Article Description
Why almost winning is just as good for some gamblers A new study has pinpointed the changes in the brain that lead gamblers to react in the same way to near-misses as they do to winning. The research shows that near-misses are underpinned by increases in the brain's electrical activity, particularly in the theta frequency range -- known to be involved in processing win and loss outcomes. They found that these increases in theta are linked to both how severe someone's gambling history is and how susceptible they might be to developing a future gambling problem.
Is a Happy Life Different from a Meaningful One? Philosophers, researchers, spiritual leaders—they’ve all debated what makes life worth living. Is it a life filled with happiness or a life filled with purpose and meaning? Is there even a difference between the two? Think of the human rights activist who fights oppression but ends up in prison—is she happy? Or the social animal who spends his nights (and some days) jumping from party to party—is that the good life? These aren’t just academic questions. They can help us determine where we should invest our energy to lead the life we want. Recently some researchers have explored these questions in depth, trying to tease apart the differences between a meaningful life and a happy one. Their research suggests there’s more to life than happiness—and even calls into question some previous findings from the field of positive psychology, earning it both a fair amount of press coverage and criticism. The controversy surrounding it raises big questions about what happiness actually means: While there may be more to life than happiness, there may also be more to “happiness” than pleasure alone. Five differences between a happy life and a meaningful one “A happy life and a meaningful life have some differences,” says Roy Baumeister, a Francis Eppes Professor of Psychology at Florida State University. He bases that claim on a paper he published last year in the Journal of Positive Psychology, co-authored with researchers at the University of Minnesota and Stanford. Baumeister and his colleagues surveyed 397 adults, looking for correlations between their levels of happiness, meaning, and various other aspects of their lives: their behavior, moods, relationships, health, stress levels, work lives, creative pursuits, and more. They found that a meaningful life and a happy life often go hand-in-hand—but not always. And they were curious to learn more about the differences between the two. Their statistical analysis tried to separate out what brought meaning to one’s life but not happiness, and what brought happiness but not meaning. Their findings suggest that meaning (separate from happiness) is not connected with whether one is healthy, has enough money, or feels comfortable in life, while happiness (separate from meaning) is. More specifically, the researchers identified five major differences between a happy life and a meaningful one. Happy people satisfy their wants and needs, but that seems largely irrelevant to a meaningful life. Therefore, health, wealth, and ease in life were all related to happiness, but not meaning. Happiness involves being focused on the present, whereas meaningfulness involves thinking more about the past, present, and future—and the relationship between them. In addition, happiness was seen as fleeting, while meaningfulness seemed to last longer. Meaningfulness is derived from giving to other people; happiness comes from what they give to you. Although social connections were linked to both happiness and meaning, happiness was connected more to the benefits one receives from social relationships, especially friendships, while meaningfulness was related to what one gives to others—for example, taking care of children. Along these lines, self-described “takers” were happier than self-described “givers,” and spending time with friends was linked to happiness more than meaning, whereas spending more time with loved ones was linked to meaning but not happiness. Meaningful lives involve stress and challenges. Higher levels of worry, stress, and anxiety were linked to higher meaningfulness but lower happiness, which suggests that engaging in challenging or difficult situations that are beyond oneself or one’s pleasures promotes meaningfulness but not happiness. Self-expression is important to meaning but not happiness. Doing things to express oneself and caring about personal and cultural identity were linked to a meaningful life but not a happy one. For example, considering oneself to be wise or creative was associated with meaning but not happiness. One of the more surprising findings from the study was that giving to others was associated with meaning, rather than happiness, while taking from others was related to happiness and not meaning. Though many researchers have found a connection between giving and happiness, Baumeister argues that this connection is due to how one assigns meaning to the act of giving.  “If we just look at helping others, the simple effect is that people who help others are happier,” says Baumeister. But when you eliminate the effects of meaning on happiness and vice versa, he says, “then helping makes people less happy, so that all the effect of helping on happiness comes by way of increasing meaningfulness.” Baumeister’s study raises some provocative questions about research in positive psychology that links kind, helpful—or “pro-social”—activity to happiness and well-being. Yet his research has also touched off a debate about what psychologists—and the rest of us—really mean when we talk about happiness. What is happiness, anyway? Researchers, just like other people, have disagreed about the definition of “happiness” and how to measure it. Some have equated happiness with transient emotional states or even spikes of activity in pleasure centers of the brain, while others have asked people to assess their overall happiness or life satisfaction. Some researchers, like Ed Diener of the University of Illinois, a pioneer in the field of positive psychology, have tried to group together these aspects of happiness under the term “subjective well-being,” which encompasses assessments of positive and negative emotions as well as overall life satisfaction. These differences in definitions of happiness have sometimes led to confusing—or even contradictory—findings. For instance, in Baumeister’s study, familial relationships—like parenting—tended to be tied to meaning more than happiness. Support for this finding comes from researchers like Robin Simon of Wake Forest University, who looked at happiness levels among 1,400 adults and found that parents generally reported less positive emotion and more negative emotions than people without kids. She concluded that, while parents may report more purpose and meaning than nonparents, they are generally less happy than their childless peers. This conclusion irks happiness researcher Sonja Lyubormirsky, of the University of California, Riverside, who takes issue with studies that “try too hard to rule out everything related to happiness” from their analysis but still draw conclusions about happiness. “Imagine everything that you think would be great about parenting, or about being a parent,” says Lyubomirsky. “If you control for that—if you take it out of the equation—then of course parents are going to look a lot less happy.” In a recent study, she and her colleagues measured happiness levels and meaning in parents, both in a “global” way—having them assess their overall happiness and life satisfaction—and while engaged in their daily activities. Results showed that, in general, parents were happier and more satisfied with their lives than non-parents, and parents found both pleasure and meaning in childcare activities, even in the very moments when they were engaged in those activities. “Being a parent leads to all of these good things: It gives you meaning in life, it gives you goals to pursue, it can make you feel more connected in your relationships,” says Lyubomirsky. “You can’t really talk about happiness without including all of them.” Lyubomirsky feels that researchers who try to separate meaning and happiness may be on the wrong track, because meaning and happiness are inseparably intertwined. “When you feel happy, and you take out the meaning part of happiness, it’s not really happiness,” she says. Yet this is basically how Baumeister and his colleagues defined happiness for the purpose of their study. So although the study referred to “happiness,” says Lyubomirsky, perhaps it was actually looking at something more like “hedonic pleasure”—the part of happiness that involves feeling good without the part that involves deeper life satisfaction. Is there happiness without pleasure? But is it ever helpful to separate out meaning from pleasure? Some researchers have taken to doing that by looking at what they call “eudaimonic happiness,” or the happiness that comes from meaningful pursuits, and “hedonic happiness”—the happiness that comes from pleasure or goal fulfillment. A recent study by Steven Cole of the UCLA School of Medicine, and Barbara Fredrickson of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, found that people who reported more eudaimonic happiness had stronger immune system function than those who reported more hedonic happiness, suggesting that a life of meaning may be better for our health than a life seeking pleasure. Similarly, a 2008
Flow States and Creativity Creativity has become the most important skill to have in the 21st century"”but we still don't know how to train people up on it. Until now...read more
America: Happiest and Saddest States Data from over 178,000 Americans in 2013 reveals the happiest and saddest states in the US.Most adults can't remember much, if anything, from before the age of three. It's what Sigmund Freud first termed "˜childhood amnesia'. Continue reading - - > → Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
The 'science of dating' and why it should make you angry | Girl on the Net Girl on the Net: Relationship advice seems to get a free pass from criticism when it comes to using dubious or pseudoscientific arguments or claimsGirl on the Net
Internet trolls are also real-life trolls | Jordan Gaines Lewis Jordan Gaines Lewis: Why do some people find so much pleasure in harassing others online? A new study attempts to shed light on the behaviour of Internet trollsJordan Gaines Lewis
White matter disease exacts heavy toll, increasing risk of stroke, Alzheimer's, dementia More evidence has been accumulated that damage to cognitive areas is widespread from white matter disease. White matter disease is responsible for about a fifth of all strokes worldwide, more than doubles the future risk of stroke, and is a contributing factor in up to 45% of dementias. Unlike Alzheimer's disease, which shrinks the hippocampus causing progressive memory loss, white matter disease is a more diffuse mind-robbing condition that targets small blood vessels deep within the brain's white matter. The disease hardens the tiny arteries, gradually restricting nutrients to white matter -- the connections between brain regions involved in executive abilities such as planning, organizing, problem-solving, and attention.
Night eating disorder may signal mental health issues Study shows that night eating syndrome is associated with other eating disorder behaviors that could lead to serious physical and psychological consequences.
What men share on social media but not with women Social media is creating a haven for some men to express themselves online in ways they don't in person.
'Homosexual OCD': Straight men who suspect they are gay Some psychologists think that gay acceptance has hindered recognition of homosexual obsessive compulsive disorder.
Women spend two weeks a year on their appearance Research shows obsessing over your appearance can be unhealthy, potentially leading to mental health problems like anxiety, depression and disordered eating.
Stereotactic radio surgery procedure comes to New Mexico A New Mexico hospital can now add stereotactic radiosurgery to its growing list of treatment options. This non-invasive outpatient procedure kills tumor cells in the brain in a single treatment. For people with brain tumors or whose cancer has spread to the brain, this treatment option can help to preserve their strength and health.
New ideas change your brain cells, research shows An important molecular change has been discovered that occurs in the brain when we learn and remember. The research shows that learning stimulates our brain cells in a manner that causes a small fatty acid to attach to delta-catenin, a protein in the brain. This biochemical modification is essential in producing the changes in brain cell connectivity associated with learning, the study finds. Findings may provide an explanation for some mental disabilities, the researchers say.
Watching how the brain works with new live imaging For the first time, a group of scientists has been able to observe intact interactions between proteins, directly in the brain of a live animal. The new live imaging approach will allow scientists to visualize the interactions of proteins in the brain of an animal, along different points throughout its development, explains the lead author, who likens protein interactions to the way organisms associate with each other. Previous methods required chemical or physical treatments that most likely disturb or even kill the cells. That made it impossible to study the protein interactions in their natural environment.
Psychopathic Killer: The Homicidal Boy Next Door Many of the world's most prolific killers are stone-cold psychopaths. Such predators are totally incapable of empathy or remorse. However, they rarely look like the scary monsters we expect them to be. read more
New research helps explain how social understanding is performed by the brain An important question has been answered about how social understanding is performed in the brain. The findings may help us to attain a better understanding of why people with autism and schizophrenia have difficulties with social interaction. Using magnetic stimulation to temporarily disrupt normal processing of the areas of the human brain involved in the production of actions of human participants, it is demonstrated that these areas are also involved in the understanding of actions. The study is the first to demonstrate a clear causal effect, whereas earlier studies primarily have looked at correlations, which are difficult to interpret.
What passing comments really annoy you? | Open thread A street artist is responding to the microaggression of people feeling free to pass remarks to passing strangersThere are some passing comments that are meant kindly, but others that actually irritate or even offend."Smile, darling" or "Cheer up, it might never happen", for example.Brooklyn-based artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh has responded by producing a street art series highlighting the comments from passing strangers that she feels demean her as a woman.She now plans to take her project to other cities around the world, and collaborate with men too.So, what passing comments would you include in the project? What would you love to tell the world to stop saying to you? Tell us the types of microaggressions that offend you.PsychologyArtGendertheguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
Stimulation glove for stroke patients helps improve tactile perception, motor function A glove that uses weak electrical pulses to stimulate the nerve fibers that connect the hands with the brain has been developed and been used to help recovery of patients who have suffered a stroke by using passive stimulation that improves sense of touch and motor skills. If applied regularly, this passive stimulation results in an improvement of both tactile perception and motor function.
Childhood Amnesia: The Age at Which Our Earliest Memories Fade Can you remember anything from before the age of three?Most adults can't remember much, if anything, from before the age of three. It's what Sigmund Freud first termed "˜childhood amnesia'. Continue reading - - > → Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
APA Applauds Narrowing of Psychology Internship Gap 80 percent of applicants placed during first phase of 2014 matches