Monday, April 15, 2019

Rough sex is triggered by curiosity & need for novelty; both men and women often initiate rough sexual behaviors; does not correlate with violence in the relationship or abuse, but happens more when male sexual jealousy is involved

The Rough Stuff: Understanding Aggressive Consensual Sex. Rebecca L. Burch, Catherine Salmon. Evolutionary Psychological Science, Apr 15 2019.

Abstract: Research on sexual behavior often characterizes rough sex as sexual aggression and as violent or abusive in nature. In a sample of 734 male and female undergraduates, we examined the extent of rough sexual acts in romantic relationships, the triggers for those acts, and how rough sex differs from “typical” sex. Participants were asked their definition of rough sex, questions regarding sexual aggression and behaviors during rough sex, and abusive behaviors in the relationship. Findings indicate that rough sex is triggered by curiosity and a need for novelty, and that both men and women often initiate rough sexual behaviors. Consensual rough sex typically results in little violence and only superficial injuries such as scratches, bruises, and welts. Rough sex does not correlate with violence in the relationship or abuse. However, rough sexual behaviors were increased in situations that involved male sexual jealousy. Being separated from a sexual partner was the second most common trigger for rough sex, particularly for men. Aspects of rough sex, such as increased semen displacement and decreased latency for female orgasm are discussed.

Keywords: Rough sex Sexual aggression Sexual jealousy Semen displacement

Typical behaviours, from more frequent to less:

                                     men   women
Fast thrusting
Hard thrusting
Pushing and pulling
Loud noises
Hot wax
Name calling
Aggressive behavior   


Definition of Rough Sex
Although the literature on rough sex in many cases places it in the category of sexual aggression or abuse(seeBuzash1989; Hanna 2000;Pa 2001; and Weinberg 2016, for reviews and arguments), our data indicate that rough sex is a behavior thatmen and women both willfully initiate as a means of recreation. When asked to define rough sex, most men and women report only slightly aggressive behaviors such as slapping, pulling hair, biting, and being pinned down. One of the more interesting findings is that even though participants were notexplicitly asked whether thrusting was a part of the definition of rough sex, participants submitted hard and fast thrusting asdefinitive behaviors (see further discussion).

Triggers for Rough Sex
While men and women agreed on some of the triggers for rough sex (wrestling, trying something new, teasing, playingout a fantasy), there was a clear sex difference in reporting triggers that involved sexual jealousy. Men reported triggersthat were clearly related to sperm competition significantly more than women did: being jealous, being separated from(and unable to monitor) their partner, thinking their partnercheated, and group sex. The majority of other triggers werefocused on curiosity and trying new things or physical play(wrestling). Renaud and Byers (1999) have reported that 96% of participants reacted positively to thoughts about sexual submission scenarios and 85% reacted positively to thoughts about dominance scenarios. They also reported that bondageor use of restraint was viewed positively by college students. These positive views of dominance/submission scenarios canlead to this curiosity, which can easily transition to mild dominance/submission fantasies which others have suggestedcan be arousing to men and women (Hazen1983).

Aggression During Rough Sex
The most common behaviors performed during rough sex,again, were less violent behaviors such as spanking, clawing, pushing, calling names, and tearing clothes. More violent behaviors, such as burning, threatening, or using weapons, were among the least common behaviors. Men do appear to engage in some rougher behaviors than women, but this may be based on their size and musculature (e.g., threw partner around). Likewise, women with their presumably longer nails reported scratching and clawing their partners more often. Additionally, the most aggressive/violent sexual behaviors occur either very rarely or not at all in this population. Likewise, unlike sexual aggression, rough sex results in little injury for men or women. This supports the argument put forth by Vogels and O’Sullivan that this aggression may be more instrumental than hostile, and better meets the criteria for "playful force" (Ryan and Mohr2005) than sexual aggression (Krahe et al.2015).

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Light‐ & moderate alcohol consumption & non‐hazardous drinking were associated with the lowest risk of subsequent depression; hazardous drinking increased the risk of depression

Moderate alcohol consumption and depression ‐ a longitudinal population‐based study in Sweden. Katalin Gémes, Yvonne Forsell, Imre Janszky, Krisztina D. László, Andreas Lundin, Antonio Ponce de Leon, Kenneth J. Mukamal. Jette Möller. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, April 13 2019.

Background and aims: The inter‐relationship between alcohol consumption and depression is complex and the direction of the association is unclear. We investigated whether alcohol consumption influences the risk of depression while accounting for this potential bi‐directionality.

Methods: A total of 10,441 individuals participated in the PART study in 1998‐2000; 8,622 in 2001‐2003 and 5,228 in 2010. Participants answered questions on their alcohol consumption, symptoms of depression, childhood adversity, and sociodemographic, socioeconomic, psychosocial and lifestyle factors. A total of 5,087 participants provided repeated information on alcohol consumption. We used marginal structural models to analyze the association between alcohol consumption and depression while controlling for previous alcohol consumption and depressive symptoms and other time‐varying confounders.

Results: Non‐drinkers had a higher depression risk than light drinkers (≤7 drinks/week) (risk ratio: 1.7; 95% confidence interval 1.3‐2.1). Consumers of 7‐14 drinks/week had a depression risk similar to that of light drinkers. Hazardous drinking was associated with a higher risk of depression than non‐hazardous alcohol consumption (risk ratios: 1.8, 95% confidence intervals: 1.4‐2.4).

Conclusion: Light‐ and moderate alcohol consumption and non‐hazardous drinking were associated with the lowest risk of subsequent depression after accounting for potential bi‐directional effects. Hazardous drinking increased the risk of depression.

When coupled with the emergence of hyper polarization & the resulting salience of partisan identity, we easily infer partisan group identity from intentional consumption choices

Partisan Cultural Stereotypes: The Effect of Everyday Partisan Associations on Social Life in the United States. Maggie Deichert. Vanderbilt University, dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. May 10 2019.

ABSTRACT: People routinely use their knowledge of others’ partisanship, when present, to make social evaluations in political and apolitical settings. Most social situations, however, do not focus on partisan identification nor issue positions. In this paper, I argue that, despite this informational shortfall, people may still engage in partisan prejudice by using information about others’ habits and hobbies, provided such cultural preferences are associated with one party or the other. Using two studies, I find, first, that respondents systematically recognize many cultural preferences as associated witha particular party; and, second, that they use these connections to categorize and stereotype others as partisans. Also, and most importantly, I demonstrate that people use cultural preferences to express prejudice against out-group partisans in both non-partisan political and apolitical settings. Thus, not only is politics relevant to citizens’ everyday lives, but citizens use information from everyday life to navigate the political and social world.

Partisan identity is a particularly salient cleavage in the American political environment. The psychological attachment individuals have to their party, whether the result of policy opinions or affect, has played a central role in the American public’s political attitudes and behavior (Bartels 2000; Campbell et al. 1960; Hetherington and Rudolph 2015; Huddy, Mason and Aaroe 2015), and has recently bled into apolitical environments as well. Partisans have, in the past decade or so, begun to engage in partisan bias and discrimination in apolitical environments. They express positive attitudes towards and favorco-partisans and express negative attitudes and prejudice toward opposing partisans (Iyengar, Sood, and Lelkes 2012; Iyengar et al. 2018). Partisans discriminate based off others’ partisan identity in a variety of different hypothetical or real contexts largely in part because partisan discrimination is not only socially accepted but often encouraged (Iyengar and Westwood 2015). Both politicians and partisan commentators frequently spend time denigrating the other party: calling them deplorable (Reilly 2016) or comparing opposing partisans to historically evil and unfavorable groups (Berry and Sobieraj 2014). This language from group elites creates an environment in which social norms against partisan discrimination are non-existent, unlike social norms against racialor gender discrimination. Thus, it is perceived as acceptablefor everyday Americans to engage in discrimination of an individual solely from their partisan group membership. It is perhaps fortunate, then, that partisan identity (and associated issue positions) is not easily attainable information in most contexts. Most people tend to avoid political discussion on a daily basis (Mutz 2006), and few people wear a name tag that says “Democrat” or “Republican.” However, as Dave Chappelle points out in his description of 2016 early voting in Ohio, even when you don’t knowsomeone’s partisan identity you can still categorize and stereotype individuals by party.Through increased sorting between social groups and the two political parties (Mason 2018), the cultural symbols used to impute social group membership can now be used to impute partisan membership, provided the social group is uniquely associated with only one party. Not only do people recognize that the two parties are distinctly comprised of different social groups but they actively extend in-group favoritism and out-group animosity towards co-partisan and opposing partisan social groups, respectively (Mason et al. 2018; Miller et al. 1992). Democrats express positive feelings towards socialgroups that fall under the Democratic partisan coalition absent partisan labels, and so do Republicans. One problem with these studies though is that they measure group affect bluntly, through survey questions and feeling thermometer ratings of social groups. This is not necessarily a realistic way in which people learn about and evaluate others’ identities. People do not necessarily go around introducing themselves as their social groups. Instead, we pick up cues from how people look and act, what they like to talk about, and the things that they own (Gosling et al. 2002; Rentfrow and Gosling 2006). Instead of learning about people’s social identities via sterile social group proper nouns, we decode their lifestyle choicesand preferences to decipher who they are and to which groups they belong (Gosling et al. 2002). Therefore, we use the cultural symbols attached to these social groups to impute social group membership, and provided that that social group is uniquely associated with only one political party, to also impute partisan membership. As such, some everyday cultural preferences, like driving a pickup truck instead of a Volvo, wearing camouflage instead of a basketball jersey, and listening to rap music not country music, are partisan cultural stereotypes. In this dissertation, I argue that partisan cultural stereotypes are omnipresent. Basic information about individuals’ hobbies and preferences is easily available and obvious information about people. Thisinformation can be communicated to others through many different processes. Two of the primary ways in which an observer “learns” about a person are through visual or verbal pieces of information (Lampeland Anderson 1968). Visual pieces of information are typically communicated through physical appearance and can be observed simply by looking at someone, whether in a photograph or in person (Ambady and Rosenthal 1992; Levy and Richter 1963). If someone is wearing a cowboy hat, people might automatically impute that they are from a rural area of the country and that they are a Republican. Thus, if a person’s clothing choices, hair style, and general physical style are associated with a specific partisan social group then people can impute partisan identity simply by looking at someone. Besides visual pieces of information, people can signal aspects about themselves through verbal or written communication (Lampeland Anderson 1968). Indeed, cultural preferences, like music, movies, and hobbies, are often the first things people talk about when getting to know others (Rentfrow and Gosling 2006), and if these cultural preferences are connected to partisan identity, learning this information can activate partisan categorization of an individual in small talk situations or casual “getting-to-know-you” environments. Through either of these “learning” processes, people can use the cultural attributes and preferences of others, in everyday social scenarios, to infer their partisan preferences and formulate a broader impression of strangers around this perception of partisanship. I argue that this initial impression can shape any number of social evaluations, such as whereto sit on the bus, in which neighborhood to live, whom to recommend for a promotion,andwhich candidate to vote for in low-information elections. By just seeing or meeting someone, people might immediately engage in partisan categorization and prejudice without knowing anything else about them. If perceived partisan identity shapes these daily experiences and interactions with strangers around partisan bias, these minor interactions will continue to foster negative attitudes towards the opposing party andaffective polarization,simply through increased physical distance between the two partisan groups in daily interactions. My dissertation research involves fourrelated articles that all focus on the concept of partisan cultural stereotypes. Through these four articles I answer three central questions:dopartisan cultural stereotypes exists, how are they formed,andwhat are theirsocial implications? Drawing on theories from political science and psychology, I use a variety of experimental and psychological methods to analyze how partisan identity plays a role in day-to-day social evaluations and interactions in the United States. In the first paperof my dissertation, I conduct an initial test of the relationship between cultural preferences and partisan stereotypes. First, I conduct a categorization task using an undergraduate sample to demonstrate that certain cultural preferences are seen as highly typical of one of the two parties, and that some of these cultural preferences are seen as more typicalof one of the two parties than issue positions and partisan news media sources. Building off the results of this categorization task, I conduct a nationally representative survey experiment to assess whether learning about a stranger’s cultural preferences is related to partisan social evaluations of that individual. In this 2 by 3 experimental design, respondents read a vignette about either a hypothetical co-worker or non-partisan political candidate’s cultural preferences and daily lives. The results from this experimental study suggest that if the cultural preferences of either the co-worker or candidate are connected to one party, that respondents are more likely to categorize and stereotype that individual as the “correct” partisan. Furthermore, partisans are also more likely to express partisan discrimination towards an individual that is seen as stereotypical of their opposing party. In the second paperof my dissertation, I test the breadth of the effect of cultural preferences on partisan discrimination through two experimental studies. In the first study, I conduct an Implicit Association Test (IAT) and find that both partisan categorization and partisan bias occur automatically and subconsciously when exposed to cultural preferences. These findings suggest that these social group cultural symbols and the party images are cognitively linked in long-term memory,and that partisan identity and associated affective tags can be activated when exposed to cultural preferences. In the second study, I testwhether this implicit partisan bias extends to explicit partisan bias by replicating and expanding the second experimental study from the first paper. I find that regardless of which apolitical environment and what type of social evaluation, partisansexpress partisan discrimination against stereotypical opposing partisans. Inthe third paper, I assess whether partisan identity can be visually communicated. As mentioned above, information about an individual or their identity can be communicated through multiple pathways. In the previous two papers, I evaluated whether partisan identity can be perceived through written communication about an individual. In this paper, I evaluate whether partisan identity, through partisan cultural stereotypes like clothingchoice and physical style, can be perceived by just looking at someone. In the first part of this paper, I test whether one’s physical appearance affects the partisan perception and initial impressions of an individual through a randomized and timed categorization task. The findings from this studysuggest thatclothing styles and appearance significantly alter the partisan perception of an individual and that partisan identity can be inferred from visual cues. In the second half of this paper, I show thatthese visual manifestations of partisan identity also affect social evaluations of complete strangers, as both Democrats and Republicans engage inpartisan social evaluations of individuals who look stereotypical of their in-party and out-party. Furthermore, partisan discrimination is, to some extent, moderated by socio-economic status differences within the two parties.The last paper of this dissertation evaluatesone mechanism through which partisan cultural stereotypesform and come to be systematic:public knowledge. I argue that it is through the growing intersection of culture and politics, namelythe endorsement of politicians bycelebrities and politicians’ lifestyle preferences, that people learn to distinctly associate certain cultural preferences with one of the two political parties. I test this theory in two ways. First, I trace Taylor Swift’s evolutionfrom a staunchly apolitical celebrity to a supporter of two Tennessee Democrats and use original survey data to assess how her behavior has affected partisan categorization of her and her fans. I find that while her behavior slightly shifted respondent’s partisan categorization of her towards more typical Democrat, her behavior did not shift respondents’categorization of her fans.Second, I conduct an experiment to more directlytest what happens when people are aware of either celebrity or partisan exemplar behavior. I find that when respondents learn about either a celebrityendorsinga partisan politicianor a partisan exemplar endorsing a celebrity, they are more likely to categorize and stereotype a fan of the celebrity as a Republican or Democrat, depending on the partisan politician mentioned in the treatment. When people are aware of the cultural behavior of a politician or the partisan behavior of a celebrity, associative learning begins to take place and partisan cultural stereotypes form. This dissertation project is an in-depth study of how the concept and definition of partisan identity has evolved as the two partisan coalitions have become socially and culturally distinct. Advances in technology and production have drastically increased the availability of consumer’s options across a broad array of products and have thus made social group membership more visible through increased symbolic consumption. Industrialization and economic development coupled with globalization has drastically increased Americans consumption options from radio programs, to grocery stores, to hobbies, to potato chips –basically every choice one makes throughout the day.It is this choice that allows individuals to specifically tailor their consumption behavior to their self and social identity, creating a more cohesiveconcept of identity(Heffetz 2009, Elliot and Wattanasuwan 2015). If they wish to, social group members canuse their consumption patterns to intentionally express who they are and what they stand for. Christians can now listen to Christian radio, environmentalists can now choose to drive more environmentally friendly cars, and individuals with predilections towards meditation and spirituality can practice yoga even if they live in the middle of rural Kansas. Thus, social group identity can be easily expressed through consumption choices as well as easily seen and inferred from consumption choices. When coupled with the emergence of hyper polarization and the resulting salience of partisan identity, social group symbolic consumption and intentional expressions of social group identity can also be interpreted as symbolic consumption and the intentional expression of partisan identity. As a result, we now live in an era where people can easily infer social and partisan group identity from intentional consumption choices.

Early-career setback and future career impact: Consistent with the concept that "what doesn't kill me makes me stronger."

Early-career setback and future career impact. Yang Wang, Benjamin F. Jones, Dashun Wang. > arXiv:1903.06958, Mar 16 2019.

Abstract: Setbacks are an integral part of a scientific career, yet little is known about whether an early-career setback may augment or hamper an individual's future career impact. Here we examine junior scientists applying for U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) R01 grants. By focusing on grant proposals that fell just below and just above the funding threshold, we compare "near-miss" with "near-win" individuals to examine longer-term career outcomes. Our analyses reveal that an early-career near miss has powerful, opposing effects. On one hand, it significantly increases attrition, with one near miss predicting more than a 10% chance of disappearing permanently from the NIH system. Yet, despite an early setback, individuals with near misses systematically outperformed those with near wins in the longer run, as their publications in the next ten years garnered substantially higher impact. We further find that this performance advantage seems to go beyond a screening mechanism, whereby a more selected fraction of near-miss applicants remained than the near winners, suggesting that early-career setback appears to cause a performance improvement among those who persevere. Overall, the findings are consistent with the concept that "what doesn't kill me makes me stronger." Whereas science is often viewed as a setting where early success begets future success, our findings unveil an intimate yet previously unknown relationship where early-career setback can become a marker for future achievement, which may have broad implications for identifying, training and nurturing junior scientists whose career will have lasting impact.

Corrected misinformation was presented alongside equal presentations of affirmed factual statements; participants reduced their belief in the misinformation but did not reduce their feelings towards the politician

They Might Be a Liar But They’re My Liar: Source Evaluation and the Prevalence of Misinformation. Briony Swire‐Thompson et al. Political Psychology, April 13 2019.

Abstract: Even if people acknowledge that misinformation is incorrect after a correction has been presented, their feelings towards the source of the misinformation can remain unchanged. The current study investigated whether participants reduce their support of Republican and Democratic politicians when the prevalence of misinformation disseminated by the politicians appears to be high in comparison to the prevalence of their factual statements. We presented U.S. participants either with (1) equal numbers of false and factual statements from political candidates or (2) disproportionately more false than factual statements. Participants received fact‐checks as to whether items were true or false, then rerated both their belief in the statements as well as their feelings towards the candidate. Results indicated that when corrected misinformation was presented alongside equal presentations of affirmed factual statements, participants reduced their belief in the misinformation but did not reduce their feelings towards the politician. However, if there was considerably more misinformation retracted than factual statements affirmed, feelings towards both Republican and Democratic figures were reduced—although the observed effect size was extremely small.

In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, 88% of Americans reported that fabricated news had caused confusion about basic facts regarding current events (Barthel, Mitchell, & Holcomb, 2016). From the Cambridge Analytica scandal to reports of Russian troll factories (Chappell, 2018; Steward, Arif, & Starbird, 2018), it has been difficult to escape debate about how information can affect political discourse and the problematic nature of a media environment where veracity can-not be guaranteed. Misinformation in the public sphere can cause long-term damage to democratic discourse, not least because reasoning is often influenced by misinformation even after people have been presented with a valid correction (Johnson & Seifert, 1994; Lewandowsky, Ecker, Seifert, Schwarz, & Cook, 2012; Thorson, 2016). Even if people do update their belief after a correction, they might not similarly update their attitudes about the issue or their opinion of the person who is spreading the misinformation. The present study assesses whether people’s feelings towards political figures are affected when a large amount of invalid information is disseminated in comparison to the amount of valid information. In other words, if a politician tends to tell mostly lies, to what extent do their supporters lose faith in them?
Events that influence trust, such as political scandals, often affect people’s voting preferences (Funk, 1996). However, political reputation is also surprisingly resilient; more than half of U.S. incumbents who are implicated in scandals are subsequently reelected (Basinger, 2013). Moreover, not all scandals are created equal. For example, a financial scandal such as tax evasion is more likely to permanently diminish feelings towards a political candidate as compared to a moral scandal (such as an extramarital affair; Doherty, Dowling, & Miller, 2014). The continued spreading of inaccurate information, however, differs from a one-time scandal as it is an ongoing violation of the pervasive but tacit assumption that people are generally truth tellers (Grice, 1975). Although people assume that speakers by and large are truthful, they are sensitive to violations of that maxim (Okanda, Asada, Moriguchi, & Itakura, 2015). Regardless of whether a politician is actually lying with intent to deceive or simply making repetitive unintentional errors, it is unclear how forgivable continued falsehoods are in the eyes of voters.

In previous research, Swire, Berinsky, Lewandowsky, and Ecker (2017) found that feelings to-wards a politician who disseminated misinformation remained unchanged even when participants acknowledged that their favored politician’s statements were incorrect. Specifically, Swire et al. asked participants to rate their belief in eight statements that Donald Trump made on the campaign trail, four of which were accurate and four inaccurate. The statements were either attributed to Trump (e.g., “Donald Trump said that vaccines cause autism”) or presented without attribution (“Vaccines cause autism”). After inaccurate items were corrected and true items affirmed, participants rerated their belief in those items either immediately or after a week-long delay. Results indicated that even if Trump supporters reduced their belief in misinformation attributed to Trump, they did not change their voting preferences nor feelings towards him.

This null effect, however, could potentially have resulted from participants being presented with true and false statements in equal quantities. While it is unclear a priori why factual statements should “balance out” misinformation, it is possible that a 50/50 split of true and false statements is insufficient to sway supporters’ feelings, as it may not sufficiently violate people’s expectations of truthfulness. This also could be in accordance with the tallying heuristic where people count the number of arguments (for example, pros and cons) and disregard the relative importance of each argument (Bonnefon, Dubois, Fargier, & Leblois, 2008; Gigerenzer, 2004). Perhaps the prevalence of misinformation must be more extreme—that is, the perceived amount or ratio of misinformation in comparison to factual information might have to be greater for falsehoods to influence opinion of the source. Additionally, it may be that participants update their beliefs about the specific items that are corrected, while opinion regarding the general amount of misinformation spread by a politician may be more stable. In other words, participants may accept that particular claims are false, but they maintain the perception that the candidate is accurate day to day, enabling them to have stable feel-ings towards the candidate.

Nyhan, Porter, Reifler, and Wood (2019) conducted a similar study to Swire et al. (2017) and also found that participants who reduced their belief in corrected misinformation did not change their feel-ings towards Donald Trump. However, unlike Swire et al., Nyhan and colleagues only presented one false (and no true) statement, suggesting that the preservation of support was not due to an equal number of factually accurate statements alongside it. There is additionally evidence to suggest that this phenom-enon could extend beyond political figures. With Israeli participants, Nyhan and Zeitzoff (2017) found that corrections successfully reduced individual misperceptions regarding the Israeli-Palestine conflict, but this did not extend to participants’ feelings towards the outgroup nor support for the peace process.

A separate question is whether (null) effects of misinformation on feelings and voting pref-erences are similar on both sides of the political spectrum, as both Swire et al. (2017) and Nyhan et al. (2019) exclusively used claims made by Donald Trump. Political symmetry is important to consider because there is still debate as to whether there are notable cognitive differences between people on opposing sides of the political spectrum. Some argue that these psychological differ-ences are the reason that the rejection of well-established scientific propositions are mainly found on the political right (Jost, 2017; Lewandowsky & Oberauer, 2016). Experimental support for political asymmetry was provided by Ecker and Ang (2018), who investigated whether partisan po-litical attitudes affected how people updated their beliefs after corrections were presented. Ecker and Ang found that retractions of attitude-dissonant misinformation were effective in participants on both sides of the political spectrum, whereas retractions of attitude-congruent misinformation were only effective in left-wing (but not right-wing) participants. In other words, left-wing partic-ipants were more willing to reject erroneous information that had supported their worldview than right-wing participants.

However, other researchers argue that identity-protective cognition occurs on both sides of the political spectrum (Kahan, 2013; Kahan, Peters, Dawson, & Slovic, 2017). For example, Washburn and Skitka (2017) tested the propensity of conservatives and liberals to misinterpret scientific claims that conflicted with preexisting beliefs. The authors found that both groups had motivated interpre-tations of scientific studies and were less likely to discover correct interpretations of the results when they conflicted with participants’ attitudes. Additionally, Claassen and Ensley (2016) found no dif-ference between Republicans and Democrats when it came to their concern about politicians using dirty-campaign tricks. There was little change in attitude towards a politician if the respondents were politically aligned with the politician, but participants were highly concerned if the politician came from the opposite side. It is therefore possible that cognitive processes guiding preferences towards politicians are similar regardless of partisanship. Whether correcting misinformation is more likely to reduce feelings towards Republican or Democratic political figures (or whether symmetry will be observed) is yet to be studied empirically.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Evolution of color vision to detect social info: Dichromats may be less accurate at detecting others’ emotional states; dichromats may also display weaker approach/avoidance behavior toward healthy/sick individuals

Social Perception of Facial Color Appearance for Human Trichromatic Versus Dichromatic Color Vision. Christopher A. Thorstenson, Adam D. Pazda, Andrew J. Elliot. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, April 13, 2019.

Abstract: Typical human color vision is trichromatic, on the basis that we have three distinct classes of photoreceptors. A recent evolutionary account posits that trichromacy facilitates detecting subtle skin color changes to better distinguish important social states related to proceptivity, health, and emotion in others. Across two experiments, we manipulated the facial color appearance of images consistent with a skin blood perfusion response and asked participants to evaluate the perceived attractiveness, health, and anger of the face (trichromatic condition). We additionally simulated what these faces would look like for three dichromatic conditions (protanopia, deuteranopia, tritanopia). The results demonstrated that flushed (relative to baseline) faces were perceived as more attractive, healthy, and angry in the trichromatic and tritanopia conditions, but not in the protanopia and deuteranopia conditions. The results provide empirical support for the social perception account of trichromatic color vision evolution and lead to systematic predictions of social perception based on ecological social perception theory.

Keywords: trichromatic, color vision, social perception, evolution, face color

The human face is a wellspring of social information; we can make rapid judgments about a wide range of social characteristics (e.g., sex, race, age, attractiveness, health, emotion) based on only a brief exposure to facial stimuli (Weisbuch & Ambady, 2011). Although a majority of traditional social psychological research has focused on assessing how these judgments influence downstream phenomena (e.g., stereotyping and behavior), only recently have researchers focused on elucidating the lower level perceptual mechanisms that produce these judgments in the first place (Freeman & Ambady, 2011; Oosterhof & Todorov, 2008). An emerging line of research has demonstrated that one such perceptual mechanism that can independently influence a range of social judgments is facial color appearance (for reviews, see (Rowland & Burriss, 2017; Stephen & Perrett, 2015; Thorstenson, 2018). This work suggests that human color vision plays a key role in social perception processes. In the current article, we briefly review theoretical accounts of human color vision evolution, including a recent account driven by social evolutionary considerations. We then overview the existing literature on the role of facial color appearance in the expression and perception of social characteristics (i.e., attractiveness, health, and emotion), grounded in an ecological theory of social perception (Zebrowitz-McArthur & Baron, 1983). Finally, we report two experiments that provide an empirical test of the social evolutionary account of human color vision.

Typical human (and most primate species) color vision is considered trichromatic, meaning we possess three distinct classes of wavelength-sensitive photoreceptive cells called cone photorecepters, or cones, that allow us to discriminate chromatic colors across the visible spectrum. These cones are distinguished as short wavelength (S; with peak sensitivity at ~430 nm), medium wavelength (M; with peak sensitivity at ~535 nm), and long wavelength (L; with peak sensitivity at ~562 nm; Jacobs & Deegan, 1999). Whereas most mammalian species possess dichromacy (having one S cone and one M/L cone), trichromacy in humans and most nonhuman primate species evolved when the older M/L cone opsin gene duplicated and diverged into two separate M and L cones (Dulai, von Dornum, Mollon, & Hunt, 1999).

The functional significance of trichromacy evolution is currently under debate. A popular account suggests that trichromacy was selected to aid primates in foraging by facilitating the detection of ripe fruit against green leaves (Allen, 1879; Lucas et al., 2003; Mollon, 1989; Osorio & Vorobyev, 1996; Surridge & Mundy, 2002). While there is support demonstrated for this hypothesis (Bunce, Isbell, Grote, & Jacobs, 2011; Caine & Mundy, 2000; Melin et al., 2009; Osorio, Smith, Vorobyev, & Buchanan-Smith, 2004; Regan et al., 2001; Smith, Buchanan-Smith, Surridge, & Mundy, 2003; Smith, Buchanan-Smith, Surridge, Osorio, & Mundy, 2003; Sumner & Mollon, 2000; Vorobyev, 2004), some ecological studies do not observe a benefit of trichromacy on foraging behavior (Hiramatsu et al., 2008; Vogel, Neitz, & Dominy, 2007). Other theoretical accounts of color vision variation in primates that have received less empirical attention include camouflage detection, predation detection, and nocturnal versus diurnal activity (see Kawamura & Melin, 2017, for a comprehensive review).

Alternatively, a more recent functional account posits that trichromacy may have been selected by social evolutionary pressures (Changizi, 2010; Changizi & Shimojo, 2011; Changizi, Zhang, & Shimojo, 2006). Specifically, this account suggests that the divergence of M and L cones allows for the optimal detection of socially relevant skin color appearance fluctuations in others. Changizi and colleagues (2006) note that changes in dermal hemoglobin oxygenation and concentration lead to predictable changes in the spectral reflectance (and consequently visible color) of skin. Increases in hemoglobin oxygenation heighten relative L-cone to M-cone activation, resulting in redder skin appearance (while decreases in hemoglobin oxygenation produce the opposite, resulting in greener skin appearance). Increases in hemoglobin concentration tend to increase M- and L-cone activation relative to the S cone, resulting in blue skin appearance, whereas decreases in hemoglobin concentration produce the opposite, resulting in yellow skin appearance (see also Thorstenson, 2018 for a review). Importantly, Changizi and colleagues (2006) demonstrated that M- and L-cone sensitivities in trichromats are situated in the visible spectrum such that they are able to optimally detect these skin color appearance fluctuations. This corre-spondence, between the spectral sensitivity of trichromatic photoreceptors and spectral fluctuations of skin enduring transient hemoglobin changes, presumably enables particu-lar sensitivity to discriminate socially relevant physiologi-cal conditions (e.g., emotional states, sexual signals, and threat displays). It has also been noted that trichromatic primates tend to be bare-faced, allowing rapid access to visual skin color appearance modulations. See Figure 1 for an illustration of the spectral characteristics of human skin and trichromatic photoreceptors. While there is some recent work supporting this hypothesis for viewing nonhuman pri-mate targets (Hiramatsu, Melin, Allen, Dubuc, & Higham, 2017) research in this area is still sparse and has yet to be conducted using human targets.

An ecological theory of social perception holds that social perception processes serve an adaptive function (Zebrowitz, Bronstad, & Montepare, 2011; Zebrowitz-McArthur & Baron, 1983). Perception facilitates goal attainment and species propagation by informing behavior (Gibson, 1979). This ecological approach to social perception assumes that (a) the external environment provides information to guide biologically and socially functional behaviors, and (b) the success-ful transfer of this information relies on a compatibility between a signal (stimulus information) and the perceiver (perceptual system). In the current investigation, we focus on the stimulus information (facial color expression) and the perceptual system (facial color perception) involved in social processes related to evaluation of attractiveness, health, and emotion. We chose to focus on these evaluations because they represent interpersonally important perceptions that shape social interaction and decision making. For instance, perceptions of attractiveness and health guide mating deci-sions because they provide an indicator of overall mate quality and reproductive potential (Etcoff, 1999; Perrett, 2010; Rhodes et al., 2007; Weeden & Sabini, 2005). Similarly, perceptions of emotion (e.g., anger) inform situational context (e.g., dominance, hostility) and guide behavior (e.g., avoidance; Marsh, Adams, & Kleck, 2005).

Indeed there is evidence that skin color appearance subtly undergoes change as an inevitable consequence of socially relevant states. In nonhuman primates, female skin color appearance becomes redder throughout the ovulatory ycle, when sexual cues afford the most significant reproductive consequences (Bielert, Girolami, & Jowell, 1989; Deschner, Heistermann, Hodges, & Boesch, 2004; Dixson, 1983; Gerald, 2003; Setchell & Wickings, 2004; Setchell, Wickings, & Knapp, 2006; Waitt, Gerald, Little, & Kraiselburd, 2006). Skin color appearance in male nonhu-man primates also influences female preferences by signal-ing elevated testosterone (Rhodes et al., 1997; Waitt et al., 2003). In addition, there is evidence that the same skin color appearance modulations occur in human females (Burriss et al., 2015; Edwards & Duntley, 1949; B. C. Jones et al., 2015; McGuiness, 1961; Oberzaucher et al., 2012; Snell & Turner, 1966; van den Berghe & Frost, 1986) and possibly males (due to elevated testosterone; Miller & Maner, 2010). Furthermore, skin color appearance undergoes change as a consequence of physiological states related to health, includ-ing skin vascularization (Changizi & Shimojo, 2011; Charkoudian, 2003; Henderson et al., 2017; Panza, Quyyumi, Brush, & Epstein, 1990; Ponsonby, Dwyer, & Couper, 1997; Sibenge & Gawkrodger, 1992; Wilkin, 1994), bilirubin (Knudsen & Brodersen, 1989), melanin (Stamatas, Zmudzka, Kollias, & Beer, 2004; Zonios, Bykowski, & Kollias, 2001) and carotenoids (Alaluf, Heinrich, Stahl, Tronnier, & Wiseman, 2002; Coetzee & Perrett, 2014; Tan, Graf, Mitra, & Stephen, 2015, 2017; Whitehead, Re, Xiao, Ozakinci, & Perrett, 2012). Finally, there is a sizable litera-ture examining the physiological correlates of experiencing various emotion states, which can then be used to predict how skin color appearance likely changes with respect to these emotions (see Thorstenson, 2018; Thorstenson, Elliot, Pazda, Perrett, & Xiao, 2018, for reviews).

Discussion: [...] Although the prevalence of dichromatic indi-viduals in the general population is quite low (between 2% and 8% of males and approximately 0.4% of females have a red-green color deficiency, and approximately 0.002% of both males and females have a blue-yellow color defi-ciency; Birch, 2012; Simunovic, 2010), these findings raise the possibility that certain color deficiencies exhibit less informed decision making in the social domain as a consequence of systematic misperception. For example, dichromats may be less accurate at detecting others’ emo-tional states, especially when facial expressions can be controlled (e.g., an angry person can maintain a neutral expression, but will still experience facial flushing). This may have problematic behavioral implications, such as failing to avoid someone with a flaring temper and a straight face. Dichromats may also display weaker approach/avoidance behavior toward healthy/sick individuals, and in the medical domain, it has been noted that dichromatic clinicians have significant difficulty in assess-ing clinically relevant skin color modulations (Changizi & Rio, 2010). Although empirical investigations into these possibilities would be difficult due to the relatively low prevalence of dichromats, they would be extremely informative nonetheless. [...]

The proportion of male students who reported having sexual intercourse before age 13 years varied from 5% (San Francisco) to 25% (Memphis, TN); elevated rates among black and Hispanic males

Prevalence of Sexual Initiation Before Age 13 Years Among Male Adolescents and Young Adults in the United States. Laura D. Lindberg, Isaac Maddow-Zimet, Arik V. Marcell. JAMA Pediatr. April 8, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.0458

Key Points

Question: Does the prevalence of sexual initiation before age 13 years among males in the United States vary by race/ethnicity, location, and socioeconomic status?

Findings: This cross-sectional study of 19 916 male high school students and 7739 males aged 15 to 24 years found substantial variation in the rates of sexual onset before 13 years of age across metropolitan areas and by race/ethnicity, with rates as high as 28% among non-Hispanic black males in Memphis, Tennessee.

Meaning: Variation in timing of sexual initiation before age 13 years may have implications for the provision of early, inclusive, and comprehensive sex education as well as sexual and reproductive health care to male children and adolescents.

Importance: Despite similar sexual activity rates among male and female adolescents, males are more likely to have their first sexual intercourse before age 13 years. The developmental needs and pathways to healthy trajectories for young males remain unknown.

Objective: To examine the prevalence of sexual intercourse before age 13 years among male adolescents; the variation by race/ethnicity, location, and maternal educational level; and the wantedness of this first sexual experience.

Design, Setting, and Participants: This cross-sectional analysis was conducted from September 2017 to June 2018, using pooled 2011, 2013, and 2015 data from the school-based Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) and the 2006 to 2015 data of males aged 15 to 24 years from the household-based National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG). The percentage of males reporting sexual onset before age 13 years was estimated using survey-weighted logistic regression to test for differences by race/ethnicity within each national survey and within metropolitan areas (for YRBSS, high school and middle school samples). Among NSFG survey respondents, differences in wantedness of first sexual intercourse by age at first sexual intercourse were examined, along with the associations between sexual initiation and socioeconomic covariates.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Sexual onset before age 13 years.

Results: Data from a total of 19 916 male high school students (from YRBSS) and 7739 males aged 15 to 24 years (from NSFG) were included in the analysis. The sample was largely composed of non-Hispanic white males: 8789 (57.1%) from the YRBSS and 3737 (58.0%) from the NSFG. Sexual onset before age 13 years was reported nationally by 7.6% (95% CI, 6.8%-8.4%) of male high school students and 3.6% (95% CI, 3.0%-4.2%) of males aged 15 to 24 years. The proportion of male students who reported having sexual intercourse before age 13 years varied across metropolitan sites, from 5% (95% CI, 4%-7%) in San Francisco, California, to 25% (95% CI, 23%-28%) in Memphis, Tennessee, with elevated rates among non-Hispanic black and Hispanic males in most metropolitan areas. In the NSFG data set, respondents whose mothers had a college degree or higher educational level were statistically significantly less likely (OR, 0.31; 95% CI, 0.19-0.49) to report having sexual intercourse before age 13 years compared with those whose mothers did not have a college degree. Among males who reported having their first sexual experience before age 13 years, 8.5% (95% CI, 3.8%-17.8%) described their first sexual intercourse as unwanted.

Conclusions and Relevance: Rates of sexual onset before age 13 years among young males varied by race/ethnicity, location, and maternal educational level, presenting important implications for the provision of early, inclusive, and comprehensive sex education and sexual and reproductive health care to male children and adolescents.


First sexual intercourse marks an important transition in an individual’s life,1 and early adolescence is a critical developmental period when experimentation with sexual feelings and behaviors often begins.2,3 During these formative years, expectations to adhere to gender roles and norms intensify. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) tracks sexual intercourse before age 13 years as a core surveillance metric and finds that males are more than twice as likely as females to experience first sexual intercourse before age 13 years.4 Sex education guidelines recommend providing children with comprehensive sex education starting at least by kindergarten, and clinical care guidelines recommend clinicians set time alone with young patients to address confidential care inclusive of sexual health starting during early adolescence.5,6 However, most males start having sex before receiving sex education, and the quality of sexual health care delivery to male adolescents is poor.7-9

Estimates of young males’ transition to first sexual intercourse do not examine the prevalence of sexual activity in early adolescence across the intersecting demographics of sex, race/ethnicity, and location, likely missing important variations.10-12 A nationally representative study of sexual behavior reports it as “rare” among those 12 years and younger.13 Yet this conclusion may miss subgroups of males for whom sexual initiation before age 13 years is more common. Given the higher prevalence of first sexual intercourse before age 13 years among males compared with females, understanding the variation in the timing of sexual onset among adolescent males in the United States is critical to supporting their healthy sexual development.

Males’ experiences with regard to emergent manhood and sexuality are shaped by dimensions of masculinity, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and location. Broad cultural scripts about masculinity and sex hold that men should start having sex early and have sex often.14 For young men of color, particularly black males, racist stereotypes of hypermasculinity may also contribute to expectations of early sexual initiation.15-17 Yet research highlights that males in early and middle adolescence do not necessarily follow such scripts and a later transition to first sexual intercourse may be valued.18-22 Understanding males’ wantedness of the sexual experience may be particularly important for interpreting early sexual activity.23,24

Aspects of adolescents’ communities may also be factors in the transition to first sexual intercourse.25-28 Cultural norms and values associated with masculinity may differ across communities.29 Some studies have found differences in the timing of first sexual intercourse between urban and rural settings.30,31 Even across specific urban areas, young men’s experiences may vary.

The current study examined the prevalence of sexual initiation before age 13 years among adolescent males in the United States and the variation in the timing of their sexual initiation by race/ethnicity, location, and maternal educational level and by their characterization of the wantedness of this first sexual experience. Race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and location are not the only factors in the timing of first sexual intercourse, but they inform the context in which these experiences and other correlates occur. We used 2 complementary large-scale representative survey systems to assess the timing of sexual onset among adolescent males in the United States, examine key sociodemographic correlates, and consider how reporting issues may affect estimates.

Evidence from online dating sites suggests that most users behave strategically: they remain silent about their political attitudes, more willing to divulge their weight than their politics

From 2017: The Moderating Effects of Marriage Across Party Lines. Shanto Iyengar, Tobias Konitzer. 2017.

“The Democrats, wherever you find ’em – in the media, think tanks, don’t care whereyou find ’em – they’re being consumed by it, folks. Theyre literally being eaten alive withan irrational, raw hatred.” – Rush Limbaugh, May 10, 2017.

In the aftermath of the 2016 election, the American electorate is hyperpolarized. Animustoward the out party is at an historic high. For the first time on record, the most frequentlyregistered feeling thermometer score for the opposing party (e.g. Democrats’ rating of theRepublican Party and vice-versa) in the 2016 American National Election Study was at theminimum, i.e. zero. Other indicators are similarly skewed toward the extremes. PresidentTrump’s approval drops precipitously from 80 percent among Republicans to under tenpercent for Democrats. Some six times as many Democrats than Republicans believe thatthe Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to sway the election (Washington Post Poll,April 26, 2017). Hostility directed at out groups is a fundamental barometer of group polarization. Classic studies on social distance (Bogardus, 1925), and the sense of social identity (Tajfel, 1970;Tajfel and Turner, 1979) have established that diverging sentiment for in- and out-groupmembers is inevitable. Group polarization defined in terms of differential affect for the inand out group occurs even when the basis for group affiliation is trivial and completelyunrelated to group interests.In the context of American politics, affective polarization deriving from political partyaffiliation is well documented, in stark contrast to ideological polarization, where the evidenceis mixed (compare Abramowitz 2010 with Fiorina, Abrams and Pope 2005). As for partisanaffect, data from the American National Election Surveys dating to the mid-1980s showsthat Democrats and Republicans not only increasingly dislike the opposing party, but alsoimpute negative qualities to its supporters (Iyengar, Sood and Lelkes, 2012).Out-group prejudice based on party identity exceeds the comparable bias directed atracial, religious, or cultural out groups (Muste, 2014; Iyengar and Westwood, 2015). Partisan2 affect has strengthened to the point where party identity is now a litmus test for interpersonalattraction. People prefer to associate with fellow partisans and are less trusting of partisan opponents (Iyengar and Westwood, 2015; Westwood et al., 2017). The most vivid evidence of increased social distance across the party divide concerns inter-party marriage. In the early 1960s, the percentage of partisans expressing concern over the prospect of their son or daughter marrying someone from the opposition party was in the single digits, but some forty-five years later it had risen to more than twenty-five percent (Iyengar, Sood and Lelkes,2012). Data from surveys of married couples, online dating sites, and national voter files confirmthat partisanship has become a key attribute underlying the selection of long-term partners (Huber and Malhotra, 2017; Iyengar, Konitzer and Tedin, 2017). Among recently marriedcouples in 1973, only 54 percent shared the same party affiliation. Forty years later, partisan agreement among this group had risen to 74 percent (Iyengar, Konitzer and Tedin, 2017).Survey results standing alone may not be the most meaningful measure of increasingpartisan animus. The expression of hostility based on partisanship is not subject to thesame social taboos as hostility based on other salient social divides (racial, religious, orethnic). Instead, hostility directed at the out party is deemed acceptable, even appropriate.Therefore, survey data could artificially elevate the significance of the partisan divide overother significant cleavages. But, importantly, there is considerable evidence of increasedpartisan animus outside the survey realm; this evidence is not subject to normative, consciousrestraints based on political correctness. Using a version of the Implicit Association Test,Iyengar and Westwood (2015) demonstrated that implicit bias directed at the out partyexceeded comparable bias based on race. They also showed that behavioral discriminationagainst partisan opponents in a variety of contexts exceeded discrimination based on othergroup cues, most notably, race. What explains the dramatic increase in affective polarization over the past few decades?3

The period in question (1985-2015) coincides with any number of major societal changes,including the vastly increased ethnic and cultural diversity of the population, the migration ofwhites from urban areas to the suburbs, the emergence of the South as a staunch Republicanregion, and the politicization of evangelical Christians. One possible explanation, sometimesreferred to as ”sorting,” is the increasing convergence of multiple salient social identities which reinforce each other. In other words, Democrats and Republicans differ not only int heir politics, but also in their ethnic, religious, gender, cultural, and regional identities.Sorting leads to overlapping group memberships and the increasing partisan homogeneity of primary and secondary groups is a further contributor to polarization. Family and kinship networks – key influences over the development of political attitudes – provide few opportunities for meaningful and long-term personal contact across party lines. As we notebelow, even at the level of secondary groups, defined on the basis of occupation, religion, orplace of residence, partisan homophily is extensive (for evidence on occupational similarity inpartisan affiliation, see Bonica, Chilton, and Sen 2016; the geographic sorting of the nation into Republican and Democratic enclaves is documented most recently in Chen and Cottrell2016 and Chen, Rodden et al. 2013.We investigate the role of interpersonal relations as a potential contributor to partisanpolarization. We focus on the family, the most important agent of political socialization.Comparing surveys of spouses conducted in the 1960s, the 1990s and the current era, wedemonstrate that over time, spousal disagreement – although clearly becoming less frequent– can act as a brake on polarization by fostering less hostile attitudes toward partisan opponents. The more heterogeneous the household, the less polarized the individual members.We replicate these survey findings a secondary analysis of a set of 2015 and 2016 field experiments that targeted registered voters in multiple states. Participants in these experiments completed surveys that included feeling thermometers and other measures of partisan affect. Because the surveys sampled multiple family members living at the same address, we can4 investigate the effects of household agreement on partisan affect. In fact, the data from these field studies converge with the surveys of spouses; mixed-party households are significantly less polarized.


In our experience, it is unusual to observe differences of this scale in the behavioralsciences. In several instances, the order of magnitude of the difference in polarization between similar and dissimilar family pairs exceeded 200 percent! Even more unusual is thefact that our results survived multiple replications spanning different research designs, elec-toral contexts, and survey indicators of partisan affect. While we acknowledge the causalthreat posed by selection effects, i.e. potential spouses with polarized attitudes selectinginto homogeneous marriages, the matching analysis does little to bolster this alternativeexplanation.9In total, the story line is unmistakable; political disagreement within familyrelations discourages extreme evaluations of in and out groups, thus alleviating polarization.Of course, documenting the powerful effects of family diversity on partisan affect begsthe question of what exactly is the mechanism through which exposure to disagreementmoderates individuals’ evaluations of the parties. One possibility is that domestic tranquilityrequires the expression of opinions that respect the positions of significant others, makingindividuals more tolerant and accepting of disagreement. Alternatively, as suggested by theclassic “contact” hypothesis (Allport, 1954; Pettigrew, 1998, 1997), valued inter-personalrelations that cut across the party divide may serve to weaken negative stereotypes of theout group; for contrary evidence, however, see Enos (2014). Yet another possible mechanism,also suggested by previous research (Mutz, 2006), is that inter-personal contact heightensawareness of the values and arguments underlying the preferences of out party supporters,making the party appear less threatening. All these mediating mechanisms appear to becontingent on exposure to the opponent’s point of view; we would anticipate, accordingly,that the effects of family diversity on partisan evaluations will be enlarged when familymembers frequently converse about public affairs.While our results imply that cross-party family ties are a potential antidote to polariza-tion, it is important to keep in mind that this ”treatment” only impacts a relatively smallswath of American partisans. The most recent data on inter-marriage indicate that less9Although while matching might tackle the selection problem more appropriately then parametric re-gression analyses, we note that the identification assumption remains selection-on-observables.23 than twenty percent of partisans are exposed to disagreement. The likelihood that parti-sans’ children will diverge on political grounds is similarly remote; in a 2015 survey, 74.2percent of parent-offspring dyads agreed on their partisan affiliation (Iyengar, Konitzer andTedin, 2017). The critical question, therefore, concerns the ways in which society can lowerthe barriers to social exchange across the party divide.In theory, one solution to the problem of politically homogeneous networks is to weakenindividuals’ ability to signal their political affiliation. If all participants in the marriageor dating market were ”blind” to partisan affiliation, partner selection would be drivenprimarily by non-political attributes. Rational ”sellers” should deliberately conceal theirpolitical views when seeking out potential mates. In fact, the evidence from online datingsites suggests that most users of these sites behave strategically: they choose to remainsilent about their political attitudes. Research into the content of online daters’ personalprofiles shows that less than fifteen percent of online daters provided information abouttheir “political interests” and when they did reference politics in their personal profile, theyidentified themselves as “middle of the road” (Klofstad, McDermott and Hatemi, 2012). This same study shows, revealingly, that online daters are more willing to divulge their weightthan their political preferences.Online databases provide opportunities for people to sort into relationships on the basisof attributes extraneous to partisanship. Since some twenty percent of single individualsreport using online dating sites, technology might be a tool for dampening polarization.Yet, as Huber and Malhotra (2017) have recently demonstrated, individuals manage tounearth information about their prospective partner’s political views despite the lack oftransparency; so much so, that political ideology is the strongest predictor of successfulonline match making. The motivation to find a politically compatible mate is sufficient toovercome online daters’ lack of transparency about their politics.In closing, our results show that partisan attitudes are distinctly less polarized when close inter-personal ties are not based on the criterion of political similarity. For those seekingto reduce animus and conflict across party lines, it is important to design meeting placesor platforms on which people become less focused on questions of political identity as animportant basis for their inter-personal relations.

Under What Conditions Does Prosocial Spending Promote Happiness?

Lok, Iris, and Elizabeth W. Dunn. 2019. “Under What Conditions Does Prosocial Spending Promote Happiness?” PsyArXiv. April 12. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Under what conditions does prosocial spending promote happiness? In a series of well-powered and pre-registered experiments, the present research revisited the role of impact, social connection, and perceived choice in maximizing the emotional benefits of spending money on others. In two exploratory studies, we found that happy (vs. less happy) prosocial spending experiences were marked by higher levels of impact, social connection and perceived choice (Study 1a and 1b). Consistent with these initial findings, three pre-registered studies revealed confirmed that spending money on others was particularly rewarding when people were able to see the difference their generosity made (Study 2); when they felt a sense of social connection to the person or cause they were helping (Study 3); and when they felt that the decision to help was freely chosen (Study 4). Together, our findings corroborate previous research on impact, social connection and perceived choice, and highlight the importance of considering these key variables when evaluating old and new evidence on prosocial spending on happinessthe emotional benefits of prosocial spending. In addition, our findings suggest that  the present work urges charitable organizations and policymakers should to review their current solicitation strategies and pay more attention to people’s sense of impact, connection and choice when seeking charitable donations.

Friday, April 12, 2019

How Many Words Do We Read Per Minute? Less than the numbers often cited in scientific and popular writings.

Brysbaert, Marc. 2019. “How Many Words Do We Read Per Minute? A Review and Meta-analysis of Reading Rate.” PsyArXiv. April 12. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Based on the analysis of 190 studies (17,887 participants), we estimate that the average silent reading rate for adults in English is 238 word per minute (wpm) for non-fiction and 260 wpm for fiction. The difference can be predicted by the length of the words, with longer words in non-fiction than in fiction. The estimates are lower than the numbers often cited in scientific and popular writings. The reasons for the overestimates are reviewed. Reading rates are lower for children, old adults, and readers with English as second language. The reading rates are in line with maximum listening speed and do not require the assumption of reading-specific language processing. The average oral reading rate (based on 77 studies and 5,965 participants) is 183 wpm. Within each group/task there are reliable individual differences, which are not yet fully understood. For silent reading of English fiction most adults fall in the range of 175 to 300 wpm; for fiction the range is 200 to 320 wpm. Reading rates in other languages can be predicted reasonably well be taking into account the number of words these languages require to convey the same message as in English.

The widely held assumption in philosophy & psychology that one purpose of human morality is to regulate social behavior is confirmed: the presence of another person increased moral values' importance

Yudkin, Daniel A., Ana P. Gantman, Wilhelm Hofmann, and Jordi Quoidbach. 2019. “Moral Values Gain Importance in the Presence of Others.” PsyArXiv. April 12. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: A widely held assumption in philosophy and psychology is that the purpose of human morality is to regulate social behavior. Yet this premise has never been tested directly. We used a custom smartphone application to repeatedly record participants’ (N = 1,166) social context and the importance they afforded different moral values. Results showed moral values were rated more important when people were in the presence of others versus alone. This effect was robust to a series of potential confounds (demographics, time of day, mood) and was moderated by relationship type such that closer social relationships exerted stronger impact on moral evaluation than more distant. Furthermore, the effect of social proximity on moral evaluation was stronger for “binding” values than “individualizing” ones, suggesting the effect of social context differs according to value type. A randomized laboratory experiment confirmed that the mere physical presence of another person in the immediate environment increased the importance of moral values. Overall, these results demonstrate the contextual sensitivity of moral values and corroborate the view that morals play a social-regulatory role in human behavior.

Moral Values Gain Importance in the Presence of Others

When we think about moral values, it is tempting to picture the philosopher in the armchair, postulating moral principles. Yet there is near consensus this is the wrong way to describe morality. Instead, research suggests the more accurate picture is that of two or more people, figuring out how to live and work together (i, ii, iii, iv, v).
The inherently social nature of morality suggests moral values may be more salient when people are in social contexts. Fitting this idea, classic research suggests the presence of others impacts behavior (vi). Other work shows that social situations increase egalitarian behavior (vii, viii), and the mere suggestion of an external observer can increase cooperation (ix, x, xi). Remarkably, however, the possibility that moral values gain importance in the presence of others has never been directly tested empirically. Answering this question would thus provide empirical validation to a foundational assumption in moral theory.
We sought tested this question using an app-based experience-sampling method (xii, xiii). By measuring the importance of moral values in people’s daily lives as well as their current social situations, this approach has the potential to obtain a more accurate picture of how context impacts moral evaluation. We also tested two additional hypotheses. First, past research suggests that people’s treatment of others varies according to their social distance to the self (xiv, xv). Accordingly, we tested whether the effect is moderated by social distance. Second, research shows morality can be divided into two types of values: “individualizing” (concerned with rights and freedoms), and “binding” (concerned with group harmony and cohesion) (xvi, xvii). Because the latter set is particularly important for social regulation (xviii) it is possible the importance of these values is especially sensitive to the presence of others (xix). Overall, our method presented an opportunity to put several influential theories of moral psychology to the test in a real-world setting.
The research was part of the “58 seconds” project (xx) approved by The Ethics Committee of ESADE Business School, Spain. European adults (N = 1,166, Mage = 35.7, SD = 11.1, 861 female, 305 male) were asked a series of questions (pulled from a larger pool) at random intervals over several months. Moral importance was assessed by averaging across responses of how important it was for participants to behave in accordance with values of care, fairness, loyalty, authority, and purity (0 – not at all; 100 – very) (17). Participants also indicated how happy they felt (0 – not at all; 100 – very), and who, if anyone, they were with. The analytic approach consisted of a series of multilevel analyses using the lme4 and lmerTest packages in R controlling for participants’ age and gender, hour of day, and day of week, with participant-level random intercepts (all scripts and materials at

Smartphone zombies! Pedestrians’ distracted walking as a function of their fear of missing out

Smartphone zombies! Pedestrians’ distracted walking as a function of their fear of missing out. Markus Appel et al. Journal of Environmental Psychology.
April 12 2019.

•    The motives for smartphone use while walking are not well understood.
•    We explore the Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) as a potential reason for this behavior.
•    FoMO predicts distracted walking regardless of participants' age or gender.
•    It further predicts pedestrians' virtual social interactions and dangerous incidents.

Abstract: Smartphone use while walking (i.e., being a smartphone zombie) has become a prevalent phenomenon in many ciies worldwide. Previous research shows that many pedestrians choose to interact with their phones as they walk around in cities, despite being aware that their behavior might be dangerous. To investigate potential reasons for the prevalence of distracted walking, the current study explores the construct Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) as a potential antecedent of pedestrians' smartphone use while walking. Hierarchical OLS and logistic regression analyses show that FoMO predicts distracted walking, the tendency to engage in virtual social interactions while walking, and dangerous traffic incidents—irrespective of participants’ age and gender. Virtual communication might serve as a compensation for real-world company, thus sidelining the need to traverse safely.

Partnered women blindly rated their partner's body odor as smelling sexier and less strong than the body odor of unknown males; body odor preference ratings appear to be driven by familiarity ratings

Do women love their partner's smell? Exploring women's preferences for and identification of male partner and non-partner body odor. Mehmet K. Mahmut, Richard J. Stevenson, Ian Stephen. Physiology & Behavior, Apr 12 2019.


•    Partnered women blindly rated their partner's body odor as smelling sexier than the body odor of unknown males.
•    Partnered women blindly rated their partner's body odor as smelling less strong than the body odor of unknown males.
•    Partnered women were unlikely to rank their partner's body odor as most preferred in a pool including six unknown males.
•    Partnered women could reliably recognise their partner's body odor.
•    Body odor preference ratings appear to be driven by familiarity ratings.

Abstract: Despite evidence indicating body odor (BO) preference is an important driver in mate selection, previous studies have only investigated females' preferences for the BO of strangers. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to determine if partnered females prefer their partner's BO compared to that of others males' BO. Forty partnered and 42 single, heterosexual women aged 18–35 years, brought to the laboratory a shirt their partner or male friend/relative (respectively) sweated in while wearing. The results indicated that both partnered and single women (blindly) rated their known donor's BO as smelling significantly more similar, familiar and sexy compared to six unknown male's BO, but rated their known donor's BO as less intense smelling than unknown males' BO. While participants indicated they liked their known donor's BO more than that of unknown males' BO, the difference was not statistically significant. Moreover, participants were unlikely to rank their known donor's BO as their most preferred of seven BOs. Finally, partnered and single participants could reliably recognise their known donor's BO and that of unknown males' which was driven by their ability to indicate a stranger's BO was not that of known donor's. Overall, these preliminary findings suggest that partnered females may prefer their partners' BO but this preference may not be due to mate selection but instead a consequence of repeated exposure to their partner's BO.

Self-harm in older adults: Loss of control, increased loneliness and perceived burdensome ageing were reported self-harm motivations

Self-harm in older adults: systematic review. M. Isabela Troya et al. The British Journal of Psychiatry, Volume 214, Issue 4, April 2019, pp. 186-200.

Background: Self-harm is a major public health concern. Increasing ageing populations and high risk of suicide in later life highlight the importance of identification of the particular characteristics of self-harm in older adults.

Aim: To systematically review characteristics of self-harm in older adults.

Methods: A comprehensive search for primary studies on self-harm in older adults was conducted in e-databases (AgeLine, CINAHL, PsycINFO, MEDLINE, Web of Science) from their inception to February 2018. Using predefined criteria, articles were independently screened and assessed for methodological quality. Data were synthesised following a narrative approach. A patient advisory group advised on the design, conduct and interpretation of findings.

Results: A total of 40 articles (n = 62 755 older adults) were included. Yearly self-harm rates were 19 to 65 per 100 000 people. Self-poisoning was the most commonly reported method. Comorbid physical problems were common. Increased risk repetition was reported among older adults with self-harm history and previous and current psychiatric treatment. Loss of control, increased loneliness and perceived burdensome ageing were reported self-harm motivations.

Conclusions: Self-harm in older adults has distinct characteristics that should be explored to improve management and care. Although risk of further self-harm and suicide is high in all age cohorts, risk of suicide is higher in older adults. Given the frequent contact with health services, an opportunity exists for detection and prevention of self-harm and suicide in this population. These results are limited to research in hospital-based settings and community-based studies are needed to fully understand self-harm among older adults.

Overestimating the Valuations of Others: People Perceive Others as Experiencing Everything More Intensely

Jung, Minah and Moon, Alice and Nelson, Leif D., Overestimating the Valuations of Others: People Perceive Others as Experiencing Everything More Intensely (February 4, 2019). SSRN,

Abstract: People often make judgments about their own and others’ valuations and preferences. Across 12 studies (N=17,939), we find a robust bias in these judgments such that people tend to believe that others have more intense experiences than they do, leading to overestimation of others’ valuations and preferences. We argue that this overestimation arises because estimations of others’ preferences rely on people’s intuitive, core representations of the experience itself (i.e., whether the experience is positive or negative). We first demonstrate that the overestimation bias is pervasive for a wide range of positive (Studies 1-4) and negative experiences (Study 5), and is not merely an artifact of how preferences are measured (Study 6). This overestimation bias ultimately forms a paradox in how people think that others tradeoff between valuation and utility (Study 7). Specifically, people believe that an identically-paying other would enjoy the same experience more than they would, but also that an identically-enjoying other would pay more for the same experience. Such paradoxical judgments do not extend to domains unrelated to preference and valuation (Studies 8A-8B), but do extend to other preference measures, such as willingness-to-wait (Studies 9-10). Finally, consistent with a core representation explanation, explicitly prompting people to consider the entire distribution of others’ preferences significantly reduced or eliminated the bias (Study 11). These findings suggest that social judgments of others’ preferences are not only largely biased, but they also ignore how others make trade-offs between evaluative metrics.

Keywords: overestimation bias, comparative judgments, valuation, preferences, paradox

Thursday, April 11, 2019

We document a positive relationship between the endorsement of good citizenship (voting, paying taxes, staying informed, etc.) and narcissism, and a negative relationship for psychopathy

Who makes a good citizen? The role of personality. Scott Pruysers, Julie Blais, Phillip G.Chen. Personality and Individual Differences. Volume 146, 1 August 2019, Pages 99-104.

Abstract: In this paper we explore the link between personality and attitudes towards good citizenship and civic duty. To do so we recruited 371 eligible Canadian voters from a national panel, asking a variety of questions regarding their level of political participation and attitudinal questions regarding the importance of a number of behaviors typically associated with good citizenship (i.e., voting, paying taxes, staying informed, etc.). Importantly, we included two batteries of personality items: the HEXACO, which covers general personality (Honesty-Humility, Emotionality, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Openness to Experience), and the Dark Triad (psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism). The analysis reveals a consistent and important explanatory role for personality, even after controlling for standard explanatory factors such as age, gender, income, education, political interest, knowledge, efficacy, and placement on the left-right scale. Among other findings, we document a positive relationship between the endorsement of good citizenship and narcissism, and a negative relationship for psychopathy.

Prejudiced and unaware of it: Evidence for the Dunning-Kruger model in the domains of racism and sexism

Prejudiced and unaware of it: Evidence for the Dunning-Kruger model in the domains of racism and sexism. Keon West, Asia A.Eaton. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 146, 1 August 2019, Pages 111-119.

Abstract: Prior research, and high-prolife contemporary examples, show that individuals tend to underestimate their own levels of bias. This underestimation is partially explained by motivational factors. However, (meta-) cognitive factors may also be involved. Conceptualising contemporary egalitarianism as type of skill or competence, this research proposed that egalitarianism should conform to the Dunning-Kruger model. That is, individuals should overestimate their own ability, and this overestimation should be strongest in the least competent individuals. Furthermore, training should improve metacognition and reduce this overestimation. Two studies on racism (N = 148), and sexism (N = 159) partially supported these hypotheses. In line with the Dunning-Kruger model, participants overestimated their levels of racial and gender-based egalitarianism, and this pattern was strongest among the most prejudiced participants. However, diversity training did not affect participants' overestimation of their egalitarianism. Implications for contemporary prejudice, and prejudice-reducing strategies are discussed.

Joint attention skills in wild Arabian babblers (Turdoides squamiceps): a consequence of cooperative breeding?

Yitzchak Ben Mocha et al. Joint attention skills in wild Arabian babblers (Turdoides squamiceps): a consequence of cooperative breeding?, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (2019). Apr 3 2019. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2019.0147


Human cooperation strongly relies on the ability of interlocutors to coordinate each other's attentional state: joint attention. One predominant hypothesis postulates that this hallmark of the unique cognitive system of humans evolved due to the combination of an ape-like cognitive system and the prosocial motives that facilitate cooperative breeding. Here, we tested this hypothesis by investigating communicative interactions of a cooperatively breeding bird species, the Arabian babbler (Turdoides squamiceps). The behaviour of 12 wild social groups was observed focusing on two distinct communicative behaviours: object presentation and babbler walk. The results showed that both behaviours fulfilled the criteria for first-order intentional communication and involved co-orientation of recipients' attention. In turn, recipients responded with cooperative and communicative acts that resulted in coordinated joint travel between interlocutors. These findings provide the first evidence that another animal species shows several key criteria traditionally used to infer joint attention in prelinguistic human infants. Furthermore, they emphasize the influence of cooperative breeding on sophisticated socio-cognitive performances, while questioning the necessity of an ape-like cognitive system underlying joint attentional behaviour.

1. Introduction

The extraordinary degree of cooperation exhibited by humans seems unrivalled in the animal kingdom [1,2]. Theorists have implicated a specific cognitive capacity, joint attention, as one of the essential building blocks for the evolution of the cooperative abilities of humans [1,3]. Traditionally, joint attention has been defined as the ability to attract and coordinate the attention of a recipient towards a locus of mutual interest (e.g. an object/event in the environment [4]). Precursors of this cognitive capacity can already be found in human infants at the age of approximately six months, who respond to joint attention by following the direction of a caretaker's gesture [5]. At the age of 9–12 months, infants are capable of initiating joint attention with a social partner by gesturing towards a locus of mutual interest [4]. Consequently, the development of joint attention skills is seen as a fundamental milestone in the ontogeny of human cooperative communication [5,6]. Some scholars even see joint attention as the ‘small difference that made a big difference’ in the cognitive evolution of our species [3].

One predominant hypothesis about the evolution of human sophisticated social cognition, the ‘cooperative breeding’ hypothesis [2], postulates that cooperative breeding installed prosocial psychological functioning supporting systematic alloparental care. This, in turn, resulted in immediate consequences for socio-cognitive performance [7]: Caretakers of cooperative breeders evolved specific cognitive capacities for understanding the needs of others' offspring. In parallel, the offspring developed elaborate communicative signalling to attract attention and care from caretakers other than their mothers [8]. Concerning humans, it has been argued that the exceptional co-occurrence of an existing ape-like cognitive system together with humans’ systematic reliance on alloparental care [9,10] gave rise to unique socio-cognitive capacities such as joint attention (figure 1) [2,7].


However, are joint attentional skills indeed uniquely human and is the combination of an ape-like cognitive system and cooperative breeding a crucial prerequisite?

To date, relatively little is known about joint attentional skills and the acting selection pressures in other animal species. Furthermore, whether specific behaviours of non-human animals towards human caretakers (e.g. gaze alternation in chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes [11]; pointing in bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus [12]; and vocal learning in grey parrots, Psittacus erithacus [13]) qualify as joint attentional skills in the human sense is subject to a contentious debate [3,14,15].

Here, we revisited the claim that joint attentional skills are a uniquely human ability [3,15] and tested whether the combination of an ape-like cognitive system and cooperative breeding represents a necessary requirement for joint attention to unfold [2]. We predicted that if an ape-like cognitive system and cooperative breeding are both necessary for joint attention [2,7], bird species will not exhibit key hallmarks of this trait. However, if an ape-like cognitive system is not necessary, but cooperative breeding does facilitate the performance of joint attention skills [16], cooperatively breeding species will demonstrate hallmarks of joint attention. To test these predictions, we investigated communicative interactions in a cooperatively breeding bird species, the Arabian babbler (Turdoides squamiceps), in the wild.

Arabian babblers live in stable social groups [17], consisting of 2–20 kin and non-kin from both sexes [17]. All members provide substantial allopaternal care and use elaborate communicative signalling [17]. We focused on two distinct signals, ‘object presentation’ [18] and ‘babbler walk’, which are frequently used to solicit following behaviour from conspecifics. object presentation involves the discreet presentation of an object to attract the recipient's attention without being seen by other group members. The goal is to lead the recipient towards a hidden location for copulation [18] (see electronic supplementary material, video S1). babbler walk is a multi-modal signal that involves conspicuous wing waving and vocalizations, and is used to solicit a conspecific to follow the signaller (figure 2).


We paid special attention to two distinct issues that have hampered comparative research on joint attention. First, disagreement on an applicable definition of joint attention has so far prevented valid quantitative comparisons between human and other animal species [19–21]. For example, some define joint attention as the ‘intentional co-orientation of two or more organisms to the same locus’ [21]. Others (e.g. [3]), by contrast, require complex mind reading and define it as ‘the mutual awareness of having attended to the same entity between two (or more) individuals. Mutual awareness is established through communication by at least one individual during mutual gaze’ [20]. To overcome this lack of consensus, we refrained from testing whether communicative episodes between Arabian babblers fit a specific definition. Instead, we investigated whether communicative interactions that were initiated by object presentation and babbler walk fulfilled distinct hallmarks that have traditionally been used to infer joint attention in prelinguistic human infants: (i) intentional communication (e.g. [21,22]), (ii) co-orientation of attention (e.g. [4,15]) and (iii) mutual awareness (e.g. [20,23]). By applying this approach, we aimed to instigate a constructive discussion on joint attentional skills that provides useful tools to pinpoint the different degrees of joint attention and cognitive capacities involved [19].

Second, research on joint attention in non-human species has been strongly biased towards interactions with objects (e.g. [12,20]). However, joint attention can revolve around any type of locus [15] such as, for instance, the interlocutors themselves, or the activity they are performing at the time [4,24]. Hence, we examined whether signallers acted to attract and co-orient recipients' attention to their joint travel.

We thus investigated whether communicative episodes initiated by object presentation and babbler walk fulfil the following three key hallmarks of joint attention (see table 1 and methods for detailed operational criteria).

Check also Yitzchak Ben Mocha et al. Intentional Presentation of Objects in Cooperatively Breeding Arabian Babblers (Turdoides squamiceps), Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (2019). DOI: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00087

Popular: Attention skills in a nonhuman cooperative breeding species. Max Planck Society Press Article, Apr 11 2019.