Weekend Update: The latest insights from the world of research

Have you ever had one of those weeks where it seems like Monday morning and Friday night were just 48 hours apart because you had so much on the go? That’s what the previous week was like for this blogger.

Suddenly it’s the weekend and I notice that it’s been an unusually long time since I’ve posted anything new. Indeed, I do have something good in the works: a historical piece on Transair, Winnipeg’s former hometown airline, which has become a labour of love for me. I’m hoping to have that ready to post next weekend.

Other people have been working away at their own endeavours, too — researchers and scientists all over the world trying to figure out what makes our world what it is. They continue to come up with some interesting findings that are worth sharing here.

Using shame and guilt to try to get young people to change their ways can backfire. In a joint effort, researchers at Indiana University and Northwestern University looked at the effectiveness of ads that tried to steer young people away from drinking, smoking and other vices by trying to induce shame or guilt. They found that, far from steering young people away from these vices, these ads actually steered young people toward them by putting them on the defensive and leading them to underestimate their own vulnerabilities. “These ads may ultimately do more harm than good,” concluded Prof. Adam Duhachek of Indiana University.

When is sex not sex? Researchers at Indiana University presented 204 men and 282 women in that state with a list of 14 sexual behaviours and asked if each behaviour constituted “having sex” with someone. Some people might be surprised to hear that three-in-ten respondents (30%) denied that oral sex constituted “having sex”, and that one-in-five (20%) said that anal sex didn’t count.  No word on whether or not they’d feel the same way if they caught their mates at it with someone else.

Languages tend to simplify as they become more widespread. Two researchers, one from the University of Pennsylvania and the other from the University of Memphis, found that languages tend to evolve and simplify as they spread throughout the world so as to become more easily learned.

Gary Lupyan, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, noted in a recent paper published in the Public Library of Science that “as a language becomes more popular, as it spreads beyond its original place, different types of people with different backgrounds and cultures need to learn it,” and that the language’s grammatical rules begin to simplify. Thus, the most complicated languages tend to be those restricted to fairly limited areas, such as the Icelandic language and the multitudes of Native American and Australian Aborigine languages.

Ever wonder why backpackers tend to be happy-go-lucky types? A joint study by the University of California at San Diego and The Netherlands’ Leiden University found that people who are happy tend to feel less need for the comfort of the familiar and are more likely to seek out adventures and new experiences. Unhappy people, however, tend to value things that are familiar and comforting. “Familiarity signals safety, which is pleasant in an unsafe or stressful context but might actually get boring when all is going fine,” said researcher Marieke de Vries of Leiden University.

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About theviewfromseven
A lone wolf and a bit of a contrarian who sometimes has something to share.

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