Showing posts from August, 2016

Are You a "Morning Person"? Watch Out

Are you a morning person?  Or a night owl?

A new study says something really fluky.  "Morning people," who reported greater alertness at sunrise, 'self-handicapped' more in the morning. "Night owls," who reported greater alertness at sunset, 'self-handicapped' more in the evening, according to

"Self-handicapping" is defined by psychologists as when an individual seeks to protect their ego against potential failure in advance by creating circumstances -- real or imagined -- that harm their ability to carry out a stressful task. A classic example is failing to study or staying out too late the night before an important test or job interview.

 Now, who hasn't done that?

Both my husband and I ended relationships early in our dating life because our mates were night owls.  He and I, morning people if there ever were morning people, couldn't hack the late-night parties and getting up at noon, so we eventually each sp…

Who's Telling a Lie? Talk to Them One on One, Not in a Group

When was the last time you asked your family who misplaced the remote?  Did you ask them as a group, or one by one?  If you did it at the dinner table, chances are you would get a different answer than if you asked each member individually.

Apparently, it's easier to tell a lie (and not be caught) if you're asked in a group setting.

According to, a study that examined deception in groups found that, if you want the truth, talk to people one at a time.

Scientists found that, in most of their studies, participants were interviewed separately. This raised concerns because how people respond in a group may be different from how they respond when alone.

"My interest into group deception developed as a result of my interest in collaborative memory, group dynamics and deception detection," says Dr. Zarah Vernham from the University of Portsmouth in the UK "In particular, I am interested in collective interviewing and the novel cues to deceit that emer…

Want Teams to Cooperate More in the Workplace? Play Music

The Stones.  Rihanna.  The Weekend.  Kevin Gates.  Even, Raffi, for those of you with kids!

But what would your workplace be like if you heard music from one of these musicians or groups?

A new study says teamwork would grow.

According to, music at work increases cooperation.   From casual acoustic melodies at the coffee shop to throbbing electronic beats at teen clothing outlets, music is used to mold customer experience and behavior.But what about employees?

Cornell researchers have found that music can have important effects on the cooperative spirits of those exposed to it.  They looked for ways music affected employees working three to a team, then played the music.

When happy, upbeat music was played – researchers chose the “Happy Days” theme song, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles and “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves – team members were more likely to contribute to the group’s value.

When music deemed unpleasan…

Why Are We So Afraid to Leave Our Children Alone? Because We're Also Afraid of the Neighbors

Why are we so afraid to leave our children alone?  I know I'm guilty, though when my son was about 10, he wanted to be left home alone!

But it's turning out that the moral judgments of parents affect perceptions of risk

According to, leaving a child unattended is considered taboo in today’s intensive parenting atmosphere, despite evidence that American children are safer than ever. "So why are parents denying their children the same freedom and independence that they themselves enjoyed as children? A new study by University of California, Irvine social scientists suggests that our fears of leaving children alone have become systematically exaggerated in recent decades – not because the practice has become more dangerous, but because it has become socially unacceptable."

Think, Tiger Mom.

When I was a kid, we rode bikes and hiked through the woods of our neighborhood all day and often into the night, hanging out at each other's homes when our …

Hate Your Job? It Will Affect Your Health, In Your 40's

We've all had this job.  Nothing you do is ever right, the boss berates you if you're five minutes late (your kid's bus never came), and in meetings, he calls on everyone but you.

I've been there.  Even broke out in a rash on vacation, thinking of having to go back.

But now a new study says it can be worse than that.  Lousy jobs hurt your health by the time you're in your 40's.

Job satisfaction in your late 20s and 30s has a link to overall health in your early 40s, according to a new nationwide study. And while job satisfaction has some impact on physical health, its effect was particularly strong for mental health, researchers have found.

Not surprisingly, those less than happy with their work early in their careers said they were more depressed and worried and had more trouble sleeping. And the direction of your job satisfaction – whether it is getting better or worse in your early career – has an influence on your later health, the study showed.

I had…

Figures. What Started Out for Women, Men Now Love, Too

Pretty funny.  All this time we thought flextime was great because its aim was to help us balance careers and home life.  But like just about everything else in the work world, flextime works better for men than for women, a new study has found.

In fact, it may even have an impact on the gender pay gap, as well, reports

Researchers found a considerable 'gender gap' in the income gained through schedule control (having autonomy over working hours), the web site notes. "Both men and women gain additional income when using schedule control mediated via overtime hours," it says. "However, women, even full-time working women, do not reap the direct benefit men do in terms of income gains. In fact, the research suggests schedule control may potentially increase the gender pay gap."

The researchers found that this gender discrepancy exists even when they took into account the gender segregation of the labor market, i.e., sectors and occupatio…

How Many Words Do You Know? Researchers Say Over 40,000

I've always had a big vocabulary.  In fact, in one of my (only) stellar academic moments, I tested at an 11th grade level in 7th grade.

Too bad that and a dollar won't even get me a cup of coffee!

But a surprising new study says most adults know 42,000 words.  

Now, I've met some people who I doubt know even half that many (we won't talk about political candidates), but the study has found that by the age of 20, a native English speaking American knows 42,000 dictionary words, according to

"Our research got a huge push when a television station in the Netherlands asked us to organize a nation-wide study on vocabulary knowledge," states Professor Marc Brysbaert of Ghent University in Belgium and leader of this study at the web site. "The test we developed was featured on TV and, in the first weekend, over 300 thousand Dutch speakers had done it - it really went viral."

Realizing how interested people are in finding out their vocab…

'Walk the Walk' on Ethics and Be Rewarded, Stand-Out Companies Say

Big duh.

But did you know that employers who promote ethics should reward those who display them?

We've all been there.  A co-worker jiggles some numbers to make the budget come out right.  Another steals paper clips and staples from the supply room (okay, so that was me).  A boss tattles negative details from an employee's personnel files to others in the same department (me, too).

But according to, companies that "walk the walk" they advocate may help reduce turnover and even improve performance.

We've all also probably known stand-out execs who truly showed integrity, taking the fall for a department's mistake or being up-front about her own company concerns and worries.

Building a business reputation from the inside out — with employees giving a company high marks as an ethical place to work — is increasingly being hailed as a way to get a leg up on the competition, right alongside customer service and quality products.

Public relations, m…

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Light. . .It May Hurt You

Now something new to worry about.

Did you know the fluorescent lights you most normally work under can steal your strength?

A new research in animals shows that excessive exposure to “light pollution” may be worse for health than previously known, taking a toll on muscle and bone strength, according to The New York Times.

Researchers at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands tracked the health of rats exposed to six months of continuous light compared to a control group of rats living under normal light-dark conditions — 12 hours of light, followed by 12 hours of dark. 
During the study, the rats exposed to continuous light had less muscle strength and developed signs of early-stage osteoporosis. They also got fatter and had higher blood glucose levels. Several markers of immune system health also worsened, according to the report published in the medical journal Current Biology.
While earlier research has suggested excessive light exposure could affect cogniti…

Our Large Brains Evolved From Sizing Each Other Up

Now here's one for you.

Did you know our brains evolved to be so large as a result of sizing each other up?

According to a new study, humans have evolved with a disproportionately large brain because we've learned to size each other up in large cooperative, social groups. reports that the challenge of judging a person's relative standing and deciding whether or not to compete with him has promoted the rapid expansion of the brain over the last 2 million years.

The study found that evolution favors those who prefer to help others out who are at least as successful as they are.

That;s kind of interesting when you think about our dog-eat-dog world today.

"Our results suggest that the evolution of cooperation, which is key to a prosperous society, is intrinsically linked to the idea of social comparison -- constantly sizing each other up and making decisions as to whether we want to help them or not," write the authors.  "We've shown that over t…

Employers: Uncivil Employees Will Cost You; $14K Per

I guess we can't totally blame Trump.  But incivility in the workplace is becoming an epidemic, according to a new study.

As reported at, condescending comments, put-downs, and sarcasm have become commonplace, and here, well, okay, I won't blame Trump.

OK, so I'm making fun, but it turns out this is a serious concern because experiencing such rude behavior, well, makes us rude, too.  And then it just spreads. The study found that it reduces our own self-control and makes us respond in kind.  And now what kind of a workplace do you have?

"People who are recipients of rudeness at work feel mentally fatigued, as a result, because uncivil behaviors are somewhat ambiguous and require employees to figure out whether there was any abusive intent," say the authors.   "This mental fatigue, in turn, leads people to act uncivil toward other workers.  In other words, they pay the incivility forward."

While curt remarks and other forms of incivility do …

Want to Change for the Better? Get Curious

I've always been curious.  Maybe that's why I'm a journalist.  I drive my husband and son crazy when we see speeding ambulances.  I've even followed sirens.

But now it looks like it might be a good thing.  A new study has found that curiosity can change behavior for the better.

Researchers found that curiosity could potentially help people make smarter and healthier decisions, according to 

"Our research shows that piquing people's curiosity can influence their choices by steering them away from tempting desires, like unhealthy food or taking the elevator instead of the stairs, or even toward making less tempting choices, like buying more vegetables instead of the Haagen-Daz," study authors write.

They conducted four experiments designed to test how raising people's curiosity might affect their choices.  In each case, arousing it resulted in a noticeable behavior change.

The experiments were as simple as offering two kinds of fortune coo…

Read a Book. It Might Lengthen Your Life.

Do you read?  I don't mean The New York Times or The Daily News.  I'm talking about books.  Who has time?  You might want to make it.  People who read live longer.

According to The New York Times, reading books is tied to a longer life.  Scientists divided people into three groups: those who read no books, those who read books up to three-and-a-half hours a week and those who read books more than that.

The study found, not surprisingly, that book readers tend to be female, college-educated and in higher income groups (maybe they have the time?).  So researchers controlled for those facts, along with age, race, self-reported health, depression, employment and marital status.

Unbelievably, those in the middle group -- participants who read three-and-a-half hours a week -- were 17% less likely to die over 12 years of follow-up, and those who read more than that were 23% less likely to die.
How's those odds?

Book readers lived an average of almost two years longer than those w…

Want a Better Memory? Make It Legumes

It sounds a little too simple.  Want a better memory?  Eat a Mediterranean diet.

According to, eating beans, leafy greens, seeds, nuts, cereals, legumes and fresh fruit and vegetables can all help to slow cognitive decline.  Yes, you can have meat, but stay away from a lot of red meat.  And olive oil is good, too.  In fact, it's the main source of fat in this kind of diet.

"The most surprising result," says the study authors, "is that the positive effects were found around the world.  Regardless of being in a so-called 'Mediterranean' region, the positive cognitive effects were similar."

Attention, memory and even language improved, researchers found.  Memory in particular was affected by the Mediterranean Diet, including improvements in delayed recognition, long-term and working memory, executive function and visual constraints.  (Does this mean I can stop wearing glasses?  Probably not.)

The Med Diet is so effective because it modifies ri…

Friendship Can Be Good - and Bad - for your Health

You may think your friends feel about you the same way you feel about them.   But guess what?  Maybe not.

A new study says that someone you think might be your friend might really not be so keen about you, according to The New York Times.

The study analyzed friendship ties among 84 people and found that the feelings were mutual about 53% of the time (good, right?) but their expectation of reciprocity was a whopping 94%.  Why the disconnect?  And why does it feel so bad?

The article says that the possibility of non-reciprocal friendship challenges one's self-image. Who wouldn't feel bad to know the friend whose (bratty) kids you took for a weekend so she and her husband could go away really doesn't even consider you a close connection?

Friendship has become somewhat commoditized, experts say, these days.  How could it not, when "friend" has now become a verb?  And we try to collect as many as we can when we're on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn?

Quite obviousl…

Kid Have An Internship This Summer? Here's How to Make It Last After Graduation

If your kid's wrapping up her internship soon, here's something to think about: experts say to end it with a bang, not a whimper.

According to, an employer is more likely to offer a graduate a full-time job if she's had an internship prior to graduation, by about 20%, up from 12/6% five years ago.

And colleges, which know this, are amping up their abilities to get their students these kinds of early job opportunities.

I had two internships early in my journalism career and I know that one of them led directly to a job two days after I graduated at my local newspaper, where I'd had one of the internships.  

"Soon-to-be-seniors are hoping to land the job offer before crossing the stage in May and performing well in an internship that matches their skills and interests can make that happen," says Patrick Sullivan, an expert in career education who focuses on internships at Wake Forest University.

But even if students perform well in an internship, t…

"Always On"? That Culture Can Lead Employees to Exhaustion and Chronic Stress (and Lower Productivity)

Have the kind of boss who thinks nothing of emailing you at 2 a.m. -- and expecting you to answer?

Well, now, not so surprisingly, a new study done in France has found a link between organizational after-hours email expectations and emotional exhaustion.  Big deal, you might say.  But, big duh, it affects productivity.  Workplace technologies may be hurting the very people they're set up to help, according to

Using data from 365 adults, researchers looked at the role of "off-hour" organizational emailing and discovered that it leads to burnout and diminished family life-work balance.  I could have told them that!

Being the OCD person that I am, when I worked for a very large corporation that did a lot of this, I found myself checking my email every hour (or oftener) after getting home from work till bedtime -- and sometimes, even in the middle of the night.  Those who didn't were shamed and sometimes punished.

Those who are exhausted but unable to disco…