relationships

If an apple is magnified to the size of the earth, then the atoms in the apple are approximately the size of the original apple

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Automatically detecting human social intentions from spoken conversation is an important task for dialogue understanding. Since the social intentions of the speaker may differ from what is perceived by the hearer, systems that analyze human conversations need to be able to extract both the perceived and the intended social meaning.

We investigate this difference between intention and perception by using a spoken corpus of speed-dates in which both the speaker and the listener rated the speaker on flirtatiousness.

Our flirtation- detection system uses prosodic, dialogue, and lexical features to detect a speaker’s intent to flirt with up to 71.5% accuracy.

{ Stanford | PDF }

related { First Impressions Count, But How? }

WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE SO FUCKING PERFECTTT

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“Emotions such as anger and contempt can seem very threatening for couples. But our study suggests that if spouses, especially wives, are able to calm themselves, their marriages can continue to thrive,” Bloch said.

While it is commonly held that women play the role of caretaker and peacemaker in relationships, the study is among the first to reveal this dynamic in action over a long period of time, researchers point out. Results show that the link between the wives’ ability to control emotions and higher marital satisfaction was most evident when women used “constructive communication” to temper disagreements.

{ UC Berkeley | Continue reading }

The problem with crashes, you never know beforehand precisely what is the catalyst

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People loved for their beauty and cheerfulness are not loved as irreplaceable, yet people loved for “what their souls are made of” are. Or so literary romance implies; leading philosophical accounts, however, deny the distinction, holding that reasons for love either do not exist or do not include the beloved’s distinguishing features. […]

I defend a model of agency on which people can love each other for identities still being created, through a kind of mutual improvisation. […]

I draw another analogy to jazz, this time relating the attraction and concern constitutive of interpersonal love to the reciprocal appreciation and responsiveness of musicians who improvise together as partners. Musicians who improvise together as partners recognize each other to be trying to express the same musical idea, even though the contents of their ideas are still being worked out.

{ PhilPapers | PDF }

The same equations have the same solutions

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Connecting with others increases happiness, but strangers in close proximity routinely ignore each other. Why? Two reasons seem likely: Either solitude is a more positive experience than interacting with strangers, or people misunderstand the consequences of distant social connections. […]

Prior research suggests that acting extroverted—that is, acting bold, assertive, energetic, active, adventurous, and talkative (the exact list has varied by study)—in laboratory experiments involving group tasks like solving jigsaw puzzles and planning a day together, generally leads to greater positive affect than acting introverted—lethargic, passive, and quiet—in those same situations. […]

Connecting with a stranger is positive even when it is inconsistent with the prevailing social norm. […]

Our experiments tested interactions that lasted anywhere from a few minutes to as long as 40 minutes, but they did not require repeated interactions or particularly long interactions with the same random stranger. Nobody in the connection condition, for instance, spent the weekend with a stranger on a train. Indeed, some research suggests that liking for a stranger may peak at a relatively short interaction, and then decline over time as more is learned about another person.

If, however, the amount of time spent in conversation with a distant stranger is inversely related to its pleasantness at some point along the time spectrum, then this only makes the results of our experiments even more surprising. On trains, busses, and waiting rooms, the duration of the conversation is relatively limited. These could be the kinds of brief “social snacks” with distant others that are maximally pleasant, and yet people still routinely avoid them.

{ Journal of Experimental Psychology: General | PDF | More: These Psychologists Think We’d Be Happier If We Talked to Strangers More }

photos { Robert Adams, Our Lives and Our Children, 1981 }

‘Several excuses are always less convincing than one.’ —Aldous Huxley

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In the U.S., couples with daughters are somewhat more likely to divorce than couples with sons. Many scholars have read those numbers as evidence that daughters cause divorce. […]

Previous studies have argued that fathers prefer boys and are more likely to stay in marriages that produce sons. Conversely, the argument runs, men are more likely to leave a marriage that produces daughters. That scholarly claim has been around for decades, and has gained a following in popular culture. […]

A new research from Duke University suggests something quite different may be at play. […] Throughout the life course, girls and women are generally hardier than boys and men. At every age from birth to age 100, boys and men die in greater proportions than girls and women. Epidemiological evidence also suggests that the female survival advantage actually begins in utero. These more robust female embryos may be better able to withstand stresses to pregnancy, the new paper argues, including stresses caused by relationship conflict.

Based on an analysis of longitudinal data from a nationally representative sample of U.S. residents from 1979 to 2010, Hamoudi and Nobles say a couple’s level of relationship conflict predicts their likelihood of subsequent divorce.

Strikingly, the authors also found that a couple’s level of relationship conflict at a given time also predicted the sex of children born to that couple at later points in time. Women who reported higher levels of marital conflict were more likely in subsequent years to give birth to girls, rather than boys.

{ EurekAlert | Continue reading }

images { 1 | 2 }

‘Love is pleasure, accompanied by the idea of an external cause.’ –Spinoza

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What does it take to look attractive for members of the opposite sex? […]

Researchers investigated whether a sex-biased population (that is, more men or women than a 50/50 division) affected attractiveness. […]

If you want to command the attention of potential mates: hang out with girls if you’re a guy and hang out with guys if you’re a girl.

{ United Academics | Continue reading }

‘Imagine how much harder physics would be if electrons had feelings.’ –Richard Feynman

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Trivers (1976) introduced his theory of self-deception over three decades ago. According to his theory, individuals deceive themselves to better deceive others by placing truthful information in the unconscious while consciously presenting false information to others as well as the self without leaving cues to be detected of deception. […]

Humans and other primates live in hierarchical social groups where status influences resource distribution. High-status individuals who attained their position either by force or social intelligence have more resources than low-status individuals and have the power to punish the latter for rule violations. Low-status individuals who are under constant surveillance often attempt to hide resources from high-status individuals. In this case, low-status individuals should be more motivated to deceive, whereas high-status individuals should be more motivated to detect deception. High-status individuals have more honest means (through force or by changing the rules) to acquire resources than do low-status individuals. High-status individuals also have more resources—including information leading to the deception detection—and the means to punish deceivers. In contrast, low-status individuals are more limited detectors who may face revenge for detecting deception. Detecting deception does not enhance fitness if the detector is unable to punish but may be retaliated by the deceiver. There is thus more pressure to perfect deception when one has the need to deceive but also faces increased chances to be caught and punished. The same pressure to better deceive is much reduced when one expects little punishment from the detector if caught deceiving or has other honest means to pursue the same fitness gains. Social status may therefore shift selection pressure to favor low-status individuals over high-status individuals as fearful deceivers and the high-status individuals over low-status individuals as vigilant detectors. Thus, Trivers’ arms race between deception and detection is likely to have played out between low-status deceivers and high-status detectors, leading to people deceiving themselves to better deceive high- rather than low- or equal-status others. […]

According to Trivers (2000), a blatant deceiver keeps both true and false information in the conscious mind but presents only falsehoods to others. In doing so, the deceiver may leave clues about the truth due to its conscious access. A self-deceiver keeps only false information in consciousness. Lying to others and to the self at the same time, the self-deceiver thus leaves no clues about the truth retained in the unconscious mind. […]

Memory and its distortion may be temporarily employed first to keep truthful information away from both self and others and later to retrieve accurate information to benefit the self. Using a dual-retrieval paradigm, we tested the hypothesis that people are likely to deceive themselves to better deceive high- rather than equal-status others.

College student participants were explicitly instructed (Study 1 and 2) or induced (Study 3) to deceive either a high-status teacher or an equal-status fellow student. When interacting with the high- but not equal-status target, participants in three studies genuinely remembered fewer previously studied items than they did on a second memory test alone without the deceiving target.

The results support the view that self-deception responds to status hierarchy that registers probabilities of deception detection such that people are more likely to self-deceive high- rather than equal-status others.

{ Evolution Psychology | PDF }

art { Eric Yahnker }

‘While you were admiring the surface, I saw the shipwrecks, the drowned bodies, the monsters of the deep.’ –Alfred de Musset

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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. […]

Given that marrying the wrong person is about the single easiest and also costliest mistake any of us can make, it is extraordinary, and almost criminal, that the issue of marrying intelligently is not more systematically addressed at a national and personal level, as road safety or smoking are.

{ Philosophers’ Mail | Continue reading }

image { Ms. America/The New Inquiry }

‘In the world of the dreamer there was solitude.’ –Anaïs Nin

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Polygyny rates are higher in western Africa than in eastern Africa. The African slave trades help explain this difference. More male slaves were exported in the transatlantic slave trades from western Africa, while more female slaves were exported in the Indian Ocean slave trades from eastern Africa. The slave trades led to prolonged periods of abnormal sex ratios, which affected the rates of polygyny across Africa.

{ Economic Development and Cultural Change | Continue reading }

Wait, my love, and I’ll be with you

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We all know the awkward feeling when a conversation is disrupted by a brief silence. This paper studies why such moments can be unsettling. We suggest that silences are particularly disturbing if they disrupt the conversational flow.

A mere four-seconds silence (in a six-minute video clip) suffices to disrupt the conversational flow and make one feel distressed, afraid, hurt, and rejected. These effects occur despite participants’ unawareness of the short, single silence. […]

Finally, the present research reveals that although people do not consciously notice brief silences, they are influenced by conversa- tional disfluency in a way quite similar to ostracism experiences (e.g., Williams, 2001). That is, people report feeling more rejected and experience more negative emotions when a conversation is disrupted by a silence, rather than when it flows. Thus, disrupted flow can implicitly elicit feelings of rejection, confirming human sensitivity to social exclusion cues.

{ Journal of Experimental Social Psychology | PDF }

‘Weeks, months, years pass, and all at once, when they have each followed their fate along a different path, the logic of chance brings them face to face.’ –Alexandre Dumas, fils

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The paper, by Winegard et al., opens with the following vignette:

A bereaved wife every weekend walks one mile to place flowers on her deceased husband’s cemetery stone. Neither rain nor snow prevents her from making this trip, one she has been making for 2 years. However poignant the scene, and however high our temptation to exclude it from the cold logic of scientific scrutiny, it presents researchers with a perplexing puzzle that demands reflection. The deceased husband, despite all of his widow’s solicitude, cannot return to repay his wife’s devotion. Why waste time, energy, effort, resources—why, in other words, grieve for a social bond that can no longer compensate such dedication?

[…]

Their explanation is that bearing these costs acts as a signal. Drawing on Costly Signaling Theory (CST), they argue that paying these costs sends signals to other people regarding one’s value as a social partner. […] These signals, then, are actually – and unknowingly – directed toward new potential mates who might now consider the individual attractive as a long-term mate based on the quality, costliness, and honesty of the display.

{ The Evolutionary Psychology Blog | Continue reading }

2 fading photographs of queen Alexandra of England and of Maud Branscombe, actress and professional beauty

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Flirting is a class of courtship signaling that conveys the signaler’s intentions and desirability to the intended receiver while minimizing the costs that would accompany an overt courtship attempt. […]

Flirtation is marked by “mixed signals”: sidelong glances and indirect overtures. The human ethologist Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, synthesizing decades of comparative study of human social behavior, reported that flirtatious gestures and expressions are cross-culturally consistent. He found that partially obscured actions such as quick looks and coy giggles behind a hand were common elements of flirtation in cultures from pastoral Africa to urban Europe to Polynesia. “Turning toward a person and then turning away,” he wrote, “are typical elements of human flirting behavior.” That indirect flirtation is recognizable as its own category of signaling suggests it might require a separate functional explanation. What do courting humans gain by making some courtship signals oblique?

Here we propose that the explanation for the subtlety of human courtship lies in the potential costs imposed by both intended and unintended receivers of courtship signals, either in the form of damage to social capital or of interference and intervention by third parties. […]

Third parties constitute an additional source of potential courtship costs. […] “Interception” occurs when a third party detects a signal and procures some information from it, as when a predator uses a prey animal’s mating call to locate the caller. […] Among courting humans, the most straightforward interception costs involve physical violence related to jealousy: Courting someone who already has a partner or admirer can bring swift and direct consequences if one is observed by that rival. […]

Signalers who skillfully assess and adjust to social context (i.e., good flirts) display their quality not through high-intensity displays that index physical prowess and condition, but through sensitive signal-to-context matching that indicates behavioral flexibility and social intelligence.

{ Evolutionary Psychology | PDF }