Psychology Magazine

Cleaning up the Queue - Interesting Ideas.

By Deric Bownds @DericBownds

As I scan the table of contents for various journals, mining for material that might become a MindBlog post, I accumulate a long list of links that I think are fascinating, but that I never get around to developing into a post. Here is a random list of a few of those:

How to better learn things. Review of Benedict's Carey's book on how to most effectively learn new things.
Ways in which women are better decision makers. In tense or anxious situations, men are more likely to make risky decisions. The tendency to take more risks when under pressure is stronger in men who experience a larger spike in cortisol. In women a slight increase in cortisol seems actually to improve decision-making performance.
Related to the above, Endogenous cortisol predicts decreased loss aversion in young men.
Internet research project draws conservative ire. A 4-year-old academic study of how information spreads on Twitter has become the target of withering attacks from conservative bloggers and politicians. The Truthy project, by researchers at Indiana University (IU), Bloomington, is part of a growing body of work on how online memes—messages about ideas, issues, and events—can shape phenomena ranging from protest movements to outbreaks of disease. The National Science Foundation is a major funder of the project, which is one element in a broader initiative to understand complex, nonlinear feedback systems. But critics, who cite the project as an unwise use of taxpayer dollars, say Truthy is really an attempt by the U.S. government to monitor and restrict free speech. IU scientists say that is a gross distortion of what they have been doing.
Purpose in life and use of preventative health care services. Less than 50% of people over the age of 65 are up-to-date with core preventive services. Identifying modifiable factors linked with preventive services are important targets for research and practice. Purpose in life, recently the focus of multiple intervention studies, has been linked with better health (mental and physical) as well as improved health behaviors. However, its association with health care use has been understudied. We found that higher purpose was linked with greater use of several preventive health care services and also fewer nights spent hospitalized. These results may facilitate the development of new strategies to increase use of preventive health care services and improve health, thereby offsetting the burden of rising health care costs in our aging society.

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