Human sounds convey emotions clearer and faster than words

ScreamBrain uses ‘older’ systems/structures to preferentially process emotion expressed through vocalizations.

It takes just one-tenth of a second for our brains to begin to recognize emotions conveyed by vocalizations, according to researchers from McGill. It doesn’t matter whether the non-verbal sounds are growls of anger, the laughter of happiness or cries of sadness. More importantly, the researchers have also discovered that we pay more attention when an emotion (such as happiness, sadness or anger) is expressed through vocalizations than we do when the same emotion is expressed in speech.

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Valuing your time more than money is linked to happiness

AshleyFullValuing your time more than the pursuit of money is linked to greater happiness, according to new research published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

In six studies with more than 4,600 participants, researchers found an almost even split between people who tended to value their time or money, and that choice was a fairly consistent trait both for daily interactions and major life events.

“It appears that people have a stable preference for valuing their time over making more money, and prioritizing time is associated with greater happiness,” said lead researcher Ashley Whillans, a doctoral student in social psychology at the University of British Columbia. The findings were published online in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

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Are you a ‘harbinger of failure’?

Study: Some consumers have an unerring knack for buying unpopular products.

Diet Crystal Pepsi. Frito Lay Lemonade. Watermelon-flavored Oreos. Through the years, the shelves of stores have been filled with products that turned out to be flops, failures, duds, and losers.

But only briefly filled with them, of course, because products like these tend to get yanked from stores quickly, leaving most consumers to wonder: Who exactly buys these things, anyway?

a young man with several bags and enough money, this shoppingNow a published study co-authored by two MIT professors answers that question. Amazingly, the same group of consumers has an outsized tendency to purchase all kinds of failed products, time after time, flop after flop, Diet Crystal Pepsi after Diet Crystal Pepsi. The study calls the people in this group “harbingers of failure” and suggests they provide a new window into consumer behavior.

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Quick Thinkers Are Charismatic

Charisma may rely on quick thinking, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The research shows that people who were able to respond more quickly to general knowledge questions and visual tasks were perceived as more charismatic by their friends, independently of IQ and other personality traits.

“Our findings show that social intelligence is more than just knowing the right thing to do,” says psychological scientist William von Hippel of the University of Queensland in Australia. “Social intelligence also requires an ability to execute, and the quickness of our mind is an important component of that ability.”

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Oregon research suggests color affects ethical judgments of brands

Studies show blue is ‘greener’ than green when it comes to signaling environmental friendliness.

University of Oregon and University of Cincinnati researchers have found that everyday shoppers make assumptions about brands that use green colors. The findings, published in the Journal of Business Ethics, hold ethical implications for environmentally friendly branding.

Through a series of studies, lead researcher Aparna Sundar, a professor of marketing in the UO’s Lundquist College of Business, and co-author James Kellaris of UC’s marketing department uncovered evidence that color shapes opinion about eco-friendliness.

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‘Sport shoppers’ bargain hunt simply for the thrill of it, new research finds


For some, shopping is a pursuit akin to an athletic competition, according to San Francisco State University professors Kathleen O’Donnell, associate dean of the School of Business, and Judi Strebel, chair of the marketing department. In new research just published online, the two define what it means to be a “sport shopper.”

“This is somebody who takes great pride in their ability to get the thing they want at a discount,” O’Donnell said. “It’s not about spending the least, it’s about saving the most.”

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Bees not the be all and end all for crop pollination

Farmers who used pesticides that spared bees but sacrificed killed other insects might be ignoring important sources of crop pollination, according to an Australian-led international scientific study.

CAPTION Non-bee pollinators make up approximately 1/3rd of crop pollination services. Here a syrphid fly, a common non-bee crop pollinator, is shown alighting on coriander flowers. CREDIT:  Dr Tobias Smith

Non-bee pollinators make up approximately 1/3rd of crop pollination services. Here a syrphid fly, a common non-bee crop pollinator, is shown alighting on coriander flowers.
Dr Tobias Smith

University of Queensland plant ecologist Dr Margie Mayfield said many crops –including mangoes, custard apples, kiwi fruit, coffee and canola –depended on non-bee insect pollinators such as flies, butterflies, moths, beetles, wasps, ants, and thrips.

“Scientists haven’t much broadly explored the role of non-bee insects in crop pollination,” said Dr Mayfield, who is the Director of the Ecology Centre in UQ’s School of Biological Sciences.

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Saying I do

 Shelly Lundberg. CREDIT: Sonia Fernandez

Shelly Lundberg.
CREDIT: Sonia Fernandez

Demographer Shelly Lundberg chronicles how marriage has morphed into a means of supporting intensive investments in children.

Marriage as an institution is not what it used to be. Since the 1950s, the number of couple exchanging “I dos” has dropped steadily. And while most Americans do marry at some point in their lives, many are choosing to do so later.

A new study by UC Santa Barbara demographer Shelly Lundberg and economist Robert Pollak of Washington University in St. Louis examines Americans’ changing sensibilities about marriage, using economics as a measuring tool. Lundberg and Pollak contend that families with high incomes and high levels of education have the greatest incentives to maintain long-term relationships. Their findings appear in the journal The Future of Children.

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Fitter legs linked to a ‘fitter’ brain

Gym leg stretch

Researchers at King’s College London have found that muscle fitness as measured by power in the legs is strongly associated with an improved rate of ageing in the brain.

The findings, published in Gerontology, suggest that simple interventions, such as increased levels of walking, targeted to improve leg power in the long term may have an impact on healthy cognitive ageing. The research was funded jointly by the NIHR and the Wellcome Trust.

Scientists studied a sample of 324 healthy female twins from the TwinsUK volunteer registry over a ten-year period from 1999, measuring various health and lifestyle predictors. Researchers were, therefore, able to control for genetic factors affecting changes in cognitive function.

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Why some people would pay for a drug they probably won’t ever need

Tablets in women's hands

How about someone who didn’t have the disease — would they pay anything? And what if that person smoked?

A sick person is obviously willing to pay for a good medical treatment, but a Johns Hopkins University economist and his collaborators find that healthy people are potentially a much broader, if largely overlooked, market for medical innovations.

In a new paper published by the Review of Economic Studies, Nicholas W. Papageorge and his co-authors return to a pivotal moment in pharmaceutical history: the invention of life-saving anti-retroviral drugs to treat HIV infection. They find that the value for this treatment, known as HAART, was high not just for those who were HIV-positive, but also among the much larger pool of uninfected people who feared they could become infected in the future.

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