Friday, August 31, 2012

Sexual people are more likely to be victims and perpetrators of sexual harassment

A new study from Evolution and Human Behavior reports that highly sexual people are more likely to be victims and perpetrators of sexual harassment:
Sexual harassment and coercion have mainly been considered from a sex difference perspective. While traditional social science theories have explained harassment as male dominance of females, the evolutionary perspective has suggested that sex differences in the desire for sex are a better explanation. This study attempts to address individual differences associated with harassment from an evolutionary perspective. Considering previous research that has found links between sociosexual orientation inventory (SOI) and harassment, we consider whether this association can be replicated in a large, representative sample of high school students (N=1199) from a highly egalitarian culture. Expanding the previous studies which mainly focused on male perpetrators and female victims, we also examine females and males as both perpetrators and as victims. We believe that unrestricted sociosexuality motivates people to test whether others are interested in short-term sexual relations in ways that sometimes might be defined as harassment. Furthermore, unrestricted individuals signal their sociosexual orientation, and while they do not desire all individuals that react to these signals with sexual advances, they attract much more sexual advances than individuals with restricted sociosexual orientations, especially from other unrestricted members of the opposite sex. This more or less unconscious signaling thus makes them exploitable, i.e., harassable. We find that SOI is a predictor for sexual harassment and coercion among high school students. The paper concludes that, as expected, unrestricted sociosexuality predicts being both a perpetrator and a victim of both same-sex and opposite-sex harassment.

Monday, August 27, 2012

National differences in female partner violence

In this WHO study of ever-partnered women in 10 countries, Ethiopia has the highest percent ever being physically or sexually assault by a partner--71 percent. Japan has the lowest with 15 percent. The authors chalk it up to differences in economic development. I'm not so sure.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Working memory training does not improve IQ

In two new studies (here and here) it was reported that working memory training does not improve cognitive ability. From the second article:
Numerous recent studies seem to provide evidence for the general intellectual benefits of working memory training. In reviews of the training literature, Shipstead, Redick, and Engle (2010, 2012) argued that the field should treat recent results with a critical eye. Many published working memory training studies suffer from design limitations (no-contact control groups, single measures of cognitive constructs), mixed results (transfer of training gains to some tasks but not others, inconsistent transfer to the same tasks across studies), and lack of theoretical grounding (identifying the mechanisms responsible for observed transfer). The current study compared young adults who received 20 sessions of practice on an adaptive dual n-back program (working memory training group) or an adaptive visual search program (active placebo-control group) with a no-contact control group that received no practice. In addition, all subjects completed pretest, midtest, and posttest sessions comprising multiple measures of fluid intelligence, multitasking, working memory capacity, crystallized intelligence, and perceptual speed. Despite improvements on both the dual n-back and visual search tasks with practice, and despite a high level of statistical power, there was no positive transfer to any of the cognitive ability tests.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Early birds have the best temperament profile

Here is the abstract from an interesting new study in Personality and Indiviual Differences:
The aim of the present study was to test whether morningness–eveningness is related to the six dimensions of temperament postulated in the Regulative Theory of Temperament: briskness (BR), perseveration (PE), sensory sensitivity (SS), emotional reactivity (ER), endurance (EN), and activity (AC). A sample of 581 undergraduates (age: 21.92 ± 2.54; 381 female) completed the Morningness–Eveningness Questionnaire (MEQ) and the Formal Characteristics of Behaviour – Temperament Inventory. Data was analysed using linear and quadratic hierarchical regressions. The MEQ scores exhibited linear associations with BR and EN and quadratic relationships with PE, ER and AC. Morningness was related to high levels of EN, BR and AC and low levels of PE and ER, while eveningness was associated with low levels of EN, ER, BR and PE and high levels of AC. Subjects in the middle of the morningness–eveningness dimension exhibited high levels of PE and ER, low levels of AC, and average levels of EN and BR. Morningness was related to the most advantageous temperament profile, and temperament is discussed as a possible mediator between morningness–eveningness and mood and affective disorders.

And here are the first two paragraphs:
The morningness–eveningness dimension is a variable belonging to individual differences, describing individual preferences for functioning at various times of the day. Individuals differing in morningness–eveningness display differing circadian phasing of many physiological and psychological circadian rhythms. Individuals with different morningness–eveningness levels also vary in many more individual characteristics than simply their circadian phase position.

Particularly consistent relationships have been shown for morningness–eveningness and affective functioning. Eveningness was associated with a disadvantageous diurnal mood profile, consisting of low energy and pleasance and high tension (Jankowski & Ciarkowska, 2008), which was similar to the profile of individuals with depressive symptoms (Wirz-Justice, 2008). Therefore, it is not surprising that eveningness has been associated with depression (Chelminski, Ferraro, Petros, & Plaud, 1999) and other affective disorders ( [Ahn et al., 2008] and [Murray et al., 2003]). Consequently, greater eveningness was associated with lower life satisfaction (Jankowski, 2012). The above observations seem to have crucial importance in studying morningness–eveningness, as they imply that individual circadian preference may influence key measures of human wellbeing and happiness.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Falling teen pregnancy and abortion

This is a great article at Slate that provides evidence that later onset of sex and increased use of IUDs in particular have reduced teenage pregnancy and abortion significantly. The author explains that people, especially young people, do not use condoms or take the pill reliably. And it sounds like modern IUDs are superior to the old ones. (Thanks to Jason Malloy).

Law and morality

One concern I have with legalizing behaviors that I view as immoral is that I suspect there is a reciprocal relationship between law and morality. Changing values lead to new laws, and new laws cause a change in values.

Using GSS data, I looked at the strength of the relationship between: 1) illegal drug use and favoring marijuana legalization, and 2) one's view on homosexual sex and favoring gay marriage. Eta-squared for the first relationship is .057 which indicates moderate strength. The gamma statistic for the second relationship is .79 which is very strong. Supporting a law, of course, does not logically require that one is in favor of the behavior in question, but sociologically the two seem to move in tandem.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Religious vs. spiritual

There is a certain type of person who doesn't like to describe himself as "religious" but is fine with "spiritual." (For that matter, there are self-described religious people who don't consider themselves to be particularly spiritual.) You might get the impression that the two are alternatives, but the MIDUS study shows considerable overlap. The correlation between the variables of how religious you are and how spiritual you are is .54 for 988 respondents -- a strong relationship. I also looked to see if perhaps the correlation was lower for young people. For those ages 18-39, the correlation is .51, not much different.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Religiosity and crime

I ran across this meta-analysis of 60 studies that found that religiosity reduces criminal involvement. Byron Johnson in his book More God, Less Crime goes much further and reviews over 300 studies. He finds that all but a handful of studies show the same irreligiosity-crime link. Quite a few of his studies were published in psychology journals, so at least some of them should have controlled for individual differences. (I can't say for sure--who has time to review 300 studies?) This is probably less of an issue since most of these studies are of adolescents who are often made to attend religious services whether they want to attend or not. This should reduce self-selection.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Age and happiness

The idea that youth brings happiness is a common belief. After all people usually enjoy the greatest health, attractiveness and freedom while they are young. The graphs below show that older men and women are not less happy. In fact, male happiness peaks in the late 60s and early 70s and then drops. For women, the pattern seems more or less flat. There's a little increase in the 20s and a decline after 70.

Men, n = 22,129


Women, n = 28,065

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Conservatives and single parenthood

The issue of out-of-wedlock births and conservatism came up in the comments of the last post. Here are the percentages of never-marrried men and women who have kids (GSS, years 2000-2010):

Percent never-married with kids--males

Extremely liberal 22.2
Liberal 12.2
Slightly liberal 18.9
Moderate 22.0
Slightly conservative 15.2
Conservative 21.9
Extremely conservative 37.5

Percent never-married with kids--females

Extremely liberal 34.3
Liberal 29.3
Slightly liberal 35.5
Moderate 45.6
Slightly conservative 37.4
Conservative 46.2
Extremely conservative 63.9

For single men, the numbers bounce around, but extreme conservatives are much more likely to have children. The conservative-fertility link is clearer for single women; over 60 percent of extreme conservatives have offspring. Part of the explanation for this is that conservatives are pro-natalist across the board: for all marital statuses, except perhaps for those who are separated, conservatives have larger families (data not shown).  

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Conservatives and perversity

In the comment section of the post on cross-national correlation between IQ and divorce, reader An Unmarried Man claims that conservatives live secretly perverted lives. (I'm not sure if he is applauding or criticizing us.)  You hear this often enough, but evidence is rarely, if ever, cited. The General Social Survey asks two questions (that I know of) about behavior that at least some people would call perverted--consumption of online pornography and homosexual sex.

Percent using pornographic site in last month--males

Extremely liberal 31.2
Liberal 30.2
Slightly liberal 41.7
Moderate 24.6
Slightly conservative 22.2
Conservative 17.8
Extremely conservative 18.2

Percent using pornographic site in last month--females

Extremely liberal 17.6
Liberal 8.1
Slightly liberal 3.3
Moderate 4.2
Slightly conservative 3.4
Conservative 3.8
Extremely conservative 0.0

Percent who have had same sex partners in past year--males

Extremely liberal 12.0
Liberal 7.9
Slightly liberal 4.5
Moderate 3.3
Slightly conservative 2.2
Conservative 1.5
Extremely conservative 1.4

Percent who have had same sex partners in past year--females

Extremely liberal 12.1
Liberal 5.1
Slightly liberal 2.8
Moderate 1.8
Slightly conservative 2.2
Conservative 1.5
Extremely conservative 2.0

In the study The Social Organization of Sexuality, the group that most frequently practices anal sex is Hispanics--70 percent of whom are Democrats.

Are gun owners mentally ill?

  Some anti-gun people think owning a gun is a sign of some kind of mental abnormality. According to General Social Survey data, gun owners ...