kids

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 }

‘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 }

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Satan has power and controls things

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This study compared the effectiveness of four classic moral stories in promoting honesty in 3- to 7-year-olds. Surprisingly, the stories of “Pinocchio” and “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” failed to reduce lying in children. In contrast, the apocryphal story of “George Washington and the Cherry Tree” significantly increased truth telling. Further results suggest that the reason for the difference in honesty-promoting effectiveness between the “George Washington” story and the other stories was that the former emphasizes the positive consequences of honesty, whereas the latter focus on the negative consequences of dishonesty.

{ Psychological Science | PDF }

art { Sara Cwynar, Print Test Panel (Darkroom Manuals), 2013 }

Child born every minute somewhere

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Does Having Daughters Cause Judges to Rule for Women’s Issues?

Using new data on the family lives of U.S. Courts of Appeals judges, we find that, conditional on the number of children a judge has, judges with daughters consistently vote in a more feminist fashion on gender issues than judges who have only sons. This result survives a number of robustness tests and appears to be driven primarily by Republican judges. More broadly, this result demonstrates that personal experiences influence how judges make decisions, and this is the first article to show that empathy may indeed be a component in how judges decide cases.

{ American Journal of Political Science | Continue reading }

When nature won’t, Pluto will

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{ Effect of a clown’s presence at botulinum toxin injections in children }

Everything is real

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{ Chino Otsuka superimposes her adult self into childhood photos }

If you replace all of your cells one by one, are you still the same person?

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Childhood amnesia kicks in around age 7

You could travel the world with an infant aged under 3 and it’s almost guaranteed that when they get older they won’t remember a single boat trip, plane ride or sunset. This is a phenomenon known as childhood or infantile amnesia, that means most of us lose all our earliest autobiographical memories. It’s a psychological conundrum because when they are 3 or younger, kids are able to discuss autobiographical events from their past. So it’s not that memories from before age 3 never existed, it’s that they are subsequently forgotten. […]

Bauer and Larkina uncovered a paradox - at ages 5 to 7, the children remembered over 60 per cent of the events they’d chatted about at age 3. […] In contrast, children aged 8 and 9 recalled fewer than 40 per cent of the events they’d discussed at age 3, but those memories they did recall were more adult-like in their content.

{ BPS | Continue reading }

‘The world wants to be deceived.’ —Petronius

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Humans show a natural tendency to discount bad news while incorporating good news into beliefs (the “good news–bad news effect”), an effect that may help explain seemingly irrational risk taking. Understanding how this bias develops with age is important because adolescents are prone to engage in risky behavior; thus, educating them about danger is crucial.

We reveal a striking valence-dependent asymmetry in how belief updating develops with age. In the ages tested (9–26 y), younger age was associated with inaccurate updating of beliefs in response to undesirable in- formation regarding vulnerability. In contrast, the ability to update beliefs accurately in response to desirable information remained relatively stable with age. This asymmetry was mediated by adequate computational use of positive but not negative estimation errors to alter beliefs.

The results are important for understanding how belief formation develops and might help explain why adolescents do not respond adequately to warnings.

{ PNAS | PDF }

‘This is a bad idea = one of the greatest aphrodisiacs of all time’ –Emily Cooke

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Teenagers’ brains are wired to confront a threat instead of retreating, research suggests. The results may help explain why criminal activity peaks during adolescence.

{ Science News | Continue reading }

Just loll there: quiet dusk: let everything rip. Forget.

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An eye-opening 2005 paper estimated the number of children who are not the biological offspring of their presumed father.

Looking at studies from around the world, it concluded that the median number of kids who are not the children of the person they call ‘dad’ is 3.7% with studies typically finding a rate of between two and ten percent.

This is presumably due to children being conceived during clandestine affairs.

{ Mind Hacks | Continue reading }

So come gimme a hug if you’re into getting rubbed

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{ You need to see this 17-minute film set entirely on a teen’s computer screen | thanks Stella }

The world only cares about what it can get from you

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By about 1900, the need for child labour had declined, so children had a good deal of free time. But then, beginning around 1960 or a little before, adults began chipping away at that freedom by increasing the time that children had to spend at schoolwork and, even more significantly, by reducing children’s freedom to play on their own, even when they were out of school and not doing homework. Adult-directed sports for children began to replace ‘pickup’ games; adult-directed classes out of school began to replace hobbies; and parents’ fears led them, ever more, to forbid children from going out to play with other kids, away from home, unsupervised. There are lots of reasons for these changes but the effect, over the decades, has been a continuous and ultimately dramatic decline in children’s opportunities to play and explore in their own chosen ways.

Over the same decades that children’s play has been declining, childhood mental disorders have been increasing.

{ Aeon | Continue reading }