Did You Know Your Tweets Get Sick, Too?

Did you know your tweets could get sick, too?

Apparently, it turns out that they change when we ourselves are sick. 

According to, opinion and emotion in tweets change when you're sick.

"Opinions and emotions are present in every tweet, regardless of whether the user is talking about their health," says Svitlana Volkova, a data scientist at Richland, Washington's Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and lead author of a recent study. "Like a digital heartbeat, we're finding how changes in this behavior relate to health trends in a community."

It takes health workers weeks to discover influenza trends the traditional way: by monitoring how many sick people visit clinics. By discovering trends in real time, social media could be the game-changing solution public health workers have been looking for.

But can tweets replace a health exam for detecting a rise in the flu or other health threats? Volkova's researc…

What's in a Smile? Check out the Muscles

Want to know what it means when someone's smiling at you?  According to, it depends on what muscle they're using.

That's right, muscle.  

“When distinguishing among smiles, both scientists and laypeople have tended to focus on true and false smiles. The belief is that if you smile when you’re not happy, the smile is false,” the web site quotes Paula Niedenthal, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “But people smile in many different circumstances and during many emotional states. So asserting that only smiles that result from states of happiness are ‘true’ smiles limits our understanding of this important facial expression.” Niedenthal and colleagues from Cardiff University and the University of Glasgow published a set of experiments that seek to expand our understanding of the human smile this week in the journal Psychological Science, showing three distinct, reliably recognized expressions — smiles of reward, affiliation and dominance …

Who's the Boss? Ask a Baby

You're in a meeting with a new agency.  You're not sure who's the boss.  What do you do?

Get a baby.

No joke.  A new study says even babies can tell who's boss.

The charismatic colleague, the natural leader, the life of the party – all are personal qualities that adults recognize instinctively, according to These socially dominant types, according to repeated studies, also tend to accomplish and earn more, from accolades and material wealth to friends and romantic partners, the web site reports.   "This social hierarchy may be so naturally ingrained, University of Washington researchers say, that toddlers as young as 17 months old not only can perceive who is dominant, but also anticipate that the dominant person will receive more rewards," adds the site. "This tells us that babies are sorting through things at a higher level than we thought. They're attending to and taking into consideration fairly sophisticated concepts," says U…

Talk to Yourself? Did You Know It Can Heal You?

Let's admit it.  Talking to yourself may not be such a great thing when you're sitting on a bus, or on a conference call.  But a new study says it can help you not throw your kid through the window when he cracks up the car, or make your husband sleep on the couch when he forgets your birthday.

The simple act of silently talking to yourself in the third person during stressful times may help you control emotions without any additional mental effort than what you would use for first-person self-talk – the way people normally talk to themselves, according to

A first-of-its-kind study led by psychology researchers at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan indicates that such third-person self-talk may constitute a relatively effortless form of self-control.

(I suppose it's what kind of talking to yourself you do!  Swearing, like I do, when I can't find my cell phone, probably isn't what they had in mind.)

“Essentially, we think referring to…

Scores Are Important But It's How Fast They Rise That Counts

I got a number a little under 400 for my math score on my SAT.  And that's getting 200 points for spelling your name right!

Needless to say, I hate tests, and I hate scores even more.  But now a new study is saying that scores can count as motivation, even if they're inherently meaningless, reports.

Even if the score itself has no inherent meaning, it can serve as an effective motivator, as long as the score is accelerating, say researchers.

The study found that an accelerating number – even if the number itself is meaningless – can significantly affect performance.  Yes, I guess I would have felt better if the number was closer to 500.

We all know that people like high scores, but what is less known is how to give scores, Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Assistant Professor Luxi Shen. who began the research as a PhD scholar at Chicago Booth. “Our research shows that what matters is neither how high the score is nor how fast the score increases, but rather the way it …

Looking for a Friend? Check Out the Legs. A Romantic Partner? Take a Gander at the Head

How weird is this?  Depending on whether someone wants to have a romantic relationship with you, or just a friendship, it all has to do with one part of the body rather than another.

No, I'm not talking about those parts.

According to a new study, heterosexual men and women look at the head or chest of an opposite-sex person longer and more often when evaluating dating potential, compared with possible friendship. 

But both men and women look at legs or feet with greater frequency when they made platonic rather than sexual judgments, reports.

While -- here comes the boring part -- we've always thought that attraction hinges on a fixed set of characteristics that makes a person desirable, this new study shows that what people look for in a prospective relationship partner depends on their "relational" goals.

And here it comes, the big finale.  "The same person who makes a highly desirable friend may not make a good mate,” says Angela Bahns, the study…

Are You a Slacker? Do You Think You're One? You Might Die Sooner Than Your Friends

Do you take your time when there's a project due?  Are you the last to any meeting?  Do you wait until your friends choose a place for lunch, then go along if you like it?

Are you a slacker?

Watch out, says a new study, according to 

Feeling less active than your peers is associated with an earlier death, the study says.
People who think they’re less active than others their age have a greater chance of dying younger than people who perceive themselves as more active, even if their actual activity levels are the same, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.  People who believed they weren’t as active as their peers were 71 percent more likely to die during the study’s follow-up period than were people who believed they had a more active lifestyle, the study said. This result remained even after controlling for actual amounts of activity, chronic illnesses, age and other demographic and health factors.  “Most people know that not exercisin…