneity of this magnitude makes it unlikely that the typical psychological study can be closely replicated when replication is defined as study-level null hypothesis significance testing. Third, the good news is that we find only a small amount of average residual reporting bias, allaying some of the often-expressed concerns about the reach of publication bias and questionable research practices. Nonetheless, the low power and high heterogeneity that our survey finds fully explain recent difficulties to replicate highly regarded psychological studies and reveal challenges for scientific progress in psychology.

Respondents in same‐sex relationships experience similar levels of commitment, satisfaction, & emotional intimacy as their counterparts in different‐sex relationships; relationship of males is sexually less exclusive

The Qualities of Same‐Sex and Different‐Sex Couples in Young Adulthood. Kara Joyner, Wendy Manning, Barbara Prince. Journal of Marriage and Family, https://doi.org/10.1111/jomf.12535

Abstract

Objective: The recognition of sexual minorities in social science research is growing, and this study contributes to knowledge on this population by comparing the qualities of same‐sex and different‐sex relationships among young adults.

Background: The findings of studies on this topic may not be generalizable because they are limited to coresidential unions and based on convenience samples. This study extends prior research by examining multiple relationship qualities among a nationally representative sample of males and females in dating and cohabiting relationships.

Method: The authors ; compare young adults in same‐sex and different‐sex relationships with respect to relationship quality (commitment, satisfaction, and emotional intimacy) and sexual behavior (sexual frequency and sexual exclusivity). Drawing on the 4th wave of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health ( http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/addhealth), they use multiple regression to compare: male respondents with different‐sex partners, male respondents with same‐sex partners, female respondents with different‐sex partners, and female respondents with same‐sex partners.

Results: Consistent with previous research, the authors find that respondents in same‐sex relationships experience similar levels of commitment, satisfaction, and emotional intimacy as their counterparts in different‐sex relationships. They also corroborate the finding that male respondents in same‐sex relationships are less likely than other groups of respondents to indicate that their relationship is sexually exclusive.

Conclusion: This study provides an empirical basis for understanding the relationships of sexual minority young adults.

Proof of pluralistic ignorance about what is considered attractive in the gay community; & of a significant association between pluralistic ignorance & body image concerns, particularly among men not in committed relationships

Pluralistic Ignorance of Physical Attractiveness in the Gay Male Community. Daniel E. Flave-Novak & Jill M. Coleman. Journal of Homosexuality, https://doi.org/10.1080/00918369.2018.1522811

ABSTRACT: Researchers have found that a disproportionate percentage of men diagnosed with eating disorders identify as gay, and there is extensive evidence that gay men have significantly more body image concerns than heterosexual men (Bosley, 2011). The current studies investigated whether pluralistic ignorance exists about what is considered attractive in the gay community. It was hypothesized that gay males would privately reject the notion that only a mesomorphic (thin and muscular) body type is attractive, yet incorrectly assume that their peers are attracted primarily to a mesomorphic body type. The studies found evidence for the existence of pluralistic ignorance about what is considered attractive in the gay community. Further, there was evidence for a significant association between pluralistic ignorance and body image concerns, particularly among men who were not in committed romantic relationships.

KEYWORDS: Body image, gay men, norms, physical attractiveness

Monday, October 15, 2018

Conservatives’ individual-level attitudes toward diverse political issues (e.g., abortion, gun control, welfare) were more dispersed across the political spectrum than were liberals’ attitudes due to to having several moral foundations

Pyszczynski, Tom, Pelin Kesebir, Matt Motyl, Andrea Yetzer, and Jacqueline M. Anson. 2018. “Ideological Consistency, Political Orientation, and Variability Across Moral Foundations.” PsyArXiv. October 10. doi:10.31234/osf.io/qgmsc

Abstract: We conceptualized ideological consistency as the extent to which an individual’s attitudes toward diverse political issues are coherent among themselves from an ideological standpoint. Four studies compared the ideological consistency of self-identified liberals and conservatives. Across diverse samples, attitudes, and consistency measures, liberals were more ideologically consistent than conservatives. In other words, conservatives’ individual-level attitudes toward diverse political issues (e.g., abortion, gun control, welfare) were more dispersed across the political spectrum than were liberals’ attitudes. Study 4 demonstrated that variability across commitments to different moral foundations predicted ideological consistency and mediated the relationship between political orientation and ideological consistency.

Observed negative impact of socioeconomic status on olfactory function could reflect differential exposures to xenobiotic agents, cultural differences, familiarity with odors or their names, cognitive development, or other factors

Relationship of socioeconomic status to olfactory function. Aurélio Fornazieri et al. Physiology & Behavior, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2018.10.011

Highlights
•    This research employs data from the largest clinical study of olfaction ever performed outside of North America and Europe.
•    Lower education levels and economic status were independently associated with an adverse influence on standardized olfactory test scores.
•    The observed negative impact of socioeconomic status on olfactory function could reflect differential exposures to xenobiotic agents, cultural differences, familiarity with odors or their names, cognitive development, or other factors.

Abstract: Socioeconomic status can significantly impact health. To what degree education and other socioeconomic factors influence the chemical sense of olfaction is not clear. Most studies that have assessed such influences come from countries lacking large disparities in education and income and generally view such measures as nuisance variables to be controlled for statistically. In this study, we evaluated the influences of education and income on odor identification in a diverse sample of subjects from Brazil, a society where large disparities in both income and education are present. The 40-item University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT) was administered to 1572 healthy Brazilian citizens with no self-reported olfactory or gustatory deficits and for whom detailed socioeconomic and educational status data were obtained. Univariate and multivariate models were employed to examine the influence of socioeconomic status on the test scores. After controlling for age, sex, ethnicity, and smoking behavior, income and educational level were positively and independently related to the olfactory test scores (respective ps < 0.001 & 0.01). Both linear and quadratic functions described the relationship between the UPSIT scores and the levels of education and socioeconomic status. Individuals of lower socioeconomic status performed significantly worse than those of higher socioeconomic status on 20 of the 40 odorant items. This study demonstrates socioeconomic status is significantly associated with influence the ability to identify odors. The degree to which this reflects differential exposures to xenobiotic agents, cultural differences, familiarity with odors or their names, cognitive development, or other factors requires further investigation.

We like to be scared: After voluntary arousing negative experiences, reported affect improved, particularly for those that reported feeling tired, bored, or stressed prior to the experience

Kerr, M., Siegle, G. J., & Orsini, J. (2018). Voluntary arousing negative experiences (VANE): Why we like to be scared. Emotion. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/emo0000470

Abstract: This study examined survey data and neural reactivity associated with voluntarily engaging in high arousal negative experiences (VANE). Here we suggest how otherwise negative stimuli might be experienced as positive in the context of voluntary engagement. Participants were recruited from customers who had already purchased tickets to attend an “extreme” haunted attraction. Survey data measuring self-report affect, expectations, and experience was collected from 262 adults (139 women and 123 men; age M = 27.5 years, SD = 9.3 years) before and after their experience. Changes in electroencephalographic (EEG) indices of reactivity to cognitive and emotional tasks were further assessed from a subsample of 100 participants. Results suggested that participants’ reported affect improved, particularly for those that reported feeling tired, bored, or stressed prior to the experience. Among those whose moods improved, neural reactivity decreased in response to multiple tasks. Together, these data suggest that VANE reduces neural reactivity following stress. This result could explain post-VANE euphoria and may be adaptive in that it could help individuals to cope with subsequent stressors. To the extent that this phenomenon replicates in clinical situations, it could inform clinical interventions by using VANE principles to reduce neural reactivity to subsequent stressors.

This paper establishes a new fact about educational production: ordinal academic rank during primary school has long-run impacts that are independent from underlying ability

Top of the Class: The Importance of Ordinal Rank. Richard Murphy, Felix Weinhardt. NBER Working Paper No. 24958. http://www.nber.org/papers/w24958

Abstract: This paper establishes a new fact about educational production: ordinal academic rank during primary school has long-run impacts that are independent from underlying ability. Using data on the universe of English school students, we exploit naturally occurring differences in achievement distributions across primary school classes to estimate the impact of class rank conditional on relative achievement. We find large effects on test scores, confidence and subject choice during secondary school, where students have a new set of peers and teachers who are unaware of the students’ prior ranking. The effects are especially large for boys, contributing to an observed gender gap in end-of-high school STEM subject choices. Using a basic model of student effort allocation across subjects, we derive and test a hypothesis to distinguish between learning and non-cognitive skills mechanisms and find support for the latter.

Democracy's Unique Advantage in Promoting Economic Growth: Quantitative Evidence for a New Institutional Theory

Democracy's Unique Advantage in Promoting Economic Growth: Quantitative Evidence for a New Institutional Theory. Rui Tang, Shiping Tang. Kyklos, https://doi.org/10.1111/kykl.12184

Summary: Bringing together the classic defense of liberty and democracy, the political economy of hierarchy, endogenous growth theory, and the new institutional economics on growth, we propose a new institutional theory that identifies democracy's unique advantage in prompting economic growth. We contend that the channel of liberty‐to‐innovation is the most critical channel in which democracy holds a unique advantage over autocracy in promoting growth, especially during the stage of growth via innovation. Our theory thus predicts that democracy holds a positive but indirect effect upon growth via the channel of liberty‐to‐innovation, conditioned by the level of economic development. We then present quantitative evidence for our theory. To our best knowledge, we are the first to propose such an indirect and conditional effect of democracy upon economic development and provide systematic evidence. Our study promises to integrate and reconcile many seemingly unrelated and often contradictory theories and evidence regarding regime and growth, including providing a possible explanation for the inconclusive results from regressing overall regime score against the rate of economic growth or change in level of GDP per capita.

Humans exhibit important shifts in this aspect of our social cognition: younger individuals attend more to negative stimuli, whereas older adults tend to focus on positive information; rhesus monkeys show an increasing negativity bias with age

Developmental shifts in social cognition: socio-emotional biases across the lifespan in rhesus monkeys. Alexandra G. Rosati, Alyssa M. Arre, Michael L. Platt, Laurie R. Santos. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00265-018-2573-8

Abstract: Humans exhibit a suite of developmental changes in social cognition across the lifespan. To what extent are these developmental patterns unique? We first review several social domains in which humans undergo critical ontogenetic changes in socio-cognitive processing, including social attention and theory of mind. We then examine whether one human developmental transition—a shift in socio-emotional preferences—also occurs in non-human primates. Specifically, we experimentally measured socio-emotional processing in a large population of rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) ranging from infancy to old age. We tested whether macaques, like humans, also exhibited developmental shifts from a negativity bias at younger ages, indicating preferential attention to negative socio-emotional stimuli, to a positivity bias at older ages. We first assessed monkeys’ (n = 337) responses to negative socio-emotional stimuli by comparing their duration of looking towards photos of negative conspecific signals (threat displays) versus matched neutral expressions. In contrast to the pattern observed in humans, we found that older monkeys were more attentive to negative emotional stimuli than were younger monkeys. In a second study, we used the same method to examine monkeys’ (n = 132) attention to positive (affiliative displays) versus matched neutral expressions. Monkeys did not exhibit an overall preference for positive stimuli, nor major age-related changes in their attention. These results indicate that while monkeys show robust ontogenetic shifts in social preferences, they differ from humans by exhibiting an increasing negativity bias with age. Studies of comparative cognitive development can therefore provide insight into the evolutionary origins of human socio-cognitive development.

Significance statement: Humans are characterized by complex and flexible social behavior. Understanding the proximate psychological mechanisms and developmental processes that underpin these social behaviors can shed light on the evolutionary history of our species. We used a comparative developmental approach to identify whether a key component of human social cognition, responses to emotionally-charged social stimuli, are shared with other primates. Humans exhibit important shifts in this aspect of our social cognition: younger individuals attend more to negative stimuli, whereas older adults tend to focus on positive information. These shifts are thought to appropriately tailor our age-dependent social goals. We found that, unlike humans, rhesus monkeys show an increasing negativity bias with age. By examining primate cognition across the lifespan, this work can help disentangle how complex forms of social behavior emerge across species.

Keywords: Social cognition Comparative development Primates Socio-emotional biases Emotional signals

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Harming animals and massacring humans: Characteristics of public mass and active shooters who abused animals

Harming animals and massacring humans: Characteristics of public mass and active shooters who abused animals. Arnold Arluke, Adam Lankford, Eric Madfis. Behavioral Sciences and the Law , https://doi.org/10.1002/bsl.2385

Abstract: Researchers have extensively studied the tendency of certain violent criminals to hurt or torture animals, primarily focusing on domestic abusers and serial killers. However, little is known about the extent or nature of prior animal abuse among active shooters and public mass shooters. Public mass and active shooters essentially represent a single offender type: they are people who commit rampage attacks in public places and attempt to harm multiple victims beyond a single target. The only difference is that “mass” shootings are traditionally defined as cases resulting in the death of four or more victims, while “active” shootings have no minimum threshold. This study aimed to identify all publicly reported cases of active and mass shooters who engaged in animal cruelty, describe the nature of their violence toward animals and humans, and examine how they differ from other perpetrators without this history. Overall, this study found 20 cases of offenders with a publicly reported history of animal abuse. Comparisons between offenders with and without this history indicated that animal‐abusing offenders were more likely to be young and White, less likely to die at the crime scene, and more likely to kill and wound a large number of victims. While this finding supports the idea that animal abuse might be a warning sign for a small but deadly minority of mostly youthful offenders, it is likely not a robust signal of future shooters in general because animal abuse is rarely reported in this population of offenders at large.


We discovered hundreds of genes that, when their activity is enhanced, suppressed, or turned off, lengthen life & enhance health under laboratory conditions; does this support George Williams’ 1957 paper aobut antagonistic pleiotropy hypothesis of aging?

Is Antagonistic Pleiotropy Ubiquitous in Aging Biology? Steven N Austad Jessica M Hoffman.  Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health, eoy033, https://doi.org/10.1093/emph/eoy033

Abstract: George Williams’ 1957 paper developed the antagonistic pleiotropy hypothesis of aging, which had previously been hinted at by Peter Medawar. Antagonistic pleiotropy, as it applies to aging, hypothesizes that animals possess genes that enhance fitness early in life but diminish it in later life and that such genes can be favored by natural selection because selection is stronger early in life even as they cause the aging phenotype to emerge. No genes of the sort hypothesized by Williams were known sixty years ago, but modern molecular biology has now discovered hundreds of genes that, when their activity is enhanced, suppressed, or turned off, lengthen life and enhance health under laboratory conditions. Does this provide strong support for Williams’ hypothesis? What are the implications of Williams’ hypothesis for the modern goal of medically intervening to enhance and prolong human health? Here we briefly review the current state of knowledge on antagonistic pleiotropy both under wild and laboratory conditions. Overall, whenever antagonistic pleiotropy effects have been seriously investigated, they have been found. However, not all trade-offs are directly between reproduction and longevity as is often assumed. The discovery that antagonistic pleiotropy is common if not ubiquitous implies that a number of molecular mechanisms of aging may be widely shared among organisms and that these mechanisms of aging can be potentially alleviated by targeted interventions.

Topic: aging phenotype genes longevity molecular biology reproductive physiological process pleiotropism elderly

Strong discrepancy between stated and revealed behavior: given a natural setting, people may actually behave inconsistently with the way in which they otherwise “brand” themselves; this is a big problem for predictability of survey answers

Why (field) experiments on unethical behavior are important: Comparing stated and revealed behavior. Yonas Alema et al. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2018.08.026

Highlights
•    Field experiment on unethical behavior.
•    Comparison of stated behavior and revealed behavior.
•    Experiment induces reciprocity and guilt in two treatments.
•    Result 1: strong discrepancy between stated and revealed behavior.
•    Result 2: inducing reciprocity and guilt reduces unethical behavior compared to control.

Abstract: Understanding unethical behavior is essential to many phenomena in the real world. We carry out a field experiment in a unique setting that varies the levels of reciprocity and guilt in an ethical decision. A survey more than one year before the field experiment allows us to compare at the individual level stated unethical behavior with revealed behavior in the same situation in the field. Our results indicate a strong discrepancy between stated and revealed behavior, regardless of the specific treatment in the field experiment. This suggests that, given a natural setting, people may actually behave inconsistently with the way in which they otherwise “brand” themselves. Our findings raise caution about the interpretation of stated behavioral measures commonly used in research on unethical behavior. In addition, we show that inducing reciprocity and guilt leads to a decrease in unethical behavior.

Antisocial behavior is heritable, but heritability varies by subtype and age; adversity predicts antisocial behavior directly & moderates genetic effects; we need genome-wide association studies of antisocial behavior with larger sample sizes

Genetic influences on antisocial behavior: recent advances and future directions. Arianna M Gard, Hailey L Dotterer, Luke W Hyde. Current Opinion in Psychology, Volume 27, June 2019, Pages 46-55, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2018.07.013

Highlights
•    The heterogeneity of antisocial behavior needs to be considered in genetic studies.
•    Antisocial behavior is heritable, but heritability varies by subtype and age.
•    Adversity predicts antisocial behavior directly and moderates genetic effects.
•    Genome-wide association studies of antisocial behavior with larger sample sizes are needed.
•    Polygenic risk scores may capture cumulative genetic effects on antisocial behavior.
•    Neurogenetics links genes to behavior via the brain.

Abstract: Understanding the etiology of antisocial behavior (i.e. violence, criminality, rule-breaking), is essential to the development of more effective prevention and intervention strategies. We provide a summary of the genetic correlates of antisocial behavior, drawing upon findings from behavioral, molecular, and statistical genetics. Across methodologies, our review highlights the centrality of environmental moderators of genetic effects, and how behavioral heterogeneity in antisocial behavior is an important consideration for genetic studies. We also review novel analytic techniques and neurogenetic approaches that can be used to examine how genetic variation predicts antisocial behavior. Finally, to illustrate how findings may converge across approaches, we describe pathways from genetic variability in oxytocin signaling to subtypes of antisocial behavior.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The high regard of organic food is a meme; not in genetic terms, but as a cultural artefact that spreads, affects social cognition, & propagates in the social environment as a true statement to be believed

Organic Food Appeals to Intuition and Triggers Stereotypes. Marjaana Lindeman, Joonas Anttila. International Journal of Psychological Studies, Vol. 10, No. 3 (2018). DOI:10.5539/ijps.v10n3p66

Abstract: Evidence suggests that the benefits of organic food are overstated. In study 1, factors predicting positive attitudes toward organic food (OF), food processing and additives were investigated. Intuitive thinking style was the strongest predictor, followed by categorical thinking, belief in simplicity of knowledge and susceptibility to health myths. In Study 2, the effect of OF consumer status on perceived warmth and competence was examined. OF-positive participants rated the OF consumer similarly as the conventional consumer. However, OF-negative participants regarded the OF consumer as warmer but less competent than the conventional consumer. In Study 3, perceptions of a couple were examined similarly. OF consumer couple's relationship was more idealized by the OF-positive participants whereas other participants regarded the OF consumer couple's relationship as less satisfactory. In addition, intuitive thinking style increased positive judgments about the stimulus persons in Studies 2 and 3. Eating organic food may thus evoke positive and negative stereotypes, and intuitive thinkers may be especially receptive to OF marketing and influenced by a preference for natural.




Check also Sweet taste of prosocial status signaling: When eating organic foods makes you happy and hopeful. Petteri Puska et al. Appetite, https://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2017/11/consumers-told-their-organic-food.html

Dopaminergic basis for signaling belief updates, but not surprise, and the link to paranoia

Dopaminergic basis for signaling belief updates, but not surprise, and the link to paranoia. Matthew M. Nour, Tarik Dahoun, Philipp Schwartenbeck, Rick A. Adams, Thomas H. B. FitzGerald, Christopher Coello, Matthew B. Wall, Raymond J. Dolan, and Oliver D. Howes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1809298115

Significance: To survive in changing environments animals must use sensory
information to form accurate representations of the world. Surprising sensory information might signal that our current beliefs about the world are inaccurate, motivating a belief update. Here, we investigate the neuroanatomical and neurochemical mechanisms underlying the brain’s ability to update beliefs following informative sensory cues. Using multimodal brain imaging in healthy human participants, we demonstrate that dopamine is strongly related to neural signals encoding belief updates, and that belief updating itself is closely related to the expression of individual differences in paranoid ideation. Our results shed new light on the role of dopamine in making inferences and are relevant for understanding psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, where dopamine function is disrupted.

Abstract: Distinguishing between meaningful and meaningless sensory information is fundamental to forming accurate representations of the world. Dopamine is thought to play a central role in processing the meaningful information content of observations, which motivates an agent to update their beliefs about the environment. However, direct evidence for dopamine’s role in human belief updating is lacking. We addressed this question in healthy volunteers who performed a model-based fMRI task designed to separate the neural processing of meaningful and meaningless sensory information. We modeled participant behavior using a normative Bayesian observer model and used the magnitude of the model-derived belief update following an observation to quantify its meaningful information content. We also acquired PET imaging measures of dopamine function in the same subjects. We show that the magnitude of belief updates about task structure (meaningful information), but not pure sensory surprise (meaningless information), are encoded in midbrain and ventral striatum activity. Using PET we show that the neural encoding of meaningful information is negatively related to dopamine-2/3 receptor availability in the midbrain and dexamphetamine-induced dopamine release capacity in the striatum. Trial-by-trial analysis of task performance indicated that subclinical paranoid ideation is negatively related to behavioral sensitivity to observations carrying meaningful information about the task structure. The findings provide direct evidence implicating dopamine in model-based belief updating in humans and have implications for understating the pathophysiology of psychotic disorders where dopamine function is disrupted.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Mice: Performance in behavioral tasks did not correlate strongly with number of neurons; whereas neuronal number is a good predictor of cognitive skills across species, it is not a predictor of cognitive across individuals within a species

Lack of correlation between number of neurons and behavioral performance in Swiss mice. Kleber Neves, Gerson D. Guercio, Yuri Anjos-Travassos, Stella Costa, Ananda Perozzo, Karine Montezuma, Suzana Herculano-Houzel, Rogerio Panizzutti
bioRxiv 428607; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/428607

Abstract: Neuronal number varies by several orders of magnitude across species, and has been proposed to predict cognitive capability across species. Remarkably, numbers of neurons vary across individual mice by a factor of 2 or more. We directly addressed the question of whether there is a relationship between performance in behavioral tests and the number of neurons in functionally relevant structures in the mouse brain. Naive Swiss mice went through a battery of behavioral tasks designed to measure cognitive, motor and olfactory skills. We estimated the number of neurons in different brain regions (cerebral cortex, hippocampus, olfactory bulb, cerebellum and remaining areas) and crossed the two datasets to test the a priori hypothesis of correlation between cognitive abilities and numbers of neurons. As previous evidence indicates that environmental enrichment may increase neurogenesis and improve neuronal survival, we added a control group that did not undergo cognitive testing to rule out the possibility that our test battery could alter the neuronal number. We found that behavioral testing did not change numbers of neurons in the cerebral cortex and in the hippocampus. Surprisingly, performance in the behavioral tasks did not correlate strongly with number of neurons in any of the brain regions studied. Our results show that whereas neuronal number is a good predictor of cognitive skills across species, it is not a predictor of cognitive, sensory or motor ability across individuals within a species, which suggests that other factors are more relevant for explaining cognitive differences between individuals of the same species.

Industrial Revolution: Some psychological traits –lower level of time discounting, higher level of optimism, decreased materialistic orientation, & higher level of trust in others– are likely to increase the rate of innovation

Psychological Origins of the Industrial Revolution. Nicolas Baumard. Behavioral and Brain Sciences (forthcoming), https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X1800211X

Since the Industrial Revolution, human societies have experienced high and sustained rates of economic growth. Recent explanations of this sudden and massive change in economic history have held that modern growth results from an acceleration of innovation. But it is unclear why the rate of innovation drastically accelerated in England in the 18th century. An important factor might be the alteration of individual preferences with regard to innovation due to the unprecedented living standards of the English during that period, for two reasons. First, recent developments in economic history challenge the standard Malthusian view according to which living standards were stagnant until the Industrial Revolution. Pre-industrial England enjoyed a level of affluence that was unprecedented in history. Second, Life History Theory, a branch of evolutionary biology, has demonstrated that the human brain is designed to respond adaptively to variations in resources in the local environment. In particular, a more favorable environment (high resources, low mortality) triggers the expression of future-oriented preferences. In this paper, I argue that some of these psychological traits –a lower level of time discounting, a higher level of optimism, decreased materialistic orientation, and a higher level of trust in others– are likely to increase the rate of innovation. I review the evidence regarding the impact of affluence on preferences in contemporary as well as past populations, and conclude that the impact of affluence on neuro-cognitive systems may partly explain the modern acceleration of technological innovations and the associated economic growth.

Rolf Degen summarizing: If competition is framed as competition with oneself, rather than with other people, women are more competitive than men

Gender differences in interpersonal and intrapersonal competitive behavior. Jeffrey Carpenter, Rachel Frank, Emiliano Huet-Vaughn. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socec.2018.10.003

Highlights
•    We ask if gender affects an individual’s willingness to compete against oneself
•    Our lab experiment randomly sorts subjects to compete against others or themselves
•    Women select intrapersonal competition more than interpersonal competition
•    Women select intrapersonal competition comparatively more than men
•    Perseverance or ”grit” does not predict competitive behavior
•    Men are more risk-seeking and this has some effect on the inclination to compete

Abstract: Gender differences in competitive behavior continue to be documented by econo-mists and other social scientists; however, the bulk of the research addresses competition with others and excludes other economically relevant contests. In this paper, we ask: how does gender affect how individuals react to competing against themselves? In a laboratory experiment in which some subjects compete against others and some compete against themselves, we find women select into intrapersonal competition at significantly higher rates than interpersonal competition and comparatively more than men. In addition, we find that while perseverance or “grit” does not explain the gender difference in behavior, risk attitudes have some explanatory power.

Schadenfreude is higher in real-life situations compared to psychologists' experiments in the lab

Schadenfreude is higher in real-life situations compared to hypothetical scenarios. Maria Luz Gonzalez-Gadea, Agustin Ibanez, Mariano Sigman. PLOS, October 11, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0205595

Abstract: Schadenfreude (i.e., the pleasure derived from another’s misfortune) has been widely studied by having participants imagine how they would feel in hypothetical scenarios describing another person’s pain or misfortune. However, research on affective forecasting shows that self-judgments of emotions are inaccurate in hypothetical situations. Here we show a study in which we first presented a hypothetical schadenfreude situation and few months later, due to an exceptional circumstance, the situation turned out to happen in reality. This fortuitous circumstance allowed us to compare people’s imagined emotional reactions with their actual feelings. Results showed that schadenfreude was higher in the real situation than in the hypothetical one. More importantly, participants used different proxies to predict their emotional reaction: while out-group dislike served as a proxy of schadenfreude in both types of scenario, the degree of in-group identification also increased schadenfreude in those who had experienced the real event, arguably a mechanism to promote positive self-evaluation. These results highlight the importance of assessing schadenfreude in the heat of the moment.


Thursday, October 11, 2018

More-skilled workers tend to live in larger cities where they earn higher wages; larger cities are also more unequal

Inequality in and across Cities. Jessie Romero and Felipe F. Schwartzman. Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Economic Brief October 2018, No. 18-10. https://www.richmondfed.org/publications/research/economic_brief/2018/eb_18-10

Abstract: Inequality in the United States has an important spatial component. More-skilled workers tend to live in larger cities where they earn higher wages. Less-skilled workers make lower wages and do not experience similar gains even when they live in those cities. This dynamic implies that larger cities are also more unequal. These relationships appear to have become more pronounced as inequality has increased. The evidence points to externalities among high-skilled workers as a significant contributor to those patterns.

Distinct facial expressions represent pain and pleasure across cultures

Distinct facial expressions represent pain and pleasure across cultures. Chaona Chen, Carlos Crivelli, Oliver G. B. Garrod, Philippe G. Schyns, José-Miguel Fernández-Dols, and Rachael E. Jack. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1807862115

Significance: Humans often use facial expressions to communicate social messages. However, observational studies report that people experiencing pain or orgasm produce facial expressions that are indistinguishable, which questions their role as an effective tool for communication. Here, we investigate this counterintuitive finding using a new data-driven approach to model the mental representations of facial expressions of pain and orgasm in individuals from two different cultures. Using complementary analyses, we show that representations of pain and orgasm are distinct in each culture. We also show that pain is represented with similar face movements across cultures, whereas orgasm shows differences. Our findings therefore inform understanding of the possible communicative role of facial expressions of pain and orgasm, and how culture could shape their representation.

Abstract: Real-world studies show that the facial expressions produced during pain and orgasm—two different and intense affective experiences—are virtually indistinguishable. However, this finding is counterintuitive, because facial expressions are widely considered to be a powerful tool for social interaction. Consequently, debate continues as to whether the facial expressions of these extreme positive and negative affective states serve a communicative function. Here, we address this debate from a novel angle by modeling the mental representations of dynamic facial expressions of pain and orgasm in 40 observers in each of two cultures (Western, East Asian) using a data-driven method. Using a complementary approach of machine learning, an information-theoretic analysis, and a human perceptual discrimination task, we show that mental representations of pain and orgasm are physically and perceptually distinct in each culture. Cross-cultural comparisons also revealed that pain is represented by similar face movements across cultures, whereas orgasm showed distinct cultural accents. Together, our data show that mental representations of the facial expressions of pain and orgasm are distinct, which questions their nondiagnosticity and instead suggests they could be used for communicative purposes. Our results also highlight the potential role of cultural and perceptual factors in shaping the mental representation of these facial expressions. We discuss new research directions to further explore their relationship to the production of facial expressions.

Evolutionary Explanations for Humor and Creativity. Or it is sexual selection?

Creativity and Humor. Chapter 10 - Evolutionary Explanations for Humor and Creativity. Aaron Kozbelt. Explorations in Creativity Research 2019, Pages 205-230. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-813802-1.00010-7

Abstract: In this chapter, I explore evolutionary explanations for humor and creativity, via humor production—the ability to generate a verbal comment or behavior that other people find funny. Proposed evolutionary mechanisms for the origin of the human capacity for humor production include Darwinian natural selection and sexual selection. Natural selection explanations for humor are hampered by the difficulty of distinguishing genuine adaptations from evolutionary by-products, and by a problematic emphasis on group selection. A sexual selection view of humor as a trait-indicator of genetic fitness has been studied extensively and boasts impressive empirical support. Alternatives to the trait-indicator view, such as the use of humor to signal compatibility, interest, or warmth, have also been suggested. The wide range of interpersonal contexts in which humor production can play out suggests a pluralism of mechanisms underlying humor production ability—rich fodder for future research.

Silver medalists’ life expectancy is less than that of gold and bronze medalists; perceived dissatisfactory competition outcomes may adversely affect health

The Effects of Competition Outcomes on Health: Evidence from the Lifespans of U.S. Olympic Medalists. Adriaan Kalwij. Economics & Human Biology, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ehb.2018.10.001

Highlights
•    Silver medalists’ life expectancy is less than that of gold and bronze medalists.
•    Perceived dissatisfactory competition outcomes may adversely affect health.
•    Competition outcomes could play a causal role in the positive SES-health gradient.

Abstract: This paper investigates the effects of competition outcomes on health by using U.S. Olympic medalist lifespans and medal colors as a natural experiment. Whereas the life expectancies of gold and bronze medalists do not differ significantly, life expectancy of silver medalists is about 2.4 and 3.9 years less than these former, respectively. These findings are readily explainable by insights from behavioral economics, psychology, and human biology, which suggest that (perceived) dissatisfactory competition outcomes may adversely affect health. Competition outcomes that affect socioeconomic status (SES) could, therefore, play an important causal role in the positive SES-health gradient among the general population.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Firms headquartered in countries with strict environmental policies perform their polluting activities abroad in countries with relatively weaker policies, but emit less overall CO2 globally due to strict policies at home

Exporting Pollution. Itzhak Ben-David, Stefanie Kleimeier, Michael Viehs. NBER Working Paper No. 25063. http://www.nber.org/papers/w25063

Abstract: Despite awareness of the detrimental impact of CO2 pollution on the world climate, countries vary widely in how they design and enforce environmental laws. Using novel micro data about firms’ CO2 emissions levels in their home and foreign countries, we document that firms headquartered in countries with strict environmental policies perform their polluting activities abroad in countries with relatively weaker policies. These effects are stronger for firms in high-polluting industries and with poor corporate governance characteristics. Although firms export pollution, they nevertheless emit less overall CO2 globally in response to strict environmental policies at home.

Hillary Clinton: 'You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for'

Clinton: 'You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for'. Rachel Ventresca, CNN, October 9, 2018, https://edition.cnn.com/2018/10/09/politics/hillary-clinton-civility-congress-cnntv

Washington (CNN)Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that civility in America can only begin again if Democrats win back the House or Senate this fall.

"You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about," Clinton said in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour. "That's why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that's when civility can start again. But until then, the only thing that the Republicans seem to recognize and respect is strength."

Clinton alluded to previous controversies -- like the 2000 election recount to the "swift boat" attacks against John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election to the confirmation of Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh -- as evidence of what she sees as hardball tactics by Republicans.

"I remember what they did to me for 25 years -- the falsehoods, the lies, which unfortunately people believe because the Republicans have put a lot of time, money, and effort in promoting them," Clinton said. "So when you're dealing with an ideological party that is driven by the lust for power, that is funded by corporate interests who want a government that does its bidding, it's -- you can be civil, but you can't overcome what they intend to do unless you win elections."

Clinton said a top priority of a Democratic House and Senate should be to scrutinize President Donald Trump. Asked if Democrats should impeach Trump, Clinton sidestepped.

"The question about impeachment — you know, that will be left to others to decide," Clinton said. "I want to stop the degrading of the rule of law. The delegitimizing of elections. One of their priorities should be, let's protect our elections. Let's make sure that we have electoral security. Let's end the suppression of voters. So there is a big agenda if the Democrats take over."

CNN's Mick Krever contributed to this report.