Blog of Sara Jakša

Group Sizes Are Important

I don't know if anybody has not heard of the Dunbar's number. It basically says, that we humans have the ability to know and keep track to about 150-250 people at the time. It is pretty useful concept when thinking about the group dynamics. And this is the questions that I will try to explore today. Does group size affects the best way how the groups are organized.

The two best example of the two groups are family, as presentation of the small group, and the country as the big group. The small groups are also basically all the groups, that are based on the community: a village, a local Toastmaster group, a class and so on. The big are the cities, the big corporations and so on.

In the small groups, I think that the best way for them to function, would be through higher agreeableness. The higher agreeableness also implies higher empathy. It is this feeling based way of dealing with people that works, precisely because everybody knows everybody, and there is a risk of shame and being excluded and isolated by going against this mood of inclusiveness.

On the other hand, the big groups are best ruled by high conscientiousness. This leads to the predictable order for everybody, for the stability so that the groups can continue going forward. Because people don't all know each other and there is no risk in going against the grain, there needs to be stable rules, that can be reinforced, so that people know how to act.

Why so they need the separate way of dealing with this. One way to show this would be to show, what would a system lead to, if the other method was used.

In the case of the small groups, in the highly conscientious way, there would be rules about people. Imagine a family where everything is governed by rules and principle, in a ordered way. Everything is in its place. The meals are always at the same hours. The food eaten is always picked in the same way. Socialization between family members happens on the schedule and also how they socialized is governed by the rules. It is a family made for the efficiency.

While it would be interesting to live in a family like that, I am on the other side also happy that I did not.

Let us take the case of the bigger groups as well. The high agreeableness is always about inclusion of the things is perceives similar and exclusion of others. So this country would be welcome to all the citizens, but not to anybody that would disagree with their principles. If people would hurt other people, they would try to keep the whole organization harmonious, so they would make excuses to the person and forgive them. There would be no punishment for people that are confirming to the rules of empathy and being that the empathy of the people dictates.

This can be seen in today's world as well. So you don't accept Muslim immigrants? I guess you are the lowest scum on the earth. You are making an argument that goes against my values? I will make sure to flood you with messages you are wrong and make sure that everybody will hear that I think you are wrong.

Really, agreeableness empathy only extend to the people that they perceive as inside their circle. And in that case it is amazing, or at least it is to me, as somebody that has quite low level of agreeableness. To the outside though...

I prefer the upper and not the lower description. And I hope that I can continue to experience empathy from my family members and friends, but still live in the society governed by something more sensible, like order.

Connection between Freud's Personality and Development Theories

There are two theories of Freud, that I have recently come across. The first one deals with the stages of development, where at each stage the energy, and I guess also focus of the person is concentrated, until the level is sort of mastered and the person can move on. The other one deal with the three parts of the personality.

The stages of development have four stages, if the intermediate stage when nothing happens is not counted.

Stage Problem to be Solved
Oral Dependency
Anal Self-Control
Phallic (Penis) Morality, Sexual identity
Genitals Creation

The personality type deals with three part of the personality.

Part of personality Principle Role
Id Pleasure To have needs satisfied
Ego Reality To survive in the world
Superego Idealism To reach perfection

What I find interesting in here, is that we develop the ability to function in the world (ego), before the ability to distinguish good and bad (superego). It seems a very embodied way of thinking, which is interesting, because the embodiment is the current paradigm in the cognitive science and was not really present at the time the Freud was writing this.

When comparing the two, there are some noticeable similarities. The first one is, that they seems to mirror each other. The first on both deals with needs, the second with self-control needed to function in society and the third with morality. The forth is missing in the personality one, but it might be the stage, where all three work in tandem.

Development Personality
Oral Id
Anal Ego
Phallic (Penis) Superego
Genitals /

Why not to Trust just one Study (Language and Decision Making)

I like the Chen's study about connection between the language and decision making. His hypothesis was basically, that whenever people need to use future, affects the time discounting. So the language that the people use, would have some effect on the decisions about savings, and health related behaviors, like smoking and exercise. The language which need to use the future (like Slovenian, English, and Italian) would have a bigger time discounting, so they would be less likely to save and more likely to smoke and have unprotected sex than language which don't need to use future tense to talk about the future events (German, and Finnish).

And I was quite quick to agree with it. I mean, I am an economist, and he made a pretty good argument, why any other variable would not be responsible for these differences from the economics point of view. I mean, I have read the papers that were talking about the language differences in people fluent in multiple language, depending on which language they used: foreign or native. There were differences in moral decision making, like the trolley's problem and economics decision making. There are also neurological differences in theory of mind tasks, depending on the langauge So I guess I was pre-primed into believing this.

But I guess things can not be done that quickly. For example, this article tries to expand on the original one by including the language connectivness. They wanted to see, if the connection between language, for example the same historical origin or the mixture between the neighboring language, had an effect. What was interesting in there, that they made multiple statistical tests. Some proved the above hypothesis and some did not. But on the end, they still concluded, that language might not have this effect, as least on the saving behavior, which is the only one they tested.

I, as an economist, with almost zero linguistic training, would never have though about testing for transfer between the language that co-resided together spatially. Even though I noticed some of this, for example the Slovenian and Hungarian words for forth and fifth day of the week are basically the same, even though these language do not belong together in the same family (or however the indoeuropean level is called). Even the current cognitive science training did not prepare me for this.

There is just so much knowledge involved in the evaluation of the science, that it is hard to know everything by oneself. That is why I still recommend reading additional articles in the same sphere. This way, there might be different scientists, with different prior knowledge, having different outlook on the problem. And that way, there is less chance of there being a big hole in the knowledge. Though there is most likely still going to be, but ever step into better decision making for humanity counts.

MBTI and Risk Perception (Or Why not to Trust just one Study)

One part of belief, that I still have problems with, it to not simply trust every scientific study that I come across. That a lot of time, the wide range of studies is needed in order to get to the point, that this can be used in order to update my knowledge. It was the hard pill to swallow, and I am not sure that I am at this level yet.

And this is not just the point, where there are some studies that are methodologically unsound, or because people have fiddled with the data for some reasons or something else. As long as a person has at least some knowledge of the field, it is not hard to spot whenever the study is methodologically bogus or sound. And there are methods to see, if a person had fiddled with the data, though this one it is a bit harder to spot.

No, the reason is, that science, like most of our life, it is not a 100% endeavor. Neither is statistics, that is used in science a lot of time. And as one of my professors once mentioned, there is a problem in recognizing the difference between significance and statistical significance.

I mean, if you would judge a person by one encounter, then you can believe the science after one article. But it is a lot more accurate, to get a more longtime view on both of them.

But let me give you an example. There are quite a couple of studies, that study the risk perception and the MBTI types. Let me show you, in the below table, what some of the articles say.

Type FHH HN S O
S risk tolerant risk tolerant risk averse
N risk averse risk averse risk tolerant
T risk tolerant risk averse risk tolerant risk averse
F risk averse risk tolerant risk averse risk tolerant
P risk averse
J risk tolerant

As you can see from the table, there is not a lot of agreement about it. Deciding which articles to read would have lead people to some very different conclusions. And this is the problem with simply reading the article and deciding to use it as the decision making tool. It might be good enough to give you ideas, but not good enough to actually describe reality.

This might be even more through, when the studies are made on some very unusual samples, for example on the see cucumbers or on the rats. I know, that there are some cases, where these are actually preferable to study than humans, for example, when we want to know the role of apoptosis in the creation of the neuronal system. The simpler the system, the easier it is to study. And I am not sure that there is any mother on Earth, that would allow the child to be transposed out out her wounds, before the brain starts to develop, just so that we can study this.

On the other hand, I am always a bit skeptical, that most of the proof for the mirror neurons and their role comes from the monkeys. I am not that convinced that monkeys have the same, albeit simpler social system than humans. So far I have not actually seen any good arguments for it. Though, the role of mirror neurons when it comes to motor action can come from monkeys, since I do believe that in this regard we are similar. So it is more of a question of whenever we are still studying the same thing or not.

On the end, I would be a bit careful is simply reading one scientific article. It requires a bit more contexts. Not everybody can afford to go to the years of schooling in order to be able to know the discipline enough to make judgments. But all of us can at least read more than one article.

My Decision: Lightworker vs. Darkworker

I have recently revisited the polarization way of seeing the world. I think the reason I have come and read this again, is because I do want to eventually specialize. But none of the two pictures seems like a definitive ones. Both are the ones that I want to experience.

I know that pre-polarized people use both of them, and I can see this in my own life as well. If I had to say, which one do I use more, I would actually say fear a lot more than love. The content of my thoughts is usually more love (or outwards) oriented, and my biases also pull me in that direction. But energy wise, when I really do something with a lot of energy, it is usually fear based.

Also, talking with people more, I realize how much more do they care about other people. I mean, sure I think about my family and worry about them, but there is where the cycle stops. I can not imagine that I would worry about my friends, especially, if there is nothing that I would be able to do.

For example, before I left for Bratislava, a friend of mine implied, that his world was upturned. It was hard to tell from the message, but based on the way it was said, I would say that it was mostly negative. But considering that he did not ask for my help, I don't know why I should worry. I mean, I have been abroad for more than a month, and this is a first that that I have even though about it.

Even when I do things for other people, it is a lot of times fear based. I mean, I want to feel that love that everybody talks about, but either I feel it all the time, and I don't really notice it, or it is simply not there.

But on the other side, I do trust the universe and I want to continue trust the universe. I know that for most people this is a contradiction, and maybe it is something that I need to resolve. But I honestly believe that everything will work our eventually. But it seems that in order to embrace the fear polarity, I would also need to throw away that trust.

Though, now that I think about it a bit more, there are things that are love based that I like doing. I liked leading the Table Topics at the Toastmasters club. I liked seeing people do things that were downright weird, knowing that it will help at least some of the people come out of their comfort zone. You did not do the Table Topics, until the people on the stage had to have a speech without words, sang, or have a dialog, where they pretended they were a person of a different gender with the fetish. The last one was even very fun for the people in the audience.

It is frustrating, because the article implies that the lack of focus is what is holding people back. And I am unable, like in a lot of parts of my life, to close the doors on some opportunities. I guess, not that I have written this down like that, this is one of the things that I have problem doing. Closing the doors and leaving the dead ends to be dead ends.

I guess I can practice this underlying problem first, by either making sure that I close all the loops, by either stopping them or by finishing them and moving on. I guess, for this last sentence, I am still simply hoping that cosmetic corrections will help with the solution.

I am an economist, so I know the dangerous of sunk cost. But simply being aware of it does not make it easier to avoid it. I need to make sure that some of my projects finish already, by my simply not doing them. Maybe then I will have an easier time dealing with the world. :)

I am Afraid of My Incompetence

Recently, I have noticed that some people seems to always have a hell of a lot better ideas in class that I do. I could name at least 3 people that are well above my level. Last week, I was in a group with one of them in the class discussion, and it drove home, that I am scared shit of being perceived as stupid.

I have noticed this during my public speaking experience as well. Put me on the stage and make me talk either about something that I have a feeling I know better than others or something, where knowledge is not important, like telling a story. There is absolutely no nervousness or anxiety there. I actually enjoy being on the stage.

But put me in the situation, where I know that there is a person in the audience, that knows more about the topic than I do, and I feel nervous, I want to pee and I have a huge stomachache. Not only that, I usually go through the presentation so quickly, I finish in half of the allotted time.

This is also the reason why a lot of times I don't want to ask questions or I don't want to offer comments. I have this picture in my head, and it is like I am protecting my own identity by protecting myself from the perception that I am an idiot.

I am not even sure where is this fear coming from. No, I am a bit wrong, there are at least some possible explanations for this. One is, that I have always build my whole identity on me being smart. I did not need to be popular or beautiful or loved or whatever other people want in their life. Instead I wanted to be respected for my knowledge, my intelligence and my problem solving abilities.

This was not a hard illusion to keep it, as long as I only studied business informatics. But studying cognitive science is showing me all the holes that I still have. I mean, I have to know deep down, that this is positive for me. Otherwise I would not take another class with the teacher that made me realize that even subjects that I was most interested in (personality), I don't know anything about.

I admire people, that are more intelligent than I am. But recently I have also started to admire people that can tell what they are thinking about, appearing without care how banal it will look to other people. And I know that it is hard to judge oneself, but that does not stop me from actually judging myself.

I don't actually know, what to do about it. But I figured that maybe if I write about it, than maybe my thinking about it will crystallize. Or, at least it will be something written down, and hopefully that means that my mind will start looking for the solutions, and not spend even more energy for worrying about it.

My Desire to Experience my Version of D/s

Thanks to one of my classmate new interest in the whole dom and sub social dynamics, I have been reminded that there was an idea about D/s relationships that I have wanted to experience for quite a while, but I have not yet shared it. I mean, the only times that I have shared it it was with my classmates at the beer and the classmate mentioned above on another occasion. And bot of this happened in the last week or so.

But I know I need to be able to work on expressing more parts of self to other people. I become somehow better at no lying or projecting the parts of my that are not true. And there are parts of me, that I don't mind sharing, if something in that area becomes a topic: like that I am asexual, that I don't date, or that I am vegetarian. But all of these seems like safe topics.

So today I want to describe what kind of D/s dynamics interest me.

First of all, I see the D/s dynamics as more of a leader and follower. Yes, I can be aware that when I have not experienced something myself, then I can get weird ideas from whatever I read or hear. But it did got my imagination running.

I imagine that this dynamics would be great with friends. For example, when a groups of friends would meet, instead of always asking others for permission and trying to reach consensus or a compromise, each time there can be a person that decides where we are going and what we are going to be doing.

So let say that we are going hiking. There would be one person that would decide on the destination, where and when are we meeting, how we are going there, and what we are going to be doing afterwards. He is also the one then responsible for us to not get loss.

And the rest of the people can sit back, relax, and simply enjoy the experience.

This is a way to eliminate at least three things that take a lot of time and/or energy and are more like administration or make the experience a bit more disorganized. The later part can be both good and bad.

The first is the problem of reaching consensus. There is a lot of time and energy put into making sure that everything is alright. I mean, I had to do it in person, through the email and through facebook. For the record, whoever came up with the idea of organizing things through facebook is evil. It is a melting-pot of randomness. It is the source of all evil and I never want to participate in this ever again.

But email and in person also have their own problems. Though sometimes in person is fine, and can be done in a quick and efficient manner. But it would still be easier, at least in some situations, for a person the just decide whatever.

This brings me to the second point, and that is that people don't normally care about the small detail. But the normal way forces them to care. I remember when a classmate of mine cooked lunch for me. He was constantly asking me, if I am alright with his choices. Do I eat basil? Do I eat tomatoes? DO I eat garlic? I mean, you invited me, and I said yes, so I am willing to try whatever you put in front of me. Stop making me decide all these things. I mean, there is this thing called decision fatigue as well, alright.

Well, he is a great cook, so all is forgiven.

And the third point is the crowd effect. If there is one person responsible for something, then there is less chance that there is going to be an impromptu session of problem solving, because nobody took care of the possible problem beforehand. Like remembering, where we parked. I really wish I could say that this only happened once. Sigh.

Maybe this type of communication style also have their own drawbacks. But the real reason is, that I can not know until I try it. And I do want to try it. But for this, I would need to be more comfortable revealing this desire to other people.

Well, I guess this is a first step.

Recipe: The Pasta with Tomatoes (and Spinach)

Pasta with Tomatoes and Spinach

I am currently spending a semester abroad in Bratislava. For the first time, I actually have my previous classmates at my exchange. It is a weird feeling. On the one hand, I am probably more social that I have been in any of my previous exchanges. On the other hand, I don't meet many new people.

One very positive surprise was, when one of my classmates invited me to cook lunch for us. Well, there were just three of us, not everybody from my class currently here. He made this very good vegan pasta with tomatoes. So, as my instincts indicated, I needed to try it myself. The only problem is, by now I am sure that I am unable to follow the recipe to the letter. Thankfully, the only changes that I made were using a different type of pasta, and by adding the what calls itself spinach, but for my perception was way too small and light. It could be, that it was still young, but I am not convinced.

But since I have no idea how else to call it, it will end up being the spinach in the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • Pasta (500g for around 3 people)
  • Cherry Tomatoes (I think 250g is enough)
  • Garlic (at least 3 cloves)
  • Basil (depends on how much you like it - I recommend at least 3 leaves)
  • Spinach (around 100g)
  • Olive oil

Recipe:

  • Cook the pasta to the hard level. This means around 2-3 minutes less than well cooked for my pasta.
  • Crush the garlic.
  • Put olive oil in the pan and heat it. I add garlic at this point, but feel free to add it later to preserve more taste. Based on your taste, you can also add basil now instead of later.
  • Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and throw them in the pan
  • Add the spinach
  • Wait, until the tomatoes release the liquid and it gets less liquid-like
  • Add basil and wait a minute or two.
  • Add pasta and mix.
  • Serve.

Advice:

  • The potatoes have quite a strong taste, so if you don't like tomatoes that much, put less of them in.
  • The original recipe was without the spinach, so feel free to skip it.

Does Temperature Affect the Socialization?

As I was reading the What is the Output? article for my class, I noticed a interesting remark there. One of their arguments were, that a lot of times people can't tell what made the do something that the example that they gave is, that when people were less social, they were spending more time bathing. Apparently, they were replacing the warmth of the social interaction to the warmth of taking a bath.

Sure, it seems far fetched, but I was interested. Is there any connection between the temperature and socialization on any of the levels: from the situational to the cultural and DNA level.

Well, I would need to make an experiment in order to show it on either DNA or situational level. Well, for the later so of them exist. I think people tend to talk more with the stranger, when they are holding a hot vs. cold drink. So there is some small indication. I have never heard of any evidence on the DNA level.

But considering that there is a lot of data comparing the countries, I figured that there must be some sort of social or something index. And considering the talk around the climate change, there must be at least some indication of the average temperature for a country.

Well, temperature was easy to find, the only thing that I needed to do was go on the Wikipedia page for List of countries by average yearly temperature. It is the average temperature for three decades, but I think that the relative order of the countries most likely did not change. So for the exploratory analysis, it works just as well.

There actually is a social index. It is just a part of the Legatum Prosperity Index, but I am just glad that one exists. I do still need to check the methodology, but I need an internet for that, and I don't think my current roommate would like to have a cable over her head. No matter how many times she tells me that it is alright.

Well, I can at least compare the countries that I know something of. A classmate of mine, when I mentioned this, said that Spain is most likely at the top. I have also lived in couple of countries: Austria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia, so there should be at least some data in regards to this. My prediction would be that Germany would be the most social, followed by Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Austria, and Hungary. Not sure where to put Spain, since I am not familiar with this culture, but let for this testing put it above Germany.

Country Social Index
Germany 63.20682144
Austria 61.76863861
Slovenia 59.26046371
Spain 56.99728012
Croatia 45.61188507
Hungary 45.58363724
Slovakia 48.27772522

The average of all countries is 50,8, so that makes Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Spain overly social, while the Croatia, Hungary and Slovakia are not that social. At least compared to the average. I am not surprised at most of these results. The Germany, Slovenia and Spain do seems to be quite social countries. Even though, asking Slovenians, I don't think any will admit to it. :) I am also not surprised that Hungary and Slovakia are less social. This is the impression that I also got.

I was a bit surprised by the Austria, because I based at least some of the reasons for placing it at the bottom from the Austrians themselves. Apparently the real Austrians are very closed-off and it is hard to get to know them. They prefer to spend time alone and need months to even start eating with other people by the same table. Since it is always finished, that these people don't speak foreign languages, I just figured that I simply never met them (my German is, after all, far from perfect). My impression on the other hand was, that they were quite social. Not as much as in Germany, but around the same as in Slovenia.

I was also a bit surprised by the Croatia, but then again, I guess that the place where my great-grandmother used to live did have a lot more Slovenian people than Croatians. So this might be the reason why I missed this one.

Well, no matter methodology, I guess I can see if there is any patterns in there. The first thing to do would be to draw a scatter plot. Not my best code, but it was a good practice writing it with no internet and manuals what so ever. I still used the help function though.

'''python import pandas import matplotlib.pyplot as pyt

temp = pandas.read_csv("Data-Temp.csv", sep="\t", index_col="country") social = pandas.read_csv("Data.csv", sep=";", index_col="country")

data = social.merge(temp, how="inner", left_index=True, right_index=True, sort=True)

social = list(data.soci2016) temp = list(data.temp)

pyt.scatter(social, temp) pyt.show() '''

Graph of Sociability and Average Temperature of the Country

Based on this picture, there does not seems to be any strong effects between these two variables. Maybe I would be able to find something statistically significant, if I would go and do some regression on it, but considering the state, it does not seems to be worth it. There must me some other element, that is much more important then the temperature.

BDSM Test Results

Well, I have recently done a BDSM test. How did I come in this situation? Because lets us admit, having an asexual taking a test that was clearly aimed at the sexual kinks is a bit unusual. Not that BDSM is sexual only, but the questions certainly implied this.

Not that I am not familiar with the concepts at least implicitly. While fanfiction are not the best examples of the well written stories, the BDSM kink is used in them quite a lot. And most writers at least do a quick google search, if they are not more familiar with it.

So I am aware of quite a couple of these kinks. Of the top and bottoms. Of the submissive and dominants and switches. Of the whole age related games, from kid to daddy kinks, to the bounding and so on. I am not sure if the fanfiction writers get their ideas from the community, or they just write what is interesting to them. But there is overlap.

You can find my results on http://bdsmtest.org/r/6342397.

So let us discuss my results. The Switch part is apparently the strongest part of my personality. These are the people that can be in both the dominant and the submissive role. Which is not that surprising to me. I mean, when I am in some social situations, I would prefer if somebody else would just make all decisions and I would just go along without thinking. The Toastmasters hill climbing were a pretty good example of that, if not for some of them then suddenly trying to make everything equal.

For the record, I actually think that the decision making, where everybody has the same say is one of the most inefficient way of making the decisions. Because either the people vote, and nobody is satisfied, or things are done by consensus, which takes too fucking long.

Well, as you cam probably imagine, when I am too frustrated with the current situation, then I take charge. Which is when I do hope that nobody stands in my way. I guess my 'super hard' (they were not that hard) table topics were also a good example of this. I liked making people do things that they did were not sure they wanted to do, because I knew it will help them in the future.

I guess the Switch part does kind of makes sense. In the light of that, what does not make that much sense in my high score in Vanilla. Though, because it was such a sexually oriented test, I guess it makes sense. I don't have any interest in quite a lot of kinks. I mean, there are multiple kinks, where I have very low interest in both sides: like sadist/masochists, degradation, owner/pet, bondage, any kind of age play and master/slave.

It is also interesting that there are a mixture of roles through the whole spectrum. Though the spider diagrams, if I read them correctly, show that I am more strongly leaning into the dominant kind of role. But not that much. I have both dominant roles toward the top, like hunter and dominant, and the submissive roles, like brat and submissive.

As I mentioned before, I got interested in the concept, because I don't think that consensus is the best way to reach decisions, so I figured that some of these concepts would be helpful. I had all these plans of what kind of things I could try, if I could just figure out my tendency. Because I seems to be on the both part of the spectrum.

On the one hand, all my plans got ruined, and now I am not sure how to use this information. On the other hand, I guess I should just accept this. I mean, I can be like all these annoying ambiverts. Sometimes I am like this, but then I am the opposite. Now I guess I can say that about these roles and be just as annoying. :)

Now I should go and find out, if there is a way I could leverage this to improve my communications skills.