Thursday, May 2, 2019

Scientists explore the evolution of animal homosexuality... and its correlate in humans

Scientists explore the evolution of animal homosexuality... and its correlate in humans. Juanita Bawagan, Imperial College London, May 2, 2019.

Imperial researchers are using a new approach to understand why same-sex behaviour is so common across the animal kingdom.

In 1910, a team of scientists set off on the Terra Nova Expedition to explore Antarctica. Among them was George Murray Levick, a zoologist and photographer who would be the first researcher to study the world's largest Adélie penguin colony. He chronicled the animals' daily activities in great detail.

In his notebooks, he described their sexual behaviour, including sex between male birds. However, none of these notes would appear in Levick's published papers. Concerned by the graphic content, he only printed 100 copies of Sexual Habits of the Adélie Penguin to circulate privately. The last remaining copy was recently unearthed providing valuable insights into animal homosexuality research.

But forays into animal homosexuality research long predate Levick, with observations published as far back as the 1700s and 1800s. More than 200 years later, research has moved past some of the taboos those early researchers faced and shown that homosexuality is much more common than previously thought.

Same-sex behaviour ranging from co-parenting to sex has been observed in over 1,000 species with likely many more as researchers begin to look for the behaviour explicitly. Homosexuality is widespread, with bisexuality even more prevalent across species.

Researchers are now going beyond just observing it though, with researchers at Imperial leading the way in unravelling how, and why, homosexuality is found across nature.

[Many more details at the link above]

Did not find a significant association between changes in the frequency of adolescents’ pornography use over time and their sexual satisfaction; these patterns were similar across genders

Longitudinal Assessment of the Association Between Pornography Use and Sexual Satisfaction in Adolescence. Goran Milas, Paul Wright & Aleksandar Štulhofer. The Journal of Sex Research, May 1 2019.

Abstract: Pornography has been theorized to affect sexual satisfaction for decades, yet only two prospective studies, both conducted in the Netherlands, have explored this link among adolescents. Given the unprecedented availability of (online) sexually explicit content and the potential importance of its relationship to sexual satisfaction for young people, we have revisited the association between these variables in a less sexually permissive society. Using a panel sample of 775 female and 514 male Croatian high school students (Mage at baseline = 15.9 years, SD = 0.52) and latent growth curve modeling with six observation points, we did not find a significant association between changes in the frequency of adolescents’ pornography use over time and their sexual satisfaction at wave six. The association between the initial levels of pornography use and sexual satisfaction, which, if present, would have indicated a possible relationship during middle adolescence, was also null. These patterns were similar across genders. Possible explanations for the difference between our results and the results of the previous studies are discussed.

Wolves acted prosocially to in-group partners; providing significantly more food to a pack-member compared to a control where the partner had no access to the food; dogs did not

Wolves, but not dogs, are prosocial in a touch screen task. Rachel Dale, Sylvain Palma-Jacinto, Sarah Marshall-Pescini, Friederike Range. PLOS, May 1, 2019.

Abstract: Prosociality is important for initiating cooperation. Interestingly, while wolves rely heavily on cooperation, dogs’ do so substantially less thus leading to the prediction that wolves are more prosocial than dogs. However, domestication hypotheses suggest dogs have been selected for higher cooperation, leading to the opposing prediction- increased prosocial tendencies in dogs. To tease apart these hypotheses we adapted a paradigm previously used with pet dogs to directly compare dogs and wolves. In a prosocial choice task, wolves acted prosocially to in-group partners; providing significantly more food to a pack-member compared to a control where the partner had no access to the food. Dogs did not. Additionally, wolves did not show a prosocial response to non-pack members, in line with previous research that social relationships are important for prosociality. In sum, when kept in the same conditions, wolves are more prosocial than their domestic counterpart, further supporting suggestions that reliance on cooperation is a driving force for prosocial attitudes.

Anjelica Huston on Roman Polanski, older guys hitting on young girls, statutory rape, almost daily MeToo experiences, and girls and boys

In Conversation: Anjelica Huston On growing up in Hollywood, the cost of beating Oprah at the Oscars, and why Jack Nicholson doesn’t act anymore. Andrew Goldman. Vulture, May 1 2019.

You were actually arrested for cocaine possession at Jack’s house in 1977. What did your father say?
Not a thing. He was a prince. Never mentioned it. It was like, “You need my help, honey?” Princely.

Was the arrest embarrassing to you?
Oh, awful. So embarrassing, humiliating. I was really ashamed.

You were arrested because you happened to be in Jack’s house when Roman Polanski raped 13-year-old Samantha Geimer. How did you feel about that?
Well, see, it’s a story that could’ve happened ten years before in England or France or Italy or Spain or Portugal, and no one would’ve heard anything about it. And that’s how these guys enjoy their time. It was a whole playboy movement in France when I was a young girl, 15, 16 years old, doing my first collections. You would go to Régine or Castel in Paris, and the older guys would all hit on you. Any club you cared to mention in Europe. It was de rigueur for most of those guys like Roman who had grown up with the European sensibility.

Among a lot of Hollywood men, it was acceptable at that time to treat women as though they were disposable.
I think they’re still doing it. I was at the hairdresser’s yesterday, and I heard tales of such horror from women. There was one other client and two girls who were working in this rather small hairdressing shop. And one of the girls had been passed a Mickey Finn in a bar and had woken up on a couch with a guy ejaculating wildly all over her face. And as she was telling the story, another girl who worked in the salon came in and said, “The weirdest thing happened to my friend last night. She was found at four in the morning in the Wilshire district, coatless, shoeless, with scratches and bruises all over her body. She doesn’t know whether she was raped. So, I’m trying to stop her from having a bath because we need to get her to the police.”

So you don’t think anything has changed?
No, I don’t. And frankly, I think there’s a whole element of guys who will get up to what they want to get up to. I didn’t think Brett Kavanaugh was all that believable. And yet this whole thing continues to be whitewashed and whitewashed and whitewashed. On the other hand, there is a thing called a male imperative, and it is maybe stronger than any #MeToo movement, because it happens at birth. I have a great 3-year-old nephew who made his way over to my umbrella rack the other day and pulled an Irish walking stick out and said, “I am the leader of the universe.” Girls don’t do that.

Did you have what would have qualified as #MeToo experiences?
Yeah, yeah.

What happened?
You’d have to ask me that on a daily basis, practically. That’s how often it happens, that you’re objectified, or misread, or put down. I think men do it a lot, and I don’t really think half the time they know what they’re doing. That’s how inured they are.

You were certainly objectified. Elia Kazan wasn’t great to you when he was casting The Last Tycoon.
He said, to a random woman waiting at a bus stop, “Do you think she’s beautiful?” She said, “I wouldn’t say ‘beautiful.’ Interesting, maybe.” I watched the part fly out the door. It was the “right girl” in The Last Tycoon,the part Ingrid Boulting got. I got the “wrong girl” part. But that was mild, compared to some shit that goes down.

You were in two Woody Allen films, Crimes and Misdemeanors, alongside Mia Farrow, and then Manhattan Murder Mystery. Woody Allen is basically unable to make films now because of the outcry about the molestation allegations.
I think that’s after two states investigated him, and neither of them prosecuted him.

Well, the industry seems to be treating him as though he’s guilty. Would you work with him again?
Yeah, in a second.

Jeffrey Tambor, whose girlfriend you played on seasons two and three of Transparent, was accused by his former assistant and an actress on the show of behaving inappropriately toward them. Did you know the two women?
I’ve met them both. At least insofar as I was concerned, nobody did or said anything inappropriate. I do think in this work we have to feel freedom. We have to feel as though we can say and do things that are not necessarily judged, particularly by the other people in the cast or crew.

So you think what happens on the set should stay on the set, and there are processes that make the rules of behavior a little different from what you might find at a corporate job?
That’s absolutely what I’m saying.

So would it be fair to say this is a defense of things that Jeffrey might have said that were possibly misinterpreted?
Yes, that is fair. He certainly never said or did anything inappropriate with me.

How did you come down on Polanski when people were signing petitions to have him readmitted to the U.S.?
My opinion is: He’s paid his price, and at the time that it happened, it was kind of unprecedented. This was not an unusual situation. You know that movie An Education with Carey Mulligan? That happened to me. It’s about a schoolgirl in England who falls in love with an older dude, Peter Sarsgaard. My first serious boyfriend I met when he was 42 and I was 18.

The photographer Bob Richardson. It wasn’t illegal though.
He was way older than me. I mean, old enough to know better. But these things happen, that’s what I’m saying. These things weren’t judged on the same basis that they’re judged on now. So you can’t compare them.

He was abusive, correct?
Yeah. In modern terms. We wouldn’t have known what to call it then. I don’t think he set out to be abusive, but he was manic-depressive. He was schizophrenic.Richardson, whose schizophrenia was diagnosed in the ’60s and exacerbated by drug and alcohol abuse, was periodically homeless, and often living on Southern California beaches. His son, the photographer Terry Richardson, got him off the streets in 1984. He died in Manhattan in 2005 at 77. So you can’t really say that schizophrenic is abusive, although to live with a schizophrenic is about as difficult.

You wrote that you once made him a steak and he threw it against the wall because it took too long.
At first I said, “What have I done?” And then at a certain point, I just had to get away. My mother had just died, so I think I was looking for someone to take care of me. And not take care of me at the same time. It was very dramatic. He also was extremely controlling, so he hated when I worked with other photographers.

Visual Deep Neural Networks: Trained with impoverished data, lack adaptations to attentional mechanisms, visual working memory, & compressed mental representations that preserve relevant abstractions

Comparing the Visual Representations and Performance of Humans and Deep Neural Networks. Robert A. Jacobs, Christopher J. Bates. Current Directions in Psychological Science, November 27, 2018.

Abstract: Although deep neural networks (DNNs) are state-of-the-art artificial intelligence systems, it is unclear what insights, if any, they provide about human intelligence. We address this issue in the domain of visual perception. After briefly describing DNNs, we provide an overview of recent results comparing human visual representations and performance with those of DNNs. In many cases, DNNs acquire visual representations and processing strategies that are very different from those used by people. We conjecture that there are at least two factors preventing them from serving as better psychological models. First, DNNs are currently trained with impoverished data, such as data lacking important visual cues to three-dimensional structure, data lacking multisensory statistical regularities, and data in which stimuli are unconnected to an observer’s actions and goals. Second, DNNs typically lack adaptations to capacity limits, such as attentional mechanisms, visual working memory, and compressed mental representations biased toward preserving task-relevant abstractions.

Keywords: perception, vision, artificial intelligence, deep neural networks

Hansen & Wänke 2010 (participants judge concretely worded trivia items as more likely to be true than abstractly worded ones) is non-replicable

Henderson, E. L., Vallée-Tourangeau, F., & Simons, D. J. (2019). The Effect of Concrete Wording on Truth Judgements: A Preregistered Replication and Extension of Hansen & Wänke (2010). Collabra: Psychology, 5(1), 19. DOI:

Abstract: When you lack the facts, how do you decide what is true and what is not? In the absence of knowledge, we sometimes rely on non-probative information. For example, participants judge concretely worded trivia items as more likely to be true than abstractly worded ones (the linguistic truth effect; Hansen & Wänke, 2010). If minor language differences affect truth judgements, ultimately they could influence more consequential political, legal, health, and interpersonal choices. This Registered Report includes two high-powered replication attempts of Experiment 1 from Hansen and Wänke (2010). Experiment 1a was a dual-site, in-person replication of the linguistic concreteness effect in the original paper-and-pencil format (n = 253, n = 246 in analyses). Experiment 1b replicated the study with an online sample (n = 237, n = 220 in analyses). In Experiment 1a, the effect of concreteness on judgements of truth (Cohen’s dz = 0.08; 95% CI: [–0.03, 0.18]) was smaller than that of the original study. Similarly, in Experiment 1b the effect (Cohen’s dz = 0.11; 95% CI [–0.01, 0.22]) was smaller than that of the original study. Collectively, the pattern of results is inconsistent with that of the original study.

Keywords: replication ,   truth judgements ,   truth effect ,   concreteness ,   language ,   Registered Report

Adolescent Sexting: Myths, Facts, and Advice

Adolescent Sexting: Myths, Facts, and Advice. Joris Van Ouytsel et al. NASN School Nurse, April 25, 2019.

Abstract: Adolescent sexting remains an important public health issue because of the potential for psychosocial and legal consequences. This article briefly reviews the current state of the science of adolescent sexting research. It serves as an up-to-date and data-driven resource to school nurses and school staff to help augment understanding and facilitate discussion regarding teen sexting. The review is structured along popular myths about sexting.

Keywords: sexting, sexual risk behavior, electronic media: public health, cyberbullying

Myth 1: The Prevalence of Sexting Is Drastically on the Rise
Myth 2: Girls Are More Likely to Sext Than BoysAnother common
Myth 3: If Teenagers Are Engaging in Online Sexual Risk Behaviors, They Must Be Engaging in Offline Sexual Risk Behaviors
Myth 4: Sexts Are Meant as a Means to “Hook Up” (i.e., Engage in Casual Sexual Behavior)

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Men are more optimistic than women; men are also more prone to be wrong in their beliefs about the future economic situation; & in sharp economic downturns, the gender differences in optimism disappear

Bjuggren, Carl Magnus & Elert, Niklas, 2019. "Gender Differences in Optimism," Working Paper Series 1275, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.

Abstract: This paper examines gender differences in optimism about the economy. We measure optimism using Swedish survey data in which respondents stated their beliefs about the country’s future economic situation. We argue that this measure of optimism is preferable to common measurements in the literature since it avoids confounding individuals’ economic situation with their perception of the future and it can be compared to economic indicators. In line with previous research, we find that men are more optimistic than women; however, men are also more prone to be wrong in their beliefs about the future economic situation. Furthermore, in sharp economic downturns, the gender differences in optimism disappear. This convergence in beliefs can be explained by the amount of available information on the economy.

Do we want to regulate ideas conflict, or compete and promote our own ideas, or avoid conflict and yield to others' ideas?

Sociocognitive Conflict Regulation: How to Make Sense of Diverging Ideas. Fabrizio Butera, Nicolas Sommet, Céline Darnon. Current Directions in Psychological Science, February 4, 2019.

Abstract: Sociocognitive conflict arises when people hold different views or ideas about the same object, and it has the potential to promote learning, cognitive development, and positive social relations. The promotion of these outcomes, however, depends on how the conflict is regulated and with what goals: Mastery goals predict epistemic conflict regulation and the elaboration of multiple ideas, performance-approach goals predict competitive conflict regulation and the promotion of one’s own ideas, and performance-avoidance goals predict protective conflict regulation and yielding to other people’s ideas. Conflict regulation thus determines the conditions under which confronting diverging ideas results in positive cognitive and relational outcomes.

Keywords: sociocognitive conflict, conflict regulation, achievement goals, learning, cognitive development

The concept of conflict has a lengthy history in psy-chological science, albeit with different interpretations. From early studies on intergroup conflict (Sherif, 1966) to more recent work on oppression (Sidanius & Pratto, 2001), social psychology has traditionally focused on destructive conflicts (Sommet, Quiamzade, & Butera, 2017) based on competition between individuals and between groups. On the contrary, from Piaget’s studies on the equilibration of cognitive structures (1975/1985) to work on conceptual change (Chi, 2008), cognitive psychology and the learning sciences have focused on constructive conflicts based on individual exposure to contradictory information (Limón, 2001). The present article presents the integrative framework of sociocog-nitive conflict stemming from research on sociocogni-tive development (Doise & Mugny, 1984) and social influence (Pérez & Mugny, 1996). This line of research has demonstrated that conflict can be either construc-tive or destructive depending on the way it is regulated (Butera, Darnon, & Mugny, 2011).

The Concept of Sociocognitive Conflict

The concept of sociocognitive conflict was introduced by Mugny and Doise (1978) and Doise and Mugny (1984) to account for the finding that children interact-ing with others are more likely to progress on a task than children working alone. This work was based on Piaget’s concept of cognitive conflict (Piaget, 1975/1985), which arises when a child’s cognitive structures are disrupted by new and inconsistent information. The disequilibrium that ensues requires some adjustment in the child’s cognitive structures, which leads to more elaborate knowledge and cognitive gains. Very often, however, direct information from the object is not available or is misleading, cognitive conflict does not take place, and people may carry on with false or suboptimal knowledge.

Doise and Mugny (1984) reasoned that children reach a higher level of cognitive development when interacting with others than when working alone because the disequilibrium may come from the diver-gent point of view of their partner. The disruption of previous knowledge by a dissenting partner is called sociocognitive conflict. This conflict requires some adjustment and may thereby result in more elaborate knowledge. The constructive effects of such conflictual interactions have been documented in dozens of experiments with children (Doise & Mugny, 1984) and adults (Darnon, Buchs, & Butera, 2002), replicated by other laboratories (Ames & Murray, 1982), and extended to the realm of professional and political decision making (see Johnson’s, 2015, work on “constructive controversy”) and interactions in computer-supported collaborative learning groups (see Kapur’s, 2008, work on “productive failure”).

Importantly, the observed progress is accounted for by conflict and not merely by interaction: Mugny and Doise (1978) showed that interaction led to progress even when a child interacted with a partner who had a lower level of cognitive development, which is incon-sistent with an explanation in terms of the mere transfer of competences. Later, Doise and Mugny (1979) showed that interindividual conflict (between two children with opposing viewpoints) led to greater cognitive progress than intraindividual conflict (each child experiencing two viewpoints).

Table 1.  Items Used to Assess Self-Reported Sociocognitive Conflict Regulation (From Darnon, Muller, Schrager, Pannuzzo, & Butera, 2006; Sommet et al., 2014)

Conflict-regulation strategy: Epistemic
When disagreements occurred, to what extent did you . . .
•Try to think about the text again in order to understand better?
•Try to examine the conditions under which each point of view could help you understand?
•Try to think of a solution that could integrate both points of view?

Conflict-regulation strategy: Competitive relational
When disagreements occurred, to what extent did you . . .
•Try to resist by maintaining your initial position?
•Try to show your partner was wrong?
•Try to show you were right?

Conflict-regulation strategy: Protective relational
When disagreements occurred, to what extent did you . . .
•Think your partner was certainly more correct than you?
•Comply with his/her proposition?
•Agree with his/her own way of viewing things?

Table 2.  Instructions Used to Manipulate Achievement Goals (From Darnon, Harackiewicz, Butera, Mugny, & Quiamzade, 2007; Darnon, Muller, Schrager, Pannuzzo, & Butera, 2006)

Achievement goal: Mastery
“It is very important for you to accurately understand the aims of this experiment. You are here to acquire new knowledge that could be useful to you, to understand correctly the experiments and the ideas developed in the text, and to discover new concepts. In other words, you are here to learn.”

Achievement goal: Performance-approach
“The experimenters will evaluate your performance. It is important for you to perform well and obtain a good grade on the different tasks presented here. You should know that a lot of students will do this task. You are asked to keep in mind that you should try to distinguish yourself positively, that is, to perform better than the majority of students. In other words, what we ask you here is to show your competencies, your abilities.”

Achievement goal: Performance-avoidance
“The experimenters will evaluate your performance. It is important for you to avoid performing poorly and not obtain a bad grade on the different tasks presented here. You should know that a lot of students will do this task. You are asked to keep in mind that you should try not to distinguish yourself negatively, that is, try not to perform more poorly than the majority of students. In other words, what we ask you here is to avoid performing poorly.”

Captive apes failed to respect others' claim on food resources & frequently monopolized the resources when had opportunity; children respected & made spontaneous verbal references to ownership

Children, but not great apes, respect ownership. Patricia Kanngiesser et al. Developmental Science, April 30 2019.

Abstract: Access to and control of resources is a major source of costly conflicts. Animals, under some conditions, respect what others control and use (i.e., possession). Humans not only respect possession of resources, they also respect ownership. Ownership can be viewed as a cooperative arrangement, where individuals inhibit their tendency to take others’ property on the condition that those others will do the same. We investigated to what degree great apes follow this principle, as compared to human children. We conducted two experiments, in which dyads of individuals could access the same food resources. The main test of respect for ownership was whether individuals would refrain from taking their partner's resources even when the partner could not immediately access and control them. Captive apes (N = 14 dyads) failed to respect their partner's claim on food resources and frequently monopolized the resources when given the opportunity. Human children (N = 14 dyads), tested with a similar apparatus and procedure, respected their partner's claim and made spontaneous verbal references to ownership. Such respect for the property of others highlights the uniquely cooperative nature of human ownership arrangements.

It was claimed that the ability to recall personal past events is uniquely human; but great apes can remember specific events for long periods of time (months to years); the forgetting curve is similar to ours

Long-Term Memory of Past Events in Great Apes. Amy Lewis, Dorthe Berntsen, Josep Call. Current Directions in Psychological Science, January 2, 2019.

Abstract: It has been claimed that the ability to recall personal past events is uniquely human. We review recent evidence that great apes can remember specific events for long periods of time, spanning months and even years, and that such memories can be enhanced by distinctiveness (irrespective of reinforcement) and follow a forgetting curve similar to that in humans. Moreover, recall is enhanced when apes are presented with features that are diagnostic of the event, consistent with notions of encoding specificity and cue overload in human memory. These findings are also consistent with the involuntary retrieval of past events in humans, a mode of remembering that is thought to be less cognitively demanding than voluntary retrieval. Taken together, these findings reveal further similarities between the way humans and animals remember past events and open new avenues of research on long-term memory in nonhuman animals.

Keywords: great apes, long-term memory, spontaneous retrieval, episodic memory, event memory

Why so many people trust others, even complete strangers, given their social cynicism & aversion to taking risks? People trust at unexpectedly high rates because they feel a social obligation to do so

Why People Trust: Solved Puzzles and Open Mysteries. David Dunning, Detlef Fetchenhauer, Thomas Schlösser. Current Directions in Psychological Science, April 30, 2019.

Abstract: Interpersonal trust is essential for a productive and rewarding social life, yet it presents many theoretical puzzles, particularly among strangers, because its existence violates the rational-actor model. Here, we focus on two mysteries. One is cognitive, focusing on why people cynically underestimate how trustworthy their peers are. The second is behavioral, focusing on why so many people trust others, including complete strangers, given their social cynicism and aversion to taking risks. Regarding the behavioral mystery, we adopt a normative approach, proposing that people trust at unexpectedly high rates because they feel a social obligation to do so. This approach implies that trust may be more about the behavior itself than about downstream consequences, that people are not “giving” so much as “giving in” to social pressures, and that their choices may have more to do with emotion than calculation.

Keywords: trust, economic games, prosocial behavior, norms, social exchange

Drinking alcohol (compared with placebo or control) increased the positive image held by observers

Self-Expression While Drinking Alcohol: Alcohol Influences Personality Expression During First Impressions. Edward Orehek et al. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, April 30, 2019.

Abstract: People are motivated to be perceived both positively and accurately and, therefore, approach social settings and adopt means that allow them to reach these goals. We investigated whether alcohol consumption helps or hinders the positivity and accuracy of social impressions using a thin-slicing paradigm to better understand the effects of alcohol in social settings and the influence of alcohol on self-expression. These possibilities were tested in a sample of 720 participants randomly assigned to consume an alcohol, placebo, or control beverage while engaged in conversation in three-person groups. We found support for the hypothesis that alcohol (compared with placebo or control) increased the positivity of observers’ personality expression, but did not find support for the hypothesis that alcohol increased the accuracy of personality expression. These findings contribute to our understanding of the social consequences of alcohol consumption, shedding new light on the interpersonal benefits that alcohol can foster.

The “Inclusivity Analysis” feature allows filmmakers “to quickly assign and measure the ethnicity, gender, age, disability or any other definable trait of the characters,” or determine if they pass the Bechdel Test

Screenplay Software Adds Tool to Assess a Script’s Inclusiveness. Melena Ryzik. TNYT Apr 26 2019.

One of the most widely used screenplay programs in Hollywood has a new tool to help with gender equality and inclusion. In an update announced Thursday, Final Draft ( — software that writers use to format scripts — said it will now include a proprietary “Inclusivity Analysis” feature, allowing filmmakers “to quickly assign and measure the ethnicity, gender, age, disability or any other definable trait of the characters,” including race, the company said in a statement.

It also will enable users to determine if a project passes the Bechdel Test, measuring whether two female characters speak to each other about anything other than a man. The Final Draft tool, a free add-on, was developed in collaboration with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount Saint Mary’s University, which has been at the forefront of studying the under-representation of women on screen.

From 2018: These results support the existence of characteristic neural traits in artists, who display reduced reactions to monetary reward acceptance and increased reactions to monetary reward rejection

From 2018...  Reactivity of the Reward System in Artists During Acceptance and Rejection of Monetary Rewards. Roberto Goya-Maldonado, Maria Keil, Katja Brodmann & Oliver Gruber. Creativity Research Journal, Volume 30, 2018 - Issue 2, Pages 172-178. Apr 20 2018.

Abstract: Humans possess an invaluable ability of self-expression that extends into visual, literary, musical, and many other fields of creation. More than any other profession, artists are in close contact with this subdomain of creativity. Probably one of the most intriguing aspects of creativity is its negative correlation with the availability of monetary reward. The aim of this study was to investigate the reactivity of the dopaminergic reward system in artists and nonartist controls using the desire-reason-dilemma (DRD) paradigm, which allows separate evaluation of reactivity to the acceptance and rejection of rewards. Using fMRI, blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) responses were measured in key regions of the reward system, namely the ventral striatum (VS), the ventral tegmental area (VTA), and the anterior ventral prefrontal cortex (AVPFC). In contrast to controls, artists presented significantly weaker VS activation in reward acceptance. Additionally, they showed stronger suppression of the VS by the AVPFC in reward rejection. No other differences in demographic or behavioral data were evidenced. These results support the existence of characteristic neural traits in artists, who display reduced reactions to monetary reward acceptance and increased reactions to monetary reward rejection.

Chronotype (morningness/eveningness) is associated with preference for the timing of many types of behavior, most notably sleep; also associated with aspects of personality, like prosocial behavior

The impact of chronotype on prosocial behavior. Natalie L. Solomon, Jamie M. Zeitzer. PLOS, April 30, 2019.

Introduction: Chronotype (morningness/eveningness) is associated with preference for the timing of many types of behavior, most notably sleep. Chronotype is also associated with differences in the timing of various physiologic events as well as aspects of personality. One aspect linked to personality, prosocial behavior, has not been studied before in the context of chronotype. There are many variables contributing to who, when, and why one human might help another and some of these factors appear fixed, while some change over time or with the environment. It was our intent to examine prosocial behavior in the context of chronotype and environment.

Methods: Randomly selected adults (N = 100, ages 18–72) were approached in a public space and asked to participate in a study. If the participants consented (n = 81), they completed the reduced Morning-Eveningness Questionnaire and the Stanford Sleepiness Scale, then prosocial behavior was assessed.

Results/Conclusions: We found that people exhibited greater prosocial behavior when they were studied further from their preferred time of day. This did not appear to be associated with subjective sleepiness or other environmental variables, such as ambient illumination. This suggests the importance of appreciating the differentiation between the same individual’s prosocial behavior at different times of day. Future studies should aim at replicating this result in larger samples and across other measures of prosocial behavior.



Individual differences in the time at which people prefer to do particular behaviors, most notably sleep, are referred to as chronotype. In essence, chronotype describes whether someone is a “morning” person or an “evening” person. While many (50%) individuals identify somewhere between the extremes of chronotype, around 30% of individuals identify as morning type and 20% identify as evening type [1,2]. An individual’s chronotype is likely created by an interaction between the endogenous circadian pacemaker and its responses to light [3,4] and can be modulated by factors such as age [2,5,6] and life circumstance (e.g., needing to get to work early over years may shift preference towards earlier hours). There are a variety of physiologic events that vary by chronotype (e.g., timing of melatonin [7], core temperature [8], and cortisol [9]), as well behaviors that vary by chronotype (e.g., cognition, mood, susceptibility to stress and personality traits) [10,11]. A meta-analysis examining the association between chronotype and personality, as described by the Big Five Personality Model [12], found that conscientiousness is the personality dimension that relates most to morningness. Agreeableness is also related to morningness, although to a lesser degree, and openness to experience, extraversion and neuroticism, contribute a very small degree [12].
Another variable linked to both agreeableness and conscientiousness, prosocial behavior, has received little attention in terms of its potential modulation by chronotype. Prosocial behavior, or an action that is done for the benefit of another human or society as a whole, is regulated by both situational and dispositional variables [13]. The study of situational determinants of prosocial behavior was the focus of most early investigation. Among the situational variables that could influence prosocial behavior are setting (rural settings eliciting more prosocial behavior than urban settings) [14,15], other behaviors (e.g., cell phone use) [16], amount of sunlight [17], and weather [18]. Noise has also been found to be negatively correlated with prosocial behavior, with high noise levels interfering more with verbal help than with physical help [19]. Opportunities in which the situation is viewed as uncontrollable, such as a medical emergency, are likely to evoke more prosocial behavior [20], while the presence of bystanders reduces prosocial behavior [21]. More recently, however, there has been increasing interest in examining how dispositional (trait) variables relate to prosocial behavior. Agreeableness and conscientiousness are the personality traits most correlated with prosocial behavior [2224]. Other variables associated with prosocial behavior include sex [25] and age [26,27].
As both chronotype and prosocial behavior are linked to agreeableness, conscientiousness, and other aspects of personality, we wanted to explore whether chronotype is linked to prosocial behavior. One previous study examining adolescents found morningness to be correlated positively with prosocial behavior, and negatively with behavioral problems [28]. We specifically hypothesized that individuals would be more likely to engage in prosocial behavior if asked to do so when closer to their preferred time of day. We secondarily hypothesized that sleepiness, a common occurrence in many adults that can be associated with chronotype [29] and impacts many aspects personality [30], would be negatively associated with prosocial behavior.

Materials and methods

Participants (N = 100) were approached at the Mountain View Caltrain Station in Mountain View, California. This location was chosen because many people waiting at the station may have some extra time and may not be immediately headed somewhere. Participants were approached when a train was not scheduled to depart from the platform within the next eight minutes. The same researcher (NS) approached all individuals. The researcher approached every third person on the platform to reduce the likelihood that the researcher was biasing their choice of participant. If the next participant was within earshot of the last participant, the researcher would move on to the next person on the platform who was out of earshot of the last participant.
To control for the effects of socializing and peer influence, only individuals standing alone were sampled. Individuals with others standing nearby were approached while individuals clearly traveling with another were not. Children (individuals who appeared to be less than 17 years old), people on crutches, people with heavy packages or others who might not be fully capable of filling out the questionnaires were excluded.
When the participant finished the survey, the researcher thanked them and employed a sidewalk interview method [14,18,31,32] by saying the following script, which was adapted from the sociology department of the University of Minnesota [18]: “We are also conducting a second study related to sleep. Although the survey is 80 questions long, you do not have to answer all of the questions. How many questions would you be willing to answer to help me?” [...]

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Distrust of nonreligious individuals is almost completely erased by knowledge that they are following a restricted monogamous lifestyle; thus, reproductive strategies often underlie apparently sacred concerns

Is Nothing Sacred? Religion, Sex, and Reproductive Strategies. Jordan W. Moon et al. Current Directions in Psychological Science, April 29, 2019.

Abstract: Religion has often been conceptualized as a collection of beliefs, practices, and proscriptions that lift people’s thoughts and behaviors out of the metaphorical gutter of sex and selfishness toward lives full of meaning, contemplation, and community service. But religious beliefs and behaviors may serve selfish, sexual motivations in ways that are not always obvious or consciously intended. We review two lines of research illustrating nonobvious links between the mundane and the religious. First, contrary to long-held assumptions that religious upbringing causes sexually restrictive attitudes and behaviors, several large data sets now suggest a reverse causal arrow—people’s preferred mating strategies determining their attraction toward, or repulsion from, religion. Second, other recent findings suggest that distrust of nonreligious individuals is almost completely erased by knowledge that they are following a restricted monogamous lifestyle. Thus, reproductive strategies often underlie apparently sacred concerns. We close with a consideration of ways in which reproductive interests might underlie a broad range of benefits associated with religious affiliation.

Keywords: religion, evolutionary psychology, mating

Thought-Control Failure: Sensory Mechanisms and Individual Differences

Measuring Thought-Control Failure: Sensory Mechanisms and Individual Differences. Eugene L. Kwok et al. Psychological Science, April 22, 2019.

Abstract: The ability to control one’s thoughts is crucial for attention, focus, ideation, and mental well-being. Although there is a long history of research into thought control, the inherent subjectivity of thoughts has made objective examination, and thus mechanistic understanding, difficult. Here, we report a novel method to objectively investigate thought-control success and failure by measuring the sensory strength of visual thoughts using binocular rivalry, a perceptual illusion. Across five experiments (N = 67), we found that thought-control failure may occur because of the involuntary and antithetical formation of nonreportable sensory representations during attempts at thought suppression but not during thought substitution. Notably, thought control was worse in individuals with high levels of anxiety and schizotypy but more successful in mindful individuals. Overall, our study offers insight into the underlying mechanisms of thought control and suggests that individual differences play an important role in the ability to control thoughts.

Keywords: thought suppression, thought substitution, binocular rivalry, mental imagery, mindfulness, open data

The ability to control our own thoughts, is an important mental capacity and is important for attention, focus, future planning and ideation [1-4]. Given that up to 80% of the general population experience some form of unwanted intrusive thoughts [5], the ability to control thoughts is also an important determinant of mental wellbeing [6]. Indeed, failure to control thoughts has been linked to various mental disorders including anxiety[7, 8], obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) [9, 10] and schizophrenia [11, 12].

Since the work of Freud, the idea of voluntarily repressing a thought, thought suppression, has become an active phrase in the general populace and has attracted muchattention, despite the lack of any clear objective methodology to investigate the phenomenon. Attempting to control thoughts by direct thought suppression (not thinking about a given thought) is often difficult and subjective reports suggest suppression mostly fails [6]. Instead of directly eliminating thoughts from the mind, reports suggest suppression paradoxically leads to heightened preoccupations with these thoughts [13]. For example, individuals instructed to suppress the thought of a white bear are often unable to do so and report intrusions of the thought inadvertently arising a short time later [14]. Research into thought suppression failure (e.g. [15-20]) and its consequences have been studied in a wide variety of domains including organisational behaviour [21], smoking addiction [22], immune function [23] and psychopathology [24-27]. However, largely due to the inherent private subjectivity of thought suppression, its existence as a possible process, dynamics, where and why such suppression failures originate, remains largely unknown. While thought suppression is the most commonly studied thought control strategy, other forms of thought control have been examined and seem to be more effective. For example, thought substitution, in which a suppressed thought is instead replaced by a substitute thought, has shown evidence for reduced thought intrusion frequency and thought control failure [6, 14, 28]. More recently, mindfulness has shown evidence as an effective form of mental control [29].

While these forms of thought control seem more effective than direct thought suppression, without a mechanistic understanding of these processes, research into why one method might work over another, and indeed if there are potentially more effective methods remains limited.

Wegner [13] first attributed the inability to control thoughts using thought suppression to the interaction between two practical, but simultaneously conflicting, mental processes. The first involves a conscious process that attempts to achieve a state of mind free from the to-be-suppressed thought. The second is an unconscious monitoring process that checks for unwanted instances of the to-be-suppressed thought. Wegner proposed thoughts unwillingly enter consciousness due to the ironic opposition between these two processes, ultimately leading to thought control failure. Neuroimaging evidence has generally supported this view [30-32]. However, while mechanisms have been proposed, the empirical investigation and objective measurement of thought control has been limited.

The inherent subjectivity of thoughts has further made the objective examination of thought control difficult. For the most part, previous research has used subjective self-reports to examine thought control ( e.g. [14, 28, 33, 34]). While self-report measures have provided valuable insight into the examination of thought control, these measures may be prone to bias, experimenter demand or social desirability effects [35], and thus make it difficult to examine the underlying mechanisms.

To overcome this subjectivity and to shed light on the underlying mechanisms of thought control and its failure we devised a novel method to objectively study the control of visual thoughts using the illusion binocular rivalry. Binocular rivalry is a visual illusion that arises when two different images are presented one to each eye, inducing bistable perceptual alternations between the two images [36]. Binocular rivalry has been used to objectively measure the sensory strength of mental images [37-40] and prior perceptual stimuli [37, 39, 41]. Here we devised a novel method to utilise a brief binocular rivalry presentation to objectively assess visual representations that might emerge during attempts at thought control.

In each trial, we instructed participants to either imagine, suppress or substitute the thought of a red or green coloured object, before being presented with a brief red-green binocular rivalry stimulus. Any priming for imagined, suppressed or substituted thoughts could then be calculated to provide an objective measure of the sensory strength of these visual thought representations. To probe subjective metacognition of thought control, we instructed participants to report when thought control failed and compared these subjective reports to their level of rivalry priming. Lastly, a Thought Control Index was devised to investigate the relationship between thought control and four psychological traits: anxiety, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, schizotypy and mindfulness.

Results showed suppressed thoughts led to binocular rivalry priming significantly above chance (50%) and almost as strong as priming for intentionally imagined thoughts, indicating a failure to control the sensory trace of thoughts using thought suppression. Surprisingly, priming for trials reported as successfully suppressed was still significantly above chance, suggesting the possibility of emergent non-conscious sensory representations during attempts at thought control. Thought substitution was more, although not completely effective, in controlling the sensory trace of visual thoughts. Individuals with high trait mindfulness exhibited greater levels of thought control, whilethose with high anxiety or schizotypy traits exhibited lower levels of thought control. Interestingly, there was no relationship with obsessive-compulsive tendencies. Our data suggest that thought control failure is linked to the formation of sensory representations during attempts at thought control.

In Indonesia: Cognitive dissonance in women who are addicted to pornography

In Indonesia: Cognitive dissonance in women who are addicted to pornography. Rendy Alfiannoor Achmad, Ayunia Firdayati. Jurnal Ecopsy, Vol 6, No 1 (2019).

Abstract: Based on a Google Trends survey, Indonesia is ranked as the world's top 10 consuming pornographic material for the types of keywords that are related to sex, and an average of 20% of all categories are conducted by student-aged adolescents. This study aims to describe how cognitive dissonance is experienced by women who are addicted to pornography. The method used in this study is a qualitative method with a case study approach. Data was collected by observation and interview, the subject of the study was a woman who had been exposed to pornography since sitting in elementary school. The results of the study explained that the source of the occurrence of cognitive dissonance of the subject was due to a discrepancy between the subject's beliefs and assessment of the new environment towards the subject's habit of watching pornographic videos. Cognitive dissonance experienced by women who are addicted to pornography is the emergence of feelings of anxiety, feelings of guilt, sin, feelings of fear are considered 'disgusting', and also feel their behavior is only a waste of time.

Keywords: Sex; Pornography; Women

Polygamous marriages: Women assigned greater sentence durations & perceived the transgressions toward the institution of marriage as more severe than men; the presence of children increased the troublesomeness of the polygamy

Widman, D. R., Philip, M. M., & Geher, G. (2018). Punishment of hypothetical polygamous marriages. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences,

Abstract: Parental investment theory suggests that differential reproductive investment has led the sexes to different mating strategies. In humans, men have the lesser investment and therefore tend to desire greater numbers of mates relative to women. One result of this could be that men would be more tolerant of polygamous marriages. The present study examined this hypothesis. Participants read 4 hypothetical vignettes describing individuals who were convicted of polygamy. The vignettes varied in the sex of the perpetrator and whether the marriage resulted in children or not. Participants were asked to suggest a sentence duration and to assess the severity of that sentence, as well as the severity of the transgression to the spouses, the institution of marriage, and in general. Participants also completed several scales relevant to reproduction. The results indicated that women assigned greater sentence durations and perceived the transgressions toward the institution of marriage and in general as more severe than men. In addition, the presence of children increased the troublesomeness of the polygamy. Finally, life history and the troublesomeness of the polygamy were positively correlated, but only in men. This is consistent with the male strategy of dads with slow life histories and cads with fast life histories. The lack of correlation in women may be an indication of smaller variation in reproduction relative to men, regardless of life history.

Individuals who claim knowledge/expertise where they have little experience or skill exhibit high levels of overconfidence, believe they work hard, persevere at tasks, & are popular

Bullshitters. Who Are They and What Do We Known about Their Lives? John Jerrim, Phil Parke, rNikki Shure. IZA DP No. 12282.

‘Bullshitters’ are individuals who claim knowledge or expertise in an area where they actually have little experience or skill. Despite this being a well-known and widespread social phenomenon, relatively few large-scale empirical studies have been conducted into this issue. This paper attempts to fill this gap in the literature by examining teenagers’ propensity to claim expertise in three mathematics constructs that do not really exist. Using Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) data from nine Anglophone countries and over 40,000 young people, we find substantial differences in young people’s tendency to bullshit across countries, genders and socio-economic groups. Bullshitters are also found to exhibit high levels of overconfidence and believe they work hard, persevere at tasks, and are popular amongst their peers. Together this provides important new insight into who bullshitters are and the type of survey responses that they provide.

Coupled gay men did more physical activity than coupled straight men and were 1.62x more likely to be active, 1.67x more likely to be high active, 1.89x more likely to engage in muscle-strengthening activities

A Population-Based Study of Coupling and Physical Activity by Sexual Orientation for Men. Joseph S. Lightner, Katie M. Heinrich & Matthew R. Sanderson. Journal of Homosexuality, Apr 25 2019.

ABSTRACT> Research has suggested that men in relationships are more physically active than men who are single. This study provides a weighted analysis of physical activity by coupling status for men of different sexual orientations. Aggregated data from the United States 2013–2014 National Health Interview Survey were used to conduct multivariate logistic regression analyses. Compared to straight men (n = 29,926), gay men (n = 623) were less likely to be in a relationship (AOR 0.32, CI: 0.25–0.41). Coupled gay men did more physical activity than coupled straight men and were 1.62 (CI: 1.05–2.50) times more likely to be active, 1.67 (CI: 1.10–2.51) times more likely to be high active, 1.89 (CI: 1.24–2.89) times more likely to engage in muscle-strengthening activities, and 2.00 (CI: 1.28–3.11) times more likely to meet aerobic and muscle-strengthening recommendations. Coupling facilitates physical activity for men. However, more research is needed to help explore underlying mechanisms for differences by sexuality.

KEYWORDS: Physical activity, gay men, relationship status, exercise, sexual orientation, health behavior, sexual minority

Are U.S. older adults getting lonelier? No evidence that loneliness is substantially higher among the Baby Boomers or that it has increased over the past decade

Hawkley, L. C., Wroblewski, K., Kaiser, T., Luhmann, M., & Schumm, L. P. Are U.S. older adults getting lonelier?: Age, period, and cohort differences. Psychology and Aging, accepted.

Media portrayals of a loneliness “epidemic” are premised on an increase in the proportion of people living alone and decreases in rates of civic engagement and religious affiliation over recent decades. However, loneliness is a subjective perception that does not correspond perfectly with objective social circumstances. In this study, we examine whether perceived loneliness is greater among the Baby Boomers—individuals born 1948–1965—relative to those born 1920–1947, and whether older adults have become lonelier over the past decade (2005–2016). We use data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project (NSHAP) and from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) collected during 2005–16 to estimate diferences in loneliness associated with age, birth year and survey timepoint. Overall, loneliness decreases with age through the early 70s, after which it increases. We fnd no evidence that loneliness is substantially higher among the Baby Boomers or that it has increased over the past decade. Loneliness is however associated with poor health, living alone or without a spouse/partner and having fewer close family and friends, which together account for the overall increase in loneliness after age 75. Although these data do not support the idea that older adults are becoming lonelier, the actual number of lonely individuals may increase as the Baby Boomers age into their 80s and beyond. Our results suggest that attention to social factors and improving health may help to mitigate this.

Keywords: Loneliness, age-period-cohort efects, Baby Boom cohorts

Cancer-free men who consumed alcohol had a slightly lower risk of lethal prostate cancer compared with abstainers; among men with prostate cancer, red wine was associated with a lower risk of progression to lethal disease

Alcohol Intake and Risk of Lethal Prostate Cancer in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Mary K. Downer et al. DOI: 10.1200/JCO.18.02462 Journal of Clinical Oncology, April 26, 2019

PURPOSE: It is unknown whether alcohol intake is associated with the risk of lethal (metastatic or fatal) prostate cancer. We examine (1) whether alcohol intake among men at risk of prostate cancer is associated with diagnosis of lethal prostate cancer and (2) whether intake among men with nonmetastatic prostate cancer is associated with metastasis or death.

METHODS: This prospective cohort study uses the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (1986 to 2012). Our analysis of alcohol intake among men at risk of prostate cancer included 47,568 cancer-free men. Our analysis of alcohol intake among men with prostate cancer was restricted to 5,182 men diagnosed with nonmetastatic prostate cancer during follow-up. We examine the association of total alcohol, red and white wine, beer, and liquor with lethal prostate cancer and death. Multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression estimated hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs.

RESULTS: Alcohol drinkers had a lower risk of lethal prostate cancer (any v none: HR, 0.84 [95% CI, 0.71 to 0.99]) without a dose-response relationship. Total alcohol intake among patients with prostate cancer was not associated with progression to lethal prostate cancer (any v none: HR, 0.99 [95% CI, 0.57 to 1.72]), whereas moderate red wine intake was associated with a lower risk (any v none: HR, 0.50 [95% CI, 0.29 to 0.86]; P trend = .05). Compared with none, 15 to 30 g/d of total alcohol after prostate cancer diagnosis was associated with a lower risk of death (HR, 0.71 [95% CI, 0.50 to 1.00]), as was red wine (any v none: HR, 0.74 [95% CI, 0.57 to 0.97]; P trend = .007).

CONCLUSION: Cancer-free men who consumed alcohol had a slightly lower risk of lethal prostate cancer compared with abstainers. Among men with prostate cancer, red wine was associated with a lower risk of progression to lethal disease. These observed associations merit additional study but provide assurance that moderate alcohol consumption is safe for patients with prostate cancer.

Monday, April 29, 2019

No direct link between sugary drinks and caloric intake or BMI in children

European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Glasgow, UK (28 April-1 May), abstract CP2.06: Should the soft drinks industry levy (“the sugar tax”) be framed as a childhood obesity intervention? Anabtawi, O.; Townsend, T.; Strathearn, L.; Swift, J. A. School of Biosciences, Nottingham Univ.

Introduction: The Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) came into effect on the 6th of April 2018 and it is designed to tackle Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSBs); the largest contributor of sugar in children’s diets. It has been mandated as part of the Childhood Obesity Plan and is projected to result in an8.55% reduction in the rates of children and adolescents who are obese (Briggs et al., 2016). To understand more about the potential impacts of action on SSBs, this study aimed to consider the characteristics of children in the UK who drink, and do not drink, SSBs and the impact of overall energy intake.

Methodology: Data from 4-day estimated food diaries of 1298 children aged 4-10 years from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey Rolling program from 2008 to 2016 were analysed using SPSS version 24. Based upon their consumption or not, children were categorised as “drinkers”and “non-drinkers” of SSBs. Other variables included child age, gender, weight classification (IOTF cut-offs calculated from weight (kgs) and height (cm) (Cole et al. 2007)), total energy requirements for age, total energy intake (<90% of energy requirement met by intake taken as lower than recommended energy intake, 90-100% as met recommended energy intake, >110% above recommended energy intake), and Non-Milk Extrinsic Sugar (NMES) intake (<5% of total energy requirement as low NMES intake, 5–10% as medium NMES intake, >10% as high NMES intakes) (WHO, 2015).

Results: The consumption of NMES from food and drink within the total population was higher than recommended in 78.4% (n = 1017) children and significantly higher among the 790 (60.86%) of children classified as drinkers of SSBs (67.6%, n = 688) compared to non-drinkers(32.2%, n = 329). However, 78.1% (n = 617) children who were drinkers of SSBs did note xceed their total energy requirements and there was no significant difference between the two groups of drinkers and non-drinkers in terms of age, gender or body weight classification.

Conclusion: In this representative sample of UK children, high intake of NMEs was not directly correlated with high energy consumption, therefore, depending on a single-nutrient approach in tackling childhood obesity might not be the most effective. Furthermore, SSB drinking is not a behaviour particular to children with a higher body weight, on the contrary, framing sugar reduction in tackling obesity might reinforce negative stereotypes around “unhealthy dieting”. More equitably, policies should focus on those children whose consumption of SSBs significantly increases their total NMEs.

Reference: Briggs, A. D. M., et al, (2016) Health impact assessment of the UK soft drinks industry levy: a comparative risk assessment modelling study. The Lancet Public Health, 2, e15–e22.

That rapid eye movements (REM) are quasi absent in blind individuals despite preserved visual dream content does not support the visual scanning of dreams hypothesis

Rapid eye movements are reduced in blind individuals. Julie A. E. Christensen, Sébrina Aubin, Tore Nielsen, Maurice Ptito, Ron Kupers, Poul Jennum. Journal of Sleep Research, April 26 2019.

Abstract: There is ongoing controversy regarding the role of rapid eye movements (EMs) during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. One prevailing hypothesis is that EMs during REM sleep are indicative of the presence of visual imagery in dreams. We tested the validity of this hypothesis by measuring EMs in blind subjects and correlating these with visual dream content. Eleven blind subjects, of whom five were congenitally blind (CB) and six late blind (LB), and 11 matched sighted control (SC) subjects participated in this study. All participants underwent full‐night polysomnography (PSG) recordings that were staged manually following American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) criteria. Nocturnal EMs were detected automatically using a validated EM detector, and EM activity was represented as “EM coverage” computed as percentage of time with EM in each sleep stage. Frequency of sensory dream elements was measured in dream recall questionnaires over a 30‐day period. Both blind groups showed less EM coverage during wakefulness, N1, N2 and REM sleep than did controls. CB and LB subjects did not differ in EM activity. Validation of the detector applied to blind subjects revealed an overall accuracy of 95.6 ± 3.6%. Analysis of dream reports revealed that LB subjects reported significantly more visual dream elements than did CB. Although no specific mechanisms can be revealed in the current study, the quasi absence of nocturnal EMs in LB subjects despite preserved visual dream content does not support the visual scanning of dreams hypothesis. Specifically, results suggest a dissociation between EMs and visual dream content in blind individuals.

Polygenic scores mediate the Jewish phenotypic advantage in educational attainment and cognitive ability compared with Catholics and Lutherans

Dunkel, C. S., Woodley of Menie, M. A., Pallesen, J., & Kirkegaard, E. O. W. (2019). Polygenic scores mediate the Jewish phenotypic advantage in educational attainment and cognitive ability compared with Catholics and Lutherans. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences,

Abstract: A newly released multivariate polygenic score for educational attainment, cognitive ability, and self-rated mathematical ability in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study was examined as a mediator of the group difference between Jews (n = 53) and 2 Christian denominations, Catholics (n = 2,603) and Lutherans (n = 2,027), with respect to educational attainment, IQ, and performance on a similarities measure. It was found that the Jewish performance advantage over both Catholics and Lutherans with respect to all 3 measures was partially and significantly mediated by group differences in the polygenic score. This result is consistent with the prediction that the high average cognitive ability of Jews may have been shaped, in part, by polygenic selection acting on this population over the course of several millennia.

When men engaged in intercourse with women they knew were in a committed relationship, thrusting was quicker, deeper, & more vigorous; also reported more intense orgasms & attempted to prolong intercourse

Burch, R. L., & Gallup, G. G., Jr. (2019). The other man: Knowledge of sexual rivals and changes in sexual behavior. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences.

Abstract: In a sample of college couples, we examined the frequency of extrapair copulations, how these differ from intercourse with committed partners, and how knowledge of the other person’s relationship status affects sexual behavior. More than 25% of both men and women reported engaging in 1 or more extrapair copulations. Those who cheated reported greater arousal, but the duration of intercourse was not affected. Both sexes achieved greater sexual satisfaction from extrapair copulations. When men engaged in intercourse with women they knew were in a committed relationship, thrusting was quicker, deeper, and more vigorous. Men also reported more intense orgasms and attempted to prolong intercourse for as long as possible when having sex with someone who was in another relationship. Women did not. Differences in various parameters of extrapair orgasmic experiences (latency to orgasm, frequency of orgasm, intensity of orgasm, and orgasm duration) were consistent with a priori predictions based on sex differences in fitness maximization (Gallup, Burch, & Petricone, 2012; Gallup, Towne, & Stolz, 2018).

Effect of Being Religious on Wellbeing in a Predominantly Atheist Country: Found a negative correlation between religiosity & physical & mental health

Kopecky, Robin, Silvia Boschetti, and Jaroslav Flegr. 2019. “Effect of Being Religious on Wellbeing in a Predominantly Atheist Country: Explorative Study on Wellbeing, Fitness, Physical and Mental Health.” PsyArXiv. April 29. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Despite a large volume of research on the impact of religion on different aspects of life, there is still a lack of studies from post-communist countries.  In the current study, we aimed to fill this gap by investigating the relationship between religion and wellbeing, physical and mental health, education, sexual behavior and biological fitness among the Czech population. We managed to collect responses from 31633 participants and divided the sample into seven categories based on the type of religious belief and denomination (nonbelievers, believers without denomination, Catholics, Evangelicals, Hussites, Buddhists, Jews). We focused on the wellbeing as our main factor, which we define as composed of a number of sub-variables: physical and mental health, economic situation, self-attractiveness and the quality of the romantic relationship. In contrast to previous studies, we found a negative correlation between religiosity and physical and mental health. On the other hand, religiosity was connected to higher fitness, higher self-rated honesty and altruism, and lower sexual activity, which is in accord with the data from the western countries. Our findings suggest that even though Czechs had experienced years of oppression during the Communist regime, religion and religious beliefs still have considerable impact on their quality of life.

fitness: current number of biological children, preferred total number of children, number of biological siblings, total number of biological aunts and uncles