SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

457

Although COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory illness, there is mounting evidence suggesting that the GI tract is involved in this disease. We investigated whether the gut microbiome is linked to disease severity in patients with COVID-19, and whether perturbations in microbiome composition, if any, resolve with clearance of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

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Ubiquitous facial recognition technology can expose individuals' political orientation, as faces of liberals and conservatives consistently differ. A facial recognition algorithm was applied to naturalistic images of 1,085,795 individuals to predict their political orientation by comparing their similarity to faces of liberal and conservative others. Political orientation was correctly classified in 72% of liberal-conservative face pairs, remarkably better than chance (50%), human accuracy (55%), or one afforded by a 100-item personality questionnaire (66%). Accuracy was similar across countries (the U.S., Canada, and the UK), environments (Facebook and dating websites), and when comparing faces across samples. Accuracy remained high (69%) even when controlling for age, gender, and ethnicity. Given the widespread use of facial recognition, our findings have critical implications for the protection of privacy and civil liberties.

234

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and attendant lockdown measures present serious threats to emotional well-being worldwide. Here, we examined the extent to which being outdoors (vs. indoors), the experience of loneliness, and screen-time are associated with emotional well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic using an experiencing sampling method. In April 2020, Austrian adults (N = 286, age M = 31.0 years) completed a 21-day experience sampling phase in which they reported their emotional well-being (i.e., happiness), whether they were indoors or outdoors, and loneliness at three random time-points each day, as well as their daily screen-time. Results indicated that being outdoors was associated with higher emotional well-being, whereas greater loneliness and greater daily screen-time were associated with poorer well-being. Additionally, the impact of loneliness on well-being was weaker when participants were outdoors than indoors. These results have health policy implications for the promotion of population well-being during pandemics.

234

Nasopharyngeal swabs are the primary sampling method used for detection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), but they require a trained health care professional and extensive personal protective equipment.

184

Each year, the American Cancer Society estimates the numbers of new cancer cases and deaths in the United States and compiles the most recent data on population-based cancer occurrence. Incidence data (through 2017) were collected by the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program; the National Program of Cancer Registries; and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. Mortality data (through 2018) were collected by the National Center for Health Statistics. In 2021, 1,898,160 new cancer cases and 608,570 cancer deaths are projected to occur in the United States. After increasing for most of the 20th century, the cancer death rate has fallen continuously from its peak in 1991 through 2018, for a total decline of 31%, because of reductions in smoking and improvements in early detection and treatment. This translates to 3.2 million fewer cancer deaths than would have occurred if peak rates had persisted. Long-term declines in mortality for the 4 leading cancers have halted for prostate cancer and slowed for breast and colorectal cancers, but accelerated for lung cancer, which accounted for almost one-half of the total mortality decline from 2014 to 2018. The pace of the annual decline in lung cancer mortality doubled from 3.1% during 2009 through 2013 to 5.5% during 2014 through 2018 in men, from 1.8% to 4.4% in women, and from 2.4% to 5% overall. This trend coincides with steady declines in incidence (2.2%-2.3%) but rapid gains in survival specifically for nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC). For example, NSCLC 2-year relative survival increased from 34% for persons diagnosed during 2009 through 2010 to 42% during 2015 through 2016, including absolute increases of 5% to 6% for every stage of diagnosis; survival for small cell lung cancer remained at 14% to 15%. Improved treatment accelerated progress against lung cancer and drove a record drop in overall cancer mortality, despite slowing momentum for other common cancers.

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Recurrent major depressive disorder (rMDD) is a relapsing-remitting disease with high morbidity and a 5-year risk of recurrence of up to 80%. This was a prospective pilot study to examine the potential diagnostic and prognostic value of targeted plasma metabolomics in the care of patients with rMDD in remission. We used an established LC-MS/MS platform to measure 399 metabolites in 68 subjects with rMDD (n = 45 females and 23 males) in antidepressant-free remission and 59 age- and sex-matched controls (n = 40 females and 19 males). Patients were then followed prospectively for 2.5 years. Metabolomics explained up to 43% of the phenotypic variance. The strongest biomarkers were gender specific. 80% of the metabolic predictors of recurrence in both males and females belonged to 6 pathways: (1) phospholipids, (2) sphingomyelins, (3) glycosphingolipids, (4) eicosanoids, (5) microbiome, and (6) purines. These changes traced to altered mitochondrial regulation of cellular redox, signaling, energy, and lipid metabolism. Metabolomics identified a chemical endophenotype that could be used to stratify rrMDD patients at greatest risk for recurrence with an accuracy over 0.90 (95%CI = 0.69-1.0). Power calculations suggest that a validation study of at least 198 females and 198 males (99 cases and 99 controls each) will be needed to confirm these results. Although a small study, these results are the first to show the potential utility of metabolomics in assisting with the important clinical challenge of prospectively identifying the patients at greatest risk of recurrence of a depressive episode and those who are at lower risk.

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Political disagreements in social media can result in removing (i.e., “unfriending”) a person from one’s online network. Given that such actions could lead to the (ideological) homogenization of networks, it is pivotal to understand the psychological processes intertwined in unfriending decisions. This requires not only addressing different types of disagreements but also analyzing them in the relational context they occur. This article proposes that political disagreements leading to drastic measures such as unfriending are attributable to more deeply rooted moral dissents. Based on moral foundations theory and relationship regulation research, this work presents empirical evidence from two experiments. In both studies, subjects rated political statements (that violated different moral foundations) with regard to perceived reprehensibility and the likelihood of unfriending the source. Study 1 (N = 721) revealed that moral judgments of a political statement are moderately related to the unfriending decision. Study 2 (N = 822) replicated this finding but indicated that unfriending is less likely when the source of the morally reprehensible statement is relationally close to the unfriender and provides emotional support. This research extends unfriending literature by pointing to morality as a new dimension of analysis and offers initial evidence uncovering the psychological trade-off behind the decision of terminating digital ties. Drawing on this, our findings inform research on the homogenization of online networks by indicating that selective avoidance (in the form of politically motivated unfriending) is conditional upon the relational context and the interpersonal benefits individuals receive therein.

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Despite growing recognition among journalists and political pundits, the concept of victimhood has been largely ignored in empirical social science research. In this article, we develop a theory about, and use unique nationally-representative survey data to estimate, two manifestations of victimhood: an egocentric one entailing only perceptions of one’s own victimhood, and one focused on blaming “the system.” We find that these manifestations of victimhood cut across partisan, ideological, and sociodemographic lines, suggesting that feelings of victimhood are confined to neither “actual” victims nor those partisans on the losing side of elections. Moreover, both manifestations of victimhood, while related to candidate support and various racial attitudes, prove to be distinct from related psychological constructs, such as (collective) narcissism, system justification, and relative deprivation. Finally, an experiment based on candidate rhetoric demonstrates that some political messaging can make supporters feel like victims, which has consequences for subsequent attitudes and behavior.

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Efficacious vaccines are urgently needed to contain the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic of infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). A candidate vaccine, Ad26.COV2.S, is a recombinant, replication-incompetent adenovirus serotype 26 (Ad26) vector encoding a full-length and stabilized SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

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We are currently faced with the question of how the CoV-2 severity may change in the years ahead. Our analysis of immunological and epidemiological data on endemic human coronaviruses (HCoVs) shows that infection-blocking immunity wanes rapidly, but disease-reducing immunity is long-lived. Our model, incorporating these components of immunity, recapitulates both the current severity of CoV-2 and the benign nature of HCoVs, suggesting that once the endemic phase is reached and primary exposure is in childhood, CoV-2 may be no more virulent than the common cold. We predict a different outcome for an emergent coronavirus that causes severe disease in children. These results reinforce the importance of behavioral containment during pandemic vaccine rollout, while prompting us to evaluate scenarios for continuing vaccination in the endemic phase.