Monday, May 20, 2019

Gender Differences in Stability of Brain Functional Connectivity: Female volunteers showed significantly higher temporal correlation coefficients than male volunteers, suggesting their brain FCs are more stable over time

F116. Gender Differences in Stability of Brain Functional Connectivity. Yicheng Long, Jie Lisa Ji, Alan Anticevic. Biological Psychiatry, 74th Annual Scientific Convention and Meeting, May 15, 2019, Volume 85, Issue 10, Supplement, Page S258.

Background: Understanding gender differences of the brain’s intrinsic functional architecture may lead to a better understanding of the pathophysiology of many psychiatric disorders whose prevalence differs between genders. Recently, the dynamic brain functional connectivity (FC) has emerged as a major topic in resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) studies, and possible associations have been reported between several psychiatric disorders and the temporal stability of brain FCs. However, little is known about whether or not there is a gender difference in brain FC stability.
Results: Female volunteers showed significantly higher temporal correlation coefficients than male volunteers [...], suggesting their brain FCs are more stable over time.

Check also Gender differences in brain functional connectivity density. Dardo Tomasi, Nora D. Volkow. Human Brain Mapping, March 21 2011.
Abstract: The neural bases of gender differences in emotional, cognitive, and socials behaviors are largely unknown. Here, magnetic resonance imaging data from 336 women and 225 men revealed a gender dimorphism in the functional organization of the brain. Consistently across five research sites, women had 14% higher local functional connectivity density (lFCD) and up to 5% higher gray matter density than men in cortical and subcortical regions. The negative power scaling of the lFCD was steeper for men than for women, suggesting that the balance between strongly and weakly connected nodes in the brain is different across genders. The more distributed organization of the male brain than that of the female brain could help explain the gender differences in cognitive style and behaviors and in the prevalence of neuropsychiatric diseases (i.e., autism spectrum disorder).

Both men & women found heroic targets to be more desirable than targets low in heroism (stronger effect for women than men); high heroic targets were rated as more desirable for long-term compared to short-term relationships

Bhogal, Manpal S. 2019. “Further Support for the Role of Heroism in Human Mate Choice.” PsyArXiv. May 19. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Previous research has explored the role of prosociality in mate choice, predominantly focusing on the role of altruism. Although there is ample evidence to suggest altruism has evolved via mate choice, little research has unpacked prosociality by exploring the role of heroism in mate choice. Limited studies have been conducted in this area, and no studies have explored men’s desirability towards heroic targets. The aim of this study was to replicate and extend the limited research on the role of heroism in mate choice. Participants (n=276, 101 men and 175 women) rated several scenarios varying in heroism, whereby they were asked to rate how desirable targets were for a short-term and long-term relationship. The findings show that both men and women found heroic targets to be more desirable than targets low in heroism, although the main effect of sex was stronger for women than men. Furthermore, high heroic targets were rated as more desirable for long-term compared to short-term relationships, thus replicating and extending previous research. The findings add support to the adaptive role of heroism in human mate choice by exploring the role of heroism in both male and female mate choice. Data, materials, and the preregistered hypotheses/protocol are available on the Open Science Framework (

Divine Placebo: Health and the Evolution of Religion

Divine Placebo: Health and the Evolution of Religion. Patrik Lindenfors. Human Ecology, April 2019, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 157–163.

Abstract: In this paper, I draw on knowledge from several disciplines to explicate the potential evolutionary significance of health effects of religiosity. I present three main observations. First, traditional methods of religious healers seldom rely on active remedies, but instead focus on lifestyle changes or spiritual healing practices that best can be described as placebo methods. Second, actual health effects of religiosity are thus mainly traceable to effects from a regulated lifestyle, social support networks, or placebo effects. Third, there are clear parallels between religious healing practices and currently identified methods that induce placebo effects. Physiological mechanisms identified to lie behind placebo effects activate the body’s own coping strategies and healing responses. In combination, lifestyle, social support networks, and placebo effects thus produce both actual and perceived health effects of religiosity. This may have played an important role in the evolution and diffusion of religion through two main pathways. First, any real positive health effects of religiosity would have provided a direct biological advantage. Second, any perceived health effects, both positive and negative, would further have provided a unique selling point for ‘religiosity’ per se. Actual and perceived health effects of religiosity may therefore have played an underestimated role during the evolution of religiosity through both biological and cultural pathways.

Keywords: Evolution Cultural evolution Health Placebo Religiosity Social support networks Lifestyle

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Stress is experienced when an aspect of an individual's identity has the potential to be negatively evaluated; perceived appearance judgements contribute to psychological & biological stress

The effect of perceived appearance judgements on psychological and biological stress processes across adulthood. Natalie J. Sabik et al. Stress and Health, March 18 2019.

Abstract: Social self‐preservation theory posits that stress is experienced when an aspect of an individual's identity has the potential to be negatively evaluated. Appearance is a central part of identity; however, little research has examined whether perceived appearance judgements are a source of social‐evaluative stress. In addition, stress may be an explanatory link in the association between appearance perceptions and depressive symptoms. This study examined whether perceived appearance judgements were associated with increased stress and greater depressive symptoms among adults. Study 1 examined the associations between self‐reported appearance judgements and cortisol stress responses in response to a laboratory stressor (Trier Social Stress Test) among 71 individuals aged 18–65. Study 2 assessed self‐reported appearance judgements and depressive symptoms among 498 adults ages 18–65 via an online survey data collection. Appearance judgement was associated with a stronger cortisol response, higher self‐reported stress, and greater depressive symptoms. Stress mediated all associations between appearance judgements and depressive symptoms and neither age nor gender moderated these associations. The findings suggest that appearance judgements contribute to psychological and biological stress processes and demonstrated that stress mediated the association between appearance judgements and depressive symptoms.

Between 1870 and 1916, over 80 percent of alliance ties were partially or completely covert. Otherwise, hidden military pacts are rare. Why was secrecy prevalent in this particular period and not others?

Secrecy among Friends: Covert Military Alliances and Portfolio Consistency. Raymond Kuo. Journal of Conflict Resolution, May 16, 2019.

Abstract: Scholars think that friendly nations adopt secrecy to avoid domestic costs and facilitate cooperation. But this article uncovers a historical puzzle. Between 1870 and 1916, over 80 percent of alliance ties were partially or completely covert. Otherwise, hidden pacts are rare. Why was secrecy prevalent in this particular period and not others? This article presents a theory of “portfolio consistency.” Public agreements undermine the rank of hidden alliances. A partner willing to openly commit to another country but not to you signals the increased importance of this other relationship. States pressure their covert partners to avoid subsequent public pacts. This creates a network effect: the more secret partners a state has, the greater the incentives to maintain secrecy in later military agreements. Covert alliances have a cumulative effect. In seeking the flexibility of hidden partnerships, states can lock themselves into a rigid adherence to secrecy.

Keywords: alliance, international alliance, international security, military alliance, secrecy

The high prevalence of intimate partner violence against women in countries with high levels of gender equality (the “Nordic paradox”) is not the result of measurement bias, but a real problem

Prevalence of intimate partner violence against women in Sweden and Spain: A psychometric study of the ‘Nordic paradox.’ Enrique Gracia et al. PLOS, May 16, 2019.

Abstract: The high prevalence of intimate partner violence against women (IPVAW) in countries with high levels of gender equality has been defined as the “Nordic paradox”. In this study we compared physical and sexual IPVAW prevalence data in two countries exemplifying the Nordic paradox: Sweden (N = 1483) and Spain (N = 1447). Data was drawn from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights Survey on violence against women. To ascertain whether differences between these two countries reflect true differences in IPVAW prevalence, and to rule out the possibility of measurement bias, we conducted a set of analyses to ensure measurement equivalence, a precondition for appropriate and valid cross-cultural comparisons. Results showed that in both countries items were measuring two separate constructs, physical and sexual IPVAW, and that these factors had high internal consistency and adequate validity. Measurement equivalence analyses (i.e., differential item functioning, and multigroup confirmatory factor analysis) supported the comparability of data across countries. Latent means comparisons between the Spanish and the Swedish samples showed that scores on both the physical and sexual IPVAW factors were significantly higher in Sweden than in Spain. The effect sizes of these differences were large: 89.1% of the Swedish sample had higher values in the physical IPVAW factor than the Spanish average, and this percentage was 99.4% for the sexual IPVAW factor as compared to the Spanish average. In terms of probability of superiority, there was an 80.7% and 96.1% probability that a Swedish woman would score higher than a Spanish woman in the physical and the sexual IPVAW factors, respectively. Our results showed that the higher prevalence of physical and sexual IPVAW in Sweden than in Spain reflects actual differences and are not the result of measurement bias, supporting the idea of the Nordic paradox.

At the NIH, the proportion of all grant funds awarded to scientists under the age of 36 fell from 5.6% in 1980 to 1.5% in 2017; nearly 99% of investment are awarded to scientists or engineers 36 yo or older

Two threats to U.S. science. Bruce Alberts, Venkatesh Narayanamurti. Science, May 17 2019, Vol. 364, Issue 6441, pp. 613. DOI: 10.1126/science.aax9846


The current grant opportunities for starting a new independent research career in academia have not only become increasingly unavailable to young scientists and engineers, but are also disastrously risk-averse. At the NIH, the proportion of all grant funds awarded to scientists under the age of 36 fell from 5.6% in 1980 to 1.5% in 2017. One might ask the rhetorical question: How successful would Silicon Valley be if nearly 99% of all investments were awarded to scientists and engineers age 36 years or older, along with a strong bias toward funding only safe, nonrisky projects? Similarly, at the U.S. Department of Energy and its National Laboratories, high-risk, high-reward research and development has been severely limited [...]

U.S. leadership must focus on stimulating innovation by awarding an equal number of grants to those new investigators proposing risky new research ideas [...]. At the same time, it is imperative that the United States reconsider its visa and immigration policies, making it much easier for foreign students who receive a graduate degree in a STEM discipline from a U.S. university to receive a green card, while stipulating that each employment-based visa automatically cover a worker's spouse and children.


Milk and Dairy Product Consumption: An Overview of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Shows There is No Increase of Risk of All-Cause Mortality

Milk and Dairy Product Consumption and Risk of Mortality: An Overview of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses. Ivan Cavero-Redondo et al. Advances in Nutrition, Volume 10, Issue suppl_2, May 15 2019, Pages S97–S104,

ABSTRACT: The effect of dairy product consumption on health has received substantial attention in the last decade. However, a number of prospective cohort studies have shown contradictory results, which causes uncertainty about the effects of dairy products on health. We conducted an overview of existing systematic reviews and meta-analyses to examine the association between dairy product consumption and all-cause mortality risk. A literature search was conducted in MEDLINE (via PubMed), EMBASE, the Cochrane Central Database of Systematic Reviews, and the Web of Science databases from their inception to April, 2018. We evaluated the risk of bias of each study included using the AMSTAR 2 tool. The risk ratios (RRs) for each meta-analysis were displayed in a forest plot for dose-response and for high compared with low dairy consumption. The initial search retrieved 2154 articles; a total of 8 meta-analyses were finally included after applying the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The number of included studies in each meta-analysis ranged from 6 to 26 cohort studies, which reported data from 6–28 populations. The sample sizes varied across studies from 24,466 participants reporting 5092 mortality cases to 938,817 participants reporting 126,759 mortality cases. After assessing the risk of bias, 25% of the studies were categorized as acceptable, 25% as good, and 50% as very good. The RRs reported by the meta-analyses ranged from 0.96 to 1.01 per 200 g/d of dairy product consumption (including total, high-fat, low-fat, and fermented dairy products), from 0.99 to 1.01 per 200–244 g/d of milk consumption, and from 0.99 to 1.03 per 10–50 g/d of cheese consumption. The RR per 50 g/d of yogurt consumption was 0.97 (95% CI: 0.85, 1.11). In conclusion, dairy product consumption is not associated with risk of all-cause mortality. This study was registered in PROSPERO as CRD42018091856.

Keywords: milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, meta-analysis, review, mortality

Check also Dietary Protein Sources and All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality: The Golestan Cohort Study in Iran. Maryam S. Farvid et al. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 52, Issue 2, February 2017, Pages 237-248.

Introduction: Dietary protein comes from foods with greatly different compositions that may not relate equally with mortality risk. Few cohort studies from non-Western countries have examined the association between various dietary protein sources and cause-specific mortality. Therefore, the associations between dietary protein sources and all-cause, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality were evaluated in the Golestan Cohort Study in Iran.

Methods: Among 42,403 men and women who completed a dietary questionnaire at baseline, 3,291 deaths were documented during 11 years of follow up (2004–2015). Cox proportional hazards models estimated age-adjusted and multivariate-adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs for all-cause and disease-specific mortality in relation to dietary protein sources. Data were analyzed from 2015 to 2016.

Results: Comparing the highest versus the lowest quartile, egg consumption was associated with lower all-cause mortality risk (HR=0.88, 95% CI=0.79, 0.97, ptrend=0.03). In multivariate analysis, the highest versus the lowest quartile of fish consumption was associated with reduced risk of total cancer (HR=0.79, 95% CI=0.64, 0.98, ptrend=0.03) and gastrointestinal cancer (HR=0.75, 95% CI=0.56, 1.00, ptrend=0.02) mortality. The highest versus the lowest quintile of legume consumption was associated with reduced total cancer (HR=0.72, 95% CI=0.58, 0.89, ptrend=0.004), gastrointestinal cancer (HR=0.76, 95% CI=0.58, 1.01, ptrend=0.05), and other cancer (HR=0.66, 95% CI=0.47, 0.93, ptrend=0.04) mortality. Significant associations between total red meat and poultry intake and all-cause, cardiovascular disease, or cancer mortality rate were not observed among all participants.

Conclusions: These findings support an association of higher fish and legume consumption with lower cancer mortality, and higher egg consumption with lower all-cause mortality.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

USA 1962–2014: Absolute mobility decreases with income; individuals & families occupying the income distribution lower ranks have a higher probability of increasing income over short time periods

Growth, Inequality and Absolute Mobility in the United States,1962–2014. Yonatan Berman.

Abstract: This paper combines historical cross-sectional and longitudinal data in the US to study patterns of economic growth within the income distribution. We quantify absolute mobility as the fraction of families with higher income over a period of several years. The rates of absolute mobility over periods of two to four years are procyclical and are largely confined within 45%–55%. We also find that absolute mobility decreases with income. Individuals and families occupying the lower ranks of the income distribution have a higher probability of increasing their income over short time periods than those occupying higher ranks. This also occurs during periods of increasing inequality. Our findings stem from the importance of the changes in the composition of income percentiles. These changes are over and above mechanical labor market dynamics and life cycle effects. We offer a simplified model to mathematically describe these findings.

Keywords:Social mobility, inequality, growth, labor market dynamics

JEL Codes:D3, E2, H0, J6

Explanatory introspection, salience of one’s faults, accountability, & relationship closeness can boast success in constraining self-enhancement & self-protection strivings, but success is difficult to implement

On the doggedness of self-enhancement and self-protection: How constraining are reality constraints? Constantine Sedikides. Self and Identity, Dec 30 2018.

ABSTRACT: Self-enhancement and self-protection are constrained by reality. But to what extent? Broader constraints, often considered powerful, such as East-Asian culture, religion, mind-body practices, and prison environments are not particularly effective deterrents. Narrower constraints, also considered powerful, such as self-reflection and mnemic neglect, are not very helpful either. Deliberate and systematic laboratory efforts, both at the intrapersonal level (e.g., explanatory introspection, salience of one’s faults) and the interpersonal level (e.g., accountability, relationship closeness), can boast success in constraining self-enhancement and self-protection strivings, but the success is mixed, difficult to implement, and probably short-lived. The doggedness (potency and prevalence) of self-enhancement and self-protection are due to the functions or social benefits with which they are associated or confer: psychological health, goal pursuit and attainment, leadership election, and sexual selection. These functions are traceable to our species’ evolutionary past.

KEYWORDS: Self-enhancement, self-protection, reality constraints, culture, religion, mind-body practices

Testosterone and cortisol interacted to predict low pro-environmental attitudes; facial and vocal masculinization predict lower pro-environmental attitudes among men

Testosterone, facial and vocal masculinization and low environmentalism in men. Nicholas Landry, Jessica Desrochers, Steven Arnocky. Journal of Environmental Psychology, May 18 2019.

•    The present study is the first to examine masculinized phenotypes (facial and vocal masculinization) in relation to men’s environmentalism.
•    Testosterone (T) and cortisol (C) interacted to predict low pro-environmental attitudes, such that high T predicted lower environmental attitudes when C was high, but T also predicted higher environmental attitudes at the lowest levels of C.
•    Facial and vocal masculinization predict lower pro-environmental attitudes among men.
•    Results suggest that androgen exposure may play a role in influencing men’s pro-environmental attitudes

Abstract: Robust sex differences in environmentalism have been observed, such that males express fewer pro-environmental attitudes than their female counterparts. To date, most explanations of this sex difference have relied upon socio-cultural and psychological explanations. The present study sought to extend this inquiry by examining the role of testosterone (T), its interaction with cortisol (C), as well as androgen-linked phenotypes (facial and vocal masculinization) in relation to environmental attitudes. In a sample of 162 males, results found a TxC interaction such that high T predicted lower environmental attitudes when C was high, but T also predicted higher environmental attitudes at the lowest levels of C. Moreover, facial and vocal masculinization, as phenotypic markers of developmental T exposure, correlated negatively with pro-environmental attitudes. Together these findings suggest that both state T and putative markers of developmental T exposure negatively predict environmentalism among men, thus highlighting the potential role of androgens in understanding environmental engagement.

Swedish men born 1951–1967: Relative to men with IQ 100, the group with the lowest category of cognitive ability have 0.56 fewer children; men in the highest category have 0.09 more children

Cognitive ability and fertility among Swedish men born 1951–1967: evidence from military conscription registers. Martin Kolk and Kieron Barclay. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, May 8 2019.

Abstract: We examine the relationship between cognitive ability and childbearing patterns in contemporary Sweden using administrative register data. The topic has a long history in the social sciences and has been the topic of a large number of studies, many reporting a negative gradient between intelligence and fertility. We link fertility histories to military conscription tests with intelligence scores for all Swedish men born 1951–1967. We find a positive relationship between intelligence scores and fertility, and this pattern is consistent across the cohorts we study. The relationship is most pronounced for the transition to a first child, and men with the lowest categories of IQ scores have the fewest children. Using fixed effects models, we additionally control for all factors that are shared by siblings, and after such adjustments, we find a stronger positive relationship between IQ and fertility. Furthermore, we find a positive gradient within groups at different levels of education. Compositional differences of this kind are therefore not responsible for the positive gradient we observe—instead, the relationship is even stronger after controlling for both educational careers and parental background factors. In our models where we compare brothers to one another, we find that, relative to men with IQ 100, the group with the lowest category of cognitive ability have 0.56 fewer children, and men with the highest category have 0.09 more children.

1. Introduction

A paradox of human behaviour in industrialized societies is that high socioeconomic status is usually negatively associated with reproductive success. This is puzzling from an evolutionary perspective in which high status is assumed to give greater access to partners as well as enhanced ability to support offspring [1–3], which was also the case in pre-industrial societies, and has likely been true throughout Homo sapiens pre-historic past [4]. It is also puzzling from an economic perspective because children are a major expenditure that should be more affordable for those with more resources [5]. The typically observed negative relationship has been described as a central problem in the evolutionary study of human behaviour [2]. The relationship between cognitive ability and fertility is an important dimension of this puzzle. For more than a century most studies have found that higher cognitive ability is associated with lower reproductive success (e.g. [2,6,7]), despite the fact that individuals with high cognitive ability achieve substantially higher socioeconomic success than individuals with lower cognitive ability [8], and both men and women rate intelligence as a desirable feature in a potential mate [9]. Furthermore, it has been suggested that the evolution of high cognitive ability in Homo sapiens is attributable to positive selection on intelligence, as higher intelligence facilitated greater social interaction capabilities, which in turn led to greater reproductive success [10,11]. Empirical evidence suggests that the link between socioeconomic success, likely associated with high cognitive ability, and reproductive success was positive in a wide variety of pre-industrial societies [4,12]. By contrast, the empirical evidence for the relationship between socioeconomic status and fertility over the past two centuries is ambiguous, with most studies reporting a negative association. In this study, we revisit this research question, applying a rigorous statistical treatment to high-quality population data to study the relationship between cognitive ability and fertility in contemporary Sweden.

People are more likely to think vaccines are safe, to say they intend to vaccinate, and to actually vaccinate their children when their preferred party is in power

Krupenkin, Masha, Does Partisanship Affect Compliance With Government Recommendations? (October 16, 2018). SSRN

Abstract: Because of polarization, Democrats and Republicans have different levels of government trust depending on which party is in power. To what degree does differential trust affect partisan willingness to comply with government recommendations? To answer this question, I analyze compliance with government vaccination recommendations in three separate cases, using survey data and kindergarten vaccination data spanning both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations. I find that people are more likely to think vaccines are safe, more likely to say they intend to vaccinate, and more likely to actually vaccinate their children when their preferred party is in power. Using mediation analysis, I confirm that partisan differences in perceptions of vaccine safety are due to differences in government trust. These findings suggest that partisanship significantly impacts behavior, even in domains concerning health and medical care.

Keywords: partisanship, parties, polarization

Females are more egalitarian than men, like left-leaning voters; men are relatively more efficiency minded, like right-leaning voters; left & right extremes are very egalitarian

Fairness Views and Political Preferences -Evidence from a representative sample. Daniel Müller, Sander Renes. Universitaet Innsbruck, Working Papers in Economics and Statistics 2019-08. May 2019.

Abstract: We elicit distributional fairness ideals of impartial spectators using an incentivized elicitation in a large and heterogeneous sample of the German population. We document several empirical facts: i) egalitarianism is the predominant ideal; ii) females are more egalitarian than men; iii) men are relatively more efficiency minded; iv) left-leaning voters are more likely to be egalitarians whereas right-leaning voters are more likely to be efficiency minded; and v) youngand highly-educated participants hold different fairness ideals than the rest of the population. Moreover, we show that the fairness ideals predict preferences for redistribution and intervention by the government, as well as actual charitable giving, even after controlling for a range of covariates. Hence, our paper contributes to our understanding of the underpinnings of voting behavior and ideological preferences, as well the literature that links lab and field behavior.

Keywords: Distributional fairness, impartial spectator, representative sample, po-litical attitudes, voting behavior, lab to field

Humor production in long-term romantic relationships: What the lack of moderation by sex reveals about humor’s role in mating

Humor production in long-term romantic relationships: What the lack of moderation by sex reveals about humor’s role in mating. Jeffrey A. Hall. International Journal of Humor Research, May 15 2019.

Abstract: This manuscript explores whether the associations between partner humor production and relationship satisfaction and humor’s importance in romantic relationships are moderated by sex. Study 1 reports a meta-analysis (k = 10; N = 2,167) of the association between partner humor production (i.e., perceived; partner effects) and relationship satisfaction, and whether associations were moderated by participant sex. Contrary to predictions, partner humor production was more strongly associated to men’s relationship satisfaction than women’s satisfaction. Study 2 surveyed pairs of romantic partners (N = 246) regarding their production of humor, their appreciation of partner humor, and the importance of humor in their relationship. Results indicated no moderations by sex in the association between partner humor production and humor’s importance in the relationship.

Keywords: humor; meta-analysis; relationship satisfaction; romantic relationship

1 Introduction

When seeking a new romantic partner, individuals often seek a mate with a good sense of humor while advertising their own sense of humor (Wilbur and Campbell 2011). In initial interactions between cross-sex strangers, couples that laugh together are more likely to report mutual romantic interest (Grammer and Eibl-Eibesfeldt 1990; Hall 2015). As in many courtship contexts, sex differences in partner preferences and behaviors complicate this general preference for humorous mates. Specifically, humor production in men is typically evaluated more positively by women, compared to the desirability of humor production in women as evaluated by men (Bressler et al. 2006; Lundy et al. 1998; Wilbur and Campbell 2011).

To explain this sex difference, researchers have turned to sexual strategies theory (SST; Buss and Schmitt 1993). The theory suggests that males and females should find different traits more appealing when seeking a short-term mate (e.g., a one-night stand) versus a long-term mate (e.g., marriage). If humor production during courtship is a way to assess the likelihood of long-term cooperation and compatibility, then women ought to favor humor more highly in potential long-term partners than in short-term partners – a tendency supported by past research (e.g., Bressler et al. 2006; Hone et al. 2015; Tornquist and Chiappe 2015). Thus, humor production has been conceptualized a reliable signal of long-term compatibility and enhanced likelihood of relationship success.

This multi-study investigation attempts to answer the question, are sex differences in the value placed on partner humor production when evaluating potential partners comparable to sex differences in the benefits conferred by humor in actual long-term romantic relationships? Specifically, the present investigation will attempt to answer three research questions: (i) Do women, more so than men, experience greater relationship satisfaction when their partners engage in more humor production? (ii) Do women, more so than men, perceive humor as more importance to the relationship when they have partners who produce more humor? (iii) Is the production-importance association mediated by appreciation of one’s partner’s sense of humor? By examining whether the benefits of partner humor production in heterosexual romantic relationship are moderated by sex, the present manuscript will contribute to both research on mate selection and research on the role of humor in long-term relationships.

3 Sexual strategies theory: Humor and long-term versus short-term mating

Sexual strategies theory (Buss and Schmitt 1993) suggests that males and females should find different traits more appealing when seeking a short-term mate (e.g., a one-night stand) versus a long-term mate (e.g., marriage). When seeking short-term mates, women are thought to prefer traits indicative of high quality genes in men, but when seeking long-term mates, women are thought to prefer traits indicative of good parenting and long-term mating success. Tornquist and Chiappe (2015) suggest that humor production during courtship is a way to assess the likelihood of long-term cooperation and compatibility. In finding someone who shares that sense of humor, many joint endeavors involved in long-term relationships and parenting may be more pleasant and cooperative. Several studies have made the distinction between short- and long-term relationships when evaluating humor production in courtship. Bressler et al. (2006) found that women preferred humor production in men in long-term relationships compared to short-term ones. Hone et al. (2015) report the sex difference in preference for a humor-producing partner favoring women was greater in long-term and committed dating conditions compared to short-term mating conditions. Similarly, Tornquist and Chiappe (2015) found that when seeking a long-term relationship, women more favorably rated humor production in men than did men in women. For short-term relationships, sex differences in preferences were not detected (Tornquist and Chiappe 2015). In sum, women favor humor production in men particularly when seeking a long-term partnership, particularly when the humor is warm and positive (Didonato et al. 2013). As predicted by SST, women should value warmth, cooperation, and social facility in men, particularly in the context of long-term pairing, because such traits would engender a more satisfying relationship. This leads to the question, is humor production associated with such benefits in long-term relationships?

Friday, May 17, 2019

Some species share foundational social cognitive mechanisms with humans, like ascription of mental states that require simultaneously representing one's own & another's conflicting motives or views

Theory of mind in animals: Current and future directions. Christopher Krupenye, Josep Call. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, May 17 2019.

Abstract: Theory of mind (ToM; a.k.a., mind‐reading, mentalizing, mental‐state attribution, and perspective‐taking) is the ability to ascribe mental states, such as desires and beliefs, to others, and it is central to the unique forms of communication, cooperation, and culture that define our species. As a result, for 40 years, researchers have endeavored to determine whether ToM is itself unique to humans. Investigations in other species (e.g., apes, monkeys, corvids) are essential to understand the mechanistic underpinnings and evolutionary origins of this capacity across taxa, including humans. We review the literature on ToM in nonhuman animals, suggesting that some species share foundational social cognitive mechanisms with humans. We focus principally on innovations of the last decade and pressing directions for future work. Underexplored types of social cognition have been targeted, including ascription of mental states, such as desires and beliefs, that require simultaneously representing one's own and another's conflicting motives or views of the world. Ongoing efforts probe the motivational facets of ToM, how flexibly animals can recruit social cognitive skills across cooperative and competitive settings, and appropriate motivational contexts for comparative inquiry. Finally, novel methodological and empirical approaches have brought new species (e.g., lemurs, dogs) into the lab, implemented critical controls to elucidate underlying mechanisms, and contributed powerful new techniques (e.g., looking‐time, eye‐tracking) that open the door to unexplored approaches for studying animal minds. These innovations in cognition, motivation, and method promise fruitful progress in the years to come, in understanding the nature and origin of ToM in humans and other species.

Sexual orientation differences in the self-esteem of men and women: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Bridge, L., Smith, P., & Rimes, K. A. (2019). Sexual orientation differences in the self-esteem of men and women: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, May 2019.

Abstract: Sexual minority individuals experience higher rates of mental health problems than heterosexual people. It has been suggested that minority stress explains this disparity, partly by elevating rates of general psychological risk factors such as low self-esteem. This study investigated self-esteem in sexual minority people compared with heterosexual people through a systematic review and meta-analysis. A systematic search of four databases was conducted. Observational studies comparing self-esteem in sexual minority and heterosexual men and women separately were included. A qualitative synthesis and random effects meta-analysis were conducted. Potential moderators were explored using subgroup analyses of age, sexual minority orientation, and sample type. Thirty-two eligible studies were identified; 25 compared self-esteem in men and 19 in women. Most studies used the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) to measure self-esteem. Compared with heterosexual men and women, there was significantly lower self-esteem in sexual minority men (SMD = −0.33, 95% CI [−0.44, −0.23]) and women (SMD = −0.20, 95% CI [−0.29, −0.11]). This difference appeared to be moderated by sample type: There was preliminary evidence for more robust differences in men and bisexual individuals. Findings are consistent with the suggestion that self-esteem is lower in sexual minorities than in heterosexual individuals. However, caution is required in drawing firm conclusions due to methodological limitations of the included studies. Self-esteem is a potential target for intervention to prevent psychological disorders in this population

Mortality salience effects (death reminders lead to ingroup-bias and defensive protection of one’s worldview) have been claimed to be a fundamental human motivator; the authors couldn't replicate MS

Sætrevik, Bjørn, and Hallgeir Sjåstad. 2019. “A Pre-registered Attempt to Replicate the Mortality Salience Effect in Traditional and Novel Measures.” PsyArXiv. May 17. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Mortality salience (MS) effects, in which death reminders lead to ingroup-bias and defensive protection of one’s worldview, have been claimed to be a fundamental human motivator and to be supported in a number of studies. However, empirical support draws mainly from a single task in a single cultural setting, where research robustness and transparency are difficult to evaluate. We wanted to replicate the MS effect in an additional cultural setting (Norway), using both a traditional essay measure of patriotism, a novel measure of a culturally relevant essay about democratic values in the aftermath of a terror attack, and a novel measure of pro-social behaviour. We also included checks of whether the MS manipulation had effects on Stroop processing and psychophysiology. Despite our best efforts, the study failed to replicate the MS effect, both as direct and the conceptual replication. The results on the pro-social measure provided suggestive evidence for increased generosity to non-family members and charity. Surprisingly, we failed to find a significant MS effect on processing speed of social or death related words and on psychophysiological responses. Despite being a relatively small study (n = 100), it indicates that the large MS effect reported in the published literature may be more difficult to reproduce than previously assumed, that it does not transfer easily to other domains, and that if it exist, it might not have a straightforward cognitive mechanism. In future research, the combination of high-powered and pre-registered experiments is needed to detect or reject the MS effect with greater certainty.

We still have no "tests to determine which people have superior lie production abilities"

Personality traits of a good liar: A systematic review of the literature. Monica Semrad, Bridie Scott-Parker, Michael Nagel. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 147, 1 September 2019, Pages 306-316.

Abstract: Although deception is used by many high-risk occupations, including military leaders, lawyers and politicians, there are currently no selection tests to determine which people have superior lie production abilities for these roles. The lack of selection tests is particularly crucial in the high-risk covert roles of undercover operations and human source management within policing. This paper uses the PRISMA systematic review technique to summarise and synthesis the extant literature examining deception theories and lie production. This paper also examines the relationship between lie production and Emotional Intelligence, and the personality traits of the Dark Triad and the HEXACO, to elucidate the characteristics of good liars. The scant research published within this field has been conducted with a variety of experimental designs and dependent variables. Generally, results indicate that the traits, skills and abilities behind sender demeanour, such as believability and honesty, may be fundamental to lie production ability. These characteristics could be considered in selection testing for to identify people with the ability to deceive effectively.

Attitudes Toward Cognitive Enhancement: More likely to support the use of cognitive enhancement by others than by themselves, and more by employees than by students or athletes

Attitudes Toward Cognitive Enhancement: The Role of Metaphor and Context. Erin C. Conrad, Stacey Humphries & Anjan Chatterjee. AJOB Neuroscience, Volume 10, 2019 - Issue 1, Pages 35-47. May 9 2019.

Abstract: The widespread use of stimulants among healthy individuals to improve cognition has received growing attention; however, public attitudes toward this practice are not well understood. We determined the effect of framing metaphors and context of use on public opinion toward cognitive enhancement. We recruited 3,727 participants from the United States to complete three surveys using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk between April and July 2017. Participants read vignettes describing an individual using cognitive enhancement, varying framing metaphors (fuel versus steroid), and context of use (athletes versus students versus employees). The main outcome measure was the difference in respondent-assigned level of acceptability of the use of cognitive enhancement by others and by themselves between the contrasting vignettes. Participants were more likely to support the use of cognitive enhancement by others than by themselves and more when the use of enhancement by others was framed with a fuel metaphor than with a steroid metaphor. Metaphoric framing did not affect participants’ attitudes toward their own use. Participants supported the use of enhancement by employees more than by students or athletes. These results are discussed in relation to existing ethical and policy literature.

Keywords: cognitive enhancement, neuroethics, cosmetic neurology, neurology, cognitive neuroscience, nootropics

The body-related afferent signals that subserve body ownership (“this body is mine”) might have a key role in human sense of agency (“this action is due to my own will”); body ownership helps building up motor consciousness

The Role of Body-Related Afferent Signals in Human Sense of Agency. Maria Pyasik, Tiziano Furlanetto, Lorenzo Pia. Journal of Experimental Neuroscience, May 16, 2019.

Abstract: At present, most of the neurocognitive models of human sense of agency (ie, “this action is due to my own will”) have been traditionally rooted in a variety of internal efferent signals arising within the motor system. However, recent neuroscientific evidence has suggested that also the body-related afferent signals that subserve body ownership (ie, “this body is mine”) might have a key role in this process. Accordingly, in the present review paper, we briefly examined the literature investigating how and to what extent body ownership contributes to building up human motor consciousness. Evidence suggests that, if required by the context, body ownership per se can act on agency attribution (ie, independently from efferent signals). Hence, a unitary and coherent subjective experience of willed actions (ie, “this willed action is being realized by my own body”) requires both awareness of being an agent and of owning the body.

Keywords: Bodily self, body ownership, sense of agency, afferent signals, efferent signals

When we achieve willed actions, we do not feel as though those acts simply happen to us, we strongly sense to be in charge. Such subjective experience of authorship is known as sense of agency.1 In other words, we are aware of intending, initiating, and controlling our volitional movements (so-called “body agency”),2 as well as their consequences in the external world (“external agency”),2 and this awareness is vital for survival. Indeed, perceiving to be an agent allows distinguishing actions that are self-generated from those that are generated by others. This, in turn, contributes to the key signature of human nature, that is, the phenomenological experience of self-consciousness.3


It is worth emphasizing, however, that whenever we successfully achieve volitional actions, we feel not only being in control of our movements and their consequences but also that those movements are being executed through our own body (body agency). For instance, if I am thirsty and I quickly get a glass of water, I experience that my own body is moving toward the glass. In the absence of any movement, such an embodied and enduring sense of being aware of our own body, termed body ownership,16 is known to be rooted in multisensory integration. In other words, it arises whenever the body-related afferent sensory signals (ie, visual, tactile, proprioceptive, kinesthetic, auditory, etc) that constantly reach our body are integrated in both spatial and temporal terms. For example, if someone else caresses my arm, I experience that body part as my own because I see and I feel the touches at the same time and in the same place. All in all, the stronger the spatiotemporal congruency among these signals, the higher the feeling of body ownership.17–20 It is thought that in the human brain, body ownership is underpinned by the activity of a network including premotor areas, the occipitotemporal cortex, the primary/secondary somatosensory areas, and the anterior insula.18,21–23

Capitalizing on the above-mentioned considerations, it follows that the coherence, the richness, and the completeness of human subjective experience of being the agent of a given voluntary action necessarily requires both awareness of controlling the actions and awareness of owning the body that achieves them. However, whether, how, and to what extent body ownership has a role in building up such experiences is an issue that only very recently has come to the forefront of the scientific investigations. For these reasons, in this article, we aimed at reviewing all studies that, in one way or another, investigated the possible role of body ownership in building up the sense of agency over the body movements.

[...] In summary, this first set of studies showed that if an external object that is perceived as part of one’s own body moves together with the participant’s body, an illusory sense of agency over the movements of that object arises. This does not happen if the moving external object is not perceived as part of one’s own body.


Another evidence came from a study employing the full-body illusion showing that when a virtual embodied avatar was walking repeatedly along a route, while the participant remained still, an illusion of walking occurred.40 This did not happen when the avatar was not embodied. It is also worth noting that highly automated actions, as walking, are thought to prime the movements and intentions to move in advance. In summary, this second set of studies showed that, if participants’ motor representations (eg, motor intentions, motor imagery or motor plan) match the movements of an external object perceived as part of one’s own body, an illusion of agency arises. This does not happen if the moving external object is not perceived as part of one’s own body.


To sum up, here we reviewed evidence supporting the idea that body ownership does have a role in human sense of agency, specifically body agency. The review shows that being aware of one’s own body has a role per se in building and maintaining the sense of agency, namely it can act on agency attribution in the absence of any efferent signals, such as motor intentions and feedforward predictions, and causes preceding effects and so on. First, it is worth noticing that giving any role to body ownership is not trivial but, rather, consistent with human nature. Indeed, our actions are achieved mainly through the physical body,50 and the body is a prerequisite for any successful interaction with the environment.51 Indeed, it is already known that body ownership affects motor control, allowing to estimate limb positions,52 to tune motor commands,53 and to adjust errors.54 Hence, discovering its role also within motor consciousness would not be surprising. Here, we suggest that the signals that give rise to body ownership might have a key role in sense of agency by acting on agency attribution in the absence of any efferent signals. How is it possible to reconcile in a concrete manner this idea with the current neurocognitive model of the sense of agency? As already mentioned, the classical motor control model of sense of agency states that the experience of being an agent arises from the comparison between predicted and actual outcomes.4,7-10 This, in turn, means that action preparation is a necessary condition to have any experience of being an agent. We put forward the idea that under some circumstances, only seeing the own body moving would be enough to activate the neurocognitive processes subserving action preparation. At this point, the feeling of agency over that specific given act would be triggered. Such a process could be exemplified by the inference: “since this is my body part, any action performed by it would be intended by me.” Furthermore, in dynamic conditions, that is when we actually achieve the willed actions, body ownership would provide additional signals to the efferent motor-related signals and would contribute to the subjective experience of being an agent. Within this view, sense of agency is conceived as a very flexible neurocognitive mechanism. Indeed, it is rooted in the dynamic and optimal integration among efferent and afferent signals. Any given source of information would be weighted according to the specificity of the context and the actual availability of signals.55

We have to emphasize that the present review did not aim to investigate the interactions between human body ownership and sense of agency but, rather, it focused on the role of the former in the construction of the latter. Therefore, this article cannot provide an exhaustive picture of the complex interplay between the two senses, and future studies in this direction should allow gaining key hints to understand human bodily self-consciousness.

In rodents: Probing learning by omitting reinforcement (treats) uncovers latent knowledge & identifies context -not “smartness”- as the major source of individual variability

Dissociating task acquisition from expression during learning reveals latent knowledge. Kishore V. Kuchibhotla et al. Nature Communications, May 2019.

Abstract: Performance on cognitive tasks during learning is used to measure knowledge, yet it remains controversial since such testing is susceptible to contextual factors. To what extent does performance during learning depend on the testing context, rather than underlying knowledge? We trained mice, rats and ferrets on a range of tasks to examine how testing context impacts the acquisition of knowledge versus its expression. We interleaved reinforced trials with probe trials in which we omitted reinforcement. Across tasks, each animal species performed remarkably better in probe trials during learning and inter-animal variability was strikingly reduced. Reinforcement feedback is thus critical for learning-related behavioral improvements but, paradoxically masks the expression of underlying knowledge. We capture these results with a network model in which learning occurs during reinforced trials while context modulates only the read-out parameters. Probing learning by omitting reinforcement thus uncovers latent knowledge and identifies context -not “smartness”- as the major source of individual variability.

Popular version -- Study: Treats Might Mask Animal Intelligence. Chanapa Tantibanchachai. News Releases, May 14, 2019.

Rewards are necessary for learning, but may actually mask true knowledge, finds a new Johns Hopkins University study with rodents and ferrets.

The findings, published May 14 in Nature Communications, show a distinction between knowledge and performance, and provide insight into how environment can affect the two.

“Most learning research focuses on how humans and other animals learn ‘content’ or knowledge. Here, we suggest that there are two parallel learning processes: one for content and one for context, or environment. If we can separate how these two pathways work, perhaps we can find ways to improve performance,” says Kishore Kuchibhotla, an assistant professor in The Johns Hopkins University’s department of psychological and brain sciences and the study’s lead author.

While researchers have known that the presence of reinforcement, or reward, can change how animals behave, it’s been unclear exactly how rewards affect learning versus performance.

An example of the difference between learning and performance, Kuchibhotla explains, is the difference between a student studying and knowing the answers at home, and a student demonstrating that knowledge on a test at school.

“What we know at any given time can be different than what we show; the ability to access that knowledge in the right environment is what we’re interested in,” he says.

To investigate what animals know in hopes of better understanding learning, Kuchibhotla and the research team trained mice, rats and ferrets on a series of tasks, and measured how accurately they performed the tasks with and without rewards.

For the first experiment, the team trained mice to lick for water through a lick tube after hearing one tone, and to not lick after hearing a different, unrewarded tone. It takes mice two weeks to learn this in the presence of the water reward. At a time point early in learning, around days 3-5, the mice performed the task at chance levels (about 50%) when the lick tube/reward was present. When the team removed the lick tube entirely on these early days, however, the mice performed the task at more than 90% accuracy. The mice, therefore, seemed to understand the task many days before they expressed knowledge in the presence of a reward.

Masculine/feminine colors, toys, & objects as more suited for boys/girls or both & boys/girls playing with gender counter-stereotypic toys: The older boys sanctioned counter stereotypical behavior more often than accepted it

Boys Just Don’t! Gender Stereotyping and Sanctioning of Counter-Stereotypical Behavior in Preschoolers. Milica M. Skočajić et al. Sex Roles, May 15 2019.

Abstract: Although children start to adopt gender stereotypes by the age of three, there is less evidence about how early they start to sanction other children’s counter-stereotypical behaviors. The present study explored the two processes in a single design, comparing younger/older preschool boys and girls and using a two-task procedure involving (a) categorization of pictures of masculine/feminine colors, toys, and objects as more suited for boys/girls or both and (b) descriptions and evaluations of boys/girls playing with gender counter-stereotypic toys. One hundred Serbian children aged 3–4 or 6–7 years-old, balanced by gender, were individually interviewed. Although all three sets of stimuli were stereotyped, toys were stereotyped more often than colors and objects. Overall stereotyping, as well as stereotyping of colors and toys, was more frequent in the older group. Gender differences were more complex, showing some gender x age interactions wherein boys stereotyped masculine stimuli more often than girls did; the older boys, but not the other groups, sanctioned counter stereotypical behavior more often than accepted it; and boys’ behaviors were sanctioned more often than girls’. Finally, stereotyping and sanctioning were strongly positively related. Our study shows that, at early preschool ages, children are not only aware of gender norms, but also ready to sanction peers violating them. Boys seem to be more likely to stereotype, particularly the masculine stimuli, and be sanctioned for not conforming to stereotypes. The findings can help educators and media identify groups that need to be empowered to explore behaviors beyond gender-prescribed roles.

Keywords: Gender role Gender-stereotypes Counter-stereotypical Sanctions Preschool Child development

The Social Price of Constant Connectivity: Smartphones Impose Subtle Costs on Well-Being

The Social Price of Constant Connectivity: Smartphones Impose Subtle Costs on Well-Being. Kostadin Kushlev, Ryan Dwyer, Elizabeth W. Dunn. Current Directions in Psychological Science, May 16, 2019.

Abstract: Smartphones provide people with a variety of benefits, but they may also impose subtle social costs. We propose that being constantly connected undercuts the emotional benefits of face-to-face social interactions in two ways. First, smartphone use may diminish the emotional benefits of ongoing social interactions by preventing us from giving our full attention to friends and family in our immediate social environment. Second, smartphones may lead people to miss out on the emotional benefits of casual social interactions by supplanting such interactions altogether. Across field experiments and experience-sampling studies, we find that smartphones consistently interfere with the emotional benefits people could otherwise reap from their broader social environment. We also find that the costs of smartphone use are fairly subtle, contrary to proclamations in the popular press that smartphones are ruining our social lives. By highlighting how smartphones affect the benefits we derive from our broader social environment, this work provides a foundation for building theory and research on the consequences of mobile technology for human well-being.

Keywords: subjective well-being, social interactions, smartphones, cyberpsychology, mobile computing

The Frozen Effect: Objects in motion are more aesthetically appealing than objects frozen in time

The Frozen Effect: Objects in motion are more aesthetically appealing than objects frozen in time. Malerie G. McDowell, Jason Haberman. PLOS, May 16, 2019.

Abstract: Videos of moving faces are more flattering than static images of the same face, a phenomenon dubbed the Frozen Face Effect. This may reflect an aesthetic preference for faces viewed in a more ecological context than still photographs. In the current set of experiments, we sought to determine whether this effect is unique to facial processing, or if motion confers an aesthetic benefit to other stimulus categories as well, such as bodies and objects—that is, a more generalized ‘Frozen Effect’ (FE). If motion were the critical factor in the FE, we would expect the video of a body or object in motion to be significantly more appealing than when seen in individual, static frames. To examine this, we asked participants to rate sets of videos of bodies and objects in motion along with the still frames constituting each video. Extending the original FFE, we found that participants rated videos as significantly more flattering than each video’s corresponding still images, regardless of stimulus domain, suggesting that the FFE generalizes well beyond face perception. Interestingly, the magnitude of the FE increased with the predictability of stimulus movement. Our results suggest that observers prefer bodies and objects in motion over the same information presented in static form, and the more predictable the motion, the stronger the preference. Motion imbues objects and bodies with greater aesthetic appeal, which has implications for how one might choose to portray oneself in various social media platforms.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

New evidence on the link between genes, psychological traits, and political engagement

New evidence on the link between genes, psychological traits, and political engagement. Aaron C. Weinschenk et al. Politics and the Life Sciences, Volume 38, Issue 1, Spring 2019, May 16 2019.

Abstract: We investigate the link between genes, psychological traits, and political engagement using a new data set containing information on a large sample of young German twins. The TwinLife Study enables us to examine the predominant model of personality, the Big Five framework, as well as traits that fall outside the Big Five, such as cognitive ability, providing a more comprehensive understanding of the underpinnings of political engagement. Our results support previous work showing genetic overlap between some psychological traits and political engagement. More specifically, we find that cognitive ability and openness to experience are correlated with political engagement and that common genes can explain most of the relationship between these psychological traits and political engagement. Relationships between genes, psychological traits, and political engagement exist even at a fairly young age, which is an important finding given that previous work has relied heavily on older samples to study the link between genes, psychological traits, and political engagement.

A behavior's environmental impact is judged differently depending on the intention; is judged less effective when based on environmental than selfish motives; this bias is driven by moral comparison (the feeling of moral reproach)

When good intentions go bad: The biased perception of the environmental impact of a behavior due to reliance on an actor's behavioral intention. Gea Hoogendoorn, Bernadette Sütterlin, Michael Siegrist. Journal of Environmental Psychology, May 16 2019.

•    People are subject to intention actor-observer bias when judging environmental impact.
•    A behavior's environmental impact is judged differently depending on the intention.
•    A behavior is judged less effective when based on environmental than selfish motives.
•    The intention bias is driven by moral comparison, i.e., the feeling of moral reproach.
•    The costlier it is perceived to conduct a behavior, the larger the moral gap.

Abstract: People engage in pro-environmental behaviors for various reasons. Depending on the intention underlying their behavior, they are perceived differently by others. Thus, the question arises whether the reason why a person performs a behavior not only influences how observers perceive that person, but also how observers evaluate the environmental impact of that person's behavior. We conducted two experiments, in which participants (i.e., observers) read a text describing a person (i.e., actor) engaging in a pro-environmental behavior for either self-serving or environmental reasons. We found that the environmental impact of an identical pro-environmental behavior was judged differently depending on the underlying behavioral intention of the actor. When the behavior was performed by the actor for pro-environmental reasons, the positive environmental impact was perceived to be lower than when the behavior was performed for self-serving reasons. These findings suggest that people are subject to an observer intention bias when judging the environmental impact of others' behavior. In two follow-up experiments, we identified moral comparison to be the mechanism underlying this observer intention bias. When reading about an environmentally motivated actor, participants experienced a stronger feeling of being judged as less moral by the actor, than when they read about an actor conducting the same behavior out of self-serving motivation. To cope with this feeling of being judged by others, people downplay the positive impact of the observed morally superior person's actions.

Strategies for Reducing Failures of Self-Control

Beyond Willpower: Strategies for Reducing Failures of Self-Control. Angela L. Duckworth, Katherine L. Milkman, David Laibson. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, February 13, 2019.

Abstract: Almost everyone struggles to act in their individual and collective best interests, particularly when doing so requires forgoing a more immediately enjoyable alternative. Other than exhorting decision makers to “do the right thing,” what can policymakers do to reduce overeating, undersaving, procrastination, and other self-defeating behaviors that feel good now but generate larger delayed costs? In this review, we synthesize contemporary research on approaches to reducing failures of self-control. We distinguish between self-deployed and other-deployed strategies and, in addition, between situational and cognitive intervention targets. Collectively, the evidence from both psychological science and economics recommends psychologically informed policies for reducing failures of self-control.

Keywords: self-control, behavior change, behavioral economics, self-regulation

First Study To Investigate How Attachment Style Changes Through Multiple Decades Of Life

Chopik, W. J., Edelstein, R. S., & Grimm, K. J. (2019). Longitudinal changes in attachment orientation over a 59-year period. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 116(4), 598-611.

Abstract: Research on individual differences in attachment—and their links to emotion, cognition, and behavior in close relationships—has proliferated over the last several decades. However, the majority of this research has focused on children and young adults. Little is known about mean-level changes in attachment orientation beyond early life, in part due to a dearth of longitudinal data on attachment across the life span. The current study used a Q-Sort-based measure of attachment to examine mean-level changes in attachment orientation from age 13 to 72 using data from the Block and Block Longitudinal Study, the Intergenerational Studies, and the Radcliffe College Class of 1964 Sample (total N = 628). Multilevel modeling was employed to estimate growth curve trajectories across the combined samples. We found that attachment anxiety declined on average with age, particularly during middle age and older adulthood. Attachment avoidance decreased in a linear fashion across the life span. Being in a relationship predicted lower levels of anxiety and avoidance across adulthood. Men were higher in attachment avoidance at each point in the life span. Taken together, these findings provide much-needed insight into how attachment orientations change over long stretches of time. We conclude with a discussion about the challenges of studying attachment dynamics across the life course and across specific transitions.

Popular version: First Study To Investigate How Attachment Style Changes Through Multiple Decades Of Life. Christian Jarrett. Research Digest, May 9 2019.


The data come from five historic projects, involving personality surveys of 628 US citizens born between 1920 and 1967. The shortest of these was 9 years and the longest was 47 years. They all involved participants being assessed repeatedly over many years using the California Adult Q-sort – a measure that includes 100 personality items. Chopik and his team focused on 14 key items from this measure, allowing them to compile scores for “anxious attachment” and “avoidant attachment” for each participant. People who score highly on “anxious attachment” fear rejection and constantly seek reassurance. People who score highly on “avoidant attachment” find intimacy uncomfortable and find it difficult to provide emotional support to others. Low scores on both anxiety and avoidance is a sign of having a secure attachment style.
The researchers stitched the data from the five historic samples together, so that they had scores for anxious and avoidant attachment spanning 59 years. Past research has already looked at how people of different ages vary in their attachment scores, but one problem with that kind of cross-sectional research is that any differences between people of different ages could be due to generational differences, rather than due to developmental trends. The new research largely overcome that problem, with Chopik and his team able to identify clear age-related trends in the same individuals over time.
Specifically, the team found that people’s anxious attachment tended to be high in adolescence, increasing into their young adulthood, before then declining through life into their middle and old age. Avoidant attachment showed less change with age, but started higher in adolescence and then declined in linear fashion through life.
The researchers surmised that attachment anxiety and avoidance may be high in adolescence due to the stressful transition from having primarily close bonds with parents to having meaningful relationships with peers and first romantic relationships. They also pointed out that mid-life – when anxiety and avoidance tend to decline – is arguably the time when we are most invested in various social roles and relationships and that “…increases in security often result from people becoming more comfortable in their relationships, gaining more evidence that the relationship will last, and having spouses who serve attachment needs and functions that promote close relations.” Meanwhile, in later life, when attachment anxiety and avoidance are typically lowest, they said people tend to be very focused on the here and now – “declines in anxiety and avoidance may reflect the efforts of older adults to become closer to their close friends and family,” they said.
Another finding from the study was that at all times of life, being in a close romantic relationship tended to go hand in hand with scoring lower on attachment anxiety and avoidance. “Romantic partners reward appropriate behaviour and admonish inappropriate behaviour … ,” the researchers said. “By investing in these social roles, individuals adhere to the rules and appropriate behaviour of close relationships and may change how they approach relationships accordingly, perhaps becoming more secure.”
It’s worth noting that this research looked at group averages, which inevitably masks the idiosyncratic ways that some people may change in their attachment style through life. The study is also limited by only involving participants from the US, the fact that it relied on extracting attachment scores from a measure not designed for that purpose, and that data was stitched together from multiple samples so as to cover the period from adolescence to later life. In a way, however, that last point is also a positive: “given the many ways in which these samples differed, the amount of consistency across the samples in estimating changes over time in attachment is even more remarkable. The converging evidence is a testament to the robustness of these results, such that they were found under different conditions in samples collected between 1936 and 2016,” the researchers explained.


Perfectionism is increasing over time; culprits are neoliberalism, meritocracy... and Texan Big Oil :-)

OK, the paper says nothing about Big Oil or Big Pharma... I was just channeling...

The full paper is interesting throughout if you have axes to grind with meritocracy, etc.


Curran, T., & Hill, A. P. (2019). Perfectionism is increasing over time: A meta-analysis of birth cohort differences from 1989 to 2016. Psychological Bulletin, 145(4), 410-429.

Abstract: From the 1980s onward, neoliberal governance in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom has emphasized competitive individualism and people have seemingly responded, in kind, by agitating to perfect themselves and their lifestyles. In this study, the authors examine whether cultural changes have coincided with an increase in multidimensional perfectionism in college students over the last 27 years. Their analyses are based on 164 samples and 41,641 American, Canadian, and British college students, who completed the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (Hewitt & Flett, 1991) between 1989 and 2016 (70.92% female, Mage = 20.66). Cross-temporal meta-analysis revealed that levels of self-oriented perfectionism, socially prescribed perfectionism, and other-oriented perfectionism have linearly increased. These trends remained when controlling for gender and between-country differences in perfectionism scores. Overall, in order of magnitude of the observed increase, the findings indicate that recent generations of young people perceive that others are more demanding of them, are more demanding of others, and are more demanding of themselves

Multidimensional Perfectionism
Perfectionism is broadly defined as a combination of excessively high personal standards and overly critical self-evaluations [...] One well-studied model of multidimensional perfectionism is that proposed by Hewitt and Flett (1991). In their model, perfectionism is understood in terms of the direction of perfectionistic beliefs and behaviors. When directed toward the self, individuals attach irrational importance to being perfect, hold unrealistic expectations of themselves, and are punitive in their self-evaluations (self-oriented perfectionism). When perceived to come from others, individuals believe their social context is excessively demanding, that others judge them harshly, and that they must display perfection to secure approval (socially prescribed perfectionism). When perfectionistic expectations are directed toward others, individuals impose unrealistic standards on those around them and evaluate others critically (other-oriented perfectionism). [...]


[...] Socially prescribed perfectionism is the most debilitating of the three dimensions of perfectionism. This is because the perceived expectations of others are experienced as excessive, uncontrollable, and unfair, making failure experiences and negative emotional states common (Hewitt & Flett, 1991). The debilitating nature of socially prescribed perfectionism is evident in research on college students, which has found this dimension of perfectionism to be positively associated with major psychopathology (e.g., anxiety, depressive symptoms, and suicide ideation; Martin, Flett, Hewitt, Krames, & Szanto, 1996; Hewitt, Flett, & Weber, 1994; Sherry, Hewitt, Flett, & Harvey, 2003). These relationships have been replicated in longitudinal and experimental studies (e.g., Flett, Endler, Tassone, & Hewitt, 1995; Hewitt, Flett, & Ediger, 1995; O’Connor, O’Connor, O’Connor, Smallwood, & Miles, 2004). Like self-oriented perfectionism, the reviews of Smith et al. (2016, 2017) showed that socially prescribed perfectionism predicted increases in depressive symptoms and suicide ideation over time, but to a much greater degree.


Cultural Change and Perfectionism Development

Emergence of Neoliberalism and Perfectionism
Cultural values in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom have undergone a remarkable change in recent decades. From the late 1970s onward, several events have brought about significant social and economic transformation. The postwar New Deal (United States and Canada), Consensus (United Kingdom), and the emergence of neoliberalism in the industrialized world has reshaped the cultural, political, and economic landscape (Blyth, 2002). Neoliberalism is a model of social studies and economics borne of revived (neo) 19th-century capitalist (liberal) principles. It elevates the market, and market-based systems of interpersonal evaluation, to the level of state-endorsed norms (Davies, 2014). Accordingly, market distortions fashioned by state interventionism (e.g., collective bargaining and public ownership) are minimized under neoliberal governance, replaced instead by efforts to foster unconstrained competition between self-interested individuals (e.g., deregulation and privatization; Harvey, 2005).
As young people internalize the cultural frames of neoliberalism, changes in how they construe a sense of self and identity are evident in various ways. Perhaps most notably, neoliberalism has seen the dominance of collectivism progressively give way to a wave of competitive individualism. For example, more recent generations of college students in the United States report higher levels of narcissism, extraversion, and self-confidence than previous generations (e.g., Twenge, 2001a; Twenge, Campbell, & Gentile, 2012; Twenge, Konrath, Foster, Campbell, & Bushman, 2008). At the same time, communal traits have waned. This is evident in that more recent generations of college students show less empathy toward others and are more likely to blame victims when things go wrong (e.g., Konrath, O’Brien, & Hsing, 2011; Malahy, Rubinlicht, & Kaiser, 2009; Twenge et al., 2012). Young people also appear now to be more self-interested and spend less time doing group activities for fun and more time doing individual activities for instrumental value or sense of personal achievement (see Twenge, 2014).
In the same fashion, behaviors associated with competition and the attainment of social standing have risen (Kasser, Ryan, Couchman, & Sheldon, 2004). In recent years, data suggests that individuals across the industrialized world have become preoccupied with upward social comparison, experience considerable status anxiety, and adopt materialism as a means of perfecting their lives in relation to others (e.g., De Botton, 2004; Marmot, 2004; Scott, Martin, & Schouten, 2014). The increase in materialism is particularly evident in the shifting values and behaviors of young people. Eighty-one percent of Americans born in the 1980s report that getting materially rich is among their most important life goals, a figure that is almost 20% higher than those born in the 1960s and 1970s (Pew Research Center, 2007). More recent generations of young people also borrow more heavily than did older generations at the same period of life span and spend, on average, a far greater proportion of their income on status possessions and image goods than did their parents (e.g., luxury vehicles and designer labels; Bricker, Ramcharan, & Krimmel, 2014; Jiang & Dunn, 2013; Parment, 2013).
Not only more dissatisfied with what they have, young people are also seemingly more dissatisfied with who they are (Eckersley, 2006). Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat have become ubiquitous, occupying 2 out of every 5 min spent online (GlobalWebIndex, 2016). The popularity of these platforms is, in part, explained by how they allow users to curate a perfect public image (Mendelson & Papacharissi, 2011). Yet rather than alleviate presentational and interpersonal anxieties, studies indicate that exposure to others’ perfect self-representations within social media can intensify one’s own body image concerns and sense of social alienation (Grabe, Ward, & Hyde, 2008; Paik & Sanchagrin, 2013). Other data suggests that young people are struggling to cope with a visual culture which emphases unrealistic body ideals. The most recent cohort data from the United States and the United Kingdom show that incidence of body dysmorphia and eating disorders has risen by approximately 30% among late adolescent girls since the advent of social media (e.g., PwC, 2015; Smink, van Hoeken, & Hoek, 2012; Thompson & Durrani, 2007). In the same countries, increasing numbers of young people are turning to plastic surgery and its promise of bodily perfection (e.g., British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, 2015; American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2016; Thomas, 2015).
With general social malaise as a backdrop, neoliberalism has succeeded in shifting cultural values so to now emphasize competitiveness, individualism, and irrational ideals of the perfectible self (Verhaeghe, 2014). These ideals are systemic within contemporary language patterns, the media, and social and civic institutions, and are evident in the rise of competitive and individualistic traits, materialistic behavior, and presentational anxieties among recent generations of young people. Revisiting Hewitt et al.’s (2017) model, it is interesting to consider how young people are coming to construct a sense of self and identity in this kind of culture. The notion of a flawed and disordered self appears especially relevant (Banai, Mikulincer, & Shaver, 2005). That is, a sense of self overwhelmed by pathological worry and a fear of negative social evaluation, characterized by a focus on deficiencies, and sensitive to criticism and failure. This sense of self is a close match to the sense of self constructed by perfectionists and is reflected in many of the recent changes to self, identity, and behavior observed in young people. Young people appear to have internalized irrational social ideals of the perfectible self that, while unrealistic, are to them eminently desirable and obtainable. Broadly speaking, then, increasing levels of perfectionism might be considered symptomatic of the way in which young people are coping—to feel safe, connected, and of worth—in neoliberalism’s new culture of competitive individualism.

The Rise of Meritocracy and Perfectionism
The caveat emptor of neoliberalism lies in its meritocratic starting point. The perfect life and lifestyle—encapsulated by achievement, wealth, and social status—are available to anyone provided you try hard enough (Frank, 2016). According to neoliberal meritocracy, those who reach the top schools and colleges, or gain entry to occupations offering the most profitable employment, receive their due rewards of wealth and social status. For those who do not reach such educational and professional heights, the doctrine of meritocracy dictates they are less deserving and their poor achievement reflects their inadequate personal abilities (e.g., skills, intelligence, and efforts; Hayes, 2012). The doctrine of neoliberal meritocracy therefore falsely and insidiously connects the principles of educational and professional achievement, status, and wealth with innate personal value (e.g., Clark, 1965; Ehrenreich, 1989; Guinier, 2015). In turn, because individuals cannot avoid being sorted, sifted, and ranked by schools, universities, and the workplace, neoliberal meritocracy places a strong need to strive, perform, and achieve at the center of modern life.
Most acutely, the merging of academic and economic meritocracies has redefined the purpose of education. Whereas education has historically sought to provide young people with a broader repertoire of skills and knowledge, neoliberal meritocracy stresses that skills and knowledge are worthless unless they confer economic value (Verhaeghe, 2014). This places considerable pressure on young people to strive, compete, and meet increasingly higher expectations in school and college—less they wish to damage their future market price. The effects of merging academic and economic meritocracies are reflected in the escalating educational expectations of young people. In the United States, where cohort data is available, approximately half of high school seniors in 1976 expected to attain at least some college degree, by 2008 that figure had risen to over 80% (Jacob & Wilder, 2011). Yet actual degree attainment has failed to keep pace with rising expectations. The gap between the percentage of high school seniors expecting to obtain a college degree and the percent of young people with a college degree doubled between 1976 and 2000 and has continued to rise (Johnson & Reynolds, 2013; Reynolds, Stewart, MacDonald, & Sischo, 2006). Together, this research suggests that the expectations of many young people are increasingly unrealistic (Baird, Burge, & Reynolds, 2008).
As young people’s expectations have increased, so have the educational demands placed on them. Intense competition for elite college admission has meant that, relative to previous generations, current high school students in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom are subjected to more numerous and stringent standardized tests (Guinier, 2015). At the same time, although the number of students going to college has increased, the wage premium associated with a college degree has stagnated over the last 20 years (Moretti, 2013). One reason for this stagnation is a saturation of the graduate job market and underemployment among graduates in developed countries (i.e., holding jobs that do not require a degree), which is currently much higher among recent generations of college graduates than it was for older generations at the same period of life (Abel, Deitz, & Su, 2014). Instead, research in the United States and the United Kingdom shows that the college premium is now almost entirely attributable to the income of those with postgraduate degrees (Brynin, 2013; Shierholz & Mishel, 2013). Just 10% of the U.S. workforce, 7% of the Canadian workforce, and 11% of the U.K. workforce have postgraduate qualifications (Lindley & Machin, 2013; Statistics Canada, 2012). Young people, therefore, must complete a college degree, and now must also obtain a postgraduate qualification, if they are to demonstrate their economic merit.
Over time, then, meritocracy raises the bar of society’s expectations such that they become unattainable to the majority—especially for young people, and especially in terms of educational achievement. Perceptions of unrealistic achievement standards are common in models that seek to explain the development of perfectionism. Although written some time ago, Hamachek (1978) stated on the link between the need to achieve and perfectionism that “[perfectionists] may over-value performance and undervalue the self. He learns only through performance that he has a self” (p. 29). The notion that perfectionists come to overvalue accomplishment is also echoed and expanded upon in the recent writing of Hewitt et al. (2017). Here, perfectionism is conceived as a misguided attempt to procure others’ approval and repair feelings of unworthiness and shame through displays of high achievement. Hewitt et al.’s description of perfectionism development is allied to the machinations of meritocratic culture in that striving for high achievement standards and the attainment of perfection are actively encouraged and rewarded. Young people are taught that the principles of meritocracy are good, fair, and just. In response, they are compelled to demonstrate their merit, set increasingly higher and unrealistic goals, and come to define themselves in the strict and narrow terms of personal achievement.

Altered Parental Practices and Perfectionism
As we have described, neoliberalism and its doctrine of meritocracy have combined to shape a culture in which everybody is expected to perfect themselves and their lifestyles by striving to meet unrealistic achievement standards.

Intercourse frequency decreased with increased length of relationship; ratings of relationship passion were strongly associated with frequency; while men in general might desire sex more, men might be compromising more than women do

How intercourse frequency is affected by relationship length, relationship quality, and sexual strategies using couple data. By Grøntvedt, Trond Viggo; Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair; Mons Bendixen. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, Apr 29 , 2019.

Abstract: The frequency of sexual intercourse within couples is associated with a variety of factors, such as relationship length, sexual and relationship satisfaction, and perceived quality of the relationship. Love, as a commitment device, might reduce interest in extrapair sex. Therefore, one can expect a negative association between measures of passion and sociosexual desire. Further, we wish to explore the effects of decoupling love and sex as measured by sociosexual attitudes on sexual frequency; as there might be a greater willingness to compromise on frequency of sex if sex is less related to expression of emotions and relational quality. We examined how men and women’s sociosexuality, relationship length and various dimensions of relationship quality impact couples’ intercourse frequency. Structural Equation Modeling analyses were performed on data from 92 romantically involved, heterosexual couples recruited at a Norwegian university. Participants’ age ranged from 19 to 30 years. The current relationship length ranged from 1 month to 9 years (M = 21 months). Intercourse frequency decreased with increased length of relationship. Both men and women’s ratings of relationship passion were strongly associated with frequency of having sex, but negatively associated with desire for extrapair sex. Intercourse was more frequent in couples where women reported less restricted attitudes, while men’s level of sociosexuality had no effect on intercourse frequency in any of the models. These novel findings suggest that while men in general might desire sex more, in this sample from a highly egalitarian nation, men might be compromising more than women do.

Investigating Individual Differences in Chimpanzee Mirror Self-Recognition and Cortical Thickness: Further evidence for the neuroanatomical foundations of mirror self-recognition abilities in chimpanzees

Investigating Individual Differences in Chimpanzee Mirror Self-Recognition and Cortical Thickness: A Vertex-Based and Region-of-Interest Analysis. William D. Hopkins et al. Cortex, May 16 2019.

Abstract: Mirror self-recognition (MSR), a recently evolved cognitive trait, is one of the most significant abilities that separate humans and great apes from more distantly related nonhuman primates. MSR may serve as the foundation for a number of related but more complex social cognitive abilities unique to humans and great apes including imitation, empathy, theory-of-mind, perspective taking and deception. However, our understanding of the neural basis of MSR in nonhuman primates remains largely unknown. The current study aimed to begin to fill this gap in the literature by investigating the neuroanatomical foundations of MSR in a sample of 67 captive chimpanzees. Vertex-based and region-of-interest analysis revealed significant differences in cortical thickness, particularly in males, in the cingulate cortex, inferior frontal gyrus and superior temporal and frontal cortex. The current study provides further evidence for the neuroanatomical foundations of mirror self-recognition abilities in chimpanzees.

The term “digital native” entered popular and academic discourse in the early 1990s to characterize young people who, having grown up surrounded by digital technology, were said to be highly technologically skilled; it's a myth

The Myth of the Digital Native and What It Means for Higher Education. Linda Corrin, Tiffani Apps, Karley Beckman, and Sue Bennett. The Oxford Handbook of Cyberpsychology. Edited by Alison Attrill-Smith, Chris Fullwood, Melanie Keep, and Daria J. Kuss. Sep 2018. DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198812746.013.7

Abstract: The term “digital native” entered popular and academic discourse in the early 1990s to characterize young people who, having grown up surrounded by digital technology, were said to be highly technologically skilled. The premise was mobilized to criticize education for not meeting the needs of young people, thereby needing radical transformation. Despite being repeatedly discredited by empirical research and scholarly argument, the idea of the digital native has been remarkably persistent. This chapter explores the myth of the digital native and its implications for higher education. It suggests that the myth’s persistence signals a need to better understand the role of technology in young people’s lives. The chapter conceptualizes technology “practices,” considers how young adults experience technology in their college and university education, and how their practices are shaped by childhood and adolescence. The chapter closes with some propositions for educators, institutions, and researchers.

Keywords: digital literacy, digital native, education, educational technology, higher education, technology practices, young adults, students, college, university

In the late 1990s and early 2000s the idea of the “digital native” emerged (Bennett, Maton, & Kervin, 2008). In essence, it was proposed that because young people had grown up surrounded by technology, they had developed sophisticated technology skills superior to the adults around them. This made them “tech savvy” in a way that those from older generations could never be. And because of this difference, young people were dissatisfied with and disengaged from an education system that persisted with oldfashioned approaches to teaching and learning. This argument was used as the basis for calls for revolutionary, transformational change across education systems.

Since then, scholarly critique and empirical research have debunked the notion of the digital native (see Bennett & Corrin, 2017). Critiques have continually called into question the crude characterization of all young people as both highly adept with and avidly interested in digital technologies across the various aspects of their lives as well as the assertions about the implications for education. Research evidence has revealed a much more complex situation. The ways in which young people make use of digital technologies for learning, leisure, socializing, and work are richly diverse and very much dependent on the various contexts in which they engage. These findings reveal that there are indeed young people who are highly engaged with digital technologies, who are using opportunities that technologies provide to create and connect in new ways, and who participate via these technologies in activities and causes that interest them. But not all young people choose to or have the resources available to them to do so. This makes the universality of the digital native label inaccurate and misleading [...]

So what are we to make of the persistence of the notion of digital natives, given the nowsubstantial body of considered scholarship that has discredited this notion? The idea has had widespread popular appeal, perhaps because is seems to be true, based on anecdotal evidence. [...]

Beyond the power of anecdote, however, there are a number of ways to interpret the emergence of and continued interest in the digital native. Generational differences have long been a source of concern in many societies. This is reflected by the labelling and characterization of generations such as the “baby boomers,” “Generation X,” and the “millennials” (e.g., Howe & Strauss, 2000). The idea of the digital native can be seen as a variation of this familiar theme that pits generations against each other and serves to highlight one of many ways in which young people in general are different to older generations. But these generational stereotypes seldom withstand closer scrutiny, and the digital native stereotype, like others, is ultimately unhelpful in genuinely understanding the needs and interests of young people.

Another possible explanation could be that the notion of the digital native reflects a more general concern about the pace of change in modern life, as well as disquiet about the role of technology in driving social change. Again, this concern is not new. The history and sociology of technology reveal long-held misgivings about the ways in which technology has changed the nature of work, civic engagement, and social interaction well before the twenty-first century. Suggestions that an increased rate of change is further risking our ability to adjust to new technologies may explain recent heightened concerns, but the phenomenon itself is not new. From this perspective, characterizing young people as digital natives aligns with the concerns of many older people that technology is driving rapid change to the ways of life with which they are familiar. Thus, the idea of the digital native may reflect the genuine ambivalence that many feel about the role of technology in their lives and, more broadly, its influence on society.

Questions, too, might be posed about the motivations of those advocating for the existence of digital natives. In the field of educational technology, the vested interests of commercial vendors have led to many exaggerated claims that technology can and will revolutionize education (Buckingham, 2013). Education, for its part, has evolved over time, but much too slowly for some technology advocates. Academic reputations are also built on claims that technology will drive pedagogical innovations that will, in turn, increase student engagement and boost learning outcomes. Sceptics have often been labelled as Luddites in debates where polarized positions, untestable claims, and competing ideologies have, at times, overshadowed the findings of research and scholarship that necessarily lags the introduction of the latest technology.

There is clearly further work needed to discover what is at the heart of the concerns about young people and technology. While this is beyond the scope of this chapter, knowing more about why these questions exist is surely important. At the same time, this uncertainty should not prevent seeking to know more about the role technology plays in young people’s lives and consider what that means for education. As noted, scholars and researchers have already begun this quest [...]

We argue that while the idea of the digital native has been shown to be, at best, misleading and unhelpful, its persistence in our discourse, particularly about education, signals there is something underlying it that warrants our attention. It continues to invite us to ask important questions about how young people can, do, and could use technology to enhance their learning. This, in turn, raises important questions about teaching and teachers, educational systems and administrations, and institutional provision of technology infrastructure and learning spaces. [...]

We further argue that this research would benefit from a conceptualization of technology use that is underpinned by the notion of practice. A practice perspective allows us to go beyond regarding digital technologies as tools designed for particular uses to focusing on the ways in which individuals and groups adopt and adapt technologies and embed them in socially-constructed activities. These are technology practices—a notion that captures a range of possibilities and allows for technologies to be adopted and integrated into existing practices, for technologies to shape and so alter existing practice, and for entirely new practices to emerge. In this conceptualization, technologies are never “value free,” but instead carry the values and assumptions of designers and providers. At the same time, it gives possibility for users to adapt or disrupt the intended design or use. [...]

The focus of enquiry then becomes understanding the perspectives and practices of those using technologies, with consideration of the various contexts in which those practices occur. In education, this kind of research uses naturalistic approaches to explore “what is actually taking place when a digital technology meets an educational setting” (Selwyn, 2010, p. 70) rather than studying “state of the art” innovations. Such research complements a well-established and continuing tradition of research into specific pedagogical applications of technology by seeking to understand the nature of technology experiences more broadly. Understanding how students experience technology in their formal education and across their other life contexts is key to understanding how technology might be most effectively integrated [...]

A practice perspective also invites a particular way of considering how technology could best be integrated into education and, specifically, what skills, knowledge, and dispositions young people might need to develop in relation to technology (Bennett, 2014). Contemporary conceptualizations of digital literacy have evolved significantly from their predecessors, for example, computer literacy, ICT literacy. There is growing recognition that to be digitally literate means much more than having the skills to operate technology. [...]