Boost fundraising with something simple: Sandpaper

Handyman working with sandpaperNot getting enough charitable donations? Try having people to touch sandpaper before you ask for money. A new study shows that touching rough surfaces triggers the emotion of empathy, which motivates people to donate to non-profit organizations.

“We found that when people were experiencing mild discomfort as a result of touching a rough surface, they were more aware of discomfort in their immediate environment,” said Chen Wang, an assistant marketing professor at Drexel University in Pennsylvania. “They could better empathize with individuals who were suffering.”

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Fewer Americans now pray, believe in God

ChurchThe percentage of Americans who prayed or believed in God reached an all-time low in 2014, according to new research led by San Diego State University psychology professor Jean M. Twenge.

A research team that included Ryne Sherman from Florida Atlantic University and Julie J. Exline and Joshua B. Grubbs from Case Western Reserve University analyzed data from 58,893 respondents to the General Social Survey, a nationally representative survey of U.S. adults administered between 1972 and 2014. Five times as many Americans in 2014 reported that they never prayed as did Americans in the early 1980s, and nearly twice as many said they did not believe in God.

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Crying has its perks

photodune-3549954-crying-xsYes, a good cry indeed might go a long way to make you feel better, says Asmir Gračanin of the University of Tilburg in the Netherlands, lead author of a study in Springer’s journal Motivation and Emotion. These findings were established after a research team videotaped a group of participants while watching the emotionally charged films La vita è bella and Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. Afterwards, the participants were asked a few times to reflect on how they felt.

Although humans are the only species able to shed emotional tears, little is known about the function of crying. While some researchers see it as a cry for support, comfort or help, others believe the main role of crying is to relieve emotions. Different types of studies focusing on the latter, however, provide conflicting results. Retrospective self-report studies support claims that crying provides emotional relief and ultimately influences someone’s mood for the better. In contrast, laboratory studies using emotional films often show a consistent decrease in mood immediately after an emotional event.

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Most presidential candidates speak at grade 6-8 level

de4cad799ea7025a6af48872ffe203dcA readability analysis of presidential candidate speeches by researchers in Carnegie Mellon University’s Language Technologies Institute (LTI) finds most candidates using words and grammar typical of students in grades 6-8, though Donald Trump tends to lag behind the others.

A historical review of their word and grammar use suggests all five candidates in the analysis – Republicans Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio (who has since suspended his campaign), and Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders – have been using simpler language as the campaigns have progressed. Again, Trump is an outlier, with his grammar use spiking in his Iowa Caucus concession speech and his word and grammar use plummeting again during his Nevada Caucus victory speech.

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Tony Delroy’s NightLife Story links March 18

Blueberries, the well-known ‘super fruit,’ could help fight Alzheimer’s

fresh blueberriesThe blueberry, already labeled a ‘super fruit’ for its power to potentially lower the risk of heart disease and cancer, also could be another weapon in the war against Alzheimer’s disease. New research being presented today further bolsters this idea, which is being tested by many teams. The fruit is loaded with healthful antioxidants, and these substances could help prevent the devastating effects of this increasingly common form of dementia, scientists report.

The researchers present their work today at the 251st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world’s largest scientific society, is holding the meeting here through Thursday. It features more than 12,500 presentations on a wide range of science topics.

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Want to appear more intelligent? Get more sleep

SleepingA new study from the University of St Andrews has found that getting more sleep may help individuals appear more intelligent to their teachers and prospective employers by influencing their neutral expression.

The research, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, sheds light on how people may change their perceived intelligence regardless of their attractiveness, and it appears the answer lies in the neutral facial expression.

Lead author Sean Talamas, a post-doc researcher in the School of Psychology and Neurosciences’ Perception Laboratory, explained:

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Depression is more than a mental disorder: It affects the whole organism

This photo shows Manuel Gurpegui (UGR), Christoph Correll (Zucker Hillside Hospital, New York) and Sara Jiménez (UGR).

This photo shows Manuel Gurpegui (UGR), Christoph Correll (Zucker Hillside Hospital, New York) and Sara Jiménez (UGR).

An international team of researchers lead by the University of Granada has scientifically proven, for the first time, that depression is associated with important alterations of the oxidative stress, so it should be considered a systemic disease.

An international team of researchers lead by the University of Granada (UGR) has scientifically proven, for the first time, that depression is more than a mental disorder: it causes important alterations of the oxidative stress, so it should be considered a systemic disease, since it affects the whole organism.

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Overconfidence linked to one’s view of intelligence

Washington State University psychologist Joyce Ehrlinger has found that a person's tendency to be overconfident increases if he or she thinks intelligence is fixed and unchangeable. CREDIT: Washington State University psychologist Joyce Ehrlinger has found that a person's tendency to be overconfident increases if he or she thinks intelligence is fixed and unchangeable. CREDIT: WSU

Washington State University psychologist Joyce Ehrlinger has found that a person’s tendency to be overconfident increases if he or she thinks intelligence is fixed and unchangeable. CREDIT: WSU

Washington State University researcher Joyce Ehrlinger has found that a person’s tendency to be overconfident increases if he or she thinks intelligence is fixed and unchangeable.

Such people tend to maintain their overconfidence by concentrating on the easy parts of tasks while spending as little time as possible on the hard parts of tasks, said Ehrlinger, a WSU assistant professor of psychology. But people who hold a growth mindset–meaning they think intelligence is a changeable quality–spend more time on the challenging parts of tasks, she said. Consequently, their levels of confidence are more in line with their abilities.

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Let it go: Reaction to stress more important than its frequency

photodune-4558679-stressful-xs (1)How you perceive and react to stressful events is more important to your health than how frequently you encounter stress, according to health researchers from Penn State and Columbia University.

It is known that stress and negative emotions can increase the risk of heart disease, but the reasons why are not well understood. One potential pathway linking stress to future heart disease is a dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system — a case of a person’s normally self-regulated nervous system getting off track.

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