relationships

We made it so far together but then I lost you in the trees

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Romantic love is a basic brain system, like fear and anger or disgust. We humans have evolved three distinct brain systems for mating and reproduction: the sex drive, romantic love, and feelings of deep attachment. People make the mistake of thinking that these are phases. They’re not phases, they’re brain systems, and they can operate in any combination and order. […]

I estimate the people I studied, on average, thought about their beloved about 85 percent of the time. […]

I looked at the demographics from the United Nations from 1947–2011 and across 80 cultures. People tend to divorce around the fourth year of marriage. […]

{ Helen Fisher / Sapiens | Continue reading }

still { Catherine Deneuve in Jacques Demy’s Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, 1963 }

‘Wit lies in recognizing the resemblance among things which differ and the difference between things which are alike.’ –Madame de Staël

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The widely disseminated convergence in physical appearance hypothesis posits that long-term partners’ facial appearance converges with time due to their shared environment, emotional mimicry, and synchronized activities. Although plausible, this hypothesis is incompatible with empirical findings pertaining to a wide range of other traits—such as personality, intelligence, attitudes, values, and well-being—in which partners show initial similarity but do not converge over time.

We solve this conundrum by reexamining this hypothesis using the facial images of 517 couples taken at the beginning of their marriages and 20 to 69 years later. Using two independent methods of estimating their facial similarity (human judgment and a facial recognition algorithm), we show that while spouses’ faces tend to be similar at the beginning of marriage, they do not converge over time, bringing facial appearance in line with other personal characteristics.

{ Nature | Continue reading }

‘To succeed in the world we do everything we can to appear successful already.’ –La Rochefoucauld

Self-promotion is common in everyday life. Yet, across 8 studies (N = 1,687) examining a broad range of personal and professional successes, we find that individuals often hide their successes from others and that such hiding has relational costs. […]

Whereas previous research highlights the negative consequences of sharing one’s accomplishments with others, we find that sharing is superior to hiding for maintaining one’s relationships.

{ Journal of Personality and Social Psychology | Continue reading }

‘Grow up, Raj. There’s no place for truth on the Internet.’ –The Big Bang Theory, s02e021

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{ The Dating Market: Thesis Overview | PDF }

Why is he smiling in this moment — during a question and answer regarding such a serious subject? A smile, when it’s out of context, is always telling.

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According to a paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, you can come off as more persuasive by speaking slightly louder than you normally do, and by varying the overall volume of your voice (i.e., speaking both more loudly and softly). […] it will make you appear more confident when you speak, which has a positive impact on your overall persuasiveness, according to the study.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

If all else fails, retreat

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Participants (N = 140) were formed into opposite-sex dyads and interacted three times during their ‘date’ (first impression, verbal and nonverbal interaction).

Many of our findings were in line with previous research. Partner preferences seem to be in line with research; the Attractiveness Halo Effect occurred; participants were not accurate in guessing if they were liked by their partner; submissive behaviour reflected liking, sexual attraction and attraction to some degree, however results regarding affiliative behaviour contradicted previous research; only female sexual attraction is affected by submissive and affiliative behaviour; there is evidence that mimicry occurs; physiological synchrony affected females’ opinions, male date outcome and date outcome match.

These results suggest that most dating theories and concepts to a certain degree hold up in real-life contexts.

{ Psychologie | PDF }

And every dam had her seven crutches. And every crutch had its seven hues. And each hue had a differing cry.

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[S]ociologist Eva Illouz, in her 1997 book Consuming the Romantic Utopia, analyzes the trope of “the deserted beach”:

While the beach is primarily a construct of the tourist industry, in advertising it is detached from the crowded and highly commercialized vacation resorts. In fact, in advertisements beaches are invariably deserted.

Without the advertising clichés and conventions to frame our expectations, love itself would be incomprehensible. Illouz quotes an epigram of La Rochefoucauld’s: “There are some people who would never have fallen in love if they had not heard there was such a thing.” Presumably the problem with this is that such love that mimics the conventions is somehow inauthentic, or that we force what might have been an idiosyncratic and true love into false shapes that spoil it. Illouz suggests that modern romantic experience has a lot in common with tourist experiences: They are systematized in advance so that they may be readily desired, accessed, understood, consumed, disavowed.

{ Rob Horning/Real Life | Continue reading }

mirror and mdf { Monica Bonvicini, Same Old Shit, 2018 }

Ah, but she was the queer old skeowsha anyhow, Anna Livia, trinkettoes!

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Women and men perceived breasts in a similar way to each other: the bigger the breasts the higher the reproductive efficiency, lactational efficiency, sexual desire, and promiscuity attributed to the woman. Nevertheless, large breasts were not regarded more attractive than average ones, though small breasts were the least attractive. In addition, big-breasted women were perceived as less faithful and less intelligent than women with average or small breasts.

{ Archives of Sexual Behavior | Continue reading }

photo { Horace Roye, Nude #40, c. 1940 }

‘abolish all prisons especially my body.’ –@nomunnynohunny

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…DARPA’s Red Balloon Challenge in 2008, in which the United States government scattered 10 red weather balloons across the continental U.S., and instructed teams of researchers to locate them as fast as possible. The winning MIT team found all 10 balloons in just under nine hours using the virality of social media and an incentive structure that motivated people to recruit their friends. This result was a resounding success for crowdsourcing and the Internet at large, demonstrating that a collective of individuals, connected through technology, could together solve large-scale problems that no individual could solve alone.

This same team, however, struggled with other Internet-based forms for mass cooperation. During the 2011 DARPA Shredder Challenge, which involved recruiting and coordinating individuals on the Internet to collectively recombine shredded documents, people took advantage of the trust necessary for large-scale collaboration. Adversarial participants from the other teams, who felt the crowdsourcing essentially amounted to “cheating,” posed as volunteers and sabotaged the crowdsourcing effort, rendering cooperation impossible. Fast-forward five years, to the 2016 presidential election, and we see how this antagonism can be a serious problem for genuine collective action. Bad actors proliferated misinformation at such a rate that the New York Times declared, “The Internet trolls have won. Sorry, there’s not much you can do.”

So when do networks enable cooperation to thrive? And when do they hinder it? […] We decided to examine a different, extreme environment known for its ability to foster cooperation at a large scale: Burning Man.

{ Nautilus | Continue reading }

art { Diego Gravinese }

‘a girl whose boyfriend i fucked just posted a picture of herself with a girl who fucked MY ex boyfriend. what can it possibly mean’ –@nomunnynohunny

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{ A Guide to Heartbreak }

‘Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.’ –George Bernard Shaw

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Faces in general and attractive faces, in particular, are frequently used in marketing, advertising, and packaging design. However, few studies have examined the effects of attractive faces on people’s choice behavior.

The present research examines whether attractive (vs. unattractive) faces increase individuals’ inclination to choose either healthy or unhealthy foods. […]

exposure to attractive (vs. unattractive) opposite‐sex faces increased choice likelihood of unhealthy foods.

{ Psychology & Marketing | Continue reading }

offset lithograph / vinyl cover { Damien Hirst, Kate Moss — Use Money Cheat Death, 2009 | The record is a one-sided, white vinyl disc with a mainly monotonous beeping interrupted by what is purported to be Kate Moss’ voice in telephone call mode for about 30 seconds, then more beeping and finally Damien Hirst himself telling us that it’s okay for artists to earn money. }

‘Nothing brings you peace but the triumph of principles.’ –Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Suppose you live in a deeply divided society: 60% of people strongly identify with Group A, and the other 40% strongly identify with Group B. While you plainly belong to Group A, you’re convinced this division is bad: It would be much better if everyone felt like they belonged to Group AB. You seek a cohesive society, where everyone feels like they’re on the same team.

What’s the best way to bring this cohesion about? Your all-too-human impulse is to loudly preach the value of cohesion. But on reflection, this is probably counter-productive. When members of Group B hear you, they’re going to take “cohesion” as a euphemism for “abandon your identity, and submit to the dominance of Group A. ”None too enticing. And when members of Group A notice Group B’s recalcitrance, they’re probably going to think, “We offer Group B the olive branch of cohesion, and they spit in our faces. Typical.” Instead of forging As and Bs into one people, preaching cohesion tears them further apart.

What’s the alternative? Simple. Instead of preaching cohesion, reach out to Group B. Unilaterally show them respect.Unilaterally show them friendliness. They’ll be distrustful at first, but cohesion can’t be built in a day. 

{ The Library of Economics and Liberty | Continue reading }

photo { Stephen Shore, Queens, New York, April 1972 }

He that is thy friend indeed

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Friendships are fragile, and most aren’t built to last forever. Circumstances change, bonds diminish. That she and I made it through the better part of a decade was a feat. In 1999 and 2000, the Dutch sociologist Gerald Mollenhorst and his colleagues interviewed 1,007 people between the ages of 18 and 65 about the people they regularly talked to and spent time with. When they followed up seven years later with many of the participants, only about half of the friendships were still going.

The rules governing romantic love are clearer.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

enamel on steel, 987 plates { Jennifer Bartlett, Rhapsody, 1975-76 (detail) }

You run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. You run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.

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During my clinical internship over 20 years ago, my boss, a psychiatrist, asked me to research how PMS prevents women from thinking clearly. I told him he was a relic of the Stone Age. Women were as consistently clearheaded as men, if not more so.

But recently, a researcher in my lab, Joe Andreano, an expert on female hormones, showed me some surprising data. As a woman’s levels of progesterone and estrogen vary, so does the connectivity between two brain networks: the default mode network and the salience network. These networks play key roles in creating your emotional life.

If I hadn’t seen the data with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it.

When scientists say that brain networks are “strongly connected” or have “increased connectivity,” it means that the neurons have an easier time passing information back and forth. In the case of the default mode and salience networks, increased connectivity means (among other things) that you may experience more powerful negative emotions. In earlier research, for example, my colleagues and I found that people reported more intense sadness when watching the sentimental movie “Stepmom” and more intense fear when watching the horror movie “The Ring Two” in the moments when these brain networks were more connected.

There has also been a flurry of recent studies indicating that certain cocktails of ovarian hormones can make women feel lousy, particularly a week or so before menstruation. Female test subjects who receive ovarian hormones designed to mimic the menstrual cycle, for example, report an increase in negative mood. They also remember negative material better, and they show enhanced stress responses. […]

 I’m not saying that women turn into helpless snowflakes for a few days each month. I’m just saying that the biology is real: Some women may have a short window before their period when, if something bad happens, they will feel more negative or stressed and will remember that unpleasant event more easily.

A few bad feelings or memories aren’t inherently harmful, of course. But this window of vulnerability, combined with other risk factors, could increase the odds of developing mood disorders like depression.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

enamel on linen { Christopher Wool, Untitled, 1998 }

‘Consciousness is nature’s nightmare.’ –Cioran

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Human-robot interaction in workplaces is a research area which remains unexplored.

In this paper, we present the results and analysis of a social experiment we conducted by introducing a humanoid robot (Nadine) into a collaborative social workplace.

The humanoid’s primary task was to function as a receptionist and provide general assistance to the customers. Moreover, the employees who interacted with Nadine were given over a month to get used to her capabilities, after which, the feedback was collected from the staff on the grounds of influence on productivity, affect experienced during interaction and their views on social robots assisting with regular tasks.

Our results show that the usage of social robots for assisting with normal day-to-day tasks is taken quite positively by the co-workers and that in the near future, more capable humanoid social robots can be used in workplaces for assisting with menial tasks.

{ PsyArXiv | Continue reading }

related { Is an Army of Robots Marching on Chinese Jobs? }

art { Hajime Sorayama }

he gone

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Romantic mouth-to-mouth kissing is culturally widespread, although not a human universal, and may play a functional role in assessing partner health and maintaining long-term pair bonds. Use and appreciation of kissing may therefore vary according to whether the environment places a premium on good health and partner investment.

Here, we test for cultural variation (13 countries from six continents) in these behaviours/attitudes according to national health and both absolute (GDP) and relative wealth (GINI).

Our data reveal that kissing is valued more in established relationships than it is valued during courtship.

Also, consistent with the pair bonding hypothesis of the function of romantic kissing, relative poverty (income inequality) predicts frequency of kissing across romantic relationships.

{ Nature | PDF }

photo { Garry Winogrand, New York, 1966 }

‘Elle lui rendit son baiser. L’appartement tourna. Il n’y voyait plus.’ –Gustave Flaubert

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Sometime after four in a dark and cold Italian morning, a young woman accompanied a band of men to a duck shoot. After it was over and the frigid hunters sat by the fire, the eighteen-year old Adriana Ivancich, the only woman in the gathering, asked for a comb for her long black hair. Nearly all the men in the party ignored her and kept up their talking. Ernest Hemingway, however, was not ever one to let a lady go unattended. After rooting around in his pockets, he produced a comb, broke it in half and gave it to her.

{ Long Reads | Continue reading }

photo { Self-portrait of Adriana Ivancich }

*swipes right*

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The convergence in physical appearance hypothesis posits that long-term partners’ faces become more similar with time as a function of the shared environment, diet, and synchronized facial expressions.

While this hypothesis has been widely disseminated in psychological literature, it is supported by a single study of 12 married couples. Here, we examine this hypothesis using the facial images of 517 couples taken at the beginning of their marriage and 20 or more years later. […]

The results show that while spouses’ faces tend to be similar at marriage, they do not converge over time.

{ PsyArXiv | Continue reading }

oil on canvas { Édouard Manet, Young Lady in 1866, 1866 }

Maybe it’s those two old crony aunts held them out to the water front. Queer Mrs Quickenough and odd Miss Doddpebble.

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S is a woman if and only if:

S is systematically subordinated along some dimension (economic, legal, political, social, etc) and S is ‘marked’ as a target for this treatment by observed or imagined bodily features presumed to be evidence of a female’s biological role in reproduction.

To be a woman is to be subordinated in some way because of real or imagined biological features that are meant to indicate one’s female role in reproduction.

{ Aeon | Continue reading }

is there a role for interoception in self-other distinction?

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In this study, we examine whether perceived loneliness is greater among the Baby Boomers—individuals born 1948–1965—relative to those born 1920–1947, and whether older adults have become lonelier over the past decade (2005–2016). […]

Overall, loneliness decreases with age through the early 70s, after which it increases. We find no evidence that loneliness is substantially higher among the Baby Boomers or that it has increased over the past decade.

{ PsyArXiv | Continue reading }

quote { Going at the heart of social cognition: is there a role for interoception in self-other distinction? }