Entries in Emotion (6)


Font Size Can Affect Your Emotional Brain Response, Study Says

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(BERLIN) -- People have more of an emotional brain response to words in larger fonts than in smaller ones, according to the findings of a new study.

Researchers at the Humboldt University of Berlin in Germany connected 25 participants to an electroencephalogram, or EEG, a device used to measure electrical activity in the brain.  They then gave participants 72 different positive, neutral and negative words in a variety of font sizes.

The study, published in the journal PLoS One, found that the positive (e.g. holiday) and negative (e.g. disease) words printed in a larger size elicited a stronger emotional brain response than smaller-sized words.

Changing the size of neutral words, like chair, did not elicit the same type of response.

“In general, emotional words capture more attention than neutral words,” Mareike Bayer, lead author of the study, told ABC News.  “These effects are reflected in specific brain activations which can be measured by event related brain potentials in the EEG."

“Our study showed that the effects of emotional meaning are boosted when words are presented in large fonts,” said Bayer.  “In other words, more attention is captured by larger emotional words, probably explaining the power of large fonts in tabloid headlines or catchwords.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Comfort Foods Emotionally Good for You

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- Comfort foods may not be good for your waistline or your cholesterol level, but they can definitely warm your heart, according to a new study published in Psychological Science.

Researchers at the University of Buffalo ran multiple experiments to judge or invoke participants' loneliness, and then measured their feelings and thoughts when comfort foods were thrown into the mix.  They found that when the participants wrote about the foods, memories of eating with loved ones arose.  Participants who were given soup also thought more about relationships.

"What we found is that people have the capacity to create a comfort food for themselves by having it be something that's consistently associated with their close others," said the study's co-author, Jordan Troisi.

Researchers concluded that comfort foods are social surrogates, which is why people turn to them when they're feeling lonely or sad in an attempt to fill the hole in their hearts.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


YouTube Vids on Cutting: Harmful or Helpful?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ONTARIO, Canada) -- YouTube provides easy access to videos of almost anything, but what is the impact on viewers, especially younger viewers, when "anything" includes hundreds of photos, video clips and montages of self-harming behaviors such as cutting and self-mutilation?

In a study that analyzed the videos, Canadian researchers found that the 100 most popular videos portraying self-harm on YouTube have been viewed more than 2 million times and selected as "favorite" more than 12,000 times, triggering concern over what kind of impact the sharing and viewing of these videos may be having on those at risk for self-injurious behavior.

"We found that very few videos actually encourage self-injury," says the lead author on the study, Stephen Lewis of the University of Guelph in Ontario. "Most were neutral or hopeful for overcoming this issue.”

Concerned for the potential risks, YouTube contacted researchers and has since removed the videos they considered inappropriate content, Lewis says.

Self-injury behavior, which, in the videos, most often took the form of self-cutting, is known as non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) because while it involves the deliberate destruction of one's own body tissue, it is not necessarily driven by a desire for suicide. Often, self-harmers report that cutting is a form of coping with emotional pain and that the act of inflicting pain on themselves provides powerful momentary relief from mental distress, says Kim Gratz, director of personality disorders research at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Though it's hard to gauge the prevalence of this behavior, Gratz says that studies find that between 17 and 40 percent of college students admit to committing self harm and between 15 and 30 percent of high school students do.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Drug Abusers Have Trouble Interpreting Facial Expressions

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(GRANADA, Spain) -- Spanish scientists report that individuals who abuse drugs may have difficulty identifying the emotions of others from facial expressions, according  to Consumer Affairs

In the study, conducted at the University of Grenada, researchers found that 70 percent of drug abusers displayed some type of psychological deterioration.

Researchers looked at the relationship between drug abuse and the interpretation of basic emotions such as happiness, surprise, anger, fear and sadness.  Their analysis showed that drug abusers experienced difficulty identifying anger, disgust, fear and sadness by facial expression.  Additionally, individuals who regularly abuse alcohol, cannabis or cocaine saw trouble with cognitive fluency and decision-making. 

The University of Granada's study is the first to investigate the widespread presence of psychological deterioration in drug abusers enrolled in therapeutic communities.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Does Facebook Make You Jealous, Unhappy?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PALO ALTO, Calif.) -- Is Facebook making you sad? Do you look at your friends’ status updates and pictures and think their lives are more exciting than yours?

New research out of Stanford University says we often compare ourselves to others and think that they are leading more fulfilling and happy lives. And while that may not be a new phenomenon, social media may be making it worse.

A PhD student at Stanford conducted a study to find out how happy we think our friends are, and whether we’re right. He and his fellow researchers asked college freshmen to estimate how many positive and negative experiences they think their friends are having.

Turns out the students overestimated their friends’ quality of life.

In a separate study, researchers found the more that people overestimate how happy their friends were, the more upset they are with their own lives.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Survey: Students' Emotional Health at 25-Year Low

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- The emotional health of college freshmen has dropped to its lowest level in 25 years, according to an annual survey of full-time college students at four-year colleges.

The survey, The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2010, was conducted by UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute and involved 200,000 students. The number of freshmen who said their emotional health was "below average" has risen steadily, according to the report.

Only 52 percent rated themselves as "above average" in emotional health, down from 64 percent in 1985.

New York University recently overhauled its mental health services to provide around-the-clock help and relaxation programs after a rash of suicides.

"They are having to adjust to new academics, new friends, sometimes a new city and a new living situation," said Zoe Ragouzeos, director of counseling and wellness services at New York University.

That stress is compounded by a bad economy.

"Will they have a job waiting at the other end after spending $60,000 to $80,000 on a college education?" asked Brian Van Brunt, director of counseling at Western Kentucky University and president of the American College Counseling Association. "They are struggling like no generation before with the question, 'Is college worth it?'"

College students say the pressure ratchets up significantly after freshman year as they move closer to graduation and must secure internships and, eventually, jobs in a weak economy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio