PsyPost Behavior, cognition and society 2018-04-21T16:32:56Z http://www.psypost.org/feed/atom WordPress Eric W. Dolan http://www.psypost.org <![CDATA[Self-report survey data significantly improve predictions of violent crimes in U.S. soldiers]]> http://www.psypost.org/?p=51088 2018-04-21T16:32:56Z 2018-04-21T16:32:56Z Violence perpetrated by military personnel is a major concern of the U.S. Department of Defense. A new study provides evidence that self-reported data can substantially improve predictions of who is at risk of committing physical or sexual crimes.

The findings were published in BMC Psychiatry.

“I am part of a research group that is studying risk factors for suicide and related outcomes among U.S. Army soldiers,” said Ronald Kessler, the McNeil Family Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School and corresponding author of the study.

“One of the unique resources available to researchers working with the Army is access to the vast administrative records collected on each soldier. Our research group has been working for several years to see how well we can pinpoint soldiers at high risk of suicide and related outcomes.”

“But we also realize that administrative data alone have limitations, making us wonder how much we would be able to improve prediction by adding in information collected from self-report surveys of new soldiers.”

The researchers administered a New Soldier Survey to 18,838 men and 2,952 women who were beginning Basic Combat Training. The survey was administered as part of the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS), a multicomponent epidemiological-neurobiological study of suicides and related behavioral health outcomes.

Kessler previously found that a machine learning model of administrative Army data could predict which soldiers would subsequently commit a violent crime. The new study found that including the self-report data resulted in better predictions of physical violence perpetration by men, sexual violence perpetration by men, and sexual violence victimization of women.

“The use of administrative data in conjunction with self-report survey data collected from new soldiers makes it possible to pinpoint a relatively small proportion of soldiers who account for high proportions of several negative outcomes,” Kessler told PsyPost.

“This raises the question whether preventive interventions exist that would be cost-effective to implement that could be administered to these high-risk new soldiers, in an effort to help prevent these bad outcomes and improve chances of having a successful military career and life.”

“The major questions that need to be addressed next involve whether or not interventions exist that would be feasible to implement and sufficiently effective to reduce incidence of the outcomes we studied,” Kessler added.

The study, “Improving risk prediction accuracy for new soldiers in the U.S. Army by adding self-report survey data to administrative data“, was authored by Samantha L. Bernecker, Anthony J. Rosellini, Matthew K. Nock, Wai Tat Chiu, Peter M. Gutierrez, Irving Hwang, Thomas E. Joiner, James A. Naifeh, Nancy A. Sampson, Alan M. Zaslavsky, Murray B. Stein, Robert J. Ursano and Ronald C. Kessler.

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Eric W. Dolan http://www.psypost.org <![CDATA[Scientific reasoning ability does not predict acceptance of evolution among religious individuals, study finds]]> http://www.psypost.org/?p=51082 2018-04-21T15:42:39Z 2018-04-21T15:42:39Z Religious individuals with high scientific reasoning ability are not more likely to accept biological evolution as true, according to new research.

The study, published in the scientific journal Evolution: Education and Outreach, suggests that disbelief in evolution is not necessarily the result of a lack of education or intelligence.

“I grew up in a religious home and have always held strong religious convictions. I am also a biologist and I have seen all of the evidence for evolution and feel that it is the most important concept of biology for everyone to know,” said study author Jamie L. Jensen, an associate professor of biology at Brigham Young University.

“However, throughout my academic training, I was constantly berated for my belief in God and often told (as is classic of a deficit model approach) that this belief is a sign of a lack of logical thinking ability and that anyone who rejects evolution does so out of pure ignorance or lack of reasoning.”

“Let me be clear, I absolutely accept that evolution is the real deal and that includes humans evolving from pre-human ape-like ancestors,” Jensen said. “However, this was something I had to wrestle with and spend a great amount of time reconciling with my religious beliefs (all while being constantly told that I was ‘dumb’ for trying to do so).”

“Thus, I wanted to show that this deficit ideas is false, that very intelligent people are actually capable of holding dichotomous ideas in their heads, i.e., they can completely understand evolutionary theory and even apply it, but they can still believe that Adam and Eve are a special case of creation.”

“However, this belief is not due to a lack of ability to read and interpret the scientific findings, it is a factor of religious belief, personal identity, and worldview. And these issues can’t simply be discarded as ignorance.”

For their study, the researchers surveyed 724 religious individuals (Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, and Jews) regarding their scientific reasoning ability, religiosity, acceptance of creationist views, and acceptance of evolution.

Jensen and her colleagues found there was no relationship between scientific reasoning ability and acceptance of evolution among the religious participants. In other words, religious people with a high degree of scientific literacy and thinking skills are not necessarily more likely to believe in biological evolution.

Religiosity, on the other hand, was found to positively predict the acceptance of creationist views and negatively predict the acceptance of evolution.

“Accepting or not accepting evolutionary theory as valid is not an issue of intelligence or understanding. It is an issue intricately complicated by religion, self-identity, and worldview,” Jensen told PsyPost.

“The big takeaway is that you can be a highly scientifically-minded individual (i.e., have excellent scientific reasoning ability) and still reject evolution on religious grounds (or any other worldview grounds).”

“And the opposite is true (and rather disturbing, I might add): you can have very poor scientific reasoning ability and totally accept evolution,” Jensen added. “Certainly, readers should keep in mind that these statements apply only to individuals who have declared a religious affiliation to one of the groups we tested. We are planning a study now to include those who have declared themselves atheist or agnostic.”

“Based on my experience using this test of scientific reasoning ability, I have no reason to suspect that atheists or agnostics will have significantly higher scientific reasoning ability than any of our other groups tested, but it remains to be tested.”

The study, like all research, has some limitations. The researchers tested scientific reasoning using the Lawson Classroom Test of Scientific Reasoning, which is just one of many tests developed to measure scientific literacy and reasoning ability. The study also employed a cross-sectional design, preventing any conclusions about cause and effect.

“This study represents one of several recent attempts to challenge the misconception that rejecting evolution is a sign of a lack of intelligence (for example, see Sarah Brownell’s recent work on Religious Cultural Competence in Evolution Education),” Jensen said.

“We believe that it is critical to the advancement of society that this misconception be challenged and replaced with the idea that teaching evolution should not be a way to challenge an individual’s religious convictions. Rather, these ideas (science and religion) should be seen either as mutually exclusive ways of getting at truth, one not infringing upon the other, or, as I prefer to view them, as symbiotic ways of constructing truth that can be reconciled if students are given the opportunity to do so without being put on the defensive by insulting assumptions that they lack intelligence.”

The study, “Scientific reasoning ability does not predict scientific views on evolution among religious individuals“, was authored by Katie F. Manwaring, Jamie L. Jensen, Richard A. Gill, Richard R. Sudweeks, Randall S. Davies, and Seth M. Bybee.

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Eric W. Dolan http://www.psypost.org <![CDATA[Study: Mismatches in attractiveness lead to resistance to mate guarding]]> http://www.psypost.org/?p=51074 2018-04-19T22:52:38Z 2018-04-19T22:52:38Z Women who view themselves as more attractive than their partner are more likely to resist mate guarding behaviors, according to research published in Personality and Individual Differences.

“We have recently written a book, The Social Psychology of Attraction and Romantic Relationships. As we researched the material for this book, we reviewed research on matching in physical attractiveness,” said study author Madeleine A. Fugère, a professor of social psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University.

“My colleague, Dr. Alita Cousins, had recently collected some data from couples, including women’s estimates of their own and their partner’s physical attractiveness. We decided to explore that data to examine whether variables like commitment and resistance to mate guarding might be related to matching (or mismatching) in physical attractiveness.”

The study of 692 women in romantic relationships found that most women perceived themselves as having a similar level of physical attractiveness as their male partners.

However, the women who perceived themselves as more attractive than their male partners tended to show less interest in their current romantic relationships.

“Previous research suggests that having positive illusions about our partners can be beneficial for relationships. Our research suggests that the reverse is also true, seeing your partner less positively may be detrimental to long-term relationships,” Fugère told PsyPost.

“We found that women who rated themselves as more attractive than their partners were less committed to their current relationships, they thought more about breaking up with their partners, and they found the idea of alternative partners more appealing. These women were also more likely to resist men’s mate guarding, tactics used by men to keep a partner faithful or to keep a partner in the relationship.”

When women perceived themselves as more attractive, they were more likely to agree with statement such as “I wouldn’t let my partner put his arm around me in public” and “I have erased messages/comments other people have made to me via computer so my partner does not find them.” Though they reported putting up more resistance, they did not report more mate guarding behaviors from their partners compared to the other women.

But the research has some limitations.

“This research is correlational, so we can’t definitively say that mismatching in physical attractiveness causes less commitment or more resistance to mate guarding,” Fugère explained.

“Also, because this research was conducted with only women as participants, future research should explore men’s perceptions of mismatched physical attractiveness and relationship outcomes. Furthermore, our sample was predominantly Caucasian and heterosexual, so future research should attempt to replicate these results in more diverse samples.”

The study, “(Mis)matching in physical attractiveness and women’s resistance to mate guarding“, was authored by Madeleine A. Fugère, Alita J. Cousins, and Stephanie A. MacLaren.

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Eric W. Dolan http://www.psypost.org <![CDATA[Study: Genes linked to lower educational attainment also predict criminal behavior]]> http://www.psypost.org/?p=51071 2018-04-19T01:07:38Z 2018-04-19T01:07:38Z Scientists have found evidence that a genetic risk for low educational attainment is associated with having a criminal record in adulthood. Their new study, published in Psychological Science, provides evidence that some genetic variants are loosely linked to criminal behaviors.

But the findings don’t mean some people are destined to a life of crime just because of their DNA.

“I am interested in finding out why some people become involved in crime and antisocial behavior whereas others do not,” explained Jasmin Wertz, a postdoctoral fellow at Duke University and corresponding author of the study.

“Previous work shows that both ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ contribute to individual differences in antisocial behavior. In this study we wanted to take a closer look at genetic associations with crime, by testing whether a genetic signature previously discovered in a genome-wide association study of educational attainment can also predict criminal offending and if so, why.”

The previous research has allowed scientists to create a “polygenic score” for educational attainment, which summarizes the joint effects of specific genetic variants. Those with a lower score tend to complete fewer years of formal education.

Wertz and her colleagues examined data collected in two longitudinal studies from the United Kingdom and New Zealand: the E-Risk Longitudinal Twin Study and the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study.

They found that individuals with lower polygenic scores for educational attainment were slightly more likely to have a criminal record in adulthood. This association remained even after the researchers accounted for the effects of socioeconomic deprivation and parental antisocial behavior.

“I think there are three main takeaways: First, genetic discoveries for educational attainment are not related to education only. The same genetics also predict other important outcomes, such as criminal offending,” Wertz told PsyPost.

“Second, the effects of the genetic score on crime were small. The majority of people will never receive a criminal record, regardless of their polygenic score. It is not possible to accurately predict who will become a criminal based on our findings.

“Third, the genetic influences we examined became visible as behavioural difficulties already early in life,” Wertz said. “Thus, genetics shape behavioral risks for crime that are manifest well before differences in educational attainment crystallize. Helping children develop better cognitive and self-control skills and improving their school experiences may prevent genetic influences on crime from unfolding.”

Wertz and her colleagues also found that low cognitive ability, poor self-control, academic difficulties and truancy, connected differences partially mediated the association between the polygenic scores for educational attainment and criminal behavior. In other words, these factors connected differences in DNA with participants’ later criminal offending.

“Our understanding of why the education polygenic score is associated with crime (or any other outcome for that matter) is still very limited,” Wertz explained. “We found that poor cognitive and self-control skills explained part of the association, but the pathway from genes to behaviors is very long and we are yet to fully understand what happens in the bodies and brains of people with a low versus high polygenic score that might affect their behaviors.”

“Another interesting question follows from our finding that the polygenic score was associated with the criminogenic environments people grew up in. Although this did not explain away our findings, it is an interesting observation in itself because it blurs the separation of ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’. It will be interesting to study further how nature and nurture combine to influence people’s lives.”

Both genetic and environmental factors contribute to criminal behavior.

“Some people mistakenly think that genetic influences on antisocial behavior imply that some people are born criminals. However, this interpretation is incorrect for several reasons,” Wertz said.

“First, although we found that having a low polygenic score for educational attainment increased the risk of engaging in crime, even among individuals with very low scores the majority had no criminal record.”

“Second, environments are at least as important as genetic influences in explaining why some people behave more antisocially than others and, third, genetic risk operated through behaviors and characteristic that can provide targets for intervention, such as low self-control and academic difficulties,” Wertz concluded.

The study, “Genetics and Crime: Integrating New Genomic Discoveries Into Psychological Research About Antisocial Behavior“, was authored by J. Wertz, A. Caspi, D. W. Belsky, A. L. Beckley, L. Arseneault, J. C. Barnes, D. L. Corcoran, S. Hogan, R. M. Houts, N. Morgan, C. L. Odgers, J. A. Prinz, K. Sugden, B. S. Williams, R. Poulton, and T. E. Moffitt.

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Eric W. Dolan http://www.psypost.org <![CDATA[Study: People with less political knowledge think they know a lot about politics]]> http://www.psypost.org/?p=51062 2018-04-17T02:23:13Z 2018-04-17T02:23:13Z People who know less about politics are more confident about their political knowledge, according to research published in the scientific journal Political Psychology. The new study found that this effect was exacerbated when partisan identities were activated.

“The Dunning-Kruger effect holds that individuals with little knowledge about a topic will be, paradoxically, the most confident that they know a lot about the topic. Knowledgeable individuals will also discount their knowledgeability,” explained study author Ian Anson, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

“I became increasingly interested in the Dunning-Kruger effect after observing other scholars discuss the subject on Twitter in the run-up to the 2016 election. I follow a number of political psychologists who marveled at the social media pundit class’ seeming display of ‘Dunning-Krugerish tendencies’ in their bombastic coverage of the election.”

“Many of these scholars’ posts were assuredly somewhat tongue-in-cheek; after all, the idea that someone is ‘ignorant of their own ignorance’ is a pretty serious accusation when used in the political arena,” Anson told PsyPost. “At some point after the election, several individuals began referring to Trump’s presidency as the ‘Dunning-Kruger Presidency’, as Trump appears to opine incredibly confidently about topics he appears to know little about.”

“While scrolling through these kinds of references to the effect, I was struck with the realization that I had read few, if any, references to Dunning-Kruger phenomena in published political science literature. At that point I began to devise a method to apply the theory to the subject of political knowledgeability, while also confronting the paradigm of partisan motivated reasoning. The latter theory constitutes a central topic in my earlier research, and I was especially interested in whether the partisan mind is susceptible to overconfident self-appraisals of political knowledge.”

For his study, Anson examined 2,606 American adults using two online surveys.

He evaluated the knowledge of the participants by quizzing them regarding the number of years served by a senator, the name of the current Secretary of Energy, the party with more conservative positions regarding health care, the political party currently in control of the House of Representatives, and which of four programs the U.S. federal government spends the least on.

Most of the participants performed poorly on the political quiz — and those who performed worse were more likely to overestimate their performance.

“Many Americans appear to be extremely overconfident in their political knowledgeability, because they have no way of knowing how little they actually know about the world of politics (this is the so-called ‘double bind of incompetence’). But there’s a catch: when Republicans and Democrats engage in partisan thought processes, this effect becomes even stronger than before,” Anson explained.

“Partisans with modest factual knowledge about politics become even more convinced that they are savvier than average when they reflect on a world full of members of the opposite party. In fact, when I asked partisans to ‘grade’ political knowledge quizzes filled out by fictional members of the other party, low-skilled respondents gave out scores that reflected party biases much more than actual knowledge.”

“The results seem to indicate the existence of a widespread failure of political discourse in the United States: when a partisan talks to someone of the out-party, they are pretty likely to misjudge the political knowledgeability of themselves and their conversation partner. More often than not, this means that partisans will think of themselves as far more politically knowledgeable than an out-partisan, even when that person is extremely politically knowledgeable,” Anson told PsyPost.

“I think this has major implications for the breakdowns in political discourse we often observe in contemporary American democracy.”

The study, like all research, has limitations.

“This study was conducted in an online survey setting, meaning that I was unable to actually assess what happens when partisans converse with one another. To support the conclusions I drew in the study, I gave respondents a simple political knowledge quiz, and then asked them to tell me how well they thought they did,” Anson said.

“I also had them ‘grade’ the scores of fictional peers on the same knowledge quiz. Obviously this is a very artificial way to assess someone’s political knowledgeability (and their confidence therein), though it is quite similar to most of the existing applications of the Dunning-Kruger effect. In the future, I think that we could learn many interesting things about political discourse and ‘political overconfidence’ by getting people into a laboratory setting.”

Anson realized that he too was subject to the effect while conducting the study.

“Conducting this study was a strange, self-referential experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect. Re-reading the literature on the subject made me acutely aware of my own (lack of) knowledge of the subject, such that I started to seriously second-guess my confidence! It was interesting to read in one of the seminal Dunning-Kruger studies that the authors included a footnote corroborating basically the same experience,” he explained.

“Perhaps this is also the result of the ‘academic impostor syndrome’, a phenomenon which is assuredly related to Dunning-Kruger, but I feel very grateful and relieved to see the article receiving some early positive feedback. Hopefully I can continue to steer clear of the ‘double bind of incompetence’ in my future studies!”

The study was titled: “Partisanship, Political Knowledge, and the Dunning‐Kruger Effect“.

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Eric W. Dolan http://www.psypost.org <![CDATA[Treatment utilizing psychedelic drug ibogaine significantly reduces opioid withdrawal and cravings]]> http://www.psypost.org/?p=51041 2018-04-16T18:00:47Z 2018-04-16T18:00:47Z New scientific research provides more evidence that the psychedelic drug ibogaine can help treat opioid withdrawal and cravings. The new findings are reported in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.

Ibogaine a psychoactive substance found in the root bark of the African Tabernanthe iboga plant, which has been used in the shamanic rituals of the Bwiti religion in West Africa. The drug is outlawed in the United States and many other countries, but remains legally available in Mexico. The new research examined 50 patients addicted to heroin or prescription opioids who participated in a week-long ibogaine treatment program in Tijuana.

“As a lover of biology, spiritual experience, indigenous cultures, and consciousness I developed a curiosity and passion for psychedelic substances, as they perfectly intersect these interests. This led me to pursue formal education and training in psychiatric pharmacy as well as public health, which further inspired me to be involved in researching the utility of psychedelic substances in the treatment of illness,” explained study author Benjamin J. Malcolm of Western University of Health Sciences’ College of Pharmacy.

“Recent (and older) research suggests that many psychedelic substances have potential clinical benefits in a variety of psychiatric illnesses, although ibogaine is seemingly unique in its ability to interrupt opioid addiction,” he told PsyPost. “Given the epidemic of death and harm associated with opioids in the United States presently and limitations of current therapies in treating opioid use disorders it seems very timely to study ibogaine further.”

Malcolm and his colleagues found ibogaine treatment was associated with significant reductions in opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Most of the patients (78%) did not exhibit clinical signs of opioid withdrawal 48 hours after receiving ibogaine.

“It seems that ibogaine can interrupt the underlying neurocircuitry of opioid use disorder while delivering a profound psychological experience that reinforces recovery efforts,” Malcolm explained to PsyPost. “In our study ibogaine appeared to be able to reduce both the physical signs and symptoms of opioid withdrawal as well as reduce cravings for opioids.”

“This means that ibogaine may simultaneously address both physical and psychological aspects of opioid use disorder, whereas other therapeutic agents for opioid use disorders address either physical aspects through continued opioid dependence (methadone, buprenorphine) or psychological aspects of addiction like craving (naltrexone), but do not address both and cannot be used together.”

“Furthermore, the psychedelic nature of ibogaine tends to induce a dream-like state in which many report autobiographical subjective experiences, like watching their life as a movie from the vantage point of an observer,” Malcolm continued. “They see the moments of hurt or traumas from the past that predisposed them for substance use and undergo an emotional processing that allows for resolution of the underlying pain.”

In the early 1960s, anecdotal reports surfaced that ibogaine could help defeat drug addiction, prompting some scientists to investigate the anti-addictive properties of the drug. But ibogaine became a Schedule I substance in the United States in 1970, severely limiting the research into the psychedelic drug’s potential.

“Ibogaine and other psychedelic substances that are deemed illegal by the U.S. federal government have demonstrated therapeutic potential, albeit mostly in preliminary studies and anecdotally. This means that many psychedelics are likely subjected to erroneous classification as it is part of the definition of an illegal substance that it has no medical utility.”

“The other piece of the government’s definition of an illegal substance is a high potential for abuse, which is also very questionable with psychedelics, particularly ibogaine that tends to produce less euphoria than others like LSD. This regulatory framework results in oppression of legitimate scientific inquiry, and ultimately hurts the public given epidemic harms of opioids as well as enormous therapeutic need for better treatments.”

However, the new research — like all studies — has limitations.

“There are some caveats to this study as well as many unanswered questions in ibogaine research,” Malcolm explained. “The largest caveat of this type of study is the research design. This study did not have a control group and participants were not randomized to treatment or placebo, which introduces potential biases that can skew results.”

“It was a chart review of participants that received ibogaine at one center and different centers may have different administration or dosing protocols or practices that could enhance or diminish the therapeutic or adverse effects so it’s unclear how generalizable or optimal the studied setting is in the treatment of opioid use disorder.”

“This study also only followed participants through the acute withdrawal phase so lacks information on relapse rates after opioid detoxification with ibogaine. However, there are some other small studies that have partially addressed longer term outcomes and overall appear promising.”

Ibogaine can also have potentially fatal side effects.

“There are cardiac safety concerns with ibogaine and there are some reports of death in the literature, even in clinical settings,” Malcolm said. “Factors that increase risk for adverse cardiac effects require further study (we have some clues) and a cautious approach to participant selection in research is advisable.”

“Some would argue that a drug with a risk of death is too risky to continue clinical research with, although the current mainstay of opioid use disorder treatment is methadone which has FDA black box warnings for addiction, abuse, and misuse as well as fatal respiratory depression (death due to not breathing).”

“Furthermore, opioid use disorder is a deadly illness with 115 deaths per day reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for 2016 in the US. So it appears that due to the risk of death from both the illness and current treatments that in this example further research is favorable despite known cardiac safety concerns.”

“Overall, the current body of research would probably be sufficient in other areas of medicine to garner enthusiasm and funding for research, yet due to the stigmas associated with psychedelic substances as well as drug addiction (opioid use disorder), the approach has been to attempt prohibition of research,” Malcolm remarked.

“Studies with more stringent methods are costly, yet due to the illegal regulatory status of ibogaine, are unlikely to be paid for by government or pharmaceutical sponsors without further action such as re-scheduling to a controlled substance instead of an illegal one.”

Malcolm also cautioned that ibogaine should not be over-hyped as the solution to opioid addiction.

“While results are very promising, ibogaine is surely not a magic bullet for the treatment of opioid use disorder and is in experimental stages of drug development as a therapeutic entity. If ibogaine proves to be safe and effective in controlled trials then one possible treatment model could feature ibogaine as the experiential core of a larger treatment intervention that incorporates preparatory counseling/psychotherapy before and after ibogaine as well as residential or inpatient aftercare programming-care to give individuals the best chances at successful recovery.”

“This type of model would combine elements of successful psychedelic protocols from MDMA or psilocybin research with traditional rehabilitation programs used in substance use disorders.”

“I also think for this type of model to work that a fundamental shift away from the stigmatized conceptions society holds for substance use disorders as well as psychedelics are necessary to earnestly facilitate rehabilitation,” Malcolm added.

“As far as substance use disorders, we should also be investigating and aggressively intervening on societal drivers of substance use (isolation, loneliness, lack of spirituality or connectedness, boredom, lack of alternatives to drug use, physical or emotional pain), which would probably offer the greatest rewards for society in the prevention of drug use.

“Lastly, maybe a disclaimer: due to known risks of ibogaine and illicit status in the US, please do not try a home detoxification. Consult medical professionals if you have a problem with opioids. Nothing in this interview is meant to encourage illegal activity.”

The study, “Changes in Withdrawal and Craving Scores in Participants Undergoing Opioid Detoxification Utilizing Ibogaine“, was authored by Benjamin J. Malcolm, Martin Polanco and Joseph P. Barsuglia.

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Eric W. Dolan http://www.psypost.org <![CDATA[Self-esteem influences how Facebook users react to portraying their true selves online]]> http://www.psypost.org/?p=51055 2018-04-16T00:08:20Z 2018-04-16T00:08:20Z People with lower self-esteem don’t feel good about presenting themselves authentically on the social networking website Facebook, according to new research published in Computers in Human Behavior.

“Facebook is a rich site for research, enabling various forms of user engagement, but also considerable information exposure. Previous evidence in the social media literature indicates that Facebook is indeed a double-edged sword where engagement with the platform can positively or negatively influence users’ subjective well-being (SWB),” said Wonseok (Eric) Jang, an assistant professor at Texas Tech University and corresponding author of the study.

“Studies have found that some forms of social support (e.g., the ‘Like’ button or supportive comments) from Facebook friends results in a greater degree of SWB, whereas other research has documented that when Facebook users adopt a comparative mindset, engagement with Facebook lowers SWB via feelings of envy,” Jang said.

“Due to these conflicting patterns, we were interested in examining whether the type of self-presentation strategy that users adopt on the platform influences what they get out of Facebook use, particularly if psychological rewards derived from engaging with the medium depend on one’s level of self-esteem.”

The researchers examined two different ways that people can portray themselves on social networking websites: true self-presentation and strategic self-presentation. In the former, people provide an honest reflection of themselves and their life. In the latter, people selectively disclose only positive content to create a more favorable impression of themselves.

In the study, 278 Facebook users were instructed to post content reflecting their true selves or strategic selves to Facebook before completing a scientific questionnaire.

The researchers found that true self-presentation was associated with greater happiness after posting to Facebook only for high self-esteem users, not for low self-esteem users. Strategic self-presentation, on the other hand, made both high and low self-esteem users happy.

“Our findings suggest that users with low self-esteem may use Facebook as an effective platform to enhance their sense of SWB by highlighting their most desirable characteristics,” Jang told PsyPost. “In general, low self-esteem individuals are reluctant to express their positive characteristics to others because they are not confident about their image and perceive themselves as less socially attractive than people with high self-esteem.”

“In the context of Facebook, we found that people perceive the social media platform as a relatively safe environment because users can determine their friends and control what they share. The opportunities for embarrassment are thus reduced compared to in-person interactions, which are more unpredictable. Low self-esteem individuals may thus use Facebook as a platform to share aspect of themselves including their most desirable and positive characteristics to enhance their attractiveness and, in turn, heighten their SWB.”

The study has some limitations.

“It is not yet clear whether the gain in SWB we are seeing for low self-esteem users are enduring or disappear rapidly,” Jang explained. “Facebook users may enhance their level of SWB right after posting new messages or images but such benefits may decay over time, or even quite quickly.”

“Future research should examine whether Facebook use has short- or long-term effects on users’ SWB and other positive outcomes. It would be especially interesting to examine whether such effects are determined by the type of self-presentation strategy (e.g., presenting a true self vs. presenting a strategic self) that users adopt while interacting with others.”

“At this troubled time for Facebook and other social media platforms, we think investigating long-term outcomes from regular and consistent use of social media should be prioritized,” Jang added. “At present, there is still a limited understanding of whether the effects of Facebook use on user well-being are short-lived or enduring.”

“Such insight could have important implications for broader public attitudes toward these growing avenues of social influence. Thus, scholars should incorporate longitudinal designs into their social media research and consider sustained influence on user psychology.”

The study, “Self-esteem moderates the influence of self-presentation style on Facebook users’ sense of subjective well-being“, was authored by Wonseok (Eric) Jang, Erik Bucy, and Janice Cho.

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Eric W. Dolan http://www.psypost.org <![CDATA[Rejecting sex doesn’t harm your relationship — if it’s done in a positive and reassuring way]]> http://www.psypost.org/?p=51049 2018-04-15T17:51:18Z 2018-04-15T17:51:18Z New psychology research investigated whether accepting sex reluctantly or rejecting sex kindly is better for maintaining a romantic relationship. The findings, which appear in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, suggest that declining your partner’s sexual advances won’t harm your relationship — if you do it in a positive way.

“We were interested in this topic because couples often encounter times when one partner wants to have sex while the other partner does not, and this can be a particularly challenging issue for romantic partners to navigate. During these times, it’s not always clear what people can or should do to sustain the quality of their relationship and sex life,” said study author James Kim of University of Toronto Mississauga.

In two surveys of 642 adults, the researchers found that people indicated they would rather have their partner reject their sexual advances in a reassuring way than have their partner accept their advances only to avoid relationship troubles. Reassuring rejections consisted of a partner stating “they love you and are attracted to you and offers to make it up to you in the future.”

Unsurprisingly, the participants said they were most satisfied when their partner enthusiastically accepted their advances, and least satisfied when their partner rejected their advances by displaying frustration and criticism.

“Romantic partners sometimes (or often) engage in sex with their partner for avoidance goals (like to avoid upsetting their partner or avoid conflict),” Kim told PsyPost. “They may do this because they think it would be worse to reject their partner for sex.”

“However, our findings suggest that rejecting a partner for sex in positive ways (e.g. reassuring a partner that you still love and are attracted to them) actually represents a viable alternative behavior to having sex for avoidance goals in sustaining both partners’ relationship and sexual satisfaction.”

A follow-up study found slightly different results when it came to sexual satisfaction. Kim and his colleagues also examined 98 couples who completed nightly surveys for 4 weeks.

The researchers found that rejecting advances in a reassuring way did not appear to harm the couples’ overall relationship satisfaction. But having sex to avoid relationship problems was always associated with greater daily sexual satisfaction compared to rejecting sexual advances in a positive way.

“We find less robust evidence that positive rejection helps sustain sexual satisfaction compared to having sex for avoidance goals,” Kim explained to PsyPost. “In our daily experience study, partners experienced higher sexual satisfaction on days when they engaged in sex for avoidance goals than when they rejected their partner in a positive manner. However, this is not surprising given research suggesting that sexual satisfaction is more closely tied to having one’s physical sexual needs met.”

They also found that having sex to avoid relationship problems was particularly detrimental in longer relationships and in relationships were sex occurred less frequently.

“When people are not in the mood for sex and find that the main reason they are inclined to ‘say yes’ is to avoid hurting their partner’s feelings or the relationship conflict that might ensue, engaging in positive rejection behaviors that convey love and reassurance may be critical to sustain relationship quality,” the researchers concluded in their article.

The study, “The relationship implications of rejecting a partner for sex kindly versus having sex reluctantly“, was authored by James Kim, Amy Muise, and Emily A. Impett.

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Eric W. Dolan http://www.psypost.org <![CDATA[Study: Anti-Trump young adults faced spike in stress hormone cortisol after Election Day in 2016]]> http://www.psypost.org/?p=51036 2018-04-14T16:29:16Z 2018-04-14T16:29:16Z Some young adults in the United States experienced an increase in biological stress after Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, according to new research that appears in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology. The study measured levels of the stress hormone cortisol before, during, and after the election.

The new findings provide evidence that important sociopolitical events can impact the psychological and physical functioning of individuals.

“My colleagues and I study stress in adolescents and young adults, which usually means examining proximal stressors at school, within the family, or between peers. However, for this study, we wanted to see if a macro-level event could also influence young adults’ everyday emotional and biological processes,” said Lindsay T. Hoyt, an assistant professor of psychology at Fordham University and corresponding author of the study.

“The 2016 presidential election presented a unique opportunity to explore this question, especially given reports that many people in the U.S., and Millennials in particular, were experiencing a period of heightened stress,” she explained.

“Also, because an election is planned for a specific date, we knew that we could capture individual responses to an important, national event in “real time,” measuring both psychological and physiological functioning immediately before, during, and after the election of the next president.”

The researchers examined 286 young adults (18-25 years old) from November 6 to 10 in 2016. The participants completed nightly surveys measuring their stress levels, emotions, activities, and election involvement. They also provided three salivary samples per day, which were used to measure their cortisol levels.

The majority of the participants (68%) cast their vote for Hillary Clinton, while 18% voted for Trump and 7% voted for a third party candidate. They were recruited from New York and Arizona.

Hoyt and her colleagues found an overall increase in negative moods in the run-up to the election, which peaked on Election Day (November 8). The increase in negative moods was strongest among ethnic minorities and women.

Participants who didn’t believe Trump’s would make a good president also showed a slight decline in bedtime cortisol levels leading up to the election, but a significant increase in bedtime cortisol after the election.

“Although young adults usually think of stressors as the personal problems, imminent threats, or daily hassles that penetrate their everyday lives, this study suggests that macro-level events (at a national scale) can influence their health and well-being,” Hoyt told PsyPost.

“However, it’s also important to acknowledge that individual responses to sociopolitical events, like an election, are not distributed evenly across different groups of people. In terms of this study, we found that most individuals reported an increase in negative mood in the days leading up to the election, and a spike on election night, but overall, emotional and physiological responses were largely dependent upon gender, ethnicity/race, and political attitudes.”

Hoyt said the research had three important caveats.

“First of all, our ‘baseline’ (i.e., initial) levels of positive/negative mood and cortisol in this study were taken just two days before the election,” she explained. “This is relevant because, in many analyses, we found that reports of mood or cortisol levels returned to ‘baseline’ in the days following the election, however, feelings of stress or tension were likely already higher in the days leading up to the election than on a typical day.”

“Second, our sample consisted of 286 college students (72% women; 66% non-Hispanic White; majority identified as Democrats) from just two states, and is therefore not representative of the diverse, young adult population in the U.S.”

“Finally, this study examined differences among women/men – and ethnic-racial minority/White young adults – but we recognize that these are not homogenous groups. Future research with larger samples should examine the complexity of group membership by interacting individual and political characteristics in predicting psychological and physiological reactions to sociopolitical events.”

“In our future work, we hope to study the long-term impact of elections and related policy changes on women and ethnic/racial minorities, but also other marginalized groups that include immigrants and sexual and gender minority populations,” Hoyt added.

The study, “Young adults’ psychological and physiological reactions to the 2016 U.S. presidential election“, was authored by Lindsay T. Hoyt, Katharine H. Zeiders, Natasha Chaku, Russell B. Toomey, and Rajni L. Nair.

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Eric W. Dolan http://www.psypost.org <![CDATA[New psychology research links personality traits to evolutionary fitness]]> http://www.psypost.org/?p=51031 2018-04-13T01:47:24Z 2018-04-13T01:47:24Z New research has found an association between certain personality traits and Darwinian fitness. The preliminary research, published in Personality and Individual Differences, suggests that personality influences the number of offspring a person has.

“There is a large debate in evolutionary social sciences regarding the biological adaptiveness of behavior in contemporary human populations. The dispute is perhaps the hottest in the field of personality,” said study author Janko Međedović of the Institute of Criminological and Sociological Research in Belgrade.

“This is why empirical research that explores the relationship between personality and fitness (measured by reproductive success, longevity, parental investment, etc) is of high importance. Previous research in this field have been focused on a Big Five model of personality. We decided to investigate another prominent model of personality structure, the HEXACO personality framework.”

HEXACO is an acronym for the names of the six personality factors: Honesty/Humility, Emotionality, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness and Openness to Experience.

The study of 255 Serbian individuals over the age of 50 found that three of these factors were associated with short-term reproductive success. Openness to Experience and Honesty-Humility were negatively correlated with the number of children the participants had, while Emotionality was positively correlated.

In other words, individuals who are more conventional, more boastful, and more sensitive tended to also have more offspring.

“The findings are largely in accordance with previous studies: personality traits are related to fitness, they participate in fitness optimization and life-history pathways,” Međedović told PsyPost. “The data corroborate the conceptual views of human behavioral ecologists who claim that, despite the potential adaptation-environment mismatch in contemporary populations, human behavior is in fact largely adaptive.”

The researchers also found that low Openness and high Conscientiousness predicted a higher number of grandchildren, while more Extraverted individuals tended to reproduce earlier in their lifetime.

“Personality traits help us solve important biological challenges such is having children, raising them, choosing the timing of reproduction, etc. Since they are heritable traits, this suggests that they are probably under current natural selection. Hence, they are continuing to evolve with other human characteristics and participate in our phylogeny,” Međedović said.

The study, like all research, has limitations. Međedović warned about drawing any broad conclusions from the findings.

“Generalizability of findings is a problem in all psychological research. However, the problem is even more pronounced if you try to make evolutionary-relevant conclusions from the study,” Međedović explained.

“The ideal sample would be population-representative group of individuals in a post-reproductive phase of life. We tried to make our sample as heterogeneous as we could, but it is still very likely that our findings are constrained by various sample characteristics. Secondly, in a cross-sectional design causality cannot be undoubtedly established. The ideal design would incorporate longitudinal studies where we could measure personality in young adults and measure fitness in the same individuals a couple of decades afterwards.”

“Exploring the relationship between personality and fitness is scientifically important per se; however it is only the starting point of examining personality in behavioral ecological framework,” Međedović added.

“One of the main topics here is to explain the variation in personality traits. Why are some individuals more aggressive than others? Are there evolutionary forces which maintain this variation? Behavioral ecologists have already developed several heuristically powerful models to explain the variation of personality traits in animals. Our task now is to see are these models applicable to humans, to what extent, and under what constraints. Answering to this question will help us to understand the key problem of human individuality: why is there personality in the first place?”

The study, “Revealing complex relations between personality and fitness: HEXACO personality traits, life-time reproductive success and the age at first birth“, was authored by Janko Međedović, Mina Šoljaga, Ana Stojković, and Ivana Gojević.

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Eric W. Dolan http://www.psypost.org <![CDATA[Study: Racial bias declined during the Black Lives Matter movement — but not during Obama’s presidency]]> http://www.psypost.org/?p=51027 2018-04-12T12:44:49Z 2018-04-12T02:00:29Z A new study provides evidence that racism in the United States declined during the Black Lives Matter movement, especially among Whites.

The findings, which were recently published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, suggest that anti-racist social movements can transform people’s attitudes and reduce racial bias.

“The Black Lives Matter marches are some of the most inspiring demonstrations that we’ve seen and participated in over the past several years,” said Jeremy Sawyer of City University of New York and Anup Gampa of the University of Virginia, the two authors of the study.

“We wondered what impact this mass movement against institutional racism might have on the American psyche. We know that the Civil Rights movement radically transformed racial attitudes in the U.S, and we wanted to know if this new movement could do something similar. Our society fosters racial bias in many ways, and we wondered if an anti-racist movement could change not only overt racial attitudes, but also more automatic racial biases that we can absorb without being fully aware of it.”

The researchers analyzed data from more than 1.3 million Black and White participants who completed the Race Implicit Association (RAI) Test at Harvard’s Project Implicit website between January 1, 2009 and June 30, 2016.

The test measured participants’ implicit and explicit racial biases. Implicit biases refer to unconscious positive and negative associations people make with different races, while explicit biases are attitudes that people consciously express.

The researchers found that pro-White implicit bias was on the rise during the Obama administration, but started to decline after the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2013.

“Our study demonstrates that while overall racial bias in the U.S. was not reduced by the first four years of the Obama presidency, both implicit and explicit racial bias did decrease during the Black Lives Matter movement,” Sawyer and Gampa told PsyPost.

“The beginning of Black Lives Matter coincided with a shift from rising pro-White bias to declining pro-White bias, with additional decreases in bias during periods when the movement was most active in the streets and most visible in the media,” the researchers added.

This change occurred mostly among Whites. Implicit attitudes among the Black participants showed relatively little change. However, Blacks’ explicit attitudes did become less pro-Black as the movement rose to prominence, suggesting both Whites and Blacks moved to more neutral, egalitarian positions.

“We think our study echoes the lessons of U.S. history, in that institutional racism and racist attitudes have been most effectively challenged by mass movements. For example, it took a Civil War to end slavery, and a Civil Rights movement to end legal segregation and racial discrimination,” Sawyer and Gampa remarked.

The researchers controlled for a number of demographic variables, including age, race, Latino ethnicity status, education, political ideology, and gender. But the study, like all research, has limitations.

“The size of the attitude changes we found are relatively small, and an overall pro-White bias remains in our society. We also can’t rule out the possibility that people who were less biased were more likely to take the IAT during BLM,” Sawyer and Gampa said.

“However, attitude changes occurred during high points of the Black Lives Matter movement, and rising pro-White bias in the years before the movement began to decline once the movement began. This evidence supports that idea that the Black Lives Matter movement played a role in these changes.”

“One question remaining to be answered is whether movements that win structural changes in society – like the Civil Rights movement – are more effective in changing attitudes than movements that do not yet have such concrete victories, like Black Lives Matter,” the researchers said. “Finally, our study shows changes in racial attitudes, and future work should explore how this connects to behavior, including actively taking a stand against racism.”

The two researchers added that they don’t agree with political speculation that contends BLM has been counter-productive.

“In the last few years, the Black Lives Matter movement has been demonized by many on the right, and the political climate from the White House down has given confidence to white supremacists who are organizing and carrying out violence, including that in Charlottesville, VA,” they told PsyPost.

“Unfortunately, many liberals have concluded from these events that anti-racist social movements are counterproductive because they inevitably provoke a racist backlash. However, in the period we studied from 2013-2016, we found reductions in pro-White bias among Whites across the political spectrum, including those who identified as very conservative. This suggests to us that anti-racist social movements can have a progressive impact throughout society.”

“Furthermore, political movements have the capability to reach far more people than bias reduction trainings that focus on changing one mind at a time, without challenging the social conditions that give rise to racist ideas in the first place.”

The study was titled: “Implicit and Explicit Racial Attitudes Changed During Black Lives Matter“.

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Eric W. Dolan http://www.psypost.org <![CDATA[Abstaining from smartphone use in the bedroom improves happiness, according to new research]]> http://www.psypost.org/?p=51020 2018-04-12T00:03:03Z 2018-04-12T00:03:03Z New study has found evidence that keeping your smartphones out of your bedroom for a week can slightly improve your mental well-being.

The research, recently published in Computers in Human Behavior, examined what happened after a group of participants agreed to temporarily abstain from smartphone use in the bedroom.

“I got my first iPhone about 4 years ago. Before then I had been using a Blackberry, which was barely connected to the internet and wasn’t greatly suited to apps, websites, etc. I used it essentially only for calls, text messages and the occasional email. I could see that other people were spending more and more time on their phones, but I didn’t understand it,” said study author Nicola Hughes of the University of East London.

“Then I got my iPhone — then I got Whatsapp, Instagram, 3G, 4G and so on. Before I knew it, the phone had become the source of an ever-present, constant, ongoing conversation with everyone in my life and an endless stream of content which was always beckoning for my attention.”

“Eventually, I read an article where the author had started charging her phone in the lounge at night so as to keep her bedroom a ‘sanctuary’ from the invasion of tech,” Hughes explained. “This gave me the idea for my study, to test whether there would be any real, measurable impacts (for good or bad) to limiting tech use in the bedroom and creating space for more offline time.”

For their study, the researchers recruited 95 participants — 49 of them were required to not use their phone in their bedroom for one week. The remaining 46 were used as a control group and told to continuing using their phones as normal.

The participants who restricted their smartphone use showed small improvements to happiness and quality of life after a week. They also scored lower on a measure of smartphone addiction.

Most of the participants (74.5%) who slept without their phone said they would consider continuing to do so.

Many of the participants anecdotally told the researchers that leaving their smartphones out of the bedroom improved their sleep, reduced anxiety, improved their relationships, and prevented them from wasting time. However, these factors were not scientifically measured.

“It’s important to acknowledge that smartphone/device usage and internet connectivity, social media use and so on also bring about positive impacts for people. We are not suggesting that smartphones are ‘bad’ or that we need to get rid of the technology,” Hughes told PsyPost.

“The technology is here to stay and, since it is clear that both positive and negative impacts result from the way we engage with the technology, what is important is that we understand what the negative impacts are and how they can be avoided, so that we can learn to use technology in ways that enhance our lives rather than in ways that bring detriment.”

“Research in this area is really just getting started, since the technological developments that have got us here are relatively recent. There is a huge amount more to explore and understand regarding the impacts of internet-enabled device usage on wellbeing,” Hughes said.

“A couple of questions which still need to be addressed include, whether restricting usage at other times of day could bring about equal or greater benefits to wellbeing and whether greater wellbeing impacts are notable for heavy phone users. Additionally, empirical investigation of the anecdotal experimental findings, including impacts on sleep quality and personal relationships would be valuable to explore.”

Hughes said many people were apprehensive about the thought of giving up their smartphones for a short period of time.

“One of the most enlightening things I found I the run up to this research experiment (i.e. the planning phase where I discussed the ideas with peers and the recruitment phase where I advertised for participants) was people’s evident fear around taking part,” she told PsyPost. “The idea of not being able to take their phone to their room night, or look at it whenever they wanted, instilled concern and resistance in many people.

“Often, they were interested in the concept but were anxious to know how long they would have to do it for and expressed that they didn’t know if they could and/or that they would hate it (which from the evidence gathered, did not turn out to be true).”

“I originally hoped to run the intervention for two weeks but after gathering feedback decided to drop it down to one week, in case I couldn’t engage enough participants to take part for two,” Hughes said. “Although these observations are not empirically quantifiable (being outside the scope of the experiment) the experience spoke volumes to me about the depth of attachment we have to these devices and the level to which they have invaded the very fibre of our lives.”

The study, “Sleeping with the frenemy: How restricting ‘bedroom use’ of smartphones impacts happiness and wellbeing“, was authored by Nicola Hughes and Jolanta Burke.

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Eric W. Dolan http://www.psypost.org <![CDATA[Study: Smartphones don’t cause long-term harm to levels of self-control in teens]]> http://www.psypost.org/?p=51016 2018-04-10T22:59:33Z 2018-04-10T22:59:33Z Being “addicted” to a smartphones does not appear to have a long-term negative effect on self-control in teenagers, according to new research published in Children and Youth Services Review. The study suggests that some of the dangers of cell phone reliance may be overstated.

“I have two children who like to play with cell phones. My initial curiosity started from the question of whether or not using cell phones is harmful to their development,” said study author Joonggon Kim of Florida State University.

“I searched for related studies but there was not enough research on the effect of cell phone reliance or addiction on children’s psychological development. There was only some research that indicated that children who have psychological problems (e.g., low self-control) are more likely to be addicted to cell phones.”

“But I wanted to know whether using cell phones or cell phone reliance was truly harmful to children’s psychological development, and one of the aspects of development that I chose was self-control, which is an important factor that influences a variety of outcomes in life,” Kim explained.

For the study, Kim and his colleagues examined data from 2,064 teens who participated in the Korean Children Youth Panel Survey. The longitudinal study collected information about the teens’ cell phone reliance and self-control — among other things — from 2010 to 2016.

Cell phone reliance was measured by asking the teens how much they agreed or disagreed with statements such as “I feel anxious when I go out without my cell phone” and “I can’t live without a cell phone.”

The researchers found no evidence that frequent cell phone use resulted in long-term harm to the teens’ self-control.

“According to this study, higher cell phone reliance was associated with lower levels of self-control measured at the same time point. However, cell phone reliance did not have any harmful effects on levels of self-control after 1 year, or on the development of self-control over 3 years,” Kim told PsyPost.

“This means that although cell phone reliance or addiction may have a harmful effect on self-control in the near term, it does not have a harmful effect on levels of adolescent self-control or on the development of self-control in the long term.”

“Although the mechanism of the short-term effect was not tested in our study, we speculate that any restrictions on using cell phones may cause negative emotions like anger, which in turn lower self-control,” Kim explained. “Thus, we would say that instead of excessively restricting cell phone use, which might cause hostility among adolescents, it might be better for parents or teachers to lead children to use cell phones in a positive way.”

However, it is still possible that excessive cell phone use has other detrimental effects on teens.

“Our study focuses only on levels of self-control,” Kim said. “So, the results cannot be generalized to other negative outcomes such as adolescent health, aggressiveness, etc. There is much research that shows harmful effects of using a cell phone on these outcomes. Also, our study used a sample of Korean adolescents. The results may be different if other samples are used.”

“Cell phones are becoming a necessity in our lives,” he added. “Soon, our children and adolescents will not live without cell phones. Given this development of technology and the prevalence of cell phones, we need to contemplate how our children can use cell phones in more positive ways, instead of blindly banning cell phone use based on the overstated belief that cell phones are bad for our kids.”

The study, “Unravelling the effect of cell phone reliance on adolescent self-control“, was authored by Joonggon Kim, Gyeongseok Oh, and Sonja E. Siennick.

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Eric W. Dolan http://www.psypost.org <![CDATA[Religious people are trusted because of assumptions about their life strategies, study finds]]> http://www.psypost.org/?p=51009 2018-04-10T01:54:33Z 2018-04-10T01:54:33Z Research has consistently found that religious people are judged as more trustworthy than the nonreligious. A new study published in Psychological Science has found evidence that this is because religious people are viewed as slow life history strategists.

According to life history theory, early life experiences can shape an individual’s behavior toward relationships and life in general.

Those faced with unpredictable childhoods develop a fast life strategy that emphasizes insecure attachments, immediate gratification, and risky behaviors. Those with a more stable childhood, on the other hand, develop a slow life strategy that emphasizes long-term goals, greater investments, and reduced aggression.

“Past work has revealed interesting links between religion and life-history strategies. In short, it seems like attitudes about sexuality and the family are one of the biggest drivers of religious belief. We were interested in the implications of this fact for social behavior,” said study author Jordan W. Moon of Arizona State University.

In three separate studies with a total of 1,173 participants, the researchers found that religious people were viewed as followers of slow life strategies.

The participants tended to assume that religious people had a nicer upbringing, were more committed to romantic relationships, less impulsive, less aggressive, and more educated. This, in turn, predicted religious people being viewed as more trustworthy.

“There is a consistent finding that religious people are trusted — even by nonreligious people and members of other religious groups,” Moon told PsyPost. “One might assume that this has something to do with belief in God or gods — perhaps religious people are more trustworthy because they believe they will be punished for immoral behavior, or maybe nonreligious people threaten the values that many people hold.”

“Our research suggests that people are actually less interested in others’ beliefs per se; instead, people want to know how other people will act. In this vein, religion is a good cue about a certain set of behaviors: a person’s life history strategy,” Moon explained.

“However, when people know something concrete about other people’s life history (for instance, their dating preference), they rely on that information rather than on religion.”

The research does have some limitations, particular in regards to its generalizability.

“Our studies used participants in the United States, and were conducted online,” Moon said. “Given that religion is associated with life-history strategies across most of the world, we suspect that the pattern of results would be similar in other countries, but we would need more data to make that claim.”

“It might be even more interesting to see when this is not the case. For instance, in some parts of the world, slow life-history strategies seem to be the default (e.g., in Scandinavian countries). In these areas, religion might not be a useful cue about life-history strategies, and they might not show the same effects.”

The study, “Religious People Are Trusted Because They Are Viewed as Slow Life-History Strategists“, was authored by Jordan W. Moon, Jaimie Arona Krems, and Adam B. Cohen.

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Eric W. Dolan http://www.psypost.org <![CDATA[Study links excessive smartphone use to inability to endure emotional distress]]> http://www.psypost.org/?p=51003 2018-04-08T16:49:49Z 2018-04-08T16:47:49Z New research published in Computers in Human Behavior suggests that those with poor emotion regulation skills are at higher risk of problematic smartphone use.

“The research literature demonstrates associations between both anxiety and depression symptom severity with problematic smartphone use,” explained Jon D. Elhai of the University of Toledo.

“However, many important, contemporary constructs in clinical psychology and psychiatry have not been examined for relationships with problematic smartphone use — such as distress tolerance and mindful awareness. So, we believed that it would be interesting and novel to test these constructs in relation to problematic smartphone use.”

The study of 261 college students found that levels of distress tolerance and mindfulness both predicted problematic smartphone use one month later.

Students who were better at coping with negative emotions and who were more attentive to the present moment were less likely to report problems associated with their smartphones, such as missing planned work or failing to get enough sleep because of excessive smartphone use.

“People with less ability to endure emotional distress, and people who use less mindful awareness to regulate emotion, had greater severity of problematic smartphone use. The ability to regulate emotion may be an important variable to help offset problematic use of technology,” Elhai told PsyPost.

The researchers also found that distress tolerance mediated the relationship between problematic smartphone use and anxiety sensitivity, while mindfulness mediated the relationship between problematic smartphone use and both depression and anxiety sensitivity.

However, the study has some limitations.

“Our study sample was limited to college students,” Elhai said. “And we used self-report measures, rather than interview-based diagnostic measures. Further exploration in clinical samples would be beneficial.”

The study, “Distress tolerance and mindfulness mediate relations between depression and anxiety sensitivity with problematic smartphone use“, was authored by Jon D. Elhai, Jason C. Levine, Kelsey D. O’Brien, and Cherie Armour.

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