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On the Newsstand

Being Naughty Has More Impact Than Being Nice
Los Angeles Times
December 17, 2008

“The study shows that giving and taking produce different patterns of reciprocity. The researchers conducted five experiments in which people played games that assigned them as givers or takers and allowed them to reciprocate acts of giving or taking. They found the positive action of giving is reciprocated in comparable measure whereas the negative action of taking is reciprocated more harshly, which may trigger an escalation of negative social exchanges. ”

Coverage of “Reciprocity Is Not Give and Take: Asymmetric Reciprocity to Positive and Negative Acts” in Psychological Science (Boaz Keysar, Benjamin A. Converse, Jiunwen Wang, and Nicholas Epley, Volume 19(12), 1280-1286).

Why a Sob Fest Makes You Feel Better — Or Worse
MSNBC
December 23, 2008

“The effects of crying depend on who is shedding the tears. A majority of the volunteers reported improvements in their mood after a crying session, possibly from receiving social support during their episode. However, one third of the survey participants reported no improvement in mood and a tenth felt worse after they cried their emotions out. Individuals with anxiety or mood disorders were least likely to experience positive effects of crying.”

Coverage of “Is Crying Beneficial?” in Current Directions in Psychological Science (Jonathan Rottenberg, Lauren M. Bylsma, and Ad J.J.M. Vingerhoets, Volume 17(6), 400-404).

Walking in the Countryside is Good for the Brain As Well As the Body
The Daily Telegraph
December 26, 2008

“Now scientists have shown that ‘interacting with nature’, even in the middle of winter, boosts memory and concentration levels. In fact, just an hour strolling though the countryside increases the brain’s performance by a fifth. In contrast, a walk through busy streets has no improving effect on the brain at all. The research, published in the journal Psychological Science, also found memory and attention improved after simply looking at pictures of nature rather than photos of built-up areas.”

Coverage of “The Cognitive Benefits of Interacting With Nature” in Psychological Science (Marc G. Berman, John Jonides, and Stephen Kaplan, Volume 19(12), 1207-1212).

Study: Older Brains Filter Out Unpleasant Memories
USA Today
December 16, 2008

“Brain scans suggest that older people are much better than the young at screening out life’s negative experiences, giving them a rosier outlook, according to a study out today. The new report adds to growing evidence against the ‘grumpy old man’ stereotype. ‘It’s just the opposite,’ says neuroscientist Roberto Cabeza of Duke University. ‘People tend to be more contented as they get older.’”

Coverage of “Effects of Aging on Functional Connectivity of the Amygdala for Subsequent Memory of Negative Pictures: A Network Analysis of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Data” in Psychological Science (Peggy L. St. Jacques, Florin Dolcos, and Roberto Cabeza, Volume 20(1), 74-84).

Observer Vol.22, No.2 February, 2009

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