Mittwoch, 28. Januar 2015

Cognitive Advantage in Bilingualism - An Example of Publication Bias?

Cognitive Advantage in Bilingualism - An Example of Publication Bias?
Angela de Bruin, Barbara Treccani, Sergio Della Sala (2015)


It is a widely held belief that bilinguals have an advantage over monolinguals in executive-control tasks, but is this what all studies actually demonstrate? The idea of a bilingual advantage may result from a publication bias favoring studies with positive results over studies with null or negative effects. To test this hypothesis, we looked at conference abstracts from 1999 to 2012 on the topic of bilingualism and executive control. We then determined which of the studies they reported were subsequently published. Studies with results fully supporting the bilingual-advantage theory were most likely to be published, followed by studies with mixed results. Studies challenging the bilingual advantage were published the least. This discrepancy was not due to differences in sample size, tests used, or statistical power. A test for funnel-plot asymmetry provided further evidence for the existence of a publication bias.

What Is Typical Is Good - The Influence of Face Typicality on Perceived Trustworthiness

What Is Typical Is Good - The Influence of Face Typicality on Perceived Trustworthiness
Carmel Sofer, Ron Dotsch, Daniel H. J. Wigboldus, Alexander Todorov (2015)


The role of face typicality in face recognition is well established, but it is unclear whether face typicality is important for face evaluation. Prior studies have focused mainly on typicality’s influence on attractiveness, although recent studies have cast doubt on its importance for attractiveness judgments. Here, we argue that face typicality is an important factor for social perception because it affects trustworthiness judgments, which approximate the basic evaluation of faces. This effect has been overlooked because trustworthiness and attractiveness judgments have a high level of shared variance for most face samples. We show that for a continuum of faces that vary on a typicality-attractiveness dimension, trustworthiness judgments peak around the typical face. In contrast, perceived attractiveness increases monotonically past the typical face, as faces become more like the most attractive face. These findings suggest that face typicality is an important determinant of face evaluation.

Do Men Overperceive Women’s Sexual Interest?

Do Men Overperceive Women’s Sexual Interest?
Carin Perilloux, Robert Kurzban (2015)


Substantial evidence comparing men’s perceptions of women’s sexual intentions with women’s own reports of their sexual intentions has shown a systematic pattern of results that has been interpreted as support for the idea that men overestimate women’s true sexual intentions. However, because women’s true sexual intentions cannot be directly measured, an alternative interpretation of the existing data is that women understate their sexual intentions and that men’s assessments of women’s intentions are generally accurate. In three studies, we (a) replicated the typical sex difference in sexual-intent ratings, (b) showed that men maintain their ratings of women’s sexual intentions even when incentivized to tell the truth, and (c) showed that women believe that other women are understating their sexual intentions in self-report measures. Taken together, these results imply that men might be accurate in perceiving and reporting women’s sexual intentions and that men might be managing errors through biased behavior rather than biased beliefs.

Freitag, 23. Januar 2015

Demography and Modernization as the Major Determinants of Religious Belief

Demography and Modernization as the Major Determinants of Religious Belief >pdf<
Gerhard Meisenberg (2012)


Using a sample of up to 62 countries, this study finds that differential fertility influences trend lines in the prevalence of theistic religious belief at the country level. High religiosity of females relative to males is an additional, though less consistent, predictor. These effects are demonstrated on the background of two other causal influences: Recovery from communist rule predicts a rising trend, and indicators of economic, social and cognitive development predict a declining trend. Several alternative hypotheses about the determinants of religious trends receive no support.


The most important conclusion of the present study is that differential fertility is a significant influence on trends in the strength of religious belief at the country level. This adds to earlier results suggesting that differential fertility is important for the growth of Christian denominations in the United States (Hout et al, 2001), and for future religiosity in most religious traditions worldwide (Kaufmann, 2008, 2010). The belief that differential fertility can affect trends in psychological and behavioral traits in human societies has been brought forward since the late 19th century as an implication of Darwinian evolutionary theory, and is still held by many researchers today (Lynn, 2011; Rowthorn, 2011). However, empiric evidence linking differential fertility for any behavioral trait to country-level trends in the trait has never been presented in comparative studies. The results presented here for religion provide the first empiric evidence that this theoretically postulated link exists for religion on a worldwide scale. The reason why the effect is detectable even over rather short time periods of 5 to 26 years is that in the case of religion, genetic transmission is amplified greatly by cultural transmission in the family.
The results of this study indicate that the future of religion is determined by two factors. First, rising cognitive and economic development are predicted to undermine religion in the “threshold countries” of Asia, North Africa and Latin America in the near future. Second, differential fertility favoring religious individuals and groups within countries is likely to assure the survival of religion in many of the advanced post-industrial societies, most likely through the formation of highly religious and highly fertile subpopulations as postulated by Rowthorn (2011).
One development that is not addressed in the present study is the positive relationship between the country-level total fertility rate (TFR) and religiosity. The TFR (1990-2005 average) correlates with religious belief at r = .618 (N = 94 countries). The 5.73 billion people in countries covered in the World Values Survey had an average religiosity rating of 7.32 in 2005. Based on data about population size and annual population growth rates from the CIA’s World Fact Book, the 7.93 billion expected to live in these countries in 2035 will have an average religiosity score of 7.61 because of differential fertility between countries, assuming no change of religiosity within countries.

Mittwoch, 21. Januar 2015

Lessons in academic freedom as lived experience

Lessons in academic freedom as lived experience
Linda S. Gottfredson (2010)


What is academic freedom, what guarantees it, and what would you do if your university violated yours? Few of us academics entertain these questions or ponder possible answers. This leaves us individually and collectively vulnerable to encroachments on our right to free and open inquiry. I use a case study from 1989–1994 to illustrate how violations of academic freedom develop, the typical pretexts used to justify them, and what is required to halt and reverse them. My aim is to help scholars recognize when academic freedom is at risk and how better to safeguard it in daily academic life. To this end, I describe the general social mechanisms that operate both inside and outside academe to selectively burden and suppress unpopular research. The case study provides concrete examples to illustrate six specific lessons. Like free speech in general, academic freedom (1) has maintenance costs, (2) is not self-enforcing, (3) is invoked today to stifle unwelcome speech, (4) is often violated by academic institutions, (5) is not often defended by academics themselves, and (6) yet, requires no heroic efforts for collective enjoyment if scholars consistently contribute small acts of support to prevent incursions.

The Rise of Modern, Industrial Society - The cognitive-developmental approach as a new key to solve the most fascinating riddle in world history

The Rise of Modern, Industrial Society - The cognitive-developmental approach as a new key to solve the most fascinating riddle in world history (2014) >pdf<
Georg W Oesterdiekhoff, James R. Flynn, Richard Lynn, Gerhard Meisenberg, Tatu Vanhanen, Michael A. Woodley of Menie, Aurelio Jose Figueredo;

[The complete debate.]

Dysgenic trends in USA, ISIR 2014

Dysgenic trends in USA, ISIR 2014 >pdf<
Gerhard Meisenberg & Michael A. Woodley of Menie

What Are the Causes of Cognitive Evolution? A Critique and Extension of Psychogenetic Theory

What Are the Causes of Cognitive Evolution? A Critique and Extension of Psychogenetic Theory >pdf<
Gerhard Meisenberg (2014)


This comment acknowledges that Oesterdiekhoff’s psychogenetic theory provides a satisfactory explanation for the co-occurrence of the important elements of modernization. In essence, rising general intelligence caused the emergence of modern industrial civilization. However, the theory as presented by Oesterdiekhoff has limited heuristic value because it does not explain why this development occurred only in Europe, why it did not occur earlier, why it occurred at all, and why cognitive, cultural, technological and economic complexity continued to rise for more than two centuries after the initial breakthroughs of the Industrial Revolution. Nor does it explain why earlier civilizations either fell into stagnation or declined to a state of reduced creativity. Based on current knowledge about the causes of individual and society-level variations in intelligence, this comment presents a theoretical framework in which these questions can be answered.

link: >the complete debate<

Dienstag, 20. Januar 2015

Pair-Bonding, Romantic Love, and Evolution: The Curious Case of Homo sapiens

Pair-Bonding, Romantic Love, and Evolution: The Curious Case of Homo sapiens
Garth J. O. Fletcher, Jeffry A. Simpson, Lorne Campbell, and Nickola C. Overall (2015)


This article evaluates a thesis containing three interconnected propositions. First, romantic love is a “commitment device” for motivating pair-bonding in humans. Second, pair-bonding facilitated the idiosyncratic life history of hominins, helping to provide the massive investment required to rear children. Third, managing long-term pair bonds (along with family relationships) facilitated the evolution of social intelligence and cooperative skills. We evaluate this thesis by integrating evidence from a broad range of scientific disciplines. First, consistent with the claim that romantic love is an evolved commitment device, our review suggests that it is universal; suppresses mate-search mechanisms; has specific behavioral, hormonal, and neuropsychological signatures; and is linked to better health and survival. Second, we consider challenges to this thesis posed by the existence of arranged marriage, polygyny, divorce, and infidelity. Third, we show how the intimate relationship mind seems to be built to regulate and monitor relationships. Fourth, we review comparative evidence concerning links among mating systems, reproductive biology, and brain size. Finally, we discuss evidence regarding the evolutionary timing of shifts to pair-bonding in hominins. We conclude there is interdisciplinary support for the claim that romantic love and pair-bonding, along with alloparenting, played critical roles in the evolution of Homo sapiens.

Montag, 19. Januar 2015

Intelligence (by Linda S. Gottfredson)

Intelligence (Entry by Linda S. Gottfredson in Encyclopedia of Sociology, 2000)

>A difference in IQ of one standard deviation (about 15 points) is socially perceptible and meaningful. Interpersonal communication becomes fraught with increasing difficulty beyond this distance because of larger gaps in vocabulary, knowledge and ability to draw inferences or "catch on," as well as the emotional discomfort such gaps create. Figure 1 reveals how IQ ranges of about one standard deviation also mark off substantial differences in options for education, training, and career, and thus the likelihood of entering different social niches. As shown in the figure, the normal range of intelligence (IQ 70-130, which includes roughly 95 percent of the general white population) spans four standard deviations of IQ. Socially and cognitively, that is an enormous difference. How, then, do people communicate and congregate across the IQ continuum in their daily lives? The average difference between siblings and spouses is about 12 IQ points, which means that most people in a biological family fall within the range of ready cognitive communicability. Any two random people in the population, however, differ by 17 IQ points, which represents the borderline for communicating effectively as social equals.<

Sonntag, 18. Januar 2015

Human Ingenuity:

There is a >mammal< in every human mind, but there are also some 'higher' drives/passions/behavioral tendencies that seem to be more developed in human beings (on average and in the positive extreme) than in any other known animal: (A) the thirst for knowledge (B) artistic creativity/receptivity (C) the moral sense ...

Samstag, 17. Januar 2015

Evolution of Vulnerability

A new book by David C. Geary will be published in August.

In November 2014 I posted the link of a video where he talks about the main content of his new book.

One of the key points of his talk:

"Traits elaborated through sexual or social selection are especially vulnerable to disruption by exposure to environmental stressors."

"Anything that has been kind of elaborated above and beyond what you would expect just from natural selection is a target for disruption." 

"These traits can be physical, behavioral, or involve brain and cognition."

So, e.g. "typical male strengths" (at least those that evolved trough sexual selection) are especially vulnerable to disruption by exposure to environmental stressors. And if I understand Geary correctly, the same could also be true for 'gender-neutral' traits that were socially selected (e.g. for several traits that are especially elaborated in a particular human population / in certain populations).

[Is the spatial ability of East Asians more vulnerable to disruption by severe environmental stressors than their verbal ability? Is the verbal ability of Aschkenazims more vulnerable to disruption by environmental stressors than their spatial ability? Has anybody ever compared the cognitive development trajectories of Europeans, Aschkenazims and East Asians that suffer from Alzheimer's disease?]

Donnerstag, 15. Januar 2015

The Biosocial Model of the Rise of Western Civilization

The Biosocial Model of the Rise of Western Civilization: a Counter-Point to Oesterdiekhoff (2013) >pdf<
Michael A. Woodley, Aurelio J. Figueredo (2014)


This article challenges Oesterdiekhoff’s ‘cognitivedevelopmental’ model. First, a biosocial model of the origins of Western civilization is presented, tracing the origins of Western intelligence and creativity to evolutionary change amongst the ancestors of contemporary populations starting in the Pleistocene, accelerating in the Holocene and continuing to the present day. Continuing evolution amongst Western populations also reveals trends, which are not predicted by the ‘cognitive-developmental’ model. This biosocial model aims to illustrate the scientific poverty of purely culturally deterministic models, such as those favored by Oesterdiekhoff and other sociologists. The central tenet of the ‘cognitive-developmental’ model, i.e. the idea that the continuing socio-cultural evolution of Western civilization can be envisaged as the realization of successively higher Piagetian stages, is also directly challenged based on studies in which multiple indicators of formal operational norms have failed to show the Flynn effect on Piagetian staging predicted by Oesterdiekhoff’s model. It is concluded that biosocial models, such as the one advanced here, primarily benefit from the degree to which they are informed by contemporary scientific findings, unlike purely culturally deterministic models, which typically rely instead on the thinking of historical or contemporary sociologists whose work either predates or sidesteps the Darwinian revolution.

link: >the complete Oesterdiekhoff debate<

Dienstag, 13. Januar 2015

Ebola isn't over yet:

(Perhaps in the case of Liberia there is some hope that the outbreak will come to an end in a somewhat foreseeable future.)


[via Max Roser]

Donnerstag, 8. Januar 2015

Psychological Reasoning:

Imo intelligence research is/was much more successful than personality research, because intelligence tests measure cognitive performance, but personality questionnaires, etc, don't measure a performance. According to the research of Judith Hall (a) women are much better than men at reading non-verbal cues, in particular when more cues are given (voice + facial expression + posture). But perhaps women are, on average, also better at complex psychological reasoning. Although it measures occupational interest, there is a big sex difference on the people-things dimension (d>1,00; e.g. b). Everyday-life observations seem to show that women, specifically the more feminine women, have a tendency to think more about persons and relationships than men. They "invest" their fluid intelligence differently than men in thinking about persons and the the emotional lives of persons, children, etc. But while the "value" of a reasoning performance about things can be judged relatively objectively, a reasoning performance about persons, in particular about the internal lives of persons is a much "softer" performance. [I have to admit that I am not well informed about the multiple "Social Intelligence" constructs, but probably this is one of the reasons why none of these constructs is useful.]

Dienstag, 6. Januar 2015

Ethnic Differences and Individual Differences (e.g. in Intelligence)

"Yes, genes vary much more within human populations than between them, but these two kinds of genetic variation are not comparable. A population boundary typically coincides with a geographic or ecological barrier, such as a change from one vegetation zone to another or, in humans, a change from one way of life to another. It thus separates not only different populations but also differing pressures of natural selection. This is why genetic variation within a population differs qualitatively from genetic variation between populations. The first kind cannot be ironed out by similar selection pressures and thus tends to involve genes of little or no selective value. The second kind occurs across population boundaries, which tend to separate different ecosystems, different vegetation zones, different ways of life ... and different selection pressures. So the genes matter a lot more.

This isn't just theory. We see the same genetic overlap between many sibling species that are nonetheless distinct anatomically and behaviorally. Because such species have arisen over a relatively short span of time, like human populations, they have been made different primarily by natural selection, so the genetic differences between them are more likely to have adaptive, functional consequences ... as opposed to "junk variability" that slowly accumulates over time."

[Speculation: Perhaps race/population differences in intelligence are caused by a small/narrow set of genes, while individual differences in intelligence ("junk variability") are caused by a huge number of genes with very small effect (per gene).]

Women and Children First:

[Is/was the "woman and children first"-norm primarily a Western norm or did it also emerge in other parts of this world?]

Kingsley R. Browne (2007)

[See also: Do sinking ships put women and children first?]