Securing Commitment

Kevin Lewis

January 09, 2021

Decline in Marriage Associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States
Brandon Wagner, Kate Choi & Philip Cohen
Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, December 2020


In the social upheaval arising from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, we do not yet know how union formation, particularly marriage, has been affected. Using administration records — marriage certificates and applications — gathered from settings representing a variety of COVID-19 experiences in the United States, the authors compare counts of recorded marriages in 2020 against those from the same period in 2019. There is a dramatic decrease in year-to-date cumulative marriages in 2020 compared with 2019 in each case. Similar patterns are observed for the Seattle metropolitan area when analyzing the cumulative number of marriage applications, a leading indicator of marriages in the near future. Year-to-date declines in marriage are unlikely to be due solely to closure of government agencies that administer marriage certification or reporting delays. Together, these findings suggest that marriage has declined during the COVID-19 outbreak and may continue to do so, at least in the short term.

Evidence of horizontal indirect genetic effects in humans
Charley Xia et al.
Nature Human Behaviour, forthcoming


Indirect genetic effects, the effects of the genotype of one individual on the phenotype of other individuals, are environmental factors associated with human disease and complex trait variation that could help to expand our understanding of the environment linked to complex traits. Here, we study indirect genetic effects in 80,889 human couples of European ancestry for 105 complex traits. Using a linear mixed model approach, we estimate partner indirect heritability and find evidence of partner heritability on ~50% of the analysed traits. Follow-up analysis suggests that in at least ~25% of these traits, the partner heritability is consistent with the existence of indirect genetic effects including a wide variety of traits such as dietary traits, mental health and disease. This shows that the environment linked to complex traits is partially explained by the genotype of other individuals and motivates the need to find new ways of studying the environment.

Refined Carbohydrate Consumption and Facial Attractiveness
Claire Berticat, Valérie Durand & Michel Raymond
Evolutionary Psychology, October 2020


Since the second half of the 20th century, a massive increase in the consumption of refined carbohydrates has occurred, generating well-described detrimental health effects such as obesity, insulin resistance, type II diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and dental caries. Certain physiological mechanisms involved, particularly through chronic hyperglycaemia and hyperinsulinaemia, suggest that a non-medical trait such as facial attractiveness could also be affected. To explore this possibility, variation in facial attractiveness was evaluated relative to refined carbohydrate consumption. Attractiveness was assessed from facial pictures as judged by raters of the opposite sex. Estimates of refined carbohydrate consumption were based on the glycaemic load of three mealtimes at-higher glycaemic risk (breakfast, afternoon snack and between-meal snack). In the presence of several control variables, facial pictures of women and men with higher between-meal glycaemic loads were preferred by opposite-sex raters. Structural equation modeling suggests that this result is possibly mediated by an increase in apparent age for men and an increase in femininity for women. The different physiological ecologies of the three meals at-higher glycaemic risk are discussed as well as the interpretation of the results in terms of adaptation or maladaptation to the modern and unique dietary environment.

The effects of ostracism on perceptions and interpretations of catcalls
Maayan Dvir, Janice Kelly & Kipling Williams
Self and Identity, forthcoming


Ostracism puts individuals in a vulnerable position as they are desperate to regain attention. As a result, ostracized individuals often value attention and acknowledgment. We examined whether ostracism would alter the perception and interpretation of catcalls – lewd statements or whistling by strangers – and whether catcalls would assist in restoring the needs threatened by ostracism. Participants were either included or ostracized, reported need satisfaction, watched a video of a woman being the target of catcalls, and then, evaluated the catcalls and reported need satisfaction again. Men perceived catcalls as more complementary. Ostracism altered women’s perceptions of catcalls, but not men’s. Ostracized women, compared to included women, perceived the catcalls to be less threatening. Additionally, watching the video assisted ostracized women need fortification.


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