Meaning Is Healthier Than Happiness – The Atlantic Reply

people who are happy but have little to no sense of meaning in their lives — proverbially, simply here for the party — have the same gene expression patterns as people who are responding to and enduring chronic adversity. That is, the bodies of these happy people are preparing them for bacterial threats by activating the pro-inflammatory response. Chronic inflammation is, of course, associated with major illnesses like heart disease and various cancers.

“Empty positive emotions” — like the kind people experience during manic episodes or artificially induced euphoria from alcohol and drugs — ”are about as good for you for as adversity,” says Fredrickson.

It’s important to understand that for many people, a sense of meaning and happiness in life overlap; many people score jointly high or jointly low on the happiness and meaning measures in the study. But for many others, there is a dissonance — they feel that they are low on happiness and high on meaning or that their lives are very high in happiness, but low in meaning. This last group, which has the gene expression pattern associated with adversity, formed a whopping 75 percent of study participants. Only one quarter of the study participants had what the researchers call “eudaimonic predominance” — that is, their sense of meaning outpaced their feelings of happiness.

via Meaning Is Healthier Than Happiness – The Atlantic.

America’s public trust has dwindled with rise in income inequality Reply

Trust in others and confidence in societal institutions are at their lowest point in over three decades, analyses of national survey data reveal. The findings are forthcoming in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

“Compared to Americans in the 1970s-2000s, Americans in the last few years are less likely to say they can trust others, and are less likely to believe that institutions such as government, the press, religious organizations, schools, and large corporations are ‘doing a good job,'” explains psychological scientist and lead researcher Jean M. Twenge of San Diego State University.

Twenge and colleagues W. Keith Campbell and Nathan Carter, both of the University of Georgia, found that as income inequality and poverty rose, public trust declined, indicating that socioeconomic factors may play an important role in driving this downward trend in public trust:”With the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, people trust each other less,” says Twenge.

“There’s a growing perception that other people are cheating or taking advantage to get ahead, as evidenced, for example, by the ideas around ‘the 1%’ in the Occupy protests.”

via Public trust has dwindled with rise in income inequality.

Facebook and Twitter Limit Political Debate — Science of Us Reply

Is social media really fostering robust discussion and debate?

According to a new report from the Pew Research Center called “Social Media and the ‘Spiral of Silence,” the answer is no. In fact, it may be doing the opposite. Pew polled 1,801 Americans, asking them about their “opinions about the Snowden leaks, their willingness to talk about the revelations in various in-person and online settings, and their perceptions of the views of those around them in a variety of online and off-line contexts.”

Pew chose the Snowden story in part because polls have showed Americans are relatively evenly divided on it. Despite the still-prevailing idealistic vision of social media as a platform for engaged citizenry and robust debate, the report notes that “people were less likely to discuss these issues on social media than they were in person.” Moreover, “if people thought their social media friends and followers disagreed with them, they were less likely to want to discuss the issues at all.”

via Facebook and Twitter Limit Political Debate — Science of Us.

Do ‘Gamified’ Health Apps Work? Who Knows — Science of Us Reply

“As it stands, the current industry use of gamification, game elements, and behavioral theory are subpar, illustrating a proliferation of apps available for download following no set industry standard that is currently available.” In other words, a fun, gamified app is not automatically a gamified app that will actually keep the calories off.

via Do ‘Gamified’ Health Apps Work? Who Knows — Science of Us.

Spotify’s mesmerizing new map shows that music can be social again Reply


This is sort of novel. It just goes to show you the many aspects of our lives that are now captured, measured, and made observable to others.

Originally posted on Quartz:

Spotify turned on a cool new feature this morning called Serendipity, an interactive map that highlights places on the planet where two people begin a song at the same time (or within a tenth of a second of each other). The above is a GIF built on screenshots from the site, but for the full effect, turn your volume up and click through to hear snippets of the songs the world is listening to. (You can pause to finish listening to anything you like.)

The feature was built by Kyle McDonald, Spotify’s first “artist in residence.” “There are like 10, 20 thousand songs started per second, which is like 25 to 50 million being listened to at any moment,” he tells Quartz.

It is a lot of fun to play with. But it also highlights the massive, untapped potential Spotify has to exploit social connections and communities among its users. Right now, Serendipity just…

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Strategies for calling time on long hours – Reply

Question: Can consultants, at the beck and call of clients’ demands, ever have anything approaching a work-life balance?

For a year [Prof. Perlow, HBS] studied his team at Boston Consulting Group and came back with the verdict that the biggest problem was a lack of predictability. “People could never make a plan because of client demands,” recalls Mr Freeland. So they came up with a scheme called “predictable time off”, or PTO. It gave employees an evening or a day between Mondays and Thursdays when they would not be contacted and could switch off the phone and email.

Most efforts fail if we aim for work-life balance as it’s superficial unless you change how work is done”, says Mr Freeland, senior partner, today responsible for BCG’s people and organisation practice. It was a tricky sell, he reflects. “Some thought long hours were a rite of passage; others didn’t think we needed PTO.

via Strategies for calling time on long hours –

10 Emoji Meanings That Might Surprise You [reblog] Reply

A simple and current reminder that language is a living thing.

134-woman-with-bunny-earsIn many cases, the original meanings are based on Japanese culture, as that is where emoji were first popularized. But people have since adopted entirely new uses and meanings for certain emoji.From cultural crossovers to niche communities, some of these reinterpretations have become so mainstream, that it might surprise you to find out what the following emoji actually represent.

via 10 Emoji Meanings That Might Surprise You.

Watch how the centers of Western culture migrated over 2,000 years Reply


A fascinating use of data and visualization to tell a story about western culture. Enjoy!

Originally posted on Quartz:

If you want to map cultural hubs throughout time, you can track where history’s most notable figures—like Leonardo da Vinci, Jane Austen, and Steve Jobs—were born and died. That was the thinking of Dr. Maximilian Schich, associate professor for art and technology at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Cultural meccas rise and decline over time.

Cultural meccas rise and decline over time.

Schich and his team took data on more than 100,000 notable figures—people important enough to have their births and deaths catalogued—from Google’s information tank, Freebase, and digitally plotted it on a map visualizing changes over hundreds of years. Blue dots signify births, red dots mark deaths. The more dots in a given location, the bigger the visualization. The result is a mesmerizing, animated timeline tracking the geography of culture and the origins of the hub contributors.

While it may not be surprising that Rome and Paris were huge centers of cultural activity in the 16th and 17th centuries, and…

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