psychology

Teach not thy lips such scorn

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Selecting an appropriate mate is arguably one of the most important decisions that any sexually reproducing animal must make in order to ensure the successful propagation of their genes. […]

It has been proposed that kissing, a near-ubiquitous custom among human cultures, may play a significant role in the process of human mate assessment and relationship maintenance. Kissing might aid mate appraisal in humans by facilitating olfactory assessment of various cues for genetic compatibility, health, genetic fitness, or even menstrual cycle phase and fertility. […]

Recent research into kissing behavior among college students has found interesting differences between men and women in their perceptions of the importance of kissing during various courtship and mating situations. Using self-report measures, it was found that men generally placed less emphasis on kissing than women, and that women placed greater value on kissing during both the early stages of courtship, potentially as a mate assessment device, and in the later stages of a long-term relationship, possibly to maintain and monitor the pair-bonds that underlie such relationships. […]

The aim of the present experiment was to determine whether romantic kissing-related information can affect the process of human mate assessment. It was hypothesized that participants led to believe that a potential mating partner is a “good kisser,” a manifest cue potentially signaling a mate’s underlying genetic quality/suitability, will find them more attractive, will be more willing to pursue further courtship (i.e., a date) with them, will be more interested in pursuing non-committal sex with them, and be more willing to consider pursuing a long-term relationship with them. It was further hypothesized that alleged kissing abilities will have a greater influence on female partner preferences than on male partner preferences, as they have been found to be the more selective sex when it comes to utilizing signals of mate fitness. […]

The primary finding of this study is that purported kissing abilities can influence a potential mate’s attractiveness and general desirability, particularly for women in casual sex situations. […] Although the findings presented here corroborate the notion that kissing serves a functional role in mating situations, we can still only speculate at this point as to the mechanisms by which kissing might carry out these functions. It is likely that kissing works to affect initial mate assessment by bringing two individuals into close proximity so as to facilitate some kind of olfactory/gustatory assessment, since olfaction in most mammals, as well as in humans, can play an important role in assessing potential mates. In established relationships, on the other hand, the contact and physiological arousal initiated by continued romantic kissing is likely to also affect feelings of attachment between individuals over time, influencing the release of neuropeptides (including oxytocin and vasopressin), dopamine, and opioids, which have all been variously associated with human pair-bonding.

{ Evolutionary Psychology | PDF }

watercolor on paper { Brad Phillips }

‘A bad beginning makes a bad ending.’ –Euripides

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In social psychology, revenge is defined as a behavioural reaction toward perceived injustice that aims at re-establishing a (personal) sense of justice by “getting even” and giving wrongdoers what they deserve. The question I will address in this presentation is, what exactly does “getting even” mean? By addressing this question, I will adopt a “social functionalist” perspective on revenge: This perspective highlights the notion that revenge is a goal-driven response that has certain functional aspects, both on the intrapersonal and on the interpersonal level.

The “social functionalist” perspective implies that revenge is not the mindless, animalistic impulse that legal scholars and some philosophers sometimes tend to see in it. Revenge has oftentimes been contrasted with law-based retribution by arguing that revenge was irrational, savage, unlimited, unprincipled, and disproportionate, and that the “emotionality” inherent in vengeful reactions overshadowed any rational response.

Psychologically, the idea that emotions are irrational is neither useful nor correct. On the contrary, emotions are functional, adaptive, and ecologically rational in that they direct the organism’s attention to important aspects of a situation, and they prepare the organism to respond to problems that arise in social interactions. For example, empirical studies show that anger involves a shift of blood away from the internal organs towards the hands and arms, and it increases one’s sensitivity toward potential injustices and the moral implications of other people’s actions. Of course, anger can also trigger disproportionate retaliatory behaviours, but this does not mean it is inherently “irrational.”

Most behavioural systems that the human organism is equipped with are “irrational” in that they may be incompatible with logical, deductive reasoning and a stringent cost-benefit analysis of gains, risks, and losses, but they are nevertheless functional in that they enable us to deal with complex problems and to make useful decisions under uncertainty.

Revenge belongs to the human behavioural system just as communication, competition, or helping does; and just as these systems, it has important societal and individual functions.

{ Individual and social functions of revenge | PDF }

This article investigates whether acts of displaced revenge, that is, revenge targeted at a different person than the original transgressor, can be satisfying for the avenger. We assume that displaced revenge can lead to justice-related satisfaction when the group to which the original transgressor and the displaced target belong is highly entitative.

Two experimental online studies show that displaced revenge leads to less regret or more satisfaction when the transgressor and the displaced target belong to a group that is perceived as highly entitative.

Study 3 shows that avengers experience more satisfaction when members of the transgressor group were manipulated to be both strongly interconnected and similar in their appearance.

Results of an internal meta-analysis furthermore corroborate the notion that displaced revenge leads to more satisfaction when the transgressor group is highly entitative.

Taken together, our findings suggest that even displaced revenge can achieve a sense of justice in the eyes of avengers.

{ ScienceDirect | Continue reading }

‘If I accede to Parmenides there is nothing left but the One; if I accede to Zeno, not even the One is left.’ –Seneca the Younger

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Memories may be passed down through generations in DNA in a process that may be the underlying cause of phobias.

{ Telegraph | Continue reading }

photo { Guy Sargent }

‘No sunshine, no moonlight, no stardust, no sign of romance.’ —Barbra Streisand

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Religiosity delays initiation of sexual behavior, but the association may be bidirectional, and individuals may become less religious after first intercourse.

This study uses longitudinal data from college students to examine whether 2 aspects of religiosity change before and after first intercourse using multiphase growth curve models.

Students’ religiosity did not change in the 6 months preceding first intercourse, but on average they attended services less often and felt religion was less important in the 12 months after first intercourse.

{ APA PsycNet }

related { Attributions to God and Satan About Life-Altering Events }

photo { Lionat Natalia Petri }

‘In love, happiness is an abnormal state.’ —Proust

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Woman has married herself after being single for six years

Experiences feel more intense — whether good or bad — when someone else is there to share them, new study says

As sparrows eagles, or the hare the lion

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We conduct an empirical study to analyze how waiting in queue in the context of a retail store affects customers’ purchasing behavior. […] pooling multiple queues into a single queue may increase the length of the queue observed by customers and thereby lead to lower revenues. We also find that customers’ sensitivity to waiting is heterogeneous and negatively correlated with price sensitivity, which has important implications for pricing in a multiproduct category subject to congestion effects.

{ Management Science | Continue reading }

photo { Garry Winogrand }

‘Virality isn’t a measure, but a genre created by measurement.’ —Nathan Jurgenson

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Studies of human conversation have documented that 30–40% of everyday speech is used to relay information to others about one’s private experiences or personal relationships, and recent surveys of Internet use indicate that upwards of 80% of posts to social media sites (such as Twitter) consist simply of announcements about one’s own immediate experiences.

Although other primates do not generally attempt to communicate to others what they know—for example, by pointing out interesting things or modeling behaviors for others to imitate—by 9 mo of age, human children begin trying to draw others’ attention to aspects of the environment that they find important, and adults in all societies make consistent attempts to impart their knowledge to others. […]

What drives this propensity for disclosure? Here, we test recent theories that individuals place high subjective value on opportunities to communicate their thoughts and feelings to others and that doing so engages neural and cognitive mechanisms associated with reward. Five studies provided sup- port for this hypothesis. Self-disclosure was strongly associated with increased activation in brain regions that form the mesolimbic dopamine system, including the nucleus accumbens and ventral tegmental area. Moreover, individuals were willing to forgo money to disclose about the self.

{ PNAS | PDF }

Self-disclosure plays a central role in the development and maintenance of relationships. One way that researchers have explored these processes is by studying the links between self-disclosure and liking. […]

Significant disclosure-liking relations were found for each effect: (a) People who engage in intimate disclosures tend to be liked more than people who disclose at lower levels, (b) people disclose more to those whom they initially like, and (c) people like others as a result of having disclosed to them.

{ Psychological Bulletin | PDF }

art { Joram Roukes, RedWhiteAndBlue, 2012 }

It rubs the lotion on its skin. It does this whenever it is told.

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When individual performance was publicly posted in the workplace, employees working in a group performed better than when working alone; however, when individual performance was not posted, employees working in a group performed worse than when working alone.

{ Management Science | Continue reading }

photo { Lionat Natalia Petri }

‘Society is not a disease, it is a disaster.’ –Cioran

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On Facebook, people frequently express emotions, which are later seen by their friends via Facebook’s “News Feed” product. Because people’s friends frequently produce much more content than one person can view, the News Feed filters posts, stories, and activities undertaken by friends. News Feed is the primary manner by which people see content that friends share. Which content is shown or omitted in the News Feed is determined via a ranking algorithm that Facebook continually develops and tests in the interest of showing viewers the content they will find most relevant and engaging. One such test is reported in this study: A test of whether posts with emotional content are more engaging. […]

For people who had positive content reduced in their News Feed, a larger percentage of words in people’s status updates were negative and a smaller percentage were positive. When negativity was reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results suggest that the emotions expressed by friends, via online social networks, influence our own moods, constituting, to our knowledge, the first experimental evidence for massive-scale emotional contagion via social networks, and providing support for previously contested claims that emotions spread via contagion through a network.

{ PNAS | Continue reading }

polaroid prints { Barbara Allen photographed by Andy Warhol, 1977 }

‘You forget that the kingdom of heaven suffers violence: and the kingdom of heaven is like a woman.’ —James Joyce

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Fifty-eight adolescent girls and 60 young adult women viewed a Facebook profile with either a sexualized profile photo or a nonsexualized profile photo and then evaluated the profile owner.

Results indicated that the sexualized profile owner was considered less physically attractive, less socially attractive, and less competent to complete tasks.

{ APA/PsycNET | Continue reading }

photo { Dirk Braeckman }

‘No occurrence is sole and solitary, but is merely a repetition of a thing which has happened before, and perhaps often.’ —Mark Twain

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The systematic biases seen in people’s probability judgments are typically taken as evidence that people do not use the rules of probability theory when reasoning about probability but instead use heuristics, which sometimes yield reasonable judgments and sometimes yield systematic biases. This view has had a major impact in economics, law, medicine, and other fields; indeed, the idea that people cannot reason with probabilities has become a truism. We present a simple alternative to this view, where people reason about probability according to probability theory but are subject to random variation or noise in the reasoning process. […] Results suggest that people’s probability judgments embody the rules of probability theory and that biases in those judgments are due to the effects of random noise.

{ APA/PsycNET | Continue reading }

We tend to see what we want to see

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Common parlance such as “ray of hope” depicts an association between hope and the perception of brightness. Building on research in embodied cognition and conceptual metaphor, we examined whether incidental emotion of hopelessness can affect brightness perception, which may influence people’s preference for lighting. Across four studies, we found that people who feel hopeless judge the environment to be darker (Study 1). As a consequence, hopeless people expressed a greater desire for ambient brightness and higher wattage light bulbs (Studies 2 and 3). Study 4 showed the reversal of the effect — being in a dimmer (vs. brighter) room induces greater hopelessness toward the perceived job search prospects. Taken together, these results suggest that hopeless feeling seems to bias people’s perceptual judgment of ambient brightness, which may potentially impact their electricity consumption.

{ SAGE }