|Experimental study on cultural evolution shows how ‘spontaneous’ social norms emerge
||Fifteen years ago, the name “Aiden” was hardly on the radar of Americans with new babies. It ranked a lowly 324th on the Social Security Administration’s list of popular baby names. But less than a decade later, the name became a favorite, soaring into the top 20 for five years and counting. While some may [...]The post Experimental study on cultural evolution shows how ‘spontaneous’ social norms emerge appeared first on PsyPost.
|A simple intervention can make your brain more receptive to health advice
||A new discovery shows how a simple intervention–self-affirmation – can open our brains to accept advice that is hard to hear. “Self-affirmation involves reflecting on core values,” explained Emily Falk, the study’s lead author and director of the Communication Neuroscience Laboratory at University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication. Has your doctor ever told you [...]The post A simple intervention can make your brain more receptive to health advice appeared first on PsyPost.
|Researchers identify critical protein threshold linked to Parkinson’s disease
||The circumstances in which a protein closely associated with Parkinson’s Disease begins to malfunction and aggregate in the brain have been pinpointed in a quantitative manner for the first time in a new study. The research, by a team at the University of Cambridge, identified a critical threshold in the levels of a protein called [...]The post Researchers identify critical protein threshold linked to Parkinson’s disease appeared first on PsyPost.
|Language study offers new twist on mind-body connection
||New research from Northeastern professor of psychology Iris Berent and her colleagues indicates that language and motor systems are intricately linked–though not in the way that has been widely believed. Spoken languages express words by sound patterns, some of which are preferred to others. For instance, the sound pattern “blog” is preferred to “lbog” in [...]The post Language study offers new twist on mind-body connection appeared first on PsyPost.
|Babies can follow complex social situations, study finds
||Infants can make sense of complex social situations, taking into account who knows what about whom, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. “Our findings show that 13-month-olds can make sense of social situations using their understanding about others’ minds and social evaluation skills,” says psychological scientists [...]The post Babies can follow complex social situations, study finds appeared first on PsyPost.
|Rand Paul: Normal vs. Abnormal
||A recent article in the Huffington Post called “Rand Paul: Children Got ‘Profound Mental Disorders’ After Receiving Vaccinations” quotes Paul stating: “I’ve heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children, who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines. What? “Tragic cases” and mental illness is seen in...
|Augmented labor during childbirth is not associated with increased odds of autism
||In a study to be presented on Feb. 5 in an oral pleanary session at 8 a.m. PST, at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting™, in San Diego, researchers will report that induced or augmented labor are not associated with increased odds of Autism spectrum disorder. Autism spectrum disorder has increased [...]The post Augmented labor during childbirth is not associated with increased odds of autism appeared first on PsyPost.
|Actions and beliefs behind climate change stance
||Strategies for building support for climate change mitigation policies should go beyond attempts to improve the public’s understanding of science according to new research. The study, published today in Nature Climate Change, found that regarding human-induced climate change, the actions and beliefs of both sceptics and believers could be understood as integrated expressions of self, [...]The post Actions and beliefs behind climate change stance appeared first on PsyPost.
|When It Is Just Hard
||If you read the last post, I hurt my leg and it is being slow to heal. The key is to stay off of it. The more I move it, the more it hurts. I laid in bed until an un-Godly hour today. I took my meds at 6 am...
|Don’t Fool Yourself: Use Technology Intentionally
||Last week, the Pew Research Center released a report on social media use and stress, and subsequent media coverage has boiled its message down this kind of headline: “Using Facebook and Twitter a lot can actually decrease stress,” to quote the Washington Post.
Wishful thinking. Pew surveyed the associations between people’s self-reported social media use and how stressful they perceive their lives to be, but it did not attempt to determine how Internet and social media use affects stress levels.
The Pew report did find that “women who use Twitter, email and cellphone picture sharing report lower levels of stress.” But we have no idea if there is a cause-and-effect relationship. Perhaps the low-stress women Pew surveyed have more leisure time, which both lowers how stressful they perceive their lives to be, and also gives them more time to send their friends pictures from their smartphones, and to post to Twitter.
Or perhaps these women were feeling the positive effects of communicating with friends. That would be consistent with 150 years of research that has found a person’s well-being is best predicted by the breadth and depth of their social ties.
Knowing this, we can ask how social media can strengthen our real-life relationships. Perhaps sending your sister photos makes you feel closer to her, especially when she comments and sends photos of her own in return. Plenty of research would back up the notion that the love and closeness you feel during this picture exchange really could lower your stress in a measurable way. Many people report a similar positive effect from posting on Facebook. The same goes for reading an article posted to Twitter that makes you feel engaged and curious, or viewing a particular artist’s photos on Instagram that inspires you. These are all instances where social media can foster positive emotions—and positive emotions reduce stress, help us relax, give us energy, and lend our lives meaning and fulfillment.
On the other hand, you might notice that your email or social media use is making you feel bad about yourself. Comparing ourselves to others, while natural, can make us feel envious and unhappy. Does social media use make you feel like you aren’t measuring up? Or does it make you feel isolated? Neither of these feelings will make your life better.
And, as so many people know, constantly checking email or feedback status throughout the day can exacerbate your stress. When researchers Elizabeth Dunn and Kostadin Kushlev regulated how frequently research participants checked their email, for example, those limited to checking their email only three times a day (vs. an average of 15 times) were less tense and less stressed overall.
Social media does have the power to make us miserable and stressed out—or to help us feel love and connection, joy and gratitude, inspiration and curiosity. The key is to understand how these technologies influence our emotional lives, and learn to use them strategically. To reap the benefits of electronic connection, try these three strategies today:
Check email intentionally, not compulsively. Designate three specific times today that you’ll read and respond to your email, and keep your mail application closed (and alerts off) at all other times.
Decide on a few places where you will ban your smartphone use. (Consider starting with the dining room table, your bed, and the bathroom.) If you don’t have your phone in the same room, you’ll be a lot less tempted to check it.
Use social media and email to strengthen your real-life relationships. For example, each morning, send an email telling someone what you really appreciate about them.
|Do You Squirm in the Presence of Unconditional Love?
||Once I was in India visiting a holy man who my family had known since I was a child and hadn’t seen in nearly 30 years. As I sat across his desk from him, he looked at me as if he were watching a movie about my life. With no...
|6 Kinds of Apology and What They Mean
||It seems like almost every day some public figure is apologizing for saying something or doing something that others find offensive. On a private level, people are always apologizing all over the place as well. Maybe we have become an apologizing society. There are different kinds of apologies, depending on...
|Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia reduces suicidal thoughts in veterans
||A new study is the first to show that the treatment of insomnia in veterans is associated with a significant reduction in suicidal ideation. Results show that suicidal ideation decreased by 33 percent following up to six sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). Further analysis found that the reduction in insomnia severity achieved [...]The post Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia reduces suicidal thoughts in veterans appeared first on PsyPost.
|Risk for autism increases for abandoned children placed in institutions
||A recent study published in the February 2015 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry demonstrates that children who were abandoned to institutional care have an increased risk for behaviors similar to those seen in children with autism, including impaired social communication. When these children were moved into child-centered [...]The post Risk for autism increases for abandoned children placed in institutions appeared first on PsyPost.
|Study links confidence in government to willingness to vaccinate
||A new study suggests that confidence in government may play a key role in the public’s willingness to get at least some vaccines. The study re-analyzed national survey data from 2009 that examined Americans’ views on a then-new vaccine for the H1N1 virus – commonly known as swine flu. Results showed that Republicans and independents [...]The post Study links confidence in government to willingness to vaccinate appeared first on PsyPost.
|Simple intervention can make your brain more receptive to health advice
||A new discovery shows how a simple intervention -- self-affirmation -- can open our brains to accept advice that is hard to hear. Psychologists have used self-affirmation as a technique to improve outcomes ranging from health behaviors in high risk patients to increasing academic performance in at risk youth, suggesting that the findings may be applicable across a wide range of interventions.
|3 Sure Signs of Inner Conflict
|| Is it inner conflict that holds you back? Inner conflict can stop you in your tracks and keep you preoccupied with all the wrong things. Rather than produce real, rewarding results in the world, inner conflict would have you spin out on your inner dynamics. One of the keys...
|More evidence that musical training protects the brain
||Scientists have found some of the strongest evidence yet that musical training in younger years can prevent the decay in speech listening skills in later life. "Musical activities are an engaging form of cognitive brain training and we are now seeing robust evidence of brain plasticity from musical training not just in younger brains, but in older brains too," said the study's leader.
|Perfect for a Snow Day: ACT/SAT/ Math Review
||Many students will be taking the ACT or the make-up SAT this coming Saturday, February 7, and today’s snow day is a wonderful opportunity for kids to do some prep work. There’s lots of test prep material online; here are some of my favorites: The ACT has a nice set...
|Break on through to the other side: How HIV penetrates the blood-brain barrier
||A new research report solves the mystery of how HIV penetrates the blood-brain barrier by showing that the virus relies on proteins expressed by a type of immune cell, called 'mature monocytes,' to enter the brain. These proteins are a likely drug target for preventing HIV from reaching brain cells.