All posts tagged: research

Not just another passing comment: how racism is damaging our health

A growing body of literature around the world shows us how racial discrimination can affect our physical health

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The Non-Existent Problem of Ageing

When Associate Professor Hans Meij would go to Africa, he would shave his head. Years later when he visited Africa again for a short visit, he le his hair untouched. A local woman who had seen him before expressed her curiosity. “Dr Hans,” she asked, “do you have grey hair?” He replied yes. “You are so stupid! Why do you shave off your hair?” Dr Meij explained that cropping the hair on his head ensured that the scorching African sun wouldn’t a ect him as adversely as it could. “Now you lose respect since grey hair signifies ageing, and to be aged is respect,” she said. Like any researcher, he stopped to ponder the concept and realised that the moral of the story was two-fold: age is esteem and deserves respect, but in some cultures age is a sign of the outdated. “That’s when I learned to look at ageing in a completely different way – ageing is merit, as something earned, and something to be proud of,” he said. Dr Hans Meij is the …

The Creative Benefits of Walking

From an early age Rousseau developed a passion for walking; finding delight especially from the journeys guided by chance: peripatetic randomness, or what he calls, “the pleasures of going one knows not where.” Such walks allowed his mind to wander as he penned in his Reveries of the Solitary Walker, where we are introduced to 10 ‘walks’ from Rousseau’s autobiographical musings toward the end of his life. Through his walks, Rousseau delved deep into self-reflection and self-analysis, rejoicing in his freedom to “converse with [his] soul.” “There is something about walking that animates and activates my ideas; I can hardly think when I am still; my body must move if mind is to do the same,” wrote Rousseau. Fast forward to 2014 where French Philosopher Frederic Gros released his book A Philosophy of Walking and he also speaks of the mind-freeing quality of walking. “A long walk,” writes Gros, “allows us to commune with the sublime,” he penned. He notes the flaneur, coming from French meaning to stroll or to lounge, the casual saunter, roaming the many pathways of a city, observing, musing, …

The Virtues of Remembering The Mundane

One summer my family and I drove from Melbourne to Adelaide to make it in time for my graduation. It was a 600 kilometre drive — that’s about a 7 hour road trip sitting in a hot car, passing an endless stretch of arid land, counting the naked trees scorched by the unforgiving Australian sun. Then, the time spent seemed insignificant. The conversations, the pep-talks, the packed lunches and pit stops. It was all part of one mundane experience to get us from A to B. We no longer take these trips, and my father has now passed away but these insignificant moments I initially took for granted, mean the world to me. It’s a discovery in retrograde: the essential from the insignificant. A four-part study in Psychological Science led by Ting Zhang explored the tendency to underestimate just how curious and interested we will be for recounting mundane activities such as making breakfast, or a trip to the mall. The first of Zhang’s studies, for example, required participants to create time capsules, with such contents including: last social activity attended, a fragment from …

daydreaming

An Ode To Spacing Out

Today only 6 percent of studies note the functional benefits of mind wandering. But in the 1960s psychologist Jerome L. Singer launched research which demonstrated that daydreaming is crucial for a healthy, satisfying mental life. His research is a kind of ode to spacing out: his work focused on what he identified to be positive constructive daydreaming which he found consisted of playful imagery, and playful creative thought. It’s a refreshing, and somewhat relieving perspective to hear — considering that mind-wandering is a universal human experience. In fact, in the time that I wrote this piece, I’ve drifted into thought about the effects of walking, or completing tasks which require little mental focus, and the effects they have on continuing with tasks that require stronger cognitive focus. And bingo: researchers from Bar Ilan University in Israel found that daydreaming can actually boost task performance. But there’s an important distinction to made between positive constructive daydreaming (pad) and procrastination — or poor attentional control. PCD refers more to playful imagery and playful creative thoughts, whereas say, constantly shifting …

Sense of Purpose in Life? Your Heart Will Thank You For It

Researchers from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York have found that a healthy heart is linked to having a sense of purpose in life. The researchers came to their conclusions after reviewing 10 relevant studies, and data from more than 137,000 people. Lead study author Randy Cohen, M.D, explained: “Developing and refining your sense of purpose could protect your heart health and potentially save your life…Our study shows there is a strong relationship between having a sense of purpose in life and protection from dying or having a cardiovascular event. As part of our overall health, each of us needs to ask ourselves the critical question of ‘do I have a sense of purpose in my life?’ If not, you need to work toward the important goal of obtaining one for your overall well-being.” Alan Rozanski, MD, study co-author and Director of Wellness and Prevention Programs for Mount Sinai Heart at the Mount Sinai Health System said that based on these findings future research should now further assess the importance of life purpose as a determinant …

job interview techniques

How Science Says You Can Ace a Job Interview

What kinds of techniques do you employ when in a job interview? From the clothes we wear, to how easy our names are to pronounce, there are many factors for success that are considered when being interviewed. But science says that our voice is something that we really need to pay attention to. New research has found that a person’s intellect, amiability and thoughtfulness is conveyed and perceived through their voice, rather than through text. The study entitled, The Sound of Intellect: Speech Reveals a Thoughtful Mind, Increasing a Job Candidate’s Appeal, by Juliana Schroeder and Nicholas Epley, conducted experiments where a group of MBS students composed both verbal and written elevator pitches to hypothetical employers. The results were unanimous across the experiments: from video to transcripts – evaluators – which included practicing recruiters – who listened to job pitches were consistently more interested in hiring the candidates than were evaluators who read identical transcriptions. Voice impressed evaluators so much so, that a more positive impression of candidates was formed, and were rated as more likeable. It was believed …

Outsiders and Creative Thinking | Warhol’s Children

In a 2012 study it was found that social rejection propels creativity for those with an independent self-concept. That is, people who place less of a premium on sharing more similarities with major social groups, rather than opting for a more individualistic approach. 3 studies were conducted. In the first, participants were rejected outright and informed they had to work on their tasks individually. They then indicated how they felt (pretty rejected). In the second rejection was primed by requiring students to circle pronouns (“I”, “my”) and vice versa for the interdependent version (“We”, “our”). Results showed that the participants who had an independent self-concept, and who were rejected, produced more creative responses for their test, more so than included participants. The final study showed how these variables influence idea generation by completing a space alien drawing — the more the drawing diverted from conventional structures (nose in the middle of the face etc), the more creative. Again, independent thinkers generated more creative drawings following rejection, than following inclusion. “Rejection relative to inclusion appears to …

A Neurological Defence for the Humanities: Better Thinking, Bigger Ideas and Art

It is widely noted that Einstein came up with some of his best scientific ideas during his violin breaks, which he believed connected different parts of his brain in new ways. It’s the thinking process which Einstein coined as “combinatory play”. This is the notion that creativity is combinational: humans amass a collection of cross-disciplinary building blocks — knowledge, memories, etc, and then combine and recombine into something new. From this mental pool of resources beckons the infrastructure of what we call our own original ideas.