Mind

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Nigella Lawson: "How my daughter taught me to be happy again"

<p>Nigella Lawson is known by many as being a domestic goddess in the kitchen, but she credits her daughter for helping her transform her life after her ex-husband grabbed her by the throat.</p> <p>Charles Saatchi, advertising millionaire, shocked the world as he grabbed his then wife by the throat in pubic in a busy restaurant. Just seven weeks after the incident back in 2013, their 10-year marriage was over.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="/media/7828843/nigella-lawson.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/8b57f00d49ae48ceab13b0a2e626367d" /></p> <p>However, Nigella’s confidence was shaken, and she developed a fear of being photographed or being seen in public.</p> <p>Her daughter, Cosima Diamond, 25, is credited with helping Nigella overcome her fear.</p> <p>“I have been forced to be guarded. I used to be more open and I’d like to think I will be again,” Nigella opened up to <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/nigella-lawson-says-daughter-transformed-18457049" target="_blank"><em>The Mirror.</em></a></p> <p>"Cosima said to me, ‘Mum, would you rather be a real person like you or someone who has hair and make-up done to go to the supermarket? It is better to be a real person.’ She’s right.”</p> <p>Nigella also shared that her children are the biggest fans of her cooking, but they make fun of her presenting style.</p> <p>“When I am on TV, I cook the food that I cook at home but my children always tease me.</p> <p>“I do a running commentary at home of my life like I do on TV.</p> <p>“I always wanted to do the advanced driving test as when you do it you have to do a commentary like, ‘I am now moving into second gear.’ I do feel I ought to take it.”</p> <p>Nigella says that she gets a “bit nervous or a bit awkward” due to the camera being on her.</p> <p>“The thing about television is that it is both frightening and boring.</p> <p>"It is not an act, but I do think you get a bit nervous or a bit awkward when there is a camera on you,” she explained.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/BxKJoVMlHCA/" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BxKJoVMlHCA/" target="_blank">We're delighted to welcome goddess of the kitchen, Nigella Lawson, to the Masterchef kitchen next week! 👩🍳 🥘 🥗 ❤ #MasterChefAU</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/masterchefau/" target="_blank"> MasterChef Australia</a> (@masterchefau) on May 7, 2019 at 3:51am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Nigella went into detail about her success in Australia, following her appearances on the Australian version of <em>MasterChef</em>.</p> <p>“I do like it as I like the people there. The programme has been going for 11 years,” she said.</p> <p>“They are very funny, Australians. I don’t go to America a great deal. I did for book tours, but America is a very greedy monster.</p> <p>“All they ever want to know is, ‘What are you going to do next?’ and ‘How much more are you going to do?’</p> <p>Nigella says that the pressure isn’t something that she wants for her life.</p> <p>“It is not what I want to do. If I wanted to go and work non-stop and do that I would go there.</p> <p>"I like lying about and reading books and drinking tea as well, so I don’t want a life which just becomes about making television programmes.”</p>

Mind

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How a simple 10-minute exercise can boost your happiness

<p><span>Stresses and pressures can often be inevitable in our daily lives. There is no shortage of strategies to ease a sour mood and get yourself out of a rut – <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/mind/easy-tricks-to-improve-a-bad-mood/">spending time outdoors</a>, <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/entertainment/music/this-hospital-uses-piano-music-to-boost-the-mood-and-mental-health-of-patients/">listening to music</a> and <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/mind/the-simple-trick-to-boost-your-mood-in-minutes">performing acts of kindness for others</a> are just some of them.</span></p> <p><span>But if you’re looking for a more reflective and personal exercise, this technique might just help.</span></p> <p><span>Sandi Mann, psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire wrote on her book <em>Ten Minutes to Happiness </em>that writing a daily journal could help us re-orient our memory and shift our mindset to better cope with difficult situations.</span></p> <p><span>In her book, Mann outlined the six questions to use in your daily journal:</span></p> <ol> <li><span> What experiences, however mundane, gave you pleasure?</span></li> <li><span> What praise and feedback did you receive?</span></li> <li><span> What were the moments of pure good fortune?</span></li> <li><span> What were your achievements, however small?</span></li> <li><span> What made you feel grateful?</span></li> <li><span> How did you express kindness?</span></li> </ol> <p><span>One of the prominent themes from these questions is gratitude, which plays an important part in lifting our mood. Writing about things we are grateful for <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10503307.2016.1169332">has been found to improve mental health</a> as it turns our attention away from negative emotions.</span></p> <p><span>Mann said the benefits of this 10-minute review are not just limited to the writing time. Re-reading previous entries can also help us override our selective memories, which tend to be fixated on sources of unhappiness. </span></p> <p>While this method could help those who are having <a href="http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20181016-how-to-boost-your-mood-with-one-10-minute-exercise">low mood or stress without clinical symptoms</a>, Mann said people who may suffer from depression should consult with a GP for further treatment.</p>

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Think you're burnt out? Here are the signs and symptoms

<p><span>It’s a word that has become increasingly commonplace in today’s world. Now, the term has been further legitimated as the World Health Organization (WHO) included “burnout” in its International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems handbook.</span></p> <p><span>The WHO acknowledged burnout as one of the factors influencing health in the book that guides medical providers in diagnosing diseases. </span></p> <p><span>The phenomenon is included in the latest version of the handbook following a review by <a href="https://10daily.com.au/lifestyle/health/a190528nbwvd/burnout-has-been-recognised-as-a-medical-condition-20190528">the 194 member states to the World Health Assembly</a>.</span></p> <p><span>Burnout itself is described as “a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”. The WHO also noted, “Burnout refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”</span></p> <p><span>According to the handbook, doctors can diagnose someone with burnout if they have the symptoms of:</span></p> <ul> <li>feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;</li> <li>increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and</li> <li>reduced professional efficacy.</li> </ul> <p><span>Burnout is not exactly a new problem – it has been the subject of scientific studies for more than 40 years, according to a <a href="https://redirect.viglink.com/?format=go&amp;jsonp=vglnk_156317378883710&amp;key=a426d7531bff1ca375d5930dea560b93&amp;libId=jy40ee320102i8oq000DLb793poek&amp;loc=https%3A%2F%2Fedition.cnn.com%2F2019%2F05%2F27%2Fhealth%2Fwho-burnout-disease-trnd%2Findex.html&amp;v=1&amp;out=https%3A%2F%2Fjournals.sagepub.com%2Fdoi%2Fpdf%2F10.1177%2F2158244017697154&amp;ref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F&amp;title=Burnout%20is%20an%20official%20medical%20diagnosis%2C%20World%20Health%20Organization%20says%20-%20CNN&amp;txt=state%20of%20burnout">2017 literature review</a>. Researchers found in as early as the <a href="http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/13620430910966406">1970s</a> that people could experience burnout from a chronically stressful work environment.</span></p> <p><em><span>If you are experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide, you can call Lifeline 131 114 or beyondblue 1300 224 636 or visit </span></em><span><a href="https://www.lifeline.org.au/"><em>lifeline.org.au</em></a><em> or </em><a href="https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/national-help-lines-and-websites"><em>beyondblue.org.au</em></a><em>.</em></span></p>

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Renowned psychic believes David Campbell’s son is Princess Diana reincarnated

<p>Network Nine TV host David Campbell made headlines on Sunday when he said that his son Billy, 4, believes he is the “reincarnation” of Princess Diana.</p> <p>The convincing account is dividing public opinion, but Queensland-based psychic medium Peter Williams believes that it’s possible. He told <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-7255145/Psychic-David-Campbells-four-year-old-son-Princess-Diana.html" target="_blank"><em>The Daily Mail</em></a>:</p> <p>“What usually happens when we have these instances of reincarnation, there is usually a reason for it and something left over,” Peter said.</p> <p>“Billy will be able to give clarity and recall memories [from his time as Princess Diana]. It is very much in the realm [of possibility] that he could recall memories of the crash.”</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B0CBbVunkkO/" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B0CBbVunkkO/" target="_blank">She did everything for them❤❤#Diana#di#dianaspencer#diana#princessofwales#princessdiana#princessdianaforever#princessdi#ladydaiana👑 #ladydi#ladydianaspencer#angel #royalfamily#royals#peoplesprincess#queenofpeopleshearts#englandroses#hertruestorydiana#kensingtonpalace#bukinghampalace#wales#windsor#UK</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/hrh_diana.princess.of.wales/" target="_blank"> HRH_Diana princess of Wales❤👸</a> (@hrh_diana.princess.of.wales) on Jul 17, 2019 at 1:39pm PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The psychic medium added, “There's usually a level of trauma where they wish to come through and explain. With Princess Diana, it could very well be that."</p> <p>David went public with the theory in <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/lifestyle/stellar/david-campbell-could-my-son-be-princess-diana/news-story/708289f1c6a63c49469d473f71f8ed4d" target="_blank"><em>Stellar Magazine</em></a>, saying that Billy – who has a twin sister Betty – first identified as the late Princess Diana at age 2.</p> <p>The young boy had pointed to a photo of Diana and said, “then one day the sirens came, and I wasn't a princess anymore”.</p> <p>However, Peter was firm in that David and his wife Lisa should not lead Billy if they want to discover any secrets.</p> <p>“With any child, whether they're Princess Diana or not, when you're asking questions you want to be asking generic ones and not leading ones,” Peter said.  </p> <p>“A child's mind is easily led. You can't tell them what you're looking for. It is going to be so hard now to get this information without contaminating it, or without having a sense of bias or leading their son into this.”</p> <p>Peter also mentioned that there is a limited window into the previous lives of people.</p> <p>“Aged four through to six is the main bracket," he said. “Once they hit six or seven, a lot of children tend to lose those memories as they start school.</p> <p>“It is almost like we become tainted by this world … everything becomes black and white when you start school.”</p> <p>Peter concluded: “This four-year-old has no doubt in his mind he is Princess Diana, so the information that's going to come through will be absolutely bang on. Children do believe, they don't question and that's why they're so pure.”</p>

Mind

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How to tell if you have a boring personality

<p><span>Nobody wants to be trapped in a boring conversation. However, if you keep finding yourself having tedious interactions with the people around you, it might be time to look within.</span></p> <p><span>Afraid that you might secretly be a bore? Psychologist Barbara Greenberg prepared a set of ten questions that can help you see how you come across to those around you. There are also hints and tips for you to reflect on – it’s never too late for course correction.</span></p> <p><span>Here are some of the emerging themes from Greenberg’s questionnaire.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Curiosity</span></strong></p> <p><span>One of the most common mistakes in social interaction, Greenberg said, is to disengage from the other person. This could manifest in different ways – some people will remain quiet and add little to the conversation, while others will talk about themselves without giving those they are speaking to the opportunity to contribute to the discussion. </span></p> <p><span>Being curious about your conversation partner will allow you to learn more about their stories, figure out mutual interests, and develop a stronger bond based on shared knowledge about each other. Follow-up with genuine questions such as “How was your latest trip?” or “So what was it like working on that project?” When you are invested and interested, it is more difficult to feel dulled out. </span></p> <p><strong><span>Consideration</span></strong></p> <p><span>Conversation is a two-way street. Understanding social cues is the key here – bring up topics that you both find interesting, and make sure you both get to contribute to the discussion. Share your stories and opinions, but don’t forget to let the other person talk and encourage them to take their turn.</span></p> <p><span>Active listening is also an art to master. When you’re paying attention to another person speaking, try to avoid getting distracted or looking at other things, such as your phone or tablet. Listen well – and not just for the sake of finding ways to lead the conversation back to yourself.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Self-disclosure</span></strong></p> <p><span>How much do you reveal about yourself to other people? You might think that people would only be interested to spend time with you if their knowledge of you is limited to your “good” side, but <a href="http://www.stafforini.com/docs/Aron%20et%20al%20-%20The%20experimental%20generation%20of%20interpersonal%20closeness.pdf">a study</a> found that this is not the case. The study at Stony Brook University paired up strangers and asked them to give each other a series of questions. Strangers who asked personal, emotional questions (the last time they cried in front of someone else, their relationship with their mother) developed deeper social bonds than those who asked factual, shallow questions (favourite holiday, what they did over the summer). Many of the participants in the first group went on to have lasting friendships, and a pair even got engaged.</span></p> <p><span>Do not be afraid to draw up on your personal stories, even if they may not paint a perfect picture of you. Opening up may just be enough to get people to be at ease with you.</span></p> <p><span>Find Greenberg’s questionnaire <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-teen-doctor/201905/10-ways-determine-if-you-are-boring">here</a>.</span></p>

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Andrew Denton on battling depression: "I nearly fell apart"

<p>Andrew Denton has spoken up about the mental health battle that he has faced since his late teenage years.</p> <p>Speaking to <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.mamamia.com.au/andrew-denton-mental-health/" target="_blank"><em>Mamamia’s No Filter</em> podcast</a>, the 59-year-old TV host shared that he has been having issues with depression since his late teens. However, he only began to understand what the condition meant when he started working on his live late-night talk show <em>Denton</em> in 1994.</p> <p>“I had started a new two-nights-a-week live show at Channel 7. I was only probably about six weeks into it, and I had to step away,” said Denton. “I was close to having a breakdown.</p> <p>“And in the two weeks I was away, that’s when [my son] Connor was born. And that was the first time I actually realised that I could – and realised that I should – go and get professional help.</p> <p>“That was the first time I was introduced to medication, which doesn’t solve your problem – it just gives you a ladder to climb out of the hole.”</p> <p>Denton said the depression used to take a hold of him. “It used to be quite debilitating for me; as I said, I nearly fell apart. But when it hits, it can be like a physical feeling. It’s like a chemical wash,” he said.</p> <p>“When it hits badly, literally getting up out of the chair and walking across the room feels like an enormous effort.”</p> <p>After years of treating them, the hits have become easier to anticipate, Denton said. <em>The Interview</em> presenter said the waves usually come when he stretches himself too thin or becomes overly engrossed in perfecting his work. “People that have worked with me have often talked about this ... certainly I’m very self-critical,” he said.</p> <p>“I think [being] self-critical can actually tip over into something which isn’t constructive.</p> <p>“The most damaging conversation we ever have is the one we have with ourselves, and sometimes you’re not even aware you’re having it.</p> <p>“To me, we’re all on the tightrope of quote-unquote ‘normality’, and it’s a miracle that more of us don’t tip off.”</p> <p>In 2017, Denton told Adam Garone on the <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/10/12/andrew-denton-opens-up-about-mental-health-and-masculinity_a_23240726/" target="_blank"><em>Movember</em> podcast</a> that he has learned to recognise his triggers for poor mental health since he received his diagnosis in his 30s. “What I do for my mental health – what I know now having been through that more than once – I recognise the triggers and I recognise what puts me back into that position. So, I act on that,” he said.</p> <p>“The triggers are generally if I completely overstress myself and get very run down, that can lead to that depressive sense.”</p> <p><em>If you are experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide, you can call Lifeline 131 114 or beyondblue 1300 224 636 or visit <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.lifeline.org.au/" target="_blank">lifeline.org.au</a> or <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/national-help-lines-and-websites" target="_blank">beyondblue.org.au</a>.</em></p>

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How people manage their intake of tempting foods

<p>It’s happened to most of us – we walk past a restaurant, cafe or bakery and something catches our attention. A delicious smell wafts out the door and our tastebuds start tingling. With so much <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0015028217302236?via%3Dihub">cheap and easily accessible food</a> in the Western world, it’s almost unavoidable. Sometimes we don’t even need to have seen or smelled a food to experience the intense <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4918881/">desire to eat it</a>, we can get cravings just from a thought crossing our minds.</p> <p>Research has found that while resisting temptations like these <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1948550616679237">can be very hard</a>, people often do it for reasons such as health and fitness, finances, ethics and more. But what are the actual strategies that people use to refrain from eating every tasty morsel they see? For <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666318305889?via%3Dihub">our latest study</a>, we asked a group how they manage to stop themselves consuming tempting foods and drinks on a daily basis.</p> <p>There is a <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/change4life">wealth of advice</a> available on how to manage food and drink intake. These range from the simple – for example, making a shopping list – to the extreme, such as cutting certain foods out of your diet completely. But our aim was to find out what people actually do to limit their consumption and if they find these strategies helpful.</p> <p><strong>Resisting temptation</strong></p> <p>We spoke to 25 people, who had an average age of 37 and BMIs of between 20 and 33 (healthy weight to obese). In a group discussion, we found that there were four major types of techniques that they used to manage their intake of tempting foods and drinks.</p> <p>The first focuses on reducing the availability of tempting foods. Our participants said that they found it helpful to make tempting foods unavailable or difficult to access. They locked sweets away, for example, or would not have a store of them in their homes at all. Some of the participants made a shopping list, bought groceries for the whole week instead of every few days, or chose a supermarket with limited choices.</p> <p>We also found that the study participants used different mental strategies to limit their intake. Some said they forbid themselves a certain food because once they start eating a small amount it leads them to eating a larger amount. Others took a more flexible approach, allowing themselves to have a treat but actively planning a certain time to eat it.</p> <p>In addition, some participants told us how they use exercise as a strategy to manage their consumption of tempting foods. Some found that exercise reduced their hunger and desire to eat tempting foods, while other participants didn’t want to “undo their good work” by eating tempting foods.</p> <p>Finally, the participants said that they managed their consumption by changing the formulation of their meals. The most frequently used strategies here included planning meals for a particular time, and making the food themselves. They said it is important for them to be able to choose the ingredients going into a meal, the portion size, and the time they eat it.</p> <p>In addition to these four themes, we also found that the participants did not use the strategies in isolation. They used them together to help resist temptation in the moment and/or avoid being tempted in the first place, too. These strategies were not only used by people who identified themselves as active dieters either – the participants with BMIs in the healthy range also regularly employed them to manage their eating.</p> <p>Ultimately, these findings show that there is no one way that people can easily manage food consumption. If we want people to be successful in reaching their goal of managing their intake of tempting foods and drinks – whatever their motivation may be – then the above strategies can help them.</p> <p>But changes to the environment can also offer a helping hand. One example of this is <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2818541/">stocking workplace vending machines with healthier options</a>. In reality, there is unlikely to be a quick and easy way to change our environment, but efforts to make healthier options more accessible are a good place to start. People need to be able to go about their day without having to constantly manage temptation in response to ever present reminders of tasty foods and drinks.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/111850/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Jennifer Gatzemeier, PhD Researcher in Behavioural Psychology, Swansea University; Laura Wilkinson, Lecturer in Psychology, Swansea University; Menna Price, Lecturer in Psychology, Swansea University, and Michelle Lee, Professor of Psychology, Swansea University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/how-people-manage-their-intake-of-tempting-foods-111850"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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Are cats to blame for your impulsive behaviour?

<p>Consider yourself a cat person? Be careful – your feline friend might make you more reckless.</p> <p>Cats are well-known carriers of Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that has been associated with a rise in adventurous and impulsive tendencies. People can pick up the parasite from cats’ feces as well as a variety of other sources, such as undercooked meat and gardening soil.</p> <p>According to <span>a <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24231154">study</a> published in the journal <em>Brain, Behavior, and Immunity</em>, Toxo spreads across the brain and increases dopamine production.</span></p> <p>Because of this, the parasite has been found to have interesting effects on both animals and humans. Infected mice become more adventurous and less wary of cats – ironically, this is what increases rats’ likelihood to become prey and allow Toxo to reproduce in the cat’s body.</p> <p>Toxo also influences human behaviour. A <span><a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/03/how-your-cat-is-making-you-crazy/308873/?single_page=true">study</a></span> by Charles University in Prague suggested that Toxo infection could lead to <span><a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/03/how-your-cat-is-making-you-crazy/308873/?single_page=true">heightened anxiety</a></span>. This manifests in different ways for men and women. Infected men tend to turn more suspicious, withdrawn, <span><a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/12/do-cats-control-my-mind/282045/">prone to breaking rules</a></span> and oblivious to how other people see them, while infected women have been found to be more outgoing, rule-abiding and image-conscious – for example, dressing up more or wearing expensive, designer brands.</p> <p>Another <span><a href="https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2018.0822">study</a> by the University of Colorado re-emphasised Toxo’s effect on risk taking behaviour. It found that infected students were 40 per cent more likely to study business – a relatively risky field – than other disciplines, and 70 per cent more likely to specialise in management and entrepreneurship over other related studies such as the more stable accounting.</span></p> <p>It has also been shown that infected men and women are also more likely to get in traffic accidents, develop schizophrenia and engage in self-directed violence.</p> <p><span>The way that Toxo influences our brain responses <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1635495/#bib29">led researchers at the University of California to conclude</a> that “parasite’s subtle effect on individual personality appears to alter the aggregate personality at the population level”.</span></p> <p><span>While humans on average would not be seriously harmed by Toxo infection, the parasite can cause serious illness in those who are pregnant or have weakened immune systems – such as the sick or the elderly – as it can attack their brain, eyes and other organs.</span></p> <p><span>To prevent getting infected, <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/toxoplasmosis"><em>healthdirect</em></a> recommends cooking meat and poultry well as well as maintaining hygiene – for example, washing hands after handling food or wearing gloves when changing the cat litter.</span></p>

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"I couldn't breathe or talk": Natalie Bassingthwaighte opens up on her breakdown

<p>Natalie Bassingthwaighte has opened up about the six-week breakdown she suffered last year and her road to recovery.</p> <p>In a new interview with <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/lifestyle/stellar/why-natalie-bassingthwaighte-is-grateful-for-her-breakdown/news-story/87306c5bbb7dcae09b459c7d2291edc5" target="_blank"><em>Stellar Magazine</em></a>, the actor and singer revealed her epiphany began when she woke up feeling “frozen” in March last year. </p> <p>“I couldn’t breathe or talk,” Bassingthwaighte revealed.</p> <p>The night before, she was speaking to a colleague about their “full-on” work schedules. “We started talking about our kids and she said, ‘My son hates me; I’m always working’. Even though it may have been said in jest, it really hit me,” Bassingthwaighte recalled.</p> <p>“The next morning, I couldn’t breathe. It was terrifying. I was curled up in a ball. That lasted six weeks.”</p> <p>Bassingthwaighte said her breakdown could partially be explained by the precarious nature of her chosen career. Since her breakthrough in 1998 as a cast member of the musical <em>Rent</em>, Bassingthwaighte has continued to explore various paths in the entertainment industry, including acting (<em>Neighbours</em>, <em>The Wrong Girl</em>, <em>Underbelly</em>), music (dance band Rogue Traders) and talent show roles (<em>So You Think You Can Dance Australia, The X Factor</em>).</p> <p>In 2017, she agreed to appear on <em>I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!</em> after a long deliberation. At first, she asked casting agents if it would ruin her career: “I thought I might not be taken seriously again.”</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/BP14y6ShaTV/" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BP14y6ShaTV/" target="_blank">A post shared by Natalie bassingthwaighte (@natbassingthwaighte)</a> on Jan 29, 2017 at 12:43am PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>She added, “Financially, it had been quiet… In this industry people don’t talk about that enough. I know one high-profile actor who told me he’d been living in his car. Sometimes you only work three months a year, but the perception is you’re rolling in it.</p> <p>“There’s a lot of fear in this industry. There’s always this façade, but everyone feels crap about themselves sometimes. I don’t even think of myself as a celebrity; I’m a person who works in an industry I sometimes love and sometimes hate. I didn’t only do the show for money, but... you have to pay your bills.”</p> <p>She was also affected by a four-year long grief that she buried following the death of her friend and longtime agent Mark Byrne, who passed away from a heart attack in 2014 at the age of 45, as well as another close friend who died by suicide.</p> <p>“After Mark passed, I was always searching: ‘Who am I? What am I good at? What am I supposed to be doing?’ Not having that person to speak to five times a day has been challenging. I was so lost.”</p> <p>In an interview with <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.marieclaire.com.au/natalie-bassingthwaighte-grief-breakdown" target="_blank"><em>Marie Claire</em></a> earlier in February, Bassingthwaighte described her breakdown as “a very scary and emotional time”. She said, “I didn’t want to see anybody. I took myself off social media and closed down my email. I was broken.”</p> <p>The mother-of-two – daughter Harper, 8, and son, Hendrix, 6 – said she had her “defining moment” when she received an advance copy of a magazine, of which she was on the cover. At that point, she had spent almost six weeks “curled up, crying” and was booked in at an event to deliver a speech. </p> <p>She cried after seeing the cover that she shot three months prior to the breakdown. </p> <p>“I was so joyous and happy on the cover, and now I had tears running down my face,” she admitted. </p> <p>“That was a defining moment for me. So, that’s how I started my speech. I said that we all think life is perfect, and it’s not.”</p> <p>From then, she began building a routine to help her cope, including reiki, acupuncture, counselling, kinesiology and antidepressant medication.</p> <p>“The truth is, I was taking a very small dose of antidepressants and had done for a long time – around 20 years. Every time I tried to come off them, it didn’t work. I would get really panicky,” she said. “I slowly built myself back up. I went back on medication, just a tiny bit, but it’s the thing that worked.”</p> <p>The 43-year-old, who is married to the Rogue Traders' drummer, Cameron McGlinchley, also started dealing with her grief. </p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/Bx_zYFyHRcs/" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/Bx_zYFyHRcs/" target="_blank">A post shared by Natalie bassingthwaighte (@natbassingthwaighte)</a> on May 27, 2019 at 11:55pm PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“I hadn’t processed it, I didn’t deal with it. So in a crazy way, I’m grateful [the breakdown] happened because I’m in the best place I’ve ever been. I’m more grounded. I feel more together. My priorities are in the right order. I feel like this evolution has happened in me.”</p> <p>She also incorporated pilates, yoga and mediation into her schedule. </p> <p>“I meditate every day,” she said. “It’s changed my life. I’m inspired. I’m a much better mum.”</p> <p>If you are experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide, you can call Lifeline 131 114 or beyondblue 1300 224 636 or visit <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.lifeline.org.au/" target="_blank">lifeline.org.au</a> or <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/national-help-lines-and-websites" target="_blank">beyondblue.org.au</a>.</p>

Mind

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Why do women live longer than men?

<p>In Australia, <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/australias-health-2018/contents/indicators-of-australias-health/life-expectancy">an average baby boy</a> born in 2016 could expect to live to 80, while a baby girl born at the same time could expect to live until closer to 85. A similar gap in life expectancy between men and women is seen <a href="http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/topics/health/">around the world</a>.</p> <p>As we better understand why people die, we’re learning how biological and behavioural factors may partly explain why women live longer than men.</p> <p>Scientific advancements also impact the health of women and men differently.</p> <p><strong>Biology and behaviour</strong></p> <p>While women may live longer than men, they report more illnesses, more doctor visits and more hospital stays than men. This is known as the <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13524-017-0641-8">morbidity-mortality paradox</a> (that is, women are sicker but live longer).</p> <p>One explanation is that women suffer from <a href="https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2FBF03324754.pdf">illnesses less likely to kill them</a>. Examples of chronic non-fatal illnesses more common in women include <a href="https://headacheaustralia.org.au/migraine/">migraines</a>, <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/womens-health-policy-toc%7Ewomens-health-policy-experiences%7Ewomens-health-policy-experiences-ageing%7Ewomens-health-policy-experiences-ageing-am">arthritis</a> and <a href="https://www.asthmaaustralia.org.au/news/wa/asthma-and-women">asthma</a>. These conditions may lead to poorer health, but don’t increase a woman’s risk of premature or early death.</p> <p>But men are more susceptible to health conditions that can kill them. For example, men tend to have more fat surrounding their organs (called visceral fat) and women tend to have <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323065.php">more fat under their skin</a> (called subcutaneous fat). Visceral fat is a risk factor for coronary heart disease, <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/life-expectancy-death/deaths-in-australia/contents/leading-causes-of-death">the leading underlying cause of death</a> for Australian men.</p> <p>Coronary heart disease, which results from a combination of biological factors and lifestyle habits, is a major reason for the difference in mortality between men and women.</p> <p><iframe title="Leading causes of death" aria-label="Split Bars" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/97VmT/1/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="border: none;" width="100%" height="280"></iframe></p> <p>Other biological factors may contribute to men ageing faster than women, but these remain to be fully understood. For example, <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0008874915000295?via%3Dihub">testosterone in men</a> contributes to their generally larger bodies and deeper voices. In turn, this <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0008874915000295?via%3Dihub">may accelerate the age-related changes</a> in their bodies compared to women.</p> <p>On the flip side, women may have a slight advantage from <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301211507000395?via%3Dihub">protective factors connected with oestrogen</a>. Coronary heart disease has been observed as three times lower in women than in men before menopause, but not after, indicating that endogenous oestrogens could have a protective effect in women.</p> <p>Some behaviours that can lead to an earlier death are more common in men. <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/life-expectancy-death/deaths/data">Accidental deaths</a>, including those caused by assault, poisoning, transport accidents, falls and drownings, are particularly high among young males aged 15-24.</p> <p>Men also have <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301211507000395?via%3Dihub">a greater tendency</a> to smoke, eat poorly and avoid exercise. These habits lead to <a href="https://strokefoundation.org.au/About-Stroke/Prevent-Stroke">often fatal chronic illnesses</a>, including <a href="https://static.diabetesaustralia.com.au/s/fileassets/diabetes-australia/f4f7190b-a5a3-4545-86e0-3da679f4a184.pdf">stroke</a> and <a href="https://strokefoundation.org.au/About-Stroke/Prevent-Stroke/Type%202%20diabetes">type 2 diabetes</a>, and are also <a href="https://www.dementia.org.au/risk-reduction">risk factors for dementia</a>.</p> <p><strong>Developments in science and public health</strong></p> <p>Many scientific discoveries have led to improved clinical practice or changes in <a href="http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/topics/health/">government health policies</a> that have benefited the <a href="http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/womens-health-across-the-lifespan-overview.aspx">lives of women</a>.</p> <p>For example, <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/family-planning-contraception">innovations in birth control</a> have enabled greater choice and control over family size and timing. This has resulted in fewer pregnancies that may have led to dangerous births, and improved general physical and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4457595/">mental health for women</a>. Improved clinical care has resulted in fewer women dying during childbirth.</p> <p>Public health programs such as <a href="https://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/early-detection/screening-programs/breast-cancer-screening.html">screening for breast cancer</a> have had impacts on life expectancy over time. Similarly, <a href="https://www.uq.edu.au/about/saving-lives-by-preventing-cervical-cancer">vaccines to prevent cervical cancer</a> have now been distributed in 130 countries.</p> <p>Of course, there have been similar public health policies and clinical innovations that have benefited men too, <a href="https://www.bowelcanceraustralia.org/bowel-cancer-facts">like screening for bowel cancer</a>.</p> <p>So although we may have some insights, we can’t conclusively answer why women continue to live longer than men.</p> <p><strong>Mind the gap</strong></p> <p>The gap between men and women <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/australias-health-2018/contents/indicators-of-australias-health/life-expectancy">decreases the longer they live</a>. In 2016, at birth in Australia, the gap was 4.2 years, with a male expected to die at 80 on average. But as that male gets older, the gap decreases to 2.7 years at age 65, to one year at age 85 and to just 0.3 years at age 95.</p> <p>This suggests men who live to an older age have been able to avoid certain health risks, giving them a greater prospect of a longer life.</p> <p>Ultimately, none of us have control of when or how we’re going to die. But paying attention to factors that we can change (such as maintaining a healthy diet, doing exercise and avoiding smoking) can <a href="https://www.acdpa.org.au/">reduce the risk</a> of dying earlier from a preventable chronic disease.</p> <p>While women may always live longer than men, by a year or two, men can try to make some lifestyle changes to reduce this gap. That being said, women should work towards these goals for a long and healthy life, too.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/117750/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Melinda Martin-Khan, Senior research fellow, The University of Queensland</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/health-check-why-do-women-live-longer-than-men-117750"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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When eye contact indicates something much darker

<p>We usually interpret someone looking us straight in the eye during an interaction as a sign of trustworthiness. In fact it can be rather unsettling when someone avoids eye contact. This is at least the case in the Western world, where we use eye contact as a marker of honesty and straightforwardness – taking it as a positive attribute, particularly in those we do business with.</p> <p>But research is <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10417940601000576">increasingly challenging</a> this standard view. Our study, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ejsp.2336">published in the European Journal of Social Psychology</a>, shows quite the opposite: in a competitive environment where a negotiation is taking place, looking at another person directly in the eye can be a sign of competition and malevolence, rather than benevolence.</p> <p>Across three experiments, we found that looking someone directly in the eye predicted competitive behaviour – and even deceit. In the first experiment, we used an eye tracker to follow 75 people’s retinas while they had to split money with another person. We found that looking at their opponent directly in the eye predicted making a lower first offer toward that person.</p> <p>In another experiment, we assigned 53 people to look at either their opponent’s eyes or other parts of their face. People assigned to the former condition made lower first offers to their opponents in a simulated job contract negotiation than those assigned to the latter.</p> <p><strong>Split or steal</strong></p> <p>Perhaps most interestingly, we also combed through the data of 99 episodes of <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1186336/">Golden Balls</a>, a UK game show that ran from 2007-9. The show is structured to allow two players to make it to a final round – accumulating a jackpot along the way. In this final round, the players must decide what to do with this valuable pot of money. In front of each player are two balls, one marked “steal” and the other marked “split”.</p> <p>The two players engage in a dialogue about which ball they will choose. If both players choose to “split”, they get to split the jackpot. And if both players choose “steal”, neither gets anything. But if Player A chooses “split” and Player B chooses “steal”, Player A gets nothing and Player B gets the entire jackpot (or vice versa). That means each player’s goal is to convince the other to choose the “split” ball, with almost all players signalling to their opponent that this is the choice they will make.</p> <p>We watched and coded all the videotapes for the amount of direct eye contact that each player gave to another during this final conversation and then examined if this number could predict players’ ball choice. In fact it did – but in the opposite direction than most would think. Greater eye contact was linked to a player being more likely to choose the steal rather than the split ball – even when they explicitly stated otherwise.</p> <p>The direct eye contact with the other player was measured in terms of the number of times during the interaction that a contestant had direct gaze with the other player.</p> <p><strong>Real life implications</strong></p> <p>While folk wisdom tells us eye contact is a sign of honesty and trustworthiness, these findings were not a surprise to my research team and me. Animals have direct eye contact not before engaging in benevolent behaviours, but rather immediately before an attack – eye contact is a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149763400000257">sign of challenge and threat</a> from another. We humans seem to be carrying on this tradition by (subconsciously) looking our opponent directly in the eye before we “attack”.</p> <p>What does this mean for the work place? In a competitive business environment, when taking part in negotiations or a business deal for example, be aware that people who look you directly in the eye may not be as friendly as you think. And if you want to come across as honest and trustworthy – especially in more international settings – direct eye contact may indicate the opposite. In many Asian cultures, for example, looking a person of higher status in the eye <a href="http://www.asiamarketingmanagement.com/howtobehaveinchina.html">is a sign of disrespect</a>, while looking away signals deference.</p> <p>All our experiments took place in a competitive environment – negotiations or a high-stakes game show – and must be understood within this context. This means they most likely don’t apply to social environments, such as spending time with friends, family or loved ones. In these cases, direct eye contact, often referred to as a “gaze”, <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201404/5-secret-powers-eye-contact">can still be a sign of intimacy</a> and benevolence.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/113787/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Jennifer Jordan, Professor of Leadership &amp; Organizational Behavior, IMD Business School</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/think-direct-eye-contact-makes-someone-trustworthy-it-can-be-a-sign-of-something-much-darker-113787"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

Mind

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Why moving more and sitting less is good for the mind as well as the body

<p>Physical activity has long been associated with better mental health. What’s not well understood, however, is whether too much activity can negatively impact psychological well-being.</p> <p>As a researcher on physical activity and mental health, I often hear people say, “The more active I am, the better I feel.” That suggests more physical activity is always needed to increase psychological well-being. However, you may know people who have a very physically demanding job or who train a lot and are not necessarily their better selves.</p> <p>Similarly, others who spend several hours sitting down report they do not feel very well at the end of the day because they have moved very little.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0204682">Our group of researchers and students considered whether there is a linear link</a> between physical activity levels and mental health and whether sedentary habits, such as sitting all day, influenced this relationship.</p> <p><strong>Reversing curve</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22981733">Previous studies</a> identified linear or inverted U-shaped relationships between physical activity and mental health. But the biggest problem with them was that the amount of physical activity was measured using a questionnaire. There is generally a <a href="https://actiphysetc.wordpress.com/2016/01/30/categoriser-une-personne-comme-active-sur-la-base-des-reponses-a-un-questionnaire-est-ce-fiable/">significant difference between how people report their physical activity and what is measured when they use a bracelet with an accelerometer</a>.</p> <p>We analyzed data from the <a href="https://www.statcan.gc.ca/eng/sc/video/chms-mobile-centre">Canadian Survey of Health Measures</a>, collected between 2007 and 2012 (a sample that is representative of more than 95 per cent of Canadians).</p> <p>That data profiled 8,000 adults who had their mental health assessed the previous week and wore a bracelet, called an accelerometer, for four to seven days. Using this material, we were able to conduct statistical analyses by taking into account variables such as gender, weight or tobacco use, which can influence the relationship between daily physical activity and mental health.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/266639/original/file-20190330-71012-32wfuz.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">Association between moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and mental health in a nationally representative sample of adults.</span> <img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/266638/original/file-20190330-70989-1ynx6d0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">Association between number of steps and mental health in a nationally representative sample of adults.</span></p> <p>Moderate to intense physical activity such as playing soccer or running for one to 50 minutes per day was gradually associated with better mental health but after that period, people reported increasingly poor mental health.</p> <p>When it came to physical activity such as gardening or cleaning, it took more than six hours for positive effects to appear. These effects were more pronounced when combined with moderate to high intensity physical efforts.</p> <p>An inverted U-shape relationship was identified between the number of steps taken per day and mental health. It showed that every step up to 5,000 could be counted toward contributing to good mental health. However, this relationship stagnates as the number of steps climbs to 16,000 and then it reverses.</p> <p><strong>Mixed effects for active, sedentary lifestyles</strong></p> <p>We also examined how the relationship between physical activity and mental health evolved with physical inactivity. A person can be very active — for example, walking 30 minutes per day, training weekly and playing hockey — and very sedentary if he or she works in an office. A <a href="https://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/h2012-024#.XLoWyaR7mM8">sedentary lifestyle</a> is one where we are awake, sitting or standing and doing things that don’t expend much energy.</p> <p>It seems the benefits of physical activity are reduced the longer people are inactive. Therefore, the relationships between physical activity and mental health among Canadian adults are not necessarily linear, as studies have shown to date.</p> <p>Adults could likely benefit from the first few minutes of moderate to intense activity or from the first steps. The links between physical activity and good mental health seem more pronounced when people are more active and less inactive. Our results show that a key message from Darren Warburton of the University of British Columbia — “<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cjca.2016.01.024">move more and sit less for better health</a>” — could also apply to mental health.</p> <p>Physical activities of different intensities are all related to better mental health but too much physical activity seems to have the opposite effect. It is important to note that the study is cross-sectional so no temporal link can be identified.</p> <p>In other words, we cannot know if it is because Canadians are physically active that they report better mental health or if it is their good mental health that makes it easier to be active on a daily basis.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/115786/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Bernard Paquito, Professeur adjoint, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/moving-more-and-sitting-less-is-good-for-the-mind-as-well-as-the-body-115786"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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Waleed Aly reveals his "darkest period" on The Project

<p><em>The Project</em> host Waleed Aly should have been over the moon when he won the Gold Logie back in 2016, but for the star, it was a reminder of the pressure that was to come.</p> <p>As Australia’s most prominent Muslim figure, Waleed is well aware of the controversy that comes with being in the spotlight.</p> <p>Although he receives hate mail, abuse and even death threats, he usually doesn’t let it phase him. In an interview with <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.gq.com.au/success/opinions/waleed-aly-on-the-logies-and-becoming-the-most-important-figure-in-australian-media/image-gallery/6753141b648d5a3b14cbe155b9e7e67f?pos=2" target="_blank"><em>GQ Australia</em></a> that was done to mark the 10th anniversary of <em>The Project</em>, Aly reflected on just how far he’s come.</p> <p>“I still definitely feel like an outsider in TV,” Waleed reflected. “I suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’ where I feel like I’m doing someone else’s job. I honestly feel my personality is wrong for this work. Law and academia still feel like more natural fits. What most excites me is getting to grips with life in those strange, quiet, thrilling moments where a new idea makes the world fall into place.”</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/Bw_q9I7HLWx/" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/Bw_q9I7HLWx/" target="_blank">The incredible Magda is at the desk tonight! #TheProjectTV</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/theprojecttv/" target="_blank"> The Project</a> (@theprojecttv) on May 3, 2019 at 2:10am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p><em>The Project’s</em> executive producer Craig Campbell also spoke about the extra precautions they have to take with the more specific threats that Aly receives.</p> <p>“When Waleed gets threats, we have extra security, 24-7 if necessary. We walk him to his car. Idle threats or not, we make sure he feels safe. This country is weird. The threats against him may be ridiculous. Police do get involved, security do get concerned. But I take my hat off to him. He doesn’t back off to protect his state of mind.”</p> <p>However, Waleed is hyper-aware that it’s not “really about him” when he gets sent abuse.</p> <p>“Everything I do in this job tests my resilience,” he admits. “Many are the moments where I know I have to stick my head in a place where someone’s going to kick it. We live in a culture of outrage. I’ve had certain incorrigible people in the media gunning for me now for close to 15 years. Death threats. Hate mail. It keeps on coming. But the abuse directed at me is really not about me, it’s about them.”</p> <p>This doesn’t mean he’s not immune to the darkness that comes with his job in the spotlight, with Waleed admitting he’s “been to the edge a few times”.</p> <p>“Not in the form of clinical depression but certainly I’ve felt pressure so extreme it weighs me down and leaves me unable to work,” he explained.</p> <p>“The great irony in my case is that my lowest points personally coincide with what are supposedly my greatest professional successes.”</p> <p>Aly, who gave an emotional tribute to those who died in the Christchurch massacre, a video viewed over 14 million times, was contacted by <em>The New York Times</em>, <em>CNN </em>and <em>BBC</em> for an interview.</p> <p>But the journalist declined saying, "My instinct is always to remove myself from the story and commercial TV is the opposite – it makes the host the story."</p> <p>He also shut down claims that say he uses <em>The Project</em> to promote his agenda. "I'm not interested in playing to the gallery or winning approval," he told <em>GQ</em>.</p> <p>"Ratings are an important calculation in commercial television, sure, but I don't think of the show as a weapon for change, a vehicle for remaking the world or as a platform for imprinting my world-view on anything. It's a forum where issues can be agitated and i try to agitate them responsibly so we perform a service for our audience."</p>

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Our smartphone addiction is killing us – can apps that limit screen time offer a lifeline?

<p>We’re <a href="https://www.pcmag.com/article/361587/tech-addiction-by-the-numbers-how-much-time-we-spend-online">squandering increasing amounts of time</a> distracted by our phones. And that’s taking a <a href="https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/Time,%20Money,%20and%20Subjective%20Well-Being_cb363d54-6410-4049-9cf5-9d7b3bc94bcb.pdf">serious toll</a> on our mental and physical well-being.</p> <p>Perhaps ironically, software developers themselves have been on the forefront of efforts to solve this problem by creating apps that aim to help users disconnect from their devices. Some apps reward you for staying off your phone for set periods of time. Others “punish” or block you from accessing certain sites or activities altogether.</p> <p>But over the past year, Apple <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/27/technology/apple-screen-time-trackers.html">has been removing or restricting</a> some of the top screen time or parental control apps from its App Store, according to a New York Times analysis. At the same time, Apple – <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-29/apple-says-it-pulled-parental-control-apps-over-privacy-concerns?srnd=technology-vp">which cited privacy concerns</a> for removing the apps – launched its own screen-time tracker that comes pre-installed on new iPhones.</p> <p>Limiting iPhone users’ access to other types of apps is a bad thing because certain ones may work better for some people than others. And <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2017.03.043">research</a> by myself and others shows that excessive technology use can be problematic. In extreme cases, it is linked to depression, accidents and even death.</p> <p>But what makes some apps work better than others? Behavioral science, <a href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=zKUs7bQAAAAJ&amp;hl=en&amp;oi=ao">my area of expertise</a>, can shed some light.</p> <p><strong>Why we need help</strong></p> <p>Technology is <a href="https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2286877/ex-google-boss-says-youre-addicted-to-your-smartphone-and-its-time-to-kick-the-habit/">designed</a> to be addictive. And a society that is “<a href="https://www.textrequest.com/blog/mean-mobile-dependent/">mobile dependent</a>” has a hard time spending even minutes away from their app-enabled smartphones.</p> <p>In 2017, U.S. adults <a href="https://www.pcmag.com/article/361587/tech-addiction-by-the-numbers-how-much-time-we-spend-online">spent an average of three hours and 20 minutes a day</a> using their smartphones and tablets. This is double the amount from just five years ago, according to an annual survey of internet trends. <a href="https://flurrymobile.tumblr.com/post/157921590345/us-consumers-time-spent-on-mobile-crosses-5">Another survey</a> suggests most of that time is spent on arguably unproductive activities like Facebook, gaming and other types of social media.</p> <p>This addiction has consequences.</p> <p>The most serious, of course, is when it leads to fatalities, like those that result from <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/16/business/tech-distractions-blamed-for-rise-in-traffic-fatalities.html">distracted driving</a> or even <a href="http://doi.org/10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_109_18">taking selfies</a>.</p> <p>But it also takes a serious toll on our mental health, as my own research has demonstrated. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2017.03.043">One experiment</a> I conducted with a colleague found that looking at Facebook profiles of people having fun at parties made new college students feel like they didn’t belong. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167217727496">Another study</a> suggested that people who spent more time using social media were less happy.</p> <p>Ultimately, our phones’ constant connection to the internet – and our constant connection to our phones – means that we miss out on bonding with those that we care about most, <a href="https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/Time,%20Money,%20and%20Subjective%20Well-Being_cb363d54-6410-4049-9cf5-9d7b3bc94bcb.pdf">lowering everyone’s happiness</a> in the process.</p> <p><strong>Trying to unplug</strong></p> <p>The good news is that most of us aren’t oblivious to the negative effects of technology and have a <a href="http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/08/22/how-teens-and-parents-navigate-screen-time-and-device-distractions/">strong desire to disconnect</a>.</p> <p>As you might expect in a market economy, businesses are doing their best to give us what we want. Examples include a Brooklyn-based startup <a href="https://www.inc.com/wanda-thibodeaux/how-this-dumb-phone-is-helping-people-everywhere-kick-smartphone-habit.html">selling bare-bones phones</a> without an internet connection, hotels offering families <a href="https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-news/wyndham-hotels-discount-smartphone-lock">discounts</a> if they give up their mobiles during their stay, and resorts creating packages built on the idea of creating sacred spaces where consumers <a href="https://www.nextavenue.org/digital-detox-8-places-unplug-and-unwind/">leave their devices at home</a>.</p> <p>And app developers have also risen to the challenge with software aimed at helping us use our phones less.</p> <p><strong>Goal setting is key</strong></p> <p>Apple’s screen-time app is a good first step because it shows you how much time you are spending on apps and websites – and possibly raise some red flags. However, many apps go much further.</p> <p>Research suggests that you should download applications that ask you to set <a href="http://kops.uni-konstanz.de/bitstream/handle/123456789/10101/99Goll_ImpInt.pdf?sequence=1&amp;isAllowed=y">specific goals</a> that are tied to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1103170108">concrete actions</a>. Making commitments upfront <a href="http://DOI.org/10.1257/jep.25.4.191">can be a powerful motivator</a>, even more so than financial incentives.</p> <p>For example, <a href="https://inthemoment.io/">Moment</a> asks users to set specific technology-limiting goals tied to their daily actions, such as setting up an alert when you pick up the phone during dinner time. <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=co.offtime.kit&amp;hl=en_US">Offtime</a> prompts users with warnings when they are about to exceed the limits for an online activity they’ve set.</p> <p><a href="https://www.flipdapp.co/">Flipd</a> takes it a step further and actually completely blocks certain phone apps once users have exceeded pre-determined targets – even if you try to reset the device – making it the ultimate commitment app. Similarly, <a href="https://getcoldturkey.com/">Cold Turkey Blocker</a> prevents users from accessing literally any other function of their desktop computers for a certain period of time until they have completed self-set goals, like writing. While this might not affect phone use, it could help you be more productive at work.</p> <p><strong>Defaults are your friend</strong></p> <p>Another helpful trait in an application involves configuring default settings to encourage less technology use.</p> <p>In their award-winning book “<a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/304634/nudge-by-richard-h-thaler-and-cass-r-sunstein/9780143115267/">Nudge</a>,” Nobel Prize winner Richard Thaler and Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein showed how adjusting the default for a company’s retirement plan – such as by requiring employees to opt out rather than opt in – <a href="http://www.nber.org/chapters/c4539.pdf">makes it easier</a> to achieve a goal like <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/380085">saving enough</a> for your golden years.</p> <p>Your phone’s applications can take advantage of that technique as well. <a href="https://freedom.to/">Freedom</a>, for example, is an app that automatically blocks users from visiting “distracting” apps and websites, such as social media and video games. Unfortunately, it is one of the apps that Apple removed from its store.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ransomly.com/">Ransomly</a> alters the default setting of a room – such as the dining room – to be phone and screen free by using a sensor and app to automatically turn off all devices when they’re in the vicinity.</p> <p><strong>Rewards and punishments</strong></p> <p>Offering rewards is another strategy that is grounded in behavioral research.</p> <p>We tend to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/374702">highly value rewards earned through effort</a>, even when they have no cash value. Indeed, smartphone software frequently takes advantage of this idea, such as in various apps that offer “badges” for hitting certain daily fitness milestones.</p> <p>Productivity apps incorporate these rewards as well by providing users with points for prizes – such as shopping discounts and yoga experiences – when they meet their screen-time goals. Since static rewards become demotivating over time, choose an application that provides <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/679418">uncertain and surprising rewards</a>.</p> <p>An even more powerful motivator than earning rewards can be losing them. That’s because research shows that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1257/jep.5.1.193">losing has a larger impact on behavior than winning</a>, so if you’re serious about changing your behavior try an application that incurs critical costs. Examples include <a href="https://www.beeminder.com/">Beeminder</a>, which takes US$5 from your credit card for every goal you don’t meet, and <a href="https://www.forestapp.cc/en/">Forest</a>, which provides you with the chance to grow a beautiful animated tree – or to watch it slowly wither and die – depending on whether or not you meet your technology goals.</p> <p><strong>Persistence pays</strong></p> <p>Persistence is one of the hardest parts of accomplishing any new goal, from losing weight to learning how to cook.</p> <p>Research suggests that capitalizing on <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/2372732214550405">social motivations</a> – like the need to fit in – can encourage <a href="https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2016.12858">persistent behavioral change</a>.</p> <p>Constant connection to technology undermines happiness, relationships and productivity. Applications that take advantage of the latest insights from behavioral science can help us disconnect and get on with living our lives.<!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Ashley Whillans, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/our-smartphone-addiction-is-killing-us-can-apps-that-limit-screen-time-offer-a-lifeline-116220"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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The problem with mindfulness

<p>Mindfulness, it seems everybody’s doing it. You might have even tried it yourself – or have a regular practice. Thanks to the help of an app on your phone that speaks to you in dulcet tones, you are reminded to “let go” and to “observe your breath”. From the public education to healthcare, the corporate world to the criminal justice system, <a href="https://www.themindfulnessinitiative.org.uk/about/mindfulness-appg">parliament</a> to the <a href="https://www.forces.net/news/meditating-mod-military-personnel-try-mindfulness">military</a>, mindfulness is promoted as a cure all for modern ills.</p> <p>Yet the evidence for the efficacy of mindfulness is not strong. In <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1745691617709589">an article published in <em>Perspectives on Psychological Science</em></a>, a number of psychologists and cognitive scientists warn that despite the hype, scientific data on mindfulness is limited. They caution:</p> <blockquote> <p>Misinformation and poor methodology associated with past studies of mindfulness may lead public consumers to be harmed, misled, and disappointed.</p> </blockquote> <p>Studies on mindfulness are known for their <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1745691617709589?journalCode=ppsa">numerous methodological and conceptual problems</a>. This includes small sample sizes, lack of control groups, and insufficient use of valid measures.</p> <p>To this list, the possibility of competing interests can also be added. In a recent <a href="https://retractionwatch.com/2019/04/17/plos-one-pulls-highly-cited-mindfulness-paper-over-undeclared-ties-other-concerns/?fbclid=IwAR2i5e2jd3R3m8z2SR0u1NUBCkOAigcK0XtqNaf7DVHlCHdVif6unX3VjAo">example</a>, the mega-journal <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0124344"><em>PLOS ONE</em> retracted</a> a meta-analysis on mindfulness after concerns were raised over the methodology behind the results, including “double counting” and “incorrect effect estimates”. The PLOS retraction also cited undeclared financial conflicts of interest by the authors. The journal noted that none of the authors agreed with the retraction.</p> <p>Despite these issues, mindfulness has never been more popular and its influence in mainstream culture is massive, as can be seen in the creation of <a href="https://www.campaign.ox.ac.uk/news/future-of-mindfulness-research-at-oxford-secured-with-new-professorship">a new professorship</a> in mindfulness and psychological science at the University of Oxford.</p> <p>The position was created by the <a href="http://oxfordmindfulness.org/">Oxford Mindfulness Centre</a>, which became affiliated with the <a href="http://oxfordmindfulness.org/about-us/about/oxford-mindfulness-foundation/">university’s Department of Psychiatry</a> in 2011, after <a href="https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/06144314/filing-history?page=4">initially</a> establishing as a private company in 2007 and later registering as a charity. It has since become a key player in shaping both the academic studies of mindfulness and the public’s perception of the practice.</p> <p><strong>A brief history of mindfulness</strong></p> <p>Mindfulness is a type of meditation derived from the Buddhist tradition. It encourages the observation of present thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations in a non-judgemental way. But how did it gain such prominence in Western mainstream culture?</p> <p>For a start, the modern concept of Buddhism that Westerners relate to today did not exist a century ago. This new style of Buddhism is known as “<a href="http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780195393521/obo-9780195393521-0041.xml">Buddhist Modernism</a>”, or “Protestant Buddhism” – a reform movement of the late 19th century.</p> <p>This form of Buddhism was developed as a result of the influence of Christian missionaries and to the colonialism and imperialism of South-East Asia by European nations. To respond to their colonial situation, the elite of the movement reshaped Buddhism by aligning it to Western science and philosophy. This was done by representing Buddhism as rational, universal and compatible with science – with an emphasis placed upon meditation and personal reflection.</p> <p>The advocates of this reform projected modern Western values onto Buddhist teachings who claimed to teach the “<a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/32886776/J_Am_Acad_Relig-2004-McMahan-897-933.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&amp;Expires=1558635548&amp;Signature=6gNCu83q9X03bLRr0gIDWvSmFu0%3D&amp;response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DModernity_and_the_Early_Discourse_of_Sci.pdf">pure</a>” Buddhism as taught by the historical Buddha himself.</p> <p>Contemporary meditation teachers, including Jon Kabat-Zinn (JKZ), the founder of <a href="https://www.religiousstudiesproject.com/podcast/what-is-mindfulness-a-critical-religious-studies-approach/">Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction</a>(MBSR) – an eight-week programme that offers mindfulness training to help people with stress and pain – inherited and popularised this version of Buddhism.</p> <p>When pressed about the Buddhist elements of their courses, teachers such as JKZ argue the technique is not Buddhist, but the “<a href="https://www.umassmed.edu/contentassets/abf4d773534442238acf329476591dde/jkz_paper_contemporary_buddhism_2011.pdf">essence</a>” of the Buddha’s teachings. These are said to be “<a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12671-017-0758-2">universal</a>” and compatible with science. Or as JKZ has put it, “<a href="https://www.umassmed.edu/contentassets/abf4d773534442238acf329476591dde/jkz_paper_contemporary_buddhism_2011.pdf">the Buddha himself was not a Buddhist</a>”.</p> <p>These associations with Buddhism allows advocates of mindfulness to relish the legitimacy associated with the historical Buddha – yet at the same time avoid any undesired “religious” connotations. Likewise, when mindfulness is declared as “universal” then it seems to be less about Buddhism and more about a “<a href="https://www.mindful.org/what-is-mindfulness/">basic human ability</a>”.</p> <p><strong>Science and mindfulness</strong></p> <p>The idea that mindfulness is secular because it is scientifically tested is a common strategy used by advocates of mindfulness to disassociate the practice from its religious foundation and to promote it in clinical and educational settings.</p> <p>It is <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320688499_Ethics_Transparency_and_Diversity_in_Mindfulness_Programs">well documented</a> that JKZ intentionally downplayed the Buddhist roots of mindfulness to introduce it in clinical settings. In <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14639947.2011.564844">JKZ’s own words</a>, he “bent over backward to structure it [MBSR] and find ways to speak about it that avoided as much as possible the risk of it being seen as Buddhist”. In essence then he translated Buddhist ideas into scientific and secular language.</p> <p>This approach takes advantage of the authority of science in modern Western cultures as well as the perceived opposition of “science” with “religion”. And by aligning mindfulness with science, its opposition to “religion” is implicitly conveyed.</p> <p><strong>Legitimatising mindfulness</strong></p> <p>Appealing to science and empirical studies are not the only methods that mindfulness leaders have used to lend explicit legitimacy to mindfulness. The flourish of <a href="https://www.bangor.ac.uk/mindfulness/postgraduate-courses/">MA</a> and <a href="https://www.bangor.ac.uk/mindfulness/projects.php.en">PhD</a> programmes, specific <a href="https://link.springer.com/journal/12671">journals</a>, <a href="https://www.icm2019.org/">conferences</a>, <a href="https://www.city.ac.uk/news/2019/april/launch-centre-excellence-mindfulness-research">university affiliated research centres</a> – and now the professorship – demonstrate the movement’s efforts to legitimise and secure the future of mindfulness as an academic enterprise.</p> <p>But although mindfulness claims to offer a staggering collection of possible health benefits – and aligns itself with science and academia to be seen as credible – as yet there is remarkably <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/wheres-the-proof-that-mindfulness-meditation-works1/?redirect=1">little scientific evidence</a> backing it up.</p> <p>That’s not to say a lot of people don’t find it beneficial. Indeed, <a href="https://nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/NHIS/2012/mind-body/meditation">many people practice mindfulness</a> everyday and feel it helps them in their lives. The problem is though that there is still a lot researchers do not know about mindfulness – and ultimately the field needs a much more systematic and rigorous approach to be able to support such claims.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/115648/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Masoumeh Sara Rahmani, Research Associate in Anthropology of Religion, Coventry University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/the-problem-with-mindfulness-115648"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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Want to be happier? Try getting to know yourself

<p>The unexamined life is not worth living, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_unexamined_life_is_not_worth_living">said the Greek philosopher Socrates</a>. He was reflecting on the expression “Know Thyself” – an aphorism inscribed on the <a href="https://www.ancient-greece.org/architecture/delphi-temple-of-apollo.html">temple of Apollo at Delphi</a> and one of the ultimate achievements in ancient Greece.</p> <p>While we walk around the world more or less successful in our endeavours, many of us sometimes have the nagging feeling that we don’t truly know ourselves. Why do we really feel and behave the way we do? While we have some ideas about who we are, our understanding of ourselves is often patchy and inconsistent. So, is self-knowledge something we should strive for, or are we better off living in blissful ignorance? Let’s examine the research.</p> <p>By <a href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/self-knowledge/">self-knowledge</a>, psychologists mean having an understanding of our feelings, motivations, thinking patterns and tendencies. These give us a stable sense of self-worth and a secure grip on our values and motivations. Without self-knowledge we cannot have an internal measure of our own worth.</p> <p>This leaves us vulnerable to accepting others’ opinions of us as truths. If a co-worker decides (and acts as if) we are worthless, we may swallow their verdict. We end up looking out to the world, rather than into ourselves, in order to know what we should feel, think and want.</p> <p>It is an advantage to learn how to recognise our feelings. The experience of sadness, for example, could be the result of bad news, but it could also be caused by a predisposition to feeling sad resulting from childhood trauma or even just the <a href="https://www.quantamagazine.org/can-microbes-encourage-altruism-20170629/">bacteria</a> in <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19490976.2018.1460015">our gut</a>. Recognising true emotions can help us to intervene in the <a href="http://atlasofemotions.org/">space between feelings and actions</a> – knowing your emotions is the first step to being in control of them, breaking negative thought patterns. Understanding our own emotions and thinking patterns can also help us more easily empathise with others.</p> <p>Self-awareness also allows us to make better decisions. In <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/20152338?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents">one study</a>, students who scored higher on “metacognitive awareness” – the ability to reflect on personal thoughts, feelings, attitudes and beliefs – tended to make more effective decisions when it came to playing a computer game in which they had to diagnose and treat virtual patients in order to cure them. The authors argued that this was because they could set more well defined goals and make strategic actions.</p> <p><strong>Getting to know yourself</strong></p> <p>So how can we learn to know how we feel? People can have different ways of thinking about themselves. We can think about our history, and how past experiences have made us who we are. But we can also brood about negative scenarios in the past or future. Some of these ways of thinking about ourselves are better for us than others. Unfortunately, many of us tend to ruminate and to worry. That is, we focus on our fears and shortcomings, and as a result we become anxious or depressed.</p> <p>The best way to start would be talking with an insightful friend or a trained therapist. The latter is especially important in cases where a lack of self-knowledge is interfering with our mental health. Putting words to feelings and being asked follow-up questions can really help us to understand who we are. Reading about <a href="https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Intuition-Pumps-and-Other-Tools-for-Thinking-Audiobook/B00CLG3RWO?source_code=M2M14DFT1BkSH082015011R&amp;ds_rl=1235779">useful ways of thinking</a> can also help us to navigate our lives better.</p> <p>In addition, there are several other traditions throughout history that have explored ways of getting to know ourselves. Both <a href="https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/S/bo5503948.html">Stoic philosophy</a> and <a href="https://philpapers.org/rec/DUNTAU">Buddhist traditions</a> valued self-knowledge and developed practices to nurture awareness of mental states – such as meditation.</p> <p>Nowadays, mindfulness meditation has <a href="https://hbr.org/2015/12/why-google-target-and-general-mills-are-investing-in-mindfulness">gained traction</a> in psychology, medicine and neuroscience. Meditation and emotion regulation training can reduce negative feelings, rumination and anxiety. They also <a href="https://1ammce38pkj41n8xkp1iocwe-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Contemplative-emotion-training-reduces-negative-emotional-behavior-and-promotes-prosocial-responses.pdf">increase positive emotions</a>, improve the ability to recognise emotions in others, and protect us from social stress. Therapies that integrate mindfulness have been shown to be reliable in helping to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272735815000197">improve mental health</a>, specifically the outcomes of depression, stress and anxiety.</p> <p class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9"><iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/95143875" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <span class="caption">Imagine sitting by the side of a busy road, with the passing cars representing your thoughts and feelings.</span></p> <p>By just sitting for a little while and watching our thoughts and feelings from a distance, as if we’re sitting by the side of the road and watching cars go by, we can get to know ourselves better. This helps us practice the skill of not thinking about the past or future, and we can be in the present a little bit more. We can learn to recognise the feelings that certain events and emotions trigger in us at the moment, and to create a space in which we can decide how to act (as some responses are more constructive than others).</p> <p>Imagine, for example, that you have plans to go for a bike ride with a friend tomorrow and you’re very much looking forward to this. In the morning, your friend cancels. Later in the day, a colleague asks you for help with a problem, and you feel annoyed and snap at them – telling them you don’t have time for it.</p> <p>Maybe you felt annoyed with the colleague, but the real reason was that you felt disappointed with your friend, and you now feel that you may not be as important to them as they are to you. If we’re more self-aware, we’re more likely to have the chance to pause and realise why we’re feeling the way we’re feeling. Rather than taking it out on our colleague, we can then realise that we are overreacting or identify whether there are any problems in our relationship with our friend.</p> <p>It is fascinating that almost 2,500 years after the construction of the temple of Apollo, the quest to know ourselves better is still equally important.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/109451/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Niia Nikolova, Postdoctoral Researcher of Psychology, University of Strathclyde</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/want-to-be-happier-try-getting-to-know-yourself-109451"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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How imaginary friends from our childhood can continue to affect us as adults

<p>Crabby crab is my four-year-old son Fisher’s imaginary friend. Crabby appeared on a holiday in Norway by scuttling out of his ear after a night of tears from an earache. Like other childhood imaginary friends, Crabby should be an indication that Fisher’s mind <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-imaginary-friends-could-boost-childrens-development-108525">is growing and developing positively</a>. Indeed, research shows that invisible companions can help boost children’s social skills.</p> <p>But what happens when children grow up and their imaginary friends disappear? Will Crabby have influenced Fisher into adolescence or adulthood? And what if you continue to have imaginary friends as an adult? The <a href="https://global.oup.com/academic/product/imaginary-companions-and-the-children-who-create-them-9780195146295?cc=gb&amp;lang=en&amp;">vast majority of the research</a> on imaginary friends looks at young children as this is the time when these playmates are most likely to appear. But researchers have started looking into the impact of imaginary childhood friends in adolescence and adulthood.</p> <p>Imaginary friends in childhood <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/archneurpsyc/article-abstract/646325">are classified</a> as invisible beings that a child gives a mind or personality to and plays with for over three months.</p> <p>It is very rare that adults have imaginary companions. But there are a few different types of behaviour that could be considered a form of imaginary friendship. For example, adult authors can be seen as prolific creators of imaginary friends in the form of characters. That’s because their characters <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.2190/FTG3-Q9T0-7U26-5Q5">have personalities and minds of their own</a>, and authors often report their characters leading the writing rather than vice versa. Tulpas, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulpa">objects created</a> through spiritual or mental powers in mysticism, are also a sort of imaginary friend.</p> <p><strong>Social skills in adolescence</strong></p> <p>Research has shown that the positive effects of having imaginary friends as a child continue into adulthood. Adolescents who remember their imaginary playmates have been found to use <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/12097456_Dear_Kitty_you_asked_me_Imaginary_companions_and_real_friends_in_adolescence">more active coping styles</a>, such as seeking advice from loved ones rather than bottling things up inside, like their peers. Even adolescents with behavioural problems who had imaginary friends as children have been found to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20677857">have better coping skills</a> and more positive adjustment through the teenage years.</p> <p>Scientists think this could be because these teens have been able to supplement their social world with imagination rather than choosing to be involved in relationships with more difficult classmates. It could also be because the imaginary friends help to alleviate these adolescents’ loneliness.</p> <p>These teens are also are more likely to <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1997-03619-001">seek out social connections</a>. Some older research suggests that such adolescents have higher levels of psychological distress than their peers who do not remember having imaginary playmates. But the majority of research being done points to mainly positive outcomes. Current research being done now by my student, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Tori_Watson">Tori Watson</a>, is taking this evidence and looking at how adolescents who report having imaginary friends as children deal with bullying at school. We suspect that teens who remember their imaginary friends will be better at dealing with bullying.</p> <p><strong>Creativity and hallucinations</strong></p> <p>Adults who had imaginary friends, meanwhile, report that <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/47348555_The_personality_correlates_of_adults_who_had_imaginary_companions_in_childhood">they are more creative and imaginative</a> than those who did not. We also know that they are <a href="http://dro.dur.ac.uk/18217/">better at describing a scene</a> that they have constructed in their imagination. This could be because they were more imaginative to start with and/or that playing with an imaginary friend in childhood helped boost such capabilities.</p> <p>There are also other discrepancies in how adults see and interact with the world around them that scientists think stems from the use of imagination when playing with an invisible friend as a child. For example, adults who had imaginary friends <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2012-09526-001">talk to themselves more</a>. This is thought to be because they have grown up being more comfortable talking when no one else real is around. Interestingly, research has shown that talking to yourself <a href="https://theconversation.com/is-talking-to-yourself-a-sign-of-mental-illness-an-expert-delivers-her-verdict-77058">can be a sign of high cognitive functioning</a> and creativity.</p> <p> </p> <p>Adults who had imaginary companions as children may become used to seeing things that aren’t really there and explaining them to people. For this reason, imaginary friends have been looked at as a type of hallucination that is experienced by normally developing children. Importantly, the children know that these friends <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17995485">aren’t actually real</a>. Adults similarly can have hallucination experiences when going in or coming out of a deep sleep. We sometimes also see or hear things that aren’t there, for example in the corner of our eye – knowing it’s our mind playing tricks on us.</p> <p>My team and I recently investigated whether people who had imaginary friends as children also report more such hallucination experiences. Interestingly, our study, <a href="https://pure.hud.ac.uk/en/publications/adult-report-of-childhood-imaginary-companions-and-adversity-rela">published in Psychiatry Research</a>, found that this actually is the case. Importantly, these individuals were not a greater risk of developing psychosis or schizophrenia, they were just more likely to have common forms of hallucinations. We know that because we also tested other perceptual experiences like unusual thoughts and ideas as well as symptoms of depression. These experiences, in combination with more intense hallucinations, can put people at higher risk of developing schizophrenia.</p> <p>But people who had had imaginary friends didn’t show this combination of symptoms. There was one exception, though – individuals who had also suffered child abuse. These people were more likely to have both unusual thoughts and ideas, and depression, possibly making them more vulnerable to psychosis. It’s unclear whether this link has got anything to do with imaginary friends or whether it is all down to the trauma of having suffered child abuse, with imaginary friends instead playing a comforting role.</p> <p>So while we know a lot about childhood imaginary friends such as Crabby Crab, and the positive effects they can have, there is still a lot to learn about imaginary friends and how our childhood experiences with them might make us see the world differently.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/113064/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Paige Davis, Lecturer in Psychology, York St John University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/how-imaginary-friends-from-our-childhood-can-continue-to-affect-us-as-adults-113064"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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What you can do to resist fake news

<p>Although the term itself is not new, fake news presents a growing threat for <a href="https://qz.com/africa/1473127/africas-fake-news-problem-is-worse-than-in-the-us/">societies across the world</a>.</p> <p>Only a <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0207383" title="Information-theoretic models of deception: Modelling cooperation and diffusion in populations exposed to fake news">small amount of fake news is needed</a> to disrupt a conversation, and at extremes it can have an impact on democratic processes, <a href="https://theconversation.com/trump-may-owe-his-2016-victory-to-fake-news-new-study-suggests-91538">including elections</a>.</p> <p>But what can we do to avoid fake news, at a time when we could be waiting a while for <a href="https://en.unesco.org/fightfakenews" title="Journalism, Fake News and Disinformation: A Handbook for Journalism Education and Training">mainstream media</a> and <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/08/fake-news-is-going-to-get-worse-unless-companies-take-action-dnc-cto.html">social networks</a> to step up and <a href="https://www.marketplace.org/2018/08/24/tech/one-problem-fake-news-it-really-really-works">address the problem</a>?</p> <p>From a psychology perspective, an important step in tackling fake news is to understand why it gets into our mind. We can do this by <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-two-people-see-the-same-thing-but-have-different-memories-104327">examining how memory works</a> and <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Memory-Distortion-Brains-Societies-Reconstruct/dp/0674566769">how memories become distorted</a>.</p> <p>Using this viewpoint generates some tips you can use to work out whether you’re reading or sharing fake news – which might be handy in the coming election period.</p> <p><strong>How memory gets distorted at the source</strong></p> <p>Fake news often relies on <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/200105/the-seven-sins-memory">misattribution</a> – instances in which we can retrieve things from memory but can’t remember their source.</p> <p>Misattribution is one of the reasons advertising is so effective. We see a product and feel a pleasant sense of familiarity because we’ve encountered it before, but fail to remember that the source of the memory was an ad.</p> <p><a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/David_Rand2/publication/327866113_Prior_Exposure_Increases_Perceived_Accuracy_of_Fake_News/" title="Prior Exposure Increases Perceived Accuracy of Fake News">One study</a> examined headlines from fake news published during the 2016 US Presidential Election.</p> <p>The researchers found even one presentation of a headline (such as “Donald Trump Sent His Own Plane to Transport 200 Stranded Marines”, <a href="https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/donald-trumps-marine-airlift/">based on claims shown to be false</a>) was enough to increase belief in its content. This effect persisted for at least a week, was still found when headlines were accompanied by a factcheck warning, and even when participants suspected it might be false.</p> <p>Repeated exposure can <a href="https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/10/5/16410912/illusory-truth-fake-news-las-vegas-google-facebook">increase the sense that misinformation is true</a>. Repetition creates the perception of group consensus that can result in collective misremembering, a phenomenon called the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-mandela-effect-and-how-your-mind-is-playing-tricks-on-you-89544">Mandela Effect</a>.</p> <p>It might be harmless when people collectively misremember something fun, such as a <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/christopherhudspeth/crazy-examples-of-the-mandela-effect-that-will-make-you-ques">childhood cartoon (did the Queen in Disney’s Snow White really NOT say “Mirror, mirror…”?)</a>. But it has serious consequences when a false sense of group consensus contributes to <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/the-signal/are-anti-vaxxers-having-a-moment/10957310">rising outbreaks of measles</a>.</p> <p>Scientists have investigated whether <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/acp.3274" title="Public Attitudes on the Ethics of Deceptively Planting False Memories to Motivate Healthy Behavior">targeted misinformation can promote healthy behaviour</a>. Dubbed false-memory diets, it is said that false memories of food experiences can encourage people to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/11/magazine/falsememory-diet-the.html">avoid fatty foods</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3627832/" title="Queasy does it: False alcohol beliefs and memories may lead to diminished alcohol preferences">alcohol</a> and even <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25116296" title="Asparagus, a love story: healthier eating could be just a false memory away">convince them to love asparagus</a>.</p> <p>Creative people that have a strong ability to associate different words are <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Thomas_Ormerod/publication/251531367_Convergent_but_not_divergent_thinking_predicts_susceptibility_to_associative_memory_illusions/" title="Convergent, but not divergent, thinking predicts susceptibility to associative memory illusions">especially susceptible to false memories</a>. Some people might be more vulnerable than others to believe fake news, but <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/24/world/asia/pakistan-israel-khawaja-asif-fake-news-nuclear.html">everyone is at risk</a>.</p> <p><strong>How bias can reinforce fake news</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/200105/the-seven-sins-memory">Bias</a> is how our feelings and worldview affect the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-two-people-see-the-same-thing-but-have-different-memories-104327">encoding and retrieval of memory</a>. We might like to think of our memory as an archivist that carefully preserves events, but <a href="https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9781351660020/chapters/10.4324/9781315159591-4" title="New Directions in the Philosophy of Memory">sometimes it’s more like a storyteller</a>. Memories are shaped by our beliefs and can function to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/autobiographical-memory">maintain a consistent narrative rather than an accurate record</a>.</p> <p>An example of this is selective exposure, our tendency to seek information that <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4797953/" title="Feeling Validated Versus Being Correct: A Meta-Analysis of Selective Exposure to Information">reinforces our pre-existing beliefs</a> and to avoid information that brings those beliefs into question. This effect is supported by evidence that television news audiences are <a href="https://www.journalism.org/2014/10/21/political-polarization-media-habits/">overwhelmingly partisan</a> and exist in their own echo chambers.</p> <p>It was thought that online communities exhibit the same behaviour, contributing to the spread of fake news, but this <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-myth-of-the-echo-chamber-92544">appears to be a myth</a>. Political news sites are often populated by people with <a href="https://www.academia.edu/34506137/The_Myth_of_Partisan_Selective_Exposure_A_Portrait_of_the_Online_Political_News_Audience">diverse ideological backgrounds</a> and echo chambers are <a href="https://medium.com/trust-media-and-democracy/avoiding-the-echo-chamber-about-echo-chambers-6e1f1a1a0f39">more likely to exist in real life than online</a>.</p> <p>Our brains are wired to assume things we believe <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0146167203259933" title="Evolving Informational Credentials: The (Mis)Attribution of Believable Facts to Credible Sources">originated from a credible source</a>. But are we more inclined to remember information that reinforces our beliefs? <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/247781236_Do_Attitudes_Affect_Memory_Tests_of_the_Congeniality_Hypothesis" title="Do Attitudes Affect Memory? Tests of the Congeniality Hypothesis">This is probably not the case</a>.</p> <p>People who hold strong beliefs remember things that are relevant to their beliefs but they remember opposing information too. This happens because people are motivated to defend their beliefs against opposing views.</p> <p>Belief echoes are a related phenomenon that <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-correcting-donald-trump--or-anyone-else--doesnt-work/2016/01/08/9e5ef5d4-b57d-11e5-a842-0feb51d1d124_story.html?utm_term=.912e5b8e4409">highlight the difficulty of correcting misinformation</a>. Fake news is often designed to be attention-grabbing.</p> <p>It can continue to shape people’s attitudes after it has been discredited because it produces a vivid emotional reaction and builds on our existing narratives.</p> <p>Corrections have a much smaller emotional impact, especially if they require policy details, so should be <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258180567_Misinformation_and_Its_Correction_Continued_Influence_and_Successful_Debiasing" title="Misinformation and Its Correction Continued Influence and Successful Debiasing">designed to satisfy a similar narrative urge</a> to be effective.</p> <p><strong>Tips for resisting fake news</strong></p> <p>The way our memory works means it might be impossible to resist fake news completely.</p> <p>But one approach is to start <a href="https://qz.com/858887/how-to-know-if-fake-news-is-fake-learn-to-think-like-a-scientist/">thinking like a scientist</a>. This involves adopting a questioning attitude that is motivated by curiosity, and being aware of personal bias.</p> <p>For fake news, this might involve asking ourselves the following questions:</p> <ul> <li> <p><strong>What type of content is this?</strong> <a href="https://theconversation.com/australians-born-overseas-prefer-the-online-world-for-their-news-84355">Many people rely on social media and aggregators as their main source of news</a>. By reflecting on whether information is news, opinion or even humour, this can help consolidate information more completely into memory.</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>Where is it published?</strong> Paying attention to where information is published is crucial for encoding the source of information into memory. If something is a big deal, a wide variety of sources will discuss it, so attending to this detail is important.</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>Who benefits?</strong> Reflecting on who benefits from you believing the content helps consolidate the source of that information into memory. It can also help us reflect on our own interests and whether our personal biases are at play.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Some people <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3023545" title="Who Falls for Fake News? The Roles of Bullshit Receptivity, Overclaiming, Familiarity, and Analytic Thinking">tend to be more susceptible to fake news</a> because they are more accepting of weak claims.</p> <p>But we can strive to be more reflective in our open-mindedness by paying attention to the source of information, and questioning our own knowledge if and when we are unable to remember the context of our memories.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/114921/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Julian Matthews, Research Officer - Cognitive Neurology Lab, Monash University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/how-fake-news-gets-into-our-minds-and-what-you-can-do-to-resist-it-114921" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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Anger linked to illness in old age

<p>Not all negative emotions are necessarily bad. In fact, they can direct your behaviour in useful ways. If you’re stuck in traffic and running late, anger with the situation might motivate you to find an alternative route, which will then relieve your stress. But anger is less useful if you’re in the same situation, but stuck on a motorway with no option to divert.</p> <p>Emotions have physiological effects, such as raising the level of cortisol in your bloodstream, that can affect your health. Indeed, a new study, <a href="https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/pag-pag0000348.pdf">published in <em>Psychology and Aging</em></a>, shows that high levels of anger are associated with poor health in older people.</p> <p>The Canadian study recruited 226 adults aged 59-93 years. They took blood samples to assess levels of chronic low-grade inflammation and asked the participants to report any age-related chronic illnesses they might have, such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis and diabetes. The participants also completed a short questionnaire about the level of anger or sadness they experienced in three typical days over a one-week period.</p> <p>For the analysis, the researchers considered whether age could affect the results. They found that higher levels of anger were associated with inflammation and ill health in the oldest participants (aged 80 and above), but not the youngest ones (59-79 years). Sadness was not associated with inflammation or ill health in either age group.</p> <p>The study is cross-sectional, meaning that it assessed a group of people at a single point in time. To get a fuller understanding of the relationship between negative emotions and health, we need studies that follow participants for a period of time – so-called prospective observation studies. Future studies should also take into account other factors that might be involved, such as other emotions (both positive and negative), clinical depression, stress and personality.</p> <p>Although this new research shows a link between emotion and health in older age, we do not know whether anger causes inflammation and illness or whether health problems make people angrier.</p> <p><strong>Emotion and health across the lifespan</strong></p> <p>Negative emotions can help people overcome life’s challenges, but this latest research suggests that specific negative emotions work differently, particularly across different stages of life, and should be <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00380">assessed separately</a>.</p> <p>Older age is a period associated with decline, loss and reduced opportunities. If a challenge is difficult or impossible to overcome, anger may no longer be useful and may, indeed, lead to health problems. In contrast, sadness may be psychologically adaptive in older age, helping people accept loss and adjust to it.</p> <p>These findings may paint a rather negative picture of emotional experience and its effects in older age. Yet a long line of research has shown that <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0021285">older people are happier</a>. When following people over a ten-year period, positive emotional experiences are shown to increase with age, peaking at 64 and never returning to the levels observed in the average young adult.</p> <p>Perhaps central to these findings is the idea that, with increasing age, comes <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0021232">both strength and vulnerability</a>. The finding that older people are happier can be explained by age-related strengths in emotional regulation. As we age, we are better at avoiding or reducing exposure to negative situations and stress. But not all negativity can be avoided. In the case of high levels of sustained negative emotion, older adults may be more vulnerable, taking longer to overcome the physiological response.</p> <p><strong>Letting go of negative emotions and stereotypes</strong></p> <p>Negative emotions and health in older age is a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1754073917692863">relatively new field of research</a>, but substantial research has investigated the relationships between attitudes to ageing and health outcomes. Holding negative age-related stereotypes earlier in life can predict <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02298.x">cardiovascular problems in later life</a> and brain-ageing processes <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pag0000062">associated with Alzheimer’s disease</a>.</p> <p>For example, believing that decline is inevitable may reduce the chance of a person doing what’s good for their health, such as exercising or taking their prescribed medication. So letting go of anger and other negative emotions and attitudes throughout life may be beneficial for health in later life.</p> <p>It is important that older people have opportunities to be involved in mutually beneficial <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/ppar/prw013">intergenerational communities</a>. For example, a <a href="https://www.aarp.org/experience-corps/">programme in the US</a> brings older people into local schools to help young children learn to read. Intergenerational communities offer better social support and understanding of ageing for everyone and opportunities for older people to keep active for as long as possible.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/116550/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Louise A Brown Nicholls, Senior Lecturer, University of Strathclyde</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/anger-linked-to-illness-in-old-age-116550"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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The benefits and trappings of nostalgia

<p>In his song <em>Time Was</em>, counterculture singer <a href="http://www.metrolyrics.com/time-was-lyrics-phil-ochs.html">Phil Ochs reminisces</a> about a past “when a man could build a home, have a family of his own. The peaceful years would flow; he could watch his children grow. But it was a long time ago.”</p> <p>To Ochs, simpler times were better: “troubles were few…a man could have his pride; there was justice on his side…there was truth in every day.”</p> <p><a href="http://www.allmusic.com/artist/phil-ochs-mn0000333634/biography">Ochs</a> recorded <em>Time Was</em> in 1962, when he was just 22 years old. He had yet to witness the most tumultuous parts of the 1960s – the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, the polarization wrought by the Vietnam War, and the civil rights and feminist movements.</p> <p>Half a century later – with the rapid, dramatic consequences of social and political upheaval, with technological advances that have radically transformed our daily lives – some might similarly find themselves longing for a time when “troubles were few” and “there was truth in every day.”</p> <p>Constantly being plugged into the internet and social media <a href="http://akademiai.com/doi/abs/10.1556/2006.4.2015.010">is thought to be associated with higher rates of anxiety and depression</a>. Online messaging and communication <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-news-sites-online-comments-helped-build-our-hateful-electorate-70170">have created misunderstanding and divisions</a>, and many feel as though <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/270006660_The_dark_side_of_social_networking_sites_An_exploration_of_the_relational_and_psychological_stressors_associated_with_Facebook_use_and_affordances">they’ve lost control over their privacy</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://www.prri.org/research/survey-anxiety-nostalgia-and-mistrust-findings-from-the-2015-american-values-survey/">A recent poll</a> even revealed that a majority of Americans think that America’s culture and way of life have mostly changed for the worse since the 1950s.</p> <p>But what effect does this longing have? Is it a useful psychological tool or a perilous trapping?</p> <p><strong>A bittersweet longing</strong></p> <p>In life, change is the default, not the exception; transformation is baked into every aspect of our world, from physical growth to scientific progress. Novelty, meanwhile, is an antidote to boredom, stagnation and satiation.</p> <p>Nonetheless, people long for stability. Change can threaten well-being, especially when it requires a new set of skills to meet new demands. Stress can accompany unexpected or extreme change, since our ability to control situations depends upon a reasonable degree of predictability. (Imagine not knowing if a stone would fall or rise when you let go of it.)</p> <p>Nostalgia is a bittersweet yearning for the past. It’s sweet because it allows us to momentarily relive good times; it’s bitter because we recognize that those times can never return. Longing for our own past is referred to as personal nostalgia, and preferring a distant era is termed <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/261582221_Historical_and_Personal_Nostalgia_in_Advertising_Text_The_Fin_de_siecle_Effect">historical nostalgia</a>.</p> <p>Although nostalgia is universal, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/15575331_Nostalgia_A_Psychological_Perspective">research has shown</a> that a nostalgic yearning for the past is especially likely to occur during periods of transition, like maturing into adulthood or aging into retirement. Dislocation or alienation resulting from military conflict, moving to a new country or technological progress can also elicit nostalgia.</p> <p><strong>A stabilising force</strong></p> <p>In the face of instability, our mind will reach for our positive memories of the past, <a href="https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/pollyanna-principle/">which tend to be more crystallized</a> than negative or neutral ones.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23646885">In the past</a>, theorists tended to think of nostalgia as a bad thing – a retreat in the face of uncertainty, stress or unhappiness. In 1985, psychoanalytic theorist <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1465-5922.1985.00135.x/abstract">Roderick Peters</a> described extreme nostalgia as debilitative, something “that persists and profoundly interferes with the individual’s attempts to cope with his present circumstances.”</p> <p>But contemporary research, including my own, has contradicted this maladaptive view.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wildschut.me/Tim_Wildschut/Home_files/Sedikides,%20Wildschut,%20Routledge,%20%26%20Arndt,%202015,%20European%20Journal%20of%20Social%20Psychology.pdf">A 2015 study</a> showed that nostalgic reminiscence can be a stabilizing force. It can strengthen our sense of personal continuity, reminding us that we possess a store of powerful memories that are deeply intertwined with our identity. The person who listened to his grandpa’s stories as a little boy, played youth baseball and partied with friends in high school is still that same person today.</p> <p><a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Krystine_Batcho/publications">Research I’ve conducted since 1998</a> has shown that nostalgic memories tend to focus on our relationships, which can comfort us during stressful or difficult times. Although we’ve become independent and mature (perhaps even a bit jaded), we’re still our parents’ child, our brother’s sibling and our lover’s confidant. In developing a retrospective <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10902-010-9213-y">survey of childhood experiences</a>, I found that remembering that we experienced unconditional love as children can reassure us in the present – especially during trying times. These memories can fuel the courage to confront our fears, take reasonable risks and tackle challenges. Rather than trapping us in the past, nostalgia can liberate us from adversity by promoting personal growth.</p> <p>My studies have also shown that people with a greater propensity for nostalgia <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24027948">are better able to cope</a> with adversity and are more likely to seek emotional support, advice and practical help from others. They’re also more likely to avoid distractions that prevent them from confronting their troubles and solving problems.</p> <p><strong>Nostalgia’s fine line</strong></p> <p>But for all its benefits, nostalgia can also seduce us into retreating into a romanticized past.</p> <p>The desire to escape into the imagined, idealized world of a prior era – even one you weren’t alive for – represents a different, independent type of nostalgia called <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/261582221_Historical_and_Personal_Nostalgia_in_Advertising_Text_The_Fin_de_siecle_Effect">historical nostalgia</a>.</p> <p>Historical nostalgia is often concurrent with a deep dissatisfaction with the present and a preference for the way things were long ago. Unlike personal nostalgia, someone who experiences historical nostalgia might have a more cynical perspective of the world, one colored by pain, trauma, regret or <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10902-010-9213-y">adverse childhood experiences</a>.</p> <p>Nonetheless, from a treatment perspective, <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2753/RPO1061-0405490306">reports suggest</a> that personal nostalgia can be used therapeutically to help individuals move beyond trauma in the aftermath of violence, exile or loss. At the same time, someone who has endured trauma, without proper treatment, could become subsumed by a malignant form of nostalgia that leads to a perpetual yearning to return to the past.</p> <p>Ultimately, when we focus on our own life experiences – falling back on our store of happy memories – nostalgia is a useful tool. It’s a way to harness the past internally to endure change – and create hope for the future.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/77766/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Krystine Batcho, Professor of Psychology, Le Moyne College</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/the-psychological-benefits-and-trappings-of-nostalgia-77766"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

Mind