Sonntag, 30. November 2014

Associations between Dopamine D4 Receptor Gene Variation with Both Infidelity and Sexual Promiscuity

Justin R. Garcia, James MacKillop, Edward L. Aller, Ann M. Merriwether, David Sloan Wilson, J. Koji Lum (Nov 2010)


Human sexual behavior is highly variable both within and between populations. While sex-related characteristics and sexual behavior are central to evolutionary theory (sexual selection), little is known about the genetic bases of individual variation in sexual behavior. The variable number tandem repeats (VNTR) polymorphism in exon III of the human dopamine D4 receptor gene (DRD4) has been correlated with an array of behavioral phenotypes and may be predicatively responsible for variation in motivating some sexual behaviors, particularly promiscuity and infidelity.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We administered an anonymous survey on personal history of sexual behavior and intimate relationships to 181 young adults. We also collected buccal wash samples and genotyped the DRD4 VNTR. Here we show that individuals with at least one 7-repeat allele (7R+) report a greater categorical rate of promiscuous sexual behavior (i.e., having ever had a “one-night stand”) and report a more than 50% increase in instances of sexual infidelity.


DRD4 VNTR genotype varies considerably within and among populations and has been subject to relatively recent, local selective pressures. Individual differences in sexual behavior are likely partially mediated by individual genetic variation in genes coding for motivation and reward in the brain. Conceptualizing these findings in terms of r/K selection theory suggests a mechanism for selective pressure for and against the 7R+ genotype that may explain the considerable global allelic variation for this polymorphism.

Cooperative breeding and monogamy in mammalian societies

Cooperative breeding and monogamy in mammalian societies
Dieter Lukas & Tim Clutton-Brock (2012)


Comparative studies of social insects and birds show that the evolution of cooperative and eusocial breeding systems has been confined to species where females mate completely or almost exclusively with a single male, indicating that high levels of average kinship between group members are necessary for the evolution of reproductive altruism. In this paper, we show that in mammals, the evolution of cooperative breeding has been restricted to socially monogamous species which currently represent 5 per cent of all mammalian species. Since extra-pair paternity is relatively uncommon in socially monogamous and cooperatively breeding mammals, our analyses support the suggestion that high levels of average kinship between group members have played an important role in the evolution of cooperative breeding in non-human mammals, as well as in birds and insects.

Humans & Language:

Humans (A) perceive the world through verbal glasses; and (B) co-evolved with those glasses.

Genetic Distance and Similarity:

There is a much bigger genetic distance between dogs and humans than between humans and other primates, but humans and dogs are certainly a better match than humans and many primates. Probably genetic distance alone is only a very rough estimate for mental similarity.

Samstag, 29. November 2014

Genetic monogamy across variable demographic landscapes in cooperatively breeding Florida scrub-jays

Genetic monogamy across variable demographic landscapes in cooperatively breeding Florida scrub-jays 
Andrea K Townsend, Reed Bowman, John W. Fitzpatrick, Michelle Dent and Irby J. Lovette (2011)


Variation in ecological and demographic characteristics may alter the value of extrapair paternity (EPP) for socially monogamous species, thereby leading to variation in mating strategies among conspecific populations. Environmental factors influencing the need for parental care, and demographic factors influencing relatedness of social pairs or availability of unrelated extrapair partners, are both predicted to influence the direct and indirect benefits of EPP in cooperatively breeding birds. We examined genetic mating strategies in 3 long-term study populations of cooperatively breeding Florida scrub-jays (FSJs; Aphelocoma coerulescens) in which the value of EPP—or opportunities for it—was likely to vary: a fragmented site with a high frequency of inbreeding (potentially elevating the value of EPP as a means of increasing offspring heterozygosity); a suburban population with high rates of brood reduction (potentially elevating the value of shared parental investment); and a wildland site with a high frequency of unrelated breeders and opposite-sex auxiliaries (potentially elevating the opportunity for shared within-group parentage). Despite these differences, genetic monogamy dominated at all sites: 100% of the offspring sampled from the suburban site (144 offspring) and fragmented site (258 offspring), and 99.5% of offspring from the wildland site (367 of 369 offspring) were produced monogamously. Rare exceptions in our study populations demonstrate that, even in the FSJ, genetic monogamy is a plastic trait. The near ubiquity of genetic monogamy across 3 ecologically different study sites, however, suggests that this tendency toward monogamy is impervious to the population-level environmental and social variation that we documented.

Freitag, 28. November 2014

Culture and state boredom: A comparison between European Canadians and Chinese

Culture and state boredom: A comparison between European Canadians and Chinese
Andy H. Ng, Yong Liu, Jian-zhi Chen, John D. Eastwood
Personality and Individual Differences (March 2015)


We adapt the Multidimensional State Boredom Scale (MSBS) to Chinese.
We revise the MSBS by eliminating differentially functioning items.
European Canadians (vs. Chinese) are more likely to experience state boredom.
Results are consistent with theorizing on cultural differences in ideal affect.


The primary goal of the present research was to examine cross-cultural validity of the Multidimensional State Boredom Scale (MSBS) by comparing a European Canadian sample and a Chinese sample. The secondary goal was to explore cross-cultural differences in the actual experience of boredom between European Canadian and Chinese participants when they completed a psychological survey. After establishing cross-cultural validity of the MSBS by eliminating items that functioned differentially across the two cultural groups, we found that European Canadians scored higher on the MSBS than did Chinese. Results are consistent with the literature on cultural differences in ideal affect, such that European North Americans (vs. East Asians) tend to value high-arousal positive affects (e.g., excitement) more, and low-arousal positive affect less (Tsai, Knutson, & Fung, 2006).

[See also: Do Chinese people get bored less easily? - Peter Frost]

Dienstag, 25. November 2014

Compassion, Pride, and Social Intuitions of Self-Other Similarity

Compassion, Pride, and Social Intuitions of Self-Other Similarity
Christopher Oveis, E. J. Horberg and Dacher Keltner (2010)


Compassion and pride serve contrasting social functions: Compassion motivates care-taking behavior, whereas pride enables the signaling and negotiation of rank within social hierarchies. Across 3 studies, compassion was associated with increased perceived self-other similarity, particularly to weak or vulnerable others. In contrast, pride was associated with an enhanced sense of similarity to strong others, and a decreased sense of similarity to weak others. These findings were obtained using trait measures (Study 1) and experimental inductions (Studies 2 and 3) of compassion and pride, examining the sense of similarity to strong or weak groups (Studies 1 and 2) and unfamiliar individuals (Study 3). The influences of compassion and pride on perceived self-other similarity could not be accounted for by positive mood, nor was this effect constrained by the ingroup status of the target group or individual. Discussion focuses on the contributions these findings make to an understanding of compassion and pride.

Freitag, 21. November 2014

Mental Exercises

(A) think about something 
(B) try to find out if your thoughts match reality / try to test your thoughts

(A) observe something (or remember an observation)
(B) try to interpret / to understand the observed phenomenon

“Mental laziness” leads to a neglect of step (B). A mental lazy person doesn't think much about the phenomena he/she sees and does not care much if his/her thoughts are closely related to reality or not.

Donnerstag, 20. November 2014

Why is thinking necessary?

Thinking allows us to spot order (rules, laws, principles, relationships, patterns, redundancies, ...), to spot regularities and irregularities in our external and internal environment.

What does an IQ-test measure?

How effectively someone processes information. How fast and clear someone thinks (in comparison to others). Zu Deutsch: die Denkbegabung einer bestimmten Testperson.

Dienstag, 18. November 2014

Surnames and Social Mobility in England, 1170–2012

Surnames and Social Mobility in England, 1170–2012
Gregory Clark & Neil Cummins
Human Nature (Nov 2014)


Using educational status in England from 1170 to 2012, we show that the rate of social mobility in any society can be estimated from knowledge of just two facts: the distribution over time of surnames in the society and the distribution of surnames among an elite or underclass. Such surname measures reveal that the typical estimate of parent–child correlations in socioeconomic measures in the range of 0.2–0.6 are misleading about rates of overall social mobility. Measuring education status through Oxbridge attendance suggests a generalized intergenerational correlation in status in the range of 0.70–0.90. Social status is more strongly inherited even than height. This correlation is unchanged over centuries. Social mobility in England in 2012 was little greater than in preindustrial times. Thus there are indications of an underlying social physics surprisingly immune to government intervention.

Do processing speed and short-term storage exhaust the relation between working memory capacity and intelligence?

Do processing speed and short-term storage exhaust the relation between working memory capacity and intelligence?
Cai-Ping Dang, Johan Braeken, Roberto Colom, Emilio Ferrer, Chang Liu
Personality & Individual Differences (Feb 2015)

The roles of processing speed (PS) and short-term storage (STM) were analyzed.
PS accounts for the relation between WMC and Fluid intelligence (Gf).
STM and PS exhaust the correlation between WM and crystallized intelligence (Gc).
PS underlies the correlation between WMC and intelligence.
PS’ relevance decreases when cognitive tasks rely on more acquired crystallized knowledge.


The roles of processing speed (PS) and short-term storage (STM) for explaining the relationship between working memory capacity (WMC) and intelligence are analyzed at the latent variable level. 253 Chinese college students completed thirty-two measures from different content domains tapping the cognitive constructs of interest. The key findings showed that (a) PS accounts for the relationship between WMC and fluid intelligence, (b) STM and PS are required for explaining the correlation between crystallized intelligence and WMC. Therefore, this study provides support for the view that PS underlies the correlation between WMC and intelligence, yet with the nuance that its relevance decreases when cognitive tasks rely on crystallized knowledge and skill.

Sonntag, 16. November 2014

Vocabulary: humanity’s greatest achievement?

Vocabulary: humanity’s greatest achievement?
James Thompson (June 2013)

Some quotes:

"As a rough guide, teenagers have about 12,000 words and college students 17,000. Older adults have 17,000 to 21,000 words, and a minority have many more.  Some conceited person referred to 20,000 words as being “the incoherence boundary”. I eschew such contemptuous judgements."

"intelligence ranges from 0 to 45,000 words (the real upper limit if one avoids technical jargon)"

"Knowledge of the 3000 most frequent words in the English language will probably result in your understanding 95% of what is said to you, and knowledge of 5000 “word families” (the main word and its variants, like quick: quickly, quicker, quickest) should mean that you would be able to understand 99.9%. "

"much of good thinking depends on a powerful vocabulary."

[See also: test your vocabulary (part 1) & test your vocabulary (part 2) & Bias in Mental Testing p. 145-147]

Freitag, 7. November 2014

The cognitive competences of immigrant and native students across the world: An analysis of gaps, possible causes and impact.

The cognitive competences of immigrant and native students across the world: An analysis of gaps, possible causes and impact.
Heiner Rindermann & James Thompson (Nov 2014)
Journal of Biosocial Science


Immigration, immigration policies and education of immigrants alter competence levels. This study analysed their effects using PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS data (1995 to 2012, N=93 nations) for natives' and immigrants' competences, competence gaps and their population proportions. The mean gap is equivalent to 4.71 IQ points. There are large differences across countries in these gaps ranging from around +12 to −10 IQ points. Migrants' proportions grow roughly 4% per decade. The largest immigrant-based ‘brain gains’ are observed for Arabian oil-based economies, and the largest ‘brain losses’ for Central Europe. Regarding causes of native–immigrant gaps, language problems do not seem to explain them. However, English-speaking countries show an advantage. Acculturation within one generation and intermarriage usually reduce native–immigrant gaps (≅1 IQ point). National educational quality reduces gaps, especially school enrolment at a young age, the use of tests and school autonomy. A one standard deviation increase in school quality represents a closing of around 1 IQ point in the native–immigrant gap. A new Greenwich IQ estimation based on UK natives' cognitive ability mean is recommended. An analysis of the first adult OECD study PIAAC revealed that larger proportions of immigrants among adults reduce average competence levels and positive Flynn effects. The effects on economic development and suggestions for immigration and educational policy are discussed.

Montag, 3. November 2014

Activation of μ-Opioid Receptors in the Dorsal Striatum is Necessary for Adult Social Attachment in Monogamous Prairie Voles

Activation of μ-Opioid Receptors in the Dorsal Striatum is Necessary for Adult Social Attachment in Monogamous Prairie Voles
James P Burkett, L L Spiegel, K Inoue, A Z Murphy, and Larry J Young (2011)


Despite significant evidence that opioids are involved in attachment by mediating social reward and motivation, the role of opioids in the formation of adult social attachments has not been explored. We used the socially monogamous prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster) to explore the role of endogenous opioids in social bonding by examining partner preference formation in female prairie voles. We hypothesized that μ-opioid receptors (MORs) in the striatum have a critical role in partner preference formation. We therefore predicted that peripheral administration of an opioid receptor antagonist would inhibit partner preference formation, and more specifically, that μ-opioid selective receptor blockade within the striatum would inhibit partner preference formation. To test our hypotheses, we first administered the non-selective opioid antagonist naltrexone peripherally to females during an 18-h cohabitation with a male and later tested the female with a partner preference test (PPT). Females showed a dose schedule-dependent decrease in partner preference in the PPT, with females in the continuous dose group displaying stranger preferences. Next, we administered microinjections of the MOR selective antagonist -Phe-Cys-Tyr--Trp-Arg-Thr-Pen-Thr-NH2 (CTAP) into either the nucleus accumbens shell (NAS) or the caudate-putamen (CP) immediately before a 24-h cohabitation with a male, and later tested the female with a PPT. Females receiving CTAP into the CP, but not the NAS, showed no preference in the PPT, indicating an inhibition of partner preference formation. We show here for the first time that MORs modulate partner preference formation in female prairie voles by acting in the CP.
[See also: Neuroanatomical distribution of μ-opioid receptor mRNA and binding in monogamous prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) and non-monogamous meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus) - K. Inoue, , J.P. Burkett, L.J. Young (2013)]

The Mating Wars

The Mating Wars (Edge, AQ 2013)
David M. Buss

On Logic In General - Arthur Schopenhauer:

"It seems to me that the doctrine of the laws of thought might be simplified if we were only to set up two, the law of excluded middle and that of sufficient reason. The former thus: >Every predicate can either be affirmed or denied of every subject.< Here it is already contained in the >either, or< that both cannot occur at once, and consequently just what is expressed by the laws of identity and contradiction. Thus these would be added as corollaries of that principle which really says that every two concept-spheres must be thought either as united or as separated, but never as both at once; and therefore, even although words are brought together which express the latter, these words assert a process of thought which can not be carried out. The consciousness of this infeasibility is the feeling of contradiction. The second law of thought, the principle of sufficient reason, would affirm that the above attributing or denying must be determined by some thing different from the judgment itself, which may be a (pure or empirical) perception, or merely another judgment. This other and different thing is then called the ground or reason of the judgment. So far as a judgment satisfies the first law of thought, it is thinkable; so far as it satisfies the second, it is true[.]"

"Mir dünkt, daß man die Lehre von den Denkgesetzen dadurch vereinfachen könnte, daß man deren nur zwei aufstellte, nämlich das vom ausgeschlossenen Dritten und das vom zureichenden Grunde. Ersteres so: »jedem Subjekt ist jegliches Prädikat entweder beizulegen oder abzusprechen.« Hier liegt im Entweder-Oder schon, daß nicht Beides zugleich geschehen darf, folglich eben Das, was die Gesetze der Identität und des Widerspruchs besagen: diese würden also als Korollarien jenes Satzes hinzukommen, welcher eigentlich besagt, daß jegliche zwei Begriffssphären entweder als vereint, oder als getrennt zu denken sind, nie aber als Beides zugleich; mithin daß, wo Worte zusammengefügt sind, welche Letzteres dennoch ausdrücken, diese Worte einen Denkproceß angeben, der unausführbar ist: das Innewerden dieser Unausführbarkeit ist das Gefühl des Widerspruchs. – Das zweite Denkgesetz, der Satz vom Grunde, würde besagen, daß obiges Beilegen oder Absprechen durch etwas vom Urtheil selbst Verschiedenes bestimmt seyn muß, welches eine (reine oder empirische) Anschauung, oder aber bloß ein anderes Urtheil seyn kann: dieses Andere und Verschiedene heißt alsdann der Grund des Urtheils. Sofern ein Urtheil dem ersten Denkgesetze genügt, ist es denkbar; sofern es dem zweiten genügt, ist es wahr[.]"