Sunday, January 01, 2017

CULTUREPLACES SALON: A SYNOPSIS



DRAFT
Rather than tackle complex national and international issues and institutions that affect the entire U.S. of A,, we concentrate on place based trends that more directly affect our everyday experiences in our own neighborhoods, workplaces, and other closer connections.

Though they will overlap with certain national and global phenomena, we seek to grapple with ideas that stem from and have immediate implications for our personal ties.  We deal with those grassroots issues where we--rather than advocates or interest groups, think tankers, or politicians--can make a difference if armed with the kind of insights that emerge from our discussions.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Beginning pornography use associated with increase in probability of divorce


Beginning pornography use is associated with a substantial increase in the probability of divorce for married Americans, and this increase is especially large for women, finds a new study that will be presented at the 111th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA).
"Beginning pornography use between survey waves nearly doubled one's likelihood of being divorced by the next survey period, from 6 percent to 11 percent, and nearly tripled it for women, from 6 percent to 16 percent," said Samuel Perry, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Oklahoma. "Our results suggest that viewing pornography, under certain social conditions, may have negative effects on marital stability."

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Science and the Self


Advances in genetics, epigenetics, neuroscience, psychology, and computer science are giving us a better understanding of who we are and why we function as we do.
Science now enables us to associate specific characteristics in the brain or genetic traits with inclinations for particular kinds of behavior, such as violence. These findings may revolutionize how we see ourselves, or prompt us to oversimplify complex relationships among our genes, environment, and behavior. This information also presents challenges. Does this mean our behavior is predetermined? Should this change our notions of personal responsibility and our free will?
Additionally, various means of self-alteration have been used throughout history to change how we appear to others and to ourselves. Over the last few decades as our pressure for success has increased, so too have our arsenal of tools for self-enhancement. Each of these enhancers—including drugs to improve concentration and sexual function, cochlear implants, and robotic limbs — directly affects how we interact with each other in every facet of our lives. These alterations also beg us to question whether it is fair to enhance ourselves for a competitive edge. What about those who do not have access to enhancements? Are these enhancements more acceptable if they are used to promote societal good versus self-improvement?

Recent research suggests that new drugs such as oxytocin may enhance moral behaviors and that we may be less likely to harm others if we take a drug that modulates the neurotransmitter serotonin. While we have always aspired to make ourselves better, scientific and technological advances complicate our thinking on how we affect change—in ourselves and in others. The Hasting Center will continue to examine whether the ways that we achieve these goals matters and whether these actions diminish or enhance our humanity.

http://www.thehastingscenter.org/our-issues/science-and-the-self/

Monday, August 01, 2016

Genes linked to leadership/social dominance, predicted greater speed-dating success for men.

Guided by social role theory and prior genetic studies, this study confirmed that mate selection could be influenced by people’s abilities to detect “good genes” in a speed-dating setting, in which participants’ behaviors had real-life consequences. Consistent with social role theory, individuals with genotypes that were consistent with prevailing gender norms (for females, submissiveness/social sensitivity, a communal attribute; and for males, leadership/social dominance, an agentic attribute) had greater dating success and were perceived more positively by their partners. 

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12110-016-9257-8?wt_mc=alerts.TOCjournals

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Same genes could make us prone to both happiness and depression


The Admin: This study serves as a microcasm showing the interplay of nature and nurture which goes beyond mental illness to temperament and similar personal traits.  How our genes shape our behavior depends on the quality and influence of the environment.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Behavioral Genetics:

Why We're Different
Robert Plomin [6.29.16]

What we're trying to do in behavioral genetics and medical genetics is explain differences. It's important to know that we all share approximately 99 percent of our DNA sequence. If we sequence, as we can now readily do, all of our 3 billion base pairs of DNA, we will be the same at over 99 percent of all those bases. That's what makes us similar to each other. It makes us similar to chimps and most mammals. We're over 90 percent similar to all mammals. There's a lot of genetic similarity that's important from an evolutionary perspective, but it can't explain why we're different. That's what we're up to, trying to explain why some children are reading disabled, or some people become schizophrenic, or why some people suffer from alcoholism, et cetera. We're always talking about differences. The only genetics that makes a difference is that 1 percent of the 3 billion base pairs. But that is over 10 million base pairs of DNA. We're looking at these differences and asking to what extent they cause the differences that we observe. 
ROBERT PLOMIN is a professor of behavioral genetics at King's College London and deputy director of the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience.
See the rest of the article here: https://www.edge.org/conversation/robert_plomin-why-were-different
If you look at the books and the training that teachers get, genetics doesn't get a look-in. Yet if you ask teachers, as I've done, about why they think children are so different in their ability to learn to read, and they know that genetics is important. When it comes to governments and educational policymakers, the knee-jerk reaction is that if kids aren't doing well, you blame the teachers and the schools; if that doesn't work, you blame the parents; if that doesn't work, you blame the kids because they're just not trying hard enough. An important message for genetics is that you've got to recognize that children are different in their ability to learn. We need to respect those differences because they're genetic. Not that we can’t do anything about it.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Genetic test predicts your success in life, but not happiness

“It is important that people recognise and respect genetic scores,” says Plomin. “When kids don’t do well, we blame their teachers and parents, but kids vary genetically. [A low polygenic score] doesn’t mean a kid can’t learn, but we should recognise that it might take more effort.”


People with scorecards

What’s your genetic score?

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Women’s preference for smaller competition may account for inequality

“Smaller social groups, even when individuals are in competition, tend to allow people to form more intimate social bonds and be more attuned to others’ needs,” said Hanek, who recently received her doctorate from the U-M Department of Psychology. “And these communal behaviors, in turn, tend to be more normative for women.”

“This research by no means blames women for gender inequality but rather uncovers a novel environmental factor that might contribute to inequality, beyond the well-documented effects of gender biases and discrimination,” said Stephen Garcia, U-M associate professor of organizational studies and psychology.

http://www.psypost.org/2016/05/womens-preference-smaller-competition-may-account-inequality-42794

Friday, April 15, 2016

Brain imaging study suggests risk-taking behaviors can be contagious

Why do we sometimes decide to take risks and other times choose to play it safe? In a new study, Caltech researchers explored the neural mechanisms of one possible explanation: a contagion effect.
The work is described in the March 21 online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In the study led by John O’Doherty, professor of psychology and director of the Caltech Brain Imaging Center, 24 volunteers repeatedly participated in three types of trials: a “Self” trial, in which the participants were asked to choose between taking a guaranteed $10 or making a risky gamble with a potentially higher payoff; an “Observe” trial, in which the participants observed the risk-taking behavior of a peer (in the trial, this meant a computer algorithm trained to behave like a peer), allowing the participants to learn how often the peer takes a risk; and a “Predict” trial, in which the participants were asked to predict the risk-taking tendencies of an observed peer, earning a cash prize for a correct prediction. Notably in these trials the participants did not observe gamble outcomes, preventing them from further learning about gambles.

O’Doherty and his colleagues found that the participants were much more likely to make the gamble for more money in the “Self” trial when they had previously observed a risk-taking peer in the “Observe” trial. The researchers noticed that after the subjects observed the actions of a peer, their preferences for risk-taking or risk-averse behaviors began to reflect those of the observed peer–a so-called contagion effect. “By observing others behaving in a risk-seeking or risk-averse fashion, we become in turn more or less prone to risky behavior,” says Shinsuke Suzuki, a postdoctoral scholar in neuroscience and first author of the study.

Use of Genetically Informed Evidence-Based Prevention Science to Understand and Prevent Crime and Related Behavioral Disorders

  1. Jamie M. Gajos1,*
  2. Abigail A. Fagan2and
  3. Kevin M. Beaver3
Article first published online: 15 APR 2016
Criminology and Public Policy
DOI: 10.1111/1745-9133.12214
Research Summary
In this article, we outline the potential ways that genetic research can be used to inform the development, testing, and dissemination of preventative interventions. We conclude by drawing attention to how the incorporation of genetic variables into prevention designs could help identify individual variability in program effectiveness and thereby increase program success rates.

Policy Implications
Evidence-based prevention science seeking to reduce crime and other related behavioral disorders has made significant progress in the identification of risk factors involved in the development of antisocial behavior, as well as in the creation and testing of such programs intended to target these risk factors. Nonetheless, issues of program effectiveness remain as individual responsivity to prevention interventions is often overlooked. Paralleling the movement toward evidence-based prevention science, but largely isolated from such efforts, has been an area of research devoted toward identifying how genetic factors interact with social environments to influence behavioral outcomes. By joining these two fields, genetically informed prevention interventions have the potential to increase our understanding of the causes of crime and other problem behaviors, as well as to help identify individual variability in program effectiveness.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Most men with borderline testosterone levels may have depression



March 6, 2015

Men with borderline testosterone levels have higher rates of depression and depressive symptoms than the general population, new research finds. The results will be presented Saturday, March 7, at ENDO 2015, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Diego.
"Over half of men referred for borderline  have . This study found that men seeking management for borderline testosterone have a very high rate of depression,, obesity and physical inactivity," said principal study author Michael S. Irwig, MD, FACE, associate professor of medicine and director of the Center for Andrology in the Division of Endocrinology at George Washington University in Washington, DC. "Clinicians need to be aware of the clinical characteristics of this sample population and manage their comorbidities such as depression and obesity."