Showing posts from September, 2016

Ae You a Jerk?

Here's your question for today: are you a jerk?

Jerk self-knowledge is hard to come by, says Eric Schwitzgebel, a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, according to

Schwitzgebel posited a Theory of Jerks in Aeon Magazine in 2014 and has revisited the topic a few times in his blog, “The Splintered Mind.” He continues that exploration this month in an article titled “How to Tell If You’re a Jerk,” and today blogged a five-question quiz to help determine personal levels of what he refers to as “jerkitude.”

Schwitzgebel defines a jerk as “someone who culpably fails to appreciate the perspectives of others around him, treating them as tools to be manipulated or fools to be dealt with rather than as moral and epistemic (validated) peers. The jerk faces special obstacles to self-knowledge of his moral character, partly because of his disregard of the opinions of people who could give him useful critical feedback.”

Hmm, sound like an…

Happy Spouse, Healthy Life

Well, not for me.  Years ago, when we were first dating, a woman I know told me never to marry someone who hated what he did.

Unfortunately, I did, because I loved him, but over 30 years with a man who violently hates what he does (he's a dentist) has made my life, well, if not unhealthy, then extremely hellish!

A new study has found that if your spouse is happy, you will be healthy. reports that having a happy spouse could be good for your health, at least among middle-aged and older adults, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association.

In a nationally representative study of 1,981 middle-age heterosexual couples, researchers found that people with happy spouses were much more likely to report better health over time. This occurred above and beyond the person’s own happiness, according to the study.

“This finding significantly broadens assumptions about the relationship between happiness and health, suggesting a unique social li…

High-Level Job? Don't Get Depressed, Treatment Might Not Work For You

It probably shouldn't come as a surprise but a high-status job means you are less likely to respond to treatment for depression.

Could it be the stress, the tension, the high expectations of those around you?

Up to a third of patients who receive drug treatment for depression do not respond to treatment.  Although there is a wealth of research showing that low social and economic status is associated with a greater risk of depression, there has been little work focusing on how occupational levels respond to treatment.

 A group of international researchers from Belgium, Italy, Israel and Austria enlisted 654 working adults attending clinics for depression, and classified their work according to occupational level, according to,  336 (51.4%) of whom held high occupational level jobs, 161 (24.6%) middle-level, and 157 (24%) low level. Around two-thirds of the patients were female (65.6%), which reflects the normal gender difference in reported depression. Most …

Did You Know You Can Inherit Loneliness?

Can genes make you lonely?

Yes, if you're also prone to being neurotic and depressed, according to

It turns out loneliness is a heritable trait, but no one gene is responsible.  And it may not be as bad as all that.

Loneliness is linked to poor physical and mental health, and is an even more accurate predictor of early death than obesity, the web site reports. To better understand who is at risk, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine conducted the first genome-wide association study for loneliness — as a life-long trait, not a temporary state. They discovered that risk for feeling lonely is partially due to genetics, but environment plays a bigger role.

Just as physical pain alerts us to potential tissue damage and motivates us to take care of our physical bodies, loneliness — triggered by a discrepancy between an individual’s preferred and actual social relations — is part of a biological warning system that has evolved to al…

So You Forgot Where You Put Your Glasses AGAIN? Relax, You Probably Don't Have Alzheimer's

Memory loss is not enough for a diagnosis of the dreaded disease.

Relying on clinical symptoms of memory loss to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease may miss other forms of dementia caused by Alzheimer’s that don’t initially affect memory, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study, according to

“These individuals are often overlooked in clinical trial designs and are missing out on opportunities to participate in clinical trials to treat Alzheimer’s,” says first study author Emily Rogalski, associate professor at Northwestern’s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center.

Now here's the truly scary part. There is more than one kind of Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer’s can cause language problems, disrupt an individual’s behavior, personality and judgment or even affect someone’s concept of where objects are in space.

If it affects personality, it may cause lack of inhibition. “Someone who was very shy may go up to grocery store clerk -- who is a strang…

Stressed Out By Politics at Work -- Election Politics, That Is?

Now, that's a surprise.  One in four U.S. employees are negatively affected by political talk at work this election season.

I've lost (or chosen to lose) two friends for the person they're supporting.  And I can see how discussing that at work could be harmful to my co-workers, and certainly, me (especially if my boss, as is likely, would disagree!).

 Younger workers in particular experiencing diminished productivity, more stress, according to

This year’s extraordinary presidential campaign is taking a toll on American workers, some of whom report feeling stressed, argumentative and less productive because of political discussions on the job, according to a survey released today by the American Psychological Association.

More than 1 in 4 younger employees reported feeling stressed out because of political discussions at work, and more than twice as many men as women said political talk is making them less productive, according to the survey from APA’s …

Feel Entitled? Watch Out for a World of Unhappiness

Who doesn't remember the Stanford swimmer who got off very lightly after raping an unconscious co-ed?  Or, if you're old enough, the preppy killer, Robert Chambers, who strangled his girlfriend and used "rough sex" as his defense.  He's now in jail for 19 years on a drug charge.

So what's up with all these people who feel so entitled?  (And the people who grant it to them, like judge Aaron Persky, who faced recall after his decision.)

Says Joshua Grubbs, the primary author of a new paper on entitlement and a recent PhD graduate in psychology from Case Western Reserve, “At extreme levels, entitlement is a toxic narcissistic trait, repeatedly exposing people to the risk of feeling frustrated, unhappy and disappointed with life."

Entitlement—a personality trait driven by exaggerated feelings of deservingness and superiority—may lead to chronic disappointment, unmet expectations and a habitual, self-reinforcing cycle of behavior with dire psychologica…

"I'm Sorry" Works Better for Men, Than for Women

You're probably not old enough to remember this movie, where the guy says to the girl, "Love means never having to say you're sorry." 

Which, in my life, is totally the opposite.  I'm always having to say "I'm sorry," when my husband and I fight (he's very stubborn). 

But a new study says that saying sorry is not enough, especially when you're talking gender stereotypes.  Say what?

"Whether it's a boss, co-worker or the public, saying sorry is not always enough to win back broken trust, especially when gender stereotypes are also broken. Both have happened with Clinton and Trump in the last few months," says Shayna Frawley, PhD candidate in human resource management at York U who led the study with York U alumna Jennifer Harrison, now at NEOMA Business School in France, at

Gender stereotypes continue to be an issue in the workplace and on the campaign trail. Women are still expected to be benevolent and con…

Ha! Move Over, Women. Men Feel It, Too.

So it's not just us.  Men feel it, too.

Guilt and shame are what motivate many of us to go to the gym.  Men feel embarrassed about their body fat, too, a new study has found, and it's fueling a rush to the gym.

According to, psychology researchers from the UK and Australia discovered that while male attitudes towards muscle or body mass index (BMI) did not predict how frequently they would attend the gym, their perceptions of body fat did.

The researchers found that men worried about body fat were more likely than others to undertake spontaneous, unplanned work-outs - and warned that these "sporadic" exercise patterns tend to be difficult to sustain over time.

The findings raise questions over the effect portrayals of the 'ideal body' online and in the media have on healthy exercise behaviors in an era of  "selfies." This has important real-life implications for health and exercise professionals and their intervention programs…

It's Not Just Hot Fudge Sundaes That Can Make You Gain Weight. Check Out The Design of Your Kitchen.

They're all the rage.  Open floor plans.  But did you know they could make you eat more?

According to a new study, dining environments can have serious consequences for eating behaviors, reports.  Although the research was conducted on a college campus, it may still have relevance for the rest of us.

The study, which was conducted with 57 college students in the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell, made use of folding screens to manipulate the arrangement of kitchen and dining areas during the service of buffet-style meals, and two-way mirrors for the unobtrusive observation of variously sized groups of student diners.

“Although more research is needed,” researchers say, “the results of our study suggest that the openness of a floor plan, among many other factors, can affect how much we eat. Eating in an ‘open concept kitchen,’ with greater visibility and convenience of food access, can set off a chain reaction. We’re more likely to get up and head toward the food m…

Parents' Math Skills Rub Off On Their Kids -- Only, Not Mine, Thank God!

Oh, I pray this isn't so!

But a new study says that parents' math skills may rub off on their kids.

You're looking at someone who got 380 on her math SAT.  And this was back in the day when you got 200 points for spelling your name right!

But fortunately it looks like my son got his grandmother's math ability (she supposedly had an IQ of over 150).  And he got A's in honors geometry last year, so I guess I can't be blamed, at least for that!

Parents who excel at math produce children who excel at math. This is according to a recently released University of Pittsburgh study, which shows a distinct transfer of math skills from parent to child, according to The study specifically explored intergenerational transmission--the concept of parental influence on an offspring's behavior or psychology--in mathematic capabilities, according to

"Our findings suggest an intuitive sense for numbers has been passed down--knowingly or …

Would You Exclude Someone in a Group Based on His Face? You Probably Already Do

We'd like to think it doesn't matter -- or happen -- but we all exclude people, from time to time.

But would you exclude someone based on his facial cues?

People are often excluded from social groups. As researchers from the University of Basel in Switzerland report, whether uninvolved observers find this acceptable or not may depend on the facial appearances of those excluded, according to The exclusion of cold and incompetent-looking people is more likely to be accepted.

Social exclusion - at school, work or among friends - is usually a painful experience for those affected. This behavior also often has a considerable effect on third-party observers: Bullying and ostracism with the aim to hurt the victims are seen as particularly unfair and morally unacceptable. However, in some cases, social exclusion is also perceived as justified. Groups are, for example, more likely to ostracize people who cause trouble or arguments in order to restore the harmon…

This is Fair. Men Get Raises 25% More Often When They Ask For One Than Women

Now this made sense to pay for.  A new study says women do ask for raises.  But don't get them.

You've seen the commercial, the young woman in the restroom practicing in the mirror as she prepares to ask her boss for a raise (and the older woman saying, "Just do it," or something to that effect!).

According to, new research from the Cass Business School, the University of Warwick and the University of Wisconsin shows that women ask for wage raises just as often as men, but men are 25 per cent more likely to get a raise when they ask.

The research is the first to do a statistical test of the idea that women get paid less because they are not as pushy as men. The researchers found no support for the theory.

The authors of the study Do Women Ask? also examined the claim that female employees hold back for fear of upsetting their boss, and again found no evidence for this theory either.

Co-author Andrew Oswald, Professor of Economics and Behavioura…

Apparently Anthony Weiner Is Not Alone. We Are All Wired for Addiction.

It's hard not to think of Anthony Weiner when you're talking about addiction.  But did you know that we're all wired for it?

Drug addicts and non-addicts may have more in common than ever thought, according to a researcher at Texas A&M University who found that to some degree, everyone’s brain is “wired” to become addicted, reports.

Psychology Professor Brian Anderson argues that normal people show many of the same biases as people who are addicted to drugs.  “This suggests that these seemingly ‘pathological features’ of addiction may in fact reflect a normal cognitive process – that we are all to some degree ‘wired’ to become addicted,” he explains. He adds that one of the features that characterizes addiction is strong attentional biases for drug cues.

“Attentional bias is a tendency to direct your attention to something even when it conflicts with your goals, making it difficult to ignore,” he notes. “A drug cue is something that serves as a pre…