3 Smart Things: Friends and Loss

1. New research suggests people who lose their spouses do better when they confide in a close friend rather than a family member

2. Having a non-family member confidant can significantly boost the physical health of widowed individuals

3. The author suggests that family members make suboptimal confidantes because the emotional complexities of family can add stress to the situation

Source: http://www.newswise.com/articles/confiding-in-friends-not-relatives-shows-health-benefits-in-older-adults-following-loss-of-spouse

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3 Smart Things: Gender Bias and Hurricanes

1. New research suggests hurricanes with feminine names are more likely to cause deaths than ones with masculine names

2. Researchers argue hurricanes with feminine names cause more death because people aren’t as intimidated by female names and thus don’t take as many precautions

3. Analysis suggests that changing a severe hurricane’s name from the masculine “Charley” to the feminine “Eloise” might almost triple the amount of fatalities

Source: http://www.news.illinois.edu/news/14/0602genderedhurricanes_SharonShavitt.html

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3 Smart Things: Weight and Democracy

1. Research from Michigan State finds that overweight political candidates tend to receive fewer votes than their thinner opponents in US elections

2. Although overweight men have a fair shot at getting on the ballot, they tend to lose to their thinner opponents

3. The research suggests overweight women face discrimination in even getting on the ballot—this finding is consistent with a general finding in the literature that women face greater discrimination based on weight than men

Journal Article: Weight bias in US candidate selection and election. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 2014; 33

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3 Smart Things: Discrimination and Favoritism

1. Most discrimination in the U.S. is not caused by intention to harm people different from us, but by ordinary favoritism directed at helping people similar to us, according to a new theoretical review

2. “We can produce discrimination without having any intent to discriminate or any dislike for those who end up being disadvantaged by our behavior,” said one researcher.

3. Most people think of discrimination as a result of hostility towards disadvantaged groups, but this review argues that it is more subtle acts, ones people don’t even recognize as causing disadvantage to anyone, that are likely to be much more significant.

Source: http://www.washington.edu/news/2014/05/19/favoritism-not-hostility-causes-most-discrimination-says-uw-psychology-professor/

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3 Smart Things: Meditation and Mental Processing

1. Meditation isn’t just about easing stress

2. New research shows we actually process more thoughts and feelings during mediation than when we are just relaxing

3. Although many people attempt to suppress random thoughts during mediation, research suggests that allowing the mind to wander actually increases processing

Reference: Jian Xu.  Nondirective meditation activates default mode network and areas associated with memory retrieval and emotional processing

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3 Smart Things: Memory and Exercise

1.  A new study by researcher from the University of New Hampshire suggests that recalling past exercise experience can motivate people to hit the gym more.

2. “These results provide the first experimental evidence that autobiographical memory activation can be an effective tool in motivating individuals to adopt healthier lifestyles,” the researchers wrote.

3. Researchers suggest that exercise programs that explicitly encourage participants to activate emotional memories as a motivational tool could result in longer lasting increases in exercise activities.

 

Reference: Mathew J. Biondolillo, David B. Pillemer. Using memories to motivate future behaviour: An experimental exercise intervention. Memory, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1080/09658211.2014.889709

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3 Smart Things: Work and Creativity

1. A new study suggests that creativity outside of work can enhance job performance

2. Creative activities outside of work seem to directly enhance the ability of employees to problem solve and help others on the job

3. Researchers suggest organizations can encourage employees to pursue creative hobbies outside of work by sponsoring contests and offering discounts for supplies

Reference:Kevin J. Eschleman, Jamie Madsen, Gene Alarcon, Alex Barelka. Benefiting from activity:  positive relationships between creative activity,recovery experiences, and performance-related outcomes. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 2014

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3 Smart Things: Sleep Position & Relationships

1. Forty-two percent of couples sleep back to back while 31% sleep facing the same direction and only 4% spend the night facing each other

2. Ninety-four percent of couples who physically touch during sleeping are happy in their relationship while only 68% of couples who don’t touch are happy

3. Eighty-six percent of couples who sleep less than an inch apart from each other are happy, while only 66% of those who sleep more than 30 inches apart are happy

Source: University of Hertfordshire

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3 Smart Things: Eye Contact & Trust

1. Consumers are 16% more likely to trust a brand of cereal when the characters on the boxes look them straight in the eye, according to researchers from Cornell University

2. Interestingly, the gaze of characters on children’s cereal boxes is at a downward angle, correcting for their height

3. Characters on adult cereal boxes look straight ahead

Source: Cornell University

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3 Smart Things: Smoking and Motivation

1. New research suggests ads with messages about “why” to stop smoking can influence a smoker to quit within a month

2. However, there is no evidence that ads with messages about “how” to stop smoking influence behavior

3. Researchers argue that “why” ads are more effective because they show graphic portrayals of the health consequences of smoking

Source: The Impact of Cessation Media Messages on Cessation-Related Outcomes: Results From a National Experiment of Smokers. American Journal of Health Promotion, 2014

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