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Concept: Preference


National randomized experiments and validation studies were conducted on 873 tenure-track faculty (439 male, 434 female) from biology, engineering, economics, and psychology at 371 universities/colleges from 50 US states and the District of Columbia. In the main experiment, 363 faculty members evaluated narrative summaries describing hypothetical female and male applicants for tenure-track assistant professorships who shared the same lifestyle (e.g., single without children, married with children). Applicants' profiles were systematically varied to disguise identically rated scholarship; profiles were counterbalanced by gender across faculty to enable between-faculty comparisons of hiring preferences for identically qualified women versus men. Results revealed a 2:1 preference for women by faculty of both genders across both math-intensive and non-math-intensive fields, with the single exception of male economists, who showed no gender preference. Results were replicated using weighted analyses to control for national sample characteristics. In follow-up experiments, 144 faculty evaluated competing applicants with differing lifestyles (e.g., divorced mother vs. married father), and 204 faculty compared same-gender candidates with children, but differing in whether they took 1-y-parental leaves in graduate school. Women preferred divorced mothers to married fathers; men preferred mothers who took leaves to mothers who did not. In two validation studies, 35 engineering faculty provided rankings using full curricula vitae instead of narratives, and 127 faculty rated one applicant rather than choosing from a mixed-gender group; the same preference for women was shown by faculty of both genders. These results suggest it is a propitious time for women launching careers in academic science. Messages to the contrary may discourage women from applying for STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) tenure-track assistant professorships.

Concepts: Male, Female, Gender, University, Academia, Preference, Professor, Tenure


Why do we like the music we do? Research has shown that musical preferences and personality are linked, yet little is known about other influences on preferences such as cognitive styles. To address this gap, we investigated how individual differences in musical preferences are explained by the empathizing-systemizing (E-S) theory. Study 1 examined the links between empathy and musical preferences across four samples. By reporting their preferential reactions to musical stimuli, samples 1 and 2 (Ns = 2,178 and 891) indicated their preferences for music from 26 different genres, and samples 3 and 4 (Ns = 747 and 320) indicated their preferences for music from only a single genre (rock or jazz). Results across samples showed that empathy levels are linked to preferences even within genres and account for significant proportions of variance in preferences over and above personality traits for various music-preference dimensions. Study 2 (N = 353) replicated and extended these findings by investigating how musical preferences are differentiated by E-S cognitive styles (i.e., ‘brain types’). Those who are type E (bias towards empathizing) preferred music on the Mellow dimension (R&B/soul, adult contemporary, soft rock genres) compared to type S (bias towards systemizing) who preferred music on the Intense dimension (punk, heavy metal, and hard rock). Analyses of fine-grained psychological and sonic attributes in the music revealed that type E individuals preferred music that featured low arousal (gentle, warm, and sensual attributes), negative valence (depressing and sad), and emotional depth (poetic, relaxing, and thoughtful), while type S preferred music that featured high arousal (strong, tense, and thrilling), and aspects of positive valence (animated) and cerebral depth (complexity). The application of these findings for clinicians, interventions, and those on the autism spectrum (largely type S or extreme type S) are discussed.

Concepts: Psychology, Cognition, Revealed preference, Preference, Utility, Rock music, Genre, Rock music genres


Women’s preferences for penis size may affect men’s comfort with their own bodies and may have implications for sexual health. Studies of women’s penis size preferences typically have relied on their abstract ratings or selecting amongst 2D, flaccid images. This study used haptic stimuli to allow assessment of women’s size recall accuracy for the first time, as well as examine their preferences for erect penis sizes in different relationship contexts. Women (N = 75) selected amongst 33, 3D models. Women recalled model size accurately using this method, although they made more errors with respect to penis length than circumference. Women preferred a penis of slightly larger circumference and length for one-time (length = 6.4 inches/16.3 cm, circumference = 5.0 inches/12.7 cm) versus long-term (length = 6.3 inches/16.0 cm, circumference = 4.8 inches/12.2 cm) sexual partners. These first estimates of erect penis size preferences using 3D models suggest women accurately recall size and prefer penises only slightly larger than average.

Concepts: Computer graphics, Erectile dysfunction, Preference, Penis, Erection, Human penis size, Micropenis, Penis enlargement


Humans are thought to possess a unique proclivity to share with others - including strangers. This puzzling phenomenon has led many to suggest that sharing with strangers originates from human-unique language, social norms, warfare and/or cooperative breeding. However, bonobos, our closest living relative, are highly tolerant and, in the wild, are capable of having affiliative interactions with strangers. In four experiments, we therefore examined whether bonobos will voluntarily donate food to strangers. We show that bonobos will forego their own food for the benefit of interacting with a stranger. Their prosociality is in part driven by unselfish motivation, because bonobos will even help strangers acquire out-of-reach food when no desirable social interaction is possible. However, this prosociality has its limitations because bonobos will not donate food in their possession when a social interaction is not possible. These results indicate that other-regarding preferences toward strangers are not uniquely human. Moreover, language, social norms, warfare and cooperative breeding are unnecessary for the evolution of xenophilic sharing. Instead, we propose that prosociality toward strangers initially evolves due to selection for social tolerance, allowing the expansion of individual social networks. Human social norms and language may subsequently extend this ape-like social preference to the most costly contexts.

Concepts: Human, Evolution, Interaction, Sociology, Motivation, Preference, Social psychology, Toleration


Standard theories of decision-making involving delayed outcomes predict that people should defer a punishment, whilst advancing a reward. In some cases, such as pain, people seem to prefer to expedite punishment, implying that its anticipation carries a cost, often conceptualized as ‘dread’. Despite empirical support for the existence of dread, whether and how it depends on prospective delay is unknown. Furthermore, it is unclear whether dread represents a stable component of value, or is modulated by biases such as framing effects. Here, we examine choices made between different numbers of painful shocks to be delivered faithfully at different time points up to 15 minutes in the future, as well as choices between hypothetical painful dental appointments at time points of up to approximately eight months in the future, to test alternative models for how future pain is disvalued. We show that future pain initially becomes increasingly aversive with increasing delay, but does so at a decreasing rate. This is consistent with a value model in which moment-by-moment dread increases up to the time of expected pain, such that dread becomes equivalent to the discounted expectation of pain. For a minority of individuals pain has maximum negative value at intermediate delay, suggesting that the dread function may itself be prospectively discounted in time. Framing an outcome as relief reduces the overall preference to expedite pain, which can be parameterized by reducing the rate of the dread-discounting function. Our data support an account of disvaluation for primary punishments such as pain, which differs fundamentally from existing models applied to financial punishments, in which dread exerts a powerful but time-dependent influence over choice.

Concepts: Time, Scientific method, Prediction, Future, Sociology, Choice, Preference, Suffering


How much do our choices represent stable inner preferences versus social conformity? We examine conformity and consistency in sartorial choices surrounding a common life event of new norm exposure: relocation. A large-scale dataset of individual purchases of women’s shoes (16,236 transactions) across five years and 2,007 women reveals a balance of conformity and consistency, moderated by changes in location socioeconomic status. Women conform to new local norms (i.e., average heel size) when moving to relatively higher status locations, but mostly ignore new local norms when moving to relatively lower status locations. In short, at periods of transition, it is the fashion norms of the rich that trickle down to consumers. These analyses provide the first naturalistic large-scale demonstration of the tension between psychological conformity and consistency, with real decisions in a highly visible context.

Concepts: Socioeconomic status, Sociology, Choice, Preference, Social status, Consumer theory, Conformity


Male mate choice might be based on both absolute and relative strategies. Cues of female attractiveness are thus likely to reflect both fitness and reproductive potential, as well as compatibility with particular male phenotypes. In humans, absolute clues of fertility and indices of favorable developmental stability are generally associated with increased women’s attractiveness. However, why men exhibit variable preferences remains less studied. Male mate choice might be influenced by uncertainty of paternity, a selective factor in species where the survival of the offspring depends on postnatal paternal care. For instance, in humans, a man might prefer a woman with recessive traits, thereby increasing the probability that his paternal traits will be visible in the child and ensuring paternity. Alternatively, attractiveness is hypothesized to be driven by self-resembling features (homogamy), which would reduce outbreeding depression. These hypotheses have been simultaneously evaluated for various facial traits using both real and artificial facial stimuli. The predicted preferences were then compared to realized mate choices using facial pictures from couples with at least 1 child. No evidence was found to support the paternity uncertainty hypothesis, as recessive features were not preferred by male raters. Conversely, preferences for self-resembling mates were found for several facial traits (hair and eye color, chin dimple, and thickness of lips and eyebrows). Moreover, realized homogamy for facial traits was also found in a sample of long-term mates. The advantages of homogamy in evolutionary terms are discussed.

Concepts: Scientific method, Reproduction, Female, Hypothesis, Choice, Preference, Utility, Facial features


BACKGROUND: The ability to drive is important for ensuring quality of life for many older adults. Glaucoma is prevalent in this age group and may affect driving. The purpose of this study is to determine if glaucoma and glaucomatous visual field (VF) loss are associated with driving cessation, limitations, and deference to another driver in older adults. METHODS: Cross-sectional study. Eighty-one glaucoma subjects and 58 glaucoma suspect controls between age 60 and 80 reported if they had ceased driving, limited their driving in various ways, or preferred another to drive. RESULTS: Twenty-three percent of glaucoma subjects and 6.9% of suspects had ceased driving (p = 0.01). Glaucoma subjects also had more driving limitations than suspects (2.0 vs. 1.1, p = 0.007). In multivariable models, driving cessation was more likely for glaucoma subjects as compared to suspects (OR = 4.0; 95% CI = 1.1-14.7; p = 0.03). The odds of driving cessation doubled with each 5 decibel (dB) decrement in the better-eye VF mean deviation (MD) (OR = 2.0; 95% CI = 1.4-2.9; p < 0.001). Glaucoma subjects were also more likely than suspects to report a greater number of driving limitations (OR = 4.7; 95% CI = 1.3-16.8; p = 0.02). The likelihood of reporting more limitations increased with the VF loss severity (OR = 1.6/5 dB decrement in the better-eye VF MD; 95% CI = 1.1-2.4; p = 0.02). Neither glaucoma nor VF MD was associated with other driver preference (p > 0.1 for both). CONCLUSIONS: Glaucoma and glaucomatous VF loss are associated with greater likelihood of driving cessation and greater limitation of driving in the elderly. Further prospective study is merited to assess when and why people with glaucoma change their driving habits, and to determine if their observed self-regulation of driving is adequate to ensure safety.

Concepts: Middle age, Median, Gerontology, Old age, Absolute deviation, Ageing, Preference, Suspect


BACKGROUND: Variations in the treatment of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) may impact on quality of care. The objective of this study was to identify and compare treatment approaches for JIA in two health care systems. METHODS: Paediatric rheumatologists in Canada (n=58) and Germany/Austria (n=172) were surveyed by email, using case-based vignettes for oligoarticular and seronegative polyarticular JIA. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics; responses were compared using univariate analysis. RESULTS: Total response rate was 63%. Physicians were comparable by age, level of training and duration of practice, with more Canadians based in academic centres. For initial treatment of oligoarthritis, only approximately half of physicians in both groups used intra-articular steroids. German physicians were more likely to institute DMARD treatment in oligoarthritis refractory to NSAID (p<0.001). Canadian physicians were more likely to switch to a different DMARD rather than a biologic agent in polyarthritis refractory to initial DMARD therapy. For oligoarthritis and polyarthritis, respectively, 86% and 90% of German physicians preferred regular physiotherapy over home exercise, compared to 14% and 15% in Canada. Except for a Canadian preference for naproxen in oligoarthritis, no significant differences were found for NSAID, intra-articular steroid preparations, initial DMARD and initial biologic treatment. CONCLUSIONS: Treatment of oligo- and polyarticular JIA with DMARD is mostly uniform, with availability and funding obviously influencing physician choice. Usage of intra-articular steroids is variable within physician groups. Physiotherapy has a fundamentally different role in the two health care systems.

Concepts: Medicine, Rheumatoid arthritis, Physician, Pediatrics, Arthritis, Juvenile idiopathic arthritis, Canada, Preference


Purpose . To explore the sentiment and themes of Twitter chatter that mentions both alcohol and marijuana. Design . Cross-sectional analysis of tweets mentioning both alcohol and marijuana during 1 month was performed. Setting . The study setting was Twitter. Participants . Tweets sent from February 4 to March 5, 2014, were studied. Method . A random sample (n = 5000) of tweets that mentioned alcohol and marijuana were qualitatively coded as normalizing both substances, preferring one substance over the other, or discouraging both substances. Other common themes were identified. Results . More than half (54%) of the tweets normalized marijuana and alcohol (without preferring one substance over the other), and 24% preferred marijuana over alcohol. Only 2% expressed a preference for alcohol over marijuana, 7% discouraged the use of both substances, and the sentiment was unknown for 13% of the tweets. Common themes among tweets that normalized both substances included using the substances with friends (17%) and mentioning substance use in the context of sex or romance (14%). Common themes among tweets that preferred marijuana over alcohol were the beliefs that marijuana is safer than alcohol (46%) and preferences for effects of marijuana over alcohol (40%). Conclusion . Tweets normalizing polysubstance use or encouraging marijuana use over alcohol use are common. Both online and offline prevention efforts are needed to increase awareness of the risks associated with polysubstance use and marijuana use.

Concepts: Preference, Utility