Creeps in this petty pace from day to day


Findings from two experiments suggest that priming the passage of time through the sound of a ticking clock influenced various aspects of women’s (but not men’s) reproductive timing. Moreover, consistent with recent research from the domain of life history theory, those effects depended on women’s childhood socioeconomic status (SES). The subtle sound of a ticking clock led low (but not high) SES women to reduce the age at which they sought to get married and have their first child (Study 1), as well as the priority they placed on the social status and long-term earning potential of potential romantic partners (Study 2).

{ Human Nature | Continue reading }

photo { Aaron McElroy }

Do you seek Alcides’ equal? None is, except himself.


{ Sex Ratio: The number of men for every 100 women in a population. High sex ratios means there are more men. […] Does Love last? No. Romantic/Passionate love declines after marriage. After two years of marriage, average spouses express affection for each other only half as often as they did when they were newlyweds. Divorces occur more frequently in the fourth year of marriage than at any other time. | Psychology of Romantic Relationships | PDF }

La tristesse durera toujours


In two longitudinal studies, university students, their roommates, and parents assessed the quality and forecast the longevity of the students’ dating relationships. […] Students assessed their relationships more positively, focusing primarily on the strengths of their relationships, and made more optimistic predictions than did parents and roommates. Although students were more confident in their predictions, their explicit forecasts tended to be less accurate than those of the two observer groups. Students, however, possessed information that could have yielded more accurate forecasts.

{ SAGE | Continue reading }

related { peers tend to avoid the degree of overoptimism so often seen in self-predictions }

photo { Antoine D’Agata }

In the morning signorina we’ll go walking


Although many studies have reported that women’s preferences for masculine physical characteristics in men change systematically during the menstrual cycle, the hormonal mechanisms underpinning these changes are currently poorly understood. Previous studies investigating the relationships between measured hormone levels and women’s masculinity preferences tested only judgments of men’s facial attractiveness. Results of these studies suggested that preferences for masculine characteristics in men’s faces were related to either women’s estradiol or testosterone levels.

To investigate the hormonal correlates of within-woman variation in masculinity preferences further, here we measured 62 women’s salivary estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone levels and their preferences for masculine characteristics in men’s voices in five weekly test sessions. Multilevel modeling of these data showed that changes in salivary estradiol were the best predictor of changes in women’s preferences for vocal masculinity.

These results complement other recent research implicating estradiol in women’s mate preferences, attention to courtship signals, sexual motivation, and sexual strategies, and are the first to link women’s voice preferences directly to measured hormone levels.

{ Hormones and Behavior }

related { Evidence to Suggest that Women’s Sexual Behavior is Influenced by Hip Width Rather than Waist-to-Hip Ratio }

‘Pendant les premiers temps de son mariage, il se croit heureux. En fait il est hébété, il a reçu un coup sur la tête.’ –Léon Tolstoi


Love stories are dynamic processes that begin, develop, and often stay for a relatively long time in a stationary or fluctuating regime, before possibly fading. Although they are, undoubtedly, the most important dynamic process in our life, they have only recently been cast in the formal frame of dynamical systems theory.

In particular, why it is so difficult to predict the evolution of sentimental relationships continues to be largely unexplained. A common reason for this is that love stories reflect the turbulence of the surrounding social environment. But we can also imagine that the interplay of the characters involved contributes to make the story unpredictable—that is, chaotic.

In other words, we conjecture that sentimental chaos can have a relevant endogenous origin. To support this intriguing conjecture, we mimic a real and well-documented love story with a mathematical model in which the environment is kept constant, and show that the model is chaotic. The case we analyze is the triangle described in Jules et Jim, an autobiographic novel by Henri-Pierre Roché that became famous worldwide after the success of the homonymous film directed by François Truffaut.

The results fully support our conjecture and also highlight the genius of François Truffaut.

{ Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science | PDF }

photo { Man Ray, Rayograph, 1925 }

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


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? }



“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


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


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


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


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


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 }