After Conflict, Reach Out and Touch Them


An interesting new study has shown that male athletes touch each other more than female athletes after a sporting conflict. It also turns out that the male athletes demonstrate better “making up” skills – and it all comes down to touching each other. The researchers suspect that this could be some hardwired behaviour since chimps do the same thing – after a conflict they physically touch more in an almost consoling way. The researchers also point out that this behaviour in sport might be way males tend to dominate in certain social practices. Could the act of making supportive physical contact after a confrontation help people get along?

Researchers have long been puzzled by the abilities of male chimpanzees, who constantly bicker and fight, to put aside their differences and co-operate and work together in struggles for territory with other groups.
Studies showed that male and female chimps acted differently in the aftermath of fights, with males much more inclined to engage in reconciliation behaviours.
Psychologists wondered if the same habits were true for humans – and decided to analyse high-level, same sex sporting competitions for these reconciliation traits.

But across the four sports observed, men spent significantly more time touching than females, in what the authors term “post-conflict affiliation”.
“What you’ll see is that many times females brush their fingers against each other,” said lead author Prof Joyce Benenson from Emmanuel College and Harvard University.

Read more.

Kindness Spreads Like a Disease

When we think of contagious things it usually in a negative context like a flu or other illness. The next time you here of something being contagious you can now have a positive association because kindness is contagious too.

New research is discovering that individuals who are around generous people can “catch” that attitude and become more kind themselves. It’s really inspiring research!

People in our studies didn’t even need to see others do anything in order to catch their kindness. In another follow-up, people read stories about the suffering of homeless individuals. After each story, they saw what they believed was the average level of empathy past participants had felt in response to its protagonist. Some people learned that their peers cared a great deal, and others learned they were pretty callous. At the end of the study, we gave participants a $1 bonus, and the opportunity to donate as much of it as they liked to a local homeless shelter. People who believed others had felt empathy for the homeless cared more themselves, and also donated twice as much as people who believed others had felt little empathy.
We still don’t fully understand the psychological forces that power kindness contagion. One possibility, supported by our own work, is that people value being on the same page with others. For instance, we’ve found that when individuals learn that their own opinions match those of a group, they engage brain regions associated with the experience of reward, and that this brain activity tracks their later efforts to line up with a group. As such, when people learn that others act kindly, they might come to value kindness more themselves.

Read more.
Thanks to Delaney!

Good Storytellers Tend to be Happier


Everybody likes a good story, but not everybody can tell a story well. If you are one of those people who are a good storyteller you might just be happier than other people. It turns out that good storytellers are happier and that male storytellers who can spin a good yarn are more attractive to females. Practice makes perfect so try telling stories to everybody!

It feels wonderful to tell someone your stories when you are first becoming intimate. Think of the people you have been in love with in your life. I bet that at least once early in your relationship you stayed up all night talking, telling stories that were revealing and illuminating. That deep communication is sexy.

Stories are profoundly intimate, says Kari Winter, a historian and literary critic at the University at Buffalo. “It is empowering to the teller because they get recognition from the listener. And it is empowering to the listener because it helps them understand the teller.”

Read more.

Your Body Wants You To Be Social If You Feel Lonely


Loneliness is something that everybody experiences in their life and it turns out it could be a good thing. By feeling lonely your body is telling you that you need to change: you ought to go hang out with friends.

Humans are social animals and our bodies have evolved to ensure that we stay in groups. Their are many benefits to surrounding yourself with friends and it looks like that deep inside our physical bodies know this too. So the next time you feel lonely just think about how cool it is that it’s an evolved trait! Then go chill with some friends.

In recent years, scientists have sharpened their focus on loneliness, concluding it does have a purpose, does have redeeming features. They are not talking like Thoreau about the benefits of solitude on our creative minds and spirits. They are talking like Darwin about loneliness driving change, an evolutionary correction.

“Loneliness is a warning system,” says Louise Hawkley a psychologist at the University of Chicago. It is our body telling us we’re breaking from the social bonds that nourished us as a species. “We’re failing to satisfy our fundamental drive to connect with other humans,” Hawkley says. Feeling isolated switches our bodies into self-preservation mode. “What happens with people who are lonely for a long time is their threat-defense programs get activated,” says Steve Cole, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. “The body interprets loneliness as threatening.”

Read more.

Why Some Love Cities And Others Love The Country


The idea that cities are inherently stressful or that the country is inherently calming isn’t so cut and dry. Some people find the excitement of urban living as not only exciting but also as a source of relaxation. Others may find the boringness of the countryside as a required way to maintain mental calmness.

There’s some neat research that examines why some people are keen for the hustle and bustle of a downtown while others not so much.

But, before you box neurotics as city-types and non-neurotics as country mice, remember how much variation can exist within the respective environments. “Not all urban situations are loud and busy, and not all natural ones are calm and quiet,” Newman says, offering city parks and ziplining as examples of the dichotomy at play here. “A highly neurotic person can still enjoy nature, but maybe their ideal version of a hike includes more boulders, a trail run, some animals.” In other words, when it comes to alleviating anxiety, it’s not the environment so much as what you do in it.

So, do cities and small towns inherently attract separate types of people? Newman speculates this could possibly explain regional stereotypes: Midwestern niceties, the Southern drawl, West Coast chill, Northeastern pent-upness. And Newman says businesses and urban planners should pay attention to these qualities: It might make sense for a national park to showcase the active aspects of mountaineering or whitewater rafting for the Northeast, for example, while Midwestern parks might feature vistas and sunsets.

Read more.