Categories
Misc

Is This Something Men Should Be Paying Attention To?

It’s generally accepted that a decent man should pay attention to his health, fitness, moods and demeanor, and do everything possible to be the so-called “ideal man”. But there’s one little detail that many men do not pay attention to, and which there’s some debate about whether it’s necessary. I’m talking about shaving below-the-belt, or “manscaping”. So should men manscape?

If you’re of the opinion that men should manscape, the next question is how to do it. A normal razor is hardly appealing when it comes to shaving such sensitive areas, and an ordinary electric razor is also not perfect. Special care obviously has to be taken. That’s why the MANSCAPED brand was born. Manscaped, featured on Shark Tank, is a product designed specifically for shaving below the belt.

Manscaped’s products are not cheap, being around $90 for their main product. Whether that’s worth it is not clear, as although many reviews are positive, there are those who say it’s overpriced.

If you’re contemplating buying Manscaped, I recommend reading this review and summary of Manscaped here. The author there gives a good rundown of the company and his own experience trying the razor, and also lists a couple of reviews from other people.

Categories
Misc

INUIT PARKA IS THE BEST COAT EVER INVENTED

The technology of the Inuit parka with its multiple layers and the edge of the hood’s hair make them the best coat invented by humans

When it comes to keeping warm in winter, few people know more than the Inuit the Arctic circle. The traditional parka is an engineering prodigy, and the most efficient coat designed by humans in its history.

In its traditional version this coat consists of two layers of caribou skin. The inner layer has the hair in, in contact with the skin, and the outer layer has the hair out. This superposition of layers of skin and hair creates an insulating air chamber around the body very effective.

Much more interesting is the function that the hair has around the edge of the hood, characteristic of the parka. A 2004 study put one of these hoods in a wind tunnel to see what its effect was. The hair on the hood changes the air flow in the face, preventing excessive heat loss. This seems to work only with natural skin, which has hairs of different lengths, and not with the synthetic skin in which they are uniform.

Similar parkas or coats could also have been what saved our species during the last glaciation, according to the theory of researcher Mark Collard. At the same time, a possible explanation for the disappearance of Neanderthals, who were physically better prepared for the cold, is that they did not have adequate clothing to protect themselves, which limited their hunting ground.

Modern parka somewhat mimics the traditional design: a hollow fiber filling, a waterproof and windproof, but breathable, intermediate layer and finally a stronger outer layer. A design that is thousands of years old.

Categories
Behavior

Where Did Racism Come From? New Study May Have The Answer

Today it may feel like racism is a bigger issue than ever, and more and more people are suffering from prejudice. But when did racism actually start, and what are its roots? A new study is aiming to answer this question.

The head author of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nicholas Sambanis, says “the opposition to immigration may be due to economic reasons caused by competition for jobs or the perception of the cultural threat that immigrants represent for the host country by challenging dominant norms and changing national identity.” The results show that arguments based on a cultural threat actually seem to be more powerful than economic concerns.

“Most of the previous research was limited to presenting attitude measures based on antipathy towards immigrants or refugees and their relationship with the socio-economic characteristics of the respondents or their political beliefs,” Sambanis says. “We wanted to go further and measure real behavior. We wanted to discover which particular aspects of refugees or immigrants generate more hostility.”

Their hypothesis was that if opposition to immigration was mainly due to immigrants not properly respecting the culture of a country and imposing their own culture, then one would expect there would be less opposition to immigration who respect the local culture.

In the study, they conducted an experiment 1,600 times across thirty different cities in Germany. It would work as follows: either a German woman or a Muslim immigrant wearing a hijab would pick up a piece of trash from the floor, and then (accidentally on purpose) drop their wallet. The researchers would then watch to see if anyone would point out that they had accidentally dropped their belongings. Unfortunately, the results were that Muslim women wearing a hijab received help just 60% of the time, while German women received help 84% of the time.

“We discovered that the bias towards Muslims is too pronounced and is not overcome with good citizenship; immigrant women who wore a hijab always received less assistance in relation to German women, even when they followed the rules,” says Sambanis.

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Categories
Psychology

Is Stress The Result Of The ‘Lump In Your Throat’ Feeling?

Many of us are familiar with the feeling of having a frog in your throat when you start talking. Now, an interesting new study from the University of Missouri says that the reason behind this could be stress, which prevents us from speaking clearly or really being able to control our voice. The study presents the so-called “Theory of Voice Disorder Traits” and finds that stress-induced brain activations may lead to voice disorders such as muscular tension dysphonia, which will occur due to excessive or altered muscular tension in the voice box or around it. This will of course change the sound that is produced.

“For many, public speaking can be a stressful situation,says Maria Dietrich, director of the Control and Vocal Welfare Laboratory at the University of Missouri. “We know that stress can trigger physiological changes such as muscle tension and that can affect our speech. The new findings will help researchers better understand the relationship between stress and vocal control and allow us to identify brain activations that affect voices to identify better treatments for disorders.

The study was conducted as follows: women were asked to prepare a five-minute speech on-the-fly about why they were the best person for a certain job. Then, the researches analyzed saliva samples to detect cortisol, which is the body’s main stress hormone. They also used MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to see what the brain was doing at different times.

Dietrich found that there were many interesting differences and commonalities in brain activity and the results of how the participants did. Those participants who had higher levels of cortisol showed brain activity that affected the larynx, and overall did noticeably worse than participants who did not show high stress levels. See the results of the study here.

“Our findings are consistent with the theories of vocal traits related to personality,” says Dietrich. “Those who are more introverted are more likely to have stress reactions that involve speech and their brains are recording that stress, which could affect their vocal control.” The expert advises that to speak in public successfully, one should not be thinking about the fact that the speaker is being judged, and to relax as if you are the only one in the room.

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Categories
Nutrition

What Did Roman Gladiators Eat?

It was not an easy life for Roman gladiators who were condemned to fight. But what did they live off? A study from the University of Vienna has looked into this and found that fighters would drink a drink containing plant ashes, similar to what Pliny the Elder (a famous Roman author) had described.

In the study, researchers had analyzed bones from several fighters that were found in the ruins of an ancient city Ephesus, currently located in Turkey. They found that the levels of strontium and calcium in these bones were higher than levels found in normal bones, which would seem to confirm that these people probably did often consume a drink that was prepared with vegetable ashes.

As for the purpose of this strange drink, that is not entirely clear, but it could have been based on the belief that it was able to invigorate fighters and allow wounds to heal faster. Beyond this drink, it’s likely that gladiators also ate a diet high in vegetables.

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Categories
History

How Did Vikings Look Up To Their Gods?

A study from the University of Uppsala is asking an interesting question: what did the ancient Vikings actually think of their gods? Did they look to them for moral guidance, and ask them to correct injustice?

For a long time, it has generally been accepted that religions will believe in one omnipotent god that will play a large roll in shaping society and intervening when necessary. However, in this study, it is postulated that the Vikings were able to develop a strong society based on worshiping many gods – not just one omnipotent god.

And unlike other major religions such as Christianity, it seems that the Vikings did not believe their gods to be omnipotent or even immortal. Their behaviors could even be compared to what the average human might do. In addition, while the Vikings may have believed in supernatural creatures such as orcs, these bore little – if any – influence on how they lived their day-to-day life.

Based on how the Vikings acted, researchers claim that the belief in one single omnipotent god does not appear to have been necessary to create a complex, highly-functioning society.

Image credit: http://www.ancientpages.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/odin111.jpg

Categories
Environment

Studies Show That The Fashion Industry Has A Huge Impact On The Environment – But There Is Still Hope

Nowadays the fashion industry is booming, and more and more people seem to be trying harder to keep up with the latest fashion and continue to buy the latest clothes. But that comes at a cost: new research shows that the fashion industry is, astonishingly, the second most polluting global industry on the planet. According to the research, the fashion industry is responsible for around 10% of global CO2 emissions, 20% of the world’s industrial wastewater, 24% of insecticides and 11% of pesticides used.

But while the fashion industry has been a major source of pollution, one good piece of news here is that buyers seem to be more environmentally-conscious. For example, last year the Lyst fashion search engine tracked over one hundred million searches on its site and reported that there was a 47% rise in buyers looking for products that were produced ethically.

Studies also show that the vast majority of millennials value companies who carefully consider the environmental impact of their products. One such study was conducted by the World Consumer Confidence Survey, which found that around 5 in 6 (83%) of millennials do care about how environmentally friendly a company they do business with is. It is now hoped that given this trend, more and more companies will be carefully considering how to manufacture their products in a way that does less damage to the environment.

Image source: https://www.iamrenew.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/cloth-pollution-fashion.jpg

Categories
Misc

Science Answers: What Is Pansexuality?

First off, what is pansexuality? It is a concept that goes back as far as the time of Freud, and there have been a number of studies on it. It may be loosely defined as someone who is sexually attracted to a person regardless of the sex of that person, as defined by sociologist Emily Lenning. Now, a new study published in the Journal of Sex Research is claiming that among non-heterosexual pansexual people, there are a staggering 5 times as many women than men. It is also more likely for people who identify as some gender other than male or female to consider themselves pansexual, and more likely for younger people to consider themselves pansexual.

While these studies are making some headway into how many pansexual people there are and how they view things, there is still a lot of work to be done, and the numbers are still somewhat unclear. “Pansexual” is rarely offered as an option in research studies, and therefore the exact percentage of the population that would consider themselves pansexual is still unclear.

You may be wondering, based on the above definition, what is the difference between pansexual and bisexual? Another study also published in the Journal of Sex Research has explored these differences and concludes that those who consider themselves pansexual are longer, more likely to be of a diverse gender (eg. transgender or non-binary) and tend to be more politically liberal.

Image source: http://www.curvemag.com/images/cache/cache_d/cache_4/cache_d/women-149577_640copy-f85ccd4d.jpeg?ver=1560428509&aspectratio=2

Categories
Health

Nightmares May Be Beneficial, New Research Suggests

For decades people have been worrying about whether nightmares affect the quality of sleep that we get. For most people, though, we can be fairly sure that all dreams – even nightmares – are beneficial to the restorative function that has sleep. When we sleep, we pass through several stages: light sleep, deep sleep and finally REM sleep. Each one of these stages is important, but the most important when it comes to helping the body recover is deep sleep. During deep sleep, the body relaxes and temperature drops. It’s also a period where dreams do not take place.

So if the most beneficial part of sleep is deep sleep, where dreams don’t take place, what is the actual benefit of dreams? According to Isabelle Arnulf, a neurologist and director of sleep pathology at Pitie-Salpetriere hospital, of thousands of dreams that have been studied during scientific experiments, bad dreams “prepare us for the danger in this safe place that is the dream to allow us to face it better in real life.” Interestingly, of all the dreams analyzed, 82% were violent or negative. One could make the argument that if the majority of dreams are nightmares, then they must have some evolutionary use – else it would be bizarre for them to be so frequent.

One other recent area of research by Antonion Zadra, however, distinguishes between just “bad” dreams and “nightmares” that are so disturbing that they wake us up. Nightmares that happen regularly can actually be harmful, Zadra argues – they can reduce the amount and quality of sleep, and recurring nightmares can be related to depression, anxiety and neuroticism.

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Categories
Psychology

Women Are Currently Considered As Competent As Men – If Not More

A lot of research has been done on women’s rights over the past 70 years. Most recently, a new study published in American Psychologist has done some detailed work in this area, and their conclusion is as follows: women are currently considered just as competent as men, if not more.

“Challenging the traditional claims that stereotypes of women and men are fixed or rigid, our study joins others to show that stereotypes are flexible to changes in social roles,”notes Alice Eagly, lead author of the study. “As the roles of women and men have changed since the mid-20th century, so have beliefs about their attributes.”

The team of researchers analyzed 16 public polls where more than thirty thousand adults participated between 1946 and 2018. The three traits studied were compassion, ambition and competence. Participants were asked to rate which traits were more common in men or women, or if they were equally true for both.

Interestingly – but perhaps not surprisingly – stereotypes and the results of polls changed a lot over time. In 1946, only 1 in 3 people thought women were as intelligent as men, whereas in 2018 86% thought men and women were equally intelligent. Also, more recently, more and more people have reported as believing women to be more compassionate and sensitive.

“These current stereotypes should favor the employment of women because competition is, of course, a job requirement for virtually all jobs. In addition, jobs increasingly reward social skills, which makes the greater communion of women an additional advantage,” Eagly adds. “On a less positive note, most leadership roles require more ambition than communion. Therefore, the smaller ambition attributed to women is a disadvantage in relation to leadership positions.”

The researchers noted that while public sentiment has changed, it is still the case that men are most common in leadership roles and occupations that require strength and analytical skills. Women, by contrast, are still much more common in childcare and domestic work areas.

Image credit: https://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/04/16/menwoman-7bfda9cfb531615208f7b441ced5418ae240fd02-s800-c85.jpg

Categories
Misc

Can Children Be Turned Into Aquaman? Possibly

Is it possible to see underwater with clarity, just with our bare eyes? Anna Gislen, from Lund University in Sweden, says that it may be possible. To test her hypothesis, she set up an experiment where she analyzed how good the vision of Moken children is, who have lived on the islands of Southeast Asia for hundreds of years. From a very young age, these children learn to swim and dive. In Gilsen’s study, published in Vision Research, she had Moken children dive underwater and look towards a panel that would show vertical or horizontal lines – they would then have to report which direction the lines were going once they surfaced. Each time they dived the lines became thinner, making the task more and more difficult.

The results of the study were that Moken children could see twice as well as Europeans who performed the same experiment.

According to Gislen, to have had results like this, Moken children must have some kind of fundamental adaption that changed how their eyes worked. She wanted to know whether one could learn this ability and get better with practice. Thus, in a follow up experiment over a full month, she had the European children – who initially has underwater vision far worse than the Moken children – train over 11 sessions, after which they reached the same quality of vision as the Moken children.

More studies may need to be done in this area, but these early results are very encouraging: it would appear that one can vastly improve their underwater vision, just by practicing.

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Categories
Misc

Climate Change May Have A Huge Affect On Poverty

A new preliminary report by the United Nations Human Rights Council has suggested that climate change may result in hundreds of millions of people being pushed back into poverty, thus potentially cancelling the past fifty years of progress in worth health and poverty reduction. Climate change, according to the report, can easily result in food shortages, forced migration, diseases and more.

The authors of the report make the claim that 120 million people will be pushed into poverty by 2030 as a result of climate change. It gives some rather shocking statistics, including that since 2000 poor people were 7 times as likely to die of natural disasters than rich people, and that while 3.5 billion people are responsible for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions, the wealthiest 10% of people in the world is responsible for half of the emissions.

“In a perverse way,” the report points out, “the richest, who have greater capacity to adapt and are responsible for the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions, will be the best placed to deal with climate change, while the poorest, who have contributed less to emissions and have less reaction capacity, will be the most affected. A simple fact: a person in the top 1% of the richest on the planet generates 175 times more CO2 than one who is among the 10% poorest.”

The report concludes as follows: “The human rights community, with some notable exceptions, has been as accommodating as most governments in the face of the challenge to humanity represented by the climate change. The steps taken by most United Nations human rights bodies have obviously been inadequate given the urgency and magnitude of the threat. This report has identified a series of steps that must be taken to begin rectifying this fact that human rights cannot survive the coming turmoil. It has also sought to highlight the fact that the most affected will be those living in poverty. Climate change is, among other things, an excessive assault on the poor.”

With all the news recently on climate change being about how our environment will suffer and how the lives of people in first world countries may change, we see this report as very important, as few people have deeply considered the effect climate change will have on the poorest and most vulnerable.

Image credit: https://www.economist.com/sites/default/files/images/2018/09/articles/main/20180922_FNP502.jpg

Categories
Psychology

Why Do Our Brains Love Gossip?

New research from PNAS has shown that the brain enjoys new information as much as it enjoys receiving an amount of money. In addition, the same area of the brain is activated as when a person earns money, with the same dopamine hit. “For the brain, information is its own reward, regardless of whether it is useful. Just as our brain likes the empty calories of junk food, it can also overestimate information that makes us feel good, even if it is unusable. It is what is known as idle curiosity, says Ming Hsu, a professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.

This research provides a hint at why social media addiction is so prevalent these days: our brains are always on the look for new information. It’s easy to see why we may be wired this way, being that in ancient times any piece of information received may have been of use, similar to how we needed every piece of food and sugar we could get. Now, however, we suffer from the disease of abundance. When surfing online or watching TV, it’s an assault to our senses as we are bombarded with information. The way in which our brains respond to the anticipation of a pleasant reward seems an important reason why people click on an image or a news item or throw their ear to gossip, no matter how childish its content is. “Like junk food, this could be a situation where adaptation mechanisms are exploited now that we have unprecedented access to novel curiosities,” Hsu said.

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Categories
Misc

What Determines If A Lost Wallet Is Returned? Science Has The Answer

If you find a lost wallet, would you return it? A new study has analyzed this question and come to some very surprising results. According to this study, published in Science, the more money there is in a wallet, the more likely it is to be returned. That goes completely against what I had personally imagined (that the more money there is in a lost wallet, surely the less likely it would be to be returned).

This study was led by Michel Marechal and was carried out across 355 cities in 40 countries, and involved 17,000 lost wallets that they would leave in places like hotel receptions, museums or post offices. Each wallet had a different amount of money in it, along with a business card, shopping list and a key.

According to the researchers, there were 4 factors that influenced whether a lost wallet was returned: the monetary incentive to keep the money, the effort involved in getting in touch with the owner, altruistic considerations and the so-called “psychological cost of being dishonest” (where keeping an item someone else lost is usually seen as robbery, and someone taking a lost wallet has to live with that).

Beyond the interesting finding that the more money a wallet had in it, the more likely it was to be returned, researchers found that there was a huge variation in different countries. Switzerland, Norway, Holland, Denmark and Sweden were the most honest countries, as the vast majority of wallets were returned (between 70 and 85%). However, countries such as China and Kenya has far worse, with only around 20% of lost wallets being returned.

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Categories
Misc

New Research Reveals Why Parents Are So Hard On Themselves

Parents are accustomed to listening to suggestions on how to be better parents. But how do parents tend to respond to all kinds of criticism from different people, and is it actually helpful? A new survey conducted by the CS Mott Children’s Hospital may have the answer. According to the study, many parents respond well to criticism, but other parents do not – and that can have very negative consequences. “While some parents say criticism encourages them to seek more information about good practices, too much contempt can make parents feel demoralized about their fatherly role,” explains Mott’s survey co-director, Sarah Clark. “Parents who love and commit can have a positive impact on the development and well-being of their children, but different family members should be willing to recognize that there are different parenting styles without necessarily being wrong or harmful,” she adds.

According to the researchers, the hardest type of criticism that parents face is how to discipline their children, and it is also very common for a husband and wife to argue about when their child should start to receive proper discipline. “Addressing misconduct is one of the biggest challenges of raising children, and parents are not always on the same page when it comes to expectations and consequences,” the researcher acknowledges.

Other than on how to discipline children, how are parents often criticized? One interesting point is that it is often the father, not the mother, who tends to be seen as the incompetent parent, according to the results of the survey. Often, a father playing with their child may be criticized for not properly protecting the child from injuries, for example. Clark comments on this as follows: “In some cases, this may be a reflection of historical gender roles, where mothers are considered born caregivers, while fathers bear the prejudice of having a limited parenting capacity and need supervision or correction.

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Categories
Psychology

Liars Are Not Always Disapproved Of

We can all agree that no-one likes liars. However, in certain professions, they tend to be more useful than in other professions. That is the conclusion that was reached by a study conducted by the University of Chicago, led by Emma Levine. This study, published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, identifies certain professions where liars are actually saught after – most notably sales.

In the study, it is revealed that bosses do not always disapproved of lying and deception. When it comes to sales, this is not too unsurprising: the ability to decieve like a psychopath may definitely come in handy when it comes to selling high ticket items.

The study conducted various experiments of interest where participants observed people who lied or acted honestly in various different situations, such as reporting their expenses after a business trip. The participants were then asked to judged how successful these people would be in different occupations.

The professions where liars were judged to be most successful in were banking, advertising and sales.

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Categories
Psychology

Do Dogs Experience Stress The Same As Humans?

Led by Ann-Sofie Sundman, a team of scientists from Linköping University has analyzed the different lifestyles of dogs and the people that they live with. The study was published in Scientific Reports and came about from the idea that if coexistence between humans tends to cause stress, perhaps coexistence between humans and dogs can also cause stress.

The researches examined 58 dogs (25 Border Collies and 33 Shetland pastors), with the owners and dogs donating their hair samples twice over the space of a few months. The goal was to measure cortisol (a stress hormone) levels. And since physical activity can easily increase cortisol levels, the researchers also examined the physical activity of the dogs.

“We found that long-term cortisol levels in the dog and its owner were synchronized,” Sundman explains in a statement. “So that humans with high cortisol levels had dogs with high cortisol levels, while owners with levels low cortisol dogs have low levels. Surprisingly, we found no significant effect of the dog’s personality on long-term stress. The personality of the owner, on the other hand, had a strong effect. This has led us to suggest that the dog reflects the stress of its owner. ”

This result indicates that if an owner is unhappy or stressed out, that will be transferred to the dog, though more work still needs to be done in this area. In particular, more breeds may need to be examined, along with dogs that are not necessarily domesticated (such as hunting dogs or dogs that are trained to be independent).

Image source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/content//images/articles/322/322868/golden-retriever-puppy.jpg

Categories
Psychology

People Tend To Keep Dating The Same Type Of Person, Study Says

Do you find that you tend to always be attracted to the same people? If so, this study will be of interest to you. New research by social psychologists at the University of Toronto, published in PNAS, shows that people tend to seek the same romantic partners over and over again.

“It’s common that when a relationship ends, people attribute the breakup to the personality of their former partner and decide that they need to date a different type of person,” says lead author Yoobin Park. “Our research suggests that there is a strong tendency to continue having a partner with a similar personality.”

The researchers examined the personalities of the current and past spouses of 332 people, and discovered that there was almost always a very significant consistency. “Our study was particularly rigorous because not only did we trust a person to remember the personalities of their various partners,” Park said, “we also contacted the ex-partners to define themselves.”

According to the researchers, these findings may offer new ways to keep up healthy and happy relationships. After all, if you are dating a person similar to your ex, what you learned in that relationship should be applicable to the new relationship. But there are downsides as well, of course: if you had issues with a certain type of person in the past, chances are good that you will still keep running into those issues.

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Categories
Health

Down Syndrome Could Be Treated In Pregnancy

A group of researchers at the University of Rutgers New Brunswick have used stem cells that can become other cells in the brain to develop 2 experimental models: one of them a live 3D model of the brain, and one a mouse brain model with human cells implanted. Their goal is to investigate early brain development that is related to Down syndrome.

Their study focuses on the human chromosome 21 OLIG2, and was published here. “Our results suggest that this gene is potentially an excellent prenatal therapeutic objective to reverse the abnormal development of the embryonic brain, and rebalance the two types of neurons in the brain: excitatory and inhibitory. A healthy balance is essential, as well as improving postnatal cognitive function, ” says Peng Jiang, professor of Cell Biology and Neuroscience and one of the authors of the study.

Babies with down syndrome are born with an extra copy of chromosome 21, which changed how their brains and bodies develop. Currently, down syndrome affects around 1 in 700 babies.

To conduct their research, the authors obtained skin cells from patients with down syndrome and genetically reprogrammed them to human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs).

Image source: https://static.timesofisrael.com/www/uploads/2018/02/pregnancy.jpg

Categories
Health

Study Reports On How The Thermostat In Your Office May Influence Productivity

A new study by the USC has come to an interesting conclusion: for women, the colder the temperature, the less productive women tend to be. The study found that women performed better doing mathematics or verbal tasks than men only when the temperature was higher, and the higher the temperature was, the better women did. When temperatures dropped, men obtained better results compared to women (although men tended to perform similarly regardless of temperature).

“It has been documented that women like warmer indoor temperatures than men, but so far the idea has been that it is a matter of personal preference,” said Chang, author of the study. “What we discovered is that it is not only if you feel comfortable or not, but that your performance in the things that matter, in mathematics and in the verbal dimensions is affected by temperature.”

The study analyzed a total of 543 students in Berlin. In each experiment, room temperatures were varied from around 16 degrees Celsius up to 32 degrees Celsius.

“One of the most amazing things we learned is that it’s not about the extremes of temperature,” said Chang. “In a relatively normal temperature range, there is a significant variation in performance.”

The conclusion of the researchers is that the temperature that one sets in the office is much more important than people originally thought, especially in offices where there are both men and women.

“People invest a lot to make sure their workers are comfortable and highly productive,” Chang said. “This study indicates that even if you only care about the money or performance of your workers, you will have to increase the temperature in your office buildings.”

Image source: https://assets.pcmag.com/media/images/479659-bosch-connected-control-bcc100-thermostat.jpg?width=810&height=456

Categories
Misc

Researchers Ask: Are Prisons The Best Way To Stop Violent Criminals?

A study conducted by the sociologist David Harding from the University of California at Berkeley has concluded that locking up criminals who committed assaults, robberies and similar crimes does little to prevent them for committing these crimes again once they get out of prison. The whole findings were published in the Nature Human Behavior publication, and question whether the strict standards we have against crime now (such as mandatory minimum sentences) are very effective.

“We are investing too much money in prisons and the benefit in terms of public safety is very low,” says Harding. Harding and his team analyzed how often it was that criminals would commit crimes again after being released from prising, analyzing more than 100,000 people in Michigan that were found guilty between 2003 and 2006, and continued to track their activity up until 2015. Their analysis mainly focused on cases where the judges had the option of sentencing defendants to prison or probation.

The results show that people who were on parole for 5 years after committing a crime, and those who went to prison for 5 years after committing a crime, were roughly equally likely to go out and commit crimes again as soon as they could. “The conclusion here is that incarceration does not make a dent in violent crime rates,” says Harding. “Our findings show that we could imprison fewer people convicted of violent crimes and invest savings in other ways to prevent violence in society.”

Clearly this is an area where further research is needed, as researchers have not made a firm conclusion on what “other ways to prevent violence in society” are most effective.

Image source: https://www.liberationnews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Alcatraz_prison_block_cc_img.jpg

Categories
Behavior

Research Shows Children Punish Bad Behaviour From A Young Age

By the time a child is just 3 years old, he or she can already distinguish between good and evil and right and wrong. But that’s not all: children at that age are also able to punish bad behavior and encourage good behavior, even if they may suffer for it. That is the conclusion of an investigation that was done at the University of New York, directed by the psychologist Daniel Yudkin.

“Morality is about more than doing good oneself, it is also about encouraging good behavior in others,” says Yudkin. His study was recently published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology and also had contributions from other professors from the university including Marjorie Rhodes and Jay Van Bavel, who tried to examine the characteristic of trying to punish bad actors even at a personal cost. “This behavior, known as expensive third-party punishment, is interesting because it is believed to underlie people’s conception of justice,” explains Yudkin.“Specifically, it relates to justice because it involves people who make sure others are acting fairly.

The researchers were particularly interested in studying children, since seeing how children think about punishment at an early stage can shed light on the underlying mental processes that will drive behavior. In the study, 200 children were examined, aged 3 to 6. Each child was taken into a classroom with a fun red slide, and was shown a video of a girl who destroyed another child’s drawing. The children were given two options: punish the child and lose the slide, or don’t punish the child and enjoy the slide. About half the children approved of the punishment, with older children being more likely to punish.

Why are we wired this way? That may be a question for another day. “Of course, we cannot say with certainty if this behavior is innate or learned in the first years of life,” Yudkin concludes. “But it adds to the growing evidence that, at a very young age, humans are predisposed to do good and encourage good behavior in others.

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Categories
Psychology

Science Asks: How Long Should We Wait Before Asking For A Favor To Be Returned?

A new investigation by the University of Pennsylvania has found that when it comes to favors, it is best to ask for them back as soon as possible, assuming we are not doing the favor as a purely selfless act. The study authors conducted a detailed experiment with many participants from a public hospital (all of them in a reasonable financial situation) who had undergone very expensive treatments. In exchange, the hospital would request a donation of any amount.

In one group they would ask for the donation just one week after the patient had undergone treatment, and in the other group, they would ask for the donation several months later.

The results were that every single person in the first group made the donation, and at a higher amount. For those in the group that were asked several months later, the researchers found that for every month that passed, the willingness to make a donation decreased by 30%.

Does this example apply to every-day situations? We think so, and in our view, the results of this study are not too surprising. The takeaway is very clear: the further into the future you get, the less likely someone is to repay a favor.

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Categories
Health

Study Finds Dog Owners Live Longer

Dogs have always been considered to be a man’s best friend – but can they help you to live longer as well? A study conducted in Sweden may have the answer. Based on national registries of more than 3.4 million people between 40 and 80, they found that dog owners have a significantly lower risk of death during the 12 years that the study monitored them.

“A very interesting finding in our study was that the protective property of having a dog was especially prominent in people living alone, which is a group that has an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death. The dog may be an important member of the family in individual households. The results showed that single dog owners had a 33% reduction in the risk of death and an 11% reduction in the risk of myocardial infarction during follow-up compared to non-single ones,” says Mwenya Mubanga, lead author of the study.

This study is stronger than most since it has such a huge sample size, and the conclusion is very interesting. Fortunately, in Sweden each person has a personal identity number and there is a dog property registry that is mandatory in Sweden – so they were able to use publicly available data.

“Such epidemiological studies seek associations in large populations, but they do not provide answers on whether dogs could protect against cardiovascular disease or how. We know that dog owners generally have a higher level of physical activity, which could be an explanation for the observed result. Other explanations include greater welfare and social contacts or the dog’s effects on the bacterial microbiome in the owner, “says Tove Fall, lead author of the study.

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Categories
Behavior

When the holidays come around, we may start surfing the internet and looking into different things that might make us happy, including impulse items. Suppose you are looking at a potential vacation destination and your booking website indicates that only 1 room is left for your planned date. You go ahead and make the booking – but was it what you really wanted? Maybe not.

Looking into this phenomenon is a team of researchers from the University of Michigan, who analyzed 200 huge retailers online and then asked customers what tools might be useful to try to reduce impulse purchases. Of course, we know there are all kinds of things that websites do to try to get you to impulsively book: discounts and sales, product ratings, incentive screens, a limited number of items remaining and so on.

“Many consumers are familiar with the marketing tactics they could push to buy in a traditional store, but the novelty on the internet is the amount of information that electronic retailers have about their consumers or other real-time data, such as the exact number of products left in stock or the number of customers who also have that product in their shopping cart at this time,” says Carol Moser, lead author of the study. To conduct their research, the authors of this study analyzed more than 200 online stores, including Macys.com, Amazon.com, Newegg.com, Target.com and more. They found that a staggering 192 out of 200 major ecommerce websites engaged in what are called “social influence characteristics”, where they recommend items based on what other people buy.

In addition, about 2 in 3 websites (69%) would use a countdown timer, along with a limited stock warning to try to induce the surfer to buy.

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