human-behavior

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It's mean boys, not mean girls, who rule at school, study shows

Debunking the myth of the “mean girl,” new research from the University of Georgia has found that boys use relational aggression – malicious rumors, social exclusion and rejection – to harm or manipulate others more often than girls.

The longitudinal study, published online in the journal Aggressive Behavior, followed a cohort of students from middle to high school and found that, at every grade level, boys engaged in relationally aggressive behavior more often than girls.

A team led by UGA professor Pamela Orpinas analyzed data collected from 620 students randomly selected from six northeast Georgia school districts. Students who participated in the study completed yearly surveys, which allowed the UGA researchers to identify and group them in distinct trajectories for relational aggression and victimization as they progressed from grade six to 12.

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We eat in restaurants, buy branded toiletries, build skyscrapers, create legislative institutions, travel in flying machines, write poetry, and search for meaning in relationships, temples, and scientific books. Humans have discovered antibiotics, sent probes into space, decimated rainforests, shared a billion views of clips of kitten behaviour, and decoded their own genomes.

But there is one thing that humans have singularly failed to do, and that is to properly understand their own behaviour.

—  Robert Aunger and Valerie Curtis in Gaining Control: How human behavior evolved

Hey smartphone owners — when was the last time you were truly bored? Or even had a moment for mental downtime, unattached to a device?

Many of us reflexively grab our phones at the first hint of boredom throughout the day. And indeed a recent study by the research group Flurry found that mobile consumers now spend an average of 2 hours and 57 minutes each day on mobile devices.

Are we packing our minds too full? What might we be losing out on by texting, tweeting and email-checking those moments away?

Manoush Zomorodi, host of the WNYC podcast New Tech City, is digging into that question. She talked with NPR’s Audie Cornish about a project the podcast is launching called Bored and Brilliant: The Lost Art Of Spacing Out.

Bored… And Brilliant? A Challenge To Disconnect From Your Phone

Illustration credit: John Hersey/Courtesy of WNYC

It’s better to have 4 close friends than 400 casual ones. It’s science. 

Every New Year’s, there’s a rush of pressure to make this year the best one yet by getting out there and meeting new people. But this year, you can skip the resolution to make more friends: Science shows that working on improving the strong relationships you already have will make you happier and healthier in the long run. 

A new study, published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology last month, found that high school and college students have smaller interpersonal social networks than those of students in the past. But despite rising concerns about social media causing feelings of disconnection, the teens actually reported a decline in loneliness. 

Teens feel less isolated because their friendships are stronger

Simple Depiction of Wealth Inequality In The U.S.

Research from the Institute for Policy Studies shows that recent Wall Street bonuses are way out of line with minimum wage earners.  Waaaay out of line.  And that's just their bonuses.

Make you think twice about raising the minimum wage?  And think about this – there’s a greater economic impact because low-wage people spend most, if not all, of their money because they have to. They have to pay for a place to live, feed their families, clothe their kids, and so on and so forth. That spending has a much greater stimulative effect on the economy.

While high wage earners may spend more on big ticket items, they can also afford to stash extra cash in a bank.

The researchers estimate that every dollar going to low wage workers adds an estimated $1.21 to the economy whereas each dollar going to high-income households adds only $0.39.

How much would you raise minimum wage to?

In this episode of Invisibilia, NPR’s new show about human behavior, hosts Alix Spigel and Lulu Miller examine how categories define us — how, if given a chance, humans will jump into one category or another. People need them, want them. This show looks at what categories provide for us.

Invisiblia: The Power Of Categories

Illustration credit: Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Times are hard, resources are scarce and you’re broke.

Now, imagine you’ve been given a limited amount of money to distribute among a small group of people. The faces above.

How do you split up the funds?

This is a question at the center of a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Amy R. Krosch and David M. Amodio of New York University set out to determine whether connections exist between economic scarcity and how individuals perceive race. The results form a grim but unsurprising conclusion:

The link is real. And it’s bad news for black people.

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Prediction as a Humanitarian and Pragmatic Contribution from Human Cognitive Neuroscience

Neuroimaging has greatly enhanced the cognitive neuroscience understanding of the human brain and its variation across individuals (neurodiversity) in both health and disease. Such progress has not yet, however, propelled changes in educational or medical practices that improve people’s lives. We review neuroimaging findings in which initial brain measures (neuromarkers) are correlated with or predict future education, learning, and performance in children and adults; criminality; health-related behaviors; and responses to pharmacological or behavioral treatments. Neuromarkers often provide better predictions (neuroprognosis), alone or in combination with other measures, than traditional behavioral measures. With further advances in study designs and analyses, neuromarkers may offer opportunities to personalize educational and clinical practices that lead to better outcomes for people.

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