The idea behind power poses, that if you stand in a “powerful” position, broad posture, hands on hips, shoulders high and pushed back, you will suddenly feel psychologically and physiologically stronger, is intuitively appealing, especially for people without much confidence. The problem is that it’s simply not true, according to University of Pennsylvania researchers. […] “We did find that […] if you’re a loser and you take a winner or high power pose, your testosterone decreases.” In other words, Smith said, “people might not be able to ‘fake it until they make it,’ and in fact it might be detrimental.” [EurekAlert]
The ability to choose should let people create more enjoyable experiences. However, in a set of 5 studies, people who chose repeatedly during ongoing consumption exhibited a greater drop in enjoyment compared with those who received a series of random selections from the same set of liked stimuli. [American Psychology Association]
In a mixed-gender group, when women talk 25% of the time or less, it’s seen as being “equally balanced”. If women talk 25–50% of the time, they’re seen as “dominating the conversation” […] A Californian company called Skinny Mirror sells mirrors that make you look thinner. When installed in the changing rooms of clothes shops, they can increase sales by 18%. […] Twitter has enough money in the bank to run for 412 years with current losses. [Fluxx]
When you’re doing two things at once – like listening to the radio while driving – your brain organizes itself into two functionally independent networks, almost as if you temporarily have two brains. [Neuroskeptic]
Our objective was to analyze the association between consumption of hot red chili peppers and mortality. […] The frequency of hot red chili pepper consumption was measured in 16,179 participants at least 18 years of age. […] Consumption of hot red chili peppers was associated with a 13% reduction in the instantaneous hazard of death. Similar, but statistically nonsignificant trends were seen for deaths from vascular disease, but not from other causes. In this large population-based prospective study, the consumption of hot red chili pepper was associated with reduced mortality. [PLOS]
Balthazar typically serves around 1,500 guests a day. The most popular dish is steak frites; the restaurant can sell 200 per day. Out of the 200-odd employees, two full-time prep cooks are required just to handle potatoes for frying.
As men are generally more short-term oriented in their sexuality than women, and given that cigarette and alcohol use are still considered masculine behaviors, we explored if female smoking and drinking can function as a short-term mating strategy. […] The experiment showed that young men perceive women who use cigarettes and alcohol as being more sexually unrestricted. Furthermore, tobacco and (especially) alcohol use brought some short-term attractiveness benefits to women. In short-term mating contexts, drinking enhanced women’s attractiveness, whereas occasional smoking was found equally desirable as not smoking. However, in long-term mating contexts, frequent drinking and all smoking behavior harmed women’s desirability. [Evolutionary Psychology]
Heterosexual men were most likely to say they usually-always orgasmed when sexually intimate (95%), followed by gay men (89%), bisexual men (88%), lesbian women (86%), bisexual women (66%), and heterosexual women (65%). Compared to women who orgasmed less frequently, women who orgasmed more frequently were more likely to: receive more oral sex, have longer duration of last sex, be more satisfied with their relationship, ask for what they want in bed, praise their partner for something they did in bed, call/email to tease about doing something sexual, wear sexy lingerie, try new sexual positions, anal stimulation, act out fantasies, incorporate sexy talk, and express love during sex. Women were more likely to orgasm if their last sexual encounter included deep kissing, manual genital stimulation, and/or oral sex in addition to vaginal intercourse. [Archives of Sexual Behavior]
People are often the most aggressive against the people to whom they are closest—intimate partners. Intimate partner violence might be partly a result of poor self-control. Self-control of aggressive impulses requires energy, and much of this energy is provided by glucose derived from the food we eat. We measured glucose levels in 107 married couples over 21 days. To measure aggressive impulses, participants stuck 0–51 pins into a voodoo doll that represented their spouse each night, depending how angry they were with their spouse. To measure aggression, participants blasted their spouse with loud noise through headphones. Participants who had lower glucose levels stuck more pins into the voodoo doll and blasted their spouse with louder and longer noise blasts. [PNAS | PDF]
Whereas women of all ages prefer slightly older sexual partners, men—regardless of their age—have a preference for women in their 20s. Earlier research has suggested that this difference between the sexes’ age preferences is resolved according to women’s preferences. This research has not, however, sufficiently considered that the age range of considered partners might change over the life span. Here we investigated the age limits (youngest and oldest) of considered and actual sex partners in a population-based sample of 2,655 adults (aged 18-50 years). Over the investigated age span, women reported a narrower age range than men and women tended to prefer slightly older men. We also show that men’s age range widens as they get older: While they continue to consider sex with young women, men also consider sex with women of their own age or older. Contrary to earlier suggestions, men’s sexual activity thus reflects also their own age range, although their potential interest in younger women is not likely converted into sexual activity. Homosexual men are more likely than heterosexual men to convert a preference for young individuals into actual sexual behavior, supporting female-choice theory. [Evolutionary Psychology | PDF]
Thousands of minors wed each year in the US. Some do it for love; others are given no choice, like an 11-year-old girl who was told to marry her rapist. [NY Times]
The Heroin Overdose Mystery [PDF]
The military mobilization that followed came to be known as the Crusades [PDF]
Most people strongly believe they are just, virtuous, and moral; yet regard the average person as distinctly less so. This invites accusations of irrationality in moral judgment and perception — but direct evidence of irrationality is absent. Here, we quantify this irrationality and compare it against the irrationality in other domains of positive self-evaluation. […] Virtually all individuals irrationally inflated their moral qualities […] Irrational moral superiority was not associated with self-esteem. Taken together, these findings suggest that moral superiority is a uniquely strong and prevalent form of “positive illusion,” but the underlying function remains unknown. [Social Psychological and Personality Science]
The Dress photograph, first displayed on the internet in 2015, revealed stunning individual differences in color perception. The aim of this study was to investigate if lay-persons believed that the question about The Dress colors was answerable. Past research has found that optimism is related to judgments of how answerable knowledge questions with controversial answers are. Furthermore, familiarity with a question can create a feeling of knowing the answer. Building on these findings, 186 participants saw the photo of The Dress and were asked about the correct answer to the question about The Dress’ colors (“blue and black,” “white and gold,” “other, namely…,” or “there is no correct answer”). Choice of the alternative “there is no correct answer” was interpreted as believing the question was not answerable. This answer was chosen more often by optimists and by people who reported they had not seen The Dress before. [Frontiers Psychology]
National Security Council officials have strategically included Trump’s name in “as many paragraphs as we can because he keeps reading if he’s mentioned,” according to one source, who relayed conversations he had with NSC officials. [Reuters]
Keeping the dead buried was a matter of grave concern in 19th-century America. As medical schools proliferated after the Civil War, the field grew increasingly tied to the study of anatomy and practice of dissection. Professors needed bodies for young doctors to carve into and the pool of legally available corpses—executed criminals and body donors—was miniscule. Enter freelance body snatchers, dispatched to do the digging. By the late 1800s, the illicit body trade was flourishing. […] Inventors got to work. Their solution? Explosives. Philip. K Clover, a Columbus, Ohio artist, patented an early coffin torpedo in 1878. Clover’s instrument functioned like a small shotgun secured inside the coffin lid in order to “prevent the unauthorized resurrection of dead bodies,” as the inventor put it. If someone tried to remove a buried body, the torpedo would fire out a lethal blast of lead balls when the lid was pried open. [Atlas Obscura]
In the United States, the Commonwealth, Scandinavia and for books in Dutch, titles are usually written top-to-bottom on the spine. In most of continental Europe and Latin America, titles are conventionally printed bottom-to-top on the spine.
Bottle-cork injury to the eye: a review of 13 cases [PDF]
In a mossy forest in the western Andes of Ecuador, a small, cocoa-brown bird with a red crown sings from a slim perch. […] Three rival birds call back in rapid response. […] They are singing with their wings, and their potential mates seem to find the sound very alluring. […] This is an evolutionary innovation — a whole new way to sing. But the evolutionary mechanism behind this novelty is not adaptation by natural selection, in which only those who survive pass on their genes, allowing the species to become better adapted to its environment over time. Rather, it is sexual selection by mate choice, in which individuals pass on their genes only if they’re chosen as mates. From the peacock’s tail to the haunting melodies of the wood thrush, mate choice is responsible for much of the beauty in the natural world. Most biologists believe that these mechanisms always work in concert — that sex appeal is the sign of an objectively better mate, one with better genes or in better condition. But the wing songs of the club-winged manakin provide new insights that contradict this conventional wisdom. Instead of ensuring that organisms are on an inexorable path to self-improvement, mate choice can drive a species into what I call maladaptive decadence — a decline in survival and fecundity of the entire species. It may even lead to extinction. [NYT]
The Medallion Fund, known for its intense secrecy, has produced about $55 billion in profit over the last 28 years. The fund almost never loses money. Its biggest drawdown in one five-year period was half a percent.
Minnesota’s Mall Of America is holding a contest to find a “Writer-In-Residence” who can spend five days “deeply immersed” in the mall “while writing on-the-fly impressions” of the whole experience. [Thanks Tim]