Entries in study (71)


Checking Your Own Facebook Profile May Boost Self-Esteem

Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- When you think of things to do to improve your self-esteem or self-image, you probably don't think about heading to Facebook. It might actually be the last place you think of, given that a percentage of people leave Facebook because of the negativity on the social network.

But a study out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has found that looking at your Facebook profile for five minutes can provide a significant boost in self-esteem.

"Most have a very large audience of friends and they selectively present the best version of self, but they do so in an accurate manner," Catalina Toma, an assistant professor of communication arts at University of Wisconsin-Madison who led the study, told ABC News. "We had people look at their own profiles for five minutes and found that they experienced a boost in self-esteem in a deep, unconscious level."

Toma had a group of participants look at their Facebook profiles and then take the Implicit Association Test, which measures how fast people associate positive or negative adjectives with words such as me, my, I and myself. After studying their profile and photos, the group was more inclined to associate themselves with positive and flattering words.

Toma wanted to see if that "significant boost" in self-esteem had any impact on behavior and motivation. Participants were then asked to do a subtraction test, in which they had to subtract the number seven from a series of large numbers. Compared to the control group of those who didn't look at their Facebook profiles, the group with the Facebook-boosted self-esteem didn't try as hard to perform well on the test.

"Facebook gives you a real good image of yourself, but you then don't have to look for that in other ways," she said. "Your motivation to perform well might be reduced because you already feel really good."

Toma found something similar in a study she worked on at Cornell University, from which she earned a PhD. In that study, she and her co-author, Jeff Hancock, asked a group of undergraduates to give a speech. Afterwards a group of participants were allowed to look at their own Facebook profile. When they were given negative feedback on their speech, those participants who looked at their profile were less defensive.

Of course, Facebook isn't always going to have a positive impact on self-worth and image. A study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, found that 9 percent of the Facebook users who took a break from the social network did so because there was too much negativity on the site and it made them feel bad.

Another study, such as one from 2012 conducted by Western Illinois University, found that the exhibitionism on Facebook can negatively impact self-esteem.

A report out of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden similarly found that users who spend more time on Facebook have lower self-esteem.

Toma was clear that not all parts of Facebook can have a positive effect on self-esteem.

"People don't always understand that they, themselves put their best face forward on Facebook and so does everyone else," she said. "It seems like everyone could be having more fun than you are or a more meaningful life. Facebook is a really multifaceted and complex psychological platform."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Study: Fame Isn't Fleeting

Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC(NEW YORK) -- True fame lasts far longer than 15 minutes, according to a new study.

The study, published in the American Sociological Review, found that the vast majority of people who become "truly famous" stay famous for years. The study looked at 10,000 names mentioned in 2,200 print media sources over a 5-year span. The top ten most frequently mentioned names were Jamie Foxx, Bill Murray, Natalie Portman, Tommy Lee Jones, Naomi Watts, Howard Hughes, Phil Spector, John Malkovich, Adrien Brody and Steve Buscemi.

Interestingly, every one of the top ten most commonly mentioned celebrities had been in the news for over a decade. It seems that celebrities in the higher tier of fame have a low turnover rate.

While there are some people who really do get just 15 minutes of fame, they tend to be on a much lower level of celebrity. The study suggested that that manner of fame -- like lottery winners and whistle blowers -- tend to be famous for one particular event and disappear into anonymity rather quickly.

Finally, the researchers determined that once the event that causes a person to become famous becomes a "large and long public conversation," the name is "locked in," increasing the likelihood that their fame will last much longer.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Educational TV Can Improve Kids’ Behavior, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Young adults who spent more time in front of a TV during their childhood are significantly more likely to be arrested and exhibit aggressive behavior, a new study found.

Researchers followed more than 1,000 young people in New Zealand from birth to age 26 and monitored the amount of television they watched during the ages of 5 and 15. In addition to monitoring television habits, the researchers also monitored criminal convictions, diagnoses of antisocial personality disorder, and personality traits of the individuals.

“This is one of the largest and best studies to date to look at long term outcomes from exposure to television,” said Dr. Christakis, director of Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, who was not involved with the study.

The more television children watched, the more likely they were to have a criminal conviction, a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder and more aggressive personality traits, the study found. The trend was seen equally in both males and females, and the researchers controlled for sex, IQ, socioeconomic status, previous antisocial behavior, and even parental control.

So does this mean your TV is turning your child into a convict? Not necessarily, caution some pediatricians.

“From this study there does seem to be an association between excessive screen time and criminality,” said Dr. Ari Brown, an Austin, Texas-based pediatrician and author of “Baby 411.” “However, [the study] cannot show evidence that the number of hours watched causes criminality. Correlation, yes. Causation, no.”

While this study highlights the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics that children should watch no more than one to two hours of television each day, the study did not look at what these children were watching, a weakness of the study many point out.

“It’s hard to imagine seeing the same results if they had just watched PBS documentaries,” said Christakis. “More emphasis needs to be placed on quality, not quantity.”

Christakis is the lead author of a study published in the same journal that reveals that changing what your children watch may actually improve their behavior.

“All television is educational, but the real question is: What is it teaching?” he said.

He and his team of researchers studied 820 families with children aged 3 to 5. Half of the families were placed in the intervention group, and replaced aggressive and violent television with educational and pro-social television. The other half of the families in the control group did not change the programming their children watched. No changes were made in the amount of television the children viewed, however, parents were encouraged to watch television with their children in the intervention group. Six months later children in the intervention group demonstrated significantly less aggression and noted to be more social than the children in the control group.

As a result of the study, experts suggest watching educational television with children can actually improve their behavior.

“Children imitate what they see on screen. They imitate bad behavior, but also good behavior. Parents should take advantage of this,” said Christakis.

“It’s not just about turning off the TV, but changing the channel.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Study: Everyday Activities Can be Just as Beneficial as Going to Gym

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study reveals that everyday activities can be just as beneficial as going to the gym, Health Day reports.

Researchers discovered that an active lifestyle appeared to be just as effective as structured exercise in providing health benefits such as preventing high cholesterol, high blood pressure and risks for coronary artery disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Short stretches of physical activity, like raking leaves, taking the stairs or pacing while talking on the phone instead of sitting, could all be just as beneficial as a trip to the gym, Health Day says.

The researchers also discovered that 43 percents of adults who did short stretches of physical activity met the federal physical guidelines of 30 minutes of daily exercise, according to Health Day.

The study was published in the January/Februrary issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Emotionally Exhausted Women More Sensitive to Sounds, Study Says

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study indicates that emotionally exhausted women are much more sensitive to sounds when they are stressed, Health Day reports.

Swedish researchers found that even a normal conversation can be painful for some of these women, and the study suggests that doctors may need to consider patients' stress and exhaustion levels when treating hearing problems, Health Day says.

The researchers exposed 208 women and 140 men between 23 and 71 years of age who had low, medium or high levels of emotional exhaustion to five minutes of physical, mental and social stress. Although none of the groups had different sensitivity to sound before being exposed to stress, the study showed that women with high levels of emotional exhaustion were much more sensitive to sounds after being exposed to stress than other women who were not exhausted. The study's authors noted that although similar changes could be seen in men, the differences were not statistically significant, according to Health Day.

The study was recently published online in PLoS ONE.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Children in Poor Neighborhoods More Likely to be Obese, Study Says

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study indicates that children in poor neighborhoods are more likely to be obese than children in middle-class or wealthy neighborhoods, Health Day reports.

Researchers compared over 17,500 5-year-old children in roughly 4,700 neighborhoods across the United States. Children in middle-class areas were shown to have a 17 percent greater risk of obesity than children in wealthy areas, while children in poor areas had a 28 percent greater risk. Study authors also found that children in neighborhoods with a high percentage of foreign-born residents had a 20 percent reduced risk of obesity, while obesity risk was higher among children in neighborhoods with lower education levels, according to Health Day.

The findings of the study were released online and will later be published in the Social Science & Medicine journal.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Study Shows Soccer Players in Danger of Brain Damage

Comstock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- MedPage Today reports that a new study analyzing soccer players found that non-traumatic but repeated hits to the head could cause significant brain damage.

The study, headed by Dr. Inga Koerte of Harvard Medical School's Psychiatry Neuroimaging Laboratory, found that the average male competitive soccer player had a range of changes in the matter deep inside their brain, compared with that of a competitve swimmer.

Koerte and her team of researchers submitted a summary of the study in Wednesday's issue of the American Medical Association Journal, in which they said soccer players' frequent use of their heads to direct the ball could explain the head trauma, but also that "differences in head injury rates, sudden accelerations, or even lifestyle could contribute" as well.

There have been past studies done that show the long-term consequences repeated traumatic brain injuries can have, but scientists are still trying to determine the exact impact that less traumatic but frequent head injuries can have.

The study was conducted on a small group of young, elite soccer players in Germany all of whom were male, and all of whom had been playing soccer for an average of more than 13 years. The players underwent a series of special brain scans, called high-resolution diffusion tensor imaging, for in-depth analysis of brain matter.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Facebook, Email More Irresistible Than Sex

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- You may want to ask your date to turn off his or her phone. A new study suggests Facebook and email trump sex in terms of sheer irresistibility.

The German study used smartphone-based surveys to probe the daily desires of 205 men and women, most of whom were college age. For one week the phones, provided by the researchers, buzzed seven times daily, alerting study subjects to take a quick survey on the type, strength and timing of their desires, as well as their ability to resist them.

While the desire for sex was stronger, the study subjects were more likely to cave into the desire to use media, including email and social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter, according to the study.

“Media desires, such as social networking, checking emails, surfing the Web or watching television might be hard to resist in light of the constant availability, huge appeal, and apparent low costs of these activities,” said study author Wilhelm Hofmann, an assistant professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

The subjects were paid $28 at the start of the study and were eligible for extra incentives if they filled out more than 80 percent of the surveys. It’s no small wonder that more than 10,000 surveys were completed.

The urge to check social media was so strong that subjects gave in up to 42 percent of the time, according to the study published in the journal Psychological Science. One explanation is that it’s much more convenient to check email or Facebook than it is to have sex.

“The sex drive is much stronger but it’s also much more situational,” said Karen North, director of the Annenberg Program on Online Communities at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, who was not involved with the study. “We’re training ourselves to check our messages every couple minutes.”

“People are constantly looking down to check their phones,” North added. “They can’t stop.”

One drawback of this study is that it failed to address whether the subjects had sexual partners.  So while some subjects might have been single, all of them had smartphones, North said. It’s also unclear whether the findings can be generalized to the general population.

While social media can help people stay connected, Hofmann said overuse can be damaging.

“Media desires distract us from getting work done,” he said. “People underestimate how much time they consume and the distractions they produce and that can be harmful.”

The study surprised media expert Bob Larose, a professor in the department of telecommunications, information studies, and media at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich.

“It’s surprising that self-regulation fails so much more often for media use than for sex, alcohol or food,” said Larose, who was not involved with the study.” That speaks to the power of the instantly available, 24/7 media environment to disrupt our lives… Our failure to control media use can deplete our ability to control other aspects of our lives.”

For those who fear social media is taking over their personal or professional lives, there is hope.  North offers some tips.

“If it is interfering with social/business relationships, work, or school performance, then people should try to scale back and control or limit the behavior,” she said, describing how self-imposed “rules,” like no social media at the dinner table, can help curb the constant urge to check Facebook.

“People can use a self monitoring technique, such as charting when they use social media as a means of reducing it,” North added. “Some people find it helpful to set rewards for staying within use standards that they set for themselves.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sexual Arousal Dampens 'Ick' Factor

Eyecandy Images/Thinkstock(GRONINGEN, Netherlands) -- If you're turned on, you're less likely to be grossed out, at least according to a new study.

The small study published Wednesday in the journal PLoS Online asked a total of 90 European women to perform tasks that had an "icky" element to them, such as drinking from a cup containing an insect or wiping their hands with a used tissue. Some of the women were shown an erotic film. Others did not see the film.

Women who were sexually aroused felt less disgust when doing the tasks than the participants who were not sexually aroused, the researchers found. The findings suggested sexual arousal decreases women's so-called disgust response, they said.

Why might this be important? The experiment came about because the researchers realized that sex involves smells and fluids that can be repulsive.

"This results in the intriguing question of how people succeed in having pleasurable sex at all," wrote study lead author Charmaine Borg, a PhD. student with the faculty of behavioral and social sciences at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

"These findings can indicate that lack of sexual arousal may interfere with functional sex, as it may prevent the reduction of disgust and disgust-related avoidance tendencies."

Believe it or not, the role of sexual arousal on our feelings of disgust is of great interest to sex experts.

"I think this study is interesting in that it helps support the idea that sexual arousal lowers inhibitions and often enables one to participate in activities that they might normally find disgusting or off-putting," said Dr. Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and author based in New York City who was not involved with the study.

While the study involved women, the same findings are probably true for men too, wrote Borg.

"In view of the previous research and our data, I am confident that male participants would have a very similar response as our women participants," Borg told ABC News.

The study may help people who suffer from sexual dysfunction disorders, and the findings may also help therapists someday understand how to deal with sexual incompatibility between partners.

"It's not uncommon for people to say that the idea of having sex with [a] spouse or long-term partner is gross," said Debby Herbenick, a research scientist at Indiana University and author of "Sex Made Easy."

"It's a very sad experience for many people," she said. "Many people say, 'I love this person but I feel turned off, I feel repulsed by it.' ... We don't understand that switch, especially when they clearly love and care for that person."

As for people who do not struggle with such issues, the findings may still explain how the prospect of sex still appeals.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Overweight Children at Higher Risk for Gallstones

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study indicates that overweight children are more prone to gallstones, Health Day reports.

After analyzing the health records of over 510,000 children in California, researchers found that overweight children were twice as likely to have gallstones than children with normal weight. According to the study, the risk for moderately obese children was four times higher and the risk for extremely obese children was six times higher, Health Day says.

The study found that the link between gallstones and obesity was stronger in girls than in boys, and also found that Hispanic children were more prone to gallstones than children from other ethnic and racial groups, according to Health Day.

The study was published in the Aug. 24 edition of the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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