Meat consumption is associated with better mental health, meta-analysis finds

According to a new meta-analysis published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, compared to meat abstention, meat consumption is associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety. In 2017, mental illness was considered to be the leading cause of disability globally. The World Health Organization estimated that approximately 300 million people suffered from depression, and 260 million were living with anxiety, reflecting a considerable increase in these disorders over the past two decades. In parallel with the observed increases in mental disorders, vegetarianism ...

Moralistic impressions help explain the reduced social attractiveness of vegetarians and vegans

Vegetarians and vegans are seen as less socially attractive by the meat-eating majority in part because they are viewed as moralistic, according to a new study published in the journal Appetite. The findings provide new insight into the relationship between dietary choices and social attraction, or the willingness to affiliate oneself with particular social groups. “The high consumption of animal products (e.g., meat, dairy, eggs) in Western countries may be considered one of the most pressing moral problems of our time, because it is entails the exploitation and suffering of billions of senti...

Psychologists have uncovered a new uncanny phenomenon called the “clone devaluation effect”

New research published in PLOS One provides evidence that duplicated human faces tend to elicit negative emotions in viewers. The findings serve as a warning that future robotic or cloning technology could provoke unpleasant psychological reactions. “The rapid development of humanoid technology is very exciting for people. However, when I imagined the future mass production of androids, I thought that we might be surrounded by human-like entities with the same face (like Agent Smith in the Matrix),” said study author Fumiya Yonemitsu of Kyushu University, who is also a research fellow at the J...

Dark personality traits and feelings of deprivation predict support for political violence: study

People who feel deprived and have a heightened level of antisocial tendencies known as the Dark Triad (Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism) tend to be particularly supportive of political violence. The new scientific findings have been published in the journal Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression. The authors of the new research were interested in exploring how subjective perceptions of inequality and Dark Triad personality traits were related to the process of political radicalization. “The subject is close to the project I work on (The Dialogue about Radicalisa...

Twin study suggests that common genes and pathways are likely involved in both PTSD and migraine

[(https://blog.frontiersin.org/2021/06/22/neuroscience-twins-genes-risk-ptsd-migraine/?utmsource=fweb&utmmedium=nblog&utm_campaign=ba-sci-republishing-2021) Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and migraine often co-occur, but researchers knew relatively little about how or why this happens. A new study in Frontiers in Neuroscience is the first to investigate if the conditions have a common genetic basis. By studying identical twins, where one twin in each pair lives with PTSD or migraines and the other twin does not, the researchers found common genes that may play a role in both conditions....

New study suggests ambivalence may have played a role in Trump’s 2016 victory — but pollsters missed it

People often have mixed feelings about a topic and can simultaneously see both the positive and negative sides of things. But new research, published in PLOS One, suggests that professional pollsters are failing to account for this ambivalence in their assessment of political attitudes. The study, which collected data between 2017 and 2019, found that approximately 4 in 10 college students displayed some level of ambivalence towards President Donald Trump. “This work grew out of a collaboration that my wife and I have. I am an atomic physicist, working in the area of atomic clocks; my wife Lor...

New longitudinal study uncovers a stark partisan divide in willingness to get a COVID-19 vaccine

Republicans in the United States became less accepting of a potential COVID-19 vaccine as the pandemic unfolded, according to new research published in PLOS One. The findings add to a growing body of research that indicates partisan attitudes are contributing to vaccine hesitancy. “In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, we already understood that large-scale vaccination efforts would be critical to stemming the spread and bringing about a return to pre-pandemic life,” said study author Ariel Fridman, a PhD candidate at UC San Diego. “And given the worrying news about vaccine skepticism th...

Five minutes of exposure to fake news can unconsciously alter a person’s behavior: study

A study published in Computers in Human Behavior suggests that brief exposure to online misinformation can unknowingly alter a person’s behavior. The experiment found that reading a fake news article slightly altered participants’ unconscious behavior, as evidenced by a change in their performances on a test called the Finger Tapping Test. Social media plays a central role in the exchange of information among the public, and its influence is only growing. People increasingly use online platforms to read and discuss news, and algorithms help tailor this environment to a user’s interests and beh...

Researchers link physical strength and wealth to militancy and conservatism

Social psychology is often concerned with how real-world traits, even those as diverse as physical size and socioeconomic status, influence political perspectives and attitudes. In a recent study appearing in the journal of Personality and Individual Differences, a team of American researchers looked at the relationship between formidability (strength) and socioeconomic status on the one hand and militancy and political moral foundations on the other. The researchers begin with the premise that individuals and groups whose physical or social attributes make them more likely to win conflicts wi...

Republicans tend to follow Donald Trump’s opinions on vaccines rather than scientists’ opinions

When it comes to the false claim that vaccines cause autism, Republicans tend to be more swayed by Donald Trump than scientists, according to new research published in the journal Health Communication. The study indicates that politicians can have a significant influence on citizens’ science beliefs. “I was interested in the effects of political leaders, who are not necessarily health experts, on partisans because we have already witnessed the tragedy in the context of climate change in the United States,” explained study author S. Mo Jones-Jang, an assistant professor at Boston College. “Scie...

Support for 'America First' populism linked to increased odds of having been arrested

A group of researchers recently examined the relation between “America First” populism and lifetime arrests. Their results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that individuals holding Islamophobic, anti-immigration and anti-globalization views are more likely to have been arrested in their lifetime. Populism is a political belief centered around the idea that “the people” or the general everyday public has been excluded from the political process and deprived of financial and social opportunities due to globalization and immigration. Widespread resistance to...

Eye-tracking study finds depression memes act like visual magnets for people experiencing depressive symptoms

Depressed people are more likely to enjoy internet memes that contain themes related to sadness, hopelessness or isolation — and they also show an attentional bias towards these images, according to new research. “My co-author Jennifer Drabble and I often use memes as a way to communicate. Indeed, for years my social media feed would be filled with memes shared by friends, often related to mental health,” said Umair Akram (@Eumayrs), the lead author of the new studies and a lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University. “As someone who suffers from depression, I personally found memes related to dep...

Romantic relationships remained surprisingly stable during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic

Despite the stress caused by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, people’s satisfaction with their romantic relationships changed little during the early stages of the pandemic, according to new research published in Psychological Science. “Much of my research focuses on the effect of stress on couple relationships, so when it became clear that the pandemic was going to have a huge impact on people around the world I was of course interested in what it would do to our closest relationships,” said study author Hannah Williamson, an assistant professor at The University of Texas at Austin. “Th...

Narcissists are more likely to make bad decisions due to their overconfidence and refusal to take advice from experts

New research published in Personality and Individual Differences suggests that grandiose narcissists are more likely to make bad decisions, owing to an overconfidence in their abilities and a tendency to ignore the advice of experts.Grandiose narcissism is characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement, feelings of superiority over others, and a readiness to exploit others. People with these characteristics tend to make their way up the hierarchy within organizations, often ending up in positions of power. Whether narcissists make good or bad leaders is another story.Stu...

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Political polarization does not appear to be causing shorter Thanksgiving visits, according to new research

It is not uncommon for political tensions in the United States to boil up during Thanksgiving gatherings. Some news publications have even written guides on how to best interact with relatives with opposing political views.But new research suggests that political polarization is not cutting Thanksgiving short. The study, published in PLOS One, indicates that there is no significant difference between the duration of Thanksgiving dinners with politically-diverse attendees and the duration of dinners with politically-uniform attendees.“The United States is in the midst of a Culture War. The majo...

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Happy Holidays!