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“Emotions such as anger and contempt can seem very threatening for couples. But our study suggests that if spouses, especially wives, are able to calm themselves, their marriages can continue to thrive,” Bloch said. While it is commonly held that women play the role of caretaker and peacemaker in relationships, the study is among the first to reveal this dynamic in action over a long period of time, researchers point out. Results show that the link between the wives’ ability to control emotions and higher marital satisfaction was most evident when women used “constructive communication” to temper disagreements. [UC Berkeley]

Major theories propose that spontaneous responding to others’ actions involves mirroring, or direct matching. Responding to facial expressions is assumed to follow this matching principle: People smile to smiles and frown to frowns. We demonstrate here that social power fundamentally changes spontaneous facial mimicry of emotional expressions, thereby challenging the direct-matching principle. [Journal of Experimental Psychology: General | PDF]

People loved for their beauty and cheerfulness are not loved as irreplaceable, yet people loved for “what their souls are made of” are. Or so literary romance implies; leading philosophical accounts, however, deny the distinction, holding that reasons for love either do not exist or do not include the beloved’s distinguishing features. […] I defend a model of agency on which people can love each other for identities still being created, through a kind of mutual improvisation. […] I draw another analogy to jazz, this time relating the attraction and concern constitutive of interpersonal love to the reciprocal appreciation and responsiveness of musicians who improvise together as partners. Musicians who improvise together as partners recognize each other to be trying to express the same musical idea, even though the contents of their ideas are still being worked out. [PhilPapers | PDF]

Connecting with others increases happiness, but strangers in close proximity routinely ignore each other. Why? Two reasons seem likely: Either solitude is a more positive experience than interacting with strangers, or people misunderstand the consequences of distant social connections. […] Prior research suggests that acting extroverted—that is, acting bold, assertive, energetic, active, adventurous, and talkative (the exact list has varied by study)—in laboratory experiments involving group tasks like solving jigsaw puzzles and planning a day together, generally leads to greater positive affect than acting introverted—lethargic, passive, and quiet—in those same situations. […] Connecting with a stranger is positive even when it is inconsistent with the prevailing social norm. […] Our experiments tested interactions that lasted anywhere from a few minutes to as long as 40 minutes, but they did not require repeated interactions or particularly long interactions with the same random stranger. Nobody in the connection condition, for instance, spent the weekend with a stranger on a train. Indeed, some research suggests that liking for a stranger may peak at a relatively short interaction, and then decline over time as more is learned about another person. If, however, the amount of time spent in conversation with a distant stranger is inversely related to its pleasantness at some point along the time spectrum, then this only makes the results of our experiments even more surprising. On trains, busses, and waiting rooms, the duration of the conversation is relatively limited. These could be the kinds of brief “social snacks” with distant others that are maximally pleasant, and yet people still routinely avoid them. [Journal of Experimental Psychology: General | PDF | These Psychologists Think We’d Be Happier If We Talked to Strangers More]

To understand how a state acquires legal capacity, we need to study a state that lacked it. France, at the end of the sixteenth century did not possess a centralized legal or tax system. This reflected the way French monarchs had gradually added territories to their growing kingdom since the middle ages. Moreover, as more and more territories were added, the king was forced to concede old, and sometimes new, privileges to the regions so as to ensure their loyalty. In the words of one economic historian, the complexities of the resulting fiscal and legal system almost ‘defy description.’ […] Witchcraft was difficult to prosecute under conventional legal procedures and standards of proof. Maleficia may have sometimes actually occurred and, in rare cases, may even have left evidence. However, diabolism was, by its nature, beyond the pale of rational legal procedure. Since dealings with the devil existed only in the fantasies of accusers and (rarely) the accused, it was a thought crime. In order to get around the difficulty of prosecuting a suspected witch according to traditional standards of legal proof, local judges turned to the theories of the demonologists. […] The unobservable nature of the crime combined with the use of torture created a self-replicating logic to witchcraft trials. Accusation led to torture, which led to further accusations. This logic is illustrated by the following example which took place in 1599 in the area of Bazuel which lies in the North of France. A widow named Reine Perceval was accused of sorcery and brought to the local abbey for interrogation. Initially, she denied the accusa- tions, despite the attempts of her interrogator to coerce her confession by pointing to another recently accused woman who, by admitting to the crimes, was released. […] Later, under torture, the widow Perceval did confess to being a witch and named several ‘accomplices.’ […] It was costly in a purely financial sense to try an individual witch. Furthermore, fear of witchcraft could get out of control and result in lynchings and murders or in devastating mass trials in which large numbers of individuals who would not usually be suspected of witchcraft came under suspicion. […] We establish that witchcraft trials were more likely to take place where the central state had weak legal institutions. Combining data on the geographic distribution of witchcraft trials with unique panel data on tax receipts across 21 French regions, we find that the rise of the tax state can account for much of the decline in witch trials during this period. Further historical evidence supports our hypothesis that higher taxes led to better legal institutions. [Johnson and Koyama]

Since 1990, the Gerontology Research Group has assumed the role of record keepers for the world’s supercentenarians, or persons older than 110. […] When it comes to age forgery, Coles has seen it all. He recently received a claim from India of an individual who is supposedly 179—a feat that is almost certainly physically impossible. The deceit can be harder to spot, such as the time a man in Turkey tried to pass himself off as his deceased brother, who was ten years older. And in one particularly challenging case, the government of Bolivia issued false documents to a man who was 106, stating that he was 112. These problems are well known among those who study the very old. “Ninety-eight percent of ages claimed over 115 are false,” says Thomas Perls, a professor of medicine and geriatrics at Boston Medical Center, and director of the New England Centenarian Study. Based on a research paper he published on the topic, Perls says that “There’s a total of ten different major reasons why people do this.” Sometimes, the motivation for lying is monetary. In the U.S., for example, a handful of people inflated their ages in order to claim to be Civil War veterans, giving them access to pensions. […] In other cases, a government or group might want to demonstrate that theirs is a “superior race.” [Smithsonian]

A gene responsible for stopping the movement of cancer from the lungs to other parts of the body has been discovered by researchers

Danish DNA Could be Key to Happiness

How Becoming a Father Changes Your Brain

We only use 10% of our brains? That’s 100% wrong.

Sweet taste liking is associated with impulsive behaviors in humans

Brands are succeeding largely because of consumer ignorance.

We’re more likely to spend money when we’re feeling nostalgic, study

Previous research shows the existence of a height premium in the workplace with tall individuals receiving more benefits across several domains (e.g., earnings) relative to short people.

The longer individuals were exposed to socialism, the more likely they were to cheat on our task.

There’s little correlation between company performance and CEO pay.

A millionaire cross-dressing NY real estate ??heir was busted for peeing on the candy display at a CVS

After Drugs and Guns, Art Theft Is the Biggest Criminal Enterprise in the World

How much are curators really paid?

“never show a husband the apartment without his wife.”

A new, extremely persistent type of online tracking is shadowing visitors to thousands of top websites


Astronauts debate provenance of turd floating in Apollo 10

Using bees that have been genetically modified to 3D-print concrete