Showing posts from 2016

Always Late? You Must Just Be Getting Older

I've never been late in my life (if you don't count my birth, when I waited a week).

But a new study says that I'll be late soon.  It comes with age.

Supposedly that's because young and old use different strategies to estimate the passage of time, according to

I have a friend who was perennially late.  We'd make plans for lunch and I -- always early -- would be sitting there steaming as the minutes ticked by. I knew she was always trying to always get just one more thing done but I took it as a personal insult, that I wasn't important enough for her to be on time.

Ironically, we're still friends.  And now she's early.

Newswise reports that people rely heavily on time estimates of past experiences to plan for future tasks and that outside influences, such as background music, can skew our perception of time, causing even the best-laid plans to go awry.

“Our results suggest time estimates of tasks that we need to incorporate into our lat…

Immoral People's Characters May be Disgusting, But, Surprisingly, Their Actions Not

OK, I admit it.  I find Donald Trump's character to be pretty, well, disgusting.

A new study agrees with me.  It says that a person's character, more so than their actions, determines whether we find immoral acts to be ‘disgusting,’ according to new research in Psychological Science, as reported by

 “We wanted to know why moral transgressions can be disgusting even when they don’t involve the kinds of things that typically disgust us, like body products, insects, and rotting foods,” says psychological scientist and study co-author Hanah Chapman of Brooklyn College, the City University of New York. “We found that what drives moral disgust seems to be the character of the transgressor — who they are more so than what they do.”

The worse someone’s character is, says Chapman, the more disgusting people typically find them to be.

The research was prompted by differing findings regarding how our judgments of moral violations evoke specific emotional responses: …

Palter or Lie? Your Choice, But Be Careful

I have a new word for you.  It's "paltering."

And you'll never guess what it means.  But think, truth, and lies. reports that the ability to deceive someone by telling the truth is not only possible, it’s common in negotiations and those who palter can do serious harm to their reputations, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

Why does the name "Trump" come to mind?

Anywho, to date, research has primarily focused on two types of deception: Lying by commission -- the active use of false statements – and lying by omission -- the passive act of misleading by failing to disclose relevant information, notes lead author Todd Rogers, PhD, of Harvard University, at the web site.

"In this study, we make a novel contribution to the deception literature by identifying a third, and common, form of deception," he points out. "Rather than misstating facts or failing to provide information, palterin…

What Makes An Employee Stay? Would You Believe Energy?

Hiring good people.  Giving them incentives to work hard.  Rewarding them.

All important but did you know the most important key to retention is the energy in your workplace?

According to, research shows that people who energize their work colleagues are less likely to voluntarily leave an organization - unless they are high performers.

A research study has found that people's energy towards colleagues has a major influence on how likely they are to leave their josb voluntarily. IT workers over a four-year period were studied by academics at the Grenoble Ecole de Management (France) and the Surrey Business School at University of Surrey.

Retaining staff is a key focus for companies since staff turnover causes huge costs in terms of recruitment fees, training and loss of organizational performance. It is estimated that replacing a high level executive can cost up to 4.5 times' the employee's salary.

The study reveals that people who have "energe…

Do Thoughts of Death Spur You to Buy?

Now this is weird. Do thoughts of death change our shopping habits?

According to a new study, yes, they do. reports that it's not really what you think, but just that, in this time of holiday merriment, it's easy to become really depressed about reports of plane crashes, terrorist attacks, fatal car accidents and deadly fires, which may lead shoppers to think more about their own mortality than buying that new iPhone for your kid.

Now new research from the John Molson School of Business (JMSB) and HEC MontrĂ©al shows that, for people with certain world views, thoughts of death don't cause us to curl up in our homes and not venture out.  They can actually trigger the buying impulse.

While the habits of spendthrifts don't change after contemplating their own mortality, compulsive shoppers, on the other hand, go out and buy more.

"Previous research shows that thoughts of death lead individuals to strongly defend world views that maintain their self…

Let Your Kid Lose

I admit it.

I can't stand to see my child lose.  Whether it's a team sport or a grade, I can't stand to see him feel like he's a loser.

I suppose I'm not a very good parent. Because experts say that, while you may think letting your preschooler win at Go Fish builds self-confidence, you could actually be doing your child a disservice.

When young kids experience “illusory success” related to a particular task, their ability to formulate and act on judgments they make about their own performance suffers. As a result, the children may become conditioned to ignore valuable information they could use in future decision-making.

It turns out that we're not really helping them to try to help them succeed at everything.

My son, who, as I've mentioned before, is a bit of a nerd, never did well at sports.  I still remember him crying as he ran down the soccer field in preschool because he so didn't want to be there (go figure, he now plays soccer every weeke…

When We Give Gifts, Are We Really Giving Them For Ourselves?

So we already know why some people give us gifts they know we won't like.

But how about why some gifts are great to give, but not receive.

Here's a mistake many people will make this holiday season: thinking more about the moment they expect when giving a present than the many moments after,when their recipients keep and use the gift, according to

"The biggest mistake that people make is that they end up thinking about gift-giving as a gift-giver, instead of from the point of view of a recipient," says Elanor Williams, assistant professor of marketing at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business and a co-author of the study. "They often end up neglecting important things for the recipient, including their preferences. The recipient obviously matters, but it's a lot harder (for givers) to think about them than it is to think about yourself, and I think that's where a lot of mistakes come from,"

She added that gift-givers …

Think About This the Next Time You Plan a Golf Outing. Or Maybe, Not.

Think about this the next time you plan a golf date.

Scheduling it makes it less fun. 

According to a new study, scheduling leisure time takes all the fun out of it.  Planning events makes them seem like work, reports.

In a series of studies, researchers found that scheduling a leisure activity like seeing a movie or taking a coffee break led people to anticipate less enjoyment and actually enjoy the event less than if the same activities were unplanned.

That doesn’t mean you can’t plan at all: The research showed that roughly planning an event (but not giving a specific time) led to similar levels of enjoyment as unplanned events.

“People associate schedules with work. We want our leisure time to be free-flowing,” says Selin Malkoc, co-author of the study and assistant professor of marketing at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. “Time is supposed to fly when you’re having fun. Anything that limits and constrains our leisure chips away at the enj…

Have a Likeable Face? People Will Judge You Better

What's that great expression? You never get a second chance to make a first impression?

Now a new study says, when judging other people, first impressions last.

Vivian Zayas, professor of psychology at Cornell University, and her colleagues found that people continue to be influenced by another person’s appearance even after interacting with them face-to-face. First impressions formed simply from looking at a photograph predicted how people felt and thought about the person after a live interaction that took place one month to six months later, reports.

“Facial appearance colors how we feel about someone, and even how we think about who they are,” says Zayas, an expert in the cognitive and affective processes that regulate close relationships. “These facial cues are very powerful in shaping interactions, even in the presence of other information.”

The researchers ran experiments in which 55 participants looked at photographs of four women who were smiling i…

Being Boastful is Nothing to Brag About

It all comes down to bragging. Pity poor Donald Trump. He won the presidency by clinching the Electoral College. But he just can’t stand that Hillary won the popular vote. In fact, some research points to the fact that, if you add the third-party candidates, Trump won less than 54 percent of our votes.

Who would quibble about that? Trump, of course. He needs to be able to brag about everything.

Even if you’re not a braggart like Trump, chances are you still probably brag. I guess it’s human nature. We all want to feel like we’re the best, when often, we just didn’t feel that great about ourselves. We brag to feel better about ourselves. But bragging can hide a hole in our heart.

Biographers say it all started with Trump’s father, who ran him down a lot. I suspect the bragging was Trump’s way of propping himself up. Experts provide a rationale for that. They say that once we have a negative sense of ourselves, we need to find something that makes us feel good, something …

When Gifts Are Not Given in Fun

Admit it.  You love your husband but that iron he gave you for your birthday. . .not so much.

What happens when good people get bad gifts?

According to, sometimes a little malice might be involved.   It reports that receiving is complicated when gifts are not meant to please.

A typical U.S. consumer is expected to buy 14 gifts this holiday season, and new marketing research describes how and why many of these gifts will cause dissatisfaction rather than joy. In new research findings, NYIT School of Management associate professor Deborah Y. Cohn asserts that people who give bad gifts often do so intentionally.

Prior gift-giving research has assumed that bad gifts result from mistakes, but Cohn’s study, using in-depth interviews as well as data available via online message boards, describes five categories of intentional bad gift-giving: gifts that threaten the recipient’s self-concept, such as:

-- giving a pregnancy test to your childless daughter-in-law
-- gifts …

Church = Sex?

Do you feel good when you go to church?  I'm not talking about dropping the guilt for all the times you don't, but a true, down deep feeling of peace?

That's your brain rewarding you, according to

A new study has found that religious and spiritual experiences activate the brain reward circuits in much the same way as love, sex, gambling, drugs and music, report researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

“We’re just beginning to understand how the brain participates in experiences that believers interpret as spiritual, divine or transcendent,” says senior author and neuroradiologist Jeff Anderson, M.D., Ph.D. “In the last few years, brain imaging technologies have matured in ways that are letting us approach questions that have been around for millennia.”

Specifically, the investigators set out to determine which brain networks are involved in representing spiritual feelings in one group, devout Mormons, by creating an environment that …

Are You a Sexist? Watch Out for Your Mental Health (President-Elect Trump, I'm Talking About You)

OK, so it worked for one guy (and now he's the president-elect), but sexism has been found to be harmful to men's mental health, according to

Men who see themselves as playboys or as having power over women are more likely to have psychological problems than men who conform less to traditionally masculine norms, reports research published by the American Psychological Association.

“In general, individuals who conformed strongly to masculine norms tended to have poorer mental health and less favorable attitudes toward seeking psychological help, although the results differed depending on specific types of masculine norms,” says lead author Y. Joel Wong, PhD, of Indiana University Bloomington.

I guess it makes sense but it doesn't stop some from still enjoying it (I hate to but I must reference the new president again).

Wong and his colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 78 research samples involving 19,453 participants that focused on the relationsh…

Feeling Grateful? It's More Likely After a Trip Than a Birkin

OK, so it's almost Thanksgiving and stories about gratitude abound.

But here's a new one, at least to me.

We all know that giving is better than receiving, right?  But what if you're giving an experience rather than an  XBox1 Virtual  Reality headset.

People are more grateful for what they’ve done than what they have, and that gratitude can lead to greater generosity toward others, according to new research, reports.

The new study found that feelings of gratitude develop more often when people reflect on experiential purchases, such as vacations or tickets to events, than when they reflect on gadgets, furniture or clothes they’ve purchased.

Reflecting on gratifying experiences also leads to more subsequent altruistic behavior than thinking about significant material possessions, the researchers found. In other words, when people are grateful for experiences, they treat the other people better as well.

“We know a sense of gratitude carries a number of b…

Is It From a Man or a Woman? Be Careful When You Tweet Back

Big boys don't cry.  Or talk about their emotions with their friends.  Or say "cute."

According to a new study, real men don't say "cute."

The study looked at data and Twitter to analyze the accuracy of stereotypes, reports.

From gender to education, the words used on social media carry impressions to others. Using publicly available tweets, social psychologists and computer scientists from the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center, Germany, and Australia are helping us to parse out the stereotypes formed by word choices on Twitter. Using natural language processing (NLP), a form of artificial intelligence, the researchers show where stereotyping goes from "plausible" to wrong.

In a series of studies, participants were asked to categorize the authors of tweets based solely on the content of their social media posts. In these studies, people made judgements about a writer's gender, age, education level, or …

Stress Affects Whether You're a Saver or a Spender

I'm one of those people who likes to spend, spend, spend, married to someone who doesn't like to part with a dime.  Cause stress?  You'd better believe it.

And now a new study is saying that stress affects our spending and saving habits.

It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure this out but a new study proclaims that if you're feeling overwhelmed? Stressed about work, a family illness or election season? It turns out that worry and anxiety can have an impact on your wallet.

“Stress leads consumers to favor saving money,” says Kristina Durante, an associate professor of marketing at Rutgers Business School who researches the effect of hormones and consumer behavior. Although stressed consumers want to save, when faced with a spending decision, stressed consumers will pay for necessities they think will help restore control rather than splurge on non-necessities, according to

The study found that stress leads consumers to save money in general bu…

Ugh. Touching Your Phone Can Provide the Details To Just About Everything There Is to Know About You

Think of this the next time you pick up your cell.

It call tell everything you do. 

A new study has found that the molecules you leave on your phone every time you touch it can tell what you eat, what kind of moisturizer you use, even how healthy you are and, most scary of all, where you've been.

Examining them for the trace chemicals, molecules and microbes on everything you touch can pretty much tell the story of your life, experts say.  These elements can construct lifestyle sketches for each phone’s owner, including diet, preferred hygiene products, health status and locations visited.

And if you're inclined to commit a crime, watch out, because the number of applications, including criminal profiling, airport screening, medication adherence monitoring, clinical trial participant stratification and environmental exposure studies, can all be told from these simple if icky particles, according to

“You can imagine a scenario where a crime scene investigator …

Aghast That Your Spouse Picked THAT Candidate? Calm Down, Repair the Rift

Well, I lost some friends.  They didn't abandon me, I abandoned them.  How could they possibly have voted for Trump?

Seems a lot of friendships have been riven, or at least changed, by this most divisive election.  But a new study says there are ways to repair the rift. 

If you want.

And where did I see it played out the most?  On Facebook.  During the presidential election of 2016, it was easy to avoid misinterpretation, escalation, damaged relationships and offending Facebook friends with differing opinions. Just never be on Facebook.

Only about half a dozen Americans heeded that advice. The rest of the country is left on the day after the contentious election wondering how awkward Thanksgiving will be knowing exactly how Grandma felt about Hillary Clinton, Aunt Jane’s thoughts on Donald Trump and 18-year-old Susie’s impression of the entire electoral process, according to

People who study abusive and controlling relationships have examined what effect Faceb…

Election Got You All Unraveled? Ravel Again By Living in the Moment

Whether your candidate won or not, this election season was one of the worst.  And if you're still feeling anxious and upset (count me in), there's one way to pull it all back.

According to, it's mindfulness.  Now, that's not a new concept.  But it's about being in the moment, something most of us just cannot do.  Count me in again.

When I was diagnosed with cancer twice, I swore I would never let go of this precious moment again.  But life interfered and before I knew it, I was projecting into the future,and mourning the past, and well, just about anywhere but in the present.

If your candidate was on the losing side, you may be feeling a sense of profound disappointment, anger, even a sense of hopelessness about the consequences of the election result, experts say. Again, count me in. Even if your candidate won, you may feel a need to wind down from weeks or months of stress and anger. The technique of mindfulness—living in the present moment with…

Horrible Bosses? They're Around

We've all had them.  Horrible bosses.  Some, more than once.

But a new study says that one thing researchers find again and again is that 50 to 70 percent of workers identify the worst part of their job as their immediate supervisor, according to

“There are so many ways to be bad,” says Dr. Peter Harms, who studies this. “I’m exploring why people are bad—do they think they’re doing the right thing because they don’t know the right thing or are they really trying to hurt people? I’m studying not only what they do, but why they do it.”

The problem, inevitably, starts by being the leader—at the helm or in a higher position to influence and intimidate those below. “Leaders have huge amounts of autonomy at a business,” says Harms, hitting on one problem area. “For instance, they can call you a name and you can’t retaliate. They can give you bad schedules, a bad sales district, take away privileges or even fire you. You rarely have the opportunity to do the same…

Psyching Out the Emotions in Those Tweets, New Software Tells All

We have software that can diagnose whether we broke a bone, where our kids are every minute, even perform surgery through a robot.

But be careful with your tweets.  Now there's software that can tell how you were feeling when you, well, tweeted.

 Computer scientists from the University of Utah’s College of Engineering have developed what they call “sentiment analysis” software that can automatically determine how someone feels based on what they write or say. To test out the accuracy of this software’s machine-learning model, the team used it to analyze the individual sentiments of more than 1.6 million (and counting) geo-tagged tweets about the U.S. presidential election over the last five months. A database of these tweets is then examined to determine whether states and their counties are leaning toward the Republicans or Democrats.

 “With sentiment analysis, it will try to predict the emotions behind every human being when he or she is talking or writing something,” …

Want a STEM Career? Don't Try to Be Like a Man

It's really a no-brainer.

But a new study has found that being more like men doesn't work for women. At least, not in STEM careers.

According to, even when women were more like men 20 to 40 years ago, it didn’t help them get a job in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, says study author Sharon Sassler, professor of policy analysis and management. 

 I can remember back to those days (though you wouldn't find me in a STEM career to save my life) when women wore blouses with bow ties and dark suits, tried to talk about sports, even scuttled their plans for marriage and kids, in an attempt to be taken seriously by the male executives in our lives. 

We learned the hard way it didn't work.  And now, it seems, we're learning again.

The study found that when women planned to delay marriage and limit the number of children they wanted – which would let them focus exclusively on work – they didn’t get the same employment opportun…

Think Powerful People Have It All Over You? Not When It Comes to Making a Decision on Something That's Ambiguous.

Who's the most powerful person in your world?  Your boss?  Your spouse?  Your mother?

If you picked any one of these, relax.  When powerful people are faced with ambiguous circumstances, they're often at a loss, according to  Faced with ambivalence, powerful people are less decisive.

Say what? 

The web site reports that, although powerful people often tend to decide and act quickly, they become more indecisive than others when the decisions are toughest to make, a new study suggests, suggests a new study   published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Researchers found that when people who feel powerful also feel ambivalent about a decision – torn between two equally good or bad choices – they actually have a harder time taking action than people who feel less powerful.

That’s different than when powerful people are confronted by a simpler decision in which most evidence favors a clear choice. In those cases, …

What's the Most Tweeted Word?No, It's Not "Sex"

Quick.  What's the one word tweeted most?  No, it's not sex.  Or Hillary.  Or Trump.  It's a food.  And it's "coffee", followed by "pizza," then "beer."

Besides hinting at which foods are popular, tweets may reveal something about our health, according to Communities that expressed positive sentiments about healthy foods were more likely to be healthier overall.

Scientists at the University of Utah surveyed nearly 80 million Twitter messages - a random sample of one percent of publicly available, geo-tagged tweets - over the course of one year. They then sorted through the 4 million tweets about food for ones that fell on opposite ends of the health spectrum: tweets mentioning fast food restaurants, or lean meats, fruits, veggies or nuts.

Out of that top 10 list, only the fourth most popular food-related item, "Starbucks", fit into the fast food category. The seventh, "chicken", was the only one …

Wanna Win in November? Copy Your Opponent

I don't know about you but I have no intention of watching the debate tonight (I have my son's Open House at school so I have a ready-made excuse, if anyone asks).

But I've just had enough of all the hatred and spewing of vitriol and I can't wait for it all to be over.

Now a new study is saying that a linguistics trick could boost poll numbers.

A study of U.S. presidential debates between 1976 and 2012 found that matching certain aspects of an opponent's language can lead to a bump in the polls, according to

"Linguistic style matching," says a University of Michigan professor who led the study, has nothing to do with tone, cadence or the number of times one candidate interrupts the other. Nor is it about content—the nouns and regular verbs that make up "what" a speaker says.

It's much more subtle. Linguistic-style-matching zeroes in on so-called function words that reflect how a speaker is making a point. It refers to c…

Can You Be Worked to Death?

We've all complained.  "This job is killing me."  "I'd rather die than go back to work one more day in that office."  "My boss will be the death of me."

But what if it's true? 

A new study has found that high-stress jobs, with very little or no control, can actually land you in the grave early.

According to, previous academic research has found that having greater control over your job can help you manage work-related stress. But it's never suggested that it was a matter of life and death -- until now.

New research from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business finds that those in high-stress jobs with little control over their workflow die younger or are less healthy than those who have more flexibility and discretion in their jobs and are able to set their own goals as part of their employment.

The study of  2,363 Wisconsin residents in their 60s over a seven-year period found that for individuals in low-contr…