Showing posts from August, 2017

Hey Mr. President, Morals Are Good for Your Brain

Did you know that being good -- that is, moral -- comes with its own rewards?  Guess that's something Trump never learned.  But anyway.

It's good to be good, according to, which reports that "high moral reasoning" is associated with increased activity in the human brain's reward system.

What does that mean?

A new study has on this may help researchers to understand how brain function differs in individuals at different stages of moral reasoning and why some individuals who reach a high level of moral reasoning are more likely to engage in certain “prosocial” behaviors – such as performing community service or giving to charity – based on more advanced principles and ethical rules.

Again, Trump, anyone?

Moral development theory proposes that individuals go through different stages of moral reasoning as their cognitive abilities mature (I won't say that name again). According to the researchers, this new theory implies that individuals at a lower lev…

Take Highly Competitive Courses? You're More Likely to Cheat

I was shocked to learn that a student in an honors chemistry course cheated on the final exam.  When I asked my son about it, he said, "Everybody cheats.  It's because of the competition for high grades."

While that idea threw me, I was stunned to learn that my honest-to-the-Mom-she-gave-you-too-much-change child knew about it and possibly even contemplated it himself.

Now, in addition to this cheating charge following this student to college and on into the workforce, a new study says that high achievers in competitive courses tend to cheat in college.  Sure.  They learned it in high school, according to

The study found that academic misconduct was widespread on test reassessments.

Accurate statistics for academic misconduct are difficult to report due to the reliance on self-reporting by students, the website reports. "It has been thought that lower-level students were more likely to cheat because they had more to gain in the form of higher grades. Ho…

Do You Have a Lot of Friends? Thank Your Genes

Your genes give you blue eyes.  Your genes give you dark hair.  Your genes, in some cases (no pointing fingers!), also make you fat.

But did you know they can determine how many friends you may have?  

According to, researchers have found that the genes that regulate oxytocin, the supreme human social hormone, are associated with the sociality of young individuals.

Why some individuals seek social engagement and friendship while others shy away, may well be dependent on the expression and sequence of two genes in their bodies, the web site reports.

These genes appear in people whohave more close friends and show greater social skills.The hormone released by these genes in humans are involved in primary social behaviors such as pair-bonding, mating and child-rearing, to more sophisticated behaviors such as empathy, trust and generosity.

“We believe that studying the expression of genes captures more information than simple structural studies of DNA sequence since it is the expr…

Smileys Can Actually Hurt Your Career

We've talked about this before but yet another study says do not put a smiley on your work emails, unless you want to be thought of as well, a jerk.

According to, people who pepper their emails with smileys, or any kind of emoticon, run the risk of being thought of as frivolous or flippy, or just not serious enough to do the job.

A new study has found that a smiley is not regarded the same way as a smile, and can actually have a negative impact on the initial impression created in formal work-related emails. “While an actual smile has a positive impact on creating an initial impression, adding a smiley can harm the person who included it in their email,” explains Dr. Arik Cheshin of the University of Haifa, one of the authors of the study, the website reports.

In recent years, physical work meetings in offices have been replaced by email correspondence and online textual interactions. In these types of communication, it is impossible to see facial expressions. Accordingl…

Did You Know Your Tweets Get Sick, Too?

Did you know your tweets could get sick, too?

Apparently, it turns out that they change when we ourselves are sick. 

According to, opinion and emotion in tweets change when you're sick.

"Opinions and emotions are present in every tweet, regardless of whether the user is talking about their health," says Svitlana Volkova, a data scientist at Richland, Washington's Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and lead author of a recent study. "Like a digital heartbeat, we're finding how changes in this behavior relate to health trends in a community."

It takes health workers weeks to discover influenza trends the traditional way: by monitoring how many sick people visit clinics. By discovering trends in real time, social media could be the game-changing solution public health workers have been looking for.

But can tweets replace a health exam for detecting a rise in the flu or other health threats? Volkova's researc…

What's in a Smile? Check out the Muscles

Want to know what it means when someone's smiling at you?  According to, it depends on what muscle they're using.

That's right, muscle.  

“When distinguishing among smiles, both scientists and laypeople have tended to focus on true and false smiles. The belief is that if you smile when you’re not happy, the smile is false,” the web site quotes Paula Niedenthal, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “But people smile in many different circumstances and during many emotional states. So asserting that only smiles that result from states of happiness are ‘true’ smiles limits our understanding of this important facial expression.” Niedenthal and colleagues from Cardiff University and the University of Glasgow published a set of experiments that seek to expand our understanding of the human smile this week in the journal Psychological Science, showing three distinct, reliably recognized expressions — smiles of reward, affiliation and dominance …