Showing posts from November, 2013

People Know Before They Wed The Wrong One

In the 1994 movie, Four Weddings and a Funeral (screenplay by Richard Curtis), the protagonist, Charles as played by Hugh Grant, suffers second thoughts as he walks down the aisle to wed Fiona in the fourth wedding in the script.  As anyone who has seen the movie knows, Charles, after some very funny inner turmoil, listens to his gut and does not follow through, instead pursuing and eventually marrying Carrie, played by Andie Macdowell.

If you've been through the ordeal of a wedding you may have experienced the second thoughts and sensation of "I'm making a mistake," as you tripped in fear and trepidation down the aisle.  

As it turns out, we already know if the marriage will be good or bad even before we say "I do."

A study by Professor James K. McNulty of Florida State University documents that newlyweds already know whether they will experience wedded bliss or an unhappy marriage as they approach the alter.

McNulty and his colleagues studied 135 heterosexual…

Smart, Educated Women Make Better Mothers

"Smart women make better mothers."
Whether a young man's mother earned a college degree and whether she worked outside the home while he was growing up seems to have an effect years later when he considers his ideal wife, according to a study by University of Iowa sociologist Christine Whelan.

High-achieving men -- those who earn salaries in the top 10 percent for their age and/or have a graduate degree -- are highly likely to marry a woman whose education level mirrors their mom's.

Nearly 80 percent of the high-achieving men whose mothers had college degrees married women with college degrees, and 19 percent of them married women with graduate degrees. Of men whose moms had graduate degrees, 62 percent tied the knot with graduate degree holders, and 27 percent said "I do" to women with college degrees.

Sixty-eight percent of high-achieving men agreed with the statement, "Smart women make better mothers."

"Successful men in their 20s and 30s today…

Men, Women, Sex, & Regret

There are both profound and subtle differences between men and women.  Given the all too human drive for sex, it's interesting to see how men and women differ in their attitudes toward the fabled one-night-stand, a favorite device of the novelist in many genre's.

In the largest, most in-depth study to date on regret surrounding sexual activity, a team of psychology researchers found a stark difference between the remorse men and women and women feel after a tryst, published in the current issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior.

In simplest terms,
men are more likely to regret not taking action on a potential liaison, and women are more remorseful for engaging in one-time liaisons. This is probably not a great surprise to any author, and now this common knowledge is scientifically supported.

Evolutionary pressures probably explain the gender difference in sexual regret, says researcher Martie Haselton, who earned her Ph.D. in psychology at UT Austin.

"For men throughout evolutio…

Poor Mental Health, Casual Sex Reinforce Each Other

Self-loathing and disgust are all too often the result of a one night stand - for both men and women.

Now study suggests that poor mental health and casual sex actually feed off each other in teens and young adults, with each one contributing to the other over time.

Researchers found that teens who showed depressive symptoms were more likely than others to engage in casual sex as young adults. In addition, those who engaged in casual sex were more likely to later seriously consider suicide.

“Several studies have found a link between poor mental health and casual sex, but the nature of that association has been unclear,” said Sara Sandberg-Thoma, lead author of the study at The Ohio State University.

“There’s always been a question about which one is the cause and which is the effect. This study provides evidence that poor mental health can lead to casual sex, but also that casual sex leads to additional declines in mental health.”

Poor mental health and casual sex  linked for both men and …

Being Politically Correct Can Cause Weight Gain.

No, I am not making this up.

Being politically correct can cause a person to gain weight, especially 0ver the holidays.

Here's how it works, according to researchers at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business

It's that time of year when Americans start focusing on holiday celebrations, most of which  involve high-caloric food. As the festivities proceed, so do countless tips for keeping off extra weight this season.

But, you could be choosing unhealthy options to serve your guests because you don't want to offend someone.  i.e., because you are being politically correct.

Marketing doctoral student Peggy Liu and Fuqua marketing professor Gavan Fitzsimons led a team that conducted multiple experiments into how people choose between healthy and unhealthy food options when they are picking for both themselves and another person.

"We wanted to understand if food choices would change if they were picking a dish or snack for themselves and an average-sized person versus …

Do Women Trade Beauty for Money?

We've heard the clichés: "It was love at first sight," "It's inner beauty that truly matters," and "Opposites attract." But what's really at work in selecting a romantic or sexual partner?

University of Notre Dame Sociologist Elizabeth McClintock studies the impacts of physical attractiveness and age on mate selection and the effects of gender and income on relationships. Her research offers new insights into why and when Cupid's arrow strikes.

In one of her studies, "Handsome Wants as Handsome Does," published in Biodemography and Social Biology, McClintock examines the effects of physical attractiveness on young adults' sexual and romantic outcomes (number of partners, relationship status, timing of sexual intercourse), revealing the gender differences in preferences.

"Couple formation is often conceptualized as a competitive, two-sided matching process in which individuals implicitly trade their assets for those of a mat…

How Liberal and Conservative Delusions Differ

Any part of a character's make up is an understanding or description of their political stands.  This research demonstrates how a delusion common to liberals differs from moderates and conservatives according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Liberals tend to underestimate the amount of actual agreement among those who share their ideology, while conservatives tend to overestimate intra-group agreement. These findings may help to explain differences in how political groups and movements, like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, gain traction on the national stage.  According to psychological scientist Chadly Stern of New York University,
"The Tea Party movement developed a succinct set of goals in its incipient stages and effectively mobilized its members toward large-scale social change quite quickly."  "In contrast, despite its popularity, the liberal Occupy Wall Street movement struggled to…

Promiscuous Moms Bear Sexier Sons

Sons who smell good, play hard, and die young.

They attract more females by making more pheromones, at the cost of a shorter life.

Okay, to be honest, we're talking about mice here, not humans.  But it shows the power of a provocative title and our fixation on sex.

Consider this quote:  "If your sons are particularly sexy, and mate more than they would otherwise, it's helping get your genes more efficiently into the next generation," says biology professor Wayne Potts, senior author of the new study.

"Only recently have we started to understand that environmental conditions experienced by parents can influence the characteristics of their offspring. This study is one of the first to show the 'epigenetic' process working in a way that increases the mating success of sons."

Male mice whose parents freely competed for mates in semi-natural "mouse barns" produced 31 percent more sex attractants called pheromones -- than male mice from caged monoga…

Mind-Reading Robots Coming Ever Closer

If you think with the release of every new i-device the world is getting closer to thought-controlled technology and robotic personal assistants, you might be right.  Thanks in part to work led by the University of Cincinnati's Anca Ralescu, we may be even closer than you realize.

Professor Ralescu's brain-computer interface uses electroencephalography (a measure of the brain's electrical activity) to help distinguish which brain signal corresponds with the body's performance of a particular intended action.

For example, in one experiment a student is asked to sit and stand and vice versa while the student's brain activity and muscle activity is monitored.  Computers process these brain signals and interpret their intent. The idea is to allow a person to use thought alone to communicate with a computer about the intent to move.

"The problem is quite difficult," Ralescu says. "We are experimenting with processing the signal and selecting useful features…

Picture a Submarine with the Wings of a Penguin

In Tom Clancy's 1984 breakout novel, The Hunt for Red October, the story revolves around a revolutionary stealth propulsion system known as a "Caterpillar Drive", a sort of a jet engine for the water that makes the Red October, the submarine in which it is installed, completely silent to the listening ears of U.S. sonar operators.

Now researchers are looking into a propulsion system based on the wings of the penguin which essentially flies through the waters of the Antarctic in search of food.  What is remarkable is that Emperor penguins have the ability to accelerate from a dead start to 15.6 miles per hour in less than one second. 

Back in 1991, the science magazine Nature published a picture from the IMAX movie Antarctica, along with the caption: "Emperor penguins may be waddling jokes on land, but underwater they can turn into regular rockets…accelerating from 0 to 7 m/s in less than a second."

That's all it took to inspire Flavio Noca, a graduate stu…

In Love? Research Shows You're an Idiot. No, Really. . .

Actually, the headline on the press release reads:

Reduced Cognitive Control in Passionate Lovers
Yawn.  How tedious.  How mundane.  How. . . scientific. 

But here's the conclusion of the research: "People who are in love are less able to focus and to perform tasks that require attention."

In fact, researcher Henk van Steenbergen and colleagues from Leiden University and the University of Maryland conclude that, "The more in love, the less focused you are."

Here's how the research went down.  Forty-three participants who had been in a relationship for less than half a year performed a number of tasks during which they had to discriminate irrelevant from relevant information as soon as possible. It appeared that the more in love they were, the less able they were to ignore the irrelevant information. Love intensity thus was related to how well someone is able to focus. There was no difference between men and women.

"When you have just become involved in a ro…

Men lose their minds speaking to pretty women

I heard this factoid on the NPR show, "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" earlier today, and had to find the source. 

Which I did.

As a bona fide man, I can tell you this happens to me on an all too regular basis.  I instantly transform from a relatively cogent intellectual being into Jerry Lewis at his very worst.  A blithering goofball whose brain is stuck in neutral, which doesn't really matter as my mouth instantly disconnects from all and any cerebral tissue.  The more beautiful the woman, the goofier I become.

And I know it and cannot stop myself. I have a sort of out of body experience as I listen in a complete panic as my doppelganger starts talking like a rutting teenager.  I swear to you, I cannot remember my name, where I live let alone the rules of civility.

According to this research men are genetically programmed to be complete idiots around women.  You probably have an inkling this might be true, but now you know why.

Here's reprint of an article from The Tele…

The Science of Avoiding Sphenopalatine Ganglioneuralgia

We've known of the hazards of sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia since early homo sapiens were forced by a giggling 6'4" 325 pound Neandertal to put a chunk of glacier in his or her mouth as part of a hazing ceremony and damn near die.* 

To this day brain freeze remains one of the great mysteries of life as well as a leading hazard to surviving childhood.  How can a society that successfully spent trillions of tax payer dollars to put men on the moon, built nuclear weapons so accurate they could give Khrushchev an hemorrhoidectomy without ruffling anyone else in the room, and create such deeply insightful cultural commentary as Mad Men and The Simpsons not come to terms with such basic human suffering as Brain Freeze?


Yes, you there in the back - did you say, "Don't put cold stuff in your mouth, especially in the back of your mouth?"

Ha, sir. Such primitive thinking is what holds society back from true scientific breakthrough.

Now comes a scientific explana…