Showing posts from January, 2016

Leave a Bad Boss Before a Good One? Maybe Not

Okay.  So one boss lets you leave early to go to your kid's soccer game.  She always remembers your birthday.  And when a project you're working on gets, well, screwed up, she considers it just a lesson for next time.

Another boss takes the whole department out to lunch, except for you, and makes you work late on your birthday.   And when a project you're working on -- with the whole team -- goes AWOL, guess who's the only one who gets blamed?  I actually had a boss like that.

Now, which boss do you think most people would leave?

If you guessed both, you'd be right.

A new study has found that when fast-rising employees quit their jobs for better pay or more responsibility at another organization, the knee-jerk reaction may be to blame their leaving on a bad boss. Although the common perception is that workers join companies but leave managers, new research by a University of Illinois business professor shows that workers leave good bosses, too, according to ne…

Does Your Teen IM at Lights Out? Check His Grades

I know it should come as no surprise.  But teens who text at night do not do as well in school as those who don't.

A new study has shown that teens who text at night pay a price in both their sleep (okay, so we knew that) but also, wait for it, their academic performance, too.

Now that's a little scary.

The study is the first of its kind to link nighttime instant messaging habits of American teenagers to sleep health and school performance, according to

“We need to be aware that teenagers are using electronic devices excessively and have a unique physiology,” says study author Xue Ming, professor of neuroscience and neurology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. “They tend to go to sleep late and get up late. When we go against that natural rhythm, students become less efficient.”

 Think about it.  I've been getting up before dawn (4:45 yesterday and 3:30 today, though the garbage men woke me anyway) to finish a project with a tight deadline, and that…

Have Trouble Reading? You May Be at Risk for Alzheimer's

Did you have trouble learning to read?

A lot us did.  But we finally mastered it, and now many of us (like me) read about two books a week (more, if I didn't have a teenager!).

But a new study now says that those who find it hard when they first begin reading may be at higher risk of Alzheimer's later in life.

Older adults with a history of reading problems perform similarly on some neuro-psychological tests to those who show signs of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) associated with early Alzheimer’s disease. 

MCI is a term used to identify individuals with memory complaints and poor neuropsychological test performance but who otherwise functional normally. Having MCI has been identified as a risk factor for subsequent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers assessed the relationship between MCI classification and suspected reading disorder in almost 2,000 participants who were 62 years of age. Individuals with previous dementia, stroke and other neurological di…

Post Too Many Selfies? Your Relationship May Flare Out

Admit it.  Who isn't a little sick of all the selfies? People eating in restaurants.  Pouring wine. Throwing a snowball (that's just in the Northeast).  A Real Housewife who claims she has Lyme disease posting IVs and other medical appliances plugged into her pasty body.

Now a new study is finding that too many can plug up your romantic life, too.

Researchers have found that too many Instagram selfies may create romantic conflict, according to  Florida State University researchers have discovered the more selfies an individual posts on the social media site Instagram, the greater the likelihood he or she might experience romantic relationship conflict and dissolution.

“Although we cannot directly assume cause and effect due to the correlational nature of this study, the results here show that body image satisfaction can be detrimental to Instagram users’ romantic relationships, especially when users’ body image satisfaction is promoted in the form of Inst…

Controlling Parents? Mean Kids

Listen up, helicopter parents (and yes, that means me).

A new study says controlling parents create mean college kids.

College students whose parents lay on the guilt or try to manipulate them may translate feelings of stress into similar mean behavior with their own friends, a new study by a University of Vermont psychologist has found.
Those students’ physical response to stress influences the way they will carry out that hostility – either immediately and impulsively or in a cold, calculated way, concludes Jamie Abaied, a UVM assistant professor of psychological science, reports.

Abaied looked at the link between “parental psychological control” and the young adults’ relationships with peers. 

Even after they leave home as legal adults, college students often still depend on parents for financial, as well as emotional, support. Some parents will nit-pick and find fault or threaten to withdraw affection (or money) as punishment or to force a desired outcome. Wi…

Live Well, Die Well. Advice for Surviving Spouses

This fall, a friend's husband died of cancer after being diagnosed four months earlier.  Even though the end came so quickly, they were able to plan for a peaceful death at home, surrounded by loved ones.

Now a new study says you will die as you live, but for surviving spouses, you will live as your partner died.

Say what?

A person's quality of life at the time of their death continues to influence his or her spouse's quality of life in the years following the person's passing, according to new research by University of Arizona psychologists, reports

What's more, the association between a deceased and surviving spouse is just as strong as the association between partners who are both living, the researchers found.

I'm sure my friend finds herself just as married to her spouse now as she was before his death.

"If your partner has higher quality of life before they pass away, you're more likely to have higher quality of life even af…

Someone Crying? We Respond Faster Than to Her Just Saying, "I'm Sad"

Quick.  Which affects you more, a woman saying, "Help?"  Or a scream.

Clearly we react more immediately to sounds, and that's just what a new study has found.  Human sounds convey emotions clearer and faster than words.

It takes just one-tenth of a second for our brains to begin to recognize emotions conveyed by vocalizations, according to researchers from McGill, reports. It doesn’t matter whether the non-verbal sounds are growls of anger, the laughter of happiness or cries of sadness. More importantly, the researchers have also discovered that we pay more attention when an emotion (such as happiness, sadness or anger) is expressed through vocalizations than we do when the same emotion is expressed in speech.

The researchers believe that the speed with which the brain ‘tags’ these vocalizations and the preference given to them compared to language, is due to the potentially crucial role that decoding vocal sounds has played in human survival.


Guess Who's More Spiteful Than Us? Did I Hear Someone Say Monkeys?

Recently a friend I've known (and been competitive with for years) moved to a more affluent town, with a much better high school than the one my son goes to.  Another friend got a snazzy new convertible.

My work contract ended at about the same time.  There's no new one on the horizon.  And I admit it.  I was jealous.

Now scientists are finding that jealousy can lead to, yes, you heard it here first.  Spite.     Studying monkeys, they've found that their reaction to those who have more is exactly that. 

Monkeys, like humans, will take the time and effort to punish others who get more than their fair share, according to a study conducted at Yale. In fact, they can act downright spiteful.

Capuchin monkeys will yank on a rope to collapse a table that is holding a partner monkey’s food. While chimpanzees collapse their partner’s table only after direct personal affronts like theft, capuchins punish more often, even in cases where the other monkey merely had more food, ac…

Too Good to be True? Scientists Say It Can Be Mathematically Proved

Sound too good to be true?

A cure for cancer?  Ice cream that will never make you fat?  Live forever?

The sad truth is it probably is.  And now it's been proven mathematically in research led by the University of Adelaide. reports that a team of researchers has found that overwhelming evidence without a dissenting opinion can in fact weaken the credibility of a case, or point to a failure of the system.

One of the examples cited by the research team is an ancient Jewish law that said a suspect could not be convicted of a capital crime if all judges unanimously handed down a guilty verdict.

 “It might sound counterintuitive to say that a unanimous verdict could be wrong, but this ancient law indicated that the system may be in error if there was complete agreement among the judiciary,” says corresponding author Professor Derek Abbott, a probability expert from the University of Adelaide’s School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering.

The team put three d…

Don't Panic, Men, But New Study Says Sexual Treatments Not Only Unproven, But Harmful, Too

You've seen the commercials.  The men of a certain age and their trophy wives lazing in a hot tub or strolling down the beach hand in hand, the idea subtly surfacing that they've just had a romantic interlude.

Now a new study says, beware.  Even if you're not talking about the pills that start with a V, for ED (what's with all the vowels?), the highest-selling over-the-counter (OTC?) sexual treatments are not only unproven, but may also be harmful.

According to, from horny goat weed to ginseng and maca, over-the-counter dietary supplements sold to improve male sexual health contain a wide variety of “natural” ingredients. Researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center reviewed the scientific evidence for the most common ingredients to determine if they are effective – and most importantly – safe.

“While certain natural supplements we reviewed show promise for improving mild sexual dysfunction, they lack robust human evidence,” says Ryan Terlecki…

Did You Know Social Networks Can Save Your Life?

I find this a little hard to believe but a new study has found that social networks are as important in our lives as diet and exercise.

The more social ties people have at an early age, the better their health is at the beginnings and ends of their lives, according to a new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, reports. The study is the first to definitively link social relationships with concrete measures of physical wellbeing such as abdominal obesity, inflammation, and high blood pressure, all of which can lead to long-term health problems, including heart disease, stroke and cancer.

“Based on these findings, it should be as important to encourage adolescents and young adults to build broad social relationships and social skills for interacting with others as it is to eat healthy and be physically active,” says Kathleen Mullan Harris, James Haar Distinguished Professor at UNC-Chapel Hill and faculty fellow at the Carolina Population Cen…

Your Kids and Money: It Can Make Them More Greedy

Did you know that money affects children's behavior even if they don't know the value of it?

That's what a new survey is saying. 

The act of handling money makes young children work harder and give less, according to new research published by the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management and University of Illinois at Chicago, reports The effect was observed in children who lacked concrete knowledge of money's purpose, and persisted despite the denomination of the money.

"Money is a double-edged sword. It produces good outcomes in terms of concentration and effort, but bad outcomes when it comes to helping, taking, and donating." the web site quotes Professor Kathleen Vohs, the Land O'Lakes Chair in Marketing at the University of Minnesota and co- author of the study.

 Five experiments and one study tested 550 children (ages 3-6) in Poland and the United States. In one experiment, the children were asked to either …

More Somber News for Dieters: Neurons Make Us Have Even More Negative Feelings About It

As if we needed yet one more reason to hate diets.

A new study has found that "hunger neurons" promote negative feelings, according to  Great.  I feel negative enough about cutting out M&Ms, especially those new peanut butter ones.

Weight loss )supposedly) occurs when the amount of energy consumed in the form of food is less than the amount of energy burned. This can be accomplished by eating less or exercising more. Though don't kid yourself.  I'm a fanatic exerciser and I still have to watch every bite I put in my mouth.

With either approach, the goal is to create a caloric debt that will be resolved by burning stored carbohydrate, protein, or fat. But here's the deal: eating feels good and being hungry is uncomfortable.
Behaviors that evolved as survival mechanisms to ensure that an animal feeds itself become inconvenient and potentially detrimental side effects in industrialized human populations where cardiovascular disease, diabetes…

Does Your Brand Serve You, Or Feel More Like Your Partner? Materialists Feel Served

Remember Charlie the Tuna?  Or Tony the Tiger? (I realize I'm dating myself).

Most consumers enjoy it when advertisers anthropomorphize their products in branding and advertising.  But a new study says some people take it too far, feeling superior to anthropomorphized popular products.

I know it sounds a little crazy but hear me out. reports on a recent study by a Johns Hopkins University researcher that found that some consumers ― materialists who strongly link possessions to happiness and who tend to have poor personal relationships ― regard anthropomorphized popular products as servants over which they can assert power and gain control that they otherwise lack in their lives.

According to Johns Hopkins Carey Business School Associate Professor Hyeongmin (Christian) Kim, the lead author of the study, materialists prefer a servant brand to a partner brand when the brand is anthropomorphized, and respond more favorably to an anthropomorphized servant brand t…

Candidates: Talk About Religion? You'll Be Trusted

Here's something you might not believe, but did you know that politicians who talk about religion are supposedly trusted more?

I find it hard to believe because a lot of the talk in the Presidential race has been about exclusion, punishment and sometimes even hatred. 

Whatever happened to treat people the way you want to be treated?  Or, what would Jesus say?

We keep hearing -- at least from the Republicans -- that immigrants are bad (never mind they built this country), government is bad (meanwhile, the rich are making out pretty nicely with all the tax cuts), and abortion is bad but capital punishment is good.  And, oh, by the way, I go to church every Sunday.

I don't see God in any of that. 

According to a new study, including religion in campaign speeches feeds a belief that those who are religious to some extent are trustworthy and viewed more favorably.

 "Their religious identification reflects a powerful, widespread, but often subtle and unconscious bias in Amer…

Did You Know That Eating May Cause Aging?

I knew it.  Eating is bad for you.

At least, snakes think so.

According to a new study, researchers have found that along with the benefits of eating, there’s a price to pay.

This price is oxidative damage—damage caused by an increase in chemically reactive molecules containing oxygen that result in harm to cells and DNA. This harm is severe enough that it’s believed that its accumulation over time contributes to aging. Surprisingly, says Stahlschmidt, this cost of eating has been gravely overlooked.

“It seemed like this is a hidden piece of the puzzle that no one had investigated that might be really important, for lots of reasons” Stahlschmidt says at

The team worked with the corn snake Pantherophis guttatus, a commonly studied snake that can be fed one mouse every two weeks. Because the corn snake’s digestion and metabolism has been well-studied, the team knew exactly when to draw blood at peak digestion and post-absorption times. This enabled them to disco…

Laugh at People Who Won't Buy Jeans Made by Child Labor? You May Be Uglier Than You Think

Admit it.  You feel a little superior to the people who give shares of Heifer International to to their kids at Christmas (that's where you buy an animal -- or part of it -- to give to a needy family around the world to end poverty).

You laugh at your sister who reuses her silver foil.

And you think buying fair trade coffee is well, for jerks.  At least, I do.

Now a new study says that, while we're certainly against child labor, or anything that harms the environment, we also don’t want to work too hard to find out whether our favorite products were made ethically. And we really don’t like those good people who make the effort to seek out ethically made goods when we choose not to.

In fact, we denigrate consumers who act more ethically than we do, seeing them as less fashionable and more boring. Worst of all, seeing others act ethically when we don’t undermines our commitment to pro-social values.

“It is this vicious cycle,” says Rebecca Walker Reczek, co-author of the …

Anxious? Relax. It's Good For You.

I don't know about you but I don't like when I have knots in my stomach.  Or my hands get clammy, or I start to sweat a lot.

But did you know those signs of anxiety could actually help you?

A new study says feeling anxious in a crisis could be good for you.

New findings by French researchers show that the brain devotes more processing resources to social situations that signal threat than those that are benign, according to

The results explain the apparent "sixth sense" we have for danger. This is the first time that specific regions of the brain have been identified to be involved in the phenomenon. The human brain is able to detect social threats in these regions in a fast, automatic fashion, within just 200 milliseconds.

It was previously thought that anxiety could lead to oversensitivity to threat signals.

But now researchers are saying it's a good thing, and it goes all the way back to the dinosaurs.  Well, practically.

Being anxious can so…