Feeling Younger May Help Memory as We Age Reply

Don't act your age....

Don’t act your age….

Younger Self-Image May Help Preserve Cognitive Function as People Get Older

By Ann Lukts, Wall Street Journal

Feeling younger than one’s real age could help to preserve memory and cognitive function as people get older, says a study in the November issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

The study comes as recent research suggests aging is both a subjective and biological experience. A younger self-image was more common in physically active people with a lower body-mass index, the latest study found.

The study, conducted by researchers in France, analyzed data from 1,352 men and women, age 50 to 75 years old, who were enrolled in a larger U.S. study in the mid-1990s. Participants were asked how old they felt most of the time and how often they participated in moderate or vigorous exercise. Other information, such as the presence of chronic diseases, was recorded.

After about 10 years, cognitive function was assessed with tests of memory and executive function, the capacity to plan and carry out complex tasks. The study found that, on average, the participants felt 19% younger than their chronological age. Of the subjects, 89% felt younger and 11% felt older than their actual age. Those who felt older than their age scored 25% lower on memory and cognitive tests than those who felt younger.

The association between a younger subjective age and better memory and executive functioning was independent of gender, educational achievement, marital status and chronic diseases, the adjusted results showed. People who feel older than their age might require closer monitoring, as this may be an early marker of impaired cognition leading to dementia, the researchers said.

Caveat: The subjects’ social networks, history of depression, medication use and cognitive-related leisure activities weren’t considered.

8 Facts About Self-Control Reply

It takes self-control to stop bad habits like smoking.

It takes self-control to stop bad habits like smoking.

From Reflectd:  Psychological Insights & Perspectives

“… Overcoming the self’s natural, impulsive nature requires self-control … Without this capacity, we would be slaves of our emotional impulses, temptations, and desires and thus unable to behave socially adequately.” (pp. 128-132).

Self-control is delaying short-term gratification in favour of long-term outcomes. It is the investment of cognitive, emotional and behavioural resources to achieve a desired outcome

Self-control often involves resisting temptations and impulses, and habits often undermine self-control. Humans are relatively successful at exerting self-control to achieve long-term outcomes (Hagger et al., 2009).

However, people are better at exerting self-control when it comes to making decisions that are distant in time compared to near (Fujita, 2008). Eight facts about self-control are presented in this article.

1. Self-control is a limited resource

According to the self-control strength model, exerting self-control at one time or over one set of behaviours may deplete the ability to exhibit subsequent self-control over another set of behaviours. A study by Shmueli & Prochaska (2009) supports this idea.

In this study, smokers who resisted sweets were more likely to smoke a cigarette during a break compared to smokers who resisted raw vegetables. Participants, whose self-control strength was depleted (due to temptation resistance), were more likely to smoke compared to those who had not depleted their self-control strength.

A study by Vohs & Heatherton (2000) also supports the idea of a self-control strength model. The study draws three conclusions:

  • Perceived availability and proximity of tempting snacks undermined subsequent self-control among dieters
  • Exerting self-control in one domain leads to subsequent reductions in self-control in another domain
  • Asking dieters to suppress their emotional reactions to a movie depleted their self-control resources

Another study found that people’s ability to exert self-control and resist temptation decreases gradually throughout the day (Kouchaki & Smith, 2014). This finding also suggests that self-control is a limited resource.

Hagger and colleagues (2009) found that breaks in exerting control (since it is a limited resource) and training in self-control makes people better at exerting self-control.

Feature continues here:  Self-Control 

“Must Reads” From The Latest Issue of Psychology Today Reply

TodayBy Chris Simmons

Of all the magazines I read/scan, Psychology Today is one of the few I strongly endorse. More specifically, I encourage you to buy it hardcopy, as the digital edition is only fully populated well after the print magazine hits the streets. Since it’s a bimonthly publication, this means print subscribers have the content up to 60 days before the complete digital version appears. Coincidently, this generally coincides with the release date of the next print issue.

For those I’ve inspired to purchase the May/June edition of Psychology Today, the four features you cannot afford to miss are:

A Perfect Devil:  Successful psychopaths have our ear, but it’s the unsuccessful psychopaths who may hold the keys to this devastating disorder.  – Kaja Perina

Now It’s Personal:  Arguments are harder to resolve when values are on the line. – Matt Huston

Love, Factually:  (offers suggestions based on “research-based [marriage] vows that actually help couples keep their promises to one another”) – not sourced

Build a Better PSA:  The science of persuasion can help us make healthier choices. – Deepa Lakshmin

Disclaimer: I recommend Psychology Today because I believe in the product. I have no personal or professional ties with the publisher in any form.

Manipulated: The Rise of Behavioral Finance Reply

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By Ben Steverman, Washington Post

It’s hard to find a place today where concepts of behavioral finance aren’t being applied to real-world situations. From London to Washington to Sydney, governments are experimenting with the psychology of decision-making and trying to “nudge” citizens toward better behaviors, whether that means saving more for retirement or signing an organ donation card. Meanwhile, businesses see opportunities for higher profits. To grab more attention and dollars from consumers, companies as far afield as banks and fitness-app makers carefully design their offerings with consumers’ decision-making quirks in mind.

Many behavioral interventions work, whether at reducing litter and power use or boosting savings rates. Yet these successes aren’t the whole story. Even after rigorous experimentation and data analysis, the best-intentioned nudges can fall flat or backfire. Some may be behavioral bandages that don’t address deeper structural problems such as stagnating wages. Nevertheless, consumers have jumped on the bandwagon, eager to be manipulated into the best version of themselves, and businesses are rushing to meet the demand.

Where many people need the biggest nudge, if not a shove, is with making financial decisions. The effect of emotion on investment decisions is usually negative — good old fear and greed, as well as paralysis from being overwhelmed by choice. At the same time, even if someone wants to build an emergency fund or open an IRA, bad spending and saving habits are hard to break. To help users follow through on good intentions, a raft of financial apps and online investing Web sites use a mix of encouragement, nagging, incentives and design.

The biggest problem that businesses — and governments — must solve is one that rarely comes up in a behavioral psych lab: how to get people’s attention in a world filled with more distractions by the day. An app or any tool designed to spur your self-improvement must battle the demands of work and family as well as the delights of the Internet and the 50 other apps on your phone. So when it comes to investing, “most people are asleep at the wheel,” says Mike Sha, co-founder and chief executive officer of SigFig, an online investment manager.

This is where Silicon Valley’s skills come in handy. Adam Nash, chief executive of online investment manager Wealthfront, which attracted more than $800 million in assets in two years, notes that many of his employees once helped design social software like Facebook. They know, he says, “how to design systems that trigger emotional responses.”

You know what Nash means if you’ve ever unintentionally wasted hours crushing virtual candies, scrolling through your Facebook timeline or catapulting angry birds. The digital world is built to be addictive — continually satisfying you in just the right way to keep you clicking, playing or posting.

By living on mobile devices and using some of these digital techniques, apps can grab your attention in real time. The app Check uses alerts, timed for when they would be most effective, to make sure users pay their bills on time. Investment sites including Betterment and Wealthfront make investing as automatic as possible, while reducing distractions that might get users trading too much — so no charts of the day’s stock market moves show up on their Web sites.

Article continues here:  Manipulated: The Rise of Behavioral Finance

The Science Behind “Self-Fulfilling Prophesies” 1

By Chris Simmons

It goes without saying that how one person treats another determines how that individual performs. What is not so well understood, especially by bosses and parents, is the legitimate science behind this occurrence.

An individual’s performance goes up or down, in large part, based upon the expectations levied against him/her. When high expectations are placed on a person, he/she will perform better. This phenomenon is called the Pygalion or Rosenthal Effect.

At the other extreme is the Golem Effect, which occurs when decreased performance results from low expectations.

The Rosenthal Effect takes its name from a study on student performance, while the Pygalion reference is taken from an ancient Greek legend. In the Rosenthal-Jacobson research, elementary school students were given a disguised IQ test. Twenty percent of the schoolchild were then randomly chosen — and for experiment purposes — identified as “peak performers.” The names of these purportedly high-potential students were then shared with the teachers. During the course of their study, all the schoolchildren advanced academically. However, the falsely labeled “peak performers” universally exceeded all expectations and past achievements.

Part of this phenomenon derives from how we make decisions. The 1st Rule of Human Nature, Self-Interest Trumps Best Interest,” captures the core principle that all decisions are based on emotion, not logic or reason. Furthermore, since Self-Interest is strongly tied to  Identity and Self-Image, the positive reinforcement that comes from high expectations triggers internal motivators that drive one towards the identified goal. Additional research has discovered that these affirmations and positive social interactions prompt a favorable chemical response in the body. This “endorphin rush” makes you feel better (and happier), which legitimately amps up one’s performance and emotions.

Ultimately, the increased performance by the employee/child also alters the behavior of the boss/parent. The leader will invest more time, attention and effort in their protégé, further incentivizing and sustaining the increased performance.

Taken in their totality, these actions create a self-sustaining feedback loop of positive emotions and in short order, this repetition creates a highly rewarding self-fulfilling prophecy. Sadly, the inverse is equally true. As Calvin Lloyd noted, “Nobody rises to low expectations,” succinctly highlighting the crippling impact of negative feedback and the Golem Effect.

How to “Weed Out” The Roots of Jealousy Reply

By Chris Simmons

Academics continued to debate whether jealousy is triggered by low self-esteem or low self-worth. I believe it’s a distinction without a difference.

Jealousy is – at its core – an identity issue. Let’s assume your spouse or significant other is friendly, attractive, charismatic, self-confident, and a gifted athlete. However, he is very sensitive to money issues, as he plays professional lacrosse — a sport where the salaries and financial rewards are poor. Now imagine the two of you are at a friend’s party. Since he is a rich entrepreneur, the affluence of the host or fellow party-goers  could trigger a jealous bout.

In your beloved’s mind, his identity is tied, in part, to his ability to earn a good income. Despite his other blessings, he is insecure about this facet of his identity. This feeling may be further complicated by the human tendency to “mirror image” – that is, he may take his focus on the need for a good income and superimpose that belief on you. In doing so, this further fuels jealous feelings.

All identity issues are rooted in our emotions. As such, his negative feelings are best counteracted by de-emphasizing the importance of his current income. Don’t go “off message” by complimenting him on his athleticism, appearance, etc. – those aren’t the jealousy triggers. Instead, you could simply reassure him that it’s more important to you that you both pursue your passions rather than sell out for a well-paying but soul-killing job. Remind him that together you share a nice income and incredible jobs. Life could not be any better.

Regardless of whether the root cause of the jealousy is low self-esteem, little self-worth, or envy, tread lightly on their emotions. Be empathetic rather than sympathetic and most importantly; be absolutely sincere in diminishing the perceived importance of the “jealousy trigger.”  If they doubt your message, you could inadvertently leave them worse off than when you started.

A Tiny Pronoun Says a Lot About You Reply

Do You Say “I” Too Much?

How Often You Say ‘I’ Says More Than You Realize

By Elizabeth Bernstein, Wall Street Journal

You probably don’t think about how often you say the word “I.”

You should. Researchers say that your usage of the pronoun says more about you than you may realize.

Surprising new research from the University of Texas suggests that people who often say “I” are less powerful and less sure of themselves than those who limit their use of the word. Frequent “I” users subconsciously believe they are subordinate to the person to whom they are talking.

Pronouns, in general, tell us a lot about what people are paying attention to, says James W. Pennebaker, chair of the psychology department at the University of Texas at Austin and an author on the study. Pronouns signal where someone’s internal focus is pointing, says Dr. Pennebaker, who has pioneered this line of research. Often, people using “I” are being self-reflective. But they may also be self-conscious or insecure, in physical or emotional pain, or simply trying to please.

Dr. Pennebaker and colleagues conducted five studies of the way relative rank is revealed by the use of pronouns. The research was published last month in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology. In each experiment, people deemed to have higher status used “I” less.

The findings go against the common belief that people who say “I” a lot are full of themselves, maybe even narcissists.

“I” is more powerful than you may realize. It drives perceptions in a conversation so much so that marriage therapists have long held that people should use “I” instead of “you” during a confrontation with a partner or when discussing something emotional. (“I feel unheard.” Not: “You never listen.”) The word “I” is considered less accusatory.

“There is a misconception that people who are confident, have power, have high-status tend to use ‘I’ more than people who are low status,” says Dr. Pennebaker, author of “The Secret Life of Pronouns.” “That is completely wrong. The high-status person is looking out at the world and the low-status person is looking at himself.”

So, how often should you use “I”? More—to sound humble (and not critical when speaking to your spouse)? Or less—to come across as more assured and authoritative?

The answer is “mostly more,” says Dr. Pennebaker. (Although he does say you should try and say it at the same rate as your spouse or partner, to keep the power balance in the relationship.)

In the first language-analysis study Dr. Pennebaker led, business-school students were divided into 41 four-person, mixed-sex groups and asked to work as a team to improve customer service for a fictitious company. One person in each group was randomly assigned to be the leader. The result: The leaders used “I” in 4.5% of their words. Non-leaders used the word 5.6%. (The leaders also used “we” more than followers did.)

In the second study, 112 psychology students were assigned to same-sex groups of two. The pairs worked to solve a series of complex problems. All interaction took place online. No one was assigned to a leadership role, but participants were asked at the end of the experiment who they thought had power and status. Researchers found that the higher the person’s perceived power, the less he or she used “I.”

In study three, 50 pairs of people chatted informally face-to-face, asking questions to get to know one another, as if at a cocktail party. When asked which person had more status or power, they tended to agree—and that person had used “I” less.

Study four looked at emails. Nine people turned over their incoming and outgoing emails with about 15 other people. They rated how much status they had in relation to each correspondent. In each exchange, the person with the higher status used “I” less.

The fifth study was the most unusual. Researchers looked at email communication that the U.S. government had collected (and translated) from the Iraqi military, made public for a period of time as the Iraqi Perspectives Project. They randomly selected 40 correspondences. In each case, the person with higher military rank used “I” less.

People curb their use of “I” subconsciously, Dr. Pennebaker says. “If I am the high-status person, I am thinking of what you need to do. If I am the low-status person, I am more humble and am thinking, ‘I should be doing this.’ ”

Dr. Pennebaker has found heavy “I” users across many people: Women (who are typically more reflective than men), people who are more at ease with personal topics, younger people, caring people as well as anxious and depressed people. (Surprisingly, he says, narcissists do not use “I” more than others, according to a meta-analysis of a large number of studies.)

And who avoids using “I,” other than the high-powered? People who are hiding the truth. Avoiding the first-person pronoun is distancing.

Researchers analyzed the language on Twitter of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Mr. Tsarnaev used “I” words (I, me, my, I’ll, I’m, etc.) less and less in his tweets as he got closer to the bombing, according to not-yet-published research by Brittany Norman at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, and Dr. Pennebaker.

The researchers analyzed all 856 of Mr. Tsarnaev’s original tweets between October 2011 and April 15, 2013, the day of the bombing. They found that Mr. Tsarnaev’s use of “I” words dropped significantly as the bombing approached, with the biggest drop appearing in October 2012 (to 4.81% of his words from 9.57% the month before).

“The data suggest that Mr. Tsarnaev made the decision to do something that he had to hide at that time,” Ms. Norman says.

All his work leads Dr. Pennebaker to conclude: “You should use ‘I’ the same way you use a speedometer on your car—as feedback on yourself,” he says. “Are you being genuine? Are you being honest? Learn to adjust some, to know yourself.”

—- 

An Honest Vocabulary

People telling the truth use ‘I’ a lot. Other words they often use include:

  • Except
  • But
  • Without
  • Unless

—Write to Elizabeth Bernstein at Bonds@wsj.com or follow her column at www.Facebook.com/EBernsteinWSJ or www.Twitter.com/EBernsteinWSJ

What Acceptance Really Means to Me Reply

After a rather difficult past few days, I’m beginning to rebound to some degree. Mentally and emotionally I’m slowly bouncing back. Three of my four children are in college. My oldest son was out the door and on the road at 7:30 a.m. this morning to the university that he attends. It’s about 3 1/2 – 4 hours away. We had planned on following him and seeing him off, but he kept insisting that would be 8 hours of driving for us to have to just turn right around and come home because he had to unpack and have a physical and concussion test shortly after arriving. He’s a pitcher for the baseball team. We took him last year when he was just a freshman. It’s nice to make sure they arrive safely, help them unload the car and put things away, make sure they have everything they need. At least we have seen the place where our son will be living until next spring. It’s always bittersweet. Can’t wait for them to go, but I start missing them the minute they’re gone. My youngest daughter will be off to school sometime today. She won’t be so far away. She’ll be close enough that she can come home on weekends, doesn’t mean she will. My oldest daughter is attending the junior college, right here in town, and started back last week. My youngest son is a senior in high school. Wow! Time certainly does fly by so fast. Next year I’ll have all four of my kids in college at the same time. Some may say that wasn’t the greatest planning on our part. I would have to say I agree.

This time of year is always difficult for me. The stress of all the extra expenses and everyone going their own ways. Since I’ve become disabled we’ve been struggling financially. The anxiety drives me mad. Worrying about money and, of course, worrying about my kids being out on their own, not knowing if they made it home the night before or if they have everything they need. Yes, I know they are adults now, but as a mother, I don’t think I’ll ever quit worrying about my kids, especially sense I suffer from anxiety.

My youngest son, a senior in high school, has already missed seven out of the first ten days of school. He became rather ill with C Diff Colitis, just another thing for me to worry about. This is a serious disease and must be treated promptly. He has been on antibiotics and will be going back to school tomorrow. Many people who contract this disease will relapse at least once within a very short time. Others will relapse several times, over several months and others won’t relapse at all. Praying for the later. It’s a very contagious disease because the spores can live on surfaces for months and according to the doctor, there are very few products to kill these spores. Another issue for me to worry about, as if I don’t already have enough, is that my eleven month old grandson lives with us. This would not be good for him to get sick with this and being a baby he puts his hands in his mouth all the time because that’s what babies do.

Friday I was a hot mess. All the negative thoughts racing and racing. It only lasted the one day because by Saturday I had decided I wasn’t going to stay stuck in this state of mind. I’ve been working way too hard at being in the wise mind and trying, difficult as it may be, to stay there most of the time. I’m just a beginner when it comes to all this mindfulness business, but as of late, I’ve decided that I do not want to live the rest of my days out of control with a negative attitude and all the emotional baggage that goes along with that.

One day, not long ago, I decided to face this monster head on.

Story continues here: http://tlohuis.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/what-acceptance-really-means-to-me/

Valeria Levitin, The World’s Thinnest Woman, Campaigns Against Anorexia 1

I saw Valeria first time by the pool in Monaco, Monte Carlo two years ago. I still remember the shock of that moment. I was mesmerized by the person in front of me or better said “the dead walking ” in front of me… After the shock passed I had the strongest feeling to run to her and hug her, to listen to her story and find a way to help her. Something stopped me…. the idea that maybe she’ll get it wrong, that maybe my reaction could scared her, the person near me, telling me to stop staring at her…. But really how could everybody be so calm and cool like everything was ok when in one corner of the pool was sunbathing the skeletal system from the anatomy class back in school?! Are we so egocentric that we don’t see the suffering around us?!

The story of Valeria came out in the media at the end of last month, as her wish to help others do understand that anorexia is a serious issue. She also happens to be one of the saddest and loneliest women in the world. She is fighting for her life, but because of websites that encourage the anorexic lifestyle, she has become an unwitting idol of many teen girls – and even gets fan mail regularly.

Levitin was originally from Russia but now lives in Monaco, Radar Online notes. She reportedly suffers from an extreme form of anorexia. At 5ft 8in, she should weigh between 9st and 12st, according to NHS advice. Instead, she is a tiny 4st 3lbs, less than half of what her lightest healthy weight should be. Her skin resembles the look of leather and appears to be merely draped over her tiny skeleton. She battled the possibly deadly disease that caused her body to begin wasting away. Experiencing daily physical pain has not deterred Valeria from continuing with her campaign to educate young girls about the dangers of becoming anorexic in an attempt to save the suffering of others.

The world’s thinnest woman had this to say during an interview with the Huffington Post:

“I am not going to teach them how to die. It is not a game, it is not a joke, it is your life. I want to share my story to help sufferers and their families from repeating my fate. Anorexia has made me lonely, unattractive, and repulsive for the people around me. My eating disorder has robbed me of so much. People don’t want to be around someone who is not in a good mood or not upbeat.”

Article continues here:  The Citizens of Fashion