Increasing stress leads to risky decisions

Neuroscientists find that increasing chronic workplace stress skews decisions toward higher-risk options. Making decisions is not always easy, especially when choosing between two options that have both positive and negative elements, such as deciding between a job with a high salary but long hours, and a lower-paying job that allows for more leisure time.… [read more]

Early childhood adversities linked to health problems in tweens, teens.

 A new study is the first to point to brain changes that underlie poor health in some children who have suffered adversity. Increasing adverse experiences in childhood—such as gun violence, absent parents (both at work) news reports (e.g. the 9/11 bombing), violent games and TV, the death of a parent, growing up in poverty, physical or sexual abuse, or having a parent with a psychiatric illness(such as depression)—have been associated with physical and mental health problems later in life.… [read more]

Investors should read staff satisfaction surveys.

Companies with high levels of staff satisfaction perform better financially, according to new research. The study examined the effect of staff satisfaction on corporate performance and stock price using employees’ online reviews of where they work.

Writing in the journal Economic Letters, the researchers say that firms rated highly by their current employees in terms of satisfaction achieve greater financial performance compared to firms characterized by low levels of employee satisfaction.… [read more]

Sitting is the new smoking.

Should employers be held liable? Doctors have warned us for years about the health risks associated with sitting too much. Researchers have linked sitting for long periods of time to a number of health issues, including increased high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat and cholesterol.… [read more]

The law lags behind research—to all of our detriment.

New research on the biological basis of psychiatric disorders has important implications for legal proceedings as well as mental health treatment, according to a special issue on “Psychiatry, Neuroscience, and the Law,” published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry.

The special issue seeks “to educate and inform mental health researchers and clinicians about the increasing use of their work in judicial contexts and to prepare them for the ethical and practical issues that will arise when their work enters the legal arena,” write the editors.… [read more]

Hearing an opinion spoken aloud humanizes the person behind it.

People attribute more humanlike qualities to those expressing opinions they disagree with when the opinions are spoken as opposed to written, according to new research in the journal Psychological Science. The findings explore how specific aspects of speech, such as intonation and frequent pauses, may serve as cues that humanize the people who are speaking, making them seem more intellectual and emotionally warm than those whose opinions are written.… [read more]

Poor social skills may be harmful to health.

This study comes into the “more proof that we are indeed social animals and without supportive relationships, we’re in trouble” category. The researchers found that those who struggle in social situations may be at greater risk for mental and physical health problems.… [read more]

Employee volunteerism? Only if you think your boss is ethical

I have seen a lot of interesting studies on the science of ethics recently, but this one really caught my eye.

What the researchers say:

The new study shows that people who perceive their employer as committed to environmental and community-based causes will, in turn, engage in green behavior and local volunteerism, with one caveat: their immediate boss must display similarly ethical behavior.… [read more]

“Each one thinks the tiger will eat him last.

” You’ve all heard of Signal Detection Theory (SDT), right? Probably not unless you’re a psychologist specializing in non-human animal behavior. SDT is a well-established idea that has influenced behavioral science for around 50 years. Essentially, the theory holds that in a predator-prey relationship, prey animals will show more wariness and be more prone to flee as predators become more common.… [read more]

Close friends linked to a sharper memory.

New research confirms that maintaining strong social networks (not Facebook connections) seems to be linked to slower cognitive decline.

What the researchers say: Maintaining positive, warm and trusting friendships might be the key to a slower decline in memory and cognitive functioning, according to the new study.… [read more]