Showing posts from March, 2017

Lonely? Don't Get a Cold

Are you lonely tonight?

No, I'm not channeling Elvis.  But a new study says that if you are, that cold is going to feel worse.

I suppose it makes sense.  Back when I was single, everything seemed harder because there was no soft place to fall.  Getting sick was the worst (which I often did, in many of my jobs where I traveled often, though I did come home from a vacation in the Bahamas with strep throat -- though it did lead to how I met my husband.  But that's a story for another time).

Having a cold is bad enough, but having a cold if you’re lonely can actually feel worse, according to research published by the American Psychological Association, reports.

By finding lonely people and infecting them with the cold virus (how cruel), researchers determined that those who had weaker social networks were more likely to report their cold symptoms were more severe than cold sufferers who didn’t feel lonely, according to the study published in the APA journal Heal…

Adverse Events Can Drive Us to the Extreme

Are you getting divorced?  Going through a serious illness?  Failing a class?

All of these, believe it or not, can push you toward political polarization.

A new study says that adverse events can push us to the extreme.  According to, unexpected life events ranging from illness to relationship stress can lead to political polarization, pushing moderates toward the spectrum’s extremes, says a recently published study that’s breaking new ground on personally-experienced adversity and its effect on political attitudes.

Though a handful of studies have explored the effect of community-wide tragedies on personal beliefs, this current research looks exclusively at self-reported personal experience, a phenomenon that can produce different responses than what happens in the wake of collective events, such as reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“We’re talking about people’s experience with adversity broadly construed,” says Michael Poulin, an associate professor of ps…

Afraid of Robots? They Make Some People Fear More Than Just Losing Their Jobs

Did you know that people who are afraid of robots and other high technology are also afraid of losing their jobs and suffer from anxiety-related mental health issues?  That's what a new study is saying.

I suppose it makes sense.  I would imagine that something that seems so out of (your) body would be pretty threatening if you're a little timid about the world.

According to, more than a third of study participants fear job loss to technology more than they do romantic rejection, public speaking and police brutality.  That also makes sense.  Who  do you know who doesn't know computers can easily get a job?

But they're actually not alone.

“If you’re afraid of losing your job to a robot, you’re not alone,” says researcher Paul McClure, a sociologist in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. “This is a real concern among a substantial portion of the American population. They are not simply a subgroup of generally fearful people.”

Previous research has …

Bullied at Work? Don't Look For Advice, It Rarely Works

We've all heard the horror stories about bullies, mostly from our kids.  But adults can be big bullies, too, and what do you do when there's one in your workplace?

I was bullied by a manager for several miserable months when I spoke up to his boss and asked for more work because I was bored, and was afraid I wasn't doing enough.  The fragile ego came down hard on me, and from that point on, I was picked to get the donuts for meetings, never called on in those same meetings, and was not invited to department social events.

I survived but I never forgot this man.  Bullies die hard in our lives. But unfortunately, they're everywhere.

So, should you take advice from someone who has been bullied? Get over it.  Move on.  Don't get mad, get even.  Not very satisfying.

Now a new study is saying, forget the advice.  It generally doesn't work, according to

The reason is simple.  People looking for a rational response to what may be a highly irrational expe…

Feeling the Burn of Gym Protocol

Deborah DiSesa Hirsch: Feeling the burn of gym protocol By Deborah DiSesa Hirsch
Published 12:00 am, Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I’ve become a gym rat. Who knew? I always thought I’d rather have a root canal than join a gym.
But here I am, running on the arc trainer (a true torture machine), and loving it. You can burn a thousand calories in an hour, so who couldn’t love this? I enjoy pushing the resistance up and trying to do it as fast as I can, even when the sweat is flying off me.
There’s a whole protocol at the gym. Almost got whupped when I removed a towel from the treadmill (hey, I thought someone just left it) and a man towered over me and said, “That’s mine.”
You just don’t take someone else’s machine. Even when they’re not on it. Recently the person who usually uses one of the ones next to (older, less workable) mine, didn’t come in at her usual time so I jumped on it. When she did finally come in, her eyes almost burned through my skin.
“Didn’t think you were coming in,” I…

Want to Not Explode When Your Kids Are Fighting Over the Remote And You've Had a Hard Day? Streamline.

Who wouldn't rather not explode when their spouse forgets their anniversary?  Or their kid leaves his dirty clothes on the floor one last time?  How about when your mother-in-law says, "That would look nice on you, if you could lose a few pounds"?

Believe me, I've been there.  But now a new study is saying that there's a way to control our emotions by streamlining them.

You heard me right.   Streamlining.

The many strategies people use to manage their emotions fall into three core groupings, according to newly published research from the University at Buffalo, as reported by

The idea is to help people manage, or more constructively deal with, their emotions, since a lot of psychopathology is related to difficulty in regulating emotions.

“The groupings can be useful for clinicians who are trying to better characterize the nature of the emotion regulation difficulties their clients are having,” says Kristin Naragon-Gainey, an assistant professor …

Interrupted? You'll Probably Make More Mistakes

I hate it when I'm interrupted.

Now a new study says highly trained workers in some occupations could actually be at risk for making errors when interrupted, according to two Michigan State University psychology researchers, as reported by

The reason: Experienced workers are generally faster at performing procedural tasks, meaning their actions are more closely spaced in time and thus more confusable when they attempt to recall where to resume a task after being interrupted.

“Suppose a nurse is interrupted while preparing to give a dose of medication and then must remember whether he or she administered the dose,” says Erik Altmann, lead investigator on the project. “The more experienced nurse will remember less accurately than a less-practiced nurse, other things being equal, if the more experienced nurse performs the steps involved in administering medication more quickly.”

That’s not to say skilled nurses should avoid giving medication, but only that h…

Who Knew? Extreme Adversity Can Make Us Extremists

Who would have thought it?  Personal adversity builds extreme political views.  According to, stressful events are a catalyst for polarized beliefs.

Why is that so?

“Our results suggest that truly disrupting personal life experiences can lead to changes in liberal and conservative political attitudes, possibly permanently,” says Roxane Cohen Silver, UCI professor of psychology & social behavior and lead author of a study linking personal adversity with more firmly held opinions.

Both the number of past stressful events and those occurring over the prior year consistently predicted more firmly held opinions, whether conservative or liberal.

“We found that adults who experience a range of adverse events over their lifetimes, such as serious illness or a community disaster, are more likely to express extreme or polarized views on a variety of topics. This appears to be the case even when those topics, such as political opinions, have little or nothing to do wi…

Are You What You Eat and Who You Know? Only If You're a Woman

OK, who isn't sick of counting calories?  Or, if you're a Weight Watcher's aficionado like I am, points?

Now a new survey is saying not only are we what we eat, we're also who we know.

Say what?

Put simply, a new study by by Vanderbilt University researchers reveals new nuances in the links between a person’s weight and the socioeconomic status of the people close to them, and suggests that gender plays a significant role in that relationship, according to

Though in the West high socioeconomic status is associated with slenderness, the relationship between status and weight is actually more nuanced than that. Using nationally representative data from the 2004 U.S. General Social Survey, Lijun Song, professor of sociology, and graduate students Philip Pettis and Bhumika PiyaSong analyzed the relationship between an individual’s weight as measured by a visual evaluation, the socioeconomic status of the people they’re close to as measured by their …

What's In a Name? Do You Look Like Yours?

Do you look like your name?

A new study says it's entirely possible.  Research shows people can match names to faces of strangers with surprising accuracy, according to

Now, I'm not so sure I look like a Debbie.  I'm not bouncy and cute, with swinging blonde hair, like Debbie Reynolds, who I suspect I was named after, as there are no other Debbie's within miles of my family.

Big surprise.  It may have something to do with the cultural stereotypes we attach to names.

I could never see naming a baby "Fred" (as my first boyfriend's parents did), or "Arthur," or Selma.  Those names conjure up old people, I'm sure, unlike "Tiffany" or "Heather" or "Sean" or "Ethan."  (Don't know what you make of names like "Apple" and "Blue.")

But names can give away a person's age, it's come to my attention.  You don't see too many Dolores' or Betty's (or Debbie'…