Why do men prefer nice women? Responsiveness and desire

People’s emotional reactions and desires in initial romantic encounters determine the fate of a potential relationship. Responsiveness may be one of those initial “sparks” necessary to fuel sexual desire and land a second date. However, it may not be a desirable trait for both men and women on a first date. Does responsiveness increase sexual desire in the other person? Do men perceive responsive women as more attractive, and does the same hold true for women’s perceptions of men? A study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin seeks to answer those questions.Femininity and AttractivenessResearchers from the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, the University of Rochester, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, collaborated on three studies to observe people’s perceptions of responsiveness. People often say that they seek a partner that is “responsive to their needs,” and that such a partner would arouse their sexual interest. A responsive person is one that is supportive of another’s needs and goals. “Sexual desire thrives on rising intimacy and being responsive is one of the best ways to instill this elusive sensation over time,” lead researcher Gurit Birnbaum explains. “Our findings show that this does not necessarily hold true in an initial encounter, because a responsive potential partner may convey opposite meanings to different people.”In the first study, the researchers examined whether responsiveness is perceived as feminine or masculine, and whether men or women perceived a responsive person of the opposite sex as sexually desirable. …

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Stigmas, once evolutionarily sound, are now bad health strategies

Stigmatization may have once served to protect early humans from infectious diseases, but that strategy may do more harm than good for modern humans, according to Penn State researchers.”The things that made stigmas a more functional strategy thousands of years ago rarely exist,” said Rachel Smith, associate professor of communication arts and sciences and human development and family studies. “Now, it won’t promote positive health behavior and, in many cases, it could actually make the situation worse.”Stigmatizing and ostracizing members stricken with infectious diseases may have helped groups of early humans survive, said Smith, who worked with David Hughes, assistant professor of entomology and biology. Infectious agents thrive by spreading through populations, according to Smith and Hughes, who published an essay in the current issue of Communication Studies.For early humans, a person who was stigmatized by the group typically suffered a quick death, often from a lack of food or from falling prey to a predator. Groups did not mix on a regular basis, so another group was unlikely to adopt an ostracized person. Infectious disease stigmas may have evolved as a social defense for group-living species, and had adaptive functions when early humans had these interaction patterns.However, modern society is much larger, more mobile and safer from predators, eliminating the effectiveness of this strategy, according to Smith.”In modern times, we mix more regularly, travel more widely, and also there are so many people now,” Smith said. “These modern interaction patterns make stigmatization unproductive and often create more problems.”Hughes studies disease in another successful society, the ants, which have strong stigma and ostracism strategies that serve group interests at the cost to individuals.”Ants are often held up as paragons of society and efficiency but we certainly do not want to emulate how they treat their sick members, which can be brutal,” said Hughes.Stigmatization could actually make infectious disease management worse. The threat of ostracization may make people less likely to seek out medical treatment. If people refuse to seek treatment and go about their daily routines, they may cause the disease to spread farther and faster, according to the researchers, who are both investigators in the Center of Infectious Disease Dynamics in Penn State Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences.Stigmatization may harm a person’s ability to survive a disease. Ostracization may increase stress, lessening the body’s ability to fight off diseases and infections.”People are very sensitive to rejection and humans worry about being ostracized,” said Smith. “These worries and experiences with rejection can cause problematic levels of stress and, unfortunately, stress can compromise the immune system’s ability to fight off an infection, accelerating disease progression.”Once applied, a stigma is difficult to remove, even when there are obvious signs that the person was never infected or is cured. …

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Dreams, déjà vu and delusions caused by faulty ‘reality testing’

New research from the University of Adelaide has delved into the reasons why some people are unable to break free of their delusions, despite overwhelming evidence explaining the delusion isn’t real.In a new paper published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, University of Adelaide philosopher Professor Philip Gerrans says dreams and delusions have a common link — they are associated with faulty “reality testing” in the brain’s higher order cognitive systems.”Normally this ‘reality testing’ in the brain monitors a ‘story telling’ system which generates a narrative of people’s experience,” Professor Gerrans says.”A simple example of normal reality testing is the person who gets a headache, immediately thinks they might have a brain tumor, then dismisses that thought and moves on. Their story episode ‘I might have brain cancer’ gets tested and quickly rejected.”In someone who has problems with reality testing, that story might persist and may even be elaborated and translated into action. Such people can experience immense mental health difficulties, even to the point of becoming a threat to themselves or to others,” he says.In his paper, Professor Gerrans discusses delusions triggered by feelings of familiarity and unfamiliarity, such as the “Capgras delusion” — the delusion of “doubles.” One example is of a man who, after serious head injury following a motor vehicle accident, returned home from the hospital after a year only to state repeatedly that his family had been replaced by impostors.”His family looked familiar but didn’t feel familiar, and the story in his head made sense of that feeling. It didn’t matter how much people tried to point out that his family was the same, in his mind they had been completely replaced by impostors,” Professor Gerrans says.He says in the “Fregoli delusion,” people think they’re being followed by a familiar person in disguise as a way of coping with a feeling of familiarity evoked by seeing a stranger.”People also experience feelings of familiarity and unfamiliarity in dj vu — a sense that a new place is strangely familiar, and the reverse, jamais vu — a sense of extreme unfamiliarity evoked by a familiar place. However, such feelings do not lead to delusion in people whose reality testing is intact.”Professor Gerrans says better understanding this reality testing system could help to improve outcomes for people living with such difficulties.”Trying to treat someone experiencing these delusions by telling them the truth is not necessarily going to help, so new strategies need to be developed to assist them. Ultimately, that’s the aim of this work — to help explain the nature of reality testing in order to help people find a way of working through or around their delusions so that the delusions no longer adversely affect their lives.”Professor Gerrans’s new book, The Measure of Madness. Philosophy and Cognitive Neuropsychiatry (MIT Press), will be published this year.What’s the difference between a dream, a delusion and an hallucination? Professor Gerrans explains:Dream: The images, sensations and thoughts we experience during sleep. In dreams we simply have experiences, we don’t have beliefs about experience because “reality testing” systems are not active.Delusion: An irrational belief at odds with reality maintained in the face of obvious contrary evidence and logical argument.Hallucination: The apparent perception of an object not actually present.Dj vu: The feeling that you have previously experienced a situation which is in fact unfamiliar. Caused by an erroneous “sense of familiarity.”Jamais vu: The feeling that a familiar situation has not been experienced before. …

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What Happens if You’re Injured by a Dangerous Product?

Whether it’s a laptop with an overheated battery, a car with airbags that fail to deploy, or prescription medication that leads to serious side effects, consumers are constantly using a variety of products that can and do lead to injuries, harm, and even death.When someone suffers an injury as the result of using a product, they often wonder if they can sue to recover damages. These types of cases are known as product liability cases. In order to prevail in such a case, consumers usually have to show that the product manufacturer is negligent.Liability and NegligenceNot every injury you suffer as the result of using a product means that you will be able to recover damages for your injuries. In order to win your case, you will have to be able to show that the product’s manufacturer was negligent in some way. When a product manufacturer releases a product into the marketplace, it must be sure that the product is safe. If the manufacturer makes a mistake and releases a product that poses a danger to the consumer, it can be held liable for any harm caused by the product.In product liability cases, the person suing the manufacturer, called the plaintiff, typically has to show one of three things:The manufacturer made a defective product. Many product injury cases arise because a manufacturer doesn’t build a product correctly. For example, a chair missing an important screw or a piece of exercise equipment that isn’t assembled correctly can easily lead to someone getting hurt. In such a situation, the manufacturer is often held liable for those injuries because they manufactured a product with a defect and then sent it into the marketplace. The manufacturer designed a dangerous product. …

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Primitive artificial cell turned into complex biological materials

Imagine starting from scratch with simple artificial microscopic building blocks and ending up with something much more complex: living systems, novel computers or every-day materials. For decades scientists have pursued the dream of creating artificial building blocks that can self-assemble in large numbers and reassemble to take on new tasks or to remedy defects. Now researchers have taken a step forward to make this dream into a reality.”The potential of such new human-made systems is almost limitless, and many expect these novel materials to become the foundation of future technologies,” says Dr. Maik Hadorn from Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences at ETH Zrich, who conducted the research as a postdoctoral research fellow at University of Southern Denmark (SDU).Over the last three years he and the colleagues Eva Boenzli, Kristian T. Srensen and Martin M. Hanczyc from the Center for Fundamental Living Technology (FLinT) at SDU have worked on the challenges of making primitive building blocks assemble and turn into something functional.”We used short DNA strands as smart glue to link preliminary stages of artificial cells (called artificial vesicles) to engineer novel tissue-like structures,” says Dr. Maik Hadorn.As part of the EU-sponsored project MATCHIT (MATrix for CHemical Information Technology) Dr. Maik Hadorn and coworkers have earlier showed that short DNA strands can guide the self-assembly process of artificial vesicles; that two types of artificial vesicles can be linked in a way predefined by the person conducting the experiment, and that assembled structures can be reassembled, when triggered externally.In their most recent scientific article, published in Langmuir in December 2013, the researchers from SDU, in collaboration with colleagues from Italy and Japan, not only increased the complexity of the self-assembled structures that are now composed of several types of artificial vesicles — they also loaded one vesicle type with a basic cellular machinery derived from bacterial cells. This enabled these vesicles to translate an encapsulated genetic blueprint into a functional protein.Put together the researchers have managed to engineer controlled assemblies that are visible to the naked eye and that resemble natural tissues in their architecture as well as in their functionalities.Methods of constructing simple artificial structures have been known for decades, but only the use of DNA strands that act as a smart glue has allowed the researchers to overcome shortcomings of precedent methods and to engineer higher-order structures of predefined and programmable architecture.”As the artificial vesicles resemble natural cells both in size and composition, they are an ideal starting point for a multitude of applications. One application can be a temporal support for wound healing: A wound may be covered with assemblies of vesicles that are tailored in a patient specific manner. …

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Obese children more likely to have complex elbow fractures, further complications

Pediatric obesity is currently an epidemic, with the prevalence having quadruped over the last 25 years. Children diagnosed with obesity can be at risk for various long-term health issues and may be putting their musculoskeletal system at risk. According to new research in the February issue of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery(JBJS), obese children who sustain a supracondylar humeral (above the elbow) fracture can be expected to have more complex fractures and experience more postoperative complications than children of a normal weight.”These findings show that children diagnosed with obesity are more likely to sustain these complex fractures from something as simple as falling onto an outstretched hand while standing, and these types of falls are quite common,” said author Michelle S. Caird, MD, assistant professor in the department of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Michigan. “Our research aims to remind parents that there are many serious risks to childhood obesity, including fractures and surgical complications. It’s important to ensure that children get the proper amount of exercise and to build their bone banks early in life to a strong and healthy frame.”Specific Study DetailsMore than 350 patients ranging in age from 2 to 11 years old who had undergone operative treatment for supracondylar humeral fractures were included in the study. Patient records were reviewed for demographic data, body mass index (BMI) percentile, and injury data. Forty-one children were underweight (BMI <5<sup>th percentile), 182 were normal weight (BMI in the 5th to 85th percentile), 63 were overweight (BMI in the >85th percentile), and 68 were obese (BMI in the >95th percentile). The study included 149 patients with type-2 fractures (a break through part of the bone at the growth plate and crack through the bone shaft), 11 of whom were diagnosed with obesity; and 205 patients with type-3 fractures, 57 of whom were diagnosed with obesity. Complex fractures were defined as Type-3 fractures (completely displaced), fractures with multiple fracture lines, open fractures where the bone is exposed through the skin, and multiple fractures in the same arm. …

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How to cope with football withdrawal symptoms after Superbowl ends

After the final play of the Super Bowl, millions of fans will go through withdrawal symptoms from not being able to watch football for months.Loyola University Medical Center psychiatrist Dr. Angelos Halaris describes the effects this has on the brain and offers tips on how fans can cope.Halaris explains that when a person engages in a pleasurable activity, such as watching a football game, a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) called dopamine is released in a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens.When the pleasurable activity ends, the person is left with a feeling of deprivation. It’s similar to what a smoker feels when deprived of a cigarette — except there’s no quick fix like a cigarette for the football fan.”When the football season is over and there’s no other game on the schedule for months, you’re stuck, so you go through withdrawal,” Halaris said.For hard-core fans, the feeling can be similar to post-holiday blues, Halaris said.Halaris offers these tips for fans who suddenly have to face months without football:Don’t go cold turkey. Watch football on YouTube, or on recordings, in gradually diminishing amounts. Share your feelings of withdrawal and letdown with a friend or spouse. While it can be unpleasant, football withdrawal is not serious enough to require antidepressants or other medications. And do not self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Most important, buck up. “You’re just going to have to basically tough it out until football starts up again,” Halaris said. Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Loyola University Health System. …

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Does caregiving cause psychological stress? It depends, says study of female twins

When it comes to life’s stressors, most people would put caregiving at the top of the list. But according to Peter Vitaliano, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Washington (UW), there never have been data actually showing caregiving causes psychological distress. So he, and other researchers at the UW conducted a study of about 1,228 female twins, some were caregivers, and some were not. The results were somewhat surprising.The study, “Does caregiving cause psychological distress? The case for familial and genetic vulnerabilities in female twins,” was published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine in January 2014 and showed that the associations between caregiving and different types of psychological distress (depression, anxiety, perceived stress and perceived mental health) depend largely on a person’s genes and upbringing — and less so on the difficulty of caregiving.Did the person have a history of depression before being a caregiver? If so, “caregiving may be like putting salt on the wound,” said Vitaliano. If there’s no depression in the past, caregivers don’t seem more affected by depression than noncaregivers.Depression and perceived mental health are the most influenced by genes, said Vitaliano. Anxiety is most related to caregiving, and people who don’t get relief from anxiety are more likely to become depressed, he noted.Perceived stress, meanwhile, is almost exclusively related to the kind of environment a person was raised in, not genetics or caregiver status, he said. If a person grows up in a home where one’s parents show lots of avoidance and fear in response to a lost job or sickness , then he or she will likely model that behavior.Vitaliano said these results break the long-held belief that caregiving directly causes distress. He noted that since 1953 there have been more than a thousand papers on distress among caregivers without any data showing causality.By examining twin pairs — both monozygotic (identical from same fertilized egg) and dizygotic (fraternal from separate fertilized eggs) — UW researchers assessed the extent psychological distress is related to caregiving, or confounded by common genes and environmental exposure. …

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Mesothelioma Patients

Mesothelioma PatientsCaring For a Mesothelioma PatientIt is estimated that approximately 3,000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States each year. Because the latency period (the period of time between exposure to asbestos and the development of mesothelioma) is long, people who were exposed to asbestos even decades ago are currently developing the disease. Another variable that is extremely important to a patients out look is his or her overall health at the time of diagnosis. Generally the healthier a patient is, the better he or she will react to cancer treatments, and the greater the chances of longer survival. It may take some time for the diagnosis to be made.A mesothelioma patient is an individual who has been exposed to toxic asbestos fibers in the …

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Babies know when you’re faking, psychology researchers show

Oct. 16, 2013 — If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands! That’s easy enough for children to figure out because the emotion matches the movement. But when feelings and reactions don’t align, can kids tell there’s something wrong? New research from Concordia University demonstrates that they can — as early as 18 months.In a study recently published in Infancy: The Official Journal of the International Society on Infant Studies, psychology researchers Sabrina Chiarella and Diane Poulin-Dubois demonstrate that infants can detect whether a person’s emotions are justifiable given a particular context. They show that babies understand how the meaning of an experience is directly linked to the expressions that follow.The implications are significant, especially for caregivers. “Our research shows that babies cannot be fooled into believing something that causes pain results in pleasure. Adults often try to shield infants from distress by putting on a happy face following a negative experience. But babies know the truth: as early as 18 months, they can implicitly understand which emotions go with which events,” says psychology professor Poulin-Dubois.To perform the research, she and PhD candidate Sabrina Chiarella recruited 92 infants at the 15 and 18-month mark. In a lab setting, the babies watched as an actor went through several scenarios in which emotional reactions went with or against pantomimed experiences. …

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Babies know when you’re faking

Oct. 16, 2013 — If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands! That’s easy enough for children to figure out because the emotion matches the movement. But when feelings and reactions don’t align, can kids tell there’s something wrong? New research from Concordia University demonstrates that they can — as early as 18 months.In a study recently published in Infancy: The Official Journal of the International Society on Infant Studies, psychology researchers Sabrina Chiarella and Diane Poulin-Dubois demonstrate that infants can detect whether a person’s emotions are justifiable given a particular context. They show that babies understand how the meaning of an experience is directly linked to the expressions that follow.The implications are significant, especially for caregivers. “Our research shows that babies cannot be fooled into believing something that causes pain results in pleasure. Adults often try to shield infants from distress by putting on a happy face following a negative experience. But babies know the truth: as early as 18 months, they can implicitly understand which emotions go with which events,” says psychology professor Poulin-Dubois.To perform the research, she and PhD candidate Sabrina Chiarella recruited 92 infants at the 15 and 18-month mark. In a lab setting, the babies watched as an actor went through several scenarios in which emotional reactions went with or against pantomimed experiences. …

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Workers’ Compensation: Injury During Employment

When an employee is injured during the course and scope of his employment, the manner by which he is compensated changes considerably. Up until now, we have discussed how an attorney represents his client by demanding compensation from the person who is at fault for the injuries. The attorney uses methods that include litigation, arbitration, or maybe just an intimidating demand letter. However, the methods change in situations where his client is an injured employee.Individual states and the federal government have specifically created laws that compensate persons who are injured while at work, and the laws do not focus much on blaming anyone for the injury. Instead, an employer must pay the compensation to his injured employee merely because the employee was injured while on the job. This is a bit of an overstatement of the rules, and there are exceptions, but it is generally true. The catch? Employees are not eligible to sue the employer in court for the injury. Instead, they must settle for what the workers’ compensation laws require the employer to pay.Employees can make these claims against their employers without an attorney. They usually must report their injury to a supervisor or personnel manager who then reviews their claim. …

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Stress may lead to false confessions

Sep. 11, 2013 — Imagine if you were wrongly accused of a crime. Would you be stressed? Anyone would be, but Iowa State University researchers found the innocent are often less stressed than the guilty. And that could put them at greater risk to admit to a crime they didn’t commit.To better understand what leads to false confessions, Max Guyll, an assistant professor of psychology, and Stephanie Madon, an associate professor of psychology, measured various indicators of stress, such as blood pressure, heart rate and nervous system activity. In the study, published in Law and Human Behavior, stress levels increased for all participants when they were first accused. However, the levels for those wrongly accused were significantly lower. Researchers said that’s a concern because it can make the innocent less likely to vigorously defend themselves in a real interrogation.”The innocent are less stressed because they believe their innocence is going to protect them and they think everything is going to be OK, so there is no reason to get worked up over this accusation,” Madon said. “But if you’re going into a police interrogation and you’re not on your guard, then you could make decisions that down the line will put you at risk for a false confession. Because once you talk to police, you’re opening up the chance that they’re going to use manipulative and coercive tactics.”Minimization is one of those tactics used in interrogations and the tactic Madon and Guyll used in their study. …

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Wide range of differences, mostly unseen, among humans

Sep. 5, 2013 — No two human beings are the same. Although we all possess the same genes, our genetic code varies in many places. And since genes provide the blueprint for all proteins, these variants usually result in numerous differences in protein function. But what impact does this diversity have? Bioinformatics researchers at Rutgers University and the Technische Universität München (TUM) have investigated how protein function is affected by changes at the DNA level. Their findings bring new clarity to the wide range of variants, many of which disturb protein function but have no discernible health effect, and highlight especially the role of rare variants in differentiating individuals from their neighbors.The slightest changes in human DNA can result in an incorrect amino acid being incorporated into a protein. In some cases, all it takes is for a single base to be substituted in a person’s DNA, a variant known as a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP). “Many of these point mutations have no impact on human health. However, of the roughly 10,000 ‘missense’ SNPs in the human genome — that is, SNPs affecting the protein sequence — at least a fifth can change the function of the protein,” explains Prof. …

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Dishonest deeds lead to ‘cheater’s high,’ as long as no one gets hurt, study finds

Sep. 5, 2013 — People who get away with cheating when they believe no one is hurt by their dishonesty are more likely to feel upbeat than remorseful afterward, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.Although people predict they will feel bad after cheating or being dishonest, many of them don’t, reports a study published online in APA’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.”When people do something wrong specifically to harm someone else, such as apply an electrical shock, the consistent reaction in previous research has been that they feel bad about their behavior,” said the study’s lead author, Nicole E. Ruedy, of the University of Washington. “Our study reveals people actually may experience a ‘cheater’s high’ after doing something unethical that doesn’t directly harm someone else.”Even when there was no tangible reward, people who cheated felt better on average than those who didn’t cheat, according to results of several experiments that involved more than 1,000 people in the U.S. and England. A little more than half the study participants were men, with 400 from the general public in their late 20s or early 30s and the rest in their 20s at universities.Participants predicted that they or someone else who cheated on a test or logged more hours than they had worked to get a bonus would feel bad or ambivalent afterward. When participants actually cheated, they generally got a significant emotional boost instead, according to responses to questionnaires that gauged their feelings before and after several experiments.In one experiment, participants who cheated on math and logic problems were overall happier afterward than those who didn’t and those who had no opportunity to cheat. The participants took tests on computers in two groups. In one group, when participants completed an answer, they were automatically moved to the next question. In the other group, participants could click a button on the screen to see the correct answer, but they were told to disregard the button and solve the problem on their own. …

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Tattoos reduce chances of getting a job

Sep. 4, 2013 — Having a tattoo can reduce your chance of getting a job, but it depends on where the tattoo is, what it depicts and if the job involves dealing with customers, new research says.Dr Andrew R. Timming told the British Sociological Association conference on work, employment and society in Warwick today that employers were prone to view tattoos negatively. Dr Timming, of the School of Management at the University of St Andrews, said he had spoken to 15 managers involved in hiring staff about their reaction to interview candidates with visible tattoos. The managers worked for organisations including a hotel, bank, city council, prison, university and bookseller.”Most respondents agreed that visible tattoos are a stigma,” Dr Timming told the conference. One woman manager told him that “they make a person look dirty.” Another male manager told him “subconsciously that would stop me from employing them.” Another male manager said “tattoos are the first thing they [fellow recruiters] talk about when the person has gone out of the door.”The managers were concerned about what their organisations’ customers might think, said Dr Timming. “Hiring managers realise that, ultimately, it does not matter what they think of tattoos — what really matters, instead, is how customers might perceive employees with visible tattoos.”Respondents expressed concern that visibly tattooed workers may be perceived by customers to be ‘abhorrent’, ‘repugnant’, ‘unsavoury’ and ‘untidy’. It was surmised that customers might project a negative service experience based on stereotypes that tattooed people are thugs and druggies.”One woman manager told him: “We all judge people on first impressions and what we sum up is quite quick. When they [customers] walk in the door and see that there’s a receptionist with guns or knives tattooed, or ‘hate’ tattooed, I think that is something that would be uncomfortable.”Dr Timming said: “The one qualification to this argument is there are certain industries in which tattoos may be a desirable characteristic in a job interview. For example, an HR manager at a prison noted that tattoos on guards can be ‘something to talk about’ and ‘an in’ that you need to make a connection with the prisoners.”The negative attitude to tattoos did not extend to ones that could be easily concealed by clothing. …

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Better management of free time ensures happier retirement

Aug. 22, 2013 — Retirees should be masters of their own destiny, and actively manage and plan their free time to ensure a happy and fulfilling retirement. This is the advice of Wei-Ching Wang of the I-Shou University in Taiwan, leader of a study published in Springer’s journal Applied Research in Quality of Life. The study found that the effective management of free time has a far greater impact on a retiree’s quality of life than the amount of time the person actually has available for leisure activities.Wang and his team studied the responses of 454 Taiwanese retirees to understand if there is a link between their management of free time and their overall quality of life. With regard to their free time, the retirees were asked about the goals they set, their general attitude towards it and how they schedule and manage it. The Quality of Life scale of the World Health Organisation was also adapted and used for the purposes of the study.Free time refers to those periods when people are under no obligation and can decide for themselves what to do. It is usually spent in leisure pursuits in order to relax after experiencing stress, or to improve one’s health. Several previous studies have revealed that leisure time is important for older people, and that it has a positive influence on their quality of life, happiness and sense of peace. Other studies have also shown that a lack of planning can create problems such as boredom and an unhealthy sedentary lifestyle.Compared to studies that focus on the management of work and study time, very little has so far been done on how retirees manage their free time. The current study is therefore of importance, especially in light of an increasingly aging population worldwide due to increased longevity and declining fertility rates. …

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First probable person to person transmission of new bird flu virus in China: But researchers stress H7N9 is not able to spread efficiently between…

Aug. 6, 2013 — The first report of probable person to person transmission of the new avian influenza A (H7N9) virus in Eastern China has just been published.The findings provide the strongest evidence yet of H7N9 transmission between humans, but the authors stress that its ability to transmit itself is “limited and non-sustainable.”Avian influenza A (H7N9) virus was recently identified in Eastern China. As of 30 June 2013, 133 cases have been reported, resulting in 43 deaths.Most cases appear to have visited live poultry markets or had close contact with live poultry 7-10 days before illness onset. Currently no definite evidence indicates sustained human-to-human transmission of the H7N9 virus.The study reports a family cluster of two patients (father and daughter) with H7N9 virus infection in Eastern China in March 2013.The first (index) patient — a 60 year old man — regularly visited a live poultry market and became ill five to six days after his last exposure to poultry. He was admitted to hospital on 11 March.When his symptoms became worse, he was transferred to the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) on 15 March. He was transferred to another ICU on March 18 and died of multi-organ failure on 4 May.The second patient, his healthy 32 year old daughter, had no known exposure to live poultry before becoming sick. However, she provided direct and unprotected bedside care for her father in the hospital before his admission to intensive care.She developed symptoms six days after her last contact with her father and was admitted to hospital on 24 March. She was transferred to the ICU on 28 March and died of multi-organ failure on 24 April.Two almost genetically identical virus strains were isolated from each patient, suggesting transmission from father to daughter.Forty-three close contacts of both cases were interviewed by public health officials and tested for influenza virus. Of these, one (a son in law who helped care for the father) had mild illness, but all contacts tested negative for H7N9 infection.Environmental samples from poultry cages, water at two local poultry markets, and swans from the residential area, were also tested. One strain was isolated but was genetically different to the two strains isolated from the patients.The researchers acknowledge some study limitations, but say that the most likely explanation for this family cluster of two cases with H7N9 infection is that the virus “transmitted directly from the index patient to his daughter.” But they stress that “the virus has not gained the ability to transmit itself sustained from person to person efficiently.”They believe that the most likely source of infection for the index case was the live poultry market, and conclude: “To our best knowledge, this is the first report of probable transmissibility of the novel virus person to person with detailed epidemiological, clinical, and virological data. …

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Video games boost visual attention but reduce impulse control

Aug. 4, 2013 — A person playing a first-person shooter video game like Halo or Unreal Tournament must make decisions quickly. That fast-paced decision-making, it turns out, boosts the player’s visual skills but comes at a cost, according to new research: reducing the person’s ability to inhibit impulsive behavior. This reduction in what is called “proactive executive control” appears to be yet another way that violent video games can increase aggressive behavior.”We believe that any game that requires the same type of rapid responding as in most first-person shooters may produce similar effects on proactive executive control, regardless of violent content,” says Craig Anderson, Director of the Center for the Study of Violence at Iowa State University. “However, this is quite speculative,” he warns. But what is not so speculative is the growing body of research that links violent video games — and to a certain extent, total screen time — to attention-related problems and, ultimately, to aggression.People’s ability to override aggressive impulses is dependent in large part on good executive control capacity, as will be presented at a symposium at the American Psychological Association (APA) annual meting in Honolulu. And social psychologists are looking how a variety of factors — including media exposure, anger, and alcohol — affect that capability. Two types of cognitive control processes play a large role: proactive and reactive. “Proactive cognitive control involves keeping information active in short-term memory for use in later judgments, a kind of task preparation,” Anderson explains. “Reactive control is more of a just-in-time type of decision resolution.”In three new, unpublished studies, Anderson and colleagues found that playing action video games is associated with better visuospatial attention skills, but also with reduced proactive cognitive control. …

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Face identification accuracy is in the eye (and brain) of the beholder

July 24, 2013 — Though humans generally have a tendency to look at a region just below the eyes and above the nose toward the midline when first identifying another person, a small subset of people tend to look further down — at the tip of the nose, for instance, or at the mouth. However, as UC Santa Barbara researchers Miguel Eckstein and Matthew Peterson recently discovered, “nose lookers” and “mouth lookers” can do just as well as everyone else when it comes to the split-second decision-making that goes into identifying someone. Their findings are in a recent issue of the journal Psychological Science.”It was a surprise to us,” said Eckstein, professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, of the ability of that subset of “nose lookers” and “mouth lookers” to identify faces. In a previous study, he and postdoctoral researcher Peterson established through tests involving a series of face images and eye-tracking software that most humans tend to look just below the eyes when identifying another human being and when forced to look somewhere else, like the mouth, their face identification accuracy suffers.The reason we look where we look, said the researchers, is evolutionary. With survival at stake and only a limited amount of time to assess who an individual might be, humans have developed the ability to make snap judgments by glancing at a place on the face that allows the observer’s eye to gather a massive amount of information, from the finer features around the eyes to the larger features of the mouth. In 200 milliseconds, we can tell whether another human being is friend, foe, or potential mate. The process is deceptively easy and seemingly negligible in its quickness: Identifying another individual is an activity on which we embark virtually from birth, and is crucial to everything from day-to-day social interaction to life-or-death situations. Thus, our brain devotes specialized circuitry to face recognition.”One of, if not the most, difficult task you can do with the human face is to actually identify it,” said Peterson, explaining that each time we look at someone’s face, it’s a little different — perhaps the angle, or the lighting, or the face itself has changed — and our brains constantly work to associate the current image with previously remembered images of that face, or faces like it, in a continuous process of recognition. Computer vision has nowhere near that capacity in identifying faces, yet.So it would seem to follow that those who look at other parts of a person’s face might perform less well, and might be slower to recognize potential threats, or opportunities.Or so the researchers thought. In a series of tests involving face identification tasks, the researchers found a small group that departed from the typical just-below-the-eyes gaze. …

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