science

In the morning signorina we’ll go walking

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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 }

‘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 }

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord.

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Using data from an online hotel reservation site, the authors jointly examine consumers’ quality choice decision at the time of purchase and subsequent satisfaction with the hotel stay.

They identify three circumstantial variables at the time of purchase that are likely to influence both the choice decisions and the postpurchase satisfaction: the time gap between purchase and consumption, distance between purchase and consumption, and time of purchase (business/nonbusiness hours).

The authors incorporate these three circumstantial variables into a formal two-stage economic model and find that consumers who travel farther and make reservations during business hours are more likely to select higher-quality hotels but are less satisfied.

{ JAMA | Continue reading }

photo { Philip Lorca-diCorcia, Roy, ‘in his 20s’, Los Angeles, California, $50 (Hustlers series), 1990-1992 }

Turns out this principal is a religious fanatic, and he thinks I’m possessed by some sort of dick devil

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Some people can handle stressful situations better than others, and it’s not all in their genes: Even identical twins show differences in how they respond.

Researchers have identified a specific electrical pattern in the brains of genetically identical mice that predicts how well individual animals will fare in stressful situations.

The findings may eventually help researchers prevent potential consequences of chronic stress — such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and other psychiatric disorders — in people who are prone to these problems.

{ EurekAlert | Continue reading }

Everything interesting takes place in the dark

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Recent theoretical developments in evolutionary psychology suggest that more intelligent individuals may be more likely to prefer to remain childless than less intelligent individuals.

Analyses of the National Child Development Study show that more intelligent men and women express preference to remain childless early in their reproductive careers, but only more intelligent women (not more intelligent men) are more likely to remain childless by the end of their reproductive careers. […]

Because women have a greater impact on the average intelligence of future generations, the dysgenic fertility among women is predicted to lead to a decline in the average intelligence of the population in advanced industrial nations.

{ Social Science Research | PDF }

photo { Richard Kern }

‘Friends have all things in common.’ –Plato

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Everybody knows that men are women have some biological differences – different sizes of brains and different hormones. It wouldn’t be too surprising if there were some neurological differences too. The thing is, we also know that we treat men and women differently from the moment they’re born, in almost all areas of life. Brains respond to the demands we make of them, and men and women have different demands placed on them. […]

They report finding significant differences between the sexes, but don’t show the statistics that allow the reader to evaluate the size of any sex difference against other factors such as age or individual variability. […] A significant sex difference could be tiny compared to the differences between people of different ages, or compared to the normal differences between individuals.

{ The Conversation | Continue reading }

The most important thing to take from this research is – as the authors report – increasing gender equality disproportionately benefits women. This is because – no surprise! – gender inequality disproportionately disadvantages women. […] But the provocative suggestion of this study is that as societies develop we won’t necessarily see all gender differences go away. Some cognitive differences may actually increase when women are at less of a disadvantage.

{ Mind Hacks | Continue reading }

Or have we eaten on the insane root that takes the reason prisoner?

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What you order may have less to do with what you want and more to do with a menu’s layout and descriptions.

After analyzing 217 menus and the selections of over 300 diners, a Cornell study published this month showed that when it comes to what you order for dinner, two things matter most: what you see on the menu and how you imagine it will taste.

{ Cornell | Continue reading }

In order to remain silent Da-sein must have something to say

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Noise cancellation is a traditional problem in statistical signal processing that has not been studied in the olfactory domain for unwanted odors.

In this paper, we use the newly discovered olfactory white signal class to formulate optimal active odor cancellation using both nuclear norm-regularized multivariate regression and simultaneous sparsity or group lasso-regularized non-negative regression.

As an example, we show the proposed technique on real-world data to cancel the odor of durian, katsuobushi, sauerkraut, and onion.

{ IEEE Workshop on Statistical Signal Processing | 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 }

Everyone’s trying to be who they’re not

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Major theories propose that spontaneous responding to others’ actions involves mirroring, or direct matching.

Responding to facial expressions is assumed to follow this matching principle: People smile to smiles and frown to frowns.

We demonstrate here that social power fundamentally changes spontaneous facial mimicry of emotional expressions, thereby challenging the direct-matching principle.

{ Journal of Experimental Psychology: General | PDF }

Lube in my eye

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In general, we can detect a lie only about 54% of the time. […] We may not be very good detectors of lies, but as a species we are incredibly good at lying. […]

The more intelligent an animal is, the more likely it is to lie, which puts us humans right at the top of the ladder. Research has also shown that the best liars are also the best at detecting lies. […]

Given our increasing intelligence and the fairly basic methods used in lie detection, it seems unlikely that we’ll produce lie detectors that can pass muster in the near future. We have yet to fully understand the underlying psychological processes of lying so asking a machine to code it is ambitious, to say the least.

{ The Conversation | Continue reading }

images { Tilman Zitzmann | 2 }