Category Archives: Human behavior

Study: Laziness is linked to higher intelligence


We are relieved.

First up, a video report on the research from RT America:

I’m not lazy, I’m ruminating: Scientists link laziness to intelligence

Program notes:

A new report found a correlation between laziness and high intelligence, with scientists at Florida Gulf Coast University found that the smarter you are, the less likely you are to become bored. One of the researchers, Todd McElroy, joins RT America’s Manila Chan to explain the startling findings.

More from the British Psychological Association:

According to Hollywood stereotypes, there are the clever, nerdy young people who spend most of their time sitting around thinking and reading, and then there are the jocks – the sporty, athletic lot who prefer to do as little thinking and studying as possible. This seems like a gross over-simplification and yet a new study[$36 to read] in the Journal of Health Psychology suggests there may be a kernel of truth to it.

The researchers, led by Todd McElroy at Florida Gulf Coast University, gave an online test of “Need For Cognition” to lots of students, to find 30 who expressed a particularly strong desire to think a lot and 30 others with a strong preference to avoid anything too mentally taxing. This test has been around for over three decades and it involves people rating how strongly they agree with items like “I really enjoy a task that involves coming up with new solutions to problems” and “I only think as hard as I have to”. The 30 thinkers and 30 non-thinkers then wore an accelerometer on their wrist for 7 days, to provide a constant measure of how physically active they were during that time.

The thinkers were “far less active” Monday to Friday than the non-thinkers – a difference that the researchers described as “robust” and “highly significant” in statistical terms. At the weekends there was no difference in activity levels between the groups.

The weekday result makes sense in light of past research from the 90s that showed non-thinkers are more prone to boredom than thinkers, and find boredom more aversive. Perhaps non-thinkers resort to physical activity as a way to escape their inner worlds.

Remember this research featured just 60 people, and the results might not generalise to non-students or to other cultures. The lack of an effect over the weekend also awaits explanation. Nonetheless, given the adverse health effects of a sedentary life, McElroy and his colleagues said that more cerebral folk might want to take note, and they added that a quick visit to the gym is not enough – you need to raise your overall activity levels, maybe think about investing in a standing desk.

“Ultimately, an important factor that may help more thoughtful individuals combat their lower average activity levels is awareness,” the researchers said. “Awareness of their tendency to be less active, coupled with an awareness of the cost associated with inactivity, more thoughtful people may then choose to become more active throughout the day.”

Oh, and the more intelligent are also night owls whoe are messier and swear a lot, according to other studies.

Fuck, we must be brilliant!

Headline of the day: Gee, you really think so?


From the Intercept:

Donald Trump Makes It Very Hard to Figure Out What He Really Thinks

Study: Partisan social media only confirm bias


Sure, we all knew it, but it’s nice to see confrmation.

From Ohio State University:

A new nationwide study suggests why heavy users of partisan media outlets are more likely than others to hold political misperceptions.

It’s not because the people using these sites are unaware that experts have weighed in on the issues. And using ideologically driven news only sometimes promotes misunderstanding of what the evidence says.

“Partisan online media drive a wedge between evidence and beliefs,” said R. Kelly Garrett, lead author of the study and professor of communication at The Ohio State University.

“The more people use these sources, they more likely they are to embrace false claims, regardless of what they know about the evidence.”

Partisan media have effects on both Democrats and Republicans, the researchers found.

Strikingly, use of partisan media contributed to misperceptions above and beyond the influence of partisanship itself.

“What you believe isn’t just about what party you belong to. Where you get your news matters, too,” Garrett said.

Garrett conducted the study with two former graduate students: Brian Weeks, now with the University of Michigan, and Rachel Neo, now with the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Their results appear online in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication [open access] and will be published in a future print edition.

Garrett said that the study’s focus on changes in media use and political beliefs over time gives the researchers a unique opportunity to understand how these two factors influence one another.

Data came from a three-wave panel study conducted during the 2012 presidential election. Participants were interviewed first during July-August 2012, a second time in August-October and a final time in November. A total of 652 nationally representative participants completed all three surveys.

All participants were asked about their knowledge of and beliefs about four different issues in the campaign, two of which favored Republicans and two that favored Democrats.

The well-documented falsehoods favored by Republicans were the claims that President Obama was not born in the United States and that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The Democrat-favored misperceptions were that Mitt Romney actively managed Bain Capital when the firm started investing in companies that outsourced work abroad, and that there was an immediate drop in marine life diversity in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP oil spill.

The researchers measured how often participants visited websites characterized as favoring liberal positions, including the New York Times, MSNBC, Huffington Post, ThinkProgress and Daily Kos; and those favoring conservative positions, such as the Wall Street Journal, FOX News, Drudge Report, TownHall and Cybercast News Service.

One explanation for why partisan media encourage misperceptions is that their users are sheltered from the truth. For example, it is sometimes suggested that viewers build their own “echo chambers” where they never hear facts that contradict what they believe. But there is no evidence of that in this study, Garrett said.

“In fact, we found modest evidence that the opposite sometimes occurs – people who were heavy users of ideological news sites were more likely to say they’d heard evidence related to one of the issues,” he said.

There’s more! Continue reading

Chart of the day II: American pot smoking soars


Two fascinating charts from a new Gallup survey on marijuana use.

First up, the growth in numbers of Americans willing to tell a pollster if they’ve ever sparked up:

BLOG Pot 1

Next, a demographic breakdown differentiating numbers for those who have smoked in the past and those who are current users:

BLOG Pot 2

U.S. women growing more content with bodies


While Americans are growing fatter, women are becoming less obsessed with maintaining ectomorphic profiles, thanks in part to the declining domination of media images of women with improbably slender physiques, according to new research.

There’s been no change, however, in men’s satisfaction with their bodily images.

From the American Psychological Association:

Despite growing rates of obesity in the United States, and a culture apparently obsessed with selfies, women today appear to be more accepting of their bodies than in the past, at least in regard to weight, according to research presented at the American Psychological Association’s 124th Annual Convention.

“While women consistently report being more dissatisfied with their bodies than men as far as thinness is concerned, that dissatisfaction has decreased over the 31-year period we studied,” said Bryan Karazsia, PhD, of The College of Wooster, who presented the research.

Body dissatisfaction is not only a common predictor of eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and binge eating, but also can play a role in the development of depression, said Karazsia. Research conducted in the 1990s suggested that the percentage of women who were unhappy with their weight was on the rise.

Karazsia and his colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of more than 250 studies representing 100,228 participants from 1981 to 2012, to analyze trends in how people felt about their bodies, specifically in regard to weight. They found that while women consistently were more dissatisfied than men, their dissatisfaction gradually declined over time, while men’s dissatisfaction remained relatively constant throughout.

Because men’s body image issues aren’t always about thinness and can often be related to musculature, the researchers also conducted a similar meta-analysis, this time focusing on muscle size. They analyzed 81 studies representing more than 23,000 participants over a 14-year span. They found that men regularly reported more body dissatisfaction than women when it came to muscularity but, over time, levels remained relatively consistent for both men and women.

In both meta-analyses scores did not vary by geographic region or age.

While the results were not entirely unexpected, Karazsia said the findings were in some ways surprising.

“When we consider that humans in the United States, where most studies in our review were conducted, are physically larger than they have ever been, with more than two-thirds of U.S. adults being overweight or obese, one might expect that body dissatisfaction should be increasing. But we found the opposite,” he said.

Karazsia is “cautiously optimistic” that the findings represent a positive change in the social pressures that women face toward more body acceptance and body diversity.

“The last two decades have witnessed increasing attention and awareness on a body acceptance movement aimed primarily at girls and women,” said Karazsia. That, combined with increased media visibility of role models who run counter to the trend towards thinness, may, in part, help explain their findings.

Chart of the day II: Obama/Clinton war legacy


From the Pew Research Center:

BLOG Asylum

Selfie-snapping flashmob evokes terror panic


Oh, the horror!

It’s been some time since flashmobs [previously] have made the news, those sudden appearances of folks brought together by spur-of-the-moment phone calls to make music, protest, or simply clown around.

Passers-by are usually entertained or mildly amused by those sudden aggregations, but in today’s Europe, wracked by fears of terrorism, one flashmob has failed to amuse and offers us a glimpse of our new age.

From BBC News:

Five German women were arrested on Tuesday night when a flashmob stunt in a northern Spanish town sparked fears of a terror attack.

They have since been released but will be charged with public order offences.

Holidaymakers ran and hid from presumed attackers in Platja d’Aro after people pretended to be chasing a celebrity, shouting and taking photographs.

The panic turned into a stampede as bystanders mistook selfie sticks for weapons.

Eleven people were treated for bruising and heart palpitations. Three were taken to hospital.

We leave the last word to the Bard of Avon [The Tempest, Act V, Scene 1]:

How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in ’t!