relationships

It looks like this meeting is for informational purposes. Would it be possible to get a summary sent out rather than convening a meeting?

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Age and gender are two important factors that play crucial roles in the way organisms allocate their social effort. In this study, we analyse a large mobile phone dataset to explore the way life history influences human sociality and the way social networks are structured. Our results indicate that these aspects of human behaviour are strongly related to age and gender such that younger individuals have more contacts and, among them, males more than females. However, the rate of decrease in the number of contacts with age differs between males and females, such that there is a reversal in the number of contacts around the late 30s. […]

The maximum number of connections for both males and females occurs at the age of around 25. During this early phase, males appear to be more connected than females. After this, the number of alters decreases steadily for both genders, although the decrease is faster for males than for females. The different rates of decrease result in a crossover around the age of 39 such that after 39 females become more connected than males.

{ Royal Society Open Science | Continue reading }

Ode to joy

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To fall in love feels like such a personal and spontaneous process, it is strange — and a bit insulting — to suggest that we’re only copying what the novels and the movies tell us to do. However, the differences in how people have loved throughout history suggest that our style of loving is to a significant extent determined by what the prevailing environment dictates. In certain eras, we’ll swoon at the sight of the beloved’s ankle; in others, we’ll coldly put romanticism aside for the sake of dynastic or practical concerns. We learn how to love by copying a range of more or less subtle cues emitted by our culture. Or, as that brilliant observer of human foibles, François de La Rochefoucauld, wickedly put it: “There are some people who would never have fallen in love if they had not heard there was such a thing.”

Crucially, over the centuries, the most important factor to have shaped how we love is art. It is through novels, poems, songs and, latterly, films that we have acquired our ideas about what aspects of our feelings we should value and where our emotional emphases should fall.

This is unfortunate. […]

We may break up with our partners or feel romantically cursed because we have been systematically exposed to the wrong sorts of love stories.

{ FT | Continue reading }

In two studies, the authors examined the projection of romantic and sexual desire in opposite-sex friendships. In both studies, perceivers who strongly desired their friends projected this desire onto their friends, believing that their desire was more reciprocated than was actually the case.

{ Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin | Continue reading }

‘I experimented with marijuana a time or two and I didn’t like it. I didn’t inhale.’ —Bill Clinton

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Most of us think that friendship is a two-way street — but that’s true only half the time, according to research from Tel Aviv University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Their new joint study says only half of your friends would consider you their own friend. People have a very poor perception of friendship ties, and this limits their ability to influence their “friends,” according to the research, published in PLoS One on March 22, 2016.

If researchers can understand this limitation, companies and social groups that depend on social influence for collective action, information dissemination and product promotion could improve their strategies and interventions.

“It turns out that we’re very bad at judging who our friends are,” says Dr. Erez Shmueli, who conducted the study with Dr. Laura Radaelli, both of TAU’s Department of Industrial Engineering, in collaboration with Prof. Alex Pentland and Abdullah Almatouq of MIT. “And our difficulty determining the reciprocity of friendship significantly limits our ability to engage in cooperative arrangements.”

{ Tel Aviv University | Continue reading }

oil on canvas { Kei Imazu, Berlin 1943-1945, 2014 }

Lift your head up high, and scream out to the world, I know I am someone

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The tendency of people to forge friendships with people of a similar appearance has been noted since the time of Plato. But now there is research suggesting that, to a striking degree, we tend to pick friends who are genetically similar to us in ways that go beyond superficial features.

For example, you and your friends are likely to share certain genes associated with the sense of smell.

Our friends are as similar to us genetically as you’d expect fourth cousins to be, according to the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This means that the number of genetic markers shared by two friends is akin to what would be expected if they had the same great-great-great-grandparents. […]

The resemblance is slight, just about 1 percent of the genetic markers, but that has huge implications for evolutionary theory.

{ Washington Post | Continue reading }

polyvinyl chloride, colored with oil, mixed technique and accessories { Duane Hanson, Children Playing Game, 1979 }

‘The trust in life is gone: life itself has become a problem. Yet one should not jump to the conclusion that this necessarily makes one gloomy. Even love of life is still possible, only one loves differently.’ —Nietzsche

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Stressful, busy days have been linked with increases in angry and withdrawn marital behavior. The process by which stressors in one domain, such as work, affect an individual’s behavior in another domain, such as the marital relationship, is known as spillover.

{ Journal of Family Psychology | Continue reading }

‘When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.’ —Nietzsche

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Theory of Mind (ToM) is the ability to understand the perspectives, mental states and beliefs of others in order to anticipate their behaviour and is therefore crucial to social interactions.

Although fMRI has been widely used to establish the neural networks implicated in ToM, little is known about the timing of ToM-related brain activity.

We used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to measure the neural processes underlying ToM, as MEG provides very accurate timing and excellent spatial localization of brain processes. We recorded MEG activity during a false belief task, a reliable measure of ToM, in twenty young adults (10 females). […]

Our findings extend the literature by demonstrating the timing and duration of neural activity in the main regions involved in the “mentalizing” network, showing that activations related to false belief in adults are predominantly right lateralized and onset around 100 ms.

{ NeuroImage | Continue reading }

still { Total Recall, 1990 }

Excuse me but I need a mouth like yours

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Consuming alcohol, for example, really can make everyone else appear more physically attractive. […]

Also, playing hard-to-get almost never works. […]

Despite what many people think, opposites very rarely attract. In fact, decades of research has shown that attraction is most likely to be sparked when two people perceive themselves as being very similar to each other.

{ Quartz | Continue reading }

The metaphor of ‘the cloud’

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First, they find that people who live in more densely populated areas tend to report less satisfaction with their life overall. “The higher the population density of the immediate environment, the less happy” the survey respondents said they were. Second, they find that the more social interactions with close friends a person has, the greater their self-reported happiness.

But there was one big exception. For more intelligent people, these correlations were diminished or even reversed. […]

“More intelligent individuals were actually less satisfied with life if they socialized with their friends more frequently.”

{ Washington Post | Continue reading }

See problems as challenges, not threats

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Because ovulating (i.e., high-fertility) women are both more attractive to men and also more attracted to (desirable) men, ovulating women may be perceived to pose heightened threats to other women’s romantic relationships. Across 4 experiments, partnered women were exposed to photographs of other women taken during either their ovulatory or nonovulatory menstrual-cycle phases, and consistently reported intentions to socially avoid ovulating (but not nonovulating) women - but only when their own partners were highly desirable. Exposure to ovulating women also increased women’s sexual desires for their (highly desirable) partners. These findings suggest that women can be sensitive to subtle cues of other women’s fertility and respond (e.g., via social exclusion, enhanced sexual attention to own mate) in ways that may facilitate their mate retention goals while not thwarting their affiliative goals.

{ Journal of Personality and Social Psychology | Continue reading }

Using luteinizing hormone tests to verify ovulation, across two studies (Samples 1 and 2), we found that women whose partners were relatively low in sexual desirability felt less close to their partner (Samples 1 and 2) and were more critical of their partner’s faults (Sample 2) on high-fertility days of the cycle just prior to ovulation compared with low-fertility days of the cycle. Women whose partners were relatively high in sexual desirability felt closer to their partner (Sample 1) and more satisfied with their relationship (Sample 2) on high- than low-fertility days of the cycle. There were no such shifts in women’s commitment to their relationship. Therefore, partner sexual desirability predicts women’s high-fertility assessments of relationship quality but not their intentions to stay in their relationship, consistent with the dual mating hypothesis. These findings suggest that variations across the ovulation cycle in women’s reproductive hormones play an important role in relationship dynamics.

{ Hormones and Behavior | PDF }

images { 1. Frederike Helwig | 2. Bonnie and Clyde (1967), publicity still, Faye Dunaway }

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking because a line of attack didn’t work at first that it isn’t effective. Repetition is key.

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When leaning forward to kiss to a romantic partner, individuals tend to direct their kiss to the right more often than the left. Studies have consistently demonstrated this kissing asymmetry, although other factors known to influence lateral biases, such as sex or situational context, had yet to be explored. The primary purpose of our study was to investigate if turning direction was consistent between a romantic (parent-parent) and parental (parent-child) kissing context, and secondly, to examine if sex differences influenced turning bias between parent-child kissing partners. […]

The results indicated that the direction of turning bias differed between kissing contexts. A right-turn bias was observed for romantic kissing; a left-turn bias was exhibited for parental kissing. There was no significant difference of turning bias between any parent-child kissing partners. Interpretations for the left-turn bias discuss parental kissing as a learned lateral behavior.

{ Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition | Continue reading }

publicity still { Joe Dallesandro and Sylvia Miles in Heat (1972) }

‘To love is probably the furthest possible.’ –Georges Bataille

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Passion and sexual satisfaction typically diminish in longer-term relationships, but this decline is not inevitable. We identified the attitudes and behaviors that most strongly differentiated sexually satisfied from dissatisfied men and women who had been together for at least three years (N = 38,747). […]

The vast majority of these participants reported being satisfied with their sex lives during their first six months together (83% W; 83% M).

Satisfaction with their current sex lives was more variable, with approximately half of participants reporting overall satisfaction (55% W; 43% M) and the rest feeling neutral (18% W; 16% M) or dissatisfied (27% W; 41% M).

More than one in three respondents (38% W; 32% M) claimed their sex lives were as passionate now as in the beginning. Sexual satisfaction and maintenance of passion were higher among people who had sex most frequently, received more oral sex, had more consistent orgasms, and incorporated more variety of sexual acts, mood setting, and sexual communication.

{ Journal of Sex Research }

collage { Joseph Staples, At first you may only be able to progress this far, 2012 }

related { Those who sent romantic emails were more emotionally aroused and used stronger and more thoughtful language than those who left voicemails }

‘Your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs.’ –Shakespeare

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Anyone we could marry would, of course, be a little wrong for us. It is wise to be appropriately pessimistic here. Perfection is not on the cards. Unhappiness is a constant. Nevertheless, one encounters some couples of such primal, grinding mismatch, such deep-seated incompatibility, that one has to conclude that something else is at play beyond the normal disappointments and tensions of every long-term relationship: some people simply shouldn’t be together.

{ The Book of Life | Continue reading }

art { Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1982 }

related { Women Like Being Valued for Sex, as Long as it is by a Committed Partner }