Summary of “The bad news on human nature, in 10 findings from psychology”

Another study showed that people who are opposed to Arab immigration tended to rate Arabs and Muslims as literally less evolved than average.
Among other examples, there’s also evidence that young people dehumanise older people; and that men and women alike dehumanise drunk women.
If people were rational and open-minded, then the straightforward way to correct someone’s false beliefs would be to present them with some relevant facts.
In one study, researchers found that people rated the exact same selfish behaviour as being far less fair when perpetuated by others.
There is a long-studied phenomenon known as actor-observer asymmetry, which in part describes our tendency to attribute other people’s bad deeds, such as our partner’s infidelities, to their character, while attributing the same deeds performed by ourselves to the situation at hand.
While research has suggested that people who are prone to everyday sadism are especially inclined to online trolling, a study published last year revealed how being in a bad mood, and being exposed to trolling by others, double the likelihood of a person engaging in trolling themselves.
We are sexually attracted to people with dark personality traits.
Not only do we elect people with psychopathic traits to become our leaders, evidence suggests that men and women are sexually attracted, at least in the short term, to people displaying the so-called ‘dark triad’ of traits – narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism – thus risking further propagating these traits.

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Summary of “What we can learn about crowd behavior by watching the Tour de France”

Check out the aerial footage of bicyclists competing in the annual Tour de France and you’ll notice that riders tend to spontaneously group themselves into a diamond-shaped pattern.
Jesse Belden, a researcher at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, says such patterns emerge because riders are trying to stay close to their competitors while avoiding collisions.
He found himself wondering how one might model the behavior of riders in a peloton.
Belden initially thought the diamond pattern arises because each rider is trying to gain an aerodynamic advantage by catching the tailwinds of other nearby riders.
The longitudinal waves triggered by a rider slowing or braking spread twice as fast as the transverse waves triggered by riders moving side to side.
A rider in this position will have more time to react to a sudden braking motion by the rider in front.
Professional cyclists who compete in the Tour de France are so skilled at maintaining a balance between these dynamics that they can ride extremely close to each other without crashing.
They didn’t ride nearly as close together as the average Tour de France cyclists.

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Summary of “Secrets of the Creative Brain”

Although many people continue to equate intelligence with genius, a crucial conclusion from Terman’s study is that having a high IQ is not equivalent to being highly creative.
If high IQ does not indicate creative genius, then what does? And how can one identify creative people for a study?
Drawing on creativity studies done by the psychiatric epidemiologist Thomas McNeil, I evaluated creativity in family members by assigning those who had had very successful creative careers an A++ rating and those who had pursued creative interests or hobbies an A+. My final challenge was selecting a control group.
Today’s neuroimaging tools show brain structure with a precision approximating that of the examination of post-mortem tissue; this allows researchers to study all sorts of connections between brain measurements and personal characteristics.
I spent many years thinking about how to design an imaging study that could identify the unique features of the creative brain.
Based on my interviews with the creative subjects in my workshop study, and from additional conversations with artists, I knew that such unconscious processes are an important component of creativity.
Many creative people are polymaths, people with broad interests in many fields-a common trait among my study subjects.
Which has examined 13 creative geniuses and 13 controls-has borne out a link between mental illness and creativity similar to the one I found in my Writers’ Workshop study.

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Summary of “Low-carb diet: does cutting carbs really help keep weight off?”

It’s probably the most contentious question in the dieting wars: How much do carbs really matter when it comes to weight loss?
They instead argue that most studies show low-carb diets aren’t better than any other diet when it comes to keeping weight off.
The carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis For the study, which cost $12 million to complete, researchers wanted to look at whether maintaining weight loss over 20 weeks would be easier on a low-carb, moderate-carb, or high-carb diet.
They did this because we know that most people can lose weight on any kind of diet – but the hard part is keeping that weight off.
So people on the low-carb diet burned more than 200 extra calories each day, while people on the moderate-carb diet burned about an extra 100 calories per day, and people on the high-carb diet didn’t burn any extra calories.
In most diet studies, where people aren’t fed every calorie by researchers, the low-carb diet performs about the same as other diets when it comes to weight loss.
In other words, when you just ask people to stick to a low-carb diet for weight loss, they lose about the same amount of weight as people following higher-carb diets.
In my years of reporting on diet and obesity I know one thing to be true: The same diets can have drastically different results for different people, and people can’t keep weight off if they’re on a diet that feels impossible.

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Summary of “Immigrants arrive with flourishing gut microbes. Then America’s diet trashes them.”

Once in the United States, the immigrants’ gut diversity dropped to resemble the less-varied microbiomes in European Americans.
“You pick up the microbiome of the new country and possibly some of the new disease risks that are more common in that country.”
“The loss of diversity was quite pronounced: Just coming to the USA, just living in the USA, was associated with a loss of about 15 percent of microbiome diversity.”
“It’s been known from previous studies that people in developing nations tend to have more gut microbiome diversity and lower risk of metabolic diseases,” Knights said.
“The association made between changes in dietary factors, toward a more ‘Westernized’ nutritional diet, and the loss of bacterial diversity” was “Particularly striking,” said Eran Elinav, who studies the human microbiome at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.
Changes in diet were slower than changes in microbiome, suggesting factors beyond American food were at play.
The new study supports hypotheses that Western lifestyle influences the microbiome.
“We have known from some small, not well controlled studies that the microbiome does change – and we have known for many years that adopting a Western lifestyle is associated with an increase in disease,” said microbial ecosystem expert Jack Gilbert, director of the University of Chicago’s Microbiome Center, who was not involved with the current study.

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Summary of “There’s Worrying New Research About Kids’ Screen Time and Their Mental Health”

While spending seven or more hours a day on screens was not typical among the younger kids in the study, roughly 20% of 14- to 17-year-olds spent this amount of time on screens each day.
Along with the associations between screen time and diagnoses of depression and anxiety, the study found that young people who spent seven hours or more a day on screens were more easily distracted, less emotionally stable and had more problems finishing tasks and making friends compared to those who spent just an hour a day on screens.
Adolescents seemed to have more problems than younger kids as a result of heavy screen use.
“However, teens spend more time on their phones and on social media, and we know from other research that these activities are more strongly linked to low wellbeing than watching TV and videos, which is most of younger children’s screen time.”
She’s also found that kids who spend more time on screens tend to be less happy than kids who engage in non-screen activities like playing sports, reading traditional printed media or spending time socializing with friends face-to-face.
Twenge says her study shows “a clear and strong association” between more screen time and lower wellbeing.
“At the moment, the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines set specific time limits on screen time only for children [ages] five and younger,” she says.
Based on the 2011-2012 data, Przybylski’s study concluded that the AAP’s advice to limit the screen time of young kids was not warranted.

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Summary of “Study: Laying Off Pot Improved Teens’ Learning”

Study: Laying Off Pot Improved Teens’ Learning : Shots – Health News When researchers convinced a group of young people to stop smoking pot, their cognition quickly improved.
A study published Tuesday in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry finds that when adolescents stop using marijuana – even for just one week – their verbal learning and memory improves.
The study contributes to growing evidence that marijuana use in adolescents is associated with reduced neurocognitive functioning.
At the same time, the percentage of teens who believe that regular marijuana use poses a great risk to their health has dropped sharply since the mid-2000s.
One study noted that after 2012, when marijuana was legalized in Washington state, the number of eighth graders there that believed marijuana posed risks to their health dropped by 14 percent.
Researchers are particularly concerned with use of marijuana among the young because THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, most sharply affects the parts of the brain that develop during adolescence.
Because the study lasted only four weeks, it’s impossible to draw conclusions about the long term effects of marijuana usage for young people, such as how marijuana directly affects academic performance or sleep patterns or mood.
In the meantime, Lisdahl says the findings from the new study – that abstinence from marijuana is associated with improvements in adolescents’ learning and memory – sends a positive message.

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Summary of “”Stress Hormone” Cortisol Linked to Early Toll on Thinking Ability”

The study of more than 2,000 people, most of them in their 40s, found those with the highest levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol performed worse on tests of memory, organization, visual perception and attention.
Higher cortisol levels, measured in subjects’ blood, were also found to be associated with physical changes in the brain that are often seen as precursors to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, according to the study published Wednesday in Neurology.
The link between high cortisol levels and low performance was particularly strong for women, the study found.
It remains unclear whether women in midlife are under more stress than men or simply more likely to have their stress manifested in higher cortisol levels, says lead researcher Sudha Seshadri.
Bruce McEwen, a neuroscientist and cortisol expert at The Rockefeller University who also was not part of the study, says he found it “Frankly remarkable.” Cortisol, he notes, is necessary for life-so it is obviously not all bad. But stress can lead people to potentially problematic behaviors such as smoking, drinking and eating unhealthy food.
The highest cortisol levels were associated with changes that could be seen on an MRI scan of the brain, the study found.
Cortisol does not distinguish between physical and mental stress, so some of the people with high levels might have had physical illnesses such as diabetes that drove up their cortisol levels, Seshadri says.
Each subject’s cortisol level was measured only once, so the measurements do not reflect changes over time or variations throughout the day, she notes.

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Summary of “Do the Rich Capture All the Gains from Economic Growth?”

Researchers look at the median income of the middle quintile in 1975 and compare that to the median income of the median quintile in 2014, say.
They find the same encouraging pattern: poorer people had the largest percentage gains in income over time:?.
Splinter has an estimate of the impact on growth on the different parts of the income distribution where, like many other estimates, he takes a snapshot of the income distribution in an early period, in this case, 1980, and compares it to the distribution at a later time, 2014.
The average income of the top 1% went from $189,000 to $843,000, which seems to confirm the view that most of the gains from economic growth go to the richest of the rich while people in the middle or the bottom make no progress at all.
While rich people in 1980 actually lost ground 34 years later on average, they still have a much higher income on average than the people who were poor in 1980.
The study defines income “as the total income derived from the taxable income and cash transfers of the head, spouse, and other family members.
Isaacs writes: “Family cash income is the focus of the analysis, including taxable income and cash transfers of the head, spouse and other family members As discussed in Appendix B, family cash income does not include the value of non-cash compensation such as employer contributions to health insurance and retirement benefits, nor does it include the effect of taxes or non-cash benefits such as food stamps. All incomes are reported in 2006 dollars, using the CPI-U-RS to adjust for inflation.” https://www.
“The measure of cash income used in this paper starts with total income as reported on individual income tax returns and then adds known sources of non-taxable income and adjusts for several items where the tax treatment differs from what might be considered a better measure of the current income realized by a taxpayer. In particular, tax exempt interest, non-taxable Social Security benefits, non-taxed unemployment compensation, excluded foreign wages and housing benefits, excluded capital gains on small business stock, and net operating loss carryovers reflecting prior year losses are added. State tax refunds, alimony paid, the itemized deduction for gambling losses, and disallowed current year passive losses are deducted.” https://www.

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Summary of “Letting Sunlight Indoors Kills Disease-Causing Bacteria”

Letting Sunlight Indoors Kills Disease-Causing Bacteria : Shots – Health News All kinds of bacteria live with us indoors, and some can make us sick.
A new study shows that rooms exposed to light had about half the live bacteria found in rooms that were kept in darkness.
Researchers at the University of Oregon set up a study of dusty, dollhouse-size rooms to compare what happens in rooms exposed to daylight through regular glass, rooms exposed to only ultraviolet light and those kept dark.
The study showed that the lit rooms had about half the viable bacteria, compared with dark rooms.
This study found 12 percent of bacteria in dark rooms were viable compared to 6.8 percent in rooms with daylight and 6.1 percent in rooms exposed to UV light only.
The daylit rooms in the study also had less of the types of bacteria associated with human skin, which people shed as they move around indoors, and more closely resembled outdoor bacterial communities.
Some of the human-associated bacteria species that didn’t survive in the lighted rooms are from a family of bacteria known to cause respiratory disease.
Researchers have learned from trying to eradicate all germs in hospital and laboratory clean rooms that it’s really hard to get rid of microbes wholesale.

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