Mittwoch, 18. Dezember 2013

Metatraits of the Big Five Differentially Predict Engagement and Restraint of Behavior

Metatraits of the Big Five Differentially Predict Engagement and Restraint of Behavior
Jacob B. Hirsh, Colin G. DeYoung,  and Jordan B. Peterson; 2009


Although initially believed to contain orthogonal dimensions, the Big Five personality taxonomy appears to have a replicable higher-order structure, with the metatrait of Plasticity reflecting the shared variance between Extraversion and Openness/Intellect, and the meta-trait of Stability reflecting the shared variance among Neuroticism, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. These higher order traits have been theorized to relate to individual differences in the functioning of the dopamine and serotonin systems, respectively. As dopamine is associated with exploration and incentive-related action, and serotonin with satiety and constraint, this neuropharmacological trait theory has behavioral implications, which we tested in 307 adults by examining the association of a large number of behavioral acts with multi-informant reports of the metatraits. The frequencies of acts were consistently positively correlated with Plasticity and negatively correlated with Stability. At the broadest level of description, variation in human personality appears to reflect engagement and restraint of behavior.

Engagement and Self-Control: Superordinate dimensions of Big Five traits

Engagement and Self-Control: Superordinate dimensions of Big Five traits
Kenneth R Olson; May 2005
Personality and Individual Differences


Two separate factor analyses of Big Five traits have independently identified two higher-order factors. These factors have been interpreted quite differently by their respective researchers. This conceptual paper posits the superordinate personality dimensions of Engagement (engaged versus disengaged) and Self-Control as the common elements of these higher-order factors. A review and integration of existing research shows that Engagement traits decline and Self-Control traits increase during adulthood. The Big Five traits of the Engagement dimension are each empirically related to positive affect, academic engagement in the form of classroom participation, benefiting from major life challenges, sensation seeking, and the construct of inspiration. Self-Control traits are negatively related to variables such as problematic work-related behaviors and job performance, personality disorders, negative affect, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.


The Engagement dimension (engaged versus disengaged) reflects the degree of individuals' social and experiential engagement. This dimension encompasses Digman's (1997) Beta (personal growth) factor and Carroll's (2002) SF1 (General Social Competence). Based on the Big Five domains loading on Digman's Beta factor and the traits comprising Carroll's SF1, Engagement encompasses positive affective states, openness to a variety of novel and imaginative experiences, and social and interpersonal involvement. It entails active and enthusiastic participation in life activities. In relation to Big Five traits, Engagement entails gregariousness and social assertiveness, vigorous activity, and positive affect (Extraversion) and pursuit of novel intellectual, emotional, behavioral, and aesthetic experiences (Openness to Experience). Openness is highly correlated with a factor labeled Intellectual Engagement (r = .69) which measures individuals' desire to engage and understand their world, and breadth of interest (Goff & Ackerman, 1992).
The Engagement dimension incorporates both vigorous social engagement (Extraversion) and experiential engagement (Openness to Experience). Thus, Engagement encompasses the ‘‘venture-some encounter with life’’ that characterizes Digman's Beta factor, and the social and intellectual engagement evident in Carroll's SF1. In broad terms, it reflects the extent to which individuals actively engage their inner and outer worlds.
Individuals who exhibit high levels of engagement are likely to demonstrate intense and vital involvement in activities. Kytle (2000) described the experience of engagement as involving deep commitment and purposive attention and as being accompanied by elevated mood. He suggested that high levels of engagement are akin to the psychological characteristics associated with optimal states such as Maslow's (1968) peak experiences and self-actualization, Csikszenthmihalyi's (1991) concept of flow, ‘‘the process of total involvement with life,’’ and Langer's (1989) dimension of mindfulness, which involves cognitive engagement. Engagement in events is empirically associated with feelings of commitment (Britt, 1999). Engagement in the classroom is related to the traits of the Engagement dimension. Using a criterion of academic performance that assesses active classroom engagement––classroom participation grades among masters of business administration students––Rothstein, Paunonen, Rush, and King (1994) found significant positive correlations for Extraversion and Openness to Experience.
At the other end of the engaged–disengaged continuum, disengagement is characterized by detachment, disinterest, apathy, low involvement, and a non-participatory orientation to life activities. Thus, for example, a dynamic and charismatic individual would likely be high on Engagement traits whereas an apathetic and passive person would tend to be very low. Natural selection likely equipped humans with traits that optimized their ability to adapt to their environments. If it is indeed a fundamental trait dimension, Engagement would be expected to have significant adaptive benefits. An individual must engage the environment in order to obtain resources for nourishment, shelter, and growth. Engagement would likely increase the chances that the individual would explore and pursue desirable incentives and goals so as to foster evolutionary tasks such as survival and reproduction. Humans have evolved increasingly complex and sophisticated forms of engagement with their environment. However, extreme, constant, or unmitigated engagement may be counterproductive. Therefore, at the other end of this trait continuum, there should also be advantages to disengagement in particular circumstances and environments. Disengagement from goals and incentives has adaptive benefits (Klinger, 1975). For example, Gibson and Sanbonmatsu (2004) found that optimists more so than pessimists maintain positive expectations and continue gambling after negative gaming outcomes. These researchers suggested there are common situations in which the pessimistic tendency to disengage is beneficial.


Self-Control is the underlying variable that is common to Digman's (1997) Alpha (socialization) factor and Carroll's (2002) SF2. In terms of these higher-order factors, the Self-Control dimension is positively associated with caution, control, and inhibition of antisocial behavior and negatively associated with negative affective states. Self-Control incorporates the impulse restraint and inhibition of aggression of Digman's Alpha (socialization) factor and the self-restraint, carefulness,
and inhibition of antisocial behaviors that are characteristic of the traits loading on Carroll's SF2. With regard to Big Five traits, Self-Control entails restraint of (a) hostile, uncooperative behaviors (Agreeableness); (b) irresponsible, lackadaisical behaviors (Conscientiousness); and (c) negative, distressing emotions (Emotional Stability). Thus this superordinate trait dimension reflects interpersonal self-control (Agreeableness), emotional self-control (Emotional Stability), and task-oriented self-control (Conscientiousness). The idea that Self-Control warrants consideration as a fundamental trait dimension is consistent with the suggestion that self-regulation is a core feature of the self and is vitally important for achieving success and happiness in life; deficiencies in self-control have been linked to a wide spectrum of personal and social problems including addiction, abuse, crime, domestic violence, teen pregnancy, academic failure, bankruptcy, and obesity (Tice, Bratslavsky, & Baumeister, 2001). Regarding the Big Five traits that comprise Self-Control, the notion of emotional control is inherent in the domain of Emotional Stability (versus Neuroticism) which reflects control of distressing emotions. With regard to Agreeableness and Conscientiousness, Ahadi and Rothbart (1994) suggested a developmental connection between these two trait domains and early appearing processes of self-regulation, termed Effortful Control (EC). EC processes that provide the developmental foundation for Agreeableness and Conscientiousness involve self-regulation of frustration. During the course of development, the EC system is posited to differentiate into two separate systems that deal with the frustration coming from people (Agreeableness) and the frustration coming from tasks (Conscientiousness; Jensen-Campbell et al., 2002). Agreeableness and Conscientiousness are empirically related to self-regulatory behaviors as measured by neuropsychological tests and are predictive of healthy EC processes (Jensen-Campbell et al., 2002). Piedmont (1998) described trait Conscientiousness as reflecting the degree of individuals' personal control. Conscientiousness is inversely related to imprudent behaviors (e.g.., school truancy, drug and alcohol use, involvement in accidents) and self-reported criminal intent (O Gorman & Baxter, 2002). Thus, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness appear to be related to self-control and self-regulation both theoretically and empirically.
Why are Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Emotional Stability the fundamental traits related to self-control? One answer may be that these three traits encompass self-control of critically important areas of human functioning. Agreeableness and Conscientiousness refer to actions in the external world, with Agreeableness related to self-control in the personal domain of interpersonal relations and Conscientiousness related to self-control of task-oriented behavior. Emotional Stability relates to self-control of the internal world of affective experience in regard to emotional distress.
From an evolutionary perspective, there are numerous benefits to self-control. Survival is enhanced by control of potentially rash and hasty actions and by thorough consideration of consequences. Inhibition of impulsive responses may help avoid exposure to predators, enemies, disease, and other dangers. Careful planning and foresight increase the odds of securing necessary resources such as food and shelter. Control of emotional reactions such as rage and hostility facilitates formation of cooperative and strategic alliances and successful pair-bonding. At the other (low) end of the Self-Control continuum, in some circumstances it is also adaptive to be highly sensitive to external threat, imminent danger, and potential loss and to experience the negative emotions that warn of these aversive events. When directly threatened, individuals' survival may be enhanced by immediate action and vigorous fight or flight reactions.

[Engagement and Self-Control = Plasticity and Stability]

Dienstag, 17. Dezember 2013


Aurelio J Figueredo et al.; December 2013
Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology


The Strategic Differentiation-Integration Effort (SD-IE) hypothesis predicts regulation by life history speed (K) of the magnitudes of the correlations among its components, such that individuals with slower life history strategies exhibit life history traits that are less correlated with each other than individuals with faster life history strategies. This conative differentiation among high-K individuals is proposed to arise due to the elevated social competition in stable, predictable environments faced by these individuals and to facilitate mutualistic rather than antagonistic social interaction strategies via social-ecological niche-splitting and domain-specific resource allocation. We tested the predictions of SD-IE regarding relations among life history traits using the Continuous Parameter Estimation Method on data from two college student convenience samples, one all-female sample (N=382) and one mixed-sex sample (N=205), as well as two nationally-representative samples of the US population, the MIDUS (National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States, N=2080) and the NLSY (National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, N=5082). The predicted SD-IE effects were statistically significant and in the expected negative direction among most indicators of the lower-order slow life history factors and among all indicators of the single higher-order slow life history Super-K factor.

Samstag, 14. Dezember 2013

A Life-Span Theory of Control

A Life-Span Theory of Control
Jutta Heckhausen and Richard Schulz; 1995


A life-span theory of development is presented that is based on the concepts of primary and secondary control. Primary control refers to behaviors directed at the external environment and involves attempts to change the world to fit the needs and desires of the individual. Secondary control is targeted at internal processes and serves to minimize losses in, maintain, and expand existing levels of primary control. Secondary control helps the individual to cope with failure and fosters primary control by channeling motivational resources toward selected action goals throughout the life course. Primary control has functional primacy over secondary control. An analysis of extensive and diverse literatures spanning infancy through old age shows that trade-offs between primary and secondary control undergo systematic shifts across the life course in response to the opportunities and constraints encountered.

Dienstag, 10. Dezember 2013

Going Green to Be Seen: Status, Reputation, and Conspicuous Conservation

Going Green to Be Seen: Status, Reputation, and Conspicuous Conservation
Vladas Griskevicius et al.; 2010


Why do people purchase proenvironmental “green” products? We argue that buying such products can be construed as altruistic, since green products often cost more and are of lower quality than their conventional counterparts, but green goods benefit the environment for everyone. Because biologists have observed that altruism might function as a “costly signal” associated with status, we examined in 3 experiments how status motives influenced desire for green products. Activating status motives led people to choose green products over more luxurious nongreen products. Supporting the notion that altruism signals one’s willingness and ability to incur costs for others’ benefit, status motives increased desire for green products when shopping in public (but not private) and when green products cost more (but not less) than nongreen products. Findings suggest that status competition can be used to promote proenvironmental behavior.

[So there are at least two kinds of environmentalists: (A) Environmentalists who are really concerned about the preservation of their environment and (B) environmentalists who are primarily striving for status, frequently in a somewhat hysterical, dishonest and unhealthy manner (Al Gore & Co).]

New Book Release: The Gap - The Science of What Separates Us from Other Animals

The Gap : The Science of What Separates US from Other Animals
Thomas Suddendorf; Publication Date: November 12, 2013

Montag, 9. Dezember 2013

Women's Mate Preferences - The Preference for Culturally Successful Men:

David C. Geary; Male, Female - The Evolution of Human Sex Differences; 2010:

Because preferences cannot always put into practice, a woman's preferred marriage partner and her actual marriage partner are not typically the same. Social psychological studies of explicit and implicit preferences -  for instance, preference for an attractive face without conscious awareness of why it is attractive - are thus an important adjunct to research on actual marriage choices. These preferences are less constrained by the competing interests of other people and capture the processes associated with the social and psychological mechanisms that can influence reproductive decisions and behaviors (Kenrick, Sadalla, Groth, & Trost, 1990). Preferences can nevertheless be influenced by social and sexual dynamics in the local community (Kenrick, N. P. Li, & Butner, 2003), by wider economic and social conditions, and by the individual woman's attractiveness as a mate; attractive women demand more from their mates (Pawlowski & Jasienska, 2008). To complicate matters further, not all preferences are equal; some are necessities and others are luxuries (N. P. Li, Bailey, Kenrick, & Linsenmeier, 2002). To examine this further, I begin with a discussion of the sex difference in preference for a culturally successful mate and then turn to mate-choice trade-offs and wider influences.
Culturally Successful Men. Women throughout the world indicate that men's cultural success or attributes that are likely to lead to success (e.g. ambition) are necessities when it comes to their preferred marriage partners (D. M. Buss, 1989; N. P. Li et al., 2002). One of the largest studies ever conducted on women's and men's preferences included more than 10,000 people in 37 cultures across six continents and five islands (D. M. Buss, 1989). Women rated "good financial prospect" higher than did men in all cultures. ... The magnitude of the sex difference was smallest in Eastern Europe, but even here two out of three women rated good financial prospect as more important in a prospective marriage partner than did the average man. For the remaining regions of the world, from three out of four to five out of six women rated good financial prospect more highly than did the average man. In 29 samples, the "ambition and industriousness" of a prospective mate were more important for women than for men , presumably because these traits are indicators of his ability to eventually achieve cultural success. In only one sample were men's ratings significantly higher than those of women, the Zulu of South Africa; this may reflect the high level of physical labor (e.g., house building) expected of Zulu women.
Hatfield and Sprecher (1995) found the same pattern for college students in the United States, Japan, and Russia. In each of this nations, women valued a prospective mate's potential for success, earnings, status, and social position more highly than did men. A meta-analysis of research published from 1965 to 1986 revealed the same sex difference (Feingold, 1992). Across studies, three out of four women rated socioeconomic status as more important in a prospective marriage partner than did the average man. Studies conducted prior to 1965 showed the same pattern (e.g., Hill, 1945), as did a survey of a nationally representative sample of unmarried adults in the United States (Sprecher, Sullivan, & Hatfield, 1994). Across age, ethnic status, and socioeconomic status, women preferred husbands who were better educated than they were and who earned more money than they did. Buunk, Dijkstra, Fetchenhauer, and Kenrick (2002) found the same pattern for women ranging in age from 20s to 60s.
Women's preference for culturally successful men is also found in studies of singles ads and popular fiction novels. In a study of 1,000 "lonely hearts" ads, Greenlees and McGrew (1994) found that British women were 3 times more likely than British men to seek financial security in a prospective marriage partner. Oda (2001) found that Japanese women were 31 times more likely than Japanese men to seek financial security and social status in a long-term partner. Muslim women sought educated and financially secure partners who were tall, emotionally sincere, and socially skilled (Badahdah & Tiemann, 2005). Young women (younger than 40 years) in Spain wanted both financial success and physical attractiveness in a prospective mate (Gil-Burmann, Pelaez, & Sanchez, 2002); older women retained their desire for financial success but valued physical attractiveness less highly than did younger women. Whissell (1996) found the same themes across 25 contemporary romance novels and 6 classic novels that have traditionally appealed to women more than men, including two stories of the Old Testament written about 3,000 years ago. In these stories, the male protagonist is almost always an older, socially dominant, and wealthy man who ultimately marries the woman.
As in traditional societies, marriage to a culturally successful man can have reproductive consequences for a woman in modern societies. Bereczkei and Csanaky (1996) studied more than 1,800 Hungarian men and women who were 35 years of age or older and thus not likely to have more children. They found that women who had married men who were older and better educated than themselves had, on average, more children, were less likely to get divorced, and reported higher levels of marital satisfaction than did women who married younger and / or less educated men.
Trade-Offs. Women's preference for culturally successful partner is highlighted when they must make cost-benefit trade-offs between a partner's cultural success versus other important traits, such as physical attractiveness (N. P. Li, 2007; N. P. Li et al., 2002). When their "mate dollars", so to speak, are limited, women spend more of them on the social status and resources of a long-term partner than on other traits. When they have additional mate dollars, they spend proportionally less on status and resources and more on the peronality traits of this mate (e.g., his friendliness). ... Unmarried women on a tight budget allocate more mate dollars to the resources or social standing of a prospective mate than do men, but the magnitude of the sex difference declines as budgets becomes flush. In yet another study, college women reported the minimally acceptable earning potential of a prospective husband was the 70th percentile; on the basis of earning potential alone, 70% of men were eliminated from the pool of potential marriage partners. The corresponding figure for college men was the 40th percentile (Kenrick et al., 1990).
Once a prospective mate has achieved the minimal social standing, additional resources and status yield dimishing results. Kenrick, Sundie, Nicastle, and Stone (2001) found that desirability of man as marriage partner increased sharply as his income rose from low- to an upper-middle-class level (about 100,000$) and then leveled off. An increase in a man's income from $ 25,000 to $ 75,000 per year resulted in a substantial increase in his desirability, but increasing his income from $ 100,000 per year to $ 300,000 per year had little effect.

Sonntag, 8. Dezember 2013

James Thompson on Earthquakes (2011)

"It's almost as if the earthquake is testing the morality of a country..."

A Commentary:

I am skilled at reading, but unskilled at writing and speaking English. Nevertheless I will try to change my blogging style in the following months. So I am going to write more comments and publish some of my own thoughts. It's quite certain that those comments  and thoughts will contain quite a few writing errors. I am sorry for that.

Sexual selection for indicators of intelligence

Sexual selection for indicators of intelligence
Geoffrey Miller; 2000
pages 260 (269) -> 275 (284)


Many traits in many species have evolved through sexual selection specifically to function as ‘fitness indicators’ that reveal good genes and good health. Sexually selected fitness indicators typically show (1) higher coefficients of phenotypic and genetic variation than survival traits, (2) at least moderate genetic heritabilities and (3) positive correlations with many aspects of an animal’s general condition, including body size, body symmetry, parasite resistance, longevity and freedom from deleterious mutations. These diagnostic criteria also appear to describe human intelligence (the g factor). This paper argues that during human evolution, mate choice by both sexes focused increasingly on intelligence as a major heritable component of biological fitness. Many human-specific behaviours (such as conversation, music production, artistic ability and humour) may have evolved principally to advertise intelligence during courtship. Though these mental adaptations may be modular at the level of psychological functioning, their efficiencies may be tightly intercorrelated because they still tap into common genetic and neurophysiological variables associated with fittness itself. Although the g factor (like the superordinate factor of fitness itself) probably exists in all animal species, humans evolved an unusually high degree of interest in assessing each other’s intelligence during courtship and other social interactions and, consequently, a unique suite of highly g-loaded mental adaptations for advertising their intelligence to one another through linguistic and cultural interaction. This paper includes nine novel, testable predictions about human intelligence derived from sexual selection theory.

Relevance of education and intelligence at the national level for health: The case of HIV and AIDS

Relevance of education and intelligence at the national level for health: The case of HIV and AIDS
Heiner Rindermann and Gerhard Meisenberg; 2009


Studies at the individual level have shown a negative effect of education and intelligence on risky behavior. The same has been demonstrated for risky sexual behavior and for HIV-infection rates in sub-Saharan Africa. In path analyses at the country data level, cognitive abilities (seen as depending on education) show a strong negative effect on HIV-infection rates, whereas gross domestic product and modernization each has a small positive effect. A higher proportion of Muslims in the population reduces the HIV-infection rate. Explanations for the effect of intelligence include a better understanding of causal relationships between one's behavior and health, greater awareness of future consequences, indirect intelligence effects, a general rationality effect, a civic embeddedness effect, and more competent management of the problem by governments, e.g. through public education programs about HIV transmission and AIDS.

African cognitive ability:

African cognitive ability: Research, results, divergences and recommendations
Heiner Rindermann; 2012 - Article in Press
Personality and Individual Differences


In the past different researchers have come to diverging cognitive ability estimates for people in Africa and of African descent. The paper tries to check the validity of past results by comparing them with outcomes of two new psychometric test studies from East and South Africa; with results from student assessment studies; with predictions based on those variables which, outside Africa, correlate most strongly with intelligence; and by comparing them with further indicators of cognitive ability (descriptions of everyday life and human accomplishment). Integrating these cognitive ability measures with the application of several corrections (due to the higher age of students in Africa, lower African school enrollment, selectivity of samples and higher African secular IQ rise), the best guess for an African average is IQ 75. Finally, possible environmental and genetic (evolutionary, therefore past environmental) causes are discussed and suggestions are given how to enhance cognitive development in African countries.