relationships

Did they ever tell Constau

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Many of our errors, the researchers found, stem from a basic mismatch between how we analyze ourselves and how we analyze others. When it comes to ourselves, we employ a fine-grained, highly contextualized level of detail. When we think about others, however, we operate at a much higher, more generalized and abstract level. For instance, when answering the same question about ourselves or others — how attractive are you? — we use very different cues. For our own appearance, we think about how our hair is looking that morning, whether we got enough sleep, how well that shirt matches our complexion. For that of others, we form a surface judgment based on overall gist. So, there are two mismatches: we aren’t quite sure how others are seeing us, and we are incorrectly judging how they see themselves.

If, however, we can adjust our level of analysis, we suddenly appear much more intuitive and accurate. In one study, people became more accurate at discerning how others see them when they thought their photograph was going to be evaluated a few months later, as opposed to the same day, while in another, the same accuracy shift happened if they thought a recording they’d made describing themselves would be heard a few months later. Suddenly, they were using the same abstract lens that others are likely to use naturally.

{ Maria Konnikova, The Confidence Game | Continue reading }

You can always make a deal when two parties want different things. The only time you can’t make a deal is when people want exactly the same limited resource.

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When we talk we take turns, where the “right” to speak flips back and forth between partners. This conversational pitter-patter is so familiar and seemingly unremarkable that we rarely remark on it. But consider the timing: On average, each turn lasts for around 2 seconds, and the typical gap between them is just 200 milliseconds—barely enough time to utter a syllable. That figure is nigh-universal. It exists across cultures, with only slight variations. It’s even there in sign-language conversations. […]

(Overlaps only happened in 17 percent of turns, typically lasted for just 100 milliseconds, and were mostly slight misfires where one speaker unexpectedly drew out their last syllable.) […]

This means that we have to start planning our responses in the middle of a partner’s turn, using everything from grammatical cues to changes in pitch. We continuously predict what the rest of a sentence will contain, while similarly building our hypothetical rejoinder, all using largely overlapping neural circuits.

{ The Atlantic | Continue reading }

collage { Penelope Slinger, Giving You Lip, 1973 }

rave in2 the joy fantastic

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Research has found that estradiol positively and progesterone negatively predicts women’s sexual desire. […]

The current study extended these findings by examining, within a sample of 33 naturally cycling women involved in romantic relationships, hormonal correlates of sexual attraction to or interests in specific targets: women’s own primary partner [in-pair] or men other than women’s primary partner [extra-pair]. […]

Whereas estradiol levels were associated with relatively greater extra-pair sexual interests than in-pair sexual interests, progesterone levels were associated with relatively greater in-pair sexual interests.

{ Hormones and Behavior | Continue reading }

photo { Maxime Ballesteros }

States will continue, often legitimately, to act covertly and maintain secrecy over aspects of their conduct

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In every minute we have hundreds of thousands of body language signals that are pouring out from us and broadcasting how we’re feeling and thinking to everyone around. So even when you manage to control your facial expression consciously, sooner or later what’s called a “micro-expression” is going to flash. And even if it’s as fast as 17 milliseconds, people will catch that because that is how fast people read each others’ facial expressions. So trying to control your facial expressions is not just impossible, it will even backfire. Since the micro-expressions will be incongruent with the main expression, they’ll give the impression that something is not quite right and you can end up seeming fake — which, of course, ruins trust and charisma.

{ Olivia Fox Cabane | Continue reading }

‘How brief a blaze a woman’s love will yield if not relit by frequent touch and sight.’ –Dante

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Touch is a powerful tool for communicating positive emotions. However, it has remained unknown to what extent social touch would maintain and establish social bonds. We asked a total of 1,368 people from five countries to reveal, using an Internet-based topographical self-reporting tool, those parts of their body that they would allow relatives, friends, and strangers to touch. These body regions formed relationship-specific maps in which the total area was directly related to the strength of the emotional bond between the participant and the touching person. Cultural influences were minor. […]

[T]ouching by strangers was primarily limited to the hands and upper torso. Genitals and buttocks formed clear “taboo zones” that only the emotionally closest individuals were allowed to touch. Frequency of social contact with an individual did not predict the area available for social touch, confirming that the experienced bond between the individuals, rather than mere familiarity, modulates social touching behavior in dyads. […]

Skin is the largest organ and the clearest border between individuals and the world. Already 19-wk-old fetuses touch themselves and anticipate self-oriented touches. Skin-to-skin contact is also one of the earliest communication channels promoting attachment between the infant and the caregiver. Recent work has revealed a special class of unmyelinated C-tactile afferents that respond selectively to slow pleasurable stroking. Stimulating these fibers activates insular cortex and possibly provides the sensory pathway for emotional and affiliative touching. Our results imply that this kind of social touch is interpreted in context-dependent fashion depending on the interaction partner. Such social coding of touch seems to occur at early processing stages in the brain, as recent neuroimaging work has established that the human primary somatosensory cortex is involved in discriminating between interpersonal and physical aspects of social touch.

{ PNAS | Continue reading }

photo { Weegee, Untitled, ca. 1946 }

‘Love is joy with the accompanying idea of an external cause.’ –Spinoza

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Past research showed that people accumulate more knowledge about other people and objects they like compared to those they dislike. More knowledge is commonly assumed to lead to more differentiated mental representations; therefore, people should perceive others they like as less similar to one another than others they dislike.

We predict the opposite outcome based on the density hypothesis; accordingly, positive impressions are less diverse than negative impressions as there are only a few ways to be liked but many ways to be disliked. Therefore, people should perceive liked others as more similar to one another than disliked others even though they have more knowledge about liked others.

Seven experiments confirm this counterintuitive prediction and show a strong association between liking and perceived similarity in person perception.

{ Journal of Experimental Social Psychology | Continue reading }

Be careful not to gamble on a guy with a suitcase and a ticket getting out of here

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In Experiment 1 (N = 218), where female participants rated male facial attractiveness, the facilitative effect of smiling was present when judging long-term partners but absent for short-term partners. This pattern was observed for East Asians as well as for Europeans. […]

Related to this issue, Morrison et al. (2013) compared the attractiveness of faces displaying the six basic emotions (anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise). Faces with a happy expression were rated to be more attractive than faces with the other emotions, but they were rated as attractive as neutral ones.

{ Evolutionary Psychology | Continue reading }

related { Transferring the expressions of one person’s face to the other in realtime }

Why pamper life’s complexities when the leather runs smooth on the passenger seat?

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Statisticians love to develop multiple ways of testing the same thing. If I want to decide whether two groups of people have significantly different IQs, I can run a t-test or a rank sum test or a bootstrap or a regression. You can argue about which of these is most appropriate, but I basically think that if the effect is really statistically significant and large enough to matter, it should emerge regardless of which test you use, as long as the test is reasonable and your sample isn’t tiny. An effect that appears when you use a parametric test but not a nonparametric test is probably not worth writing home about.

A similar lesson applies, I think, to first dates. When you’re attracted to someone, you overanalyze everything you say, spend extra time trying to look attractive, etc. But if your mutual attraction is really statistically significant and large enough to matter, it should emerge regardless of the exact circumstances of a single evening. If the shirt you wear can fundamentally alter whether someone is attracted to you, you probably shouldn’t be life partners. […]

In statistical terms, a glance at across a bar doesn’t give you a lot of data and increases the probability you’ll make an incorrect decision. As a statistician, I prefer not to work with small datasets, and similarly, I’ve never liked romantic environments that give me very little data about a person. (Don’t get me started on Tinder. The only thing I can think when I see some stranger staring at me out of a phone is, “My errorbars are huge!” which makes it very hard to assess attraction.) […]

I think there’s even an argument for being deliberately unattractive to your date, on the grounds that if they still like you, they must really like you.

{ Obsession with Regression | Continue reading }

‘Loves die from disgust,
 and forgetfulness buries them.’ –Jean de La Bruyère

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The wedding industry has consistently sought to link wedding spending with long-lasting marriages. This paper is the first to examine this relationship statistically. We find that marriage duration is either not associated or inversely associated with spending on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony. Overall, our findings provide little evidence to support the validity of the wedding industry’s general message that connects expensive weddings with positive marital outcomes.

{ PDF | via Improbable }

Am I crazy or do we have a moment?

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Women initiate most divorces in the US. […] The data examine the gender of breakup for both marital and nonmarital relationships for the first time. The results show that women’s initiation of breakup is specific to heterosexual marriage. Men and women in nonmarital heterosexual relationships in the US are equally likely to initiate breakup. The results are consistent with a feminist critique of heterosexual marriage as an institution that benefits men more than women.

{ The Gender of Breakup in Heterosexual Couples | Abstract + Charts }

Prank your future self by wasting your life

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Health has been identified as an important variable involved in mate choice. Unhealthy organisms are generally less able to provide reproductively important resources to partners and offspring and are more likely to pass on communicable disease.

Research on human mate preferences has shown that both men and women prefer healthy mates. Yet to date, little research has examined how health relates to one’s own mating experiences. In the present study, 164 participants (87 women) who were currently in heterosexual romantic relationships completed measures of frequency and severity of health problems, anticipated partner infidelity, and intensity of jealousy felt in their current relationship. […]

[I]ndividuals who believe they are in poor health are also likely to perceive themselves to be at a mating disadvantage. Results indicated that self-reported poor health, in terms of both frequency and severity of health symptoms, predicted a greater perception that one’s partner would commit an infidelity as well as increased romantic jealousy. Anticipated partner infidelity mediated the links between health problems and jealousy, suggesting that unhealthy individuals perceive their partners as being more likely to mate with an intrasexual (same-sex) rival, in turn facilitating jealousy.

{ Evolutionary Psychology | PDF }

(A firm heelclacking is heard on the stairs.)

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The ratio between the body circumference at the waist and the hips (or WHR) is a secondary sexual trait that is unique to humans and is well known to influence men’s mate preferences. Because a woman’s WHR also provides information about her age, health and fertility, men’s preference concerning this physical feature may possibly be a cognitive adaptation selected in the human lineage. […]

We analyzed the WHR of women considered as ideally beautiful who were depicted in western artworks from 500 BCE to the present. These vestiges of the past feminine ideal were then compared to more recent symbols of beauty: Playboy models and winners of several Miss pageants from 1920 to 2014. We found that the ideal WHR has changed over time in western societies: it was constant during almost a millennium in antiquity (from 500 BCE to 400 CE) and has decreased from the 15th century to the present. Then, based on Playboy models and Miss pageants winners, this decrease appears to slow down or even reverse during the second half of the 20th century.

The universality of an ideal WHR is thus challenged, and historical changes in western societies could have caused these variations in men’s preferences.

{ PLOS | Continue reading }