The Uncer-ten-ty of Adverbs

Does it work?   “It could certainly work.” “It certainly works.”   Does it, really?   “Presumably.” “Apparently.” “Evidently.”   Each adverb is laden with varying degrees of uncertainty, some of which depend on your understanding of English to perceive. Yet even as native English speakers, Australians and Canadians interpreted commonly used adverbs slightly differently in terms of the level of confidence each word conveyed. Imagine how much more complex it becomes when the speaker and listener do not speak the same native language. When the patient wants a straight answer and at the same time listens through a filter … Continue reading The Uncer-ten-ty of Adverbs

Be Mine for All Nine Lives

Are you the same as you were 10 years ago? 5 years ago? Even 6 months ago?   I would venture to guess, probably not.   We go through change all the time–sometimes it happens to us, and other times we make it happen. We make new connections and we lose some connections. We change jobs, and likely change careers over time.   For some people, their life partner is the constant throughout these reinventions. A study of partnered people examined the domains that determined life satisfaction over different phases of life (quantitatively: young, middle-aged, and old) and found that … Continue reading Be Mine for All Nine Lives

Collabor-eight!

“Two brains are better than one.” This magical expression divides an individual task into a partnered exercise–a great way to delegate part of the work and safeguard it against potential fallacies of a solo flyer. The same logic invites multiple people into a bubble of creativity by virtue of the popular activity of brainstorming. Collective intelligence tells us, after all, that collective intelligence is greater than individual intelligence.   What makes this machinery tick? It turns out that “social sensitivity,” or the ability to read each other, is positively and significantly correlated with collective intelligence. In particular, the individual lowest … Continue reading Collabor-eight!

(Not) Funny up to Seventy Times Seven?

  Bitter laughter may be a part of one’s reaction to being wronged, but humor is probably the last thing on one’s mind when they struggle to forgive.   (Schadenfreude, now that’s a different story.)   However, research shows that your style of humor may correlate with your likelihood of forgiving someone who has wronged you. In particular: self-enhancing humor (eg, an absurdist view which sees the humor in a situation to cheer yourself up) significantly positively predicted the total Forgiveness Scale (which includes the Presence of Positive and the Absence of Negative subscales and is based on how the … Continue reading (Not) Funny up to Seventy Times Seven?

The Ba-six of Believability

  We get our news online, satisfy our thirst for knowledge online, and–for better or for worse–maintain some of our most important friendships and family relationships online. Yet the old caution, “Don’t believe everything you read,” becomes less palatable as we seek out relevant content and interaction with no appetite for sifting through garbage and untruths. We certainly hope that the people we care about are saying what they mean and meaning what they say.   This study suggests that psychological distance and mindset have an effect on the believability of what we read. The effect of mindset is not … Continue reading The Ba-six of Believability

Caring for the Five Senses in Cancer

Few diagnoses are as crushing as cancer, and the hope that a patient grapples for after the news can be so fragile that anyone who touches it could have a disproportionately profound impact–one way or another. The weary oncologist who keeps his eyes on the computer screen, his portal of data-driven power, and gives one-word replies to the patient who is desperate for answers is not signaling that the patient needn’t be anxious because he is in control. He’s conveying that he doesn’t really care about the patient’s feelings. The friendly nurse who says, “Don’t worry, the tumor is not … Continue reading Caring for the Five Senses in Cancer

Four-get Me Not

What do you love to do now? And what will you love to do if you lose your memory by various degrees? Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have identified 4 types of social activities that older adults participate in: Altruism, Creativity, Game, and Motion. The activities fulfill different purposes, broadly grouped into “enjoyment,” “relaxation,” “stimulation,” and “belongingness.” Interestingly, the types of activities chosen by seniors varied with their levels of memory. More people with high memory chose Motion activities than people with low memory. More people with low memory chose Creativity-related activities. Granted, the study had a small sample … Continue reading Four-get Me Not

Three axes of color even in a blue world

Do we see blue when we feel blue? Not as well as when our eyes are smiling through those rose-tinted glasses, apparently. The world in all its colorful beauty is known to be visually perceived by humans through 3 color axes–red-green, blue-yellow, and black-white. Recent experiments have shown that watching a sad video clip can decrease the ability to perceive colors on the blue-yellow axis, but not those on the red-green axis. Given these revelations, should we consider rewriting the teal-jerking and cyan-ical lyrics of “Love Is Blue” and “Blue Balloon” to reflect the happiness–or at least neutrality–one should be … Continue reading Three axes of color even in a blue world